Non-Visual Porn Is The New Way Women Are Getting Their Kicks In The Bedroom

Photographed by Serena Brown
On the whole, free porn is a notoriously misogynistic world of aggressive thrusting, hairless bodies, and over-exaggerated moans (that is, it's almost always devoid of genuine female pleasure). Independent feminist directors like Erika Lust, inclusive platforms like CrashPadSeries and Pink Label TV, and the rise of "ethical porn" (which protects performers and celebrates diversity), have done their bit to remedy this in recent years. But mainstream porn remains a largely visual – and frenetic experience – that caters to the male gaze.
A new platform has launched that turns this outdated genre of porn on its head: it's entirely devoid of imagery. Quinn, which debuted on the 13th April, features just auditory and written porn, a USP which founder Caroline Spiegel (Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel's younger sister, no less), says makes for "a more fun, chill, and clean experience for women. It’s all about pleasure and good vibes," she tells Refinery29. With fans and creators of NSFW content still reeling from Tumblr's total ban of adult content last year, the launch of a new platform for sexy stories and audio couldn't be more timely.
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Quinn users can listen to people having sex, read user-submitted stories and fantasies, and post their own, with categories including "accent" and "gentle"; user-penned erotica with titles like "Orgasmic Meditation" and "Hot Yoga"; and a lot of breathy moans from both men and women (sample title: "Snugglefuck"). If you're already a fan of the 'brain orgasm' or 'tingles' induced by ASMR, you'd be depriving yourself by not giving Quinn a chance.
Courtesy of Quinn
"The goal is to increase joy for women," says 22-year-old Spiegel, who only came up with the idea for the site five months ago and named it after her male friend's IRL "dream girl". "I want more women to experience incredible pleasure regularly, and feel happier." The free, open-source site was designed by women and all submissions are vetted by the team before they're publicly available. To ensure a world with erotic material that pleases both men and women, "we should probably have men and women making porn," Spiegel says.
As her for platform's non-visual USP, Spiegel points to evidence that many women are less visually stimulated than men when it comes to sex. An Emory University study in 2004 found evidence to support this, while a more recent piece of sexual research on 18,000 people (published in A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World's Largest Experiment Reveals about Human Desire) concluded something similar about the differences between male and female sexual desire. Still, Spiegel knows we're all different: "Although we definitely focus a lot on story, one of our mottos is 'different strokes for different folks'... There is no one audio that every woman loves, although if you think you have found it, please send me it!"
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Courtesy of Quinn
A fraught relationship with their body still hinders many women's sexual satisfaction, and Spiegel was also spurred on by her own experience of an eating disorder and the sexual dysfunction that arose from it. After leaving Stanford during her junior year because of a struggle with anorexia, she was surprised by how much the disease affected her sex life. "I totally had that 'you don’t know what you’ve got 'til it’s gone' feeling. I realised how important sex is," she reveals.
Courtesy of Quinn
Caroline Spiegel, founder of Quinn
"It helps people feel closer to our partners, is intertwined with our sense of self, impacts all of our relationships, causes intense embarrassment, passion, makes us laugh—it’s incredible. When I felt like I couldn’t participate in this part of life, I felt really, really sad." While sex had been important to her previously, existing porn images and videos made Spiegel "feel intimidated and uncomfortable" in herself. "I started talking to my friends about what turned them on most. I found that it was all about connection, emotion, and story. That’s where the idea for Quinn came from."
Research has consistently shown that many women with eating disorders often experience sexual anxiety, decreased libido and a reduced interest in physical intimacy. So, without the body image pressure that can stem from mainstream porn, could a free non-visual porn platform – that brings erotic stories and audio together in one place – help eating disorder survivors to rekindle their interest in sex? The several women we spoke to certainly think so.
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Tilly Symonds, 24, a student nurse in London who has lived with anorexia since she was 11, says she has never had a "proper boyfriend" and can only cope with one-night stands as a result of the disorder. "I would like be more sexually active but I am so disgusted by my own body that I struggle to place any focus on it, let alone understand how or why anyone else would see any attraction," she says. Symonds says visual porn, which "is not helpful or very respectful of women and their bodies," has hindered her recovery, "as the majority of the bodies displayed in porn are so ‘perfect’ and totally unrealistic."
Consequently, she'd be keen to sample porn that removes a focus on bodies. "It would transfer the focus back to sex and the feelings, without the distraction of ‘I don’t look like that’, ‘my body is disgusting’, and reduce inhibition massively."
Holli Dillon, 30, is a performer in London, who had anorexia for seven years in her teens and still gets episodes of body dysmorphia and anxiety, which often affects her weight. All of which can affect her ability to enjoy sex. "I often have trouble with getting wet, that’s been an issue for most of my adult life and sex can become more of just an act than something I can really enjoy," she says. "The shame that comes with a condition like an ED is already so invasive, having added pressure around sex makes life a lot harder and way more disappointing."
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Dillon gave up on mainstream porn after becoming "bored and irritated" that "women didn’t seem to actually enjoy what was happening," and noticing that she was faking her own orgasms because of it. "I started to look for other types of porn that focussed more on breath, or connection like tantra, and found that to be more engaging than a couple 'banging'. It’s all about connection for me," she says, adding that her interest is piqued by the ascendence of non-visual porn.
Non-visual porn also has the potential to rekindle other demographics' sexual satisfaction, who have hitherto not seem themselves widely represented in porn, believes Hannah Stewart, 25, a charity coordinator in London who has lived with a non-specific eating disorder for years in the past. "Loss of sexual enjoyment is a tragic side effect of EDs and is often overlooked, and anything that enables more people to have fulfilling sex lives is a positive thing," she says of Quinn. "This doesn't just apply to people with EDs, but also other bodies that aren't traditionally represented in porn – or only exist in 'fetish' porn which is equally, if not more, damaging – such as people with disabilities, larger people, those with certain fantasies, and others." It's time for many more of us to get our headphones ready, then. "Pleasure and good vibes" all round.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, please call Beat on 0808 801 0677. Support and information is available 365 days a year.
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