Overweening Generalist

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Frank Talk About Porn, Jokey Talk About Sex (from a generalist geek)

First off, apologies to anyone who typed "porn" or "sex" into their search engine, hoping to immediately land on some "HOT PICS BARELY LEGAL" or something like that. This is not your thing, believe me, and I can see you've already moved along...

I wrote on some ideas about sex HERE a month or so ago, and it got a lot of hits, and I thought people were appreciating my humor. But that dashed-off post continued to get hits, sometimes five or eight times the number of the next article people found from the OG. Now I realize people accidentally found me when they typed in keywords. <sigh>

A friend asked me why I put "pornography" in my About Me dealio here (in margin---->). Mostly because it's taboo to say it. I think most adults like porn of some sort, but virtually no one will admit in some public forum that they like porn. It's just not doneAnd so how can a guy like me resist? I do like porn. And so do you. Sometimes I really enjoy it. Other times - most times - I agree with Erica Jong, who once said - I paraphrase from memory - "When I watch porn, after about five minutes all I want to do is fuck. After about ten minutes, I never want to fuck again."

Aye, consuming porn and the Law of Diminishing Returns...

Ubiquity of Porn
I had no idea how accurate I was when I asserted the almost-universal popularity of porn, especially on Internet. I came across this 2009 study discussed in the London Telegraph in which scientists at the University of Montreal couldn't find any men who didn't consume porn. And the average age in which the men first consumed some porn was ten (10). And they don't seem to have turned into maniacs, depraved perverts, or chainsaw-killing pedophiles. Admittedly the sample may be small. ("That's what she said.") 

But if the sample is small, what do we make of 14.7 million web searches in 2009 as monitored in the study discussed HERE? When looking at what the 13-18 year olds typed in (YouTube, Google, Facebook, Sex), it's interesting to note the 8-12 year olds typed in those same four terms, in the same order of popularity. But Under-7 year olds typed in "porn" in fourth place? What do you make of this? Is it a pseudo study meant to alarm parents about the importance of "filters"? Maybe. To quote from Stairway To Heaven, out of context: "Ooooo, really makes me wonder."

Let's get this straight. According to the study of search engine use among kids 7 (seven!) and younger (!), the top four keyword searches did NOT contain "Miley" or "Spongebob" or "Barney" or "Dora the Explorer" or "game with lots of monsters." Nope. "Porn" showed up in the top four. Hoo-kay! 

This may be reaching, but if we combine a five year old male typing in "porn" and then becoming part of a study at a place like the U. Of Montreal years later, hey, the kid's alright! Good for him!

A Very Good Reason To Study This Stuff
The stupendously great and underrated phenomenological sociologist Alfred Schutz developed a term translated to English as "finite provinces of meaning." Schutz thought one inhabited a "primary reality" but this - whatever it is - splinters off constantly into finite provinces, which are alternate "realities" one may temporarily escape into, away from the primary reality. And these are numerous and familiar: aesthetic experience, humor, what William James called "the varieties of religious experience," worlds of abstract thought, sex, and I'll let you think of a few more. This interest in sex - not only your own experience, but what Others find there - seems ultra-healthy and (I hate this word) normal. 

And yet in some other semantic sense there's no way in hell I'm normal. And I hope you aren't either. (Or why are you reading the OG?)
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Relax and take in this pic (author unknown) before moving onto the next bit:


A Curious Practice in Porn Films
The porn film empire-biz in the San Fernando Valley is in a tizz, because an AIDS prevention group wants the "adult film industry" to quit with the "money shot" already. They think it sends a bad message, or perhaps a milky, somewhat viscous reminder? Meanwhile, the skin flic industry sees the "money shot" as a distinctive feature of their genre's overall style and ethos, its bread and butter. So we have yet another conflict of valuesSee this wonderful reportage from the L.A. Weekly.

First off, not one of us is reading this unless some private, carefully-confined, even "sacred" money shot occurred, in some jungle-like midst. It probably was not filmed, although with the relatively sudden omnipresence of camera phones, etc, on the historical stage, probably a lot more will be recorded from here on out. Onto hard drives. Can you imagine? As we've learned above, it's not unthinkable that soon, one seven year old boy will ask his friend, "Hey! You wanna see the night I was conceived?" And then whip out the latest iEverthing gadget. All that worrying about porn was crying over spilled milk! <rimshot?>

These kids grow up so FAST these days, I tells ya!

I confess I never quite "got" the appeal of the "money shot." It seems like some highly stylized baroque ending to a performance, much like some mad free-flight virtuoso cadenza from Romantics like Liszt. A raw display of elan and male potency... It's graphically, astoundingly crass to some exponential point that's somehow magnificent and contrived at the same time...I've never known carnally any women who thought that was the preferable way for the...uhhh...efflorescence to occur. As they used to say on Internet in 1996, "YMMV," or Your Mileage May Vary. And I kinda hope it does. What do I know? Maybe I just tend to run with a somewhat less theatrical crowd?

Vaginas, Vaginas Everywhere, But Not a Drop...
Because I find it difficult to keep up with some strains of very popular culture, it took me awhile, but I found that, suddenly, ever since Oprah talked about her "va-jay-jay" on her show, mainstream media, including TV, has witnessed a seemingly much more wide-open discourse about women and their relationships with their genitals. Which seems suspicious to me, I don't know about you. (See HERE for something about the alleged sudden Appearance of the vagina in the public eye.)

Why no big discussion of penises too? Something seems askew here. Although I have noticed a higher-than-normal level of douchebags in the mainstream media, that's mostly just the political coverage, I suspect. Statistically within the range. But I concede the "cradle of civilization" point. And just in general, I think It's a real swell site, my kind of thing - the vagina, that is.

But when I read that article about increasing popular acceptance of the cradle of civ, I thought of a famous sociological paper by James Henslin called "Behavior in Pubic Places: The Sociology of the Vaginal Examination," which the experienced Mae A. Biggs helped him research. Basically, when a male gynecologist does his thing, it's a heavily planned series of events, ritualized behind a professional-specialist's bureaucratic veneer, meant to smoothly and delicately transition the doctor-patient relationship temporarily into a doctor-vagina-nurse standing-nearby to talk with doctor relationship, and then back into the doctor-patient relationship. And it's hard not to see the vagina as treated like a truly Sacred Thing. Very near the end of the article, just before the footnotes, we read:

Apart from the husband and significant others, except in a medical setting and by the actors about whom we are speaking, no one else may approach the vagina other than the self and still have it retain its sacred character.

After the word "character" there's a footnote, which reads:

It is perhaps for this reason that prostitutes ordinarily lack respect: They have profaned the sacred. And in doing so, not only have they failed to limit vaginal access to culturally prescribed individuals, but they have added further violation by allowing vaginal access on a monetary basis. They have, in effect, sold the sacred. - retrieved from Down To Earth Sociology, 12th edition

This would constitute just about the deepest level, for me, in the arguments for and against the legalization of prostitution. I'm for legalizing it, considering it a victimless crime and no matter for the State, but this "sacred" argument does carry some appreciable weight with me.

Is Oprah culturally guilty of anything here? I leave it to the better crackpots to decide this, for now. This OG crackpot gotsa keep movin' along...
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A "Rubenseque" Beauty:


Getting Personal
I love reading personals ads. I think it instructive how people present themselves - quite often entirely in language - and how they seem to want to be perceived in a relatively abstract medium. I wonder what I would write were I in that...market. And who knew some hetero-identifying guys seek Asian transexuals, or how seemingly quite a lot of females seem to frankly have "Daddy" issues they want to work out? Etc, etc, etc. For some reason the personals have perennially provided an intellectual's springboard, and see HERE for a recent glaring example. Note how Dalrymple assumes a coding and decoding, a secret language. Which I guess is about right...

Prof. George Carlin once attempted to write a personal ad that would attract no one:

I've always wanted to place a personal ad no one would answer: "Elderly, depressed, accident-prone junkie, likes Canadian food and Welsh music, seeking rich, well-built, oversexed female deaf mute in her late teens. Must be non-smoker."

Next Installment: Molly Gets Her Wig On!

7 comments:

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

But think of all the people you'll get who typed in "hot philosophy talk, barely legal." Also, with the Rubens, you should have put on a "big beautiful woman porn" tag to get more hits.

michael said...

Jeez Jackson! you just wrote the title for my next spew/speil about sex: "Hot Philosophy Talk, Barely Legal."

It virtually writes itself!

I'm adding BBW to my tags, just for kicks. Gawd! Why do I find this so funny?

Shannon said...

It's interesting that you talked about the penis as being sort of a taboo in culture today. The Romans worshiped the male phallus, creating lawn ornaments, pottery and jewelry showing the phallus to be heavenly and divine.

Then, the world sort of turned into a giant prude, where anyone who talked about sex was a heretic or a witch. The very idea of the phallus being anything other than a device for procreation and waste discharge was almost like a weird cock tease.

At least when it comes to shows like Penn & Teller's Bullshit, they actually not only show the penis, but they talk about the very reasons why it seems to have been shunned to a corner. They even went on a fairly interesting episode regarding circumcision and regrowing or reforming the foreskin. I have to say, I learned a lot about the issues. I've also never seen so many dongs in one place. Probably the lesbian in me, no desire to see it, but I can appreciate it for a vital part of human history and anatomy.

Maybe you can lead a revolution so that people can talk about their junk using actual terms, and openly, rather than such crude terms and always inflating it to a size contest.

Could even start a chant like, "Free Your Dong, It's Never Wrong". It's a work in progress I suppose.

Royal Academy of Reality 1132 said...

Re: the sacred and sex, I really enjoyed the take on the goddess Ishtar in Neil Gaiman's Sandman (the Brief Lives trade paperback). Ishtar discusses sacred prostitution in ancient cultures and the magic of money exchanged for sex.

I don't quite know how this fits in with Bob Wilson's Ishtar Rising, the film Ishtar and the Ishtar worshipers in the film Intolerance, but I do love the mall in Hollywood with decorations patterned on Griffith's Babylon.

michael said...

@Shannon: What thoughtful comments! Thanks! I will do my best to lead a revolution, but the forces of Apollo (rationality and control) and the Bible (mixed messages about sex and sin) vs. Dionysus make it quite a donnybrook to throw one's self into. But I'll give it a shot...The more I look into the deep structure of Americans and sex, the weirder things get...and to me at least, evermore complex. Free Your Dong, It's Never Wrong! is a start, but let's not do it within 500 yards of an elementary school, okay guys?

@Eric: Your analogous mind never fails to impress me.

We've all seen those Hindu shrines that are covered with minute carvings of gods and goddesses fucking in every conceivable position; I got to actually explore a few of those in Nepal. Think of the difference in paideuma between that and what we have! The mind boggles.

The sanctity of sex can exist in the culture at large. It doesn't seem to fit our culture. But it CAN fit between partners. I hope everyone reading this has had that experience of transcendent sex. RAW certainly tried his best to let his readers in on the secrets of tantra and sex magick. But one can only truly learn certain things by doing...Aye?

Wandering Scientist said...

Hi Michael,

Interesting statistics re Children's perceptions and curiosity about sex, and the early age at which that interest develops.
Having taught sex ed to 11 year olds for many years, I have to say that there are some children who, in real terms, know scarily little. There are others who seem to know a worryingly large amount. Regardless of their level of understanding of reproduction in scientific terms, or sex and relationships in more general terms though, they all have one thing in common... They all want to know more... They are all interested... They are all curious.
As you rightly point out, every single one of us is the result of a sexual encounter, so the human race would be doomed to extinction if our young folk didn't have this innate curiosity.

michael said...

@Dr. Dennison, Wandering Scientist: I've never known any adult who, when we talked about trying to find out about SEX as children...had nothing to say. Everyone I've ever been intimate with has stories about their investigations into what's going on...from age 5 or 6, late bloomers around age 8 or 9. It's vastly mysterious, and I suspect that the digital media revolution just makes these investigations that much easier to obtain DATA. How a 7 yr old interprets the data seems a wildly diffuse thing.

I have heard/read 1000 arguments about why we must keep this Forbidden Knowledge from children, and none of the arguments have ever made all that much sense to me, given my own experience and my friends' and intimate acquaintances' experiences and memories, coupled with the arguments against, which are almost always based on appeals to fear.

I know full well that socially, I am very unpopular in this regard. Oh well. I calls 'em as I sees 'em.