I’ve been invited to discuss a topic I rarely talk about on this blog—sex, specifically porn and masturbation as they relate to women. Now before some of you shy away, you should know that the point of this project is to get women talking about a topic often labeled as taboo. While I am the first to admit it might be outside my comfort zone, I also can’t resist a challenge. If you want to know more about Lady Porn Day and the awesome woman, Rachel Rabbit White, who got us all talking you can find more info. here. (slightly NSFW illustrations below)
I thought a lot about how to broach this subject because obviously there is a lot to say. The more I thought about it the more I wanted to pinpoint at least part of what doesn’t appeal to many women about pornography. For me, it can be hard to separate out the actress from the act—who is she? Is she happy? Is she safe? Is this her choice? I can be neurotic, and I often worry about these things and find them distracting, but that’s just one small factor, I find that pornography in general isn’t made for women. From the weird costuming to the unnecessary extreme close-ups and unflattering angels, there are a lot of things that distract from the romance of it. So the question comes down to, what is it that really turns women on?
I found one answer to that question in an article in this month’s Marie Claire (who woulda thunk?). The article was about a 27-year-old female pastor and her struggle with abstinence. At one point she mentions having a particularity hard time due to fantasizing about fictional vampire Edward Cullen of the Twilight series. And she is not alone, teens, moms, women of all ages, and apparently even women of the cloth are obsessively fantasizing about a teenage vampire who refuses to engage in sexual activity until marriage. So what’s the appeal? It might be that the lack of sex just makes the series that much more sexy, but it’s something else too—it’s storyline.
There is a reason why so much fan-fiction is dirty and porn spoofs and parodies of acclaimed movies are so popular too. They give you an automatic connection to the characters you’re watching engage in dirty deeds, and that makes things a lot more interesting. In most porn, a cheesy plot-line is set up, a delivery man is invited in or a woman randomly shows up at a guy’s house and—BOOM, sex. All you know about the characters is that they want to have sex and maybe that they received a package from UPS, no storyline, no development, which also means no seduction, no romance, no restraint. Women love romance, not all of us like the schlocky rom-com type, but some of us do, and even if we don’t I’m sure there are other forms of romance we do love. Erotica for example could be considered a form of pornography but it’s usually handled with sensuality, romance, and in-depth narrative. All you have to do is read Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin to understand that descriptions of sex can be created with lyrical beauty and insight while still being incredibly pornographic.
There are plenty of men out there who love romance as well, and while porn as it is gets the job done, maybe they often find themselves fantasizing about women they know—wives, ex-girlfriends, maybe even characters from movies, because they feel more of a connection to them. I’m the last person to point out what needs to be done to change the porn industry, I don’t know nearly enough about it, but the task at hand was to talk about it and this is a point I find interesting. Obviously it’s not as easy as adding a better plot to porn films. As my husband pointed out, if you introduced real storyline to a porno, most men would fast forward to the sex, and most porn stars understandably wouldn’t know what to do with a script requiring them to play a developed character. Who’s to say that it can’t be done though? I hate the idea that pornography and art have to be staunchly separated. Just because something contains explicit sex shouldn’t mean it’s lacking in artistic value. Personally I would be more interested in pornography that was written with appealing characters or explored any number of new and creative ways to make porn about more than just people having sex on camera.
Porn is sex, but sex for most of us is much more than just the act, it’s a culmination of a relationship and emotions which for many of us are a very important part of what makes sex satisfying. I’m not saying that women need an emotional connection every time they have sex or masturbate, that’s a myth that many have worked hard to abolish. I do think that men and women think about sex differently, and for some of us sex itself isn’t as important as the relationship of the characters engaging in it as well as the atmosphere surrounding them. When it comes down to it women are all so unique it’s hard to say what turns each of us on, but we’re a big market so it would be worth it to figure us out, and it might be an educational experience for men as well. Character might be something for the porn industry to look into to get more women interested, it’s definitely something to think about, and I’m just glad I accepted this challenge and found my own small way to write about women and porn that made sense to me. I encourage all of you to read more about this topic from other women who probably have way more insight into the actual world of pornography than I do, if for no other reason than we don’t talk about it enough.
Happy Lady Porn Day everyone!