This column was originally published in the Aug. 31, 2010 issue of The Daily Californian.
It’s either a great misconception that women don’t watch and enjoy porn, or I just happen to know the only girls in existence who do.
I’m not saying we watch it all the time to get off on our onesies, nor am I trying to imply that we are all that thrilled about the aesthetics of plastic pseudo-pubescents getting mindfucked by 40-year-olds with spray-on tans. But I think it’s safe to say that many female viewers have seen their fair share of skin flicks.
I would posit, however, that there’s a reason women watching porn isn’t as prevalent or as publicized as men turning on the boob tube.
For starters, for those of us who are into dudes, we’re in a bit of pinch when it comes to the easy, respectable channels of, say, mainstream movies to get our nudie fix. Save for a couple sneak peeks of Jason Segel’s downstairs region in the film “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” much of the nudity lending American cinema its thrills has been more titillating than balls-out sexy. Call it latent homophobia or not-so-latent female objectification, but we illuminate breasts on-screen and keep dicks in the dark behind zippers.
Irony takes hold when you consider the fact that public nudity charges apply almost exclusively to the bare female chest, and not to some dude’s glistening pecs. Are you trying to tell me that moobs aren’t equally as sexual as boobs? Have you seen the men’s water polo team? I think I’m going to need a beach towel to sit on.
Our country continues a long tradition of the “appreciation” of the female form within patriarchal Western civilizations. Sure, Plato’s “Symposium” put in a good word for the aesthetic beauty of naked dudes, but in contemporary times, male nudity (be it butts or boners) seems reserved for comedic effect. Why don’t guys have the equivalent of sexy, lacy getups to tease the viewer and enhance foreplay? I’m not talking about Tim Curry in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” here, although that boy is fine in a pair of stilettos and fishnets. Just maybe a loincloth and a whip harness. Victoria’s Secret can market it as “mangerie.”
When the naked male body isn’t being paraded as God’s gift to comedians, it’s often portrayed as a subversive entity undermining heteronormative society. You have a guy and girl in bed doing certain things — you get an R rating. Same scene, two guys — you get an NC-17. Sure, we have the darkened grunts of Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger to help our imagination along in “Brokeback Mountain,” but, damn it, someone turn on the lights!
As a woman looking for porn that “applies to her,” it can be difficult to find something that doesn’t just end up turning you off. The majority of the “sex” that pervades our popular culture comes prepackaged with a safe-for-male-consumption seal, kept at a temperature well below “effectively steamy.” Take, for instance, the classic setup: Two buxom blond chicks — oh, goody — eating each other out and then being forced into submissive behavior as they perform blowjobs, or offer up their anuses to be pummeled.
If you aren’t into “treat me like I’m your property” sex, then you might end up looking for erotic entertainment for women, by women. While femme porn can be a much more realistic portrayal of sex, it is often seriously lacking in penises, or at least those attached to males.
Which sort of begs the question: Is there no porn out there for me because people like me don’t want it? Is supply and demand the acting force behind the myth? I mean, sure, you have amateur porn and its awkward couples and grainy video quality. But I reserve the right to demand more than the lo-fi offerings currently on the table.
I think the reason for this lack of demand is that many girls don’t explore porn and masturbation — or hide it if they do — because of fear of public shame. But I refuse to tie myself down to the social pressures of assumed modesty and submissive behavior. The complex quality that is femininity can be expressed in other channels. I think I should be able to admire naked male bodies other than just that of Michelangelo’s David.
The sort of man-made brand of pornography currently available is insulting to both heterosexual and homosexual female viewers. It works in only the basest of fashions — everyone’s private bits are well-lit.
I don’t want to be portrayed as a schoolgirl, a helpless damsel with leaky pipes or a college girl going through a frivolous bi-curious phase any longer. And I’m sick of seeing hyper-alpha-male men attached to all of these pounding johnsons.
Speaking for all the females who aren’t crushed under the weight of public censure, I’d like to challenge adult filmmakers: Create erotic art that allows for the celebration of the naked male without marginalizing the female aiding in the event.
You want our cooperation on this front to start diverting all of the money we currently spend on clothes — because, you know, we’re women — to DVD sales. Well, that, and maybe some mangerie.
Hayley Hosman was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley and is a former Daily Cal columnist.