Revenge of the Nerds 2.0
They say the internet is for porn–a fact which I certainly can’t contest, considering I would be making the argument on a blog dedicated to discussing sex and erotica writing–but the internet is also for nerds. It is, in many ways, our Promised Land, the place where we can simultaneously be ourselves (and any other personality we choose) in a Dali-esque landscape littered with cats and references to Dr. Who. This might seem a strange juxtaposition–sex and nerds, two armies of conflicting culture battling for the same territory–but the reality is these two armies are stronger allies than most outsiders might realize. Why?
Partially, this is because interest in sex is a native human instinct that we cannot ignore, but I think it is also partially because subcultures tend to bond with other subcultures as a means of support and survival. Even though modern nerds have breached the divide and gone mainstream, many of us remember what it was like to live in subcultures and still enjoy participating in them. In American-Western culture at least, sex is still somewhat of a subculture, since talking openly about sex is largely frowned upon and talking about “unconvential” sexual acts and ideas is downright subversive. It makes sense, then, that nerds would add “sex culture” to their diversified portfolio. I personally have so much anecdotal evidence documenting this connection (I made the comment once that the vast majority of the nerd community in the Bay Area is polyamorous and the rest are too and don’t realize it yet) that I don’t even question it anymore.
What this means, though, is that when the armies of Nerd-iskstan meet with the forces of Sex-stantinople on the fields of the internet, well…some weird shit can spawn off of it. I’m not going to link examples, but I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
But some amazing things can come of this connection as well. Of course, as nerd culture has gone mainstream, there has been more and more erotica coming out with fantastical elements (and, conversely, more mainstream speculative narratives pushing the borders of sexuality). Here, though, I want to draw attention to a collaborative project two friends of mine are working in that combines frank sexual discussion with one of the current favorite trends in the nerd world right now: My Little Pony.
Yes, I know, this SOUNDS like one of those “weird shit” situations I referenced earlier, but trust me, it’s not. The project is called Ask Sex-Positive Fluttershy. In it, they take actual sex questions submitted by visitors and answer them with cartoons based around Fluttershy, one of the main characters from MLP. In the show, Fluttershy is known for being very timid and shy (I mean, duh, it’s right there in her name), so putting the character where she has to address something as forward as sex is just good comedy. From a social standpoint, though, this pairing is also very clever, since Fluttershy is basically a model for how regular people approach sexual topics: timidly, if at all.
Good communication about sex is the very foundation of sex-positivity, so by making these cartoons they are sending a subtle, but important, message: If Fluttershy can gonad-up and talk openly about sex, then you can too! The charmingness of a hand-drawn cartoon and some nice bouts of humor also help lubricate things, so to speak (Although, if one gets a little too enthusiastic with one’s lubrication, make sure you clean it up promptly).
In any event, as nerd culture continues forging it’s way through the mainstream, I for one hope to see more examples like this that marry our nerd icons with our better-sexual values and drag them to the front lines with us.