Porn Again: Adult Entertainment Can Offer Unique Educational Tools
Nothing demonstrates the importance of sex like the risks we take to get it.
How many powerful men have risked careers for a kinky night in a hotel room? How many middle-aged men have risked marriages for a few visits with a college girl? How many women and men have contracted HIV in 20 minutes of blind passion?
Sex is so important that people ruin their lives for it. As pornographers, we are creating and selling something that reaches to people’s core. No, we don’t actually provide sex to the customer, but we provide a surrogate for it. We provide such an incredible product that it can take the place of one of life’s most important things.
Some people say porn isn’t real life. It’s just a fantasy, an illusion; it isn’t serious or meaningful. So there’s nothing to learn from porn, they say. But can that really be true of something so extremely powerful?
I say this: Porn is a university so vast, it puts Harvard and Oxford to shame. But porn’s classrooms lay sadly empty, and what few professors we have are focused in the athletics department and the wood shop.
If we taught and studied harder, we could teach and learn a lot. For starters, by observing people’s porn viewing choices, we could learn about sides of them we rarely see. Porn is the last refuge for the libido in a civilization where every word choice has become an eggshell. It’s a place where men can go and do whatever they want in their mind to a woman without fear of judgment. It’s a place where a woman can let go of everything expected of her and be a piece of fuck meat for her own relief and pleasure. It’s a place where these roles can be reversed as well — where a man can be a fuck object and a woman can be the dominant with the cock. It’s a place with many other roles as well — tender, harsh, bizarre, sweet, painful, pleasurable, traditional, twisted, queer, homely, exotic, and on and on.
Where do we all go, and what do we dream, when we watch porn? What does this say about us? Some of the larger tube sites compile search term statistics. We know that the No. 1 search term on one of the biggest tube sites, for example, is “mom.” This kind of data is a start. But we can go much deeper with a more serious inquiry.
We can study not only the people viewing porn, but also the people making it. Ivory tower academics love to spout opinions about porn performers and producers. Porn is degrading to women, or it’s liberating to women. Porn performers are abused, empowered, this or that. Porn directors are fantasy purveyors or sleazy opportunists. But none of these opinions are based on an actual study of the people being judged.
Academics, cultural critics, journalists, and feminists who support or criticize the people making porn might do well to have a discussion with some of them — not just a stray performer or former performer who provides a convenient quote for a paper — but the sea of people working everyday to make the product in question.
We could learn much just by talking to people. We could learn, for example, how men can just become a swinging torso in porn videos and the women become fuller people with more prominent faces and dialogue — how many men feel more like fuck objects than the women and sometimes experience a unique loss of humanity and depression that I’ve never read about anywhere in this age of feminist thought.
We could learn how being on camera satisfies an exhibitionist streak or creates an opportunity to explore an interest in a less intimate way than with one’s lover. We could learn how certain people enjoy entertaining others or have perhaps lost a certain joy themselves. We could learn the upsides and downsides, the reasons, and the personal beliefs that accompany the act of having sex on a regular basis for others.
When performers are doing things they specifically crave, we can also learn about these cravings. Where might they have come from, what is it like to pursue them, what are the benefits and hazards associated with them? Not every person is willing to discuss their sexuality so openly, but performers are a fabulous source of insights into sex, because they are open about it and have little to lose by talking about what they are already explicitly doing for the public.
Porn is also rich with ideas. The myth of the naive young male who learns everything he knows from porn and is unable to have intimate, loving sex with his girlfriend is a baseless cliché that must be put to rest. I’ve never met a single man who approaches women the way characters interact in a porn video, just as I’ve never met a single person who watches a horror movie and then believes the proper way to walk about a summer camp is in a ski mask with axe in hand. Sure, some people might get the idea of trying pile driver or resting her feet on her boyfriend’s balls while sitting on his face from a porn video, but these are good things. Sex goes on, year after year; there’s no reason is should be boring, no reason is should be standardized, no reason we can’t get ideas from a video and try new techniques. Sex is fun and does a couple good.
The myth of the innocent woman who has to do so much more in the bedroom to please her man also needs to be discarded. In marketed research for Assylum.com, women turned out to be as kinky, if not kinkier, than men in the things they wanted to see.
In my own life in the kink and swinger scenes, women are as adventurous and eager to explore sexual activities as men. They are not passive victims of male perversion. They are part of the human race with their own sexual ideas and curiosity — something about which certain anti-porn feminists seem not to care. Perhaps there is a large group of simple housewives out there who become overwhelmed when their husbands watch a porn video and suddenly want something different — but that’s not porn’s fault. That’s a mismatch in the relationship, or in people’s growth stages. There too, porn could help such couples explore ideas and possibilities for compromises or starting points that might help improve the fire lacking in their lives.
At Assylum.com, we focus on creating extremely original and intense scenarios that stretch the bounds of sexuality. Our work is for a small subset of performers and a specific niche of viewers. But at the end of many shoots, we sit down with our performers and watch key moments from the footage. Then we record voiceover commentary for our videos to provide customers with educational opportunities that simply aren’t available anywhere else.
Our customers can listen to the stars talk about what it was like to do the things they did in the scene, they can hear about the performers’ backgrounds and what they sexually enjoy in their everyday lives. Viewers can get insights into sex and the performance of sex that expand what we know about one of the most important things on Earth. But this is just a tiny step toward learning from porn. We hold in our hands the keys to incredible knowledge.
I believe if we can learn to converse with one another in a way where we can speak freely, without fear of being offended of being accused of offending, without politics and personal and misguided social agendas, we can start a new “university” to join the ranks of Harvard and Oxford. The study of sex is at least as important as anything else, and porn can offer unique classrooms and educational tools.
Of course, we need to be willing to be more than entertainers. We need to fight back against the absurd notion that the human body and what it does is ever obscene. We need to do more than stop with the cumshot or the squirt. In doing so, we’ll not only be incredibly powerful, as we already are, but our power will be respected and appreciated, as it deserves to be.
Lawrence Neil is the founder and CEO of Two-Flame Media LLC, the company behind Assylum.com and DerangedDollars.com. Neil was previously a creative executive on Madison Avenue, where he managed writing teams responsible for the branding and advertising of several billion-dollar brands.