When it comes to stories about sex, the male gaze remains a constant threat to portrayals of real intimacy without the performative, who-is-this-for-anyway? energy that totally kills the mood. One partial solution? Cut the literal gaze entirely and pair with radical, honest and complicated portrayals of sex. Demi Moore’s latest project, “Dirty Diana” is an erotic podcast that does just that — and unapologetically centers women’s sexual pleasure in a positive and shame-free way.
“There’s so much unspoken shame attached to our sexuality. It’s this conditioning telling us that it’s only okay for us to desire sex if it’s for the purpose of procreation or if it’s somebody that we intend to be with for the rest of our lives,” Moore told Vogue in a recent interview. “Even though we’re modern women who can feel that we are more liberated, it’s still this undercurrent. [Dirty Diana] was so sex-positive. I was in.”
The sexy podcast follows the story of Diana (played by Moore) who, unsatisfied in a sexless and uninteresting marriage, secretly runs an erotic website where women reveal their intimate sexual fantasies and features the voice talent of other celebs you may recognize (including Melanie Griffith, Lena Dunham and Lili Taylor) along the way. And somehow the entire thing was recorded on Zoom!
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The material, Moore says, is extremely honest and real — to the point that it challenges a lot of the still prevalent sexual stigma women face. She says even potential actors had to consider what it means to embrace sexuality so openly for a project like this: “We had actresses who were fearful—loved the material but were fearful of other jobs they have. I think being able to really open up the conversation is really the best part of this, but the only way we can do that is by allowing the judgment to come at us. I’m prepared. This could either be celebrated or we could get a heavy backlash.”
But ultimately, for Moore, it’s a risk worth taking to start potentially life-changing conversations. Later in her Vogue interview, she opened up about how she — and other women in her generation — were taught (or not taught) to think about their relationship with sex and how that tradition affects the way younger people are taught to understand intimacy, power, desirability and pleasure.
“I feel like, in my generation, you were really left to just figure it out on your own. The understanding of sex came along somehow, but I didn’t have anybody talking to me. I knew to be careful about getting pregnant, but nothing about sex, certainly, in terms of pleasure. It ended up being much more just about being desired. Like, does a boy like me? Which is a really sad state,” she said. “If we want balance, if we want equality, then we need to create it. We’ve had so much of ‘men are more physical and women are more emotional’ and the reality is, we are all both. We have been categorized in our desirability based on our fertility, and that’s a real misunderstanding. Our desire is not limited to the range of our childbearing years, and I think we need to see it. We need to understand it. I realized after I sat in on a sex-ed class with my daughter that they talked about everything that was fear-based, from getting pregnant to STDs, and, of course, male orgasm because that leads to pregnancy. But nowhere in there was anything about female orgasm. I was like, ‘Wait. We can’t expect men or even boys to know if we’re not even given permission to identify it.’”
And for young people the most accessible sexual media they are learning from is at best incomplete information (and hardly the most feminist, pleasure-based porn they can find for free) or at worst deeply problematic, so the landscape can really only improve when it comes to showing well-rounded, human and pleasurable narratives about sex and sexuality.
“Young people are learning about sex through traditional porn, which, unfortunately, is all about servicing,” Moore adds. “There’s nothing that even resembles the reality of what a woman experiences or desires.”
And because sometimes sexy listening requires some tools, here’s the 100 vibrators we’d recommend to all our friends. You’re welcome.