Why everyone’s talking about Tumblr Porn

The Tumblr girl is back in fashion and although everyone’s talking about the IT girls of the Tumblr era like Alice Glass, Sky Ferreira and Alexa Chung, a lot of people are also discussing another part of Tumblr culture that flourished in that era – Tumblr porn.

When Tumblr became popular in 2011 and 2012, you could most certainly find people expressing their style, and inspirations on their Tumblr blogs. People would repost their favourite images and publish their poetry, but they’d also be exploring their sexuality by navigating the world of Tumblr porn. 

Tumblr porn may sound intense, but the great part about it was that it was actually quite delicate, believe it or not. While PornHub churned out aggressive videos heavily tailored to the male gaze, Tumblr porn was a lot more sensual. It was full of GIFs of undulating torsos, panting chests, or fingers hooking underwear to the side, steamy diary entries, graphic fan art, and smutty fanfic. These GIFs and stories were diverse and allowed women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community to explore their sexuality, and kinks, in a less daunting environment. 

It was an incredibly smouldering, erotic, artful, suggestive, and only occasionally dirty experience, that made women and queer people feel more comfortable. Really, it was the perfect example of porn catered to the female gaze, as the content focused more on pleasure than just the act of sex. 

Tumblr porn was incredibly ahead of its time, showing young people that sex can be more than what they see in mass-produced porn. It allowed them to discreetly explore the whole spectrum of pleasure on their own terms, and without having to worry about porn sites showing up in their internet history.

When the platform banned explicit content in 2018, fans of Tumblr porn were left to search for a new sexual sanctuary. Going from aesthetically pleasing and cinematic GIFs to loud and confronting PornHub videos can be a big adjustment, so many users were left trialling new platforms, like NewTumbl and Reddit, to help fill the unexpected void Tumblr porn left in their sexual education.

In 2021, people started feeling nostalgic for Tumblr Porn and its creative output. The topic was frequently discussed on Queer TikTok, reminding millennials of just how important Tumblr porn was to young women and queer people of the early 2010’s. 

As someone who grew up in the Tumblr era, I remember Tumblr porn fondly, as do many of my friends, who’ve recently started bringing it up in conversation. I’ve also seen the subject brought up on other social platforms over the last few months, with drag queens Monet X Change and Adore Delano reminiscing about Tumblr Porn on a recent episode of the popular YouTube RuPaul’s Drag Race recap series, The Pit Stop. 

So, what gives? Why is Tumblr Porn suddenly on everyone’s minds again?

As the ethics of porn are being more widely discussed, people are starting to point to Tumblr as a platform that once celebrated ethical porn by housing content that celebrated consensual sex, inclusivity, gender equality and body positivity. Following the explicit content ban, many Tumblr users flocked to ethical, feminist porn sites, proving young people wanted more conscientious porn. 

Many platforms are also citing COVID-19, and the excruciating lockdowns we’ve all endured, as another source of the Tumblr Porn resurgence. Mainly because people found themselves alone for the first time in a long time and started to experiment with personal pleasure. 

Personally, I think the rise of the Tumblr girl in fashion has also helped ignite the Tumblr Porn conversation. While Gen Z have only just started to embrace the indie sleaze and twee fashion movements, Millennials are instead reflecting on what their lives were like during that time, and what they found so appealing about Tumblr. 

Teens of the 2010’s feel nostalgic not only for grunge-adjacent closets and Arctic Monkeys CD’s, but also for the freedom they experienced whilst exploring Tumblr Porn. 

I think conversations around ethical porn have also helped ignite the Tumblr porn nostalgia because it was one of the first places young people were exposed to it. Tumblr porn presented sex in such a respectful way and made many users feel more comfortable in exploring the subject because it felt tasteful, artistic, and sensual, whereas mainstream porn at the time, felt dirty and aggressive. Tumblr porn showed users that porn should be pleasurable, and comfortable, for all performers and cemented the idea that respectful sexual imagery could be just as arousing as PornHub, if not more so!

People who grew up exploring their sexuality through Tumblr Porn are the same people who are today working to normalise sexual conversations. These are the people who want to talk about pleasure, ethical porn, using personal lubricant and reproductive health, because the only platform that provided them with a safe space to discuss these topics no longer exists in the way it once used to. 

Tumblr porn has helped create a healthier sex culture by teaching young millennials that there’s a better way to both produce and experience porn. So why are people talking about it again? Because people are finally starting to realise it.

 

Written by Lauren Payne

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