They say one man’s meat is another man’s poison.
I say I hate porn, except for the porn that gets me off.
It took me a long time to begin to understand the mechanism of porn. Only when I sat down and really decided for myself what differentiated porn from erotica (it’s different for everyone) did I satisfy myself that I understood the mechanics of it. Well, of course, the mechanics of the physical representations are pretty obvious, but what I mean is how pornography speaks to us as humans – as men, as women, as straight, or bi, or gay, or transgendered.
Two completely disparate events in my life clinched it for me. The first was an evening spent in Soi Twilight, in Bangkok.
Soi Twilight is one of the gay redlight areas near Patpong. Past all the bars where bored women aim projectile oiled mini-bananas out their cunts at gaping, balding heterosexual octogenarians there is the lurid, frenetic Soi Twilight. It has bars called Mister XXX and HotMales. There are gay cabaret shows that range from tasteful underwater boy-ballet to brutalist performance buggery. There are Dragon-lady Katooey live chat shows completely carried out in Thai, but everyone laughs in all the right places anyway, because somethings are just universally funny.
One of the largest clubs on the street is Dream Boy. Up winding wooden stairs, and for 200 Baht a drink, you get a full hour of questionable entertainment that starts with a transvestite Thai Court ballet and ends with a naked lad with a glow-in-the-dark painted torso channeling Isadora Duncan while pulling a string of silk butterflies out his ass. Of course, the club is mostly crowded with gay men, both Asian and Caucasian, but across from me, stage-side opposite, sit a line of neatly quaffed Japanese ladies of uncertain ages in twin-sets and Mikimoto pearls.
My gay friend who has brought me here informs me that these women are not here for the show – they’re here to buy manflesh. For the price of the bar-fee, and an agreed-upon personal fee, they hire male prostitutes by the week. Didn’t the men mind, I asked, assuming that most of the working boys were not straight.
“Not at all,” says my friend (who has been a Working Boy himself and knows his business). “The vast majority of them are straight, and even if they’re not, a client is a client and, on the whole, the women are easier to service. And,” he adds, “the Japanese ladies are extremely generous tippers.”
“Would you?” I asked.
“Well,” sighs my friend, “if it got really hideous, you could always drop a Cialis or two.”
I wasn’t shocked. But I was momentarily unable to envisage what the point would be in paying someone to fuck you. This, I thought, was a female thing. That’s until the show was over and the long trail of men in tight wet white boyshorts traipsed onto the stage.
For the first 15 minutes, it didn’t really register. Okay, so I giggled a little at the parade of erections, ruddy heads peeking out over the waistbands of their shorts. But after a while, I started to think… wow. I could have this one, or this one, or this one. I stopped looking at their faces and started looking at those golden skinned abs, and the steadily engorging cocks that posed for a while, about a foot from my face, and then moved on, only to be replaced by a new and subtly different one.
“I kind of like the guy with the cobra tattoo that disappears into his crotch.” I whispered to my friend.
“Yeah, he’s hot. A little butch for me, but I can see the attraction. Want to find out if he’s available?”
“Fuck NO!” I squealed and clutched my friends arm. “Don’t you dare!”
“I…I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t like women. Maybe he wouldn’t like me.”
“Honey, you’re not going to DATE him. You’re just going to FUCK him.”
Well, I didn’t. But I could have.
And the realization that I could have, that I could simply pick the body that appealed to me and pay to have it get me off… frankly, that blew me away. No chat up at the bar, no pretending you have anything in common, no annoyingly facile games. Just cash on the desk and do me baby.
This is objectification. This is depersonalization. This is transactional sex with absolutely no strings attached. It’s the shameless use of a human for your own pleasure. And if I ever doubted that I would sink that ‘low’, I had all my self-delusions disabused that night.
What stopped me was pure practicality: I didn’t trust him to make sure the condom stayed put. It’s the one physical reality of being female – you’re really NOT in charge of the condom.
Fast forward a few years. I’m hatching a very warm relationship with a fellow writer online. I like him immensely. I think he’s sexy and witty and smart as hell. Not only that, but he’s physically very beautiful. Before I knew him, I would have loved a pic of him with his hand around his cock, jerking off. But now – now I know him – it just wouldn’t be the same.
A significant aspect of why porn turns us on is because the object of desire is emotionally distant from us. It’s not that you can’t engage in furious masturbation with some explicit image of someone you adore – but it isn’t the same. The minute you care for someone, there’s an inescapable complication that worms its way into that pure, lizard-brained lust and mucks up the works.
The proof of this is that, after you’ve wanked to the dick-pic of your sweetheart, after you’ve come and lie there panting and spent, you will wipe off your sticky fingers and pick up the phone again to look upon it lovingly, affectionately, warmly. Then, you’ll tell him what you did.
That’s just not porn. It’s good, it’s great, it’s much better in some ways, but damn it – it doesn’t have that uncomplicated, purely self-serving eye to crotch closed circuit thing going for it. Well, not for me.
I do like some porn, and I’ve blogged about what I feel, as a mostly straight woman, is missing from a lot of the porn I see.
Here, for your delectation, is my #ladypornday contribution. Thank you Sean (who I don’t know, don’t want to know, thanks) That’s a lovely mess you’ve made for me.