Here’s a great question from the comments to last Friday’s post, “What Can We Learn from Porn?”
It’s from Rogue Male, and I’ll reprint it for you: “One dimension I'd like to see explored by Dr. Schneiderman is why women perform in porn, and increasingly, amateur porn. My take is that these women are validated by being sex objects. It is a thrill for them, and likely linked in some fashion to the goupie phenomenon. But in my own experience, there are a surprising number of smart, attractive women with validation issues, and sexuality/porn is one outlet (not the only one) whereby they seek a validation that is apparently missing in their lives.”
Of course, there’s a difference between professional and amateur porn. It’s not a great mystery why some women choose to make a living by stripping or hooking or starring in porn.
Rogue Male’s real question concerns other women, the women who line up to star in the next Girls Gone Wild video, the girls who send sexually explicit pictures of themselves to their boyfriends, and the young women who allow themselves to be taped having sex with their boyfriends.
How does it happen that these women accept being photographed nude and seem to ignore the risks of having these photos distributed?
Of course, some teenaged sexters are simply unaware of the risks. I am not going to try to plumb the minds of thirteen year old girls, but they seem to be blissfully ignorant of the possibility that their boyfriends might share these pictures with their friends, and with the rest of the school
Perhaps they have been told that they have nothing to be ashamed of, but, as it happens, their underdeveloped judgment cannot imagine how it feels to be that exposed to that many people.
These girls do not understand how bad it feels to suffer shame and anguish, to sense that everyone can see through your clothes as you walk down the hall, to have girls calling you all manner of derogatory expletives, and to have boys treat you as the school tramp.
I assume that these girls are simply too young to know any better.
Older women, women of college age or beyond, are certainly capable of making a reasoned judgment about the level of risk they are willing to incur, and, I imagine, the level of benefits that they believe will accrue to them.
They know, or they ought to know, that public exposure of explicit images will damage their career prospects, damage their romantic prospects, and lower their reputation among other women.
You do not have to be too old or too wise to know that the vast majority of women strongly dislike porn and feel no respect for the women who work in the business.
Even if a woman limits herself to learning how to make love like a porn star-- a dubious skill if ever there was one-- why would she think that a man will be more likely to be involved in a relationship with her for as much?
Most men do not want to marry porn stars. They will never bring a porn star home to meet their mothers.
It does feel bizarre to suggest, as Rogue Male does, that these young women need validation as sexual beings. Isn’t this the most sexually liberated cohort in human history? Has any other group of human females had more orgasms? Has any other group of women been more sexually adventurous? Why would they need validation?
Nevertheless, I think that Rogue Male is correct.
To see why, let’s look at the context. Not the context of adolescent female behavior, but of adolescent male behavior.
Let’s try to wrap our older, jaded minds around the fact that young men today are very likely to get their sex education from porn. And that they are very likely to overindulge in it. Porn is freely and readily available. While it is acceptable entertainment for men of all ages, teenage boys are more likely to be its greatest consumers.
What are the consequences of this overindulgence? Simply put, once a young man gets accustomed and habituated to porn, it is likely to have an effect on his sexual arousal circuitry. It’s more a substitute than an enhancement.
It’s like having a fetishistic attachment to a specific object or a scene. As one young fetishist once told me, it’s not so easy to feel aroused by a real woman, because the fetish functions as a foolproof aphrodisiac. No woman can really compete with that.
Let’s speculate that a young man who has been fed a steady diet of porn will have more difficulty feeling aroused in the presence of a real woman. A woman’s scent, her look, her conversation, her love… all of these aspects of normal sexual arousal will leave him somewhat cold.
He will have learned sexual arousal at his computer, but after a while, he will probably have become desensitized to ordinary sexual images, and will graduate to stranger and more violent images.
Under the circumstances, what’s a girl to do? How is she going to compete for his attention? What can she do to make this boy feel toward her the same way he feels toward Tera Patrick? How can she feel validated as a woman who is attractive to a man she desires?
Once we ask the question this way, we can understand that no small number of women, faced with men whose sexual arousal mechanism has been distorted by overexposure to porn, will try to compete with the porn stars who have enthralled their men.
If they allow their boyfriends to carry their pictures around on their iPhones, they will be offering something that will presumably lead these boys to them. If they allow their boyfriends to film them, they will be able to offer themselves as substitutes for porn stars and share the experience with their boyfriends.
I hope I am not the only one to think it bizarre that a woman would accept that her man would need to watch her acting in a porn video to feel aroused when she is lying there in the flesh, willing and able.