Thursday, 27 October 2011

How has porn changed sex?


N.B I have made a sincere effort to try and keep the innuendos to a minimum. I tried, I really did. 

In my last post, I outlined how certain simulations of real phenomena were overtaking those real phenomena as what we though of as real – imitations were now realer than real. I suggested that porn is an example of this – and now I want to explore in more detail if and exactly how porn has changed sex.  

First, I just want to get clear what I am talking about.The majority of research on this area seems to be exploring whether porn has changed our sexual drives – does it make us want more, or less, or does it make men more violent? These are not the questions I am looking to answer. I want to know if porn has changed our sexual behaviour in the way we have sex. 

Furthermore, many will point out that porn has liberalised our views on sex. By making the subject more widely available, it has made it more open. To give an example: my research tells me that anal sex is now more popular than ever. This might suit explanations such as a) porn has made men more violent, and anal sex is seen as a power trip or b) porn has liberalised our views on sex so couples are more open to experimentation/ trying out new things. So if either of these explanations have some truth in them, then yes, porn has changed sex. 

What I really want to know is, has porn as the simulation of sex changed the reality of sex. That is, has sex been changed in ways that are solely down to porn being a simulation. A strong answer to this means I’ll have to separate the effects of porn as simulator from porn as liberator or porn as power manifestation.
There happens to be quite a straightforward way of establishing this. Because it is by definition the visual portrayal of sex, we know that porn emphasises the visual over the sensual/ tactile/ feeling. So porn is closer than sex to visual; sex is closer than porn to tactile. 

So my guess, at this point, would be: we can establish the effects of the porn simulation by seeing whether an overemphasis on visual aspects has increased relative to the tactile aspects in sex. The first example that springs to mind is plastic surgery.  

A little more research, and I’ve come up with a list of ways porn has changed sex, some logic behind each, and some studies to back them up:

·         Plastic Surgery: With fake boobs, the emphasis is on appearance, not touch. (There will be some argument that they don’t look good anyway, but I think most would agree at least that porn emphasises the visual over the tactile to a greater degree than exists in ‘reality’). Are women now having more cosmetic surgery? Yes. 

·         Brazilians:  Naomi Wolf, who I’m going to talk about later, gives this fascinating insight from behind enemy lines: ‘(In my gym, the 40-year-old women have adult pubic hair; the twentysomethings have all been trimmed and styled.)’
·         If this is not evidence enough, these above two trends are backed up by research from the German Society for Social Scientific Sexuality Research which suggests porn is behind these fashions.
·         The above two points are the ones I feel more sure asserting, and the ones for which I have ‘hard evidence’. 

·         Girl on girl: This is visually arousing for men, as the porn industry seems to have discovered. Women tend to be depicted as voraciously bisexual in porn. As a result, girls apparently feel pressure to participate in girl on girl kissing and threesomes.  

·         Money-shots: Can argue its based on showing the ejaculation more clearly. It doesn’t seem like something that gives much tactile enjoyment to the woman. I am led to believe that this is a newer phenomenon....though that may just be a strong attempt to believe that my grandparents were not doing this kind of stuff!

It’s easy to see how this process has happened. This all happens because porn is now the primary source of sex education for young men. Monkey see, monkey do – and it becomes typical sexual practice.
So what are the big themes of modern living we can pull out from this? One is an emphasis on the visual, the way things look, over the way things really are (if it still makes sense to say that, given that the way they ‘are’ changes). 

Another is the overwhelming power of fashion – I mean, money shots are just ridiculous, with real life people replicating them, just makes me laugh. But more than that, that fashions can drive couples to doing ridiculous acts to imitate porn is quite scary at the same time. 

Another point to consider is whether porn is changing our relationship with sex. Naomi Wolf’s article, here, is an interesting one – she believes the prevalence of porn has reduced men’s libido, as they replace sex to an extent with porn. As a result, women suffer and feel pressure to change their behaviour to compete with porn stars (in the ways I suggested above, for example). 

I’m not sure I agree entirely with Wolf’s argument – I don’t think she provides much evidence that this is the case other than talking to a few university students. (I don’t blame her – I suppose much of this article is similarly inspired). But porn does represent a new development in our sexual behaviour – and one that happens to be a multi-billion dollar industry. 

It so happens that this simulation of sex has led to a huge industry, which did not exist previously (the prostitution industry does not compare).  This ties into a big theme of this realer than real stuff: simulations change the reality to create capital opportunities. In modern society, social relationships have been simulated in order to create capital opportunities. 

This is going to be a big theme of my next posts, on computer games and processed food – which I hope will help develop this point further. 



6 comments:

  1. Wow. I saw you were following me on focus free so I came here to check you out. Marvelous. I suppose you know you are following Baudrillard.

    Yes, sex is technologically interfaced with us, and porn sex is interfaced with our sexuality. I feel myself expanding too far for this comment. Foucault's History of Sexuality vol 1,2,3 delineates how power/knowlege/sexuality merge into a grid. Capital can also be added.

    Yes you are perfectly correct. I am reading Twilight from this POV at my blog http://twilightirruption.blogspot.com

    Love your blog and am including it on all of mine of course.

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  2. More. DeLillo's Cosmopolis has the interface of the speculative currency market embedded into Eric Packer's body and mind via The Inscription of the Body.

    Wolf is yesterday.

    I expect to use you in one of my blogs at my earliest convenience. Twilight is a wonderful media to read through about sexuality and sex.

    Baudrillard invites us to be excessive, "worse" as Nietzsche would say, so I am writing porno that is more porno than porno, hyper porno, excessive, and in the Order of Seduction as the porno we see and listen to and that you have analyzed, is porno in the Order of Production.

    So read some of mine. I have an Edward and Bella one and there are 17 thousand of them at fanfic.net and another one crossing Bel Ami with House of Mirth, DuRoy and Lily Bart. Let me know what you think.

    Oh and this intkkrfacing is the subject of aldl of Cronenber's films. He has finished filming Cosmopolis and it editing it.

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  3. One more thing. If you go to www.disqus.com you can interface the disqus tool with yours. Then you can eliminate the code for posting as the disqus registration does it auto for you. It makes it very easy for you to follow comments to your blogs as disqus does that for you too. You can reply there also and edit. Also all the people who follow me and you can check both of us out if they wish.

    I have a lot of readers from Russia and Eastern Europe. I don't know why except that focus free is at the top of one of their search engines.

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  6. A very interesting analysis of how porn has changed sex behaviours. Media has influenced our culture and in some way managed to open the discourse on sex.

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