Today sees the release of Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals’ new book Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment. Here’s our review.
My guess would be that when the vast majority of consumers think about adult entertainment, their minds drift over to pop-up-ridden piracy sites, low budget content, and a whole host of taboos associated with both sexual media and coitus in general. Sadly, those minds probably stop at that thought, never to penetrate the (quite interesting) labyrinthine subculture.
And in that basic ignorance – not distaste, necessarily; just a lack of well researched knowledge – lies the shadowy and illicit narrative that surrounds a very misunderstood world.
In Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment, sociologist Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals, a PhD graduate from UT Austin who’s spent over ten years studying the adult industry from within, tells a poignant and pleasurable story that dispels many a mainstream myth and sheds light on widely regarded misinformation.
Exposure, Dr. Chauntelle’s first book, is an expansive but also very accessible account of the sociologist’s experience researching the adult industry. The reader is brought behind the scenes of the AVN Awards, a number of video shoots, and conventions, all through the lens of a vigorous sociologist hoping to bring this story far beyond the reaches of the ivory tower.
Not only does the book pull apart misinformed mythology surrounding the industry, effectively giving us an honest narrative about the lives of those involved, it also invites us to understand the trials and tribulations of a sociologist. The book begins with a meeting between Dr. Chauntelle and an academic advisor, in which the professor in question dolls out buckets of shame in response to the younger sociologist’s proposal to study the industry. It’s a harrowing slice of academic life that flavors the rest of the read. Dr. Chauntelle’s story is that of a researcher living a double life, often having to hide the subject that inspires her. It’s sweetly intriguing.
Possibly the best part of the book is Dr. Chauntelle’s decision to make it more of a personal narrative, rather than a textbook style research treatise. This is not to say that the book isn’t informative – quite the contrary. Research observations are presented as part of a difficult but academically epic journey, with just as many personal revelations as there are research-based declarations.
In a recent interview about the book and her research, Dr. Chauntelle drove home the point that she never wanted anyone to think it wasn’t a learning process of some kind. There was discomfort and awkwardness throughout the entire adventure. This is, in fact, very present in the book, and makes the entire reading experience humbling, human, and even more enjoyable. Dr. Chauntelle’s clever style, mixed with her desire to be pleasantly candid, creates a perspective on the adult industry that is entirely her own, vigorously scrutinized and, more than anything, entirely relatable.
Anyone looking to expand their knowledge on the adult industry, while also tapping into sociologist methodologies and alternative perspectives on the glacial juggernaut that is classic academia, should definitely purchase a copy of Exposure. Not only is it enlightening on a subject that, better understood, could help change many an ill-constructed conversation on sexuality in our wider cultural experience, it is giggle-inducing and ever so fun. Dr. Chauntelle really delivers in what I hope is one of many books to come.
Adult entertainment legend Nina Hartley, whose testimonial can be seen shining on the front cover of Exposure, says it best, “If you want to speak from understanding and not parrot media portrayals of porn, read this book!” I heartily agree with Hartley; grab your copy and tuck in for a sexy read that’ll redefine how you relate to the adult industry.
Exposure: A Sociologist Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment is published by Greenleaf Book Group and is available from today on Amazon and many other book retailers.