Tabu Toypro
written by Elizabeth, UC Berkely Sex Columnist

Nina Hartley is an extremely successful adult film star with 650 different video appearances under her belt. Starting off as an exotic dancer in the ‘80s, she is now a published author and an award winning actress for both sexual and non-sexual roles. I met Nina when we both served on a panel about modern sexuality for the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. I asked her to give me some of her wise wisdom about sex, relationships, and everything in between.

Me: Do you think sexual freedom (through porn, sex outside of relationships, etc.) is good for the advancement women, or detrimental to the advancement of their self esteem?

Nina: Sexual freedom and autonomy are vital components of women’s greater equality in society. We are adults, not children in need of protection. Whether or not a woman’s exercise of this freedom is good or bad for her depends upon her making choices that are consistent with her values and beliefs. When we do things that go against our understanding of ourselves and the world, bad things usually happen as a result. My choices wouldn’t be good ones for very many women, nor would their choices be good for me.

M: We all know the key to being sexy is confidence. Do you have any special advice for being, or even just appearing, confident? Perhaps something you picked up through the industry?

N: Confidence arises out of our being centered in ourselves, which comes from knowing and accepting ourselves as we are, not as we think we should be, or how or parents have told us to be, or what we think society says we must be. The most important thing I learned from dancing (my earliest adult career) was that no one can read your mind. So, head up, shoulders back and smile. Your inner confusion or insecurity will pass unnoticed by those who, having just met you, only see what you present to the public. Speak directly and clearly, without apology, about what you want and don’t want.

M: Many women have trouble having sex with someone without becoming emotionally attached. From your experience, is there any way to separate sex and emotion? Or does that just come with practice and time?

N: It’s hard, though necessary, to separate how we, as individuals, actually feel about the sex/emotion connection … Some women (and men) cannot make such a separation, and they need to be that much more stringent about how, when, why and with whom, they choose to become intimate. Each person’s obligated to his or her own safety, security and comfort. Part of growing up is learning how to resist pressure from those who would have us cross our own boundaries, which we usually do by having x number of unpleasant experiences. It’s only possible to separate sex from emotion if one is “built” that way, as I am, or by suppressing his or her true feelings with drugs, alcohol or denial, which is never good. With experience, most people find the way that is best for them.

M: Do you have any last words of encouragement or advice for college-age women?

N: Know that it’s normal to be insecure about sex at your age. You’re young adults and have the obligation to differentiate yourselves from your families: what values about sex do I share with my family/parents and want to maintain? What values of theirs don’t work for me? How can I both experiment with sex AND keep myself safe, both physically and emotionally? Educate yourselves about safer sex and birth control. Get a dose of the morning after pill when you don’t need it, just in case you find that you do. DON’T USE ALCOHOL OR DRUGS TO SUPPRESS LONELINESS AND INSECURITY. It’s okay to say “yes” to sexual activity that fits within your boundaries for same. It’s okay to say “no” to sexual activity that doesn’t fit within your boundaries for same. When in doubt, slow down.

What do you think, ladies?

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I love her. She and Belladonna are the coolest women in porn today.
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