A letter to that son, still about porn
I read the letter your mother sent you regarding porn, and I am using the fact she made it public to write to you just to give you a broader perspective on the porn industry. I don’t know how old you are, but I’ll assume you have left the single digit but has not yet reached your 20s – or, in other words, you are around the same age I was when I watched porn for the first time. And I want to start by telling you that it is A-okay to watch porn. I have been watching it for almost 30 years and I turned out as a responsible, sane, intelligent and productive member of society.
I am a porn scholar. This means I study porn. It is like writing book reports, but instead of reading books I watch porn. And, because of my profession, I have come in contact with a lot of the porn industry. I have even visited a couple of porn sets myself, while the movies were being shot. Some of my best friends are porn stars, just like some others teach English as a foreign language. I met my husband in this environment, and even though none of us has ever performed we are equally personally and professionally interested in pornography, and this is just another characteristic of our relationship. (By the way, there is no indicative that men who watch a lot of porn have trouble enjoying sex with real women. Most men watch porn. Some women do. And yet people are still out there really enjoying sex, so that idea is kind of strange, don’t you think?)
But back to porn: it is okay to watch it, but just like everything else in life, there is good porn and bad porn out there. Most people think porn is degrading to women, forces women into doing things they would not normally want to do, raises the bar into impossible-to-meet expectations, and that porn is not real sex. Some porn out there might be all this, for sure. Just like not all marriages are for love, some work relationships board slavery and not everything is the way it is supposed to be. But there is some porn out there which strongly refutes all these harmful things, so I want to go over your mother’s list to make sure you get some facts straight.
1. Porn can be real sex, just like Mc Donald’s can be real food. You just have to know how to reach for the good ingredients: lay off the Big Macs and have a salad once in a while, and there will be no bad-side effect in your body. But don’t watch ONLY porn (and don’t eat ONLY junk food).
2. Do not compare yourself to the man you see in porn, just like I should not compare myself to magazine models. I believe you have already been exposed to the discussion of how unrealistic media portrays people: porn is just like any other movie. I will never look like Angelina Jolie, no matter how hard I try. Just like your penis might not ever be as big as Manuel Ferrara’s. It is okay. That does not make me less beautiful, just like it does not make you less of a man for having a normal-sized dick.
3. That also applies to your partner. Maybe she WILL look like Stoya. Maybe she won’t. I know for a fact Stoya has never had a boob job, and a friend of mine who is a porn star commented that the only operated vaginas she has ever seen are from transgendered women. The idea that some porn stars have their coochies done to look prettier is silly: pussies come in all forms and shapes and sizes and colors, and I am yet to meet a porn star who has had it done by a doctor to look a certain way.
4. Not all women in porn are faking it. In fact, most of my friends say they do orgasm during scenes. Ironically, I have more non-porn friends who fake orgasms than porn-friends who do, but this is a long discussion I will save for an academic article later. Just keep in mind some women do get off when performing in front of a camera. They might exaggerate the reactions so it can be captured by camera, which is the same as Jennifer Lawrence sobbing uncontrollably when her sister got picked for the Hunger Games, but making a spectacle of it does not mean she was not truly sad inside, does it? The point is, you don’t want your partner to fake her orgasm, just like you should never fake your own pleasure.
5. Oh, and there is no such thing as getting paid more money if a scene is “violent” or “degrading”. Everything is pre-discussed and agreed on, and I have seen many times two performers discussing what they like and do not like before the camera starts rolling, just to make sure everyone is comfortable and enjoying their job. Because getting paid to have sex on camera is a job like any other. That does not mean those women who are there don’t want to be there. As some of them say, it is actually the best way to explore their own sexuality, because it all happens in a controlled environment, with people watching over them (pun intended).
6. Nothing ever created will be an indicative of mainstream female taste in sex because there is no such thing as “mainstream female”. Women are all different, and they like different things, and want different things. Some like to have the guy come on their faces; some don’t. Some like the light on; others prefer the lights off. Some like sex in the morning, some in the evening, some in the middle of the night. Some women like it rough, some like to be spanked, have their hair pulled, and it is all quite normal. There is no such thing as “what women want” in sex because all human beings feel sex in a very personal manner and want their own thing (which is fine, and actually makes sex less mechanical).
7. While on the subject, contrary to what people believe, porn stars do not get paid double for anal scenes. There is a surplus charge, yes, but just because anal scenes require preparation, like dieting and enemas and stuff… but it is not because anal is worse than vaginal sex. It is just more complex to film it, so there is a bonus on how much they get paid for it.
8. Porn used to be made by men and for men, but things have changed. There is a long list of female porn directors and producers who are now making excellent porn for both men and women, because some women also like porn. Funnily enough porn is taking a turn and more and more women are producing and directing it each passing day, so the idea it is a man-made product directed at men only is totally last year!
I LOVED the fact your momma included a video from Cindy Gallop in the end of her letter to you, because I have personally met Cindy and she is one of the greatest porn advocates I have ever met. We think a lot alike: porn can be extremely positive if done right, and thank God it has been done really right by some companies. Not all of them are nice, I have to confess. But you just have to know how to look for the right type, just like I am sure you don’t play just any computer game that comes your way.
PS: As I was writing this letter, I wondered: do you have a sister? Because if you do, I’d like you to share this letter with her. She needs to know it is okay for a girl to explore her sexuality, and that nothing that she does is ever, EVER bad – as long as she feels like doing it. I am worried now that she will grow up thinking that some of the things she feels and wants are wrong just because they are portrayed in porn movies. Have her drop me a line: I need to talk to that girl about porn, maybe more than I needed to talk to you.
(a response to this letter)