Someone Else's Argument About How Porn Skews Our Expectations of Sex

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As one my recent entries should make clear, in many regards I'm often a fan of explicit depictions of sex: I can appreciate them for their artistic and erotic value. But I'm not a fan of most porn, either in theory or in practice, because I find most of it joyless, predictable and exploitative.

Within the corner of the Blogosphere concerned with sex and gender, there are only five bloggers who haven't already commented on the infamous Details blog piece from the summer asking if it's OK for men to demand anal sex from women. As I'm one of those five, I should probably get that duty out of the way before the year ends. I'll do it, however, by seconding everything Twisty Faster says about it in her critique. Twisty argues that the phenomenon "is an escalation of porn culture," which seems likely enough to me. And in this piece from The Guardian UK, Marina Hyde makes the same argument about another way men are showing contempt for women during sex: they apparently feel entitled to ejaculate on a woman's face, without asking, on the first date.

I especially like this statement from Hyde: "porn is screwing up sex. Not sex in relationships, but the kind of casual sex in which it would be nice to think people could indulge in a mutually enjoyable, non-exploitative fashion." From what I hear from young women in the dating trenches, I think that's right, and it's no doubt one more reason educated, successful women who have aquired an appropriate sense of their own worth and what they deserve in a relationship are more likely to have orgasms during sex than their less educated female counterparts, and one more reason feminists have the most rewarding sex lives.

6 Comments

Twisty Faster is (almost) ALWAYS right about (almost) EVERYTHING. And I truly miss her!

This is interesting. I've actually had that experience (feeling entitled to ejaculate on her face on the first date), without realizing it (the feeling entitled part).

Can I ask you a question? When a man gives a woman oral sex on the first date, and she orgasms, without asking, when his face is between her legs, does you think she has contempt for him?

Mary Tracy--Thanks for stopping by. I miss Twisty too. I hope she's doing OK.

Rock: The short answer to your question is this: No.

The long answer is this.

First of all, studies have shown that not that many men perform oral sex on the first date, though they quite often receive it. Secondly, studies also show that women are far less likely than men to have an orgasm on the first date. So the scenario you describe is not necessarily the most likely one for a first date.

Another problem with your question is that a woman coming while a man is performing oral sex on her is not analogous to a man ejaculating on her face; a woman coming while a man is performing oral sex on her is analogous to a man coming while a woman is still performing oral sex on him--in other words, while his cock is still in her mouth, not spraying all over her face.

I realize I am probably from a different generation than you are, but in my experience of oral sex, because it involves a fair amount of work on the part of the one performing it and considerable passivity on the part of the one receiving it, agreeing to perform oral sex is pretty much giving the other person permission to come. So I don't know why a woman would need to ask for additional permission to orgasm, particularly since a female orgasm doesn't interfere with continued copulation the way a male orgasm does.

Furthermore, despite the fact that female ejaculate is occasionally written about, depicted in movies, whatever, most women don't ejaculate. Having discussed the matter, I know (as you may not) that plenty of women manage to have orgasms fully clothed from dry humping or some other sort of stimulation, and there's usually no wet spot afterwards--a little dampness, maybe, which is as much sweat as any sort of vaginal fluid. It is therefore very unlikely that a woman's orgasm would create the kind of mess on a man's face that cum creates on hers when a man directs his ejaculate there.

In addition, a man has to make an effort to ejaculate on a woman's face, has to remove his penis from whatever orifice he's penetrating, has to break rhythm, in order to move it to her face so he can spurt cum all over her face.

Again, realizing that I'm probably from a different generation from than you, for people like me, orgasm was and is something you want to share with your partner. That was part of what decent contraception made possible: guys didn't have to pull it out--no more coitus interruptus, which was a bad thing, but ejaculating on someone's face requires it. It feels really nice to have a person you like/love embrace you while s/he experiences an orgasm. It's much better than just watching while he finishes off with his hand 'cause he just can't come with a condom on or whatever. At that point, you're just a spectator. It's not that great. (And lest you think I'm expressing a truly idiosyncratic or female preference, I direct you to Figleaf's very eloquent and insightful post on precisely this withdraw-aim-squirt-it-where-the-sun-shines business.)

Finally, we all recognize that there's something special about faces, that things are more intense, more personal, when done to someone's face. Hitting someone on the arm or even in the gut isn't as insulting as slapping or punching someone in the face. Stroking someone's arm or hand isn't as personal as caressing their face. So if a man makes the effort necessary to cum on a woman's face, if he stops fucking her (which she may or may not be enjoying) in order to get something sticky all over her face that she'll have to wash off, AND HE DOES IT WITHOUT BOTHERING TO ASK WHETHER SHE'S INTO IT (and I acknowledge that some women might be), he's doing something really selfish, really nasty, that's all about him.

So for all those reasons, a man ejaculating on a woman's face without permission is a contemptible, contemptuous act that is in no way, shape or form replicated by a female orgasm brought about by oral sex.

Rock--by the way, I finally thought of an act by a woman that would be analogous to shooting jizz all over her face without asking: if, during foreplay, a woman yanked a well saturated tampon out of her twat and stuffed it in the guy's mouth, that would be akin to withdrawing and then coming on her face without asking.

Because after all, not all guys mind menstrual blood. Some even like it, especially during vaginal sex, because it's a very effective lubricant, although there are plenty who just can't deal with the sight of their dicks covered in blood. Some guys are willing to perform oral sex when a woman's on the rag, and some flat-out like it--the taste turns them on.

And just for the hell of it, go ahead and try to imagine those attitudes being normalized: imagine if in most porn, the woman was always menstruating, and if, at some point, there was a shot of a blood-covered dick or a guy lifting his face from between a woman's legs to reveal lips, teeth and chin smeared with menstrual blood. Hmmm....

"it is therefore very unlikely that a woman's orgasm would create the kind of mess on a man's face that cum creates on hers when a man directs his ejaculate there."

I know what you mean here. It's probably the 'deliberate' intention in the messiness that's so arrogant, especially when it is not asked for and when the woman would probably rather not do it.

I never really thought about it though. I'm glad you're bringing it up.

I have to say though, when she placed her mouth around my member and got me going, she knew what she was doing and why she was doing it.

I personally think that a woman wouldn't be so obvious in her display of dominance, if she was about that. So, when I think about how she got me excited and before cumming, led me to her vagina, and grabbed me by the back of my hair and firmly held me there until she orgasmed...

You know, too, looking back on it, I don't think I was even really looking at her when I ejaculated. It was such a angry thing. I think when she was receiving it, I saw in my mind all those people who disrespected my feelings, my mind - my worth.

I'm sorry she had to feel that.

I think when she was receiving it, I saw in my mind all those people who disrespected my feelings, my mind - my worth.

I'm sorry she had to feel that.

I appreciate your acknowledging this, and, at the risk of sounding like Dr. Ruth or something, hope your future orgasms are more fun and less angry, for both you and your partner.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on December 24, 2007 2:26 PM.

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