Justin Li


Porn and Intimacy

2009-07-06

It is rare that I talk about something so personal on my blog. My life is at a changing point, very saliently a point where the future is wide open and I get to decide where it should go. There are some other circumstances which I don't feel like elaborating on, but let it be suffice to say that this has been on my mind somewhat recently.

I think it would surprising some people for them to know I consume a lot of porn. I actually remember the first time I saw anything indecent on the internet. I was probably only 10 at the time, and was trying to get on the search engine Infoseek. I had mistyped the URL, however, and typed in "ifoseek" instead, which turned out to be some porn site. Much later I would classify this as an instance of cybersquatting, but I didn't know any of that at the time. I remember fighting the urge to go back, but eventually I succumbed, and the whole world of online pornography opened up for me. For a long time I was ashamed of it, but in the last few years that changed. It might partially be due to the fact that the Internet being filled with porn is just widely accepted, and as well as the fact that a lot of people watch porn. I think part of it also has to do with me taking a more rational trend in life, and I critically pondered the question of whether porn ever actually does anyone harm. I concluded that, aside from cases where the actors are forced to do it (most prominently, child pornography), there is no physical reason pornography is damaging. As for the whole moral degradation argument, if you were one of those people who were surprised that I watch porn, maybe you should rethink the argument that porn makes men objectify women.

But I don't want to spend this post rebutting the negative affects of pornography. Instead, I want to give a more personal account of pornography, and what I have learned about myself from it. Regardless of it's influence on morals, I do think pornography often depicts humans as (shall we say) animals. That is, the plot of a pornographic movie, if there is one at all, tends to portray people as thinking of nothing but sex. There is no consideration of time, money, possibility of getting caught (unless that's what the director wanted). This past statement, of course, is something I couldn't have said even 3 years ago. In the early days I didn't really discriminate, and everything explicit on the web looked the same to me. As I grew up and learned and thought more, however, this trait of porn became clear to me. I must say that there are times when mindless sex is exactly what you're looking for, but most of the time nowadays I'm looking for something else: a connection.

My real problem with porn is that the actors rarely show concern for each other. Although the act of sexual intercourse requires another person, it is safe to say that both characters are more often than not only concerned with their own desires. If the actress gave a blowjob, it's not to please the buy, but because she "likes it". If I may, it's the difference between being a friend because it keeps you from feeling guilty, and being a friend because you truly care for their feelings. Sex in the real world, I would think, is more about the other person's desire. Both people may be horny, but there is the desire to make the other person happy first. In porn, these acts of "giving" seem forced, and are there more to satisfy the /audience/ than the /partner/.

Instead, lately I've been more attracted to amateur pornography. I don't mean what professional studios label as "amateurs, but actual home made videos. Often these are videos that couples have filmed of themselves, probably for their own entertainment later. Because the actors are real people (not fake characters) with feelings for each other, however, these videos depict much more intimate acts of love making. And that's what I'm looking for: the sense that what is shown is not simply two animals copulating, but two humans with emotions and an intellect. What they are doing is an extension of their love, because even a piece of cloth between their bodies is too much to bare. It is, almost by definition, a private moment, and therefore I also feel somewhat guilty about it's distribution and consumption. But again, it's (mostly) a victimless thing.

Given that it's rather easy to spot whether two people like each other, I'm surprised that not more professional porn is done depicting this connection. The most obvious clue, I think, are the actors hands. Are they clasped and fondling (gently), or are they there just to hold the other person in place? Is the brushing of the hair to see their face better, or to give the camera a better angle? The face, too, is a big area, just because we are so good at reading emotions. And then, of course, the big orgasm thing - is there any involuntary movement?

I think the fact that I think in this way says a lot more about me than the fact that I watch porn. One last thing... you may comment that I'm looking for intimacy in the wrong place. I know.

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