Literary erotica might be a more low-key alternative to porn, but that doesn't mean it can't totally rock your world — even long after a self-love sesh. By stroking your imagination, erotica can stimulate you both sexually and intellectually, and allow you to indulge in fantasies that prioritize your pleasure and make you the star. For women and non-binary people, sexual scenarios like these can be difficult to find on traditional porn sites. But Do You, a new erotica app that launched in January 2020, embodies the sensual thrill that comes with reading porn, in addition to its many benefits.
Unlike erotica app Dipsea, Do You's tantalizing narratives are told via simulated text messages instead of audio. Women — and soon to come in 2020, non-binary folks and men — can pick partners of any gender to play with in a range of interactive sexual scenarios. These fantasies include kinky BDSM scenes, tender romantic sex, illicit hookups with an ex, and even sci-fi-themed stories. Do You is currently available in the Apple Store, and an Android version is in the works.
After hearing about their friends' negative sexting experiences, Do You co-founders Meli Chamorro and Elayne Safir set out to create an app that married erotic lit's age-old appeal to 21st century tech. "Erotica has been around for so long because readers can lose themselves in the story and their imagination," Chamorro tells Elite Daily. "Being able to get aroused in a way you enjoy is empowering because you're getting in touch with your turn-ons and doing something positive for your mind and body. We are modernizing that experience and taking it a step further by putting you in the story."
Tatiana Fogt, host of the sexuality podcast Bedside, defines erotica as "the artistic expression of desire and arousal." Like Chamorro, Fogt believes erotica can be empowering. "It makes us feel seen, heard, understood, and shares with us that we’re not alone in our desires, kinks and all," she tells Elite Daily.
Fogt points out how erotica can be particularly helpful for those who lack the privilege of sexual expression. "That’s really anyone who isn’t a cis, heterosexual male. Men have always had an outward expression of sexuality and power, where women and those who identify outside gender norms have been given a predetermined narrative of shame," Fogt explains. "Erotica is an authentic option for pleasure outside our cultural confines."
Certified sexologist and reproductive justice educator Michelle Hope also recognizes the reasons why women and non-binary people respond better to erotica than traditional porn. For one, even though more women are becoming (award-winning) porn directors and producers, porn tends to embody the male gaze and can often showcase violence against women. They also say erotica's subtlety is important because it's conducive to a wider range of possibilities for people.
"With pornography being so graphic, it doesn’t allow the viewer to imagine what could happen, what could be," they tell Elite Daily. “It is what it is. The money shot is the money shot as the director, producer, or writer wanted to see it."
Because erotica leaves a bigger margin for sexual daydreaming, women and non-binary people can reclaim their sexuality through resources like Do You. In creating the app, Safir and Chamorro looked to studies indicating that women respond better to erotica than graphic sexual imagery, especially compared to men.
"We felt it was important to create a truly immersive experience which ignited our users' imagination... We didn't want to be prescriptive in terms of what may look or sound sexy to someone," Safir says. "When you're 'texting' with a fictional character, you are the one in control of imagining their body and their voice. This also creates a more diversity-friendly experience, which was a priority for us."
Along with delivering interactive erotica, Do You also publishes articles about a number of sex topics, personal essays from women and non-binary people about gender and sexuality, and certified therapist Rachel Klechevsky's "Ask A Sex Therapist" series, where she answers user-submitted questions. "You don’t have to just close the app and then feel 'dirty' about it, which women told us was a common feeling they had after going to a porn site," Safir says.
Maybe you'll stick to your favorite porn categories or sexting buddies as your masturbation inspiration, and that's great! But if you're looking for a way to shake up your solo-sex routine, know that erotica can definitely be an option if you want to stimulate your body and your imagination. (And maybe even engage in a little sexual exploration along the way.)