The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets

Porn Tuesday: Or, It’s Just the Same

Hello, people. You might remember last week, before all the discussions on car theft, I was showing you how “porn for women” was different, in defiance of the general Women Against Pornography line. This week, I want to ask a question: why should it have to be?

Here’s the thing: what if stereotypes turn you on?

 What happens when you’re a sucker for that romance novel situation where the big hunky hero carries you off for lusty sex after rescuing you from the bad guys? What happens if the sexual fantasies you use to get off involve being dominated by your husband? What happens if you get wet thinking about being deflowered and “taught” by an older, more knowledgeable man? Or if you like the idea of being “objectified” by a man, or an audience of men?

See, in promoting the New Pornography, we come perilously close to saying, “When pople are smiling, laughing, playing? That makes it okay. When the oral sex is cunnilingus, that’s okay. When the woman (or women) are directing the play, that’s okay. When the sex is gay or lebsian or kinky, that makes it okay.”

But what if, as a woman, you like gonzo porn? What if you have rape fantasies? What if you enjoy the idea of being dominated, of being pushed around? What if the fantasy of being taken by a rugby team makes you hot? Is that “not okay”?

From a sex-positive point of view, the answer has to be, there is no “not okay”. To quote the brilliant Clarisse Thorn, there is no “should”. Even if your sexual desires are old-fashioned, vanilla, normal, they’re still okay. And they’re not misogynist. What would be misogynist would be telling women which desires were appropriate for them to have. And no sexual fantasy can possibly make you a Bad Feminist.

The guilt of having “stereotypical” desires turns up in male Doms and female subs quite a bit, especially when people are first starting to explore those desires. Contrary to the idea of “stereotype”, or the Dines idea of socially-constructed sexuality, men are strongly conditioned NOT to hit women, even if the woman in question has made it perfectly clear that’s what she wants.

There’s a much wider acceptance of kink, particularly of BDSM, than there used to be. But those desires exist in the wider, het-vanilla sex world as well. Men and women who have dominance fantasies. And if it’s a positive thing for LGBT and kinky people to express their sexuality and take pride in it, and to have their porn that reflects their desires, it’s okay for straight vanilla people too.

8 responses to “Porn Tuesday: Or, It’s Just the Same

  1. Moz May 31, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    I do like the kink definition of “not ok”: if you don’t like it, it’s not ok for someone to do it to you. So bad porn is when you just have to watch something that’s so inutterably awful that you just can’t look away.

    Amusingly, some parts of the kink community struggle much more with male subs than the more traditional roles. Not in the “titter, look, a businessman swapping suit for maid costume” but in the “you weak loser, we don’t want you here” sense. I haven’t seen this so much, but I’m told that I tend to intimidate the braindead so don’t experience the full gamut of social disapproval. Although according to my partner she is the dominant one and I am actually submissive. Who knew?

  2. Jez Kemp May 31, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    I read on the back of a friend’s book on sex & sexuality, “You can enjoy getting tied up, spanked and being called a bitch and still be a feminist”. I absolutely agree.

  3. tallulahspankhead June 1, 2011 at 6:58 am

    It’s funny, one of my friends once called me “anti-vanilla”. It came off the back of me talking how I would never talk about what I like with another friend, because she’s “irredeemably vanilla”.

    I don’t really like the term vanilla, but I haven’t yet been able to come up with a better one. And I’m not anti it, at all. I think it’s a reaction to assuming I will be judged for what I like, and the shocked silence when I once pointed out that pain wasn’t always a bad thing.

    “What would be misogynist would be telling women which desires were appropriate for them to have.”

    This. And yet, so many people feel comfortable doing that.

    • Moz June 1, 2011 at 1:38 pm

      Hmmm. Within limits. Things you’d like done to you, more or less, but things you’d like to do? Hmm. HMMM, In Capital Letters.

      I think you’re making a presumption of sanity that is not always applicable. I’ve heard “I want to do X” comments that are seriously squicky. Sometimes, admittedly, from people who just don’t get engineering at all so have no idea what their ideas would involve, but too often from people who are just not considering their partner(s) at all. I mean “some spiders eat their mates after sex, I want to try that”… fine, eat a spider.

      There’s vanilla and there’s vanilla. Friends have struggled in the past with my describing myself as conservative and vanilla. To me, that means I don’t want to do a whole range of things that other people enjoy. But to a lot of people it implies the judgement you allude to – “I don’t want anyone to do …” and I try not to do that.

    • Max Rose June 1, 2011 at 7:42 pm

      Just a quick question: does “vanilla” apply to all non-BDSM sexual activity? Or are other unconventional sexual tastes (voyeurism, exhibitionism, groups, polyamory) exempt from vanilla status?

      • Emma June 1, 2011 at 8:26 pm

        Basically, vanilla is sexual taste that is privileged. Sexual taste that no-one has applied the word “deviant” to. What people assume you are unless you say different. Though it’s usually seen as a different axis to gay/straight orientation.

        So, kink of all kinds is non-vanilla, but so is swinging and polyamory and exhibitionism and group sex.

        Renegade Evolution did a fabulous post on vanilla privilege a few years back, and has since razed her blog, which I find a huge PITA. But that post, I see, was reproduced nearly in its entirety here.

        • Max Rose June 1, 2011 at 10:07 pm

          Thanks for the link: I’ll try to digest it in its entirety when I have the time. I have some thoughts on this, but given the multitude of privileges I have to acknowledge, it seems a bit trivial in this context. I’ll get around to it.

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