As Featured on News Cult: Porn: Let’s Discuss

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Porn is a real doozy. I have so many thoughts and emotions and questions about it. It’s the one thing I can never make a solid decision about. I could spend hours (and have) debating back and forth on the subject. That may make me sound crazy, but what else is new. You’re probably thinking “Really, Alex? What is so complicated about porn?” Well since you asked, let me tell you.

Porn is supposed to be all about sexual fantasy. It’s a tool to stimulate fantasy and pleasure. And I have no problem with sexual fantasy or sexual pleasure, theoretically. I actually think they’re good. I think they’re normal and a part of life that is fun and exciting. And we shouldn’t feel guilty about our sexuality, like many of us have been taught, but we should express and enjoy it. But porn is the crossroads between fantasy and reality. It is real people acting out fantasies. So can it really remain in the category of fantasy? Sure, someone watching porn isn’t physically involved with whoever is in the pornography, but whoever is in it is a real person, somewhere, someplace.

And the reality of porn isn’t necessarily a problem, either. Except that we don’t know the circumstances under which it’s made. Namely, we don’t know the situation that the actors are in. Sure, some of them are renowned and so we know their history in more detail, including their age, background, “career path,” etc. But a lot of porn features nameless bodies and faces, whose stories we don’t know. We don’t know if they’re consenting, or if they’re even of age (barring cases where it’s blatantly obvious). And that’s one of the things I’m wary of. Especially when the porn is exploitative in one way or another.

For example, of the countless “categories” of porn on any given site, there are many that focus on a domination/submission dynamic. Whether that involves whips and chains or a gang bang or a teen/adult dynamic. And again, part of me is tempted to say that porn represents fantasy, and we shouldn’t condemn our fantasies because they’re natural parts of us, and fantasy is ok, if for no other reason than it’s not reality. So even if some porn promotes a domination/submission fantasy, it’s still ok because it’s just that: fantasy.

But another part of me can’t accept that. Because it may just be fantasy, but what if the fantasy is wrong? Like, I think people would generally say gang bangs are not great and a little rapey (if not actual rape), and adults having sex with underage teens is against the law, etc. So does the fact that porn is just a theatrical presentation of these acts that society at large would discourage in reality make it exempt from criticism?

This all begs the question too, is there even such a thing as “wrong” fantasy? How much can we control what turns us on, and how much should we? I know that as a feminist, I’m tempted to condemn the majority of porn because it exploits and objectifies women. But at the same time, if that is the fantasy that turns someone on, am I allowed to condemn that, any more than I’m allowed to condemn their sexual orientation (which I believe I am not)?

And of course there’s still the issue of not always knowing the age of the actors or how much control they really have. Like, in the case of the “teen” category–are the actors of age but playing underage? Or are they actually underage? And when it comes to the whips and chains, is the person being whipped and chained actually ok with it? How much are these actors agreeing to and how much are they not?

I realize I’m really just posing a bunch of questions here, but that’s because I think porn is a huge grey area. And while I recognize that this discussion is a complete boner killer and takes all the fun out of porn, I find it to be inescapable. Does anyone else wonder these things? I feel like a lot of us just turn on the porn, click on whatever video stimulates us the most, without scrutinizing why it turns us on, if it’s ethical, if it’s even ok that it turns us on, etc., and we just get to work and then move on with our lives. Which I’m not even saying is wrong–part of me thinks that’s great. But that’s exactly my point, though–how much questioning and analysis and thought are we required to put into porn, if any? I honestly don’t know the answer. What do you guys think?

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/?p=70105

16 thoughts on “As Featured on News Cult: Porn: Let’s Discuss

  1. Josh Wrenn says:

    I think it depends on the porn. Like the barely legal categories and stuff I stay away from. Partly because you wonder what that says about society and whether the actresses are of-age, but mostly because that doesn’t do it for me. Some of the other more hardcore stuff really isn’t my style either. If there is a power dynamic, in porn life, I usually like the women being the ones in control because it is fantasy, and that is usually the opposite of real life. You also know that likely the men being restrained or whatever by the women in the porn would not have gotten restrained if they didn’t want to be.
    But the only porn that I truly trust is the stuff I make myself, which you find on http://www.justkiddingidonotmakepornforanyonetowatch.org

    Liked by 3 people

  2. amorefado says:

    I think the “teen” categories focus on eighteen and nineteen year old women since, technically, they’re still “teens”. However, your concerns are all valid because we really don’t know. I do feel that we cannot control what turns us on but we SHOULD control ourselves and our actions. Just because one person is oddly turned on by gang rape doesn’t mean they should act on it and it definitely doesn’t make it right for them to watch. I don’t know, it’s a weird subject. I watch porn, but it’s very vanilla-ish porn, and I don’t feel that it objectifies women because they’re being exposed just as much as the men are. They’re “enjoying” it as much as the men are too, even in the videos where they’re being dominated. I think really porn is just a way to finish someone off who lacks the imagination to sit there and masturbate to their thoughts. Now I’m rambling.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. George says:

    You bring up such interesting topics and questions. I don’t have a lot to say about this topic, except this…assuming everyone is legal in the videos, people have the right to earn a living as they choose and others have the right to enjoy that entertainment if that’s what they choose to do. I try not to ever judge what people decide to do unless they are hurting someone in the process. There is so much more that can be discussed here, so many aspects and legitimate viewpoints, but it seems to come down to choices. Fortunately, in this country, we all have that right.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. balletandboxing says:

    I think my opinions line up closest to amorefado’s. The stuff that is clearly illegal horrifies me, and I can’t help it, I WILL judge anyone who is turned on by that. But again, as amorefado said: we can’t control our fantasies (e.g. Getting turned on by child porn/crushing) but we can control our actions and not watch those videos (and not just because they are illegal but because they represent something morally wrong).

    For the rest of it (gang bangs, BDSM, etc), as long as it is made with consenting adults and there is the appearance of enjoyment, I’m ok with it. Yes, I know, we can never be totally sure that the actors are consenting and legal, but at the same time, most mainstream porn videos lack that violent and uncomfortable edge that comes when someone is clearly getting off on hurting one of the participants (usually the woman).

    I dunno. I find a lot of it is hit or miss. Personally, I only really get turned on by porn when the actors seem to actually be enjoying themselves (as opposed to the perfunctory moan /groans that seem to be acceptable for most videos). And when that is the case, that they are clearly getting off on WHATEVER it is they are doing (vanilla, girl on girl, anal, gang bang, BDSM, wtv!) most of the questions or worries you mentioned fade to the background and I can embark on the fantasy guilt free.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. alexmoriah86 says:

    Porn is also something that I struggle with my opinion on. For me, I am concerned with how it affects consumers. For instance, there are different sources claiming that porn changes how we think and feel and can negatively affect intimacy with our partners. Fight the New Drug: http://www.fightthenewdrug.org/porn-changes-the-brain/. And then there’s porn addiction, which ruins people’s lives. So, I don’t think that a lot of mainstream porn is necessarily healthy for many people to view and I am a big proponent of sexual health, not just sexual ethics. From the production perspective, I want to be in working class solidarity with the actors and actresses in porn who are trying to make a living in this economy and I don’t want to take away their income. But, I do believe that a lot of online pornography that appears violent or based on the domination and degradation of women needs to be censored, because it is so easily accessible to children and it influences their ideas about what sex should be like and how to treat women. So, it’s complicated. Thanks for bringing up this issue.

    Liked by 1 person

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