‘I never think about you when I masturbate,’ I confess to my partner, who appears completely uninterested. ‘I don’t think about anyone else, either,’ I explain needlessly. ‘I mean, I don’t have a spank bank like some people, with pictures or porno clips that help them get off.’ I pause. ‘I just visualize cock.’ Suddenly, my partner perks up and appears to be listening. ’This cock is not attached to anyone or anything. It does not even have balls, for those are useless to me. It’s just a big anonymously thrusting cock.’ He laughs cutely. ‘It’s not really that big,’ I add reassuringly, to protect his man-ego. I should know by now that such protection is not necessary. My LSP is not like other men; he is affably self-confident, never trying to prove anything, worrying about his appearance, envious of anyone; never jealous of me, my cock dreams, or my friends with cocks. ’Men have insecurities too you know,’ G-Smash once revealed during a lady date. That was fucking news to me.
Watching porn makes me laugh because it is so ridiculous. I can’t help but comment: ‘I hate to break it to you guys, but she is actually not enjoying that, not that you care.’ Or else I will admit: ‘If someone pulled a penis that gigantic out of his postman pants, I would run to the nearest emergency ward for pre-emptive stitches.’ Of course, porn has nothing to do with what women want; it is all about men. Oh you dirty dirty boys. In pornland, women are 1) surgically altered, 2) submissive, 3) uncaring about their own pleasure, and 4) mad about anal sex. This is appealing to straight men—here I should admit that what little gay porn I have seen is superior—because these qualities are so rarely encountered in everyday life, at least not all at once. And on this note I have some advice for two male regulars at my local pub, who like to rate the asses of every woman who happens to walk by: if you would stop guzzling beer and shoving nachoes into your blank faces and talk to these ladies instead of ranking them from 1 to 10, you might eventually get some pussy. Alternatively, you can continue on your current path of being sad, lonely, sexless, misogynist losers. But I digress.
Or do I? For pornographic images of women might not be so great for men after all. If as a teenage boy you come to expect that young women’s round smooth asses will open up wide at the drop of a hat, say in an art gallery or parking garage, you are in for a world of disappointment. You might feel deceived by the lumpier, flesh and blood women that you actually meet. Selfish bitches! Of course, most men are not delusional in this fashion, but I know a surprising number of straight guys who were raised on porn and are now unable to have any kind of meaningful interaction with three-dimensional women. One fellow who is in his late 30s, living in a small town somewhere in New Brunswick, has turned down willing gals, finding them ‘unattractive.’ Let me assure you that he is no great shakes himself. His fantasy life is stunted, focused on balloon-titted 18-year-old porn stars who scarcely exist in his hinterland village. He lives alone and will die alone. Right beside a large screen TV. Who is to blame? [Well, Ron Jeremy could probably take a little heat on this one.]
I am surprised to find myself musing about pornography, while sitting alone in my condo on a Friday evening, after a day spent writing a Guggenheim Fellowship application, teaching a revs class, doing a shoulder workout, and baking some zucchini lasagna. [Aside: the recipe I found at food.com is delicious. Go look it up for yourselves, lazy buggers]. I rarely think about porn, a topic which is not of top-ten concern to most western feminists today, despite mass media representations of angry moustached women holding anti-sex signs and shaking their liver-spotted fists. Most feminists agree in principal that sex is great and that images of sexuality can be fabulous. Their problem is with the porn industry and its exploitation of women. Largely run by and for men, it offers little pleasure to women, not to mention poor employment standards, minimal health care benefits, and practically no long term disability coverage.
Now some women do enjoy watching run-of-the mill online porn, but that would be more of an accident than a deliberate recognition of their needs. I also have my doubts about those sex scenes supposedly made with the ladies in mind. Newsflash for thoughtful pornographers: Please shove your candles, long red feathers, and Fifty Shades of Grey—which I cannot bring myself to read—up your prestretched-by-butt-plug ass holes; I have no interest in convoluded story lines or, god forbid, emotions. All I want is some old-fashioned fucking and unbridled desire. Is that really too much to ask? ’Mais non Madame,’ respond the French, once again coming to my rescue. On the flight home from Paris a few months ago, I viewed a very sexy scene in a French film called Une vie meilleure (2011). Near the beginning of this gritty story of a chef who falls horribly into debt, the male protagonist makes out with and finally beds the waitress of his dreams. He does so in a relentless fashion that she also enjoys. Now that’s what I’m talking about.
Ocassionally the Americans also deliver. Seeing Mark Wahlberg’s bare butt get spanked by a fluffy bear wielding outmoded technology was an enthralling filmic moment for me. Why are they so far and few between?
I started thinking a little more critically about porn after reading the best-selling book, How to Be a Woman, by English comedian Caitlin Moran. [For quick proof, check out this video: http:/www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQ4DzEJ8ax4]. She is a brilliant writer, introducing each topic by telling a funny and embarrassing story from her youth, contextualizing it in a practical fashion, and then smashing you over the head with some feminist ethics. By then you like her so much that you can only agree. After visiting a lap dance club, she sets up her standards of evaluation for public sexual displays: ‘Are women having fun? Is everyone enjoying themselves?’ In her estimation, strip clubs are the saddest places in the world, but burlesque is a-okay. ‘As a rule of thumb, you can always tell if a place is culturally healthy for women when the gays start rocking it.’ (168).
Other pithy critiques of porn contest the way in which it has come to replace sexuality. Everyone now removes all or most of their pubic hair, strikes the same poses, and masters the same array of scenarios, gleefully bending over for strangers in laundry rooms. Sex is now entirely scripted, with the porn industry determining what bodies should look, feel, and sound like. As a relative newcomer to mass produced pornography, I have dutifully been doing online research all week, finding most of it pretty dull. Admittedly viewing only the free stuff quickly googled—I have better things to do, such as lifting heavy shit and putting it back down—the only part I liked was the slap slap slapping noise of the fucking, indicating that real flesh was indeed present. I also enjoyed seeing lots of lady bits, despite their uniformly bleached nature, because they are usually hidden away. I couldn’t help but notice that ass cheek implants are now obligatory for sexy ladies, not just crazy tits. I wonder if getting them would hurt less than doing a thousand hack squats and split lunges?
Such critiques of staged sex are no doubt accurate, but a little naive if based on any notion of ’free’ or ‘natural’ sexual expression. As Foucault and others have proven time and time again, such presumptions are silly. Does anyone still believe that we are riding the wave of a 1960s sexual revolution, living in a culture more lascivious than any in history? If so, they should wake up and smell the regulations. There have never been more rules about sex, with magazine covers—visible while you stand in line at the supermarket holding chicken and egg whites—providing information about ’20 sex tips that will blow his mind,’ etc. Women now wax, shave, and deodorize their lovelies, sugar scrub their butts, and enematize their colons in anticipation of a ‘wild and crazy’ night of spontaneous monkey love. Oh please. I cannot comment on any preparations that men might make, other than impatiently shouting ‘pantsless!’ while seated on the Ikea sex chair.
‘What in the hell are you doing?’ asks my partner, finding me standing beside said chair in my home office, pantsless, with one leg raised, foot resting on the mirrored closet door, a sex posture I just saw someone pretend to enjoy online. ‘I have pretty good porn genitals,’ I declare, leaning in awkwardly to take a good look. ‘Yeah, my lady parts are all right.’ Breathing a sigh of relief, I am glad that the porn industry has no effect on me.