On December 17, 2018 Tumblr banned adult content on their platform. The move was rumored to be a knee-jerk response to Apple removing Tumblr from its App Store over failing to adequately filter out child pornography. While that is certainly an understandable and valid reason for removing the app, instead of improving their filtering system, Tumblr decided to ban all adult content altogether. In doing so, they destroyed a massive social media community and outlet where people, especially underrepresented communities, could freely express their sexuality.

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I was one of those people. I was in the midst of ending a sexless and passionless marriage, and while I never took much pleasure in sex anyway, I knew others did, which gave me a resounding and incessant urge to find out what I was missing. But how would I even start? What turned me on? How would I find it and articulate it not just to myself, but to a partner?

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Mainstream porn sites only offered clips of brightly lit, conventionally-attractive people with hard bodies having what seemed to be a very athletic, staged, and mechanical style of sex. And the categories I could choose from (like “Babysitter”) along with the pop-up ads pushing pills to make my "dick harder" didn’t help entice me either.

A lot of these sites belonged to women and communities who were often not depicted in mainstream adult entertainment as multi-dimensional.

But when I happened upon Tumblr, that all changed. There were blogs that explored a particular side of female-centric sexual pleasure—as well as any number of sexual interests or preferences. A lot of these sites belonged to women and communities who were often not depicted in mainstream adult entertainment as multi-dimensional. Seeing people of color, and/or bigger, disabled, or trans bodies in sensual scenes that didn"t make their race, gender, or body the plot line was revolutionary–they were simply participating in pleasure like everyone else. Aspects of humanity that mainstream porn fetishized, Tumblr adult sites normalized.

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I was able to discreetly and safely view other people’s sexual tastes and interests, take what I liked from it, fold it into my own pastiche of sexual pleasure, and disregard the rest. In fact, the more I looked at others’ sexual expression, the more confident and validated I felt in my own. Without this private outlet, I really don’t know when–or if–I would have realized the dormant sexual woman living inside me that was screaming to come out.

Tumblr was revolutionary for so many women like me and others who felt disconnected to mainstream porn and found self discovery, affirmation, and connection within its platform. It’s an end of an era, but it’s also a clarion call to those who value freedom of speech and expression to speak up and fight for that right.

So, where can women like me go from here? There is hope that some smart, enterprising tech folks will come up with a similar, maybe even better platform in the near future. For now, here are some possible substitutes for those who are over 18:

For a feeling of community again:

While it"s not as easy to scroll through visuals as you did on Tumblr, Reddit"s NSFW subreddit might be a good alternative.

For recovering old Tumblr archives:

Timbr lets you back up any old Tumblr blogs so nothing is ever truly lost.

For an ad-free community with anti-abuse moderators:

Mastadon promises a safer-feeling browsing experience.

For more freedom and net-neutrality:

Swarmr vows to be committed to free speech and gender equity.

For pretty much a new Tumblr:

Give New.Tumbl a go. Very straightforward!

The other alternative, if you"re willing to pay some money, are ethical, feminist porn sites, which I personally use. Here are some recs, depending on what you"re looking for:

For "smart porn", AKA porn that celebrates sex:

Bright Desire has been producing artistic, body-positive fare since 2012.

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For porn built directly from viewers" fantasies:

Erika Lust’s XConfessions lets users submit what they want to see, and then recreates their ideas with top-notch cinematography.

If you"re all about sensual porn:

FrolicMe is perfect for lush, gorgeously-shot films.

If you want deliciously hot queer porn:

CrashPad Series and PinkLabel.TV are both excellent options.

I’ve also been recommending Tristan Taormino DVDs and jessica drake’s Guide to Wicked Sex for people who want to learn more (and watch) different kinds of sex.