Touch is a universal language, because it’s how we communicate before and beyond spoken words.

There is an enormous divide in opinions about porn in our society. Some are completely against it. Some say it is perfectly healthy and natural — that it can be a learning experience, that it can be an exciting addition to sex, and that it can help to relieve stress when no available lovers are on our radar.

There’s one obvious group that no one really thinks to ask about porn, though—what about the adult entertainment stars?

One porn star has a unique take on the whole idea, and she wants the world to consider that porn isn’t all about sex — it’s also about the healing power of touch.

I sat down with­­­­ Nina Hartley, a 58-year old, 33-year veteran of the adult film industry to discuss this topic. You might be surprised, as I was, to learn that in addition to being a woman over 50 who’s still making big waves in our culture, Nina is also a registered nurse.

When I asked her “Why the porn industry?” Nina explained,

“I entered the porn industry to heal others through the healing power of touch.”

NINA HARTLEY

Here is a glance at Nina’s story and her philosophy:

How is touch a Universal Language?

Touch is a universal language because it’s how we communicate before and beyond spoken words. Touch is how we show infants that we care and that they matter to their caregivers. It’s how medical professionals communicate to patients that they are safe and seen. Touch is essential for mental and emotional health. It’s been shown that punishments like solitary confinement can drive people mad, and we see damage done to children in orphanages in places such as Romania, where insufficient attention stunts their physical growth and mental health.

The skin is our largest organ. It’s how we come to understand the world and our place in it before we can ever speak. How we’re touched tells us a great deal about our worth and gives us our sense of security (or lack thereof). It can set the tone for our entire lives.

In your 33 years of working in porn, do you feel you’ve contributed to healing your scene partners?

Of course! All of my scenes are very intentional, even when I work with someone only once. It’s stealth healing. I strive to make my partners feel easy, comfortable, sexy, desirable, competent, safe, and seen. I don’t think I’m on anyone’s “No” list (and every porn star has one).

Good, positive touch can lower our cortisol levels, which can improve our libido, sleep, digestion, and immune response. When someone touches our skin through massaging, playing, hugging, handholding, or having physical sex, we begin to experience physiological and physical healing. The same goes for doing porn.

JOSEFINA: CELEBRITY, FASHION, PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER

When did you start believing in the power of touch, and why do you believe we can help ourselves and others heal through touch?

I’d have to say I started believing sometime before I was ten years old, as I watched my parents try nearly every kind of New Age therapy available in the San Francisco Bay Area of the 1960s. All of those ideas were floating around the house and, being a smart, curious, and bookish girl, I paid attention.

Massage therapy was very big at the time, and I already had an awareness of the concept of “body armor” as promoted by Wilhelm Reich. I could tell that I had this “body armor,” and I wanted to do something about it, so I started doing massage therapy when I was just 13.

Sexual shame is a big part of the conversation about porn. How can we work past that?

First, we must recognize that shame no longer serves a useful function in our lives and is actually hurting us. That can take decades, as it can be tricky to see how shame works to harm us. Once we decide that we want to dance with this particular demon, it usually takes some therapy with a caring professional to help us through it. I was in great pain for many, many years before the pain and suffering were finally greater than my fear of change/truth—enough so that I could finally walk away.

We work past shame with compassion, self-awareness, and personal responsibility.

How does touching help to heal us while we’re having physical sex?

Touch during sex is how we communicate to our partners that they matter, that we’re paying attention, that we want them, that we welcome them, and that we won’t hurt them. An orgasm is a momentary chemical/physical release that we can do on our own, but making love with a partner allows us, hopefully, to feel safe and loved and to communicate the same to our partner.

NINA HARTLEY

Porn can be a divisive subject, but hopefully we can all get behind the healing power of touch, which Nina has made the heart of her life’s work in porn and as a nurse. So, no matter what your opinions on porn may be, consider bringing more touch into your relationships, and feel the healing effects of positive, loving contact for yourself.

Sandra LaMorgese PhD is an expert in personal and professional reinvention, authentic living, communication, and bridging the gap between sexuality and a lifestyle that focuses on holistic health of the mind, body and spirit. She is the CEO of Attainment Studios, a sex positive business directory website designed to bring together members of the sex-positive community, and for finding solutions for your professional and personal needs. Her recent book Switch: Time for a Change, is a memoir of her journey from holistic practitioner to professional dominatrix at 55-years-old after losing everything, and her passion and purpose is to empower others towards healthy authentic living. To learn more about Sandra and receive your FREE eBook “5 Steps for Better Communication, Sex, and Happiness (Did I mention better sex?) visit http://sandralamorgese.com/

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