Destigmatize Porn: A Conversation With Afterglow

Destigmatize Porn: A Conversation With Afterglow

Dec 26th 2021

We all need a little help and inspiration to get our rocks off sometimes. There’s no shame in self pleasure or masturbation, and there’s also no shame in porn. But to hear it on social media, and even with our own friends group, masturbation and porn can be embarrassing and hard to talk about. We say: enough!

It’s time to destigmatize porn, and there are dozens of good reasons why. But don’t take it from us; we talked with Lilly Sparks, founder of afterglow, a combination porn site and sexual wellness and education platform. Like Lilly says, afterglow makes porn actionable. Learn new tricks for self pleasure and partnered sex, too! From the screen to the bedroom, afterglow is ready to change the porn industry and destigmatize it, too. Ethical porn is very different from the male-gaze-centered porn of the past.

Before we jump into our chat with Lilly, we’re super excited to let you know that all Lora DiCarlo customers get a free 30-day trial of afterglow right now. Purchase anything on our website and we'll send you a unique code to use at xoafterglow.com.

Now let’s get this pleasure party started!

Lora DiCarlo: Talk to us about your background. Why did you found afterglow?

Lilly: I was in a relationship with my high school sweetheart from age 15 to 30. I’m also a big fan of romance novels, and there would be all this steamy hot sex. I looked at the sex I was having in my relationship and they were two completely different ends of the spectrum. I wondered, “Why is the sex I’m having not the sex I’m reading about, and how do I get there?”

I felt alone and ashamed for needing help. So when I think now about where people learn about sex, there’s kind of two places: either from porn or from a trusted friend that’s a little more out there and comfortable. I always really wanted to make porn for women, because I watched porn, but it didn’t seem like the kind of sex I wanted to have.

Lora DiCarlo: Afterglow says porn is good for you. Can you elaborate?

LillyThere’s a study that shows that couples who watch porn together tend to have better partner communication and better relationships. Porn is just one way for us to explore our sexuality! It can be fantasy, it can be inspiration, it can be excitement.

Surprise, surprise, porn has been shown to increase arousal, which is a challenge for a lot of people, most of whom use porn in conjunction with masturabtion, and there’s tons of evidence why masturbation and orgasms are good for you. They help you sleep better. Women who have orgasms are less likely to have early menopause.

Porn is one part of your balanced sex life. 

Lora DiCarlo: Talk to us about destigmatizing porn. Why is that important?

Lilly: Destigmatizing porn is a really big part of destigmatizing sex. Porn takes the blame for people’s sexual shame. We’re not comfortable with our bodies or talking about these things. There’s also so many misconceptions about the porn industry because of some of the large players in the space. People worry about whether people in the videos are victims of exploitation and trafficking. One thing people don’t know is porn is, by definition, between two consenting adults. We have the term “child pornography” but it’s child sexual abuse material and we should call it what it is. Revenge porn is just sexual abuse material.

All professional porn sites are highly safe environments and everyone is careful. Most porn sets have scripts. The actors talk beforehand about what acts they’re going to do, and they choose who they’re going to perform with.

A lot of the exploration and trafficking narrative is put on by one religious organization trying to get rid of porn. If you want to stop exploitation and trafficking, legalize sex work.

The point of afterglow is to bring it into the light and make people feel a holistic sexual experience. We’re allowed to be sexual beings.

Lora DiCarlo: How do we destigmatize porn?

LillyI think it’s a lot by educating ourselves about porn. There’s a movement around porn literacy. We try to be ethical in the foods we eat and clothing we buy, and it’s the same with porn—learning about how we consume. One of the biggest ways to be ethical and destigmatize is to pay for your porn, because the reason porn is exploitative isn’t porn; it’s because capitalism is exploitative. That’s why, when you’re consuming free porn, there are exploitative business models. When you pay for it, it’s less likely to be exploitative.

Porn is a great way to explore yourself and explore what you like, and things you might want to try. Places like afterglow provide not only porn, but provide sexual wellness exercises that help you bring what you see into real life. That helps destigmatize it. We also have behind-the-scenes interviews with our actors, and following performers on Twitter is a great way to see they’re just people. It’s just a job. So many of the performers I speak with say their worst experiences come from those OUTSIDE the industry because of the stigma associated with it, and that their on-set experiences are way better.

We have this idea that it’s easy to be a porn star, that it doesn’t require skill. If you want your taxes done and you want them done right, you don’t use a brand new accountant and it’s the same with performing in porn. It’s a skill and it takes work to get good at it.  

Lora DiCarlo: Will all of afterglow’s content be filmed in-house?

Lilly: We have a mix of in-house and other studios we work with that make high quality ethical content. We love having partners on our platforms. We have sexperts who do exercises, we have cool films from Jet Setting Jasmine, and other awesome people in the space.

Lora DiCarlo: What does afterglow do differently than, say, pornhub?

Lilly: The biggest difference is we’re merging porn and sexual wellness. We're not just a transactional experience—where you open it, you see ads, some titles that might be triggering. A lot of people don’t like that.

At afterglow we really try to have a more connected experience. You’ll watch a video and then go behind the scenes with the actors, then do a guided exercise. Then you’ll read an article about how to talk dirty.

You’re not just watching to masturbate. You’re watching to make your sex life better.

Lora DiCarlo: What do you want readers to know about afterglow?

Lilly: I want people to not feel bad for wanting to watch porn. Even if it is step-sibling stuff, it doesn’t mean you’re bad or wrong. Don’t yuck somebody else’s yum! As long as it’s made between two consenting adults you should feel good about including it in your fantasies, and looking for porn that makes you feel good.

Lora DiCarlo: Anything we forgot?

 Lilly: The sexual wellness market is growing like crazy. One in three Google searches are about sex. With marijuana, people started to realize it had amazing benefits for a majority of users, and that became destigmatized. The same thing happened with mental health. Now we’re able to talk about it [publicly]. We want to do the same thing for porn.

Not everybody meditates but everybody masturbastes—or everybody should masturbate. Desitmatizing porn is related to destigmatizing sex and sex work. Our society has invalidated this as a type of work and labor, but it’s a really awesome artistic expression. 

We hope this convo makes you feel a little more comfy with ethical porn films. And don’t forget... if you order a new Lora DiCarlo product today, we'll send you a unique code for 30 free days with xoafterglow.com. We can't wait for you to deepen your sexual exploration and take pleasure into your own hands!