Thursday, August 5, 2010


I've been reading/listening to a lot of Dan Savage, and it is mind boggling what people freak out about. Straight boys hitting on their gay friends by accident! Girls who want semen in their nose because they live for the rush of the unperformed sex act! College students who have fallen in weepy, snotty love with men a generation older than them! It's all so fascinating. I love human sexuality, and the cross-section that Savage Love features is hairy and juicy. Insert your own joke and grimace at the attendant mental image here.

My favourites revolve around porn and cheating - people are nuts about that! Wives and girlfriends worrying that, if their main men partners like to look at naked ladies (or naked gentlemen, if their men have some complicated sexual preferences), it means that they're cheating degenerate bastards with some sort of mental disorders and they need to be Clockwork Oranged into not watching it anymore. Porn is dangerous, say these ladies. Futhermore, porn is cheating.

Okay, I might be more lenient about the definition of "cheating" than most people, but I would argue that most of the sex-having population isn't getting their panties in a bunch over the idea of pornography. It's a slippery slope, the anti-porn people might say. Porn leads to strip clubs, and strip clubs lead to hooker, and hookers lead to...I don't know...the clap? Getting knifed by a pimp in a dumpster? Or porn leads to thinking about other women, and that leads to kissing other women, and that leads to bending them over the chesterfield and having sweaty midafternoon cheater sex with other women.

Bullshit. Porn leads to masturbation, the most innocuous of all flagrante delictes. I'll hold a warning finger up to silence the people who would argue that masturbation isn't good in a relationship; my body, my choice, right? I can't catch anything from my own sex toys, my partner can't impregnate his hand, and people's rocks need to be gotten off. Sometimes partners get out of sexual sync with each other, for whatever reason: busy work schedules, the flu, a bad few months, an infant, whatever. I've been blessed with friends who can concur that a high sex drive is a blessing and a curse; sometimes, when the sex isn't quite as forthcoming as we'd like, we tap into our bodies, ourselves. As we all should, regardless of relationship status or sex drive, when we need to.

My pal and I, years ago, joked about making hipster porn: heavily accessorized topless girls making out on some disgusting house-party couch. I think it works, actually. There's also soft-core fixed-gear bike porn, for your cycling pervs. Everyone needs a niche. There's also the whole gamut of pornography that is people having sex, getting tied up, being pregnant, sucking on each others toes, getting splashed in the face with veritable bucketloads of semen, and whatever other disgusting and totally normal things like to think about when they pleasure themselves. Some things are porn in disguise: I remember being, like, eight years old and seeing a drawing in a magazine that wasn't sexual in the slightest...except it make me feel strangely excited.

Looking at naked people doing naked stuff on a screen, or in a magazine, isn't stepping out and having sexual relations with those people. It is a form of sex, sure, but it's sex that everyone is entitled to, no matter who else is bringing them pleasure. In the same way that not all porn looks like naked bodies and penetrations, not all sex is PIVMO sex. Every couple needs to define cheating for themselves, but too narrow a definition and you'll end up with a frustrated partner. Putting the kibosh on porn, or worse, making it some pathological flaw, does a disservice to your partner. They are no longer the master (or mistress) of their own sexual destiny.

Is there a time and place for porn? Sure. Your kids don't need to know your sexual tastes, nor do your roommates or your parents. If you're electing to look at porn and masturbate in lieu of an interested and willing partner(s), you might want to think long and hard about why. If you and your beloved are in a rocky romantic patch, it might be insensitive to load up the DVD player and let 'er fly in plain sight. But let 'er fly at some other time; when you have the house to yourself, when he's in the tub, when the kids are at grandma's and it's just you and your pleasure device of choice. It's your right. If you don't need porn, scrunch your face up and think your filthy thoughts. That's your right, too.

And if your favourite person happens to walk in while you're mid-scrunch, invite them to join you, if you want, or finish up and get back to the vacuuming. No sighs, no deprogramming, no accusations of cheating or gnashing of teeth. Just a realization that your partner is the owner-operator of his or her body, and that sometimes porn is the fuel that gets the engine to turn over.

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