Are You Prudish About Porn? An Interview with Author Emily Southwood

How would you feel if your significant other called you up one day and announced he’d landed a job filming porn? That’s exactly what happened to Emily Southwood two years into a relationship with then fiancé. While she’d long considered herself sexually liberal, the news stirred up mixed emotions, challenged her beliefs about pornography and set her on a path of self-discovery. She and her relationship ended up benefiting tremendously from it all and she’s shared her experiences in a witty, relatable and ultra-insightful memoir entitled, Prude. I hope you’ll check it out!

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I had the pleasure of interviewing Emily last week on Girl Boner Radio, and loved what she had to say. She was also kind enough to reply to additional questions for you all afterward. Check out her thoughts below and listen to our radio chat using the iTunes link that follows. Seriously, you’re in for a treat!

An After-Chat with Author Emily Southwood

August: What inspired you to become a writer?

Emily: That’s hard to pin down because I have always wanted to be a writer. I failed grade one because I couldn’t read, so maybe there was a bit of a “I’ll show them!” reaction in there somewhere. I’m pretty defiant! I started writing reams of bad poetry in high school. From there, I studied creative writing throughout my twenties and never tried to do anything other than make enough money to buy time to write. It takes forever and pays little, but it’s one thing I never doubt I should be pursuing.

August: I love that. How have your loved your ones reacted to your openness about sexual experiences and pornography in the book?

Emily: They have been incredible. First and foremost, there’s Robbie, who gave me cart blanche to use anything about him. Luckily he’s hard to embarrass! My parents also really surprised me. My dad’s a pretty conservative British guy and I would have understood if he didn’t want to read Prude. But he did, and he even called to tell me which parts resonated with him. My mom is my biggest cheerleader. She tells everyone about the book her daughter wrote about porn. She makes me blush! My family’s openness surprised and impressed me—it’s been an unexpected benefit to this whole experience.

August: Too awesome. Our moms should meet! 😉 How did you move past your own discomfort in revealing so much of yourself?

Emily: It was a process. In initial articles and drafts on the topic, I glazed over a lot with bad puns and abstraction because I had trouble admitting what I really felt: Robbie filming porn made me jealous and crazy! By the end, I was just trying to use the best details to reveal my emotional journey. Focusing on the writing and on connecting with readers allowed me to put any self consciousness out of my mind. Put it this way: I’m now way more concerned about whether a reader found a paragraph compelling than whether they know about my sexual quirks.

August: Why do you feel it’s important, particularly for women, to talk about porn?

Emily: This is an unscientific assumption, but I think it’s more common that dudes watch porn, joke about porn, and share what they found online. Robbie did with his friends growing up. My girlfriends and I didn’t, and I think mostly because we just didn’t think it was something for us and/or didn’t want to be labeled either prudes or sluts. I think that’s changing. Women are watching and producing more porn, and hopefully feeling empowered to take or leave what they do or don’t enjoy. It’s when we’re off in our own corners making assumptions based on porn that communication can misfire. So talk about it, ladies!

August: How have the experiences featured in Prude influenced you as a mother?

Emily: It’s hard to say at this point (my son is a-year-and-a-half old) but I think I’ll be much more prepared to have some tricky conversations with him down the road. I feel much more comfortable talking about sex and porn because of this strange journey. All that said, I’m pretty sure mothering a teenager will manage to make me feel like a prude all over again!

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To stream or download our radio chat, visit this link on iTunes: Married to Porn

To learn more about Emily, visit her website and blog: EmilySouthwood.com and connect with her on Twitter: @EmilySouthwood.

We’d love to hear from you! What did you think of Emily’s thoughts? How would you feel if your significant other took a job in the porn industry? Do you discuss porn with your partner or girlfriends? 

Leave a comment

14 Comments

  1. Not that it is ever something that I will have to deal with lol but I can honestly say I could not deal with it, while the logical part of my brain would tell me it is a job I know myself well enough to know that my own insecurities would cause paranoia and would destroy the relationship,

    Reply
    • I imagine many women would feel similarly, Paula. I admire Emily for sharing those insecurities openly in her book, along with the confidence she ended up gaining. Certainly a unique situation to find oneself in!

      Reply
  2. I’m adding Emily’s book to my goodreads queue! Fascinating topic. I don’t know how I’d react. I’m betting I’d share a lot with Paula, where insecurities would come out for sure, but if I thought that the piece was something innovative – never seen before, or produced by women and depicted strong women, I might be open to listening. I can identify with Emily feeling that porn is marketed more for men. I worked in a video store (back when we had them!) for 7 years and it was only men who rented porn. And yet, talk about the erotica book genre and I bet that’s predominantly women. Doesn’t that speak to gender as well? That men are more visually stimulated while women require a feeling of intimacy and trust to get aroused. Ok, now this needs to be studied. I would be very interested to know arousal measurements of men and women when watching porn vs. reading erotica and what the findings would be if the mediums switched to cater to the opposite gender more. What do you think?

    Reply
    • Great points, Jess! I bet you’ll love her book. 🙂

      Interestingly enough, recent studies have shown that women and men are equally visual. I think men are more likely to watch and discuss porn because it’s socially accepted, expected of them and geared toward them, whereas it’s far more taboo for women. Continually more women are using porn, which is yet another reason to broaden the scope and make feminist porn a much larger genre, IMO.

      Other recent studies show that women are physically aroused by a much broader range of stimuli (both genders and even animals having sex) than men, for whom it’s a lot more straight forward — yet women claim to only feel aroused by heterosexual men. Really speaks to the barriers we put up. All so fascinating, right? I could go on and on and on… LOL Love your study idea!

      Reply
  3. laurie27wsmith

     /  June 2, 2014

    Emily sounds quite open and honest about her work, which is good to see. I still wonder why people get upset about the one thing nearly every person on earth does and that’s have sex. Whether it’s filming it, reading it or watching it, the subject divides more people than politics or religion. Yet we watch explicitly violent movies and TV shows, seeing someone getting their throat cut is fine but show a penis or a vagina and you’re in big trouble. A partner in the porn business? My good wife would say, ‘Nope, yours is the only dick I want.’ She’d make a great director though. 🙂

    Reply
    • I’m right there with you, Laurie! That excessive violence is a-okay, yet we can scarcely show a woman’s nipples says a lot about our culture.

      Ha – I love your wife!

      Reply
      • laurie27wsmith

         /  June 3, 2014

        It certainly makes you think about society August. Make Love not War seems relevant now. I’ve tried both and making love wins. 🙂 My wife is great, she tells it like it is.
        Cheers
        Laurie.

  4. Emily sounds like a wonderfully well-adjusted, eyes-wide-open, kind of gal!
    As for me, my wife is aware that I occasionally watch porn but she while she doesn’t care for it, she has no problem with my viewing habits… as long as they don’t detrimentally effect our relationship, that is!

    Reply
  5. It isn’t that way, just for women. If I was dating someone who worked in porn, I would have a difficult time handling that relationship. Even if she was filming and not in the film, it would still have some deep effects, I imagine.
    Now, as for Emily, if that is her picture near the end, I imagine that some of her fear should be gone as she is stunningly beautiful. He would have to be crazy to just walk away from you. My opinion, of course.
    Scott

    Reply
  6. Raani York

     /  June 15, 2014

    This is a very interesting interview – and after talk. I’m impressed! I wouldn’t have the nerve to get there, even though living in Europe at this time sometimes gives me a little freedom to talk about sexuality which I try to keep on an entertaining and humorous level. But writing about porn would cross a boarder for me that I had set in stone.
    This doesn’t mean I don’t admire the ones who can. Well done!

    Reply
  1. Prude on Girl Boner Radio | Emily Southwood
  2. Interview with Emily Southwood — Author of Memoir, “Prude” | August McLaughlin

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