Archive for the Porn/Erotica Category

Why my sexuality brings me ethical dilemmas

Posted in Kink, Porn/Erotica, Sexuality on January 3, 2009 by alterisego

I read a news article about a gang rape. A real gang rape. A terrible, awful, reprehensible, unimaginably cruel thing. How difficult could it possibly be to react with shock and horror?

But I am struggling with those emotions. I am struggling to feel righteous anger on behalf of the woman who was raped and anger at and disgust for her aggressors. Because somewhere in the back of my mind is a filmstrip, imagining the crime. Fantasizing about it. Indulging myself in it. I thought I knew, now, how to divorce myself from reality, how to behave so that real slavery is not titillating, nor real kidnapping, real torture, or real rape. I thought I knew how to make BDSM be, well, about BDSM.

But, you see, when I do that, my well of frighteningly erotic bedtime stories dries up. I have no stirrings in my nether regions. It never occurs to me to think that this time, maybe, I will have an orgasm. Yeah, I can compartmentalize. I can turn it off. But then it really is gone.

I’ve been telling myself my bedtime stories again, in the past few weeks, after quite a long while. They are stories that terrify me and make me nauseous but also on which I love to dwell—I think I almost take a masochistic pleasure in enduring them. And they are stories of obscene cruelty—I may consider myself submissive in “real life,” but when it comes to torturing fictional characters, or the thin, ersatz representations of such, I have a cruel streak a mile wide, and growing every day.

I have a feeling this is so very terribly wrong. But I also have a feeling that I don’t by any means want to stop thinking like this.

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On pedophilia

Posted in Current Events, Kink, Porn/Erotica, Sexuality on August 11, 2008 by alterisego

Trinity wrote about a Supreme Court case that would render illegal the distribution of simulated child porn (i.e. very well photoshopped) that’s passed off as real child porn. While I have a sort of kneejerk reaction to making things illegal, I don’t have a huge problem with this. Real child porn is illegal for obvious reasons, and if someone buys or sells a photoshopped image that they believe to be real, it’s supporting the same sorts of ideas that are problematic with regard to child porn. If you believe the image to be real, you’re condoning statutory rape and exploitation and muddled notions of consent or complete lack thereof in just as dangerous a way as if the image is in fact real. So I see the logic there.

There are two things that make me concerned, though. One is the slippery slope of legislation like this. As Trinity said, “while it doesn’t seem horrific on its face, I do worry that it may be the beginning of a slide where ‘something that looks real’ becomes ‘and fake things too’ and ‘fake’ slides from ‘shoppery’ to ‘drawings’ to ‘stories about consensual adult ageplay.'” For sure. And obviously there’s a huge difference between adults pretending to be kids and, well, kids themselves. The history of government restrictions involving sexuality (see UK and that “simulated harm” thing) indicates that such a slippery slope is possible.

But the other (possibly far more controversial) thing is, a pedophile isn’t a child molester. A pedophile is someone who is sexually attracted to prepubescent children, but that doesn’t mean that a pedophile necessarily acts on those urges. I don’t have pedophilic tendencies myself, so I can’t say what that’s like, but I imagine it’s very much like having another fetish, one that society condones a bit more. I’d imagine that, essentially, there’s not a whole lot you can do about what turns you on, whether that’s a morally objectionable thing or not. I’d imagine that many people with that fetish are very aware that actually having sex with a child is a morally reprehensible act, and they would never consider doing such a thing. I’d imagine that some people repress that part of their sexuality, and focus on other things instead, while I’d imagine that others achieve their release in safe ways, like ageplay with other adults or like the photoshoppery and drawings Trinity mentioned. And see (here’s where I get myself into deep politically incorrect shit), I don’t think there’s a whole lot wrong with that. Jacking off to a drawing of a child is a much better alternative to going out and raping a child. And if you know it’s a fantasy, and you know it’s never going to be a reality, what exactly is the harm in that?

I know that I certainly share the experience of having sexual thoughts that would be morally reprehensible if acted upon literally. I suspect people reading this might feel the same. I’ve talked about my rape fantasies before. I get tied in knots about their relationship to my feminism and my support of the values of the BDSM community, but I still know that I kink on notions of abusive sexual behavior. Whatever the moral outcome of that, and for whatever reason, it’s part of who I am. I can repress it, I can focus on other things, but that doesn’t change how I feel, and that doesn’t change how central these notions are to my innate conception of sexuality. I have no desire to harm women. I have no desire to rape or be raped. News stories about rape or assault or abuse are just as horrifying to me as they might be to someone who doesn’t share my perversions. I’m a mentally balanced person who understands what needs to stay fantasy, and what the difference is between fantasy and reality. But if I got off to porn, or even to my own fantasies, I think I might choose to get off to something that simulates nonconsensuality. With the knowledge that no one was being harmed, I could use that fantasy for my sexual release, because my entire sexuality hinges on it.

And so I think that must be what it would be like to be pedophilic. I think people who are attracted to prepubescent children might feel as repulsed and yet fascinated by their fetish as I sometimes do by mine, that they might repress it and yet accept it as an integral part of who they are, that they might seek an outlet in fantasy and simulation and sex play in order that their desires not bleed into “real life” and moral reprehensibility. I don’t understand what it is to have pedophilic tendencies, but there is no question that I understand what it is like to feel that way. And so I can’t condemn anyone for it, or have any desire to outlaw their instruments of release—unless, of course, they cross that very solid and unmissable line between fantasy and reality.

Porn and Me

Posted in Feminism, Kink, Porn/Erotica, Real Life, Sexuality on June 28, 2008 by alterisego

I was so blown away by a post of Trinity’s on her experiences with porn that I felt motivated to think about my relationship with the medium. So here are some disorganized musings.

I attribute the whole thing to the fact that I was a rather traditional nerdy girl, who came of age with guys.

Maybe a year or two years ago (it seems so long ago in my head, but I guess it wasn’t), I was learning about and becoming accustomed to ideas of sex, sexual identity, and sexual expression for the first time, and growing into an idea of myself as a sexual being. I started giving names to feelings, responses that I had, and I moved from a stage of “fascination” with certain concepts or people to a stage of sexual attraction and arousal. That feeling I once described to my little sister as “needing to pee” became, I realized (particularly after watching a rather bizarre French documentary on Swedish television), swelling of my clitoris. I learned more, I read more, I talked more, and my hormone balances changed. The stories I told myself to fall asleep at night stopped having a plot, I noticed. Instead I would fixate, almost unconsciously, on the same scene, whether it was the scene where the protagonist (a cooler version of myself) had detention with the incredibly sexy young teacher, or the one where the protagonists committed a disciplinary infraction on an 18th-century Royal Navy ship and the cat was (literally) let out of the bag. (I was fond of that one. But beside the point.)

So here we are, I’m 16 or so, pretty emotionally immature, and not quite sure how to piece together my very extensive reading knowledge of sex education with my own feelings, which I can’t control and don’t understand. In the meantime, I make some new friends—and my new friends, as it happens, are a little more at ease with themselves and a little more at ease with me. Unlike the guys I always tried to make friends with in my classes, these guys were willing to talk about “guy stuff” to each other in front of me. It was the first time I’d ever heard anyone talk openly about their own sexual responses. I was kind of taken aback, but in the interests of being accepted, I adjusted. Naturally, because these were your average adolescent males, I started to hear about porn (in fact, it might have been around the second time I hung out with them outside of school). I’d never heard anyone talk about it before; I had only the vaguest clinical idea of what it was. I’d certainly never seen any. But I heard my friends mention the genre of entertainment in passing, and so formed the opinion they presented: that porn isn’t harmful, that it is normal to watch it, and that this is often done as an aid to masturbation, which is also perfectly natural (well, I knew that part from my teen health websites). I started to “heheh” at sexual references, and I started to become accustomed to their world.

I didn’t really integrate myself completely in it, though—and still haven’t—because, I suppose, I’m undeniably wired like a woman. Sex drive isn’t omnipresent for me, and it especially wasn’t two years ago, as a very late bloomer. Also, all this information was new to me, who had never even considered self-pleasure before I heard it discussed, and I didn’t entirely understand that this porn idea could apply to women as well. At the time I didn’t have very many female friends, and those I had did not tend to be sexually well-adjusted. I was very confused: to a certain extent, I didn’t think of sexualization as something women did, and that was partly because I saw it as “wrong”—I remember having ethical quandaries about the way my male friends would sometimes objectify women (until I, terribly, found myself doing it too, and figured I couldn’t really maintain the moral high ground). But at the same time, because what I knew other people had was a life with a sex drive, I began to think I was not quite normal. I described myself as asexual for a few months, until I grew into myself a little better and realized that wasn’t accurate at all.

So shit, I’ve gotten way off-track. What about the porn? I took 700 words to explain where I am now, and perhaps none too clearly. I think I’m biologically and hormonally as sexually developed as I’m going to be for a young adult woman (if not experienced or comfortable), and here I am. I still don’t watch porn, and I still don’t masturbate. I had problems with the masturbation, and I gave up trying so hard. I still feel bad that I can’t do something everyone else can do (even the female friends I’ve since, happily, acquired), but I also figure it’s probably not worth investing that much stress into it. And porn. What do I think about that?

You must understand I don’t think it’s wrong, or amoral—I’m a big supporter of the porn industry, of the idea of graphic portrayal of sexual material, and all that stuff. I would have no problem with a significant other who watched porn, or indeed one who was interested in watching porn with me. Sometimes someone will send me a clip or a picture and I’ll watch it or look at it—sometimes I’ve seen some very attractive things that way. Because of the way I’ve grown into myself, I think it’s amusing when I can agree with one of those straight guys about a good porn clip, or a hot actress (still a fairly rare occurrence, though). It’s like sharing a taste in, y’know, non-sexual movies. And I do a fair amount of research-type work into porn, reading the old shit and watching the more modern shit. I watched Deep Throat once because I wanted to know what started porno film, and of course I’ve read the standards from Fanny Hill to Story of O.

But I don’t go seeking it out to pleasure myself. And I can’t help but think that’s a little weird. I’m not sure if I’m repressed, or if I do secretly think it’s a bit wrong, or unhealthy. I think that to a certain extent, I’m still wedded to that misconception I had back when I started learning about it that porn is a guy thing, and I’m not a guy, therefore it’s not really my problem. I guess I don’t know where to start, or what to look for. I’m hard to please, certainly, and not only do I not like to see cocks (which kind of rules out a lot there), I don’t find anything interesting in mainstream heterosexual notions of female beauty. I guess I’m too lazy or too nervous to go searching for something other than the first Internet pop-up that confronts me. I guess I can tackle porn on a scientific or social or historical level, and when I think about it there’s a lot of sort of unusual stuff I’ve seen in my intellectual curiosity about unusual fetishes, or indeed about my own relatively vanilla ones. But then move outside of the scientific and say “This is hot”? That’s not something I’m too good at doing.

Someone sent me a porno once that I do actually like (and that made me feel like I’d finally succeeded in dealing with my sexuality), and as it’s all I’ve got other than the tenth re-reading of Story of O, there are times in the dark of night when I’ll navigate the complicated folder structure I set up to hide it and sit down and watch it all the way through. I squirm with something—is it discomfort at seeing a naked woman (something that’s never happened in real life), or is it just a little bit of carnal pleasure at what the man in the video says and does to her? I guess I wouldn’t keep watching it if I didn’t like it, and yet I’ve never—in a year, I think it’s been—typed in the URL that appears at the bottom of the video. I’ve never gone looking for more like it, tried to find out what I’m into, or if watching this stuff could help me masturbate the way I first learned it did other people.

Just like, for this 18-year-old virgin, sex is something other people have, porn is something other people derive pleasure from. It’s great for them, and I’m happy they can enjoy themselves. The first thing I learned about porn was that it is fun to watch and a healthy sexual indulgence. Combine that with what I know now about consent and 2257 and all that good stuff, and I have absolutely no qualms about saying that I am completely pro-porn and proud of it.

In a strictly abstract sense.

Thinking

Posted in Kink, Porn/Erotica, Sexuality on March 15, 2008 by alterisego

It’s 10:30 pm. I don’t know. I’m gonna try to articulate some thoughts and I don’t quite know what they are.

I was reading a new post or two on some sexblogs I read, of the I guess BDSM nature. And I don’t know—every time I stop to think about this, it feels weird. What I’m thinking is just that this is normal. My immediate thought is not porn, not arousal, not even “I would like that to be done to me”. I was reading this one blog, and I didn’t even notice until I’d finished the post that there was a picture of a naked, tied-up woman in the sidebar. You’d think that anyone with half a sane mind would notice that first.

I just don’t quite understand my responses to this stuff. I like reading the funny lines that the intelligent bloggers I read generate, and if the funny lines come out of a play party, well, that’s why it’s funny. You know? But “funny”? What person thinks a story about whips and ropes and shit is “funny”?

I don’t know, I can’t understand it. Sometimes I wonder whether I really am into this, which is stranger than the times I wonder whether I’m as submissive as I portray myself to be. But then I wonder whether I’m anything at all, because I guess I feel like I should be seeing this all more sexually than I do. I’m sorry; I can’t talk to the point about my sexual preferences. You’ll have to excuse my verbal circumlocutions.

I guess I find myself thinking, “I wish every college had a group like Conversio Virium [the Columbia student BDSM discussion group].” Or “It would be cool and interesting to go to one of these events, just to see.” And then I think “WTF, alterisego, did you just say that? Did you just say you wanted to out yourself, to be up-front about your fetishes with strangers? Can you even claim to legitimately have these fetishes anyway, since you’ve never had an orgasm in your fucking, no pun intended, life?” It seems weird. It seems weird to look at these people who are just incorporating BDSM into their daily lives and blogging about it, and think that could happen. Between my conversations with my mother, common sense and a generally internet-based life, I’ve trained myself to think this is private. That it’s slightly odd, and the sort of thing you talk about anonymously on a messageboard. And also that I can’t legitimately claim to be any part of it, because I’m laughing too hard at porn to get off on it, I’m repressed as the world’s most homophobic Catholic, I’m very immature and just barely overage, and I’m just generally ignorant about this world. The world of sex, and the world of BDSM. Wiki-surfing in multiple languages just doesn’t cut it to actually living in a world that involves ess ee eks, and perverted ess ee eks at that.

And I guess there’s just a lot of second-guessing about myself that goes on here. When you see something entertaining, you automatically want to copy-paste the link to your friend who’s online. I’m sure that’s happened to any of us. When I see an entertaining line, it takes me a minute to go, “Oh, wait. This is awkward.” And there are about three people I know who are actually okay with it, and my relationships with them make it somehow just as awkward as someone who doesn’t have a clue. And then I’m like, what the fuck? This is someone else’s porn, and you’re copy-pasting it as a link because you’re laughing at it? And do you see something slightly wrong with the picture of copy-pasting a porn link to a guy, for example, even if he is your friend and okay with it? Get a clue, alterisego. Grow up. Have normal reactions to things.

I dunno. I’m really confused.

What was that, my coming-out conversation?

Posted in Kink, Orientation, Porn/Erotica, Real Life, Sexuality on March 12, 2008 by alterisego

Originally posted on my private blog on 28 February 2008.

I just had the most terrible conversation I’ve ever had with my mom. I don’t mean to be melodramatic, but I think I feel worse right now than I do after the screaming matches, the hysteria, the bleak depression and the exasperation of the two hour-long circular conversations.

Because on the way home in the car tonight, my mom asked me if my Facebook profile is private. She assumed it was public, because she assumed I just like to be as open and exhibitionist and unsafe about myself as possible, and that I wanted to let everyone in the world know what books I read and what movies I see. Sorry, I’m being unfair to my mom with that. I’ll tone down the resentment. She was just concerned that I might be denied a job in the future, or hurt in some other way—not because there are any pictures of me doing anything illegal or irresponsible on my Facebook, but because Story of O and Coming to Power are listed in my favourite books.

So we had to have a conversation. A very, very awkward, beating-around-the-bush conversation, about my “signalling”, her “notions of what constitutes privacy” versus mine, and how people “will put two and two together”. She said she didn’t judge the content, just the openness. But to me the two go hand in hand, and now I feel wrong. Just, wrong. I tried to justify myself, my actions and my identity. Mom said that she didn’t base her identity on sexuality, and it almost seemed like she was criticizing my sense of sexual identity. I tried to defend that, saying how that sense of collective identity is important for any minority. I said that I wasn’t ashamed of anything on my Facebook, that no one but my friends and people in my high school network could see it anyway, that I know how to be safe and responsible online, and keep private what should be private, and what seemed very important to me, that I am theoretical and dispassionate. I tried to imply (of course not in so many words) that this had nothing to do with porn, what turns me on, whatever. This is to do with literature, with cinema. This is to do with the fact that there are certain things I, unusually, see as normal—and so that doesn’t disqualify certain good pieces of writing and film from making it onto my lists.

But now I feel judged. I feel wrong. I feel like I’ve made mistakes. I don’t want to go against my mom’s wishes, against our family values, whatever it is. I feel like the right thing to do is to take all my giveaways off the Facebook, that if my mom says to hide it that’s the right thing to do. I’m trying to tell myself that my belief in not living in secret is wrong, that my desire to share my favourite books is just disgusting exhibitionism, that what I am is inappropriate for public and maybe even inappropriate for private too. I don’t want to disappoint my mom. I don’t want to be inappropriate. I must be wrong in thinking that I have a good handle on my privacy, the difference between theory and TMI, and all that real-world stuff. I should be trying harder at delineating sexual topics as taboo. I should be reinforcing those societal norms. If I have to do it, I should do it in the privacy of my head and offline and in the dark, furtively.

That’s not the way I want to live. That’s not how I think anyone should live. I don’t think it’s healthy, I don’t think it’s right, and fundamentally I don’t see a real problem with me being me. I have the inclinations I have, and I like to analyse myself, understand myself, and be open about this process. I also like to instigate dialogue, teaching moments, and a whole new range of innuendo. I like to open people’s minds. I like to insinuate. I never go round to random strangers and get in their face about sex. I don’t even like to discuss my bisexuality at GSA, for crissakes. I just like to insinuate, drop hints, and not be scared to hide my books. Matter-of-fact. Not embarrassed. And if I want to read a book that’s, um, non-mainstream, why shouldn’t I? It’s not like I have sexual responses. It’s not like I’m jacking off in public. It’s literature. And I know people don’t understand that. But to me, if porn isn’t funny, it’s academic. And the books on my favourite books list aren’t funny and aren’t quite academic. They’re enthralling, psychologically mesmerising. But they’re books. They’re my books. And why should I hide them?

Oh? Then why do I have a backpack filled with verboten books under my bed?

I’m hoping someone is going to reassure me that there is nothing wrong with what I have on my Facebook profile, and nothing wrong with me. I want someone to tell me I’m not a gross pervert or whatever because there are books with omg sex! in them on my Facebook. I want someone to tell me that writing “Story of O” on my Facebook doesn’t constitute describing my fetishes in graphic detail to random strangers.

But I’m scared of what you will say. I’m scared you will tell me I go to far, that I need to be more circumspect, that sex—and especially my “version” of what sex constitutes—isn’t appropriate for high-schoolers and Facebook. I don’t want you to tell me that my mom is right. But I’m scared you will. I’m scared there is something wrong with me, more fundamental than my repression and my body image issues and all that normal stuff. I’m scared to be twisted. I feel like I should be apologizing. But if I think about it, I don’t really quite know why.

Oh Yale.

Posted in Current Events, Kink, Porn/Erotica on February 18, 2008 by alterisego

The pro-porn and kink-friendly and whatnot blogs I read seem to be rather upset about certain happenings at Yale University’s “Sex Week”, and I really have to say I agree. According to the Yale Daily News, one of Sex Week’s events was a screening of a porn film that the Week’s organizers hadn’t previewed prior to the screening. Now I would say that it’s their own damn fault that a bunch of kids are happily watching a movie “which depicted fantasy rape, bondage and piercing”. They should suck it up and deal with the fallout, and let the audience get on with it. According to the Yale paper, there were certainly no objections from the audience as to the content. However, the event organizers stopped the film midway (to audience protests), because I guess the phrase “consenting adults” means nothing to them?

I feel like there’s really no point to my going on a rant about this, because Yale kids are more or less like the mainstream everywhere else, and I’m not going to start blaming folks for being uninformed. It’s not like you come out of the womb knowing about kinky porn. The only thing I can really say is, “Stupid kids should have previewed the movie before showing it, if they were going to object.”

Both the article and the Sex Week organizers definitely seem to have the wrong end of the stick, though, as I’m sure I don’t need to repeat. They’re going on about how this is a great opportunity to speak out about violence against women and whatnot — but, um, have these people ever seen a movie? Never mind a porno, just a film in a theater, or on DVD? Do they get the idea that in films (unless they’re documentaries), things are not real? Did they (for example) go to see Lord of the Rings and think that Middle Earth really exists? I’m dubious, because clearly they don’t understand that “fantasy rape” is not real rape, and that perfectly non-alarming BDSM practices are not equal to violence against women.

Excuse me, I’m feeling particularly intolerant towards the uninformed tonight.

EDIT: I spent about an hour doing research. D’you think The New Devil in Miss Jones (IMDB link) might have been the film referred to? I’m not totally sure it meets the Yale Daily News‘s description, but since it seems to have won several awards, it makes sense for the director, Thomas, and the production company, Vivid, to have chosen to showcase it.

You know what’s fun?

Posted in Other, Porn/Erotica on February 10, 2008 by alterisego

Being able to click the “I am over 18” buttons in all honesty. Whee, I am actually allowed to be on the adult Internet!