Tag Archives: porn

How To Spot an Internet Sex Research Hoax

Media coverage of sex research is often misleading and sensational. Whether stating that sex aids prostate health when the real benefit comes from an orgasm (which can be had alone or with a partner) or representing one researcher’s interpretation of data as absolute fact, reporters tend to drop the ball and reinforce long-held stereotypes about sexuality.

But then there are times when they just make shit up.*

A commenter recently posted what I consider an excellent example of fake (as in completely fabricated overstated) sex research news. Let’s use this wonderful hoax as a case study to learn critical thinking about sexuality research.

Case Study #001: Porn Causes Sexual Anorexia in Men?

Continue reading

The Porn That Could Be

Dear Porn Producers of the World:

Many of you are terrible at what you do. You seem to care more about finishing a shoot in one day, getting the pop shot and marketing whatever cheap,crappy rendition of sexually exciting material you’ve made than creating something of real quality.You aren’t even offending me. You are boring the hell out of me.

This demeans how amazing sex can be. Continue reading

Sneak Peek: “The Devil and Shelley Lubben” [VIDEO]

I leave San Francisco tomorrow night to go debate this woman. The first two parts of  this documentary are definitely enlightening.

Part I

Part II

More to come, will post as they come in.

UPDATE

Irony of ironies, users within the Youtube community flagged these as pornographic. Here are some alternate links:

Part I

Part II

 

Humans Aren’t Rodents. Porn Isn’t Ruining Marriages.

Look familiar? I thought not.

Humans are not prairie voles. We are not guinea pigs or mice. We’re humans.

Pop science loves to trot out research on rodents to confirm or challenge behavioral assumptions. But what the writers often miss is that our behaviors are shaped by far more than food, fights, flights and fucking. Humans are highly complex social primates and, because of this, our responses to the world can be difficult to explain with simple biology or neurotransmitters.

And yet, as a recent porn hysteria post at The Good Men Project demonstrates, we still love clinging to these simplistic notions. The writers cite our dopamine reward system as evidence that porn’s excitement is ruining marriages. Continue reading

The Privilege of Pleasure: OSU and Tristan Taormino

A few weeks back I wrote about access to sexual information and how social privilege informs the sexual conversations we can access. The current controversy over OSU, Tristan Taormino and the Modern Sex Conference contains an excellent example of this dynamic in play.

You may have heard the hullabaloo over OSU’s decision to uninvite Tristan Taormino from delivering the Modern Sex Conference keynote speech. In response to public criticism OSU sent out a press release and today their spokesperson, Todd Simmons, commented on the situation in an Examiner article. In that article, part of his defense for the decision rests on the assumption that taxpayer dollars cannot be used to pay “somebody who describes herself as a pornographer”.

The thing is, pornography is not illegal and there is no statute I am aware of in Oregon state law that restricts the use of taxpayer fees in this way. He goes on to say that private universities such as Yale and Harvard had every right to book her because they are using private monies.

Welcome to the privilege of pleasure and sexuality.

This is the same general dynamic in sex education. Any groups using public money or grants (outreach organizations, public schools) restrict their conversations to the most conservative common denominator. Never mind that many OSU students want her to speak. Why should public university students have a choice in their education? That right is apparently reserved for private university students.

The way social hierarchies and privilege play out in every aspect of  our lives never fails to amaze me. Private high school students can have unquestioned access to issues about sexual orientation, gender, pleasure and agency while programs in public schools are vulnerable to moral panics and content restrictions. This serves to reinforce a sense of access and privilege in the world.

In a way, I understand why OSU administrators made this decision. Social conservatives don’t usually attack private universities on curricula or education issues. These are institutions for grooming the social elites and their attacks would go nowhere. But a public university is a much easier target to grapple with because of who they serve: the general public, the middle and working class.

At this juncture, I highly doubt they will rescind and reinvite Tristan. The only thing I can hope is the next public university that wrestles with a decision like this will take a chance and defend the intellectual freedom of their student population.

Good Men Project In Penthouse

The Good Men Project recently decided to run some excerpts in Penthouse Magazine. Some people are upset. Here’s the comment I posted on Tom Matlack’s defense of the decision.

As a female, I see not one thing wrong with pictures or videos made for sexual titillation. I probably have a bigger porn collection than most commenters here.

But I understand why some (ok, lots) of pornography bothers people. Some of our worst social inequalities and anxieties tend to be projected in porn. Racist porn? Check. Misogynistic porn? Check. There is nothing new about this and even a cursory glance at porn from the way back machine will demonstrate this phenomenon. I have a small collection of books with very graphic porn etchings from the 18th century and I started to notice the social theme of the time: religion. Nuns banging monks, young cloistered women greeting winged penises with hoisted skirts, and acts of religious penance (flagellation) being used sexually. I think this was one way for people to channel social anxieties about debates over secularism vs. church power.

What I want people to think about is that naked people sexing it up in front of a camera is not inherently evil or exploitative. However, it’s important to note that the only place where women consistently outrank men in pay is performing in porn or  for sex work, industries usually controlled by men. That is what I find exploitative.

So what kind of porn is Penthouse? Lots of faux lesbian slumber parties, kind of silly premises, tons of naked women solo shoots, and a refreshingly hot cast of male characters. (As a woman who watches porn, the amount of unattractive and unkempt men having sex with hot women gets on my  nerves. Gay porn is the only place I’ve seen reliably sexy men.) Going through their site I found one video with a questionable title (“Choke on it Bitch” ) that was probably about deep throating. Not my bag, but toying with power dynamics and engaging in rough sex in this way is a huge turn on for some people, regardless of gender.

What I don’t see in Penthouse that I see in some other porn: the message that women enjoying sex are some alien breed of female. That the only way we can describe them is as unabashed no-good slatternly creatures because no respectable woman could enjoy deep penetration, anal sex or oral sex. I mean, we’re only in it for the babies, right?

And this is where people decrying porn as inherently negative collide with porn that is negative: assuming women cannot really be into any of this. That the only reason a woman would have sex in front of a camera for money is drug addiction, low-self esteem or some other social malady. This isn’t to say that doesn’t happen, but this is not the whole story.

I agree that the images are pretty homogeneous but offering slight variations on a theme is what successful porn brands seem to do. Also, large and financially successful brands are hesitant to change anything about their established formula. The answer is not to tell these porn companies to bring in a wider array; the answer is to support porn companies that represent something outside of the mainstream. They’re out there, just use your internet to find them.

So, now that some people are past the knee-jerk reaction of Good Men + Porn = Error, think about the huge benefit of a magazine reaching outside of the bounds of its constituency and singing to the streets instead of the choir. Maybe with enough conversation and reflection about rape culture and the ways we sexualize certain populations, public taste in porn will start to change.

And to Tom: I’m sure the outrage and reactions are difficult to deal with concerning your decision, but it’s hard to reach across the aisle and step outside of thought communities. Big ups.

EDIT: The Good Men Project deleted my comment. Was I too late to the commenting party? Techie glitch? Did I say something offensive? This makes less sense than a bunny wearing a pancake hat.

UPDATE: Tom Matlack was a swift responder: “We switched servers and have yet to copy everything over” Mystery solved!

Porn is More Boring than Offensive

"Food Porn"by Heather Dinas
My Kind of Money Shot (photo by Heather Dinas)

I have a confession: most porn bores the hell out of me.

When I was a teenager, porn was exciting and titillating because it was forbidden. The shaky camera and dubious acting did nothing to damper my adolescent enthusiasm for flesh-on-flesh visuals. Now I get more of a rise out of a Jeffry McDaniel poem or an Oglaf comic strip (NSFW) than a Vivid production.

What happened? Nothing, which is exactly why it bores me.

Most porn I see is the same linear progression appendage-in-orifice mêlée as in my high school years. The only apparent novelty is how many people can shove how many dicks/toys/vegetables into how many holes. Some people get creative with cinematography and context, but that’s still the same anal sex scene behind the glitz.

I realize I may be desensitized. Years ago, I organized a group called “Girls Watch Porn” where ladies got together to watch and review smut. We found some great films by Shine Louise Houston and Eon McKai along with the 1970s classics. But mostly, we found tired and uninspired videos of sex along with some disturbing and unhygienic scenes. (The raw chicken porn is forever burned into my retinas.)

But overexposure isn’t the best explanation. Porn itself is partially to blame.

Tony Comstock wrote a great little piece about the limitations of porn (found via Figleaf’s Real Adult Sex). He writes that even internet porn:

“doesn’t encompass the range of human experiences and desires anymore than a handicam and a handful of people having sex encompasses the range of human sexual experiences and desires.”

Porn (to me) should be about fantasy and possibility. How much fantasy and possibility can you express through low-budget formulaic porno flicks that spend less time in post-production than in filming? Not a whole lot.

Some people find porn horribly offensive. As with any offensive media in the world, the best bet is simple avoidance.

But I’m not offended. I’m unsatisfied.

I know I’m not alone in this either. This Best of Craiglist from Boston summarizes my feelings perfectly:

You suck, dude.

And I’m not trying to make some sort of cute pun here – you really do suck. You’re awful, horrible, poorly made, and I can think of a whole list of huge problems that you have. (more…)

I wish pro-good porn crusaders had half the psychotic dedication and passion of anti-porn crusaders. What a world that would be.