Pornography vs. Erotic Voyerism

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According to Candice Holdorf, pornography and erotica will most likely play a role in your marriage, and it’s best to learn its landscape and how to use it in healthy ways.

“Suspense is like a woman. The more left to the imagination, the more the excitement.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

Let’s be honest: like it or hate it, pornography is not going away any time soon.

It is estimated that the porn industry brings in $13 billion in the US alone and nearly $100 billion worldwide.

With accessibility going up (thanks to the internet) along with demand (thanks to a growing population and the sharp increase in women and couples who download porn), those numbers are expected to rise.

For those who have had porn addiction or who have been lovers with someone who was addicted, this can seem devastating. Men who regularly masturbate alone with porn are more likely to have problems connecting with a partner, either through premature ejaculation, impotence or an inability to feel emotionally connected with him/her.

Of course to completely demonize porn or attempt to ban it is not the answer either. This “sexual prohibition” will only amplify the cultural embarrassment we already feel around sex, and relegate the production of porn to an even seedier caste of society (is it any coincidence that I can download “Hot Chicks, Small Tits 4” on the same website where I can search for my mail-order Russian bride?). The fact that adult film stars are being denied bank accounts does not represent that porn stars are wrong for doing what they do, but highlights the social stigma around sexual pleasure and our collective fear that someone will “discover” our dirty fantasies.

I think it’s vital that we have a candid discussion around pornography, if nothing else than to get everyone out of the shame closet and admit that we all watch it!

Porn has affected many people’s lives positively. For some, it was the first place they saw people enjoying sex. That can be especially liberating for women, who may have grown up with the notion that sex is something they were obligated to do for men’s pleasure.

Porn can also be educational and shine an approving light on taboos. A man who previously felt that anal sex was not for him, may discover a hidden turn-on when he sees another man taking it from behind (and liking it!).

Finally porn can just be fun and provide the much needed playfulness and variety many couples need in longer-term relationships.

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I feel that porn limits us when we view it as the ultimate authority on sexuality. For those whose only sex education is pornography, sex must equal a penis entering a vagina, a big-busted women screaming as if she’s in the midst of an apoplectic attack, an impossibly endowed men pounding her like a jackhammer and both of them cumming (hard) at the same time, preferably with jiz everywhere (especially on her face).

Porn can also hinder the sexual maturity of men, as they become trained (á la Pavlov’s dogs) to lump orgasm, climax and ejaculation into one act. In reality, all three are separate physical phenomena and can be experienced independently.

Where our relationship to porn becomes especially devastating is when we confuse the business of pornography with authentic sexuality. Porn is built on filling people for the moment, but for the most part is nutritionally deficient. Sort of like the McDonald’s version of sex. Yet, even though we feel a little bloated from it all, we still have an innate hunger (addiction) to consume more. And that’s how most businesses work: in creating a product that people need over and over again.

Therefore sex becomes a commodity. A thing to be possessed. A trophy to be won. And many people who make porn don’t even care if you watch it, as long as you pay for the privilege of possessing it. Fast forward to the end. Grab it, spank it and go on to the next one.

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The antidote to sexual consumerism is something I like to call “Erotic Voyeurism.” In Platonic philosophy, “eros” (the root word for “erotic”) is defined as a kind of love that is a fundamental creative impulse with a sensual element.

I am especially fond of this definition because I believe it provides the extra sexual nutrition that is often lacking in pornography: a way of interacting with visual stimulation and orgasm that is about building energy and utilizing it towards creativity (as opposed to the “jerk it out as fast as possible” approach to which porn often caters).

I recently discovered a brilliant example of erotic voyeurism in Clayton Cubitt’s video art series, Hysterical Literature. In each video, a woman reads an erotic passage from literature while she is genitally stimulated with a vibrator under a table. The results are hilarious, sexy, intriguing, intelligent and, yes, super fucking hot.

We see each woman as a human, rather than a thing. We are invited into her world, rather than trying to stuff her into ours. We ride the wave of her authentic turn-on, which can go from nonchalance to surprise to slight embarrassment to delicious agony to ecstasy to joy to relief. We feel what she is feeling, which fosters empathy and compassion.

We also don’t see any nudity in Hysterical Literature. Because so much is left to the imagination the mind is invited to play and create. Oftentimes, in conventional pornography, we can feel desensitized to what is happening and crave bigger “hits” off the climax crack pipe because of porn’s intensely graphic nature. While this SEX-sationalism, may make for rousing entertainment once in a while, overuse can deaden the subtlety of our sexual palates.

Another site I found that exemplifies erotic voyeurism is called “Gentlemen Handling.” Here, men share with the viewer their own personal style and taste of self-pleasure. The site aims to share the “human-ness” of each of its contributors in a way that is “honest, attentive and reverent.” And although this site still focuses on climax, I appreciate the vulnerability, inspiration and diversity of masculine expression.

This is not to say that we can’t approach conventional porn with an erotic eye. I saw a recent interview on Sex, Lies and Consciousness where a young man said that when he watches porn he likes to see what emotions arise and feel them. Shame, inadequacy, connection, curiosity, horniness — all of it is valuable inquiry to him. I though this was a marvelous and mature way to explore one’s relationship with sex.

Below are ten comparisons of porn versus erotic voyeurism. Of course, not all porn is the same (as evidenced by the rise in feminist porn), and ultimately, it’s never about what’s on the screen, but about our mindset and the level of consciousness with which we engage it.

However, like food, some sexual “meals” offer more nutrition than others. And while a “Big Mac” fuck can be fun every once in a while, it’s important to balance that with a sexuality that is nourishing and fulfilling.

  1. Porn tends to tell us what is sexy. Erotic voyeurism asks us “What is sexy?”
  2. Porn tends to numb ourselves from the present. Erotic voyeurism brings us right into the center of the moment.
  3. Porn often disconnects us from seeing the humanity of the people. Erotic voyeurism is a breeding ground for sensual compassion.
  4. Porn thrives on consumption. Erotic voyeurism demands participation.
  5. Porn relies on scripts and formulas. Erotic voyeurism is spontaneous and unpredictable.
  6. In porn, it’s usually about the money shot. In erotic voyeurism, it’s about the connection.
  7. Porn is fictionalized entertainment. Erotic voyeurism invites out our personal truth.
  8. Porn often feels like one big clanging note. Erotic voyeurism is a multi-textured symphony of surprises.
  9. Porn tends to focus on stimulating the genitals. Erotic voyeurism stimulates our entire being: mind, heart, soul and genitals.
  10. 10.  Porn rushes towards climax. Erotic voyeurism savors lingering in the uncomfortable tension between wanting and having.

 

Image Credit: BaronBrian/Flickr

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About Candice Holdorf

Candice Holdorf is a writer and sex + life coach specializing in desire, sexuality and Orgasmic Meditation. She frequently contributes to elephantjournal.com and Straight Up Love, as well as maintains her own blog, The Orgasmic Life. For inquiries on her coaching, visit www.candiceholdorfcoaching.com. She is also a California-based actress, former yoga teacher and recovering anorexic who has discovered tremendous power inside of her hunger. Personal site www.candiceholdorf.com. Follow Candice on Twitter @candiceholdorf. Follow The Orgasmic Life on Twitter @theorgasmiclife. Follow Candice on Facebook. Follow The Orgasmic Life on Facebook. She is currently working on her first book, "From 6 to 9 and Beyond: Widening the Lens of Feminine Eroticism." Learn more here.

Comments

  1. I look at porn of quite explicit acts which do quickly get to orgasm because I don’t have the time to watch the major lead up, foreplay, etc because seeing foreplay does zero for me….it simply just makes me feel even more lonely. Foreplay is something I enjoy in reality but seeing doesn’t do much for me.

    • I never had the imaginative social brain that other people seem to use. I remember back in middle school and teachers being baffled about how I hated to read. Its all the “TV and gameboy” they said, until they noticed on a field trip I was reading science and technology magazines. Give me an article about 3D printers and I spend the next 6 hours imaging all the application it could have in every aspect of life and how I would use one if I owned one. Hand me a romance novel about how Jim and Jane fell in love and Ill be bored out of my mind. My mind does not jump to fantasy world where I might similarly fall deeply in love, but instead (if I make it to the end) I just end up depressed.

      I saw the Hysterical Literature stuff a while back, fun to watch, but it won’t appear on my plate often. I could watch it for hours; the arousal is good, connection is fantastic and mental anticipation-high is exhilarating. A great experience to have because just like in a relationship not every sexual encounter is about personal gratification. Hysterical Literature captures the very idea of non-personal gratification in video format to be experienced. However, at the end of the videos I clearly recall not being sexually satisfied. That’s great cause I’m not always after an orgasm, however when I am its quite counter productive.

      Erotic Audio-only is more my cup of tea, because its audio the recording can be focused more on addressing the listener as a participant and can contain cuddling and cute sexual banter that is fun. Porn it often too disconnected and Erotic Voyerism shifts focus too far from self pleasure(when that’s what your after). I recall dropping porn completely for several months when I first found some Erotic Audio-only I liked. However, 30-60 min audio takes too much time for it to fit in my busy day and an hour of sleep is to precious for me to swap to it completely.

  2. I’m struck by Archy’s comment above and the Hitchcock quote at the beginning of this article. One of the problems, for me, with all visual remediation of sex is that it short-circuits are imagination muscles. We are not compelled to hatch and brew our own intricate sexual fantasies when we can have it delivered to us on a plate. The problem is – those remediations aren’t OUR fantasies and they aren’t personal. They don’t envelope our own lived experiences into the fantasies. They are condensations of a culture’s collective sexual fantasies – to be marketed to the many. They inevitably seek to convince us that these off the shelf fantasies are better than our own.

    Obviously, I’m going to champion the written word and the aural over the visual, because I’m a writer. But I think there is a good case to be made for leaving gaps in erotic representations into which readers and listeners must form their own interior imagery. No matter how minutely I write the sex act (something I avoid anyway) it will never be as complete as a filmed version of it. That incompleteness forces the reader to use their own imaginations, slip their own personas into the space, bring their own lived experience and their own turn-ons with them. To me, this is a far healthier way of transmitting eroticism.

    • Don’t get me wrong, I still fantasize and create scenarios heavily when I see someone on screen naked. I transfer them into my fantasy, I’ve watched stuff where there is a silly story and completely changed the location in my mind, changed the relationship between the couple on screen (eg, random hookup) to what I am fantasizing about (having a partner/gf). I find the written word for eroticism to be completely n utterly boring to be honest, but I am a very visual person who prefers movies to books, I prefer to see the intricate detail of body language vs guesswork from a book.

      • It’s a good thing you were born in the time of video. I can’t imagine what you would do had you been born in the 16th century.

        • Probably used books or painted, or spent more time outside lol. I have adhd which may explain some of the issue with books. I just do not get enough stimulation from them. I do however read a lot of internet comments, probably a few thousand words a day easily, and lots of technical type books (WITH PICTURES<3) for electronics, etc. But to me images are far far far more educating than text ever could be.

          The sad thing is I was told I am a good writer (when I want to be) but I actually dislike writing…

    • OirishM says:

      I’m struck by Archy’s comment above and the Hitchcock quote at the beginning of this article. One of the problems, for me, with all visual remediation of sex is that it short-circuits are imagination muscles. We are not compelled to hatch and brew our own intricate sexual fantasies when we can have it delivered to us on a plate. The problem is – those remediations aren’t OUR fantasies and they aren’t personal. They don’t envelope our own lived experiences into the fantasies. They are condensations of a culture’s collective sexual fantasies – to be marketed to the many. They inevitably seek to convince us that these off the shelf fantasies are better than our own.

      You then go on to plug written erotica, but this argument is just as applicable to that medium as well.

      Would there have been so many hand-wringing articles about the growing popularity of the Fifty Shades of Grey series (including its absence of any kind of BDSM consent discussion) if people didn’t really think people might internalise the fantasies they were being handed off the shelf, even written ones? Fantasies can be handed to people off the bookshelf as well as off the video shelf.

      That said, I think the usual oversimplification is being deployed here when discussing porn/erotica – it’s assumed that people are led by their fantasies. This simply is not true. To some degree they are, but it wasn’t like sex was missionary position, in-out-and-put-the-kettle-on before Internet pornography came along. The fantasies we see are as much a reflection of mankind’s sexual desires, while driving it as well. It’s chicken-and-egg, and I don’t think the fact that one kind of erotica drives a particular fantasy is much of an argument against its validity.

      Obviously, I’m going to champion the written word and the aural over the visual, because I’m a writer. But I think there is a good case to be made for leaving gaps in erotic representations into which readers and listeners must form their own interior imagery. No matter how minutely I write the sex act (something I avoid anyway) it will never be as complete as a filmed version of it. That incompleteness forces the reader to use their own imaginations, slip their own personas into the space, bring their own lived experience and their own turn-ons with them. To me, this is a far healthier way of transmitting eroticism.

      And people can do that with pornography as well, visual medium or not. I can imagine myself in the role of the male performer, for example, and if I retain the memories of that particular scene and my reaction to it I can get imaginative with it later.

      • Hi Oisrish
        You write: ✺ “The fantasies we see are as much a reflection of mankind’s sexual desires”✺

        How do you know that?
        Do you think the companies that produce porn asked all men and women on earth want they want deep inside or do you think they produce porn a way that will gemerate most money for them?

        Don’t you think they will serve you an a silver platter free porn that will make you come back for more and more in the hope of eventually hoock you for life so that they can earn money?

        They produce porn to make MONEY . Even amateurs can earn money online by their porn.
        What makes you think reflection of mankinds sex fantasies and desires is what will generate most money for porn producers?
        Maybe they produce what makes you addicted. And that kind of sexual experience is not nesseceraly the same as what mankind’s sexual desires.

        It is naive to think porn reflects mankind’s sexual desires.
        And it is strange if you think this reflects this worlds women’s sexual desires . Because it does not.

        • OirishM says:

          How do you know that?

          For the simple fact that on the whole there isn’t a predilection filmed today that didn’t exist prior to the invention of the Internet. They may have been popularised by the Internet, of course, but that is not the fault of Internet pornography as it is not the root source of these desires.

          Do you think the companies that produce porn asked all men and women on earth want they want deep inside or do you think they produce porn a way that will gemerate most money for them?

          And what drives market demand? Human desires.

          Also, you don’t need to poll people to find out what they want – no need to reduce my argument to an absurdity when it isn’t necessary. Your sales figures would be enough in the first instance.

          Don’t you think they will serve you an a silver platter free porn that will make you come back for more and more in the hope of eventually hoock you for life so that they can earn money?

          Again, this strikes me as a rather simplistic approach to the issue of pornography, at least today (and I’m struck by how many people critical of pornography don’t appear to know the first thing about it). I’ve never paid money for pornography in my life. The majority of people do not. Most pornography today is obtained via file-sharing and streaming-video websites. This monetary argument is entirely irrelevant for most people consuming pornography today.

          They produce porn to make MONEY . Even amateurs can earn money online by their porn.
          What makes you think reflection of mankinds sex fantasies and desires is what will generate most money for porn producers?

          Maybe they produce what makes you addicted. And that kind of sexual experience is not nesseceraly the same as what mankind’s sexual desires.

          Why in the world would people make a product that doesn’t at all cater to a demand?

          And of course they create porn to make money. All entrepreneurs do. Does the fact that people make and sell bread to make money mean that the desire to eat bread has been concocted by bread-makers? Absolutely not.

          It is naive to think porn reflects mankind’s sexual desires.

          It is naive to think so many desires were created from whole cloth by nothing but marketing.

          And it is strange if you think this reflects this worlds women’s sexual desires . Because it does not.

          Well, when I want to know what women officially want, I’ll let you know as you apparently seem to think you speak for all of them. Have a gander at the CNN link at the top of the article, perhaps?

          • Hi OirishM

            1:May I ask you why don’t you just go out and have sex with a real human being,a flesh and blood man or woman with warm skin ?
            Why this lonely one man show in front of a computer?

            2: you need to read up on economic theory ……

            3: and I have no illusion that you want to know what women want or desire.

            • OirishM says:

              1:May I ask you why don’t you just go out and have sex with a real human being,a flesh and blood man or woman with warm skin ?
              Why this lonely one man show in front of a computer?

              This is no more daft a statement than shaming a woman for using a vibrator as an accompaniment to her sex life for “not going out and having sex with a real man”. And make no mistake, it IS shaming, and I’m not about to tolerate it any more than a woman is expected to tolerate the same sort of nonsense. Don’t do that.

              And for the record, I both consume pornography and engage in respectful, consensual (and often kinky) sex with women. Again, I really shouldn’t have to point this out, given that your statement is a shaming non-sequitur in the first place.

              2: you need to read up on economic theory ……

              Do be specific – which parts? Which aspects of pornography do you think have been entirely concocted by porn merchants? Again, be specific.

              And because I’m absolutely sure this has nothing at all to do with your response *ahem*, please specify for the sake of my curiosity, which of these behaviours you also happen to personally think are degrading or offensive?

              3: and I have no illusion that you want to know what women want or desire.

              Please. Because I made a defence of pornography that you disagreed with? As if.

            • Hi
              I could answer all you questions but I know it will never change your mind no matter what I come up with.
              So I prefer to use my time on something else.

            • OirishM says:

              More assumptions, but little actual argument and fact to speak of.

  3. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    Nice article!

  4. I only watch because I read Viagra makes some people go suddenly blind, But I can’t keep hackers away and I like older women so can’t figure out the problem with the hackers. I’m going to risk Viagra.

  5. OirishM says:

    I feel like a lot of the arguments here are ones that apply to plenty of other things that aren’t pornography too, but they don’t seem to be judged in the same way.

    Porn can also hinder the sexual maturity of men, as they become trained (á la Pavlov’s dogs) to lump orgasm, climax and ejaculation into one act. In reality, all three are separate physical phenomena and can be experienced independently.

    For many men, sex itself will do that. Not all sex is PIV, but much of it is. Is it necessarily a sign of immature sexuality to not have separated the three? I can’t say I have, nor do I feel I particularly need to.

    The antidote to sexual consumerism is something I like to call “Erotic Voyeurism.” In Platonic philosophy, “eros” (the root word for “erotic”) is defined as a kind of love that is a fundamental creative impulse with a sensual element.

    I think there’s a fair amount of “fnarr, my medium is better than YOUR medium” going on here. I’m particularly interested in your usage of the word “consumerism” – there’s no reason necessarily to claim that porn isn’t creative in its own way, or that non-commercial sexual material is somehow better because it’s more “creative”.

    We see each woman as a human, rather than a thing. We are invited into her world, rather than trying to stuff her into ours. We ride the wave of her authentic turn-on, which can go from nonchalance to surprise to slight embarrassment to delicious agony to ecstasy to joy to relief. We feel what she is feeling, which fosters empathy and compassion.

    I’m a fan of this particular piece, but I don’t see how a 9-minute video of Stoya reading someone else’s work is definitively “seeing her as a human” any more than watching her hardcore shoots. It’s worth noting that Cubbitt did shoot videos where there WASN’T an orgasm reached (I think he said in an interview that he called time on some shoots after 15 minutes) – but I haven’t seen those videos at all, compared to the models where genuine orgasm was reached. It seems that even maybe Cubbitt isn’t immune to lumping orgasm and arousal together, but porn is being judged here as somehow stunted for not separating orgasm, climax and ejaculation.

    How exactly does one not feel what someone is feeling through a pornographic shoot? Such shoots may remind people of their own experiences.

  6. Lynn Beisner says:

    I love this article and in particular the idea of sexual nutrition. What a great way of talking about this.

  7. Hi Candice
    You write:
    ✺”I think it’s vital that we have a candid discussion around pornography, if nothing else than to get everyone out of the shame closet and admit that we all watch it!”✺

    No Candice you are wrong,we don’t ALL watch it.

    But I agree it must be discussed and porn is a reality now even for kids as young as 6 years old.
    I love to have the discussion but do not assume that everybody wants to watch and mastrubate to the hardcore porn we have on the Internet today. Because it is not so.
    Some say :” no thank you.this is not my cup of tea”.

  8. Interesting. I’ve been thinking about how more fetishy things like porn may burn and dwindle, constantly creating a need for newer, bigger, as opposed to deeply connected sex. Does the latter last longer? Anyone have any experience with this?

    • Well I get bored easily seeing the same imagery over n over EXCEPT if I like the person. A friend that I am very very attracted to has sent me nudes and I look at those quite often whereas porn that I have no connection with will quickly get boring.

  9. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    I think that to some extent pornography does colonize our sexuality, which might be better if left uncolonized. So it’s not just a matter of desire. I think that men, left to their own desires (uncolonized) would be less likely to turn to facial ejaculations (I can assure you that ejaculating in a mouth or vagina feels much better than doing it into air,) anal (at least as often as wee see it in porn,) domination and degradation through language (these last two occur pretty often in porn.) Unlike many, I don’t think that these fetishes are innocent or random. They have to do with men’s powerlessness in the face (excuse this expression here) of society, or in terms of women’s ability to restrict access to their bodies until men meet their conditions. The “discourse” behind the porn industry always has an interest in ratcheting up the level of kink, even if it becomes completely gonzo and unreal. For example, there a huge trope about “squirting” in porn now– which porn pushes by having women charge their bladders up with water and expel at the camera. There’s an emphasis on having intercourse much harder than most women like it because it looks more extreme. So it’s not just innocent desire. It’s more like addiction.

    Having said that, I do use visual porn myself, but I find it hard to find unkinked pictures or clips. You can find them right alongside the more extreme stuff, but you have to look. If I responded to the kink stuff, I’d watch it, but I don’t.

    • Hank
      Here is some quotes from dr.Brandy Engler’s book :” men on my couch” page 188
      She is a sexologist .
      About porn and addiction.

      “The most common addictive themes are demonstrations of power and anger.
      I have spoken with the industry insiders, and they do intentionally pervert our common sadistic and masochistic impulses………because they are more likely to lead to compulsion. These porn execs are apparently reading Freud”

      • Just to defend BDSM though; because I think it gets an unfair bad press and unfairly judged by outsiders. And I know you’re talking not about the culture, but porn, and I agree there is a problem that people viewing it without awareness of the culture are endangered by picking up on the themes without understanding how it actually works…

        1) BDSM culture is far more aware and sensitive to issues of consent than mainstream sexuality; because you have to be; you have to say before any “scene” starts – what do you like? What don’t you like? How will you let me know when I’m going too far? No one in the supposed “dominant” role ever wants to genuinely make someone do something, or have something done to them that they don’t want, so no one pressures each other in the way a vanilla seducer may think they have the right to do; any apparent pressuring takes place within the “scene” because the “submissive” has requested it.

        2) The reason I’ve put “dominant” and “submissive” in speechmarks is because it is usually the “submissives” fantasy that is being acted out. Which is why before feminism liberated female sexuality the image in people’s heads when hearing about S&M tended to be of a gimpy male being dominated by a dominatrix. It’s only when women were in a position to express their own fantasies that the balance swang more towards the sort of fantasy scenarios popularised by 50 shades (potentially that is dangerous since fantasy works don’t deal with the mechanics of how it actually works – they are fantasy. You don’t want a generation being told unequivocably this is what women actually want. You assume nothing; and you ask. BDSM isn’t geared to one-night stand sex – you need to know each other.)

        3) Men in dominant roles do not genuinely disrespect women. I’ve been in two relationships in that role and it came about both times because I asked her what she liked and she told me, and I understood. And I’ve heard the same from other men taking on that role. I thoroughly recommend to any guy, don’t try to get a girlfriend to do what you want; ask her what she wants – it’ll be far more imaginative and adventurous than anything you’d come up with, and you won’t feel beholden to her for it either. People often assume that it’s the guy who’s a “perv” and he’s “corrupted” the girl. I’ve not come into contact with any couples where that’s genuinely the case. This assumption is based on the demonisation of male sexuality as we’ve dealt with elsewhere. Women are equally capable of kink as men, and many complain that their partners are not willing to experiment.

        4) BDSM couples are statistically more likely to be commited to each other long term (although this is possibly because other partners “wouldn’t understand” so there’s less opportunity to stray. Particularly for anyone for whom the fetish is a genuine fetish in the Freudian sense – i.e. an essential ingredient to sex rather than an optional spice. For me it never was or has been a fetish in that sense, it was always an exploration that I could take or leave.)

        5) It’s not brutal. It’s sensual, and you have a duty of care as a dom, both physically and mentally. Physically, it’s obvious what I’m talking about; you may inflict pain, but you make damn sure you don’t do damage. I’d pour hot wax on my hand to judge the distance where I know it won’t scald, but only cause a mild burning sensation before I’d ever drip it on a lover’s skin.
        As for the psychological: When I was in my early twenties I was decidedly subby myself and tried to persuade girlfriends to take the dominant role (before I’d learnt the lesson above; ask what they want, dummy) and whilst the first refused, the second did occasionally but you could tell there was genuine contempt from her; the contempt wasn’t an act – she really did think I was pathetic. That’s terrible for someone’s self esteem. It was a bad match – here was someone who didn’t understand and thought of the desire to be unmanly. And whilst I kind of grew out of my subbiness (or perhaps just grew less selfish) that memory left me with an understanding of the psychological duty of care. So myself, when I’m in a dominant role, after the “scene” when it turns to cuddling up I would be asking “are you okay?” and making sure she knows that I love her and respect her, however much that contradicts my behaviour within the “scene”. Which ultimately it doesn’t contradict it at all, because all that behaviour was tailored to her desire – I wouldn’t have been doing it if I didn’t love her.

        6. It isn’t unnatural. The first time I had a woman actually asking me to hurt her I was initially reluctant. Although I had been subby before, I’d never really wanted pain (BDSM breaks down into three different initialisms; only the SM bit refers to masochism.) really I just wanted to absolve all responsibility and let someone else be in charge; and while there’d been some experiments with riding crops and light spanking in previous relationships, suddenly I found myself talking to someone who was asking for things like pegs on nipples. “but that’d hurt!” I said, with some consternation. “ye..es”, she explained to be slowly, “that’s the point”; and so I experimented on myself to see if I could understand – oh yes, there is a rush there – yes, I can see how that would be arousing, particularly if it’s inflicted by a lover. But even so, isn’t she asking me to be complicit in her self-harming? Then I did some reading. Pain is used in foreplay throughout the animal kingdom. Horses bite each others necks for example. Cats scratch each other. If BDSM is a perversity, it’s not one that’s unique to humans.

        That doesn’t necessarily mean I support the depiction of BDSM in porn, because I think some audiences not understanding all of the above might get the wrong idea, but I think it’s important to dispel those myths that make people judgemental towards the culture.

        • Hank Vandenburgh says:

          Joseph, I sort of get that. Thanks. Yes, I do agree that one can probably get intense sensations in the way you describe. I think we “vanillas” use bits of submission and dominance when we make love, but they’re not as institutionalized. A man may remove himself from a lover’s vagina, and slowly insert his cock in her mouth, assessing all the while her level of enjoyment, for example. Then slowly repeat. Or a woman may sense permission from a gentle but strong lover to mount him and have him the way men have had her. So it may be a continuum.

  10. I must be weird because I like and can get off to all kind of erotic media, from erotic literature, fan fiction ( yes even girly fan fiction written by 12 years old girl ) , soft core porn, amateur porn, to a very hardcore porn. Maybe I’m just a pervert lol. But I also like to read and watch romance novels and movies. I guess I just very fond of any connection between men and women, from romance to sex.

  11. “Men who regularly masturbate alone with porn are more likely to have problems connecting with a partner, either through premature ejaculation, impotence or an inability to feel emotionally connected with him/her.”

    The way this is worded, it seems to assume that porn-assisted masturbation is what has led to those issues. I would suggest that whatever the correlation, the causation is anything but certain. In fact, I would suggest considering that many of these men resort to such behavior specifically because they feel unconnected to or have no partners. While it serves other functions as well, masturbation is but one of a number of behaviors that people often exhibit in compensation for a lack of true connection.

    Given that, it more likely that porn-assisted masturbation is a side-effect of, not the cause of, these connection problems.

  12. Sigh…missing verb. The last sentence should read, “Given that, it would seem more likely that porn-assisted masturbation is a side-effect of, not the cause of, these connection problems.”

  13. To the original author:

    “Porn can also hinder the sexual maturity of men, as they become trained (á la Pavlov’s dogs) to lump orgasm, climax and ejaculation into one act. In reality, all three are separate physical phenomena and can be experienced independently.”

    Do you have a reference for this? Unless I have missed something, this is highly inaccurate, as non-ejaculatory orgasms primarily occur in sequence after ejaculatory orgasms. Furthermore, only some men experience these subsequent orgasms. If this implication is that not experiencing these indicates sexual immaturity, it would seem we’ve learned nothing from the days when women were told there was something wrong with them if they could not experience orgasms from vaginal intercourse.

    I’m willing to read whatever reference there might be to support the notion that a man may experience ejaculation, orgasm, and climax independently, but skeptical that any that is based on valid scientific research exists.

  14. I love the ten point “manifesto” of what “Erotic Voyeurism” is at the end of your article. It deals with all the ways I think modern porn is unsatisfying (points 3, 6, 7, 9 and 10 do anyway). I hope erotic voyeurism takes off as an art movement.

    I don’t think porn was always as soulless as it is now; as you say in the article, demonising porn has already relegated it to the seedier caste making it even harder to defend; the prohibitionists tell you it’s sordid and misogynistic and fake and aggressive and you want to say “no it isn’t; well it doesn’t have to be; it can be a celebration of sex and beautiful and cheekily subversive” but then if you actually look for it online what you find makes you think “oh, you’re right it is, but it shouldn’t have to be; I seem to remember it wasn’t always this way; what happened?” The more contempt society pours on porn, it seems, the more porn become contemptible – a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    I have an issue with the ethicality of porn; there’s too many stories of people being damaged by the industry to feel comfortable about supporting it. I’ve preferred erotic literature because you know those same issues aren’t there – no one is being exploited, no one has been coerced or groomed or hooked on drugs; no one winds up self-loathing or trapped in a career without prospects or places themselves in danger of contracting diseases.

    I have a vegan friend who positively advocates the use of porn, and I’ve compared my attitude to porn to her attitude to eating meat – since despite being aware of the ethical issues involved occasionally you have to say “hell, my body is telling me I need something” and then you have a bacon sandwich and hope your other vegan friends don’t find out. Yes you do, you know you do.

    Watching Hysterical Literature though is joyous. It’s warm, it’s human, it’s funny, it’s sincere and it’s sexy; and it involves the viewer empathically. And I will be recommending it to my vegan friend as soon as I get the chance.

    • Hank Vandenburgh says:

      ” have an issue with the ethicality of porn; there’s too many stories of people being damaged by the industry to feel comfortable about supporting it. I’ve preferred erotic literature because you know those same issues aren’t there – no one is being exploited, no one has been coerced or groomed or hooked on drugs; no one winds up self-loathing or trapped in a career without prospects or places themselves in danger of contracting diseases.”

      To be fair, I think we have to cite cases if we say this. I’m aware that Coleen Applegate (Shauna Grant)
      killed herself when involves in an affair with a porn magnate (probably due to cocaine.) Nikki Charm turned to a life of crime after her time in porn. But this also sounds like things feminists say that haven’t been backed up with facts. Porn is probably a preferable career than many types of conventional employment for many women. Think of the type of alienation that comes with being a low-paid service worker at, say, McDonalds. Making $1,000 a day might be preferable, especially if one is long on beauty, but short on brains.

  15. Thought provoking article & discussion.
    Why should we argue over the medium? Isn’t it all good?
    :-)

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  1. [...] According to Candice Holdorf, pornography and erotica will most likely play a role in your marriage, and it's best to learn its landscape and how to use it in healthy ways.  [...]

  2. [...] According to Candice Holdorf, pornography and erotica will most likely play a role in your marriage, and it's best to learn its landscape and how to use it in healthy ways.  [...]

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