First, to clarify: I don’t draw much of a line between “pornography” and “erotica.” As far as I’m concerned they are both words that apply to representations of sex, whether visual or literary, crude or artistic, primal or romantic. Everyone and their sister draws the line between them differently so I’m not sure what good it would do for me to add to that morass of definitions. Here, on this blog, the words are pretty much interchangeable.
Mainly, I want to dialogue about the idea that “women don’t like visual pornography.” This utter claptrap of a theory is based mostly on what men like, which is a lot of porn. It has zero-nun-zilch to do with what women do like. Period.
I’m totally side stepping the complex issue of binary gender identification here, simply because the majority of our modern society is geared towards binary genders (male/female). While that is completely wrong and silly and leads to all sorts of oppression, confusion and even suicides, it is the way things are right now.
So, the argument is, “men like pictures, women like words.” As if anything as complex as human sexuality can be reduced to those terms? Okay, let’s just agree that’s a stupid idea, then.
BUT it’s been parroted so long, even many women believe it.
What amazes me, though, is that those same women are often the ones with 200 different LJ icons, several gigs worth of photos of men on their harddrives, and even autographed photos of celebrities hanging on their walls.
Apparently, none of that counts as “visual stimulation” because, you know, no naked cocks. Women don’t like pictures, after all…or is it, women don’t like pictures of cock?
Given the astounding and exponentially growing popularity of Mr. James Deen (NSFW), I’m kind of doubting that.
I mean really, have any of these people claiming that women don’t respond to visual stimulation ever been in an adolescent girl’s bedroom? Looked at the walls? Boy bands don’t become rich and famous because of their virtuosity (or virtue, for that matter).
The fact is, women (as girls) are steered away from sexuality when they are young. Boys are teased about it, girls are shamed; it’s not easy growing up human these days for any gender, but girls are often given the subtle message that while they should be sexual objects, they should not be sexual. Historically there has not been an “underground network” of pornographic pictures, as boys/men managed to create for each other to offset the secrecy that surrounds sexuality. That is, until the internet.
The reason news reporters are all aghast at teenage girls fangirling over a porn star (that Deen boy again) is because nowadays, girls can find the porn they like on their own. And they LIKE it.
Many women have turned to erotica/romance novels (50 Shades being the latest breakout example, but lets not forget Laurel K. Hamilton’s fairy series which was plain old XXX-rated word porn) but just as many watched what were, essentially, soft core pornos aka soap operas.
I’m the first to jump up and agree that there are differences among all the genders, however you define them, even if we can’t articulate why those differences are there. But I think those differences are far more subtle and complex than “women don’t get off visually, men do.” That is reductionist to the extreme…which is a polite, educated way of saying “that is asinine and moronic.”