Archive for February 8th, 2011

Guest post: Punishment Porn

The first time I saw pornography, I was 14 years old. I was babysitting for a neighbor down the street and was looking for children’s videos for the kids when I came across a few unmarked tapes. I put one in and to my surprise, it was porn. Though I turned it off straight away (the kids were around but didn’t see it, thankfully), I went back to the videos after I’d put the children down for their naps. I was a teenager and I was curious.

In retrospect, the movies on the tapes were regular, “straight sex” porn. This was the 1980s and the women in the movies didn’t have fake breasts and were not shaved to an inch of their nether regions. The men were pretty hairy and lots of them had mustaches, a la Magnum P.I.’s Tom Selleck. The routines were fairly standard: Guy meets girl, have a bit of conversation, clothes come off and sex ensues (heavy petting, mutual oral sex, sex in various positions, The End). Nothing about it felt weird or unsavory and in fact, I revisited those tapes several times over the next few months as the babysitting jobs continued. Of course I was always careful to rewind the tape back to the exact spot and put the tape back on the exact shelf in the television console where I had found it.

I’ve watched porn here and there over the years and what I’ve noticed in recent years is how much fetish-oriented porn, specifically “punishment porn,” is starting to become mainstream. One quick browse at a handful of online porn sites reveals an overabundance of disturbing, graphic key words such as “GAGGING” and “ROUGH” and “PUNISHMENT” and “DRILLING” and “FORCED,” among other gems. Photos of women being dragged by the hair and seemingly forced to give oral sex to her “boss” or “landlord” or other “authority” figures abound. Storylines are focused on revenge and retribution; men are getting back at women for ignoring them or cheating on them or for screwing up a proposal at work. Finding a video showing a woman literally being slapped around while engaging in sex acts is easy to find; instead of being concealed within fetish-oriented porn sites they’re readily available on many mainsteam, free porn websites. It’s an unsettling trend.

Los Angeles-based sex educator, author and lecturer Jamye Waxman agrees that these types of porn films are on the rise. “I see an increase in finding the craziest things one can do in porn. That’s because the Internet has upped the ante, so to speak, regarding what it takes to get noticed. I find this type of porn a cry for attention and not necessarily a healthy outlet for sexual exploration. Of course if two people generally love being punished, beaten, whatever, who am I to stop it? But I ask this: If you love it, why? That’s what I want to know,” she says.

Physically, the actors in these videos and photos are getting more and more extreme as well. The women have bowling ball-sized breasts that leave the skin on their chests looking like it’s pulling at the seams OR they’re flat-chested and petite and “barely legal.” They are shaved completely bare and the skin down there is bleached (ouch!). The men, with their thick necks and bulging veins, look like they’re bursting with ‘roid rage, which I suppose suits since they’re always pissed off and looking for revenge! The thing is I do not know a single woman who finds this type of fury or crazed sex wrath appealing. Sure, some of us like a little smack on the bum sometimes. But find me a woman who enjoys having a man’s *meat* forcibly shoved into her mouth to the point of gagging and I’ll show you one who is nothing but a figment of a disturbed man’s twisted imagination.

Waxman, who has written and produced four erotic films for an adult entertainment company, believes that every individual has his/her own sexual fetishes and desires but that this type of physically-abusive porn is troubling.

“I can’t say what is sexy and arousing for every individual, but I do see sex as something pleasure based with a limited infusion of pain, and even that pain should be pleasurable,” says Waxman. “As someone who was spanked loads as a child, I don’t get off on being smacked around and honestly find it degrading. I’m curious if there’s a lot of this porn where she’s doing the slapping, but even when I have seen women emasculating men, it doesn’t work for me. Sex is a balance, and there’s no balance when someone takes away your power by such a jarring jolt of force. I prefer loving and sensual to this type of brute force. I got into the industry to make more of the types of erotica that I’d watch and learn from.”

I don’t want to speak for all women but most I know would agree with Waxman’s sentiments. Pornography is something I enjoy on occasion and I’m sure this is true for many women. But this popularization of “punishment porn” is something that I find alarming and, quite frankly, sickening. And because it seems so prevalent on mainstream porn sites, if I want to watch porn I’ll opt for websites that advertise “Classic Porn” — as it is so amusingly called. That would be porn from the ‘70s and ‘80s, the stuff from my babysitting days, where men and women could have sex without anyone being slapped. Call me a prude but that’s just how I like it.

Clare Kleinedler is an American freelance journalist whose work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, the Irish Times, People and WIRED. She currently resides in Ireland and chronicles living abroad on her blog, An American in Ireland. @clarekleinedler

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