I overheard someone categorize pornography as a form of adultery. You are forgiven if you are having a Scooby Doo “HUH?” moment right now. I’ll talk you through this. Looking at something is infidelity. It’s not cheating on your other books, magazines, websites or films; no, it’s cheating on your partner. With your eyes. Now I’ve seen some sexy eyes in my time, hell I’ve even heard of eye f*&$ing, but come on! We humans are blessed with limited parts in which we receive sexual activities; eyes ain’t one of them. That I know of. Not that there’d be anything wrong with that.
Why do people get so rankled by pornography? Clearly nobody is a fan of the actual business of pornography. Even if participants are consenting adults who are fulfilling their performance dreams, the work environment is not entirely wholesome. (Please note that the use of “participant” is intentional and meant to reinforce the fact that we can’t all be “stars”.) But for most people it’s the viewing of the pornography, rather than the making that really sticks in their craw. And while access to porn has changed the craw sticking is not new. I’ve no doubt some cavewoman came home from sitting through yet another of her children’s organized rock throwing matches to find her husband staring at those disgusting carvings in the bat infested back corner of the cave, and threw the kids’ practice bag at him.
By giving him a serious head injury, she was in fact simply saying; “what about me?” Had she had words to use she might have expanded the thought a bit to; “Why would you want to look at those carved stick figures instead of me? You don’t think there are woman that actually look like that do you” “How could you spend time doing that when you have an actual life going on without you?” “Pay attention to me!”
Of course pornography is not reserved for men only. Women as a rule prefer stories, or as they are more commonly known; soap operas, romance novels, and chick flicks. The visuals (soaps, films) are steeped in fantasy (mostly of the incredible coincidence kind) and the texts (novels) are filled with throbbing, burning, and pressure (not the “see a doctor” kind.) Traditional women’s porn is about sustained mental escapism more than it is about quick and perfunctory physical escapism. Their porn paints absurdly unrealistic physical portraits of men and characterizations that are simply cartoonish. But reading porn, even S&M porn isn’t considered a threat to a relationship.
The most simple conclusion in this heterosexual tale of suspense is that men are not threatened by what they know is fantasy. Could it be that women’s discomfort with pornography stems from their own combustible body issues? Do women spend all day, everyday comparing themselves to real and/or imagined others and then are sent completely ’round the bed by their husband’s response over augmented physical perfection? Are women simply uncomfortable with sexual feelings being separate from emotional connection?
For a woman troubled by her man’s viewing I offer some tips:
- If it’s repugnant to you, insist the behavior remains private (have him clear his viewing history, or keep magazines in a drawer)
- If you’d prefer he was playing copy-machine repairman and secretary with you; say so
- If your sex life is suffering, say so
- If porn has become a priority (he misses family events, doesn’t come to bed, racks up charges) say something
- If his behavior is not impacting your life, but simply making you feel bad, don’t run from that feeling. Try taking it apart a bit. Try to determine why you’re rankled and then have a (potentially interesting) conversation with him. Not while he’s looking at porn