Making the best of Pornography

Posted by Kiran in , ,

Can pornography be the best sexual education tool?

 

There’s a recent article in the New York Times titled Let’s Ban Porn, which reminds me of the Oscar Wilde quote:

There is no such thing as moral or immoral books. There are well written or badly written, that is all.”
—Oscar Wilde

The kids are watching loads of porn, it is their tool for sexual education. Is censorship the best reaction or could it be harnessed in more skillful ways?

I came of age in a feminist community in the far northern regions of Canada. We rejoiced in sexual freedoms, and I learned that it was important to take politics out of the bedroom to be truly free. I learned that I needed to own my sexual desires and that I was responsible for knowing what turned me on and what turned me off. I was handed a copy of Betty Dobson’s Sex for One at 21 years old, which ushered in a deep inhabiting of my sexuality, as it has done for countless women since it was first published. I read books like Cunt, and The Vagina Coloring Book. And I was, and still am, a disciple of Annie Sprinkle—the prostitute turned porn star turned performance artist—who is a queen of sexual consent and liberation. These influences taught me that pleasure was my responsibility.

And porn has played a part in that. But it was well-crafted porn, like really good erotic fiction, poetry, and film making. These were educational tools, places to be exposed to human bodies and various desires and tastes, and to discover what a turn-on was. But I have since realized mine was a rarefied education.

Sexual education in the modern world

I wholly agree that we live in a world where boys and girls get next to no effective sexual education. We have a global cultural belief that assumes we innately know how to have sex, even though this could not be further from the truth, and we avoid the conversation for the most part.

The average boy gets a very awkward talk from a parent or school teacher, exposure to badly-crafted porn, and locker-room conversations that in their entirety sound like, “I went to Becky’s house last night. I totally gave it to her. She loved it.” And within all that, a huge belief system gets transmitted: if you don’t know how to have great sex from day one, there must be something terribly wrong with you.

Later on, boys will also receive feedback from their partners, but if that partner is a girl there is a problem. That average girl is so profoundly wired to please others that her voice and agency are deeply repressed. She has no idea how to say that it’s not good and she doesn’t like it. A girl might hear that same locker room comment and secretly know that Becky did not love it, that Becky was just so happy a boy gave her some attention that she allowed him to do anything to her.
And that is how many girls learn, from awkward conversations, exposure to bad porn, and from partners with whom, if they are males, is largely experienced as ‘ letting boys do things to them, in order to get love and attention’.

I’m not sure if the LBGT community has a different education, I suspect not. Because our current education, straight, gay, bi, trans, all of it is profoundly unskillful and unconscious.

So, is censorship the answer?

Should we ban porn?

I would like to point out that I do appreciate the sentiment behind this. I’m also glad that it is a man who is making this suggestion, because it’s men who need to teach other men, not mothers.

‘Badly written’ porn really is terrible. It’s often traumatic, abusive, violent, formulaic, and seethes with non-consentual acts, making a dangerous psychological connection between violence and sexual pleasure. This porn is deeply separatist in its falsity, and most of it is criminal in that it contributes to human trafficking and the degradation and enslavement of addicts.

But there is also well-written pornography. It is ethical, consensual, and involves well-paid jobs and unions. It is high quality and artistically filmed with beautiful, natural bodies. It includes people with real chemistry, people who are clearly and visibly enjoying each other. It includes attention to the woman’s experience, a good build-up of excitement with foreplay, people arousing each other for extended periods, and woman being pleasured to real climax. It is often created by woman filmmakers and leaves the viewer with an integrated experience.

Censorship has never been a solution to anything; information and education are the real solutions. So if porn is where they are going, perhaps well written porn is where they could get the education. Perhaps we could shame and fear the industry less, and be aware that there is some really useful aspects? Perhaps we need to support the well-written erotic materials allowing it to flourish and usurps the crap?

I’m not suggesting porn should be re-framed as a virtue instead of a vice. But I am a non-dual spiritual teacher; I don’t tend to polarize experience as good or bad. I look for the depth, truth and intelligence of what is.

Learning to have sex:

We must learn how to have to sex, and make this truth widely accepted. We must understand that in order to have very alive, deep, good, fulfilling sex, we must log numerous hours of training… but it is in our capacity to master the joy of it.

We must recognize that good sex can be naughty, and desirous, and tantra connects us to our bodies, lusts and primitive states, and that is a necessary step to knowing the perfection of reality and of God.

We need to point out that more than 50% of all marriages have no sex, because when sex is less than awesome, we stop having it.

We must understand that men and women have very different bodies and desires; what innately feels good to males often feels terrible to females. And both sexes would be shocked and surprised at the differences.

And usually men have no idea how to have good sex with women because women’s bodies are profoundly sensitive, and most are dying of a thousand pokes and scratches, without knowing how to initiate what touch they do want.

And woman have no idea what turns them on, or how to ask for that.

We need to understand that in order to have a sex life, we must constantly learn and discover. We know this about our professional life and our spiritual lives, but it’s also true about our sex life.

It can be very fun to learn, and there are master teachers we can learn from. And we must be open to learning from them.

We must be open to the conversation and not shut down and blame, shame, and accuse.

We must inform our community that our sex is not a separate room in our body that is free from the core wounding that resides in our hearts. Feelings of “not good enough” or unworthiness will find their way into the bedroom. And so we need a healing space to work out our painbodies that will liberate them from the bedroom.

We need to learn that men often use sex as a way to connect, but women can only have good sex when it initiates from a deeply connected place. So men can practice sexual intimacy without touching any organ below the neck and get fully and deeply connected first.

And women don’t come with instructions…a bunch of hot images of naked bodies and a blow job will not engorge a woman. And a woman must be fully engorged before penetration.

And yes, it’s really possible to read the signs from a woman’s body, beyond her fake pleasing sounds, that her body is ready and asking to be touched and caressed and fucked.

And it’s going to be really, really fun to learn how to read these signs and learn how how to touch her in a way that truly turns her on.
But you have to be “game and willing” as the saying goes.

Where porn comes in

Getting super turned-on by well-crafted porn can really help you to become game and willing. Since they want porn, ethical porn, or “well-written” erotica, can be a portal into learning these things. It can expose us to seeing other bodies, and specifically a vast array of genitals, offering us access to see our own bodies as hot and capable of immense pleasure and worthy of love. It can help us to inhabit our sexuality, and only by inhabiting it can we begin to clear out the pain that resides there—avoidance and fear will not do this. There is a pathway here through ethical erotica,  a route to feel an integration between our need and sexual expression that is empowering. It can connect us to delicious sensations, and help us to expand our own definitions of what turns us on and what turns us off. Ironically the very vice that is so disruptive in its badly written form can be turned around in its ethical expression and be a powerful tool in discovering a depth to our sexuality that is equal to the depth of our hearts.

Of course, porn is not without its pitfalls. Like anything involving intense stimulation, ethical or not, it can support our disconnection, fear, and avoidance. It can trigger and cause us to indulge our pain and feed our compulsive or addictive behavior.

Nevertheless, most youth are going to porn, so are many of the grown ups, it is a primary source of sexual expression. And not everyone is drawn towards it, so it’s up to you to decide if ethical porn has a part in your choices.

“I have no wish to defend my “vices” with propaganda, making out that they are in fact virtues which others should follow. I am only saying I distrust people who show no sign of “naughtiness” or “self indulgence.”
—Alan Watts

These two sites are real pioneers of the craft of “porna” (porn focused on woman’s pleasure) and include many “how to” videos and articles. They serve to be profoundly educational and stimulating:

  • Lust Cinema by Award Winning Filmaker Erika Lust
  • Dusk TV, which was founded in 2008 to research female sexuality, and relies on ongoing research into what woman find arousing

And here are some other places to explore if you wish…

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