Sex Positive?

Greetings to the Ladies Jane --

As I sit to begin sharing with all of you, taking a few precious minutes away from the ever-growing list of chores and tasks, I wonder what today’s topic should be.

Some pretentious (and mostly groundless) statement on our current culture? (not in the mood.)

A thinly-veiled feminist rant regarding our country’s consistently conflicted views of pornography? (interesting.)

The nature of God vs. Man vs. Woman? (too heavy!)

How about a discussion of Wal-Mart, the Evil Empire, vs. Woman? (not enough self-righteous rage today.)

I think I’ll go with the choice that interests everyone – Porn. I’m not in the mood for a long treatise tonight, but a few words are required because NOW the idea is stuck in my head.

People love to see each other naked. People love to have sex because it’s fun . Most people like to see other people having sex for the same reason. In a million little ways, from “Wow, that's an interesting idea!” to the autonomic responses most of us experience while consuming pornography that interests us (rather than what specifically turns us off), we get a kick out of “adult” entertainment.

Positive sex and images of it are sociologically and psychologically healthy. People, especially women, who embrace this idea are more comfortable with themselves and more at home in our society. One of the easiest and most earthy ways to embrace this ideal is consuming pornography. Without deviating too much into the myriad implications of the “F” word (feminism), such a stance is commonly referred to as the “Pro-Sex Feminist..” This archetypical woman believes in human nature and the need to protect it, as do I.

And, so, the big question: Am I a consumer of pornography? Not to egregious levels, but of course I am. Many people claim they aren’t, but I disbelieve most of them. I tend to worry about the emotional well-being of those who honestly do not respond to something that could be classified as porn, and I think those people are actually few and far between.

Most of us just won’t admit it because we fear black-suited femi-Nazi ninjas will drop from the ceiling in order to imprison us somewhere that would make Guantanamo seem like Aspen should we utter such a vile sentiment.

“Come and get me, Ladies! You’ll never take me alive – and I’ll take a few of you down with me!”

Wow, getting that idea out of my head felt great!



  1. Riot.Jane,

    I buy porn. I admit it. I am a woman and I purchase with my own money graphic images of other woman getting it on with strange men and yes, I like it.

    But here's the BUT, does that make it okay? I mean the stance of "woman doing what woman want" in reference to porn is fine. It even makes sense. BUT what about the girls who really are being objecified? The young ones, the abused ones, the uneducated. Are our dollars perpetuating a system of abuse?

    Good topic.

  2. Anon,
    I think that's a good point. I should preface by saying I don't buy porn. Here's my BUT, that doesn't mean it hasn't purchased in my household, at my behest even. I have a hard time reconciling my dirty, fun good time with the fact (and it is a fact) that there are woman who suffer as a result of pornography. Through addiction of their own or a partner or through being in porn themselves. It's a hard line for me to tow.

    Sometimes fun does harm.

    On the flip side, why not support a woman who has taken control of her sexual and professional life?


  3. I hate porn. It makes me feel like less of a woman because I don't look like they do. My husband likes for me to watch it with him but when he gets excited by it, it just makes me die a little inside. I'll never look like those porn stars.

  4. I had to reconcile these thoughts myself. Here's how it works for me . . .

    As long as I choose either written or visuals where the participants are obviously overage, these people are being paid to do a job. Exhibitionism is a common kink*, so common in fact that the Merck Manual notes a third of sexual offender arrests are exhibitionists (think: flasher). The Merck Manual also notes that,

    For some people, exhibitionism is expressed as a strong desire to have other people watch their sexual acts. Such people want to be seen by a consenting audience, rather than to surprise people. People with this form of exhibitionism may make pornographic films or become adult entertainers. They are rarely troubled by their desire and thus may not have a mental health disorder. The participants are, at the very least, willing to do this for the paycheck. I also believe the chances are high that they are actually enjoying their job.

    Yes, there are addicts. Yes, there are people in bad relationships. Yes, there are many negative motivations that any particular woman might have for participating in this industry. The same goes for topless dancers and prostitutes. The thing is, for the women that are doing this for a reason besides exhibitionism, it's the addiction, the evil partner, poverty, or other some other bad thing that has them bound. If such activities are what they feel they want or have to do to improve their situation, then far be it for me to judge them or their decision/s.

    No child ever said, “Mommy, I want to be a porn star when I grow up.”Human nature creates the pornography market, the same way it creates a market for snacky-cakes, cocaine, and fast cars. Much like human nature, the sex industry can certainly be seedy, ugly, dangerous, and degrading, but it can also be airy, beautiful, exciting, and liberating.

    A very large part of our distaste for the sex industry and our separation from the role sex should be playing in our daily lives, the fact that it just isn't a topic for “polite” conversation, has to do with American culture. I'll be going into this in a main-page submission at a later date, but suffice it to say right now that this wasn't always so, at least not among the working class.

    As for the objectification of porn participants, that's accurate, but not in the typical way that we think of as harmful to a woman and to women in general. When a woman is objectified as a walking vagina by guys on the street, that's harmful not only to her but to all women. When she's making a pornographic movie, the whole point is that she's presenting herself as an object of beauty, arousal, titillation, excitement, etc.

    What this all boils down to is that my money is going to an industry that compensates its participants. The participants' motivations are of no more importance than my auto mechanic's motivations for having his job. We all have static, and we all do what we need to do in order to get by or improve our situation.

    That's how I made my peace with my own appetite for pornography. I hope that helps.

    *Please don't mistake the fact that I used “kink” and “sexual offender” in the same sentence as an indication that I equate the two. I do not. Please consider the standard definitions of these terms in use.

  5. PS:

    Regarding the comment "It makes me feel like less of a woman because I don't look like they do."

    If I let the fact that women in pornography look better than I do (better than I ever could) stop me from enjoying it, then I'd have to stop watching television and movies and stop reading magazines.

    Hell, I'd have to stop all main-stream media consumption entirely, because 99% of those people look better than I could ever look, too.

    Mass media has allowed us to see the top 1% of the most attractive people out there, 24 hours a day. At this point, our perceptions are skewed so badly that we think every woman should look like a supermodel.

    Back when we might have ever met 100 different people, total, in our lifetimes, none of them was likely to be particularly remarkable. Now, everyone we see is remarkable to the point that remarkable has become the subconscious norm, and our perceptual brain doesn't distinguish between real-life people and those in the media when it decides what people are supposed to look like.