These days, the idea of going out for a cup of coffee or taking the subway may be enough to turn you on. With IRL encounters on hold, there's no better time to daydream about getting dressed up to go out or getting dressed down to get it on. While watching visual pornography can be inspiring (or just plain entertaining), listening to audio erotica may help you transport into a world of your own imagination — perhaps one that's not currently battling a global pandemic.
In my quest to make self-isolation more tolerable, I recently discovered Dipsea, a subscription-based audio erotica app with original short-form stories, guided masturbation, and meditations on pleasure and love languages. Basically, it's Audible for orgasms or a MasterClass in masturbation, with an interface so aesthetically pleasing, Glossier is probably jealous.
According to Gina Gutierrez, co-founder, and CEO of Dipsea, listening to erotica can allow you to fully tap into your fantasies and desires — something much needed during times of intense stress. Because the medium enables listeners to tune out the rest of the world, the app usage has been growing steadily over the course of social distancing, with spikes in places that began sheltering-in-place sooner.
"In the second half of March, listening in Italy more than doubled, followed closely by Spain," Gutierrez tells Bustle. "The last two weeks have been Dipsea's highest-ever usage weeks (people in the app and listening to content)."
Consider audio erotica the mental equivalent of directing your own porn: You cast the actors, choose the costumes and setting, and decide how involved you want to be in the scene.
Though gender-based stereotypes are more outdated than low-rise jeans, social conditioning (read: the way you've been treated because of your gender) can actually impact your sexual psychology, or what turns you on. A 2009 study conducted by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health found that while people assigned male at birth (AMAB) were more often aroused by visual stimuli (i.e., watching people do it), people assigned female at birth (AFAB)'s arousal more often depends on the context of a given sexual encounter (i.e., setting, characters, storyline, etc.).
While watching people get frisky may be enough to get you going, the context (or lack thereof) in visual porn may hinder viewers (especially women and AFAB people) from really getting into it. According to Dr. Emily Nagoski, sex educator and author of Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life, much like a car, your brain's sexual response has an accelerator and a brake. While video porn may start to rev your arousal engine, there are tons of external factors (like body image, past trauma, relationship problems, and stress) that can bring your pleasure ride to a screeching halt.
Although seeing people get frisky may turn you on, it may also lead you to reconcile how the actors were treated on set or the state of workers' rights and consent in the production. You may start to question if the actors are really enjoying themselves or why you aren't finishing as quickly or easily in the same positions. You may even be tempted to compare your body or sex life to whatever you see on screen.
But Dr. Nagoski says that when you aren't given a visual, your brain can fantasize about what you think is hot or have always been curious about. "Pleasure isn't going to happen if the context isn’t right," Dr. Nagoski tells Bustle. "There's so much opportunity for audio erotica to create a positive context because you have so much more control over it."
If seeing is believing, perhaps hearing is more like fantasizing.
Have you always wondered what it would be like to get it on with your yoga teacher? Daydreamed about playing around with submission or having a threesome? Consider audio erotica the mental equivalent of directing your own porn: You cast the actors, choose the costumes and setting, and decide how involved you want to be in the scene.
"Audio erotica allows you to explore your fantasies safely and comfortably," Gutierrez says. "You can feel like the voyeur, or you can become the character." If seeing is believing, perhaps hearing is more like fantasizing. Listening to porn means curating your own sexy reality.
"Every audio story you listen to will be your own personal version of it, Gutierrez says. "It's designed by your own imagination."
In addition to letting your imagination run wild, Dr. Nagoski adds that audio erotica can help you learn about what turns you on or feels good for your body. "You can really focus on the internal experience as opposed to the external behaviors," Dr. Nagoski says. "You have a much broader range of emotional context, different positions, and different bodies with different ways of relating to each other. There's much more freedom and creativity."
Whether you're looking to spice up your solo-play or want to try something new with a boo, a raunchy read out loud may ruffle your sheets and your AirPods — during a global pandemic, and every other day.
Dr. Emily Nagoski, sex educator and author of Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life
Gina Gutierrez, co-founder and CEO of Dipsea
Rupp, H. A., & Wallen, K. (2008). Sex differences in response to visual sexual stimuli: a review. Archives of sexual behavior, 37(2), 206–218. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-007-9217-9