Last updated: March 9, 2012 11:45 am
Internet porn is terrible, but it doesn't have to be
We may just have to pay for the good stuff
SASKATOON (CUP) — “Anal sex is for pussies. Ass stretching and double anal are for amateurs. The real pros go triple.”
This was the description of a pornographic video depicting triple anal penetration. And as I watched three penises entering the same woman’s anus, I felt overwhelming shame and disgust — feelings that are hard to avoid when watching most Internet porn.
Titillating images and other erotica have been around almost as long as civilization. Frescoes uncovered in Pompeii depict all sorts of sexual behaviour, from threesomes to cunnilingus. Painting, sculpture and pottery celebrating fertility and sex have been found in many parts of the world, from India to Australia to South America. It’s clear that we, as a species, like seeing and thinking about sex almost as much as engaging in it.
The days of being handed a Playboy by your father when you reach puberty are long gone. Children today usually discover the Internet’s pornographic potential by age 11, and the relationship with porn is one that outlasts most others in men’s lives.
Smut is so inescapable that when University of Montreal researchers wanted to study its effects on sexuality and needed a control group of men who did not watch porn, they couldn’t find any.
Despite its seeming ubiquity and variety, however, almost all porn available online is utterly wretched. Anyone who has spent any time looking at porn — and statistically, that’s almost all men and about a third of women — can’t help but notice its narrow scope. It is overwhelmingly about men fucking the living daylights out of women who are in various states of discomfort.
A 2010 analysis of 50 popular porn titles found that nearly half of the 304 scenes contained some form of verbal abuse, and over 88 per cent showed some form of physical aggression. The women in the films overwhelmingly responded positively or didn’t react at all to such sustained humiliation.
It didn’t need to be this way. When Playboy and other pioneering magazines first came out, they were snatched up by men in a much more sexually repressed culture. The magazines not only pushed the boundaries of sexuality, but also of free speech. Before the 1970s, for example, oral sex was mostly a shameful and rarely acknowledged subject. The famous film Deep Throat helped to destroy the stigma around oral sex, but not without facing a series of legal hurdles.
Ultimately, those court challenges helped further entrench free speech rights, even when the speech protected was pornographic. The idea that the government can enforce morality and punish citizens for their tastes is abhorrent, and we have rightly limited the state’s power in this realm.
As former prime minister Pierre Trudeau famously said, the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation — and it should have no place in the porn collections of the nation either.
With the cost of producing and distributing porn at an all-time low, there is an ever-escalating intensity in the porn available online. How else to explain the seeming popularity of gagging porn? Or rape porn? Or the category of “extreme hardcore” — as though hardcore doesn’t already imply extreme?
There are, of course, safe and consensual ways to explore power, domination, aggression and humiliation in sex. Porn has traditionally acted as a fantasy outlet for men, not necessarily a guide to real-life sex. But the fact that such aggressive porn is virtually inescapable should be of concern.
I came of age with the Internet, and I have spent hundreds of hours watching porn. Any other male in his 20s who won’t admit to the same is either a liar or a eunuch.
Whatever silliness or sense of fun once existed in porn is surely dead by now. Even Deep Throat was based on the ridiculous idea that the main character had a clitoris in the back of her throat, and therefore needed to deep-throat a penis in order to achieve orgasm.
There are no pizza delivery men who accept sex as payment anymore, and the female orgasm doesn’t exist unless it’s to serve a bizarre “squirting” fetish for men. Instead, most scenes go from “Hi my name is…” to hardcore fucking in less than a few minutes. Anything that resembles real sex is buried so deep that it’s almost not worth seeking it out.
As difficult as it may be for my generation to pay for music, it may be even harder to accept the idea of paying for porn. But that may be the only solution to the dearth of decent adult entertainment.
If we want to move away from the misogyny, the racism and the reduction of human beings to mere body parts — and that includes men — we need to be willing to pay for people to make the good stuff, porn that depicts pleasure rather than plumbing. Such entertainment does exist, and is sometimes perversely called “feminist porn.” There are also hundreds of websites where real amateurs have great sex for the camera and the money actually goes to them and not some shady porn producers.
As piracy continues to hurt the big pornographers, there’s a chance to actually pay for the good stuff and help it grow. Otherwise, porn will continue to sink into deeper and deeper levels of depravity. Sometimes, three dicks is just too many.