Saturday, August 11, 2007

Pornography Part 3

Pornography creates victims. We can talk about sexual liberation and the freedom to choose our turn-ons, feed our fetishes, procure our proclivities but isn’t there always a victim?

The women (with the exception of one) and one man that I’ve gotten to know who had first hand experience of ‘selling’ their bodies would say today that they were victims. In all cases, apart from the afore-mentioned one woman, they were addicts. Drugs and alcohol.

One was an exotic dancer, was there ever such a misnomer. Very little was exotic or even erotic about her stage work. She performed in a place called “Cheaters” in the city of Toronto. As the name hints, this was a place where married men came to watch the girls and to negotiate a sliding scale of pricing dependent on what the need was. All the way from a private dance in a private room ($50) to full unprotected sex ($500) with all the variables in between which I will leave to the imagination. She fed her coke habit with the money she earned, often thousands on a good night, but coke is expensive. She can’t remember much about the men, except to say they were sad and middle-aged. She had several surgeries on her genitals to keep them presentable for stage work. Many of the girls in her line of work did. Her family had disowned her and the focus of her life was the drugs that helped her forget what she called a ‘sordid’ life. She counts herself lucky she got out of it in time before her drug habit finished her and threw her on the street like many of her colleagues. Today she is married but has never told her husband of her past life and has pledged her friends and family to secrecy.

Another, I’ll call her D, thought it was all rather a hoot and enjoyed the thrill of being a desirable ‘escort’. Here there was a variable rate scale as well depending on the whims of the clients. D drank to get through the nights with the more unappetizing of her clients. She would do anything for a price; sometimes it involved more than one man. Or couples.

D confessed to me, now that she is out of the lifestyle and off the booze, that it has left her completely desensitized to normal sex and has resulted in her seeking pain and chains in private clubs that cater to fetishes. She is smart enough and ‘therapied’ enough to realise she is seeking punishment for her past life. However, she is still terrified of any kind of equality in a relationship and actively seeks much younger men to carry out her more outlandish desires without any kind of emotional investment.

One other, S, was a person I met at a meet and greet at a Connections Event at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. The gathering was ostensibly to meet available people of the opposite sex in an educational environment (there was a lecturer) with wine and cheese and much mingling but ironically, women were going off by themselves with new friends and making it more of a female networking event. That was how I met S. S was a former hooker, a very successful un-addicted hooker, who had parlayed her money into real estate. She had been off the game for over a year and was living well on her property management skills, both commercial and residential.

She wanted to go straight, thus her attendance at the specific event, as she hadn’t been lucky in meeting (read keeping)an eligible male through the internet or other ads. It soon became clear as to why she wasn’t successful. She was absolutely beautiful in appearance, in her late thirties, auburn hair, tall and ‘stacked’ to use an old-fashioned term. S would never have called herself a victim. But she was, in the worst way. She had an underlying contempt for men that bordered on psychopathic. She was amusing and cutting in her remarks about them. It was only in the afterward that I was able to see what her years on the street (actually in stretch limos – her ‘brothel’ was a limo – I’ve never been able to look at a stretch limo with its darkened glass in the same light again!) had done to her and her scathing, belittling outlook on men. Truly a victim.

Some might argue I haven’t drawn a line between porn and prostitution but I believe it is all sides of the same coin. The women I met did pose for photos and act in videos and perform various sexual acts on film. That is pornography surely?

To me, there is something desperate, sad and dark lurking in the souls of both the purchaser and the seller of sex whether it be in the titillation of images or actuality of experience. It seems to be that there is nothing that is joyful and honest or that deepens and transforms this most intimate of human experiences into a higher plane.

Call me old-fashioned but I like my sex sublime.


  1. Very sad and sobering. The message that comes across is that however much a woman might kid herself she’s staying mentally and emotionally detached from what she’s doing, and that she can turn off as soon as she’s finished ‘the job’ in fact usually (if not always) she doesn’t and it leaves aftereffects that can be deeply damaging and extremely long-lasting. As you say, in some way or other they invariably become victims. And the consequences are not trivial – drug-addiction, drink-addiction, sexual desensitization, contempt for men. These women’s lives may be completely ruined in terms of normal, healthy relationships and general quality of life. Yes they are prostitutes rather than pornographers but what they are doing takes place in a context of pornographic images and expectations that contaminates the whole sexual experience. Maybe you can dabble in the odd bit of sex-for-sale or pornographic images without being damaged by it, but the boundary between innocence and corruption can be crossed very quickly.

  2. I read part I and II on pronography and just finished reading the third. I have to say, I am one of the people scarred by pornography, in the way of becoming very insecure during the course of two long term relationships, one of which was marriage. I have experienced nights during which my ex-husband would be looking at images / videos while I laid in bed... It did so much damage to my confidence that today while being with an amazing men, I have panic attacks. I began to think at the time that although I was REAL and there was love and attraction between us, and that although there should be no comparison, I was losing, and I was not beautiful enough, sexy enough, attractive enough. I can tell you this much, once you start feeling this way, the downward spiral has devastating effects on how you see yourself... Again, thank you for the thoughts and sharing. Most of the time I feel like I am a dinosour maybe among all the "modern" thinking women who say looking as OK as long as he doesn't touch... Or even, touching is ok as long as he doesn't get involved in sexual intercourse... It is good to know one is not alone.

  3. Nick:
    Well said. I believe that porn damages on just about every level. The 'so anonymous it's not hurting anyone' school of thought that seems to be permeate the culture of its aficionadas is just wrong. The objectifying of a human being - under any circumstances - is degrading to all of us and spills into torture and paedophilia and so called 'boy lovers', etc. As to halting it, I am opposed to censorship of any kind but maybe in true Anne Frank spirit, I still believe that most humans are still good in their hearts.

  4. Gaye:
    thanks for your sharing from the heart on this.
    Please remember that men are victims too. as watchers, and I'd think you'd have to detach yourself from the self-flagellation of comparison if you are lying in bed and the man is watching porn. He is the victim of his own addiction. The latest stats show that on-line porn is close to a trillion dollar industry. There are side effects to watchers of porn also, premature ejaculation being one of them. An addicted ex-lover was living proof of that.
    I am leery of any commitment to a porn-watcher. Even though they make every effort to stop, the recidivism rate is very high and as you said so very well, the effect on the 'real' partner is devastating.

  5. Thanks for sharing that personal experience, Gaye, when there's often this assumption that women aren't particularly bothered by men's sexual oddities. Your experience proves that isn't the case.

  6. Great post - it points to the long-term damage done by participation in prostitution or pornography. The problem with the liberal 'anything goes' approach is that it accepts that there will be casualities and implies that they won't be 'people like us'. The dilemma I have is to what extent the state should (or can) regulate these matters in order to protect the weak-willed or desperate. Or do we just say it's too bad if people go over the edge?

  7. Nick (and Gaye if you're back):
    You are right. A friend of mine was so devastated that her fiance would go on line in the middle of the night to view porn that she broke up with him. She went back with him after he promised to quit but she said privately to me the sex was never quite the same for her ever again. Her brain would race in every direction and she was never as 'there' as she used to be.

  8. Jenny:
    It is that old censorship bugaroo and who regulates it? I am mindful of the NewCon agenda in the U.S. particularly. The gaybashing,porn-busting, so-called pro-life, so-called 'just say no' culture that forbids the morning after pill and the immunization of girls for cervical cancer and the private toking of weed. Most of the proponents of these laws are, of course, usually caught in the headlights,pants around the ankles with a needle in the arm.
    Laws such as these breed the worst kind of hypocrites.
    I suppose it all starts in infancy with a strong sense of self-worth and a good set of parents to model loving and respectful behaviours. I should dream on, right???? LOL.

  9. Yes, I am back. And yes, absolutely. I realized after a while sex has become a mechanical thing (with him), it never had the same intimacy as it had before I realized what was happening. I suppose it was because he was already intimate in different ways and probably something else that hurt just as much was that he would think I was naive enough not to ever know or notice.

  10. Gaye:
    Good word - mechanical. I think that porn probably makes the actual partner invisible. The porn images over-ride everything else and true intimacy is eliminated. The repercussions are enormous to everyone. I am happy for you that you moved beyond this whole experience and I hope you are happier today.

  11. Yes Gaye, back in the saddle after a week's hiatus.


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