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Super Virginity
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Written by Paul   
Thursday, 13 October 2011 02:14

Sign on fence saying

image from Elliott Brown on Flickr

Nowadays it is not uncommon to have active, aggressive female characters in a book, movie, or TV series.  We have a gradual reduction in the tropes of female characters being only wives and mothers, sex objects, or nuns.  Increasingly they get to kick ass, take names, chew bubblegum, and sometimes even rescue themselves or other people.

I find all this wonderful, as there is nothing more obnoxious than a narrative with a clear gender bias.  Nothing will make me drop a show or a book faster than a woman suddenly being handed the Idiot Ball so she needs to be rescued, or sitting down with another woman to earnestly discuss boys and babies.  I remember feeling quite proud of myself when I wrote a scene where two women sat down to discuss how it felt to kill someone - take that you sexist fuckers.

But one thing female characters are still not allowed to do with abandon is have sex.  There are of course tropes in fiction about superpowers that only work if you stay a virgin expressly - like the half-baked comic-book version of Red Sonja where she can only fight well if she refrains from fucking.  Does anyone else find that as insulting as I do?  No male character, ever, anywhere, has been saddled with that kind of horseshit.  Can you imagine if James Bond only kept his superspy skills if he remained chaste?  Or Zorro?  Ridiculous.

But I'm not just talking about the explicit "virginity clause" as it were, but the implicit one that never allows female characters to get onscreen laid.  This happens a lot, and it is a clear double-standard situation that amounts to technical virginity as the source of all power.

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Not my thing.
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Written by Amanda Gannon   
Tuesday, 11 October 2011 03:38
Rainbow Party Balloons Bouquet
image from PinkStock Photos on Flickr

I think I simultaneously sold my soul and achieved enlightenment the day I wrote balloon porn.

On paper, "pornographer" sounds pretty wild.  It's one of those "You get paid to do that?!" jobs that people reflexively envy (the way they seem to envy any job that involves talking about sex or doing sexy things, even when that's explaining gonorrhea to bored teenagers).  Like any other field, though, there's the low rung on the ladder, the jobs that must be done and nobody else wants to do, the porn equivalent of a fry cook at McDonald's.  Those positions are not really enviable.

For over three years I was a porn fry cook.  The volume required was very high, but at an hourly rate it paid quite well.  At first, most of it was unremarkable.  Spankings, horny housewives, high heels, pantyhose, schoolgirls.  I reviewed a lot of horrible, horrible porn sites.  Over time, however, a lot of weird crap got funneled my way because I was good, I was fast, and I was willing to try just about anything that wasn't barf, poop, corpses, kids, or clowns.  "It's only pixels!" was my battle cry.  "Bring on your shoe-fucking hairy fratboy fantasies.  Locker room sock bondage fisting porn?  Throw down the gauntlet, knave!  I fear not the cake-sitting splosh porn with a side of BBW creampie and breast-smothering!"

Which is how I fell down the rabbit hole and wound up writing two dozen flash-fiction length pieces about fetishes that I not only did not have, but could not -- at that time -- even understand. I'm not going to list them, because my point here is not to single out anyone's fetish and say "You're weird!" but I will say that balloons was the first I attempted, because it was – to my mind – the least intimidating and yet the most challenging in that there seemed to me to be nothing sexual about balloons at all.  Some of the others did kind of repel me, but I wrote them all anyway.

And it was there that I learned something vitally important about what gets people off:

It is almost universally true that even the weirdest fetishes relate back to familiar urges and desires, if you just follow them back far enough.

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Warning: Hazardous Vaginas
Written by Paul   
Thursday, 06 October 2011 00:55

It seems odd to just come right out and say it, but an overpowering element in western art is a screaming horror of female sexuality.  I know that to feminist thinkers this is not exactly news, but when you really start thinking about it and noticing it, it is startling just how pervasive and influential this fear is.  It has influenced arts, religion, philosophy, and political thought - and continues to do so.  Large portions of the populace are just aghast at the idea of any woman, anywhere, having control of her sex life.

It would seem doubly weird to find hatred and fear of women in pornography, but it is all too common.  You would think a field so deeply invested in displaying the female body and showing women making full use of their sexual powers would not be a haven for this kind of thing, but it is.  And thus, female sexuality makes it through into most porn only in a stunted, mutilated way.  Once you see it, it is hard to un-see, and it is kind of gross actually.

A lot of porn seems to have a kind of love/hate relationship with women that leads to considerable bizarre behavior: gagging, choking, slapping, spitting, using insulting and degrading language - all these are kind of standard in porn, and if you think about it, it's quite strange - all this violence and disgust directed towards the woman as a matter of course.  We only rarely get any cues to indicate if this is what the woman is into - we don't even get much to confirm if the man is into this either - it's just done, as if it were normal.  It being assumed, I suppose, that it is the (presumed male) viewer who desires this kind of thing.

Bear in mind I am not talking about these kinds of acts as inherently bad in any way, but the casual way they are included speaks to a warped worldview.  That the female is supposed to accept this as the usual without telling us her feelings - that says to us that her consent is not just assumed - it is ignored.

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