Since I’ve been thinking about porn titling and copy conventions lately, I found myself ruminating this afternoon on a very strange phenomenon that I have often come across in my perusals of the porn section of the Internet: the practice of advertising which porn “actors” star in a particular video by listing the man’s name vs. the woman’s name, as in “Bruce Bigdick vs. Tanya Titanictits.” What the fuck? That alone tells me that the “sex” in porn is more about power and degradation than lust (not that I needed more evidence of such), but it’s a pretty striking practice, is it not?
Think about it for a second. If it weren’t so terrifying it’d almost be funny. I keep hearing the voice of an MMA announcer saying, “Tonight, in the octagon, Will Whalewang and Brenda Brobdingnagianboobs are going to fuck to the death! Rage in the cage!” Seriously, when was the last time you heard about someone taking on a foe via dick sucking? I’ve only heard of it once in my entire life, in an autobiographical essay I will excerpt for your reading pleasure (warning — offensive shit ahead):
I [once] lived in a house with five guys all trying to become famous for drinking, smoking pot, and playing video games. A lot of socially abnormal behavior occurred in this house during this period of my life. One such instance was that my friend Mr. X (a very naturally gorgeous man) began to be naked constantly. He walked around the house naked, he played video games naked, he did crosswords naked, he even partied naked. What at first was quite shocking became mildly amusing, then somewhat passe, then quite irritating.
One day after some moderate beer drinking, I started playing Crash Bandicoot Warped (an underrated platform classic) on the Playstation. Mr. X emerged from his room naked with a Penguin Classic selection I can’t specifically recall and took his place next to me naked on the floor, prepared to engage non-chalantly in some naked, drunk, casual Wordsworth or something. After a few minutes I became seriously annoyed and asked Mr. X, “Dude, what the fuck are you doing, trying to out-gay everyone? It’s fucking retarded, put your clothes back on!” Mr. X sprawled out and instructed, “Dude, don’t be afraid of my beauty.” In a split second, I became vigilantly determined to out-gay Mr. X. I would show him that his air of passe/faux-free sexuality was nothing against my will to maintain a non-retarded living environment. “I’ll fucking suck your dick and show you who’s afraid!” I threatened while perking up as if I were about to attack his dick. “Bring it on,” said Mr. X, laying down as if he were ready to receive all the oral sex I could give him in a thousand lifetimes.
At this point I suppose we were engaging in a gay game of chicken. I approached the floor where Mr. X way lying, expecting him to recoil instinctively. Mr. X did not recoil. “When I touch him he’ll recoil,” I thought to myself as I touched Mr. X’s inner thigh in an attempt to get him to recoil without touching his penis. Mr. X did not recoil. “When I touch his penis he’ll be so shocked, he’ll recoil and I’ll be the all-time Gay Chicken Champion of the Universe,” I thought right before I touched Mr. X’s penis with my hand without him recoiling. There was only one thing left to do. I would not lose. As I lowered my head to begin sucking I rationalized that it would be just like accidentally licking his arm, that his body was essentially the same as mine, and that I would engage in a social taboo for perhaps a millisecond in the name of Gay Chicken pride. I locked myself into an almost Zen state of mind as I wrapped my mouth around Mr. X’s penis and began sucking, attempting to empty my mind of all things accept what was necessary for this most important of personal victories. After about five seconds I began to wonder what the fuck was going on. After about eight seconds I began to incredulously feel Mr. X’s penis enlarge in my mouth. After about twelve seconds I began to feel the rock hard dick in my mouth that I recognized from my own experiences as “I’m not too far from ejaculating.” Overcome with the terror of Mr. X coming in my mouth, I jumped up, terrified, and asked, “Dude… what the fuck?!” Mr. X, with an air of complete relaxation, replied, ” Dude, why’d you stop? I was about to come.” I looked at Mr. X, amazed, and said, “Well, fuck me. You’re definitely the gayest.”
The next day I gleefully told everyone I knew about the experience because I thought it was fucking hilarious. This, surprisingly, did not make Mr. X or my girlfriend very happy. It also created even more doubt in my community as to the nature of my sexuality. Oh well, as experiences go it was one of my more memorable.
Clearly, it is not possible to best one’s opponent by fellating that opponent. But enough joking.
What is up with this so-and-so vs. so-and-so business in the porn industry? Isn’t it kinda… wack to turn sex into combat, into a struggle for dominance? Should we be getting aroused by the thought of two people using and abusing each other sexually until one becomes so degraded that the other (or others) appears to have vanquished her? Such a practice belies the disingenuous claims often made by porn producers and porn fans that porn is all about celebrating sexuality, that anti-porn feminists are just anti-sex, that the real harm to women lies in the purported desire of fifteen radical feminists or so to “limit women’s sexual expression” by objecting to men wanking to images of women being treated like subhumans.
It’s bullshit. Porn is not about sex, it’s about sexualized power. Porn, a few outliers notwithstanding, is about men fucking women into submission, often violently. If it weren’t, there’d be no choking, no puking, no bukkake, no gang bangs, no double (or quadruple) penetration, no ATM, no slapping, no name-calling, no images of multiple men high-fiving each other while they use and abuse one woman’s body, no porn copy containing phrases like “until she cries” or “watch this little whore get ____” or “Interchangeable Female Body vs. Fearsome Violent Penis.” The porn industry, if it were just all about sex rather than about sexualized hate, wouldn’t be in a race to the bottom with itself to create ever more absurd configurations of bodies, the sole aim of which seems to be to subject women to the most heinous abuse possible.
Don’t bother telling me that the porn you watch isn’t quite that gnarly. Check out the behavior of the men in comparison to that of the women, look at the positions of the bodies, think about the camera angle, listen to what is being said, think about whose pleasure seems paramount, then come back and tell me the porn you watch isn’t just as much (if not more) about dominance and submission as it is about sex.
The “versus” phenomenon illuminates exactly what porn is. It’s a battle that women can’t win, because it’s designed for men who get off on seeing us subjugated, trampled, and powerless.