Outlier Sexualities and Media Treatment

“Outlier” sexualities, behaviors, and relationships are popular fodder for media commodification and/or sensationalism. Let’s examine the specific format used by broadcast media when featuring people who experience or represent a particular gender, sexual, or relationship diversity (GSRD).

Television shows will frequently feature a guest who espouses a particular orientation, sexual practice, or type of relationship (GSRD) that is (1) presented as “shocking” in order to capture viewer interest. (2) Then the topic is briefly “normalized” through conversation with the show host(s) as the guest tells their story (usually–but not always–striving to present an appearance of “normality”). (3) Then an expert of some sort is thrown into the mix and asked for a few brief, superficial comments upon the “condition” or experience of the guest. (4) This tends to again position the guest and their sexual or relationship story as abnormal, as there is an implication that science or medicine is somehow monitoring the situation and preserving safety and “norms” through research and treatment of the outlier group. (As a sexologist who has studied objectum sexuality, I’ve sometimes been that person on TV). (5) Then allied print and internet media will publish their version of the storyline after the program airs, again emphasizing the odd or shocking details that can be gleaned from the broadcast. This then returns the GSRD guest and topic back to a status of deviance. (A sociologist interested in deviance theory would be better at explaining the nuances of this than I am.)

Meanwhile the show guest hopes that their appearance on the program will create more “awareness” and somehow benefit others who share their experiences and/or practices and orientations. But while “awareness” may have been generated, it is usually not accompanied by much understanding. This is true even with a fairly sympathetic TV host and/or expert.

The above is a typical treatment of emerging sexual and relational minorities. On the plus side, people do find each other and begin to form communities and offer peer support. On the negative side, the sexual and relational communities have become a commodity for media (again with little increase social, political, or clinical understanding).

Meanwhile the expert who has commented usually walks away with another addition to their resume and perhaps increased search engine optimization, but there is often little accountability to the community they have just defined.

Strategy

Somehow this cycle needs to be subverted. I believe the televised expert has a duty to further understanding of the community, particularly with regard to research and improvment in clinical and mental health services for people in that group.

At the same time, people in the communities themselves can leverage each television appearance or other types of media coverage by organizing to promote greater understanding. Methods could include launching a number of community-written blogs, YouTube or Vimeo videos, podcasts, websites, social media posts, etc. that link to the original show or article and then DELIVER and EXPAND upon (more nuanced and complete) messages that the community wants to deliver.

I would even suggest (1) press releases to news organizations with quotes from community spokespeople; (2) letters delivered to medical and psychological assocations, advocating for better clinical understanding and practice; and (3) recruitment of advisory board members from medical, clinical, scientific, and ally organizations (forming a recommended speaker’s bureau and other opportunities for using “expert” opinions for more decisive advantage).

Realness

I’ll also note that there are some types of gender, sexual and relationship diversities where the “realness” of people’s experiences are questioned and disregarded, often in the form of both macro- and micro-aggressions. Examples include trans-exclusionary feminists (TERFs) questioning the “realness” of transgender and non-binary identities and bodies; comments made to asexual people about how they just need to “try” sex to be cured of their orientation (“you just haven’t had the right partner/experience); unethical “conversion therapies” to “cure” a lesbian, gay, or queer person; determining that an orientation is the result of trauma, despite data that shows otherwise; insisting that something is a fetish or paraphilia instead of an orientation; and so on.

Spectrosexuality, God-spousing, and Spiritu-intimacy

In the context of this website, it is certain that individuals and communities of people who experience spectrosexuality, god-spousing, and spiritu-intimacy will also become more visible through the media process described above. Articles on “sex with ghosts,” “spectrophilia,” and other forms of erotic human/preternatural encounters are already popular on the internet. What can we learn from them? A few examples are linked below:

MEDIA

General

Everything You Need to Know About Ghost Sex. Jessica Roy. New York: The Cut. Aug. 29, 2014.

Note: An overview of recent accounts and coverage of spectrosexual encounters. Includes video of Natasha Blasick describing her experience of spectrosex.

We Tried To Have Sex With Ghosts And Here’s What Happened. Katie Heaney & Ariana Rebolini. Buzzfeed. Jan. 15, 2016.

Note: the authors obtain and try “Ghost Sex 101” instructions from Patti Negri, a medium, witch, and spectrophilia expert. Both authors say that no ghost sex happened.

A Brief Investigation Into Human-Ghost Intercourse. Katie Heaney. Pacific Standard. Orignally published May 21, 2014. Updated June 14, 2017.

Encounters

Ke$ha Says She Had Sex With A Ghost. No author. HuffPost. Sept. 28, 2012.

‘Something entered the room’: Paranormal Activity 2 actress Natasha Blasick claims she had a sexual encounter with a ghost. No author. Daily Mail. April 30, 2014.

Documentaries/Films

Who Are These Ghostly Lovers? (Documentary trailer). Travel Channel. 2012.

Podcasts

Ghost Sex w/ Patti Negri. Paranormal Review on Blog Talk Radio. November 8, 2014. [Link appears to be disfunctional.]

Spectrosexuality. Amy Marsh & M. Christian, hosts. Love’s Outer Limits on Blog Talk Radio. June 2020.

YouTube Videos

I Gave Up Men to Have Sex With Ghosts. Interview with Amethyst Realm. This Morning. December 17, 2017.

Woman Has SEX with GHOST on AIRPLANE and MARRIES IT! News item about Amethyst Realm. What’s Trending. Nov. 1, 2018.

Woman Divorced Her Ghost Husband After He Tried to Kill Her. Interview with Amanda Teague. This Morning. July 22, 2019.

More links will be added from time to time.


Published by Amy R. Marsh, EdD.

Author of The Guild of Ornamental Hermits fantasy/queer paranormal romance novels, available in 2022. Also, sexologist, researcher, hypnotist. Ze/zir. (Aka Avnas Mars)

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