Sssh Founder Angie Rowntree Discusses Sex, Porn at Sundance Institute

Jun 10, 2015 1:15 PM PST

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Angie Rowntree, the founder of “porn for women” website Sssh.com, spoke about the adult film industry and sex in front of more than 200 people at the Sundance Institute in Brooklyn on Monday night.

Rowntree was featured along with actor, director and cabaret performer Taylor Mac in a presentation called “CreativeTensions: Sex,” the second in a series sponsored by the Sundance Institute Theatre Program and produced in partnership with IDEO, a design and innovation firm.

"#CreativeTensions" is a thought-provoking intellectual and physical experimental event series that physically engages participants in dialogue about the role of creativity in today’s world.

"CreativeTensions: Sex" started off with some simple questions like, “leather or lace?” The audience was asked to physically align themselves to the side of the room that matched their chosen opinion.  

Rowntree defied the two choice choices and opted for the middle option, citing that she was neither one. She noted that sometimes answers are not always black and white.

As the night progressed, questions became more risqué. When the question of “What is hotter: penis or vagina?” was presented, Mac took the vagina side.

Mac proclaimed: “Objectively I stand with penis but subjectively stand with vagina.” An audience member said: “I stand in the middle because I am an ally of both.” A seemingly simple question revealed complexity in how the audience interpreted the question, from sexual preference and gender identity, to political statement

When the question “Is pornography constructive or destructive?” was asked, the audience shuffled back and forth, not sure where to stand.

One audience member said: “Porn has presented challenges to my friends which seems destructive, but ultimately they have all grown through those challenges. So I stand with constructive.”

Another audience member said: “As the mother of a nine-year-old who is one click away from a rabbit hole of porn, I’m terrified.”

Rowntree, winner of the 2015 XBIZ Award for Best Alternative Website, admitted that it can be scary for parents when faced with the content available online.

But she later shifted the conversation from one of fear for our children’s online safety to the proactive measures of responsible adult websites in using the RTA (Restricted to Adult) label and in helping parents become proactive by accessing resources such as the ASACP and their list of cyber protection programs.

Anna Silversten, from IDEO, tweeted: “Incredible crowd being vulnerable and daring with us at #CreativeTensions.”

Rowntree said one of her favorite questions was, “Do you feel that you are more sexually limited by government/society or self?” This particular one showed a wide divide of how people perceive what oppresses their sexual expression and experience. The ensuing positions from both Mac and Rowntree, as well as audience responses resulted in a lot of people shifting their position when new ideas were added to the mix.”

The evening was punctuated with fun “lightening rounds” where the room quickly shifted back and forth as choices such as “taken or looking” and “giver or receiver” were flashed on the wall.

Angie Rowntree is the first person from the adult industry ever to be invited to speak at the Sundance Institute and was “honored and delighted to participate in this groundbreaking event,” she said.

“CreativeTensions: Sex” was live tweeted from @SsshforWomen by Lauren MacEwen from 7 Veils Media (7Veils.com).

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