My Thoughts On Porn & Anti-Porn. Confession #589

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Posted on : 08-10-2011 | By : sadiesmythe | In : porn, sex, sex education

Porn is such a fascinating subject.

I’ve been thinking a lot about porn lately, as I’ve seen a few of my feminist friends, via my Facebook news-feed, take decidedly anti-porn stances. Their position is stalwart, and from what I gather this is because of the perceived harm porn does to the women involved in its production, because a woman’s participation in porn is assumed to be coerced, and because porn consumption can give men a very damaging notion about what it is that women want from their sexual experiences. Not all of us want to be pounded without passion like much porn appears to exhibit. Not all of us want to be  dehumanized or degraded or tied up or tossed around like an old sock.

But some of us do.

Yep. I’d even venture to guess that lots of us do, even.

And likewise, some of us really need some clit play, something that I don’t see much of in straight porn (although, I rarely watch this type of porn, I am more of a gay porn kinda girl.) I myself love me some clit play, in fact I require it. But not everyone does. Which speaks to a very simple point -perhaps it’s simple to the point of being naive, and I totally realize it doesn’t fully justify the issues that the anti-porn feminists are raising, but I will make the point anyway- some women like their sex rough, others like it romantic, others somewhere in the continuum between… and beyond even! And? The same can be said for men.

As a male friend said to me yesterday, Porn is just animals screwing. 

Yes, this is very true. And a lot of people, animals, all of us, really like to just screw. Other’s don’t.

I am one of those people who like to just fuck sometimes. But at the same time I am also a person who really loves making love. Slow, romantic lovemaking that transcends and transports. Body moving, face softening, chest heaving, romantic sex. And I find it rather gorgeous that we animals have this dichotomous capability to enjoy both the base as well as the passionate and romantic aspects of sex. It’s a humanizing facet.

So isn’t it unrealistic, and perhaps even dangerous, to make sweeping assumptions about an industry that survives and in fact prevails in what is becoming an increasingly sexually aware society? Isn’t there some middle ground, a happy coupling of feminism and pornography?

I hope so.

I was having dinner last week with Lillith Grey, a doctoral student in the field of Psychology who also teaches classes in feminist studies at a University here in Texas, and who is also an amazing burlesque dancer. I asked Lillith her opinion on the matter, for she has seen the research that links certain kinds of porn to sexual aggression, and the sex-positive feminist in her feels very conflicted on the matter. Because on one hand, the high number of women in porn who are in the business voluntarily, on their own accord and volition, value the opportunity for free and sovereign expression of their sexuality. And many women porn performers outright resent the notion that they are victims, and they don’t much care to vilify men simply because they with their dangling appendages are products of a sexually-repressed culture fighting for the opportunity to bring sexuality out of dark taboo.

Nina Hartley, an inspiring woman whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting twice, had this to say in an article she wrote for Counter Punch several years ago (this passage has been edited by me for contextual relevance) –

“[Why] defame male consumers of pornography with the same broad strokes used to stereotype the experiences of female performers[?] Do [we] really believe that the average man cannot tell the difference between a movie and real life? Do [people] really think that young people’s difficult times with sex are more attributable to porn than to the enforced ignorance resulting from twenty years of abstinence-only “sex education” and anti-choice propaganda? Does anyone seriously harbor the idea that individual conceptions of intimacy and sexual pleasure are shaped more by exposure to pornography than by the examples parents set for their children? … And to confabulate the images on a screen, which are created performances, with the actual experience of the performers themselves, would be laughably literal-minded, were it not so profoundly insulting. Sex performers, like the products they make, vary greatly in taste and temperment. We are much more than the characters we play. Like it or not, many female performers enjoy what they do, including things [others] find repellent. If we are not to choose what forms of sexual expression we find appropriate for ourselves, who is to do the choosing for us?” (emphasis mine).

I agree with Nina, but I also get that, like all media, porn can be influential in ways that could prove maladaptive. It often does eroticize sexual aggression, and a lot of it fetishizes the male dominant/female submissive dynamic. But not all of it. And doesn’t the impact of porn wholly depend upon who it is that is receiving the messages being sent and how it is they process those messages? I think so. Why try to suppress an entire industry (fighting is futile, when will we learn that?) when we can just discuss exactly what porn means to different people? Surely the messages are different for all. I think if we did that, naive as it sounds, then we might view porn differently.

And yes, I mean that in a literal way as well as an abstract one. There must be a better way to bridge the gap between feminism and porn without capsizing the First Amendment rights of anyone, especially consensually contracted sex workers who are operating out of personal agency.

Did you know that there is feminist porn being made and is readily available for mass consumption? Yep, Porn made by and for women of all sexual kinds. Which of course means that this porn (like all porn) will mean different things and carry different messages for different people.

It just depends upon how they receive them.

 

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Comments (10)

I think a lot of people miss that porn is–above all–a fantasy of sorts.

Sure, I really like making slow, sweet love to my partner with an imperfect body and a less-than-12-inch cock…

…but I would find that boring as hell to watch. I get that at “home”–so why would I want to see that portrayed in my fantasy life?

I personally like gay male porn. Lots of guys-talking (which you don’t get in most straight porn) none of the dull, soft, building-up-the-story (which you find in a lot of feminist porn), and no fake “oh yeah…oh yeah” whimpering… also…no exploitation of women? ;)

There is no factual basis at all for claiming that female porn stars are coerced into it. They all say they do it for the easy fairly big money that doesn’t require any education. (Though there have been a few very smart highly educated porn stars. One dropped out of medical school to do it, after she gave it a try one summer after her first year there.) Well quite a few also do it because they enjoy casual set with well hung guys anyway so why not get paid for it. Porn stars all have their no lists which the video companies honor – no lists of male actors and no lists (yet) of sex acts.

Actually there isn’t good evidence that anything more than a very small fraction of prostitutes are physically coerced into doing it, despite feminist claims and feminist whipped up hysteria about “trafficked” girls. By far most so called trafficked girls are simply migrants to richer markets which they pay “traffickers” to smuggle them into, and then pay off that service. The great majority of prostitutes in the US and W. Europe weren’t trafficked in even this way, but are rather locals, or crossed borders themselves. Only about 15% of US prostitutes are streetwalkers. The largest number are escorts or call girls working at various price points through agencies or independently through internet ads and sites. The rest work in illegal and legal brothels and in massage parlors. See the excellent and very well written married ex escort blog: The Honest Courtesan.

One degree or another of male dominant / female submissive sex has been highly predominant in all societies from great civilizations to hunter gather bands. It’s undoubted wired into most people of both genders though of course for some that’s flipped. There are probably more submissive males than dominant over any man she cares to have sex with females. Most females who are dominant over some men, such as perhaps her husband, also like being submissive towards another, such as her lover.

I like how Nina brought up abstinence-only sexual education, because the same concept applies to pornography. The acceptable feminist viewpoint is no porn at all, so we’re left with the very aggressive objectification.

I have enjoyed porn since I was, I don’t even know, fifteen? Younger? I don’t watch it often for various reasons, but I watch more now because I can discover amateur porn on the internet. I like the rawness of it, and which it often emulates the professionals, there are some silly moments and even loving moments that I enjoy very much.

Simply put, if something bothers me, I stop watching it. But I’m a dom, and I prefer women, and hell, I often put myself in the male shoes because I’m trans. So there’s really no right or wrong here, though I never think an extreme is the answer.

Lots to think about, even more to say, and you did it beautifully. Thanks and well done! xoxo

Very well said.

I do get annoyed when guys copy moves from porn rather than just be themselves or mention they saw __ in porn with that implied, will you try this? . . . .

xoxo

It is of course hilarious that ultra right winger and ultra left wingers both have something of a troubled relationship with porn and both seem to think the answer is none at all. As if that would solve everything. I do see that for women, especially ones calling themselves feminists, you’re stuck with either saying you’re against, it perpetuates the patriarchy or the sex positive why-are-you-so-uptight stance?
Porn, like any mind altering substance (which it is), isn’t for everyone. And what gets people off is perhaps one of the most personal things imaginable. There is a knee jerk reaction by most modern women to porn as if they are NOT supposed to like it. My favorite is :”why would I watch that when I could be having sex?” As if that is much of an argument for ANYTHING.
The argument either way for sex workers is not even worth getting into. If it’s legal and consenting and for adults, then there’s not much to talk about. If you worry about the issues underlying people’s choices to become a sex worker, deal with those.
Is porn pervasive at this stage in human history? Beyond belief. Is there an adverse effect? Even I have to admit that. But then ban fast food, cars, and Ed Hardy clothes. Like alcohol (which I serve), it has it’s pros and cons. Just how it is.
Porn is a tool. You can argue for art but that’s nebulous. Then I’m stuck arguing the Fast and Furious movies are art too and that gets us nowhere. They are, by the way. Anyhow, it’s a tool. It engages parts of our brain. Of course, it appeals to males, especially. This is freaking reptile brain shit. It can be a threat to our actual relationships. But everything is. It’s here. If you don’t like it, great. You’re an adult. But judging it on a moral basis, like any sex, is silly. In fact, thanks for that. It being forbidden only makes it hotter.
Here’s my thing. Putting gender politics in the bedroom is folly. You can’t affect that part of you. It doesn’t register brainwise. What people want in that area is what they want. And again, if it’s legal, consenting, and adult, there’s nothing to say. What gets people off isn’t going to be PC. It’s primal.
Porn feeds into that. It depicts it. It relies on it. It can accelerate it. Also, it can relieve it. Anything that enhances sex. Sorry. I’m for it. It’s healthy. Making bad guys in the bedroom does no good when there are real bad guys elsewhere.
Going after porn is a lazy way to demonstrate your politics. It’s an easy target and a useless one.
People who don’t dig porn remind me of something Adam Carolla said about guys who say they don’t masturbate: “That’s cool. But we can’t hang out.”

Personally I love Viv Thomas’ girl on girl porn. The ladies are speaking some foreign language in most of the movies, so since I have no freakin idea what they’re saying the movie can’t be ruined by cheesy dialog or bad acting, also the ladies are gorgeous and come in a variety of shapes, ages and sizes.

I find straight male porn kind of boring. Its all suck my dick, pound, pound choke, fuck missionary, pound, pound, pound, fuck doggy style, pound, pound, pound, pull out and come on her body.

It may be out there, but I have yet to see straight male porn thats fun or playful. And that is something I like to see.

I rarely think of porn as animals fucking and usually think of it is Kabuki Theater or an exceptionally stylized version of sexuality. It’s enhanced just as models are enhanced, photoshopped, sculpted. I think of it it as fantasy certainly.

Animals (human animals) in my experience are completely unselfconscious. There’s flab and fur and drool and mess. Porn actors are sleek and perfect and rhythmic and well, edited.

That being said, I think there is a place for it.

Porn is as varied as are sexual preferences. Sure, there’s lots of mainstream vag-ramming straight porn out there. But there’s also a good bit of amateur porn out there as well. Amateur tends to be less vag-ramming and more along the lines of the kind of sex us non sex professionals might have. Consequently, I find it incredibly boring. But my husband loves it. And, for every vag-ramming video out there, there’s a ball smashing stiletto wearing fem dom video; who’s being exploited there?

I have difficulty lumping all porn into the same boat. Hell, I have difficulty lumping any porn into this boat. And what about the men in all this? Do the feminists fight for them? Do they know that to even make it to straight porn, lots of male porn professionals start in gay porn first? Or that most of the vag pounding positions are incredibly difficult, back bending, cock cramping, contortions that no man should have to endure for as long as they do?

But I guess its really not about the exploitation of sex professionals. It’s about projecting their own reservations about sex unto the rest of us. This kind of animalistic sex can’t be enjoyable right? Sex without love.. blasphemy.

More often than not, I find that porn carries a stigma with it because folks tend to get different messages from it with each viewer.

I mean, it’s media, so it is definitely going to be open to interpretation.

One guy is going to see it as male dominance. One girl is going to see it as female exploitation. Another girl is going to see it as a hot time she once had back in college. Another guy is going to see it as a dream that he will aspire to. Another guy is going to take notes, and hope he gets it right (most likely not).

Reading, viewing, talking.. Communication and media carry different messages to the person on the receiving end, and because of this there is really no definite way that we can predict what kind of message it is going to carry from one person to the next.

Let people express themselves, and quit trying to put it all in a nice, neat box!

This blog and the commenters on it are a good reminder that there ar still good and smart people in the world that can ultimately see past the painful rhetoric going on in the world.

Thank you to all the positive contributors here, you make my time on the web just that little bit more worthwhile :-)

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