Recently, I’ve been decompressing after the art show and taking stock of my situation in life. What the hell I’ve been doing with myself for the past few years, running around writing porn reviews and set copy and columns and interviewing people about porn… And… you know… all this porn! Is it the right thing? Am I digging myself into a hole? A sticky sexy porn hole?
I do have other interests, you know. I love Muppets, for instance, and whiskey. And nature documentaries and literature and… sex. Well. Yeah. Ok, so there’s the I’m-constantly-thinking-about-sex thing. That’s helped me get by in this line of work. And also a staunch and unwavering belief in the importance of defeating all the massive, bloated fucked-upedness of the way our culture views sex, gender, and pornography. I do believe in these things.
But at junctures in life the one I’ve been navigating recently, one tends to take a step back and really wonder why. Why have I spent four years battling family disapproval, raised eyebrows, and constant inner turmoil over what I’m doing? What did I get out of it? What am I getting out of it?
Lots, actually. I realized a few days ago that, without my constantly scratching at this persistent itch, without digging and interviewing and reading and writing, writing, writing, I don’t think I’d have ever gotten to where I am, not only as a writer or a thinker, but as a woman. To whit: I can talk about my desires. I can be honest about my sex drive. I can catalog my orgasms. I am not afraid to say these things out loud. I sometimes say too much and creep out my coworkers and friends, perhaps, but in the end I realize that, without my research and constant exposure to sexual language and concepts, and without getting to know sex-positive people, I’d be just as fucked up as I was… well… before I started all this. I’d have an overactive libido and a huge shame complex about it, or at least a huge shame complex and not much of an idea about how to deal with it. I’ve still got one, you see. I just feel like I can actually deal with it because I’ve got MORE than the language of shame now. I’ve got a vocabulary, a glossary, of language to express the reasons why this shame, though extant, is not that important. Why I act against it. Why I do the things I do and think the things I think, and feel the things I feel.
If I hadn’t spent years going to adult industry conventions and parties, logged hundreds if not thousands of hours of watching pornography for review, thinking and writing and talking about all of these experiences in both critical and casual contexts… Would I know how I feel about the way oral sex is depicted in pornography and how it may or may not differ with how I like it performed in my private life? Would I be informed enough to make conscious and wise decisions about my health and safety in the context of BDSM play? Would I understand that the sex workers in our midst are fully fledged members of society with every right to the same protections as conservative housewives? Would I know the pleasures and also the dangers of different types of intercourse? Would I be able to discuss preferences and needs and activities with new partners honestly? Would I understand my own body and have the language to talk about it in an appreciative and open way?
The answer to all these questions, of course, is that I can’t possibly know the answer. But I think that on the spectrum between yes and no, I’d be leaning more toward the “no” side. I was raised very conservatively when it came to sex; I was raised to fear it. And it’s only because I started heedlessly down a path I didn’t see clearly, then consciously decided to watch way more hours of porn than I ever wanted to, and to go to more conventions and talk to more people than I ever imagined I would, that I’ve gotten to where I am. So, in answer to my question of a few days ago: “is porn good for me?”… I have to answer: Well… Yeah. Fuck yeah.