What Is Wrong With Porn?

I wish I liked porn. There is just so much of it, and pretty much all of it’s free if you really look, so I imagine that life is so much easier for people who can sit down with a mug of tea and a nice, long porn marathon (as I imagine they do). And don’t get me wrong, I have no moral qualms about it. I think, if you enjoy having sex on camera and make a good living doing that, more power to you! You’re doing something fun and active, and likely keeping untold hordes of potential creepers off the street. When I see porn, I don’t recoil with a Victorian gasp and fall onto my fainting couch. I just… laugh, usually. I laugh because I find it so utterly ridiculous and unappealing, and I think my body becomes extremely uncomfortable and I don’t know how to handle the situation. And this isn’t just for novelty porn like “cake farts” (a GEM if you haven’t yet treated yourself), or “pterodactyl porn” — I hope to one day do my thesis in its majesty — this is just for run-of-the-mill people doing it on camera.

For so long, I’ve been told that I am “pretending” when I say I don’t like porn in an effort to be “girly,” or appear “demure,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I — and people like me — have been accused time and time again of being “afraid” of it because I don’t enjoy it — but people will think what they will, I suppose. So make whatever assumptions you will about a girl who can’t enjoy pornography, but know that it’s certainly no act. It’s just that, well… look at it! You just watch a clip of a sex act (and clip should be emphasized because 99 percent of the time, there is not even the most fleeting attempt made at a story, it’s simply two people who meet in a nondescript room and essentially fall into each other’s genitals). There is no plot, no development, no attempt at making the watcher feel like there’s something real going on that they should be emotionally or intellectually invested in.

Even if the porn isn’t that special variety that seems to just see how rapid-fire and cocaine-fueled they can make a five-minute video of people engaging in intercourse, the actors in the films rarely seem to be invested in what they’re doing. Often –especially the women — they seem to have all of the enthusiasm, investment, and enjoyment of a Wal Mart cashier on hour 7 of her 8-hour shift, running things across the scanner with the defeated eyes that say “this job is only slightly better than living under a bridge.” There is no joy. And especially when you can tell that an actor is going against his or her sexuality, doing something because the money is there, there’s something almost morbid about it. If I wanted to watch two straight women lifelessly fondle each other as men looked on with vague arousal and disdain, I’d go to a frat party.

And aside from the overall melancholy that so many of the films seem to convey, there is also a sense that all of the mystery and curiosity that naturally surrounds such a powerful act has been stripped away and replaced with a mechanical “let’s get this over with” ambiance. They know what the people want — and whatever it is usually lasts around five seconds, so pretty much everything else is just filler. Honestly, though, who goes from 0 to INCREDIBLY AROUSED in five seconds? And I’m not even referring to the actors here, as they are paid professionals and I’m sure can produce many bodily functions on cue, but the viewer! How does a viewer go from, I don’t know, checking their online bank statement and reading about last night’s game to just — whoops — orgasm! I have never understood this, and hope I’m not the only one. Maybe I’m crazy, and everyone else could just get turned on watching a particularly buxom meter maid give a Prius a ticket on a warm day.

Don’t get me wrong, though, I know that not all porn is just a jauntily-shot excerpt of people who were clearly… in the middle of doing something. I know that there are some that at least attempt a story, an atmosphere, some character development. But come on, the acting is so bad. The sets are ridiculous. The costumes look like something you found in the dumpster after a middle-school variety show. It’s not exactly like you’re watching Cast Away and for two hours forget that, oh my God, that guy was actually Tom Hanks! You know exactly what you’re looking at, and you know exactly where it’s going. And even during the extended scenes, women are just screaming at the top of their lungs with absolutely no relation to what’s going on — regardless of what happens, there is going to be operatic yelling and moaning. I just watch this and cannot process. How is… who is… why does…? Just, no. This is not engaging, it’s not a turn-on, and it’s certainly nothing I am aspiring to.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I just haven’t come across the right stuff. Maybe there is porn out there that doesn’t leave you with a vague, empty feeling and make you either laugh or want to hug a loved one to remind you that some things in this world are still real. If such a thing exists, I’d love to be proven wrong and hear about it! So leave a comment if you know of something that all of us can appreciate, enjoy, and still feel fully human after watching. I think society needs it. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Chelsea Fagan

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.

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