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Wednesday, January 29, 2014 

This is a post about sex and porn.

It's always a danger to write about things you know next to nothing about.  Not that that's stopped me in the past obviously, or indeed stops pretty much anyone from giving their keyboard a damn good slamming about pretty much everything.  One great example was this post from last year, which was cross-posted over on Lib Con, and where it quickly became clear that I was perhaps a bit old-fashioned in my views on the amount of flesh on display in music videos and also knew absolutely nothing about Justin Bieber or One Direction.  Ahem.

That post was partially in response to a comment piece by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, and here we are again.  I know next to nothing about how people my age and younger are conducting themselves sexually, except to say I'm not getting enough of it.  Whatever it is.  Cosslett however says she does know, and that many women are increasingly submitting to the requests of their partners which they are certain are influenced by pornography as they don't know how to say no or aren't confident enough to.  It's a topic we have broached before, and it would be to ignore the wide availability of hardcore porn and the potential for it to have made some young people believe the things depicted in it are normal and average to completely dismiss the anecdotal evidence we have.

At the same time, it's also difficult not to think that Cosslett is either exaggerating for effect, or is taking a few examples and stretching them to absolute breaking point.  I am more than happy to accept that, as Cosslett says, some men seem to think sex ends once they've ejaculated onto their partner's breasts or face.  The latter is after all overwhelmingly how most porn scenes now end.  Although this is somewhat to do with how the "money shot" in hardcore porn has always signalled the end of that particular sex scene, it doesn't explain why the "facial" has become so dominant over the more prosaic pulling out and coming which once sufficed.  In part it is about male power, without doubt, and in some scenes it's more than clear that the supposed star has no choice over how the scene ends, even if she clearly hates what's about to happen.  This is exacerbated further when "cum dodging" as it's referred to is mocked and belittled, as it sometimes is in behind the scenes sections of gonzo films, as though a woman not wanting to have semen sprayed into her mouth, all over her face or into her eyes or hair is pathetic and/or hilarious.

When Cosslett focuses twice on women having their hair ejaculated on though and fingers porn as being responsible you do have to wonder.  I honestly cannot recall a single instance in any porn scene I've watched where the male actor has specifically came on his co-star's hair, and her hair only.  It seems more likely that the woman she's spoken to has been unfortunate enough to have had a relationship with someone with this particular unusual fetish than it being indicative of something else.

Then we have "seagulling", which I most certainly hadn't heard of before.  Apparently once confined to boarding schools, it's supposedly spread to some universities, and involves the friends of someone bursting in on their pal once he's finished having sex with his girlfriend, and them ejaculating all over her.  There are some obvious problems with this having happened rather than being an exaggeration of an exaggeration: despite what porn might suggest, men generally cannot ejaculate all at the same time or one after the other.  Second, where are they hiding so that the unaware victim doesn't know of their presence?  Are they all in the room next door pulling themselves off without going off early or missing the moment?  Third, while I don't doubt that the alumni of boarding schools have and do get up to some otherwise unusual antics with each other, teenagers don't usually masturbate together.  That would most certainly be "gay".  It all sounds extremely familiar to the also apocryphal biscuit game, at least when it comes to all those involved taking part voluntarily, or a more recent supposed "thing" in America, rainbow parties, a gathering where a group of girls would all wear a different shade of lipstick and take it in turns to fellate their male school friends.

It's also difficult not to be sceptical about just how many women have been asked on a first date for anal sex.  Again, anal sex in porn is all but ubiquitous, although arguably it has in fact been in decline in porn over the last few years due to the internet free-for-all having had such an impact on the niche producers.  Are we though talking about first dates as in actual first dates, or first dates in the Tinder sense?  Searching for examples of women being asked for it on a first date turned up this piece, which as anecdote does suggest it might be happening, but only in the no-strings, one and done, dating sense (and in Australia).  Which it must be said, isn't wholly surprising.

None of this is to deny that porn certainly can be a problem amongst the impressionable, and that Cosslett is absolutely right in arguing that sex education desperately needs reform to address something that just 15 years ago wasn't anywhere near as big of an issue.  As Flying Rodent says though, sex education is not going to be a panacea.  Some of it ought to be pure common sense: if kids really do think the back bottom is as pliable as some porn makes it look and accessing it is also as painless, they've clearly never tried to stick a finger up their own passage or indeed took a dump, and I honestly don't believe anything other than a tiny minority do believe such, err, crap.  They might get the impression that heterosexual anal sex is normal, or that women universally enjoy it when they most certainly do not, but even that latter assertion seems dubious when plenty of porn does not suggest that at all.  The more honest makers will often include interviews with the stars where some have made clear they either don't like it or only do it because of the money.  Some of it is also about how to empower women to say no (and for some men to know that no means no): why do some whom as Cosslett puts it mock and deride their partners for asking for such things when with their friends feel unable to do so in the bedroom?

As Cosslett also says, what we really need is some proper research into sexual attitudes among the young, and also some facts on just how many really do watch porn and to what extent.  This is difficult precisely because of the age of those involved and due to the potential for lying and boasting which goes hand in hand with the discussion of sex, but clearly we need to go beyond anecdotes and a discussion based around them when no one really knows the reality.  One suspects it isn't as bad as Cosslett suggests, but there will be a minority who have been affected.  We won't know that however until we can talk about it, and that also seems as difficult as ever without descending into hyperbole.

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Hmm, I imagine that a successful seagulling session must require a great deal of practice and rehearsals.

I wish I hadn't read this post. I'm going to be thinking about seagulling all day now...

And you've left me envisioning exactly what a rehearsal would entail.

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