How To Cope With Post-Graduation Depression


Every college student fantasizes about graduation day. After countless hours of work and thousands in tuition, graduating should feel like an accomplishment — but I was terrified.

The moment when college ends and life begins can feel scary, especially for people like me. Not only did I not have a job lined up on graduation day, I had a summer course to complete before I could even officially receive my degree. But listening to my feelings through major life transitions has made me realize that my path is unconventional.

In high school, I was aware that I couldn’t afford to attend a four-year university immediately, and I didn’t want to. I knew people looked down at community college, but I didn’t let the stigma bother me and went anyway. Then I transferred to UCLA, where I spent two years finishing up my bachelor’s degree in communications. While there, I didn’t live on campus to save money and was one of the few who commuted. This choice allowed me to feel productive, scheduling class two days a week and working retail the other days. I managed to tackle three internships while in college, building up a good resume. To add to my already odd college experience, I studied abroad my last quarter, returning home just one week before commencement.

My college experience wasn’t typical, but I loved it. I subscribe to the notion that humans thrive with structure and set goals. I rode the high of graduation for a couple months until my summer course ended in August. My friends went back to school or started entry-level positions and a wave of stress crashed over me. Why don’t I have a job yet? Where do I apply? What do I even want to do? It was the first time in my life I had no plan. The structured Virgo in me didn’t know how to handle it.

I felt a pressure to jump into a career immediately upon graduation. I think everyone does. Many of us have loans to pay, and with a degree, there shouldn’t be any barriers to a well-paying job, right? We deserve it.

But my struggle is, after five years of college, I’m still not sure what to do next. I’ve applied to countless jobs and received as many rejections. I’m overwhelmed by living so close to Los Angeles, where every imaginable opportunity exists, just miles away. But the prospect of endless opportunities somehow make job hunting feel even more daunting. I’ve broken down several times in this transition.  

Some days are great — I apply to some jobs, go to the gym, list items on Depop for some extra cash. Other days feel hopeless; I wake up at 11 a.m., get lost in my DVR, and question everything.

I’m still coming to terms with the fact that everyone has their own path. I know that life is short, but I’ve only been done with school a couple months and already my mind is arrested with the idea that I’m a failure. I’ve convinced myself that living at home without a steady income shortly after graduating is an unacceptable position to be in, even though I’m not alone in this reality. Finding ways to cope with feeling lost after graduation is a personal journey, but I find them in the little things.

A key for me is making small improvements. I try my best to work out, enhance my job skills, spend time with my friends regularly, remain positive, and show gratitude. Some of this may sound hokey, but it effectively keeps my glass half full. Your mind can turn on you in a moment, taking you to deep and dark depths, but I’ve learned that actively working to stay positive keeps you from succumbing to post-grad depression.

Growing up I believed that your job should be your passion. And many of my peers are living examples of this belief, fulfilling their dreams at elite companies like Gucci and IBM. But now, at 23, not only am I finding it difficult to pinpoint my passion, sometimes I’m just hoping to become financially comfortable. Money can’t buy happiness, but in this economy, it can definitely help a whole lot. 

As I’m writing this, I’m still unemployed, but I’m (somewhat) optimistic. My mind races every day when I look at jobs and reflect on how different life was a year ago. For now, I must remind myself of my victories thus far, big or small, and embrace comfort in the unknown.

I Have A Flipped Uterus?


I went in for my first pap smear a few months ago. My gynecologist is the dream gyno: young, hip, and very sex-positive. I expected to be in and out with no problems. It started off with the usual for any pelvic exam: get undressed, put on a gown, get up in the chair, and put your feet in the stirrups.

I waited patiently with my legs spread while my doctor, realizing the lamp she needed for seeing where she was inserting things (it’s dark up there) was out, called a nurse to grab another light. Instead, the nurse came in bearing a very hefty flashlight, explaining there were no other lights available. So now this was a tag team effort: my doctor reaching to find my cervix while the nurse held the flashlight at my feet. She was really digging in there, as she apologetically told me that it doesn’t usually take this long and that she was having trouble finding my cervix. I assured her I was fine when she added, “It looks like your uterus is flipped.”

Now, I’m not sure about others who’ve had pap smears… but the last thing I’m ready to hear while sitting in that vulnerable position is my doctor nonchalantly telling me my uterus is “flipped.” What does that even mean?

The technical term is retroverted uterus. As scary as that sounds, turns out it’s actually pretty common, affecting about 20% of people with vaginas. Normally, the position of the uterus is tilted backward, so that the bottom part — the cervix — is frontwards towards the stomach, and the top of the uterus is tilted towards the back. A retroverted uterus is tilted the opposite way, therefore the cervix is pointed more towards the back and the top of the uterus is towards the stomach. Essentially, this means a retroverted uterus extends more directly up and back toward the rectum, instead of folding over and hugging the bladder (if this is confusing, there are a lot of good google images out there). Usually, a tilted uterus is inherited genetically, although there are some conditions that can cause a uterus to become retroverted such as endometriosis, fibroids, or pelvic inflammatory disease.

So do people with tipped uteruses have to worry about anything different than people with normally oriented ones?

My biggest, most fearful questions centered around pregnancy and childbirth. After talking to my gynecologist and doing some of my own research, I found that a tilted uterus itself does not affect getting pregnant. In some cases, conditions that can cause tipped uteruses (mentioned above) may affect getting pregnant, but the orientation of the uterus itself should not. However, in most cases, a tipped uterus does not affect childbirth. Once the beginning stages of pregnancy have passed, the uterus usually pushes itself up and re-orients into the correct position. In rare cases, the uterus is not able to push up and gets caught in a retroverted position. This condition is called uterine incarceration and can lead to pregnancy complications, although it is extremely rare — occurring in less than 1% of births from people with a retroverted uterus. Still, if you’re pregnant, it’s always a good idea to mention to your doctor that you have a tipped uterus.

The most surprising and seemingly most important thing to know about having a tipped uterus is that it can affect the pleasure of sex. It’s common that a tipped uterus causes painful penetrative sex in some positions. This is mostly because, during penetrative sex, the penis/toy will more easily hit the walls of the vagina or bump against the cervix which can be painful. This is usually specific to the position. Positions in which thrusting is deeper can be painful, so avoiding these positions can be helpful. Sticking to positions where you can be in charge of the depth of penetration is ideal. Usually, people with flipped uteruses find doggy style and other back-entering positions to be more painful while finding that positions, where partners are facing each other, tend to work better.

Having a retroverted uterus is usually not a game changer, but at the very least, a good thing to be informed about. The only way to tell the orientation of your uterus is through a pelvic exam by a physician. It’s important that if you think you might have this condition, for reasons such as painful sex, that you talk to your doctor. There are other, more serious conditions that can present similar symptoms.



Phases Of Love


There were five notable phases of my first love.


These phases marked the way my feelings changed for another human being. Let’s call him, Mr. First. My feelings swayed not violently but quietly. They crept up on me in the middle of the night and bit me in the fucking face.

Phase 1: I can’t get enough of you.

We were like magnets. Never not wanting to be holding hands or kissing. We fucked like wild maniacs. It was the best kind of love. The kind that felt like a frenzy, a sugar rush, a high. I felt like I had fallen down his rabbit hole and he, mine. We were so happy to have found something out of the stars. Being who I am, I knew it couldn’t last long. I like to think there’s something wrong with me, almost like an excuse for things getting dull after a while. It could have been too much too soon, like we were meant to fall apart.

Phase 2: Why am I getting sick of you?

I started becoming irritated with every little thing that he did. He could tell. He would confront me, and I would just make up excuses: a bad day, a fight with my dad, a depressive episode. I wasn’t being honest, and I wasn’t being fair. I couldn’t admit that I just wasn’t happy anymore.


Phase 3: Uh-Oh.

It started with a wave of constant fighting. The first breakup. The second breakup. The period of silence. The reconciliation. The “let’s make this work again.” And finally, the third breakup. The one that counts the most.


Phase 4: Acceptance.

The loneliest phase by far. The period of relationship remorse. I missed him. I really missed them, but I knew this was what I had to do.


Phase 5: Relapse.

But, I’ll get to that.

*  *  *

There are moments in life that we can’t forget, no matter how quick they were.

I had just told my first boyfriend that I no longer had feelings for him. This time I meant it. No bullshit, no sugarcoating — just the plain and simple truth. We were standing outside my apartment building, sweat dripping down my neck. I told him, “I’m just being honest. I can’t lie to you anymore.” All he said was, “I appreciate that,” before walking away. It feels quite permanent now. We haven’t spoken in almost a month.

In those few seconds, I was forced to answer a question I had asked myself when I started doubting my feelings for him: what are the consequences of falling out of love? I could give you the short answer: pure heart ache — but the short answer doesn’t do the pain justice. The consequence of falling out of love is that you’re forced to lose yourself for the sake of whoever’s heart your protecting. Let me tell you this, you aren’t protecting your own. Not at the beginning, anyways.

When we talk about relationships, no one really talks about how it feels to be the murderer of one. For a while, that’s how I felt. I knew that if I broke up with Mr. First (for real) I would be responsible for breaking someone’s heart. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to hold onto that burden. Beyond that, deep down, I knew I’d rather be alone than be with Mr. First. When we first started seeing each other, I was the one who was head over heels. I was the one who stalked him at the beach just to see if he was there. I was the one who longed for him. More importantly, I was the one who wanted it to end. And in the end, I was the one who had changed the most.

In the whole year that I was involved with Mr. First my feelings for him would change immensely for no particular reason at all. For the record, that’s the worst kind of change. The kind you can feel but can’t pinpoint for the life of you. It’s the worst because it’s coming from the heart not the brain. You’re permanently cast in a state of wonder, knowing you’ll never get that satisfactory answer you really want. All you know is the feeling that something isn’t right anymore.

It soon became clear that it was unrealistic to be stuck in Phase 1 forever. Phase 2 hit me four months into our time together.

After spending months tip-toeing around the fact that I had gone from full blown infatuation to melancholy, I told him I was questioning our relationship. He wanted to know what he had done. To me, the answer was simple; I had fallen out of love. My feelings were responsible, not him. But he couldn’t understand that. How are you supposed to tell someone that? How are you supposed to look someone that you love in the eye and tell them you don’t want to kiss them or hold their hand anymore? That the very thought of continuing to do so makes you feel like you’re cheating on yourself, cheating on your own feelings?

The truth is, after all the complication, all the fighting, all the sighs — the kissing and the hand-holding seemed like a hobby that we hadn’t touched in years. Actions that had turned into old tennis rackets or roller skates dusting in the corner of an overstuffed closet. Of course we used to be good at those things, in fact, we were the best, but somewhere between the pain and the discomfort, our old hobbies died. We were simply shadows of ourselves trying our hardest to repair what had already been permanently broken.

Phase 3 was the hardest. The first breakup wasn’t official. It was fucking messy. All the fights, all the crying, all the screaming wore me down. It wore down Mr. First, too. Through it all, I’ve learned that I’m not a bad person for wanting something different, something new. Not necessarily a new guy or a new boyfriend, but a new direction. I’d been spending so much time caught up in a relationship that I was unable to enjoy the time I had with myself. It felt unnatural, not being able to let go of something I knew was toxic. I would find myself crying in bed at night. I was stuck in a battle between myself and my love for another. Growing up, you’re told love always wins. At this point, love was winning, but I was also letting love beat me down.

My moment of undiluted clarity came when I realized it was too hard to be with someone who I felt like I was always pretending with. That takes a toll on you, pretending to feel the same way for the sake of saving a heart. I didn’t want to lose feelings for Mr. First. It would have been so much easier if I hadn’t. It was too late though. I had let my love for him morph into a version of affection where I was too scared to hurt him. I put that fear above all of my other emotions. 

We were both tired and broken. He was trying to fix it. I was trying to end it. We all have our own methods when it comes to dealing with love. At the end of the day, it’s hard to admit that no matter how close we get to the skin of another, we will never fully understand everything they feel. Maybe that was our problem. We had gotten so close to each other, but we refused to recognize what the other really needed. As I watched Mr. First walk down my street, I realized we shared some of the best memories of my life. I loved him and will always love him. I only hope he feels that way, too.

Phase 4, acceptance feels uncomfortable at first. I knew it was over but there was still that longing to send a text or call him. I found that everything I saw somehow reminded me of him. I was forced to recognize that I was now alone, but that’s okay because the memories we share with the ones we love help get us through that loneliness. Whether it’s the people that make us smile or the people that make us cry, they both make us a little stronger. Mr. First made me smile and made me cry. In a way, he was a part of making me into me, so I’d like to thank him for that.

*  *  *

Now that I’ve made peace — or at least I’m trying to — with what happened, the final part of breaking up has found me: Phase 5. Relapse comes when you start finding yourself craving love again, as if love hasn’t already broken you down enough. Maybe that song is right; we really are addicted to love. The drug-like, pulsating, sex-dazed, intoxicating type of love. Now it’s different because you don’t have that person you let go of anymore. You’re on your own again. All you have is a few glances from strangers on the street. The promise of something that tastes a little different than the drink you had before. Hopefully this time, it isn’t as bitter, maybe it’s sweet. 

It’s kind of funny; we go through all of these stupid phases of love just to get hooked again, and trust me, you will.


The Effects Of My Father’s Alcoholism


It was routine to walk past the front door after school and see my dad postured in the living room, the same way as when I’d left the house that morning. He would invariably be found sitting sunken and absorbed by the black leather cushion, laptop on his lap, with a few devoted beer-bottled companions by his feet.

To this day, my father is one of the smartest and hardest-working people I know. However, his actions throughout my childhood didn’t reflect these qualities and paved the way for especially brutal attributes. It doesn’t matter how exceptional of a person you are, a grave mental illness has the power to overshadow your identity. It also has the power to make your own loved-ones question themselves.

As a child, I could never decipher how his character could be so contradictory. How could one flip between the extremities of caring and heartless, open-minded and judgmental, kind and brutal so easily? How could I explain this kind of behavior to others and myself — was I just being oversensitive? And how could I make his (oh-so-precious) “happy moments” last longer? These questions trotted around my head for years, and it took me a long time to realize these weren’t thoughts a child is supposed to have in the first place.

The environment we grow up in is bound to affect our mentality and it goes without saying that being raised under his roof impacted mine. I spent years struggling to comprehend the difference between normal and irrational behaviors, learning to trust other adults, and developing healthy coping skills. Little did I know, I wasn’t alone in this situation: in fact, 68% and 57% of mentally ill women and men are parents. It is common that their children, in turn, adopt various hazardous habits and symptoms such as feelings of guilt, disorientation, inability to communicate, and isolation.

I was surprised to find that children of alcoholics tend to share distinct traits (14 are listed on the Adult Children of Alcoholics Organization’s website), to name a few: attraction to compulsive personalities, feelings of guilt when standing up for ourselves, confusion between love and pity, developing dependent personalities, living life from a victim’s standpoint, and having an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. While I do not condone systematic self-diagnosis and radical labeling, it was extremely helpful for me to find where many of my own mental habits stemmed from. From there, I have been able to make tremendous mental growth in recent years.

No matter where I’ve lived, whether it be in Asia or Europe, mental illnesses have been attributed to myths and stigmas because many people don’t have the chance to learn about them properly. For most of my life, I couldn’t reason my father’s behavior and wasn’t until years after his recovery that, through fragments of resources, I could make sense of his illness. If I were to go back in time, I would give my younger self countless pieces of advice and information. I would’ve explained to young Irène that nothing about the situation was her fault, that it was abnormal, that the presence of trusted adults in her life was essential, and most importantly that her father’s dependency didn’t define him as a person.

My dad returned home from his emergency rehabilitation treatment by the time I was in middle school. It was then I discovered an entirely new side of him — a side that had been buried under the weight of his addiction for the last decade. His soberness caused him to lose weight, giving him a sudden physical sprout of energy. Mentally, he had a more balanced mindset and personality. Some of the best memories I have of him come from our walks around in Paris after he gained his health back, in which he’d point at every little corner of the city and spew out historical facts like a walking encyclopedia.

This is why I believe that being able to gain an accurate understanding of mental illnesses starting from a young age is vital. It is an issue that no one should have to shoulder alone, including those who are affected by a loved one’s disorder.

Although mental health is still overlooked in many schools and communities, it is a blessing that a range of external resources (especially online ones) are becoming increasingly available for people with internet access. I look forward to seeing our society grow from grass-root awareness to one that actively defeats the taboo associated with mental illnesses as a whole.


Below are some online resources that you can use to learn more about mental illness:


DoubleTap: MacKenzie Peck Makes Porn For Everyone

DoubleTap is an interview series highlighting creatives whose work explores sex, body and identity. All photos courtesy of Math Magazine. 


In 2015, MacKenzie Peck decided to start a pornography magazine, and rather than elevating the industry’s usual subjects, the 31-year-old and her team turned the camera to bodies of all identities. Every shape, size, and age can be found in an issue of Math Magazine. Their commitment to showcasing the diversity of human sexuality has made them one of the most radically inclusive porn magazines on the market. She sat down with her fiancé, Dan Allegrucci, to discuss the challenges and importance of re-imagining what erotic content looks like.


Do you want to give a general history of Math Magazine?

I first had the idea for Math Magazine when I was having a sort of summer of sexual self-discovery. I was being introduced to a lot of amazing people and ideas that I didn’t know existed but I was very excited to discover. During this time, I wasn’t seeing media that reflected this quickly expanding world of sexual freedom, exploration, and community. Leading up to this time, I was looking for the opportunity to start my own business. These two paths of sexual exploration and entrepreneurial-ism converged on Math Magazine.

The first seed of the idea was planted when I was at a house party in Baltimore and I was kind of doing my own thing, hanging out — didn’t really know any one, when I saw this group of women walk past me and go upstairs. Naturally I followed to see what was going on. The whole group started to play dress up in a way that was really sexy, playful, and exciting. It felt like a very special moment that I wanted to experience as much as possible in my life. I had visions of Hugh Hefner, Playboy Mansion — a fun and sexy environment like that. That’s when I decided I wanted to start a porn magazine. I told everyone who’d listen about it but it took a few years for things to really get started.


That’s how it started, why do you continue to do it today since it has evolved?

With the first photo shoot and the first issue, I was really relying on people to trust me and to believe in this idea, this vision for what the magazine is meant to be and what it could be — the potential it had. I knew it was a lot to ask of someone. Because, why? Why would someone bare all, quite literally, for something that didn’t exist yet. It really came down to trust. Ever since that realization, I had this commitment to basically be beholden to the people who work with me. I like the idea of honoring the contributions and perspectives that people are bringing to Math Magazine. I think that pushes me forward. This idea that I have this commitment, this promise to everybody who works with me on the magazine [and the readers who are] interested in reading the magazine. That’s what keeps me going and working on it year after year.


Do you have any cool projects, issue releases, events, or anything else exciting coming up?

We just launched a crowd-funding campaign for an adult coloring book. This is a big set of firsts for us. We’ve never done a crowd-funding campaign and we’ve never published a title beyond Math Magazine. And we certainly have never done a coloring book before! It’s really ambitious because it pulls from content from all of our past issues with a redesigned, re-imagined look for the optimal coloring experience.



You gave some of the origin story, aside from that, what would you say inspired you to start Math Magazine?

My ex-husband, when I was in college in Baltimore, introduced me to these ideas of being able to [own] your own business. I think I understood a little bit of it because I was being trained as an artist, and I think there is a lot of entrepreneurial-ism in that. Nevertheless, to me the idea of starting my own company from nothing was pretty foreign. He taught me about the power of design. With great skill and finesse, I would see him typeset something and completely transform the page. That had a major impact on me and I learned a lot from that. When I was starting the magazine I was also thinking about maybe starting a design firm or a creative agency and kind of trying to get a sense of these different business landscapes. How do you get started? What do you need to really break into these industries? I found the most empowering thing about starting a magazine was that the only thing I needed, really, was the money to print. For Math Magazine Issue Zero, I started with just 50 copies because that’s all the money I had. From there it has grown steadily. That was my only kind of gatekeeper and since then it’s been astounding to discover that I’m more free, in my experience, in print than I am in any other medium. I’m really in control of all of it and that has been really empowering.


Was there anything growing up that steered you into publishing, which a lot of people think of as a dying field? What is it that drew you to that?

I grew up with magazines and newspapers around. I grew up with a real respect for Vogue and the New York Times. I think it makes sense to me that the role of Editor in Chief is something that where I see a lot of mystique. It’s a position of creative power, freedom, and glory. I think having the artistic mentality draws you to the physicality of print or the physicality of the object. For me, seeing my ideas realized in physical form feels more substantial … well that’s changing a little for me. We just started a YouTube channel and it feels pretty good to upload a video, I’ve got to say.


Radically inclusive porn, that’s what Math Magazine brands itself as, how has your personal relationship with porn evolved throughout your life?

My earliest experiences of porn felt yucky. I feel like all conversations around it were kind of grossed out, cringe-y [with a] “don’t look at it” mentality. I must have searched stuff on the Internet but I don’t remember anything specifically. A big thing for me growing up was maybe less porn and more talking to people in chat rooms. Anonymous chatting was my flirtation with sexual expression or learning, even. I remember finding my parent’s copy of Joy of Sex. In high school, I was obsessed with being a figure painter. I would look at sexually charged figure painters like Balthus. Maybe I didn’t even understand my attraction to it but I was really into these ambiguous sexual narratives. I would create these in my paintings. I had a painting on this giant piece of plywood and it was called some sort of mysterious Sapphic thing. I don’t know who gave me that word. When I think about these different nodes on the timeline I see this attraction to and flirtation with these different types of sexual expression or communicating around sexuality. It’s kind of neat to see it in retrospect.


It sounds like you didn’t grow up with a significant engagement with porn, per se, [rather] you encountered sexual media of various kinds. But it sounds almost like you reached a point in life where you seized upon porn and claimed it for your own and decided to plant your flag in that and make it something to this point it hasn’t been.

I like the idea of it becoming something that isn’t embarrassing and for there to be this wide range of experiences and expressions. That summer of sexual awakening I was realizing what an amazing range of sexual experiences exist and what an amazing range bodies [also exist]. I was in love with it all, hungry to see and experience as much as I could. With the Internet I’ve definitely appreciated being exposed to different peoples’ perspectives, like, the experience of bodies that don’t look like mine or feel some way that I don’t feel. Being able to encompass all of that in the medium of porn, as well as every other, is a beautiful thing — something to be celebrated.


Why do you think creating inclusive porn is important?

As a young adult, in my 20s, I consumed porn in a pretty limited way. I think of it, even today, as pretty utilitarian. Like, I’m trying to do a thing: I’m trying to have an orgasm. I’ve got this much time I want to put into it. I think that has been the vast majority of my experience with it but I think the applications are wide and the interpretations of it are vast. It seems the media that is the most common in porn is such a narrow sliver of that experience and it seems like a damn shame to me that that’s the case. That’s my main mission: why not have the medium of porn reflect the amazing diversity of bodies and sexual interests out there? It’s outrageous to me that it’s so monopolized by a couple of viewpoints.


Do you feel like by making it inclusive that it gives permission or emboldens people who wouldn’t be interested or wouldn’t allow themselves to consume porn that it kind of opens the door for them?

Absolutely. If all the content is made by and for a very particular perspective and experience… if you’re not seeing people that look like you or seeing people you are attracted to, why would you even explore it — never mind get excited about it?


It’s almost like the inclusivity is more important than the porn-ness. You know what I mean?

The porn-ness is a part of the inclusivity, though, because kink-shaming or the idea of tender masculinity not being accepted or the idea that certain sexual expressions are only valid for certain types of people… I think upending all of that is a part of the inclusivity.


What have been some of the obstacles in creating and running an independent magazine?

Being kicked off of very popular and powerful platforms has been a problem. We used to have a Facebook and we don’t any more. Living with this insecurity that you are building these followings, you are building these communities on these platforms and at any given time the rug can be pulled out from under you. There are some trust issues there. Not being able to harness the power of these advertising tools, honestly, sucks. I glimpsed, briefly, what it’s like to use Facebook ads for Instagram and Facebook and it’s pretty amazing. To use that kind of tool for the positive work that we are doing could be really powerful and it’s a shame that we can’t.

I wish I could hire people to work for me. I wish I could pay everyone more. Those are hurdles that I face. I wish I could reach people who aren’t specifically seeking out progressive porn. I wish there were more entry points to reach the people for whom maybe it could have a significant impact on their lives.


How do you maintain Math’s political agenda while keeping the sex appeal intact?

I think I have to say no a lot in order to amplify voices that don’t get the platform or the printed page enough. There is a lot of media that is sexy, but isn’t always in line with our values. It would make my job a lot easier if I just said yes to all that stuff, but if it’s not really pushing the narrative forward, socially, I don’t use it. In some ways I have to say no to a limited viewpoint in order to give an enthusiastic yes to everyone else. For each issue I’m trying to find high caliber content that hits certain notes in terms of representing certain types of people or scenarios.

I guess this might be a challenge, too, that I’m always looking to amplify voices that aren’t given the mic enough. There’s this funny chicken or the egg situation where if you don’t see yourself in porn then you’re not super willing to put yourself out there like that because the world isn’t really supporting you. So I definitely put in the extra legwork to find the bodies and voices and photographers that don’t get seen in mainstream media enough. It’s harder but it’s essential to what we do.


It’s about saying yes to people and helping them see the possibilities. That’s the true power of it; it’s like a shining light.

I fight the status quo with love, sex, and beauty in a way that is very subversive. I use the metaphor of the pill that you wrap in the cheese to give a dog. So the pill is the political mission of the magazine and then the cheese is the beautiful images, the fun stories. No matter what we do, the top line item is that we want to turn people on and we want to expose people to sexy ideas, within that is our agenda of sexual liberation, diversity in media, and intersectional feminism … to name a few.


Do you have an all time favorite feature or spread from Math Magazine?

That’s a cool question. I don’t know, here is the first thing that came to mind: I was blown away by the shoot where we had bubbles. I really like experimentation in my personal sex life so maybe that has something to do with it. I met this bubble artist while co-working in the city. I think he goes by Bubble Daddy. So I’m working in this stuffy co-working space, one day I got up to this guy practicing his bubbles in this carpeted office, which is weird in itself. And I was like, “Hey man, what do you think of encasing a hot woman in a bubble?” And he’s like, “Uhhhh, ok!”

Cut to being in the studio and we’ve got this bubble guy and he’s got all this gear and we’ve got this amazing model, photographer, an assistant, and me. It was a big team, for me at least. Being able to learn from this bubble guy and watch him experiment and make all these off-the-cuff decisions in support of our vision was amazing. We were all trouble shooting together. It was really hard work and we made a mess. The photos are incredible. The experience of making the image was really special. I remember we were cutting it really close on our time slot in the studio and we needed to clean up. I swear the five or ten minutes after you say you’re done, that’s when you get the good shots. We’re trying to clean up this bubble soap stuff and I kind of notice that the model, photographer, and bubble guy are still going and it looks like it’s really good and I’m going to shut up and just keep cleaning and let them do their thing. I think sometimes giving people permission to be done allows them let go or suggest something they wouldn’t otherwise. It’s really magical.


The theme through that seems like playfulness. The terms “play party” or “butt play,” and using the word play in a sexual way is really cool. I think maybe once the shoot is over, and everyone drops their guard the play can happen. If you could magically change one thing about the mainstream porn industry what would it be?

One thing? I would want it to become normal for it to pay for porn again. Full stop.



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Art Man

Save an Uber, Ride a Cowboy is a column exploring queer millennial sex culture. The stories presented here are based on true events. Identities have been changed to protect the privacy and reputations of those involved.


She met him on a Tuesday night — back when she could afford to eat a full meal only once a day — thanks to a “dating” app called Seeking Arrangement which you can no longer find in the App Store (I wonder why). Like every other [unsuccessful] conversation she’d had through said app, Amy was having a very straight-forward conversation, this time with a man named Andreas. She was a 20-year-old bisexual Latina who had just moved to Manhattan, and he was a 43-year-old man asking if she would go over to his house that same night for $400. Although the word “sex” was never mentioned, it was implied, and she didn’t really mind. So she took the 4 train to Barclays Center at 10:00 P.M.

It wasn’t a date. She’d been on exactly two dates in the city — once in Central Park with a dream-girl who always referred to her as Miss Yellow (since yellow was Amy’s favorite color) and once over dinner with a man she met spontaneously at Union Square. If only millennial dating culture wasn’t so nonchalant, Amy really thought Dream Girl and Mr. Union Square would’ve been perfect candidates for future lonely nights… then again, Mr. Andreas, who pays $400 a visit, a 34-year-old millionaire living in Uptown Manhattan, and a 42-year-old cop willing to pay $300 for a kiss, were also pretty good candidates (though, for different reasons).

These last three men were all Sugar Daddies, or men willing to pay young women hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars for either sex or just company. These men have so much money that they don’t mind “sponsoring” or “mentoring” girls like Amy.

She liked older men; she liked sex, and she obviously liked money. Getting paid by older men for doing anything related to sex seemed like the perfect part-time job.

At the time, Amy was crashing at her best friend’s apartment, who was currently vacationing in Puerto Rico along with Amy’s only other friend in the city. She was all alone in Manhattan, so in an effort to prepare herself for the worst case scenario, she texted her closest friends where she was going, even though they were a thousand miles away.

On her way over to Mr. Andreas’ apartment, as she was smoking her habitual calm-down cigarette, she passed a Police Precinct (and a shocking amount of drunk people). She thought to herself, Well, my friends are out of town, but there’s police and drunken witnesses. If anything goes wrong… at least I have that. She felt surprisingly calm. Soon enough, she was standing in front of one of those frosted glass doors, the shadow of a man approaching her from the opposite side.

Mr. Andreas was a little bigger than she had expected; he wasn’t ugly but he wasn’t incredibly handsome either — he was just fine. He had a beard and hair that reached his shoulders, with tattoos covering his arms almost completely. He looked like a wannabe rockstar turned family man. “Watch out for that bicycle,” he said as Amy made her way up the stairs and into his home.

And it was huge. I mean, reader, keep in mind how expensive rent can be in a city like New York, this man’s “apartment” consisted of three whole floors, each of which were bigger than the apartment Amy was living in. And every single wall was covered in artwork: paintings, a mural covering one wall from the top of the high ceiling to the hardwood floor, old musical instruments, DVDs, CDs… he was an Art Man, and as a fellow art lover, Amy was impressed.

Once inside, Amy sat down next to him on the sofa, and as they were “watching” some TV show about some comedian, they started talking about their lives. He was kind, respectful, and although perhaps he was anxious to get her into his bed — patient. After all, he knew this was, in a way, a “first time” for Amy. But then the wait was over, and he asked Amy if she’d like to go upstairs to his bedroom. She said okay, because what else was she meant to say?

Suddenly, she wasn’t so calm anymore. As Amy walked up the stairs, eventually sitting down on his bed, she realized she was actually expected to have sex with a man who was more than twice her age for money. The thought of actually going through with it made her feel dirty… Correction: she felt like she was supposed to feel dirty, and for a good reason. To this day, the [sexist] society we live in depicts sex workers like strippers, prostitutes, and Sugar Babies as a group of troubled, desperate women, who have sex with disgusting men for a miserable amount of money.

But he wasn’t disgusting, and she wasn’t troubled. Desperate for money? Only a little bit, but he was also desperate for something. And so Amy came clean, told Andreas about her newfound insecurities, to which he replied, “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. I would hate for you to feel uncomfortable.”

“I did crazy things for money when I was your age, too,” he continued, in an effort to help Amy wrap her head around her thoughts. That’s when it hit her: this is just a grown man who wanted to feel the warm touch of a younger woman, and was willing to pay for it. Amy just happened to be the younger woman. Once again, he let her know, “You’re free to go if you don’t want to do this,” and she was…

And so she stayed. She stayed because she wanted to, because she liked him; Andreas was interesting and smart and pretty sympathetic. Laying in bed, they started talking about other things; Amy noticed some drawings, hanging on his bedroom wall, that looked like they had been painted by little kids — that’s when he confessed he had children.

“I have a nine year-old and a thirteen year-old,” and that was the last piece of information he gave about his private life. After that they decided, without words, to take things slow. 

Andreas started by massaging her legs, her feet, eventually massaging her whole body. What he didn’t know was that a good massage was Amy’s biggest weakness. So she let him kiss her, and he wasn’t bad at it, which lead to…

In an episode of Sex and the City, Samantha Jones said, “… money is power. Sex is power. Therefore, getting money for sex is simply an exchange of power.” And she’s right. When you’re a sex worker (whether you’re sleeping with your client or not), you know you have power. If the client offers you one thing, but you think you deserve something more, you can speak up. Just because they’re paying for sexual services doesn’t make it okay for them to abuse of their power. Sex is power. Money is power. Getting money for sex should be an exchange of power, not an abuse of it.

Suddenly, it was 11:40 P.M. and Amy was dressed again. She didn’t feel gross or bad about herself afterwards. She hadn’t been forced to do anything — she knew she had done what she wanted to do for money, not what she had to do.

Once finished, they went back downstairs and Amy played with his cats and started tuning the ukulele he had lying around.

“You play the ukulele?”

“Yes,” she replied.

With that, she realized the strange thing about an exchange of power: you might spend hours talking, but you never really know each other. The things she let him know about her life were not the same as the ones she would reveal to a person on a regular date (and vice versa). Let’s bring back Mr. Union Square and Dream Girl from the second paragraph for a quick comparison. Amy’s dates with these two individuals were actual dates meant to get to know each other better. The purpose behind a date with a Sugar Daddy, essentially, is not that. It’s just an equally beneficial business deal disguised as a date.

And so she got on a Lyft (which he paid for) and went back home, $400 richer, looking for a place where she could do her nails the following day.

Diary of a Sidechick

Withholding information has always been a vice of mine. As a child I loved to learn the secrets of others; keep them close to my chest. What I never considered, though, was that I too may be a secret kept from others.

Some notions of love are based on satiating a personal desire, indulging in a fantasy conjured to fill an emotional void. That being said, I still can never understand how people cheat. It’s natural to want to put a face to the “cheating type,” but the notion of a type is one dimensional, whereas a cheater is a multifaceted individual. Often, cheating serves as an attempt to manage emotional trauma or satiate a hidden desire. In a couple instances, I’ve observed the act of cheating from an alternate perspective, inhabiting the role of the “side chick.” In both cases, lines were crossed and circumstances skewed by my attempts to ‘have my cake and eat it too.”

*  *  *

Ricky and I went to the same high school. He had a long term relationship, one that seemed destined for a young marriage. We met at a stop light after graduation. He pulled up next to me at the red light and waved. In a state of confusion I rolled up my window and continued on my way, thinking little of the matter; after all, we were strangers. However, later that week I was checking my DMs and spotted a message from Ricky containing a red location pin. I responded with a cloud emoji, possibly to avoid conversation, possibly because I recognized his endgame. We began texting regularly, establishing a strange, yet intimate relationship. It was the kind of surreal internet relationship in which you get to know each other’s daily schedules and create fake plans to meet up in person; entertaining each of your personal fantasies without following through. That was, until we ended up actually meeting about a week later. Our encounters were restricted to secluded areas and the cover of night — we had created a secret life for ourselves.

I began to fall for him just as his true nature began to reveal itself. Despite insisting that he was in fact single, he was clearly still implicated in a relationship which never fully ended, and which came with its own set of emotional baggage. His manipulation continued for close to a year.

In the process, I grew depressed and desperate for attention. I cried all day, feeling as though I wasn’t apart of his reality, only revealing myself to the people in his life through fragmented photos on the internet, while his girlfriend remained his main concern. In the meantime I gained a false sense of accomplishment from attracting and maintaining his attention throughout the course of his previously established relationship. In calling it quits, I felt like I was letting the “other girl” win. We both wanted his attention, and would do anything to get it. In reality, he was the only one benefiting from our arrangement, while his girlfriend and I both suffered from his half-truths and blocked calls.

*  *  *

I see a guy around around school, by early June we’re hanging out. We spend the night together and I can tell that the connection is real. My body is on fire when he kisses me. I take this shit way too seriously.

Leaving the next morning, I couldn’t feel better. Sleeping together felt right; he’s so attractive. He texts me right when I get home and we keep in contact throughout the week, chatting constantly and indulging in our own personal fantasies. He tells me he wants to hang out, he misses me, he wants to go to the beach, he wants to talk about everything and nothing.  

We follow each other on Instagram. I notice a pretty face in his past feed and think nothing of it – after all, some people never delete pictures of exes. I decide that I may as well ask him directly: “Do you have a girlfriend.” Two days later he responds, “I don’t have a GF,” so I take him at his word. Two weeks ago I find myself asking him to hang out more and more, only to be met with dry responses or a lack-thereof. I figure he must be ghosting me, and think that I’ll get over it soon enough; five days at the most.

He texts me on Monday asking me not to take things so seriously, to just enjoy having fun. I’m left confused. He finally grabs my attention, only to ask me to ease up? At this point I begin to see a pretty face all over his feed. It’s hard not to speculate. After all, this person is completely curbing me, better find out why and for whom. Questions begin to swarm my brain: Why does she get to be seen and admired as his significant other? Why not me? Why would he keep me around when all his time and affection are focused elsewhere? How could someone who can’t even text me back expect my loving attention? I begin to spiral.  

A week later I text him telling him to never speak to me again, not to call out of boredom when “she’s” not around. A week after that I see him in a restaurant. He smiles and shakes his head as I sit and eat. It’s easy to hide behind false promises, but seeing him in person, his eyes look sad and dull.

*  *  *

At first, being pursued by a cheater seems mysterious or even thrilling. The idea of being coveted at face value is extremely flattering. However, soon enough it becomes evident that, to the cheater, you are simply a secret to be kept from all those they hold most dear. As a “side-chick,” I wasn’t receiving any face-time with my pursuer, despite knowing that my face definitely deserves to be loved and admired in public. In the hopes of filling an emotional void, I lost sight of the bigger picture: the cheater’s previously established relationship, in which I simply played a minor role. Gleaning that my pursuer considered me to be the “less significant-other,” I began to lose sight of myself. Self-analyzing morphed into self-critique, as I surveyed body and mind for the attributes which had demoted me to “second best.” The result was confusion and emotional exhaustion; the depletion of self-worth without any consolatory results.

In the months that followed I began to reflect on the implications of this experience, becoming increasingly concerned with the effects of side-chick culture. While I am sympathetic to the complexities of intimacy and relationships, I am also concerned that people (men in particular) are not being held accountable for their actions in the face of this culturally accepted phenomenon. At the end of the day, it is what someone does to show you their loyalty and respect for you that matters. It is hard to not get caught up in things that could be, and everyday I need to remind myself to practice what I preach.

If they don’t want to truly know you and display their love for your to the world, forget them.


The Sisterhood Of Sluts


Last week, I hooked up with a stranger for the very first time. He was an Ivy League hotshot with a French background. I definitely wanted to see his baguette, if you know what I mean. I met him through Instagram, and yes — I slid into his DMs. We decided to hang out in person with mutual intention to hook-up. When we met, we talked for thirty minutes and then… we had sex. It wasn’t until after I had gotten home that a fearful question began to sneak into my head: Am I a slut?

I was stunned. The whole experience was exciting, totally entertaining, and really fun. Why did something that felt so silly and random have to be hexed with this negative connotation? Was I entering the Sisterhood of Sluts? The sorority that I had never rushed but was shoved into anyway by the countless years of demoralizing sexually active women. The truth is I don’t feel gross or dirty for sleeping with some random guy. So what does slut even mean and why does being a slut have to be a bad thing? Guys get praised all the time for sleeping with random girls. Yet, I don’t see anyone giving me a high-five — and not to brag, but I’m really good at high-fiving.

This double standard shit is hard to escape from, even intrinsically. Before having sex with Baguette Boy, I said to myself, “Don’t worry, don’t worry. I’m not a slut.”  What the fuck! I sort of betrayed myself with that exclamation (realizing it only afterwards when I was lying in bed alone). Bottom line: I felt deep down that I had to justify my sexual behavior and he didn’t. Even though I still don’t know how many sexual partners he’s had, somewhere inside of me, I felt like I had to prove to him that I was not a “used-up woman.” I felt like I had to prove my purity, which technically, by this socially constructed standard, I had lost long ago. And why is that? What made me the one who had to assure him I was clean enough to touch, to fuck? And what will happen the next time I sleep with someone new? Will that feeling come again? And again?

In all honesty this whole thing is rather confusing.

Society seems obsessed with defining women’s sexuality for them, and has come up with this negative concept of sex that almost feels like a scare tactic. Isn’t that what the word does? It makes women feel derogatory for enjoying something so basic. Why should tiny glitches in my life, tiny moments spent with other humans, short intervals of random sex come to define me as an individual? I know I’m more than how many guys I’ve slept with; whether that’s one or fifty. Screw the world for making me think I’m no more than a number. The truth is, sex with my Baguette Boy won’t be on my mind in five months, let alone five years. If sex is the most natural thing humans do, then isn’t it unnatural for us to categorize each other by how much we do it? Couldn’t we do the same with how much we eat or drink? Isn’t it all in our biology? Yes. Yes, it fucking is.

First, I’d like to address that this double standard is a clearly defined differently depending on the gender that’s having the (too much) sex in question. But I’d also like to address that this issue, at its core, is about our overarching need to categorize people. We think if we can categorize people as “sluts” and “non-sluts” that there’s a “better” side. Not to say there isn’t value in drawing a personal line for yourself, but it seems that that line is being drawn for women rather than by women. 

So how do we contend with this idea of female promiscuity? It’s been so ingrained in our heads that this is a negative thing, that it becomes almost impossible to ignore. Hard to push away the thought that you’ve “done something wrong as a woman.” It’s hard to ignore that you’ve, “let society down.” And what’s all this guilt and shaming for? For twenty minutes of your life that a dick was inside of you? Is that what your whole self-worth is going to come down to?

Yes, sex is important in a lot of different ways, but the amount of sex we have is not who we are. Why would anyone want to be defined by who they’re sleeping with in a given week?

Nonetheless, women are constantly defined by their sexuality. 

I wish I knew how to make this problem go away. I wish I could show you the male equivalent of slut in the dictionary. (There isn’t one by the way. Manwhore doesn’t count because whore is still defined as a promiscuous woman. Fuckboy doesn’t count because it’s not in the dictionary — yet.) I wish I could say there are no consequences for having as much as sex as you want as a woman. But sadly, in today’s world, people are likely to talk about you differently, look at you differently, and treat you differently.

I think all I can do to help is just be honest. Maybe, if I can show you that it’s okay to do whatever the fuck you want sexually, you won’t feel so alone out there. The reality is that women like sex and want to have sex. If it’s impossible to shed ourselves of the slut title, let’s choose to own it. Let’s make those judgmental bastards cry! Instead of being unknowingly inducted through whispers and shit-talk, I cordially invite you to the Sisterhood of Sluts: a new sorority.

If you want to join great, and if you don’t — that’s great too. Don’t let someone else push you to join. Open the door yourself, if that’s what you choose to do.


PGAD 101

Cover photo Mycoze, whose work can be found here. 


One of the most exciting and liberating experiences in life is getting turned on or turning someone else on. After all, once the sexual energy in the room gets flowing between you and a consenting partner — you already know you’re in for a wild ride. However, sexual satisfaction is something that many people, more than you realize, cannot attain. Consequentially, the feeling of being turned on doesn’t ever quite go away, and can actually become painful. The cause in these cases could be Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder.

According to researchers Aswath, Pandit, Kashyap and Ramnath (2016), Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (or PGAD) is “a phenomenon, in which afflicted women [or, in more rare cases, men] experience spontaneous genital arousal, unresolved by orgasms and triggered by sexual or nonsexual stimuli, eliciting stress.” Some who experience this disorder can have spontaneous orgasms at random and potentially embarrassing moments throughout the day. But, the feeling of physical genital arousal will still remain and can cause extreme concern and discomfort.

Some of the most common symptoms of PGAD for women include swelling of the …

  • Clitoris
  • Vagina
  • Vaginal lips
  • Nipples
  • Other parts of the body


In men, PGAD systoms include…

  • Penile pain
  • Erections that last for hours
  • A throbbing, tingling, swelling or sometimes burning sensation in the genitals


According to the Pelvic Pain Foundation’s website, to be diagnosed with PGAD one must experience, “genital arousal [for] an extended time (hours to months); no other cause for genital arousal [can] be present; the genital arousal should be unrelated to feelings of sexual desire; the arousal sensation should feel intrusive and unwanted; and be associated with some distress; and the arousal sensation should persist, at least to some degree after orgasm.”

The causes of PGAD are generally unknown, but it’s been found that, in some women, it can either stem from neurological dysfunction or psychological stress.

Being turned on doesn’t sound fun in this case, does it? It isn’t.

It can negatively impact both social and personal aspects of people’s lives. Individuals with PGAD may develop a fear of going out in public because of how unpredictable their orgasms are, and relationships with significant others may deteriorate due to PGAD-induced sexual incompatibility.

What’s worse is that because of the nature of the disorder — it’s a fairly and not discussed — it’s not taken as seriously as it should be. In fact, the medical community believes there may be many people experiencing PGAD who are unaware that their symptoms are linked to a disorder.

That’s why it’s important to talk about it. In creating an open and safe space for sex and sexual disorders to be discussed, we open the doors for more people to come forward and begin to identify and address ailments like PGAD. More importantly, being open about disorders like these reminds everyone that, no matter the circumstances, you can find ways to own and feel empowered by your sexual nature.

Porn: a Generation’s Teacher

This article originally appeared in Pull Out, our magazine exploring the relationship between sex and technology. You can order a copy here


Bathed in a mixture of LED, shame, and lust I remember the first time I masturbated in front of a computer screen. Like clockwork, every day after school I would take half an hour to explore my sexuality in front of my family’s Windows 7.

While pornography, with its heightened depictions of sex, is nothing new — how we interact with it post-millennium is. Nowadays, you don’t have to worry about scrounging up the funds or an 18-plus friend to buy a Playboy or Penthouse magazine for you. The digital age has made it possible to get every type of porn imaginable, free of charge, in a matter of seconds. Therefore it’s worth examining if, as a generation raised in the glow of internet porn, we relate to our sexuality fundamentally different for it.  

“I was just trying to figure out how things would work,” admitted Candace Puente, 22, one millennial interviewed on how porn has affected her sex life.  Almost every other millennial we talked to described developing an online viewing habit while they were still virgins, turning to Xtube and Brazzers to fill in the blanks left by their schools’ sexual education programs.

“Porn showed me what sex could look like. Tumblr showed me the science side, so like why she/he is climaxing. Any remaining questions [went] to the internet,” said Eli Congelio, 21. For much of today’s impressionable youth, porn provided a visual example of the mechanics involved — well sort of.

Nicholas Walton, a 21-year-old heterosexual man, described being initially misled by videos’ depiction of male-on-female sex. “When you watch a lot of porn, all the dude does is stick his dick in her a bunch of times, and she’s just moaning and screaming her ass off… and then when you go into the experience [of sex] it’s not like that.” The scenario Walton describes is commonplace in online pornography; female actresses in straight porn are notoriously vocal, expressing satisfaction with their scene partner(s) in an exaggerated manner. While this is a choice no doubt encouraged by directors, it can foster unrealistic expectations of sexual response.

“You kind of think anything will be good,” continued Walton, “but what you quickly realize is for your partner, it might not be.”

Alec Chi, 22 and also straight, said online porn misled him regarding the amount of time it takes to stimulate women to the point where they are ready for penetration. “The girl has to get more wet,” he concludes now, having gained real life experience.

Reversely, when asked if porn accurately depicts the way women get off, 22-year-old Claire Reaves responded via email, “I guess there are women out there that get off on aggressive, jack-hammering whatever, but that’s not reflective of what I’ve heard from my friends or my own experiences.” Meanwhile, when asked the same question, the heterosexual, cisgender millennial men interviewed admitted that most porn, at least on a basic level, demonstrated a viable depiction of male sexual pleasure.

This idea of varied gender perspective came up often during interviews, begging the question: who is porn made for? Most videos seem to favor one gender’s fantasies over the other, with the women acting as a vessel for their male partner’s satisfaction. In mainstream porn, it’s not unusual to see an actress gagging on the actor’s dick while he sprinkles down expletives like “dirty whore” or “cock slut.” The performers involved have likely planned this exchange, and this behavior would be fine if consent were reiterated on screen. However, it almost never is. And it’s not likely that a young man, boner in hand while watching this interaction on his laptop, will consider such behind-the-scenes negotiations. This can send the message that this kind of behavior is acceptable without consent, and worse — that women expect it. If this is the case, is it possible that porn is conditioning a generation of boys to believe this dynamic is the norm, and for a generation of girls to expect it?

While not all porn shows male-favored circumstances, female-centric content is less popular with male viewers. In 2015, PornHub reported that women typed something similar to “guy licking pussy” and “man eating pussy” in their search bar 930% more than men did. Keep in mind that millennials (ages 18-34) account for 60% of PornHub’s worldwide users, and 76% of users are male. In the same year, PornHub saw a 260% search gain for men looking up “extreme gangbang” and “creampies,” which is when a man orgasms in a woman without a condom.

It’s in this capacity that online porn can become a dangerous tool, a negligent educator that feeds its viewers false depictions of sex. Naturally, young people internalize what they watch, especially if it’s the only action they’re privy to. This can generate a misalignment between what we expect sex to look and feel like and the actual reality of intercourse.

However, the millennial relationship with porn isn’t all bad.

For a generation that went through puberty with a desktop readily available, the discovery of porn often coincided with the discoveries of our bodies — to outright condemn pornography is to disregard a vital component of millennial sexual development. For many of us, our erotic exploration began in front of a computer screen; our lust acting as compass as we navigated the hidden depths of worldwide web. This demystified sex, introduced many to future kinks, and in my particular case, helped me discover my sexuality. My pornography preferences forced me to confront my orientation. As I typed “gay sex” into the Google search bar, the correlation between who was inspiring my orgasms and what that meant became increasingly clear. Maybe I should write to the PornHub execs and thank them?

Despite all the inaccuracies perpetuated by the industry, more than one millennial interviewed described porn as having a positive effect on their sexual confidence. “I wanted to be as comfortable as those people were to be filmed,” said Puente. She said it helped to see people look uninhibited while having sex, offering an example of a level of performance confidence to aspire to. 

However, it was in the same vein mainstream porn fell short for millennial viewers. Many stated they preferred to watched amateur, homemade videos, opting for realness over production. They craved context and a sense of connection between the parties involved, feeling as though porn actors often appear too detached and rehearsed. Overall, most of the millennials I spoke with regard porn fondly. It was their first taste of the real thing, a crucial teacher, and watching online videos of both men and women expressing sexual pleasure helped instill the notion that sex should be a mutually beneficial act, even if the industry depicts this unequally.

While older generations (and even some of our own ranks) will never tire of branding millennials as emotionally stunted, it seems much of what this generation craves sexually are the truths of IRL intercourse: messy, fumbling intimacy.


Photos by Luke Gilford.