Monday, June 26, 2006

Pornutopia

I am reading Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy, it's a new book concerned with a trend in society which has occurred over the last decade or so, whereby women have started to exploit themselves and each other sexually, in the same way that men have been doing. But rather than this been seen as exploitation, it's viewed as progressive, because women are now sexually liberated and can have fun etc. Although it's not really a sign of progress, just a more subtle trick where women have bought into a myth that they need to act like porn stars to get male attention and validation. So women wear the Playboy logo, strip off for the cameras, go to "pole-dancing" classes, get breast implants etc etc. It's a depressing thesis really. The point is, they are not liberated really, any power that they gain is diminished by the fact that they're still playing by straight men's rules

And I think the same could be said for a lot of mainstream gay culture, which if anything, is even more shallow, objectifying, sex-obsessed and marketised than the "Women's Raunch" culture that Levy describes. In the last few years or so there seems to have been a HUGE increase in the number of gay websites where you can subscribe to see young men engaging in sex for money. Clearly, it's driven by market forces - the people who run these sites are doing it to make money, though for most of them, getting to give blow-jobs to the models is a perk of the job.



These men are often labelled as straight. Here's a typical example from Chris Geary's porn site "Horny Model Boys"

Naughty straight boys… don’t you just love them. Josh is just 19 years old and one of those boys that doesn’t care about his dignity; happy to strip naked whenever. Get him drunk and you can’t keep his clothes on him.



I have an ambivalent attitude towards pornography. On the one hand, it's difficult not to be aroused by it. It's a form of safe sex at least. And, as someone once said, with masturbation, at least you don't have to look your best :) But then on the other hand, if you start thinking about the models as people rather than objects, then it all seems a bit nasty and wrong. I don't think, for example, that I'd like anyone in my family to do porn. And I keep thinking that all of these people are someone's son, maybe someone's dad, someone's uncle, someone's brother...

And the obsession with straight boys - isn't there something just a tiny bit self-rejecting about the whole thing? It's like, can't gay people find each other attractive any more? Why is it sexier if they're straight? Is it because we like the idea of corrupting someone? Or is it the association of heterosexuality with masculinity? There is also an obession with youth and hairless muscularity, the images that we are told we should find attracive are increasingly homogenised and out of reach for many people. In the latest Augusten Burroughs book I read, he casually wrote about how he takes steroids to get bigger muscles and that almost every gay man in Manhattan is doing the same. No matter that steriods can cause all sorts of medical problems - it's looking good on the outside that counts, doesn't it?



How long are those images and clips going to float around on the internet, popping up perhaps years later to haunt the people who posed for them when they were younger? Maybe it actually won't matter in the future? On sites like gaydar, almost everyone is their own porn star, offering poorly-lit, flabbily authentic cock-shots of themselves that often resemble chopped meat. Perhaps before long it simply won't matter that the whole world can find out what you look like naked, on all fours, engaged in a sex act with someone else. Welcome to the 21st century. We're all porn stars now.

3 comments:

pornstudent said...

I haven't read "Female Chauvinist Pigs" but I've read a few reviews and excerpts. Thanks for yours. Someday I'll get around to reading it myself.

Isn't the fashion among young straight men to be hairless? Isn't this something the effeminate gays were more, stereotypically, likely to be? The TV show, "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy", is about gay guys helping the straight with fashion, food & wine, grooming, and culture. It's nice to think the gay and straight are learning and getting enjoyment from each other.

The main reason we don't want people in our families doing porn is because it's stigmatized. The work conditions, employment prospects, income, etc., aren't thought of as much. If we can get rid of the stigmatizing, we'd be better able to get laws passed, and present laws enforced, that protect sex workers. The more people that work at porn and enjoy porn, and are open about it, the less it will be stigmatized.

We have an ex-cocaine user and recovering alcoholic as president; why not someone who did porn? Why should porn come back to haunt people? Isn't this obviously silly? Who are the bigots propagating this foolishness?

Lubin said...

I guess the fact that porn is so closely tied into money-making *and* is often underground and stigmatised is something which concerns me - when something is driven by market forces (like so many things), it's not necessarily going to work within a moral framework, it has the capacity to exploit in other words - I agree that laws which improve conditions, protect people who work in porn etc, are needed.

matty said...

It is a very tough issue. And, I do think it an issue. Yet, at the end of the day I have to say that I am "OK" with porn because I enjoy it. I would be a hypocrite to say that I didn't. But, I would be untrue if I didn't note that I often feel a bit guilty for enjoying something which does exploit another.

...tho, on one level or another --- I think we are all exploited daily. However, this is a bit different than if I were a starving hot young actor unable to find work. ...other than in gay porn.

sigh.

the book sounds quite interesting. I think, that, ...much "isms' which are "post" are often confused.