The Wit of Emily Witt

By Jesse Siedel

Thursday, February 8th, I attended Emily Witt’s Presentation/Q&A Session which was held partly in conjunction with Sexuality Month. (Sexuality Month is a program that is put on annually on UAlbany’s campus by Counseling and Psychological Service and Middle Earth.) Times Union Columnist Jo Paige was present to introduce Witt and gave a short speech about how she was skeptical of Emily Witt’s work at first. She was pleasantly surprised to be wowed at the relatable way Witt speaks in her book ‘Future Sex’

When the interview proper begins, Witt talked about her first experience with Internet Dating. She was in her 30’s when she made the attempt and spelled out how it was lacking in many ways compared to real life interactions. She stated that a relationship is more than just words, it is body language, tone, emotion, and passion. Most of which is lost from behind a glowing screen.

            She then went on to say that her book, Future Sex, started out as a journalistic project before becoming a book. For research and subject matter she visited a group of sex gurus in San Fransico, who taught people about “Orgasmic Meditation”. This unique type of meditation allows exploration of sex as only a physical act without social stigmas. Social attachments or obligations such as dating is absent from this experience. Witt participated in a few of these sessions to better form an opinion and comment on the practice.

After the interview Witt read excerpts from her novel, which was good, but unnerving for the more conservative people in the audience. The talk then segued to the topic of internet porn and how some people decry it since men watch more internet porn than women. As such, the assumption is that men expect the same from real life sex as the porn they watch. This can lead women to worry that a man’s attraction is because of their resemblance to porn stars and that sex is corrupted in an attempt to mimic the porn they have viewed. Witt then turned to the topic of webcam shows and it’s seems insidiously hold on the world. However, she offered an alternative to the opinion of women being on display by stating that webcam shows have also helped women with their confidence, as well as, maintain a stable job.

            Afterwards, some questions that were asked included, “Is human sexual expression our response to a dying culture/budding fascist regime?” Witt denied this as a possibility by saying that sexual expression has grown more optimistic and free form than anything else. Also, “Did you consider dating apps in your research?” Witt confirmed that she has and that apps are even more anonymous than dating sites due to the decreased material needed for a profile. She feels strongly that one cannot really know the people behind the screen.

All and all, it was certainly an informative experience and expressive in the openness to talk about things that some would categorize as taboo terms which are slowly fading in our current discourse about sexuality. With the growth of dating sites and hook up apps this is understandably so.

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