Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why Do Women Strip?

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.


Rogue Male said...

Thank you for taking my question seriously, and for addressing it so thoroughly.

I agree that the "must please my man by performing" is a key element of the behavior. I think it may also dovetail with submissiveness in some women, and thus into the whole dimension of involving the exercise of power by one partner over another in sex, and even farther, with the male implying or saying outright that he needs his wife/lover to perform for him in this fashion.

Obsidian said...

Hi Doc, and Happy New Year to you and yours! Just wanted it to be known that you can't keep a Good Man down:

The Obsidian Files is back!

We're really gonna have some fun now...


Anonymous said...

TO: Dr. Schneiderman, et al.
RE: Girls Gone Wild & Other Women

Is it possible that they are—aware or not—engaging in eliciting competition among men for their 'favor'?

In these acts, which are probably much more complex than we might think, they are advertising their (1) availability, (2) charms, (3) enthusiasm and (4) skills. All of which are attractants to young men. This would likely drive more aggressive men to seek her out and 'woo' her. The wooing would likely involve favors being offered, e.g., dinners, gifts, etc.

Over on Susan Walsh's blog I noticed a column asking why some [supposedly undeservering] girls NEVER seem to without a 'boyfriend'. I wonder if there is a correlation between the sort of behavior discussed here and that thread at SW's.


[A coquette is a young lady of more beauty than sense, more accomplishments than learning, more charms than personality and graces of mind, more admirers than friends, more fools than wise men for attendants. -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow]

P.S. I think you were addressing the matter of 'sluts' some doors down the hall from here?

David Foster said...

I think there are probably a lot of people to whom something is more *real* if it happens on a screen than if it happens in non-videoed reality.

Apparently quite a few people have made all kinds of desperate promises to get on various reality-tv shows.

Anonymous said...

TO: All
RE: What Was I Saying....

A cocktail of fillers, Botox and chemical peels can freeze your features at 30-something. For a woman like Demi Moore, approaching 50, this is understandable. But why would a girl barely out of her teens deliberately want to look "done"?

....about theCOMPETITIVE 'spirit' of women?


[It's hard for me to get used to these changing times. I can remember when the air was clean and sex was dirty. -- George Burns]

P.S. I think this—after a fashion—ties in with another article up the hall from here.

In a word....'no'....but we CAN 'discipline' it.

Anonymous said...

Decades before the Internet era and today's ubiquity of porn, several women in my life gave me beautiful explicit nude photos they either took themselves, or invited me to take. All were nice, normal educated women between 22 and 45.

I treasured these and kept them with me while apart from my loves due to college, military service or business travel. No other persons ever saw or knew of those pictures.

Why did they do it? They told me:

--They knew the photos would make me happy.

--They derived sexual pleasure from posing nude for me, knowing I was aroused by the pictures.

--The risk of giving me those photos added to the excitement.

--My responsible handling of those potentially damaging photos added to trust and love in our relationships.

FWIW, observations from an old husband with no professional qualifications in the human behavior field.

Bernd said...

Your write "...bizarre that a woman would accept that her man would need to watch her acting in a porn video to feel aroused"

Well then many holiday pictures would be bizarre, too. People just like to remember good times in their lives and some like to act in a different role than usual. Sexual arousal is not the major reason to make porn videos of one another, I would think.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

But most people do not use holiday pictures to get aroused.

I question whether most women really want there to be pictures of their more intimate moments in existence.

More than a few women have run into some very serious problems because of the existence of porn shots of themselves.

Of course, as anonymous says, some women find the element of risk to be exciting.

Who am I to dispute their judgment?

Most of the times that I have ever heard about such pictures have been when they were being put to a use they were not supposed to be put to.

I also wonder whether, after a time, women become less thrilled by the prospect of these pictures existing.

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Blynkers said...

I appreciated what Anonymous said (19 Jan 2011). Men and women do not process these kinds of things in the same ways. I believe while men are part of the picture in this issue, it is unjust to blame them in a general sense for the choices these women make.

I believe while men are more Purpose or Role motivated (sweeping generalities here), women tend to be more Relationally motivated. Depending on the training they've had, if they want a relationship (or a certain depth in a relationship) they may be willing to offer something of themselves to keep it or deepen it. Some are obviously more willing to offer a LOT more than some others to keep it or deepen it.

Also, as much as we are told that men don't understand women, they also are blissfully ignorant often of the affect their bodies, their dress, and their behavior can have on the men around them. I'm sure I'm not the only one to have known many women who have no problem going around skimpily dressed, oblivious or uncaring as to the affect they have.

I am not commenting here on the abuses males have inflicted on women (or for that matter, the often undocumented, undiscussed abuses females have inflicted on males). I am also not saying that women are to blame for what the males DO with their eyes or their drives if these women choose to expose themselves. But I am most certainly saying that we must be careful where we put the blame for the dress or undress that women choose to exercise.

Appreciate the blog.

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