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I LOVE collab posts – Through blogging and twitter, I’ve made some amazing friends and getting the chance to write with people I admire is definitely one of the best parts of anygirlfriday. Today I am sharing space with Exhibit A – a his and her’s perspective on porn. Let me know what you think.

 

  HIS VIEW

When Emilie asked me to give a male perspective on porn, it seemed like an easy enough task. I mean, what self-respecting man doesn’t enjoy knocking one out to the sound of an over-active wah-wah pedal (not a euphemism) and the breathy sighs of a pneumatic beauty? We’ve certainly all watched porn at some point: and ladies, I mean all of us. Your father, your son, your brother, your priest. Your boyfriend. Definitely your husband. Show me the man who claims he’s never flicked through a jazz mag or watched a dirty movie, and I’ll show you a big fat liar.

I started when I was 15. This was the era BG (Before Google), so I used to go down to the local shop, discreetly rip the inside pages of Club International off their staples, and replace the empty shell of the magazine on the shelf. I’d then stuff the good bits under my t-shirt and shuffle out, heart thumping. A couple of years later, I graduated to softcore rentals from the video store, with terrible titles and even worse haircuts. By the time I went to university, we were a year away from the BBFC giving R18 certificates to hardcore movies, and Google had just started to revolutionise the way we search for content online: the floodgates were suddenly yanked open, and I enjoyed the deluge.

So why has this piece been so hard to write? There’s so much material – so many issues to bat back and forth – that it should be a piece of cake…and maybe 10 years ago, it would’ve been. However, just like Club International and late-night Shannon Tweed movies, the idea of a ‘male perspective’ on porn feels increasingly obsolete. To accept it is to buy into the notion that men and women enjoy (or should enjoy) porn in tangibly different ways, with all the nasty, sexist stereotypes associated with that artificial divide. The more democratic and accessible porn has become, the more ridiculous it seems to cling stubbornly to old tropes about men being visual ‘creatures’ and women turning up their noses at the sight of two (three…four…) people fucking.

This, then, is not the male perspective on porn. It’s my perspective.

Porn is the sexual equivalent of fast food. People argue that porn desensitizes us – I would argue that once we get past our teenage years, it’s more that porn serves as a blunt instrument for the occasions when our brains already feel desensitized and need to be battered into submission. I don’t eat a Dominos pizza or a dirty late-night kebab when I want a subtle or refined culinary experience. I eat them when assaulting my alcohol-numbed body with something big and meaty is more important than satisfying my taste buds. It’s the same with porn. Porn is a substitute for the imagination – it does the brain’s work for it. When I’m feeling lazy, or tired, or I just don’t want to think, that’s when I jump online and dig out the gangbang scene I bookmarked the other day.

And no, porn can’t be highbrow, in the same way that fast food can’t be highbrow. Sure, you can open a self-consciously grimy bar in Shoreditch, serve a selection of organic kebab/fried-chicken fusion dishes, and remove the pound sign from your menu: just don’t call it fast food. If it doesn’t make you feel slightly ill afterwards, or cause you to question certain life choices the next morning, it’s not fast food; and if you reach for the tissues after jerking off to a bunch of hardcore anal clips without feeling slightly empty inside, then as far as I’m concerned it’s not porn.

Porn is – and should be – dirty. It’s why the onus to make its production more ethical, and less harmful to women, unfortunately lies with suppliers and legislators, not with consumers. By and large, we watch porn when we’re feeling horny and lazy, which is not a condition that lends itself to complex moral decisions. Do I think these actresses have been exploited during the shoot for this movie? Probably, yeah. Do I care enough to stop watching it? Sometimes. Sometimes not. If the only sandwich left on the shelf at the petrol station is a Ginsters chicken salad and the next stop is 20 miles down the road, sometimes I’ll say to myself that the chickens were probably intensively-farmed for the duration of their short, miserable lives, and I’ll go hungry for another half-hour. Sometimes I won’t.

You can’t stop the supply of porn and you sure as hell can’t stop the demand. It’s a pipeline that now largely pumps a digital – rather than a physical – product, and as consumers our access to it is becoming faster, easier and more bespoke. Putting my business hat on for a moment, the dominant media and retail trends right now are customisation and convenience: the more customised and convenient the user experience, the more compelling the product. As a porn viewer, I’m no longer restricted to whatever my local video shop has under the counter, but instead just access the content I want, on the device I want it, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Porn is now a fact of life, and that’s not going to change any time soon, no matter how much we wring our hands over the impact on young kids and teenage girls. The way to stop porn functioning as a replacement for sex education is not to crack down on its production and distribution: it’s to make sex education better, and while we’re at it, it’s to teach young men to respect women. Whether that’s through private initiatives like the Everyday Sexism project, or government-led programmes, or just good old-fashioned parenting, raising boys who don’t view women as objects is the only reliable way to reduce sexual dysfunction and misogynistic violence.

If all this makes it sound as if I don’t really like porn, that’s because I don’t. I consume it and I accept it – sometimes I even enjoy it – but for the most part I think it’s badly-made, ethically dubious, and deeply unsexy. Given me good quality written erotica six days of the week, and maybe porn on Sundays. That’s this male’s perspective.

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 HER VIEW

I have written about my thoughts on porn before; I find it more cringe than clit pleasing and MASSIVELY unrealistic in the way that it depicts sex. To me, porn is all done for men, by men, with men’s pleasure in mind; that’s why we get cum shots a plenty, blow jobs with close up focus on the poor woman deep throating and trying not to lose her lunch and gang bangs where you just KNOW that she isn’t going to be sitting comfortably any time soon when all the male parts are removed from her parts. Porn fails to show women in any light other than sexual objects, there for the pleasure of men and to be taken at will, whenever the urge hits them – in the library, the office, casting couch etc and reinforces the idea that women are only valued in terms of their appearance and sexuality. When talking about pornography with my favourite girls, the same criticisms came up over and over again; the bodies shown in porn are homogeneous, playing into the stereotype of traditional notions of femininity; big boobs, long hair, doe eyed. There is no diversity, no recognition of other body types being attractive to viewers. When other body types are shown, its very much in an ‘other’ fashion, with separate categories dedicated to ‘big’ women or ‘women of colour’ thus demonstrating how deviant they are to the perceived norm.
In addition, porn makes a lot of my friends unhappy with their bodies. The women in pornography are often as hairless as sphinx cats and surgically enhanced to unnatural proportions. There is nothing wrong with either of those things in theory but porn has a disproportionate amount of women looking like this which isolates a lot of women viewers. Some of my babes said that they hate watching porn because it makes them feel inadequate about their own bodies – this makes me sad. Porn is designed to get you off, to help you on your way to O town – if you are watching it, feeling shit about your body and abilities then that is a big no no to me. Anything you are doing sexually should make you feel like a goddess; you should be with someone who worships every inch of your body but that can’t happen if you don’t worship every inch of it. Anything that contributes to the body policing/shaming of women is out in my eyes.
Another issue I have with porn is the ease of accessibility – sure, this can be brilliant if you fancy a quick sesh before work ( or at work, you know who you are) but in general, I find it worrying how easily teens are getting hold of it. I recently did some research into body image and pornography and was shocked to discover that some teenage boys had NO IDEA that girls could have pubic hair. Furthermore, lots said that they could never be with a woman who had hair on her lady garden; that’s ‘disgusting’ apparently. Their understanding of female anatomy was limited to the women they see in blue movies – no wonder so many teens feel depressed. Boys go into relationships expecting their partners to be able to rein-act the karma sutra whilst being hairless minxes totally up for him jizzing in her face and she goes into it thinking that his pleasure is more important than hers and that she needs to swallow to be cool. Ultimately, that’s my biggest bugbear: the pleasure element. Porn is so focused on HIS finish – I get it, the ‘money shot’ is what counts. It suggests finality, an ending to the situation but it also suggests that his pleasure is more important. That him coming is more important than her doing so. Women did not chain themselves to parliament railings, go on hunger strikes in prison and fight for the right to equality just to suffer the injustice of shit sex in 2014.
Ok, there are some good things about porn. As one friend pointed out, it gives you IDEAS. Maybe you hadn’t considered being fucked in the garden whilst your local church committee look on before your escapades into porn. Or maybe you decided to try out a few new positions as a result of some late night scrolling through redtube? In that respect, porn can give you the opportunity to suggest new things in the bedroom without worrying that it comes across as criticism; instead of saying ‘I hate that we only do it in missionary with the lights on’ you can seductively purr, ‘ I saw this amazing move last night and just know you’d be good at it.’ It allows you the chance to discuss new sexual territory. Watching porn together can be pretty hot as well – its voyeuristic without having to resort to dogging in a Sainsbury’s car park. In addition, porn can be the catalyst you need to a quick orgasm when you are stressed out and nothing else will scratch that itch.
Ultimately though, I’m not a fan. It sets unrealistic expectations about sex and bodies. It is very one dimensional in how women are represented and reinforces patriarchal concepts about the role of the Y chromosome in society. The focus is on the primacy of male pleasure and contributes to unsatisfying sex for women who need more than some aggressive fingering to get to the good bit. I have heard a lot about female friendly porn so there is proof that sex on screen doesn’t have to be all arse smacking and faux moaning. For now though, the market is too saturated with sex that makes me LOL instead of O so I’m choosing literotica. . .

internet pornography
What do you think? Team him or her? Let me know!
Don’t forget to follow us on twitter
Em – @anygirlfriday
Him – @EA_unadorned

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Category: Discussion, Feminism, My Thoughts
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  • Simone Roberts

    I completely understand and appreciate both points but if I think in this instance my own thoughts come down on the “Team Him” side. Sorry Em! The fetish section of Tube 8 is in my phone’s “favourites”… god I hope my dad never sees this comment, haha!