I’ve been trying to stay out of the conversations, the debates, the full-on attacks regarding this whole ‘50 Shades of Grey’ boycott, anti-BDSM, say-no-to-porn thing that’s been raging for the last while. I can’t even go on to Facebook anymore without seeing post after post, after post of bashing and propaganda. In the last couple of days alone I’ve read nearly a dozen different articles, blogs and individual rants on this subject. And you know what? I get it. I do. But while I get it, I’ve also been biting my tongue and purposely NOT commenting or stating my opinion. Because the fact of the matter is, I don’t think many of you are you’re going to like it. But here goes...
For nearly as long as there have been humans on earth there has been some form of sex-industry. That’s bottom line, straight up truth, because let’s face it people – sex or, at the least, some form of sexual release is an actual, biological, physical need. Your body needs sex for a great number of reasons and if you want to be clinical about it, none of those reasons have anything to do with emotion. Emotion is something that we’ve intertwined with sex over the ages. There’s no denying that a strong emotional connection with your partner makes for a better, more fulfilling sexual experience. However, not everyone has a sexual partner in their lives whom they have a deep emotional connection to. For some people, and at some points in their lives, there are only no-string emotionless hook-ups, masturbation (which may or may not be helped along with some visual aids), or the (gasp) pay-to-play sexual experience.
Visual aids you say? Yes that’s right, I’m talking porn. Whether you know or like it or not there is a whole wide, amazingly vast range of porn – from artistic scantily clad shots, to explicitly graphic representations of extreme sex acts, and everything in between. There are pictures and/or video of nearly any sexual act you could possibly imagine. And do you know why? It’s because someone did imagine it, or (OMG!) someone actually did it, or even because somewhere in this big world these sexual acts are cultural norms or culturally accepted. Porn, in and of itself, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But just as there is a difference between having the occasional glass of wine or a beer, and being a binging alcoholic, there is a difference between an occasional viewing of a sexually explicit photo or video, and being a glued-to-your-computer porn-aholic (porn-addict?). By that point, the porn by itself isn’t the problem, the addiction is.
Now you can’t have missed the arguments flying around about how porn is a great evil because it teaches youth that sex isn’t special. That it teaches men to debase women, that sexual satisfaction is best found through extreme sex acts, that men can do whatever they want to get off (i.e. humiliating or abusing their partner) and that its fine. And more, that it’s teaching women to accept and expect this treatment from their partners because it also teaches those women that they are only here (here as in alive? In the bed?) to act as tools and vessels for their partners’ sexual gratification...
Well using that line of thinking we should be asking ourselves what television is teaching our youth, our young men and women, and even our older generations? What are video games teaching them? Movies? But those arguments have been had and in fact they’re still being debated and talked about.
And here is what those arguments are generally broken down to:
It’s. Not. Real.
Video games, TV shows, movies, they’re not real. They are fictional stories. They are exaggerations of reality. They are bits and pieces of make believe mixed with real situations, flavored with a touch of the extreme and presented to the masses for entertainment. Entertainment, not a lesson, not a “this is how you should walk out the door and act” depiction. Entertainment.
Now I hate to break it to you (well ok, actually, no I don’t) but so is porn. It’s entertainment. It’s not meant to teach you how to have sex. It’s not meant to teach you how to treat your partner. It’s not meant to show you your boundaries or your preferences. It’s not meant to teach you anything because it’s just entertainment. And just like you can choose whether or not to play a video game, or watch a show on TV, or go to a movie, you can choose whether or not to view porn.
Which brings me to the ’50 Shades of Grey’ debate. For those of you who’ve been living under a rock for the last several years, ’50 Shades’ is a new movie coming out this Valentines, that’s based on a book that (wouldn’t you know?) was written for entertainment purposes. Basically it’s a story about an obscenely rich man who is a Dominant of the BDSM-lifestyle, and the sexually naive woman who falls in love with him and struggles to accept his sexual lifestyle. They get their HEA (happy-ever-after) ending but it’s not a smooth road to the finish, and in the end, neither one of them is exactly the same as when they first met. On the surface that sounds like a pretty normal relationship for two people who are different and have different interests. But guess what? It’s not a true story. Surprise! It is exactly as I described earlier: bits and pieces of make believe mixed with real situations, flavored with a touch of the extreme and presented to the masses for entertainment.
Is it meant to teach men that if they are rich (and the richer the better, right?) they can treat women however they want to and get away with it? No. Is it meant to teach that BDSM is the best sexual lifestyle to live? No. Is it meant to teach sexually naïve women that BDSM sex is better or even that it’s the type of sexual experience they should try first? NO! It’s a book and it’s a movie, it’s entertainment and it’s not meant to teach you anything!! Will there be an increase in BDSM experimentation? Absolutely! And I say: to each their own. There is nothing wrong with sexual experimentation and, in fact, I encourage it. Try new things, push your limits, push your partners’ limits, but discuss with your partner(s) beforehand what you’re absolutely not willing to try, and remember that consensual sex is fundamental to a satisfying experience. And to put not too fine a point on it, non-consensual sex is illegal. Go ahead, push and expand your boundaries, but don’t break the law. That’s just stupid.
What’s the point? Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is allowed to have an opinion. Obviously I believe that, as I just stated mine. But here’s the thing: Just because I have an opinion about something, even if it is an extremely strong opinion and I’m absolutely convinced that I am right, that doesn’t mean that I expect you to agree with me. It doesn’t mean that I’m going to force, nag, pester, constantly pressure, or even attempt to make you agree with me. And chances are if I’ve thought enough about something to form an informed opinion, no amount of you nagging, pestering, constantly bombarding me with information, or any other attempt is going to change my mind. You’re entitled to yours and I’m entitled to mine.
So if I want to read a sexually explicit book, watch porn, go to the strip club, watch a movie about BDSM, or even experiment sexually with my partner... Yeah chances are I’m going to do it, regardless of how you feel about it. If you have a problem with that, sorry, but hey, I didn’t ask you to do it with me, did I?