20 October 2010

Day 207: Consider the Lobster

"Big Red Son" in Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace. ISBN: 9780316156110.

I have quite a few mixed feelings about porn. I think most women do, and really most people should. I don't necessarily think that there is anything wrong with the actual existence of pornography, but unless you make your own, there's no real way to ethically consume or watch porn. It is just to easy too objectify the men and women involved when they are engaged in an already fairly degrading act. You can argue all you want about how sex is a beautiful and wonderful thing when done with the right person and babies, blah, blah, miracle of life blah, but when it comes down to it, it's incredibly messy and not very dignified. Really the only reason to have sex with someone is because you trust them enough to see you at your least sexiest moment. Grunting, sweating, and flopping naked bits of flesh aren't actually all that sexy.

I won't say that porn is necessary to sate a male need to look at naked women. Because I don't think that's true, or at least not entirely. I think men have always masturbated to images of women, regardless of how much clothing they wear or how big of a penis they are currently involved with. The more graphic the images, the more titillating obviously, but somehow I doubt they produce any better of an orgasm than a lingerie catalog. Maybe some of my male readers can comment on this since my female brain is obviously wired a bit differently in the visual arousal department.

I certainly think that porn has become more degrading. I don't exactly seek it out, but as someone who uses the internet I occasionally stumble on it and am usually completely turned off.  This might have something to do with the fact that I am generally not turned on by large breasted women with their legs behind their head giving me an all too clear view of their bleached and waxed assholes. Don't get me wrong, I love women, I think they are sexy, I enjoy looking at naked women on a completely aesthetic level and can certainly see how they would arouse men.  I am not so keen on looking at the anus and I honestly don't get the appeal of doing so. Sure, okay, anal sex, woo, that can be sexy, but the anus itself? Really? That turns people on?

I think porn also sets a really unreasonable expectation of women. I'm talking specifically about mass produced porn that involves little to no script and absolutely no character development. Obviously this is porn produced mostly for straight, or presumably straight, men who just want to see their fantasies in action. If they can't be the plumber who stumbles on two college co-eds in the shower, at least he can watch the schmuck who does. Unfortunately I think this also leads to the ever hopeful male expectation of women just being constantly available. Maybe there is porn out there somewhere where a man actually asks a woman if she would like to have intercourse rather than the woman or women in the porn seeing someone with a penis and all of a sudden going into a sexual frenzy.

The women in these films are often downright abused physically. Even if they're willing (on whatever level) to do that to their bodies, it doesn't mean that producers, etc. should allow or be allowed to let them put themselves in that kind of danger.  Most hardcore pornography does not include the use of condoms or other safe sex methods, and even with regular STD testing (which at least is required by the industry) there are bound to be people who slip in and infect someone before the next test is scheduled, this does not even take into account the incubation periods for most STDs.

Not only this, but sex is hard on a body. It is by nature invasive, and for those of us who have been lucky enough to have very long and vigorous sessions, the aftermath is not so pleasant. Imagine having it be your job to be that sore and torn and friction blistered? It's not only uncomfortable, but puts added stress on your body in a way that more normal occurrences of sex do not.

Despite all of this, I don't think people should stop purchasing or even making porn, but I do think they should be a little bit more mindful about the conditions these people probably go through for their job. Most are well paid, but you can only really last so long in an industry that is that rough on your physical and mental health.

I don't necessarily agree with this review, but I think it's well written, entertaining, and makes some good points.


  1. Actually there just a mini-outbreak of HIV in the porn industry - every once in a while they have one of these. Most of America's porn is produced in CA, and while there is a movement to try to get certain laws changed, the porn lobby is pretty powerful economically and they say safe sex doesn't sell.

    The rates of PTSD among women involved in the industry are also through the roof. The only reason the whole situation doesn't cause an uproar is that no one cares - these women are prostitues and therefore no more valuable than trash to the general public. Who cares about their health, they're just "whores."

    Internet porn is even worse - when you buy from a store at least it's usually industry-produced product. A shocking amount of porn found on the internet is actually produced by human traffickers/sex traffickers.

    I could write for about sixty pages in your combox about the confluence of the sexual revolution, the Pill and the porn indistry in satisfying the male fantasy of women as constantly available for sex, but I'll refrain with great difficult ;)

  2. It kind of surprises me that there aren't constant "mini" outbreaks of HIV in the porn industry. I think we all need to care about the health and well being of these women, because if we don't no one will. Regardless of their actions (and whether you think they're right or wrong), they are still human beings and should be respected as such.

    I don't really think that men think much about the Pill in terms of making women more sexually available. Obviously it has given women more freedom in their sexual choices because they can be a _little_ less concerned with choosing partners based on whether or not said partners will be able/willing to provide child support/money for an abortion. I do not necessarily think that is altogether a bad thing as there are some people who cannot or will not have healthy long term relationships who still deserve to have healthy sex lives, and one night stands and other alternative means of sexual satisfaction tend to be the best means of meeting that need. I _do_ think that people need to be more open and honest about _all_ of their sexual relationships and relations regardless of how long they plan to be in said situation. More openness can never be a bad thing and all parties involved can make more informed choices about their physical, sexual, and mental well being.

    I can also write pages and pages on this topic.

  3. I also have mixed feelings about sex work in general, and I definitely think more people need to be aware of women's health issues and issues of power/agency in the sex industry. I am actually in the process of writing a book of interconnected short stories about legal prostitution in Nevada's brothels. My goal is to call attention to some of these issues (as well as figure out my own complex feelings) under the more easily digestible banner of fiction, because I think the average person is not likely to seek out information about sex work in nonfiction realms, but might learn something "accidentally" from a story. If that makes sense.

  4. Dayna, makes a whole lot of sense. Will you be interviewing/doing research for your stories? I think you should definitely try to as that may make an interesting story in and of itself!

  5. Right now the only research I am doing is reading books about Nevada's brothels (its what inspired this whole project in the first place), but I would very much like to interview brothel workers and visit a brothel. But I would like to publish a few more stories first, to give myself some credibility.

    One of the stories is told in an interview format, and one person in my workshop asked if I actually interviewed someone, so at least I know I am convincing to someone. :)


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