My Internet Sex Revolution / Things I Learned on Tumblr
My senior year of high school was filled with stress and self-loathing. After the end of three year abusive relationship, I threw myself into the internet void of Tumblr. The nice thing about Tumblr is that it allowed me to scroll mindlessly and endlessly through thousands of posts about pretty much anything. It was in this senseless search for nothing in particular that I found three of my favorite comic creators who also happen to be kickass ladies: Jess Fink, Kate Leth, and Erika Moen.
When I first joined Tumblr at the insistence of my best friend, the first thing I did was delete my bookmark folder of comics and find them on my new favorite website. I no longer had to visit each individual website and back up to my last page, they just magically appeared in my feed! This method, I found, is actually not as simple as it sounds, and I later went back to my trusty bookmarks. But there was one benefit: discovering new comics became as easy as typing “webcomics” into a search bar.
On this tag I found several sepia-toned comics covered in hearts. This turned out to be Jess Fink’s erotic steampunk epic Chester 5000 XYV, edited to be slightly more SFW. Now, I was a socially awkward teenager and completely uncomfortable with my own sexuality. I was aware that porn and erotic novels existed, but never sought out either of them. When I stumbled upon Chester 5000, I was slightly taken aback, not only because of my own unfamiliarity with pornographic material, but also because I had never considered comics to be a sexual medium. Ha!
Eventually I got up the courage to head to the website itself, where the lack of conveniently placed pink hearts established it as 18+. Now, Chester 5000 is a wonderful comic for many reasons other than the sex, including the gorgeous art and excellent storytelling. But for me, let’s face it, it was the sex. For a repressed teenager whose sex talk was primarily made up of “don’t get raped,” this comic was borderline revolutionary. Masturbation! Sexually fluid characters! The complex relationship between love and sex! Basically, the things I was aware of but never discussed. With anyone. Ever.
For an NSFW comic, Chester 5000 is actually pretty tame. But it introduced me to a world where it was okay to enjoy sex, to pleasure yourself, and to entertain all kinds of fantasies. Till then I had somehow come to believe that I wasn’t allowed to enjoy sex, that masturbation was a thing only boys did, and that love meant only desiring the one you’re with. That liking men meant I was straight, right? Sure.
Originally published at kmbezner.wordpress.com on June 2, 2014.