Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sex Wars :: Is Porn All Bad?



Recently, a letter was sent to the editor at Curve complaining about some advice we gave Miserable in Maple Grove [Vol. 19 #4]. It set off a small debate Curvites are now calling "Sex Wars Circa 2009." While only the letter of complaint and our retorts (we've never done this in column form before) can be found in the current issue of Curve, you get the whole enchilada here.

ORIGINAL COLUMN

Dear Lipstick and Dipstick: I feel lonely in my relationship. I’m 22-year-old femme with a 26-year-old butch partner. We got married in California in July. We’re fighting a lot lately and not having sex. She’s says she’s just not up for it. I don't know if we aren't having sex because we’re fighting or if we’re fighting because we aren't having sex. In the beginning, we had sex and it was Earth shattering. Recently, I’ve started looking at lesbian porn. I usually hate porn. My ex used to look at it and it hurt me deeply. I’d be really upset if I found out my current girlfriend was looking at porn, too. After viewing this I feel guilty and more lonely and depressed than before. Please help!—Miserable in Maple Grove


Lipstick: I wonder if this is No Muffs girlfriend?


Dipstick: Maybe so, but what I want to know is what gives with the guilt about looking at naked women? There’s nothing wrong with porn, for you, for your lover, for your mother or anyone else. As long as it doesn’t become addictive, watching porn, reading erotica, viewing x-rated movies is all good and can be part of a healthy sex life. Too often we depend on our partners to be our best friend, our confidant, a sexy lover, personal chef and co-parent to our children. No one person can meet all your needs all the time. When your lover isn’t up for cooking, you order out. When she’s not up for sex, watch porn and masturbate. Hell, watch with your partner too! And when you’re through, tie her hands with a silk scarf to the bedpost, sit on her knees and talk until she hears your concerns.


Lipstick: Did you ever see that fight scene in Mr. and Mrs. Smith when Brangalina are trying to kill each other and suddenly sex breaks out? Sounds like you guys need to trash the house just like they did. One question: Why won’t she have sex with you? You didn’t say. Maybe she’s being lazy or letting work get in the way? Or perhaps it’s something more serious like dealing with a broken-down vagina or sexual abuse issues. Find yourself a good therapist and dig into what’s keeping you at each other’s necks (you should be there with your tongue, not a razor blade). While you’re at it, see the counselor on your own to get over your issues around porn, as they’re playing into your sexual prowess, too. Shame is an awful aphrodisiac.



LETTER TO THE EDITOR


Shocked Over Porn Approval

“Miserable in Maple Grove” [Lipstick and Dipstick, Vol. 19 #5] began by saying she and her partner were not having sex and were fighting a lot, and that when she, Maple, had started looking at porn it made her feel “guilty and more lonely and depressed than ever.” Dipstick told her that if her partner didn’t feel like having sex, she should look at porn and masturbate and that “there is nothing wrong with porn.” Lipstick told her to get over her “issues” around porn in counseling because of her “shame.” I am astonished that L and D could turn relationship trouble into an advertisement for porn and practically say that lesbians should like porn and if they don’t they are crazy!


I have had the great good fortune to never be in a relationship where my partner has said, “Oh honey, you have the flu and don’t feel like having sex? No problem, I’ll just look at some pictures of girls who are way hotter than you and jack off. Aren’t you glad we are so sexually healthy?” Geez, even my ex-husband was sensitive enough to understand that many women are a tad threatened by pornography. Maybe it is a femme thing, but I have to walk this earth everyday being compared to an idealized and impossible to attain version of feminine beauty, a version that is often portrayed in porn. And porn doesn’t turn me on, it usually makes me feel bad. Even though L and D would disagree, I don’t think I’m crazy, I think a lot of women are glad their partners don’t flaunt pornography in their faces and tell them they need counseling if they don’t like it.


Miserable didn’t say she felt shame, she said she felt worse than ever after looking at porn in the absence of sex with her partner. This is not unlike when a person feels worse after they do something that they think might make them feel better, like having a fling or drinking to excess or buying things they don’t need, and then afterward they feel worse than ever because their actions were so far afield of addressing the real relationship problem at hand. The poor woman feels bad enough, and now according to Land D, she is supposed to feel guilty that she feels guilty. Not helpful advice.


When men pressure women to watch porn with them, and then call the woman a prude for not wanting to, everyone gets up in arms. What’s up with women telling other women the same thing?

And Dipstick, is there really nothing wrong with porn? Nothing at all? Even the fact that most women who are posing for your pleasure were sexually abused as children? That right there is a big turn-off for many women. As a social worker, I work with teen girls who were abused as youngsters who become society’s prostitutes and strippers and porn “stars.” It’s not pretty what it takes to get them into those jobs, believe me. And sometimes this causes conflict for women who may be aroused by but also uneasy about porn. Let’s take care of one another, not impose our sexual likes on others as the only game in town. And when people write in about being “lonely in their relationship” I hope that L and D will focus on how that could be made better. It’s unlikely pornography will do much to enrich their relationship.—Sunshine in California

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


LIPSTICK & DIPSTICK RESPONSE


Lipstick: Sunshine in California, thank you for writing in. You made some really good points. Beyond touching on porn, I did address her relationship problems. I told Miserable to get her butt into therapy because there is a reason they’ve stopped having sex, a reason her partner’s shut down. Encouraging her to also discuss her guilt around looking at pornography (at her own volition, I might add, not because some guy shoved it down her throat or Lipstick & Dipstick told her to do so) is also a real issue here. She went to those sites and then felt shame around it. That shame, and wherever it stems from, is also playing into her relationship. As advice columnists, we hear from A LOT of women and so many of them feel way too much guilt around sexuality—in the world, the bedroom and in their minds. I believe women, unless they’re doing/supporting something illegal or that will hurt someone, need to lighten up about sex and all the colorful flags that hang from it. Finally, it was Lipstick & Dipstick Miserable wrote into, not Dr. Laura. And it is Lipstick & Dipstick readers are reading, not a column by Dr. Phil. They walk into the L & D fire knowing we have strong opinions, we often make light of things, dig our teeth into specific issues and spank bottoms. (Just to clarify that last statement, Sunny, I wasn’t encouraging women to practice S & M. Or wait, maybe I was.)


Dipstick: Sunshine touched on this age-old debate, didn’t she? Is pornography just another way to oppress women or is it freeing, sexually liberating? Will lesbians and feminists ever agree on this? Probably not, because like most things, it’s not black and white, good or evil, right or wrong. Just because some rock songs are misogynist and homophobic, doesn’t mean that all music is.

As for the sexual abuse issue, I won’t argue that most women involved in the sex industry were abused as children, that’s because so many women were sexually abused—

period. In fact the CDC, in a conservative estimate, no doubt, says that 1 in 4 women are sexually abused before they turn 18. We all have reasons to feel bad about our sexuality, whether it be homophobia, poor body image or religious indoctrination. Lipstick & Dipstick are advocating women take control of their sexuality and feel good about it. There’s no need to feel guilt or shame about masturbation when your partner is not available. If porn turns you on, go for it. If it doesn’t that’s okay, too. What we want is for every woman to be empowered about her satisfaction. Maybe one day we’ll get there and we’ll all walk naked in the sunshine with you California.

11 comments:

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