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Nudity is not porn

This article first appeared on PublicHouse.sg

Recently, I attended a two-day Internet Marketing course. Each attendee paid approximately S$2,000. Imagine my shock, then, when I arrived at the workshop venue to find that there were 94 persons attending (somebody counted). There were a total of five technical facilitators for 94 people, and since many course participants were non-techies, many were left completely in the lurch. As for myself, over the two days I learned what I could have in two hours.

However, there was a respite: I stood to win my course fee back. Each of us had to fork out a mandatory additional S$50 to enter a competition. In this competition, we were to submit our new website(s) entry to the lead trainer’s Facebook page. Fifty per cent of the votes (in the form of “Likes” for your website submission link) would come from our friends, and the remaining fifty by her. What this means is that if the person with the highest “likes” had 119, you would need 60 votes, plus the trainer’s 60 to beat the best contender.

Over three weeks, I hired freelancers where possible, and worked dogmatically at writing content, creating downloadable bonuses, while also developing the look and feel of my intended web submissions because… I needed to win. I really could use the money.

Another reason why I slogged at the back-breaking speed I did was because I have long recognised the Internet as a way to generate more awareness about my work. Many of my clients were finding me online because traditional media outlets have failed them. Advertising in magazines and newspapers are expensive, not to mention their electronic counterparts, and due to the “sensitive nature” of my work, I have often been refused publication including in our local classifieds.

I did my search on appropriate domain names, purchased them, and just as they were ready to be launched, the Registrar of Domains sent me a set of questions about my intentions behind these websites. Fortunately, I passed with flying colours because my purpose is to educate, not to disgust or offend. Finally, they were launched:

www.virginity.com.sg

www.vaginismus.com.sg

www.orgasm.com.sg

www.HowtoKiss.com.sg

www.HowtoHaveSex.com.sg

www.bacheloretteparty.com.sg

Because of my appreciation of the human form as art, I have also decided to partner with a renowned photographer in offering nude photography services. I would basically apply my search engine optimisation skills acquired and refer legitimate clients to him. Hence, this site was born:

www.NudePhotographySingapore.com.sg

In less than a half hour from posting my entry onto the Facebook contest page, at 2:01 a.m. (no less), I saw this message from K (let’s just call him K): “This is disgusting. No porn please. We are Aseans.” (All posts and replies, by the way, are sic).

My reply: “This is NOT porn. Sigh.”

A friendly person (an acquaintance) wrote: “It is porn if you treat your body as a sex object, but I certainly don’t see this as porn.

Not to go quietly, the same K retorted: “If it is not porn, then what is it? Art? Come on…. Please go and promote your website in the porn area and don’t taint the competition with your ideas.

Exasperated, I wrote: “(His name), actually if you bothered to visit the website www.nudephotographysingapore.com.sg, you will see that it answers your question about what is porn. Thanks, once again, for the additional publicity. I really appreciate it.

Not content with his value judgment on one website, he went on to criticize my other site www.HowtoHaveSex.com.sg:

K: “Porn should not be allowed…

Me: “Educating people about sex is not porn. It is because of people like you that sex cannot be talked about in any shape or form. Thanks for outing yourself!

K: “It is because of websites like this that is causing marriages to breakdown and causing young people to be promiscuous… Please go and do whatever you want in private but don’t come and taint this competition with these western ideas.

Seeing this as a ‘teachable moment’, I replied as diplomatically as possible:

‎“1) Educating people about sex and sexuality does not cause their marriage to break down or cause people to behave in inappropriate ways sexually. If anything, it has everything to do with the lack of sex [education] that IS causing marriages to break down due to superstitious, limiting beliefs and attitudes resulting in the inability to enjoy sex, consummate marriage and sexual pain etc.

2) The more we know about sex, the better equipped we are to have a wonderful sex life.

3) Asians have just as much need to have sex [education] as anybody else. It has nothing to do with east/ west ideas but providing accurate, scientific knowledge and information based on facts.

4) It is because of this misconception that sex should not be discussed due to its private nature that people are ending up with more problems.

5) I have just as much right as anybody else to be in this competition. I run a legitimate practice that is highly regarded and know what I am doing. I happen to be Singapore’s only certified sexologist with a doctorate in human sexuality.

Lastly thanks, for giving me this opportunity to correct some popular myths about sex and sexuality. I look forward to being your resource person one day.”

www.orgasm.com.sg seems to have given K a mild heart attack, for he wrote: “OMG…. This cannot be happening…

For K, while all mention of sex is not acceptable, apparently www.HowtoKiss.com.sg was a good-to-go in his books:

K: “At least this site is educational. The rest of the other sites by Martha Lee are borderline porn….. And I voted for this site.

A friend seeing all this exchanges on Facebook wrote me a private email:

“Hi babe, Saw ur post this morn.. It doesn’t matter if someone criticizes ur work, as long as u hv faith n believe in what u are doing is right! Dun let this affect ur morale or dampen ur mood! Jia you! U r awesome!”

My reply was:

“Thanks for your support and kind words. You could post something in support. I was in shock because I don’t hear such ignorant remarks often. I am going to use his posts as material for my next article, and go on and help a great deal more people.”

So I am sharing this story, not to embarrass K (whom I actually informed of this piece), but because I recognise that there must be many other people out there who are too shy, too embarrassed, or too confused to express even half of what K was expressing. K genuinely believed in his point of view enough to post his comments for the world to see. He stood up for something, even if his views are somewhat confused. And for that, I wanted to give him a platform – to help the many other Ks out there.

And as for the contest, I concede defeat. Somebody has garnered 117 “likes” compared to my mere 25 on average (per website submission), even with my best efforts. I am now S$2,700 short, but, more importantly, I wanted everybody to know: Nudity is not porn, okay?

Dr Martha Lee is Founder and Clinical Sexologist of Eros Coaching in Singapore. She is a certified sexologist with American College of Sexologists with a Doctorate in Human Sexuality from Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. She is available to provide sexuality and intimacy coaching for individuals and couples, conduct sexual education workshops and speak at public events in Asia. For more, visit www.eroscoaching.com.

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