Your book Getting Off is about your struggle with sex and porn addiction, but it’s also about your journey towards shame-free womanhood, so I’m just going to ask you what everyone’s wondering—did you ever get into bestiality porn?
That’s what everyone’s wondering?
Well you write that some porn is bad, right? What about sloshing? Is that bad too? If I like bestiality and sloshing does that mean I have a problem?
I think you may have misunderstood something. Did you read the book?
How about hentai?
Look, I have no interest in saying some porn is good or some porn is bad. My addiction was less about the type of porn I watched or the type of sex I had and much more about how I used porn and sex as escape routes.
Are you listening?
OK, I’ll move on. What was the overall message you were trying to convey with this book?
I was trying to convey—
Seriously? Is that really what you want to ask me about?
Sorry. What was the most difficult part of writing this book? Was it difficult at all?
I’d say the most difficult part—
Scat? Spanking? Squirting?
THE MOST DIFFICULT PART—
Felching? Fisting? Feet?
Why don’t more women feel safe discussing sex and porn?
Gangbangs. I watched a lot of gangbangs. Is that what you want to hear? Can we move on now?
No further questions.
Actually, I would like to answer the last one if you’ll let me. Traditionally, our culture hasn’t made space for women to talk openly and honestly about sex. Multiple partners, hardcore porn, paying for sex—these have always seemed to be the domains of men, even when women were there all along, keeping quiet, pretending and playing along. When a woman enjoys sex “like a man” or maybe even uses sex destructively, she risks more name-calling, pity or mockery than a man ever would because she is seen as a rarity—something defective and out of place. Her desire is characterized as ridiculous, unusual, maybe even suspicious. We all know the kind of ideas we reserve for women who have a lot of sex or watch a lot of porn. She’s either a slut or she’s a victim. We assume something terrible happened to her. But I don’t think there is much difference between men and women when it comes to sex. Women just aren’t talking about it as much. Nobody wants to be called names or be pitied or laughed at. And this silence only leads to shame and isolation. If we keep talking, keep revealing and keep telling the truth—I do believe that shame will dissipate. Supported by each other, women will feel more empowered to state what they want and what they like. And men will feel less entitled to believe they already knew.
ERICA GARZA is the author of the memoir Getting Off: One Woman’s Journey Through Sex and Porn Addiction (Simon & Schuster). Her essays have appeared in The Cut, Glamour, Salon, Narratively, BUST, Good Housekeeping, and the Los Angeles Review. She holds an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.