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‘Ecosexual’ professor spurs movement: Have sex with Earth to save it

Earth as lover, not mother 

Four years ago, when art Professor Elizabeth Stephens filmed the documentary “Ecosexual Love Story,” in which she and her partner licked trees, played with mud, and made love with the environment while naked, the term “ecosexuality” was still somewhat unknown.

But a lot has happened since then, and ecosexuality isn’t such a mystery anymore — Google trends show interest in the term has increased exponentially over the last 12 months, seemingly exploding.

That interest can be traced in part back to Stephens, a UC Santa Cruz professor and one leader in the movement that melds art, sex and environmentalism, a la having sex with a tree or marrying the ocean.

Stephens, chair of the art department at the public university, is set to debut her latest documentary “Water Makes Us Wet.” Its premiere is slated for this week in Germany as part of a large art exhibition.

Over the summer, Stephens also co-led an “Ecosex Walking Tour” in Germany that offered “25 ways to make love to the Earth, raise awareness of environmental issues, learn ecosexercises, find E-spots, and climax with the planetary clitoris,” according to a description of the event on UC Santa Cruz’s website.

In May, she helped lead a two-day “Ecosex Symposium” at the public university. The event included workshops given by professors such as “Decolonizing Settler Sexuality” and “Academic Freedom In An Ecosexphobic World.”

Earlier this year, she also co-authored the book “The Explorer’s Guide to Planet Orgasm: for every body,” which explores various types of orgasms and how to “discover” them, its online description states.

All this has not gone unnoticed. The concept was recently featured in Teen Vogue, for example, which told its young readers about a concept called “Grassilingus,” which was accompanied by a description of a musician laying facedown in grass and licking it.

“Whether it’s masturbating with water pressure, using eco-friendly lubricant, or literally having sex with a tree — a person of any sexual proclivity who finds eroticism in nature, or believes that making environmentalism sexy will slow the planet’s destruction, can be ecosexual,” the magazine explained in its June article.

A feature published in August in Women’s Health Magazine added to the description.

“We chatted with Annie Sprinkle, Ph.D., and Beth Stephens, Ph.D., performance artists, ecosexual experts, and the authors of ‘The Explorer’s Guide to Planet Orgasm’ to get the scoop on this trend. They describe being ecosexual as this: ‘you don’t look at the Earth as your mother, you look at it as your lover.’ You also experience nature ‘as sensual, erotic, or sexy.’ This could mean anything getting off while writhing around naked in the mud to simply getting joy out of doing it in a hot tub or going on a naked hike,” the magazine reported.

Last November, a report it Breitbart also spotted the emerging trend. It cites part of Sprinkle’s and Stephens’ self-described “manifesto.”

The document states: “We make love with the Earth. We are aquaphiles, teraphiles, pyrophiles and aerophiles. We shamelessly hug trees, massage the earth with our feet and talk erotically to plants. We are skinny dippers, sun worshippers, and stargazers. We caress rocks, are pleasured by waterfalls, and admire the Earth’s curves often. We make love with the Earth through our senses. We celebrate our E-spots. We are very dirty.”

In an email to The College Fix, Stephens said she is inspired by living and working in Santa Cruz as well as growing up in West Virginia.

“I grew up around farmers, hunters, fishermen and miners. They all loved the earth and in fact, their health and livelihoods depended on loving the earth,” she told The Fix.

“Ecosexual art is an art project,” she added. “It really depends on the audiences’ reception as to whether it is cultural or political form of art. … An ecosexual is someone who loves the earth.”

MORE: At Berkeley, naked treehuggers protest fire hazard abatement plan

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About the Author
Will Nardi -- UMass Boston