Getting Zip

Friday, March 25, 2011

Question

I was trying to liven up things in the bedroom so I showed my wife one of my favorite porn movies. It backfired. She was completely freaked out and disgusted, especially by a scene of double penetration. She is convinced that any woman who tried to do such a thing would have to be taken to the hospital. Now instead of getting more variety in the bedroom, I am sleeping on the couch. What's a guy to do?

 

Answer

For heaven's sake, man, what did you show her? Two hours of cluster fucks in the men's toilet, briefly interrupted by a rampant horse and a soupcon of golden showers? Some women (including many who want it banned) have never seen any porn at all. It's better for them if their first experience with erotica is chosen at a feminist sex shop rather than the local adult bookstore. Let her browse through the material. If she doesn't see anything she likes, let it go. If she does pick something, watch it after talking to her a little bit about why you like pictures or video of sex. Mention that professional porn actors are sort of like professional athletes. Their income depends on being able to do things with their bodies that most of the rest of us cannot. Another suggestion, GZ, is to turn off the sound track. She's probably going to want to talk while she watches it. 

If you must make use of ordinary, X-rated material, watch it yourself beforehand and make sure there is nothing there that will strike her as violent or bizarre. I realize this is hard to judge beforehand. Some women will get nauseous watching a cum shot, especially if it's aimed at a part of a woman's body. If you feel that you can't evaluate what will offend her, ask. That way, she is forewarned about the challenging parts of the movie and may choose to skip them or watch them while you hold her—kinda like taking your date to a scary movie.

There is such a thing as explicit videos made by and for women. A good place to start your  research about this is http://www.candidaroyalle.com. This sex radical feminist and porn star set up her own company to make X-rated movies that women would hopefully enjoy. You can find more titles at http://www.pornmoviesforwomen.com/feministpornawards.html. Another feminist porn entrepreneur is Tristan Taormino, a sassy lass who has her Internet headquarters at http//www.puckerup.com. 

While there are certainly large numbers of exceptions, men and women generally do not respond the same way to X-rated movies or magazines. Remember that you've got more testosterone in your body. This predisposes you to like visual images. When you see a porn film, you probably identify with the male performers. You imagine your cock doing what their cocks are enjoying. The women who are providing that pleasure are accessories. But a female viewer will be identifying with them. She will be afraid for them, see them as vulnerable and even in danger. She won't be familiar with the genre's conventions. To her, a huge penis is not a sign of virility and power, it is a potential weapon that is probably going to hurt going in. The ecstatic cries of a professional porn actress don't fool other members of her sex. They recognize a fake when they hear one. And given how most porn movies are filmed, with the action repeatedly being interrupted for still photos, touch-ups to the makeup, or fluffing for the studs, it's difficult to see how a porn goddess could have a real orgasm on screen, even if she was happy to be there. Let's also be realistic about the fact that there are women making porn movies who don't want to be there. They are there for the money, or they may be deliberately degrading and harming themselves. 

Now that I have completely ruined your fun, both of you have a basis for a more rational discussion. There is some possibility that the movie reminded her of times in her life when she felt out of control, violated, pressured or forced to have sex, or simply tolerated being used so she could avoid even worse treatment.

I personally recommend a no-fault policy toward sexual exploration. The difficult truth is that you can't predict how you will react to certain experiences until after they've happened. This happens to be as true of restaurants as is of sex, but nobody thinks of spitting out a certain cuisine as a moral choice. Nobody gets angry and feels their partner is a terrible person because he took them to a cafe that didn't have enough of a vegetarian menu. Well—maybe that was a bad choice of metaphors.

Your heart was pure. You were stupid, but you weren't malicious. If you can get her to listen, explain that your only intention was to increase her arousal and make sex more intense. You didn't do this to freak her out or make her mistrust you. Women understand male sexuality about as much as vice versa, so it's a wonder the species ever gets perpetuated. I hope she will calm down enough to recall incidents from the past that demonstrated you are a considerate, safe, loving partner. 

When I worked at San Francisco Sex Information, we had an event at the end of training in which the new volunteers were bombarded with sex images. Movies, slides, and photographs were projected onto the wall of the conference room. Sometimes there were as many as twelve different things going on. The idea was to overwhelm the conscious mind and its tendency to get prissy about sexuality. Once you have seen an image of someone doing a specific sex act, it becomes harder to judge others who enjoy it. Or at least that was our admittedly simplistic thinking. 

After the marathon, we asked trainees for their responses. Everybody hated it. Men, women, gay, straight, bi, they all hated it. Everybody had found images that disgusted them, sex that they felt was wrong or messed up, and they were angry with us, the trainers, for putting them through such a terrible ordeal. This was on a Saturday afternoon, by the way.

Since this was a weekend training, people straggled in the next day for the Sunday morning session. The first question was, what did everyone do last night? The trainees looked at each other with guilty expressions the stared at the ceiling or their own feet. One by one, there were sheepish admissions of frenzied sex or prolonged sessions of self-pleasure. More than 90% of them added that it was unusually good sex. Why? How could this be true?

Sex is a slippery and paradoxical experience. For many of us, the same things that we loathe can get us wet or hard in an instant. If we've all been told that sex is bad, wrong, and disgusting, anything that is bad, wrong, or disgusting becomes erotically stimulating. Our conscious minds or superegos, if you prefer that term, can't deal with the reality of how our bodies react to the full spectrum of human sexuality.

Your wife just got a detailed look at aspects of your libido that were invisible until you hit the “Play” button. If she is one of a handful of women who don't have scripted sexual fantasies and don't seek out erotica, the difference between your reality and hers becomes quite huge. That doesn't mean that the two of you can't reconcile. If a calm discussion after she's had time to vent doesn't  change the domestic atmosphere, I suggest seeing a professional couples counselor. The difficult part of that is finding a therapist who is sex-positive, so that he or she won't immediately diagnose you as a sex addict or affix some other derogatory label. If that wasn't hard enough, the therapist also needs to be someone your wife can relate to and trust. Be prepared to make a list of your issues and interview counselors until you find someone who is a good fit. Remember that they are working for you, and you are under no obligation to continue working with someone just because you've paid for one session.