PVV – condoms, porn, and semen…

Friend of PVV and frequent insightful commenter, Ken Cuck, recently shared some thoughts on condoms and porn and, ultimately, semen with me. I am posting them here, with his permission, because they’re pretty dang interesting – enjoy, and thank you Ken!!

“Some thoughts on what the condom dispute might really be about.

The conception of pornography commonly held by its detractors is that it is something in which women are considered to be mere instruments for male pleasure. (Of course, this assumes that pornography is invariably heterosexual pornography, which is obviously false and which the detractors doubtless would note if they were challenged on the subject.)  But heterosexual pornography fits this definition, at best, awkwardly and, furthermore, even where it does fit, it does so without the implied judgment.  That judgment, of course, is that if women are instruments for male pleasure, then women are being degraded.

I don’t think that the viewer’s expectation in watching heterosexual pornography is to see the woman as a mere instrument for the man’s pleasure.  In fact, I think that if anything, it’s the reverse.  I think the reason most men watch pornography is, in part, to be able to see a man being an instrument for the woman’s pleasure.  More specifically, I think that men turn to porn (from here on out, I shall use porn to describe heterosexual porn, I see no reason to keep repeating “heterosexual” given that I’m limiting my discussion to that single sector) because they want to see women enjoying themselves sexually in a way that they might not be able to see in their actual lives.

Whether for social or physiological reasons, women are far less comfortable expressing purely sexual desires than are men.  And that doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon.  Of course, men are far less comfortable expressing purely emotional desires as well. However, all but the most obtuse people understand that women have purely sexual desires and men have purely emotional desires. It’s just that, in interacting with others, we have a bias in favor of understanding the other with whom we’re interacting as a one-dimensional being, which single dimension is that element we isolate as a result of our own purposes.  Undoubtedly, I understand that my waiter is a being with all sorts of components to his identity.  At least, I understand this in the abstract. However, when I interact with him, I have a bias in favor of thinking of him as merely the guy who takes the order and brings the food. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Restaurants wouldn’t be particularly efficient if the customers needed to comprehend all the elements of the identity of the wait-staff and the wait-staff had to comprehend all the elements of the identity of the patrons before the food could be served.

But what about in our deeper, more important interactions?  Can we afford to comprehend every single element of the most important people in our lives? Can we afford to reduce them to single elements as needed?  Can we temporarily, mentally isolate those elements in order to understand them better?  My answer to all three questions is “maybe, but probably not and only with great difficulty.”  It may be that we are unable to engage the purely sexual side of a loved one, not because we are selfish or hostile, but because we can’t bring ourselves to divorce our non-sexual emotions from our sexual ones (and hence can’t see the same in them).  This limits our own freedom and theirs as well.  And this limitation on freedom is the necessary and desirable cost of having a stable relationship.  If people were absolutely free to do and be and express whatever they chose, then their partners couldn’t possibly depend on them.

So, how does any of this relate to condoms and porn? The answer, I think, is that people go to porn to get something they can’t get in their everyday lives. They want to experience (indirectly although not necessarily vicariously) something that they are unable to experience.  One of the delights of porn is the ability to watch a woman engage the purely sexual side of herself.  I think this is why Tori Black has been so incredibly successful.  Even though she’s beautiful, her real appeal is that she regards her sexual satisfaction as a worthy thing in its own right, even as she doesn’t deny (although she may or may not choose not to share) the other elements of her identity.

We want to be able to see and, more, appreciate something we rarely get to see in our private lives, a sexual woman receiving sexual gratification.  And, of course, that doesn’t just mean watching her have an orgasm.  That’s silly after all.  Sexual gratification is more than just the sensual pleasure we receive.  It’s also the pleasure we get in providing sensual pleasure to others.  And this pattern of iterated reciprocity of giving and receiving and receiving from giving is what makes for heightened degrees of eroticism.

Which gets me to sperm.  Sperm is an undeniable symbol, product and instrument of this process.  And while there are probably very few heterosexual women who, in the course of their day’s activities, say to themselves, ‘I’d like a few tablespoons of sperm right now,’ there are doubtless many (read: most if not all) who regard it as a unique component of sexual pleasure in the right circumstances. Is it okay?  Duh.  Of course, it’s okay.  But that doesn’t mean there won’t be anti-sex feminists and anti-sex conservatives who regard it as immoral and degrading to women. And, of course, porn can perfectly legitimately exaggerate this desire.  I doubt there are many women who find bukkake appealing as an activity or in performance.  I’m not sure there are more than a few men who regard it as appealing, at least not in activity.  But it’s something that people can watch and appreciate as a potential desire.  But bukkake is at the outer edge.  More common in porn’s exaggeration is something like the Peter North phenomenon, larger more forceful ejaculation.  Again, it’s appealing because it’s what the rest of us can’t anticipate in our actual lives.  It’s appealing not because we desire Peter (although some of us may) but because we’re ‘rooting’ for his partner to enjoy herself.

Sperm is clearly not the only element of sexuality that we enjoy seeing women enjoy.  But it is one of the most visible and it tends to be the one that punctuates the activity.  So, it’s not entirely preposterous to imagine that condoms (which mean no sperm… or at least which mean a reduced impact from sperm) can really reduce the degree to which porn can be enjoyed.  Can this be a decisive argument against the forces of mandatory condoms?  I doubt it, but it is something that anyone interested in the debate should consider.”

Well… what do you think of Ken’s argument?

(pictured: is this really Gwyneth Paltrow’s neck and necklace? Ugh!! I totally wouldn’t have posted it if I’d known that beforehand…)

* * *

Questions? Comments? Email Dr. Chauntelle!!

Like what you see? Follow PVV on Facebook and Twitter and/or follow Dr. Chauntelle at @DrChauntelle!!

You may quote anything herein with the following attribution: “Reprinted from Porn Valley Vantage/PVVOnline, copyright © Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, PhD (www.PVVOnline.com).”

PVVOnline – Critical Commentary on Adult Production