Squicks and Squees


A long damn time ago, like 362 whole days, Fiona Duncan asked if she could interview me about language as it relates to porn.

The semantics of sex are interesting to me and Fiona looked cute on twitter and then we were on the phone. During our call she expressed a desire for a negative search option when browsing porn:  “like, “school girl” plus “pubic hair” plus “threesome” minus “hard boob job” minus “dude gut.” 

And that got me thinking, about how people still like to browse clothing stores even though they can search up exactly what they’re looking for online: “blue chambray” plus “short sleeves” plus “loose fit” minus “$100+.”

The next time I saw Kayden she said something about the way that everything is novel to a child, how as we live our greater knowledge of the world means there are fewer novel experiences to come across, and how that tends to make novelty feel more valuable. 

So: a number of people are accessing porn by typing long, specific search strings into a browser—helping them find what they want but immensely narrowing the field of new things they might discover. Some people value surprises they enjoy. People also have specific things they would prefer to avoid, but these specific things are multitudinous and highly individual. 

People have their squicks, and they also have their squees.

At some point during the design of TRENCHCOATx 1.0 (as the site appeared after mid-June 2015. Before mid-June was TRENCHCOATx beta and I don’t even want to talk about it) I asked our new web designer if they could make a customizable negative search profile for our customers, and our designer said yes.

So I sat in my apartment for days on end, tagging every video we have with everything I could think of off the top of my head: analingus, armpit hair, ejaculation: on face, vulva, penis, uncircumcised and circumcised, three levels of pubic grooming, and breasts: augmented or natural. 

The list continues for quite a while, but can’t begin to reach comprehensive without some major feedback from consumers. It will probably never be complete. 

As of today, we’re (super) proud to introduce a pair of new features on TRENCHCOATX.com: Squick Protection and Squee Enhancement. Any logged in user can choose both things that squick them out and things that make them squee from a list of tags, have their squicks either completely hidden from them as long as they’re logged in or be warned if a video they’re considering contains one or more of their squicks, and have videos that contain their squees highlighted.

Fun, right?

We don’t go so far as to call it a trigger warning feature, because while some triggers may be obvious others are sometimes indecipherable. There’s no way to guarantee no viewer will never be triggered during a scene that they’re watching. But this does enable people to create a safer space to explore adult content.

And I’m so very excited to keep digging into the semantics of sex.