James Deen: Porn's Boy-Next-Door
November 18, 2012 7:45 PM   Subscribe

For any parent concerned about what their teen does online, the huge popularity of the young man you are about to meet may be deeply disturbing.

His blog: they hire me to get it on and i like that [NSFW].

Numerous NSFW fan tumblrs like Fuck Yeah James Deen and Mr. James Deen have over 1300 hardcore scenes to draw from. Is James Deen the hardest working boy-next-door in porn?

Bonus: Why James Deen's penis?
posted by the young rope-rider (212 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also, previously.
posted by lalex at 7:51 PM on November 18, 2012


Was that article originally published in the SF Bay Guardian, or was it just a very very similar one?
posted by kenko at 7:51 PM on November 18, 2012


James Deen participated in a reddit AMA not too long ago.

"i pretty much fall in love for 45 minutes a day every day with whoever is letting me touch their genitals"
posted by tapesonthefloor at 7:52 PM on November 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


It will come as no surprise, but I really love the demons that this phenomenon scares up. Just exposing the fact that hardcore sexuality is behind all that Beatlesmania and Bieber Fever and the Twihards and all those other teen girl phenomena that people sneer at and treat as less than human. It's just sex. The girls wanna bang.
posted by stoneandstar at 7:52 PM on November 18, 2012 [45 favorites]


A different one on an identical theme.
posted by kenko at 7:52 PM on November 18, 2012


"In the 1980s and '90s, the grodiness of the male talent migrated somewhat, from Holmes-style Swamp Things to steroidal Fabioids."
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:58 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


How did "cunnilinctory" get past the editors? That's a horrible neologism. What's wrong with "cunnilingual"?
posted by kenko at 8:00 PM on November 18, 2012


"Small and swart, snacking avidly on Miss Kross, Deen vaguely favors the incubus in Fuseli's The Nightmare."

"Favors"? Not, say, "resembles"? This writing is beyond weird.
posted by kenko at 8:01 PM on November 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


"i pretty much fall in love for 45 minutes a day every day with whoever is letting me touch their genitals"

That's so shallow. I feel exactly the same way. Except for that whole "every day" bit, goddammit.
posted by Decani at 8:01 PM on November 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here is a NSFW example of James Deen being very amusing to me
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:03 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


stoneandstar - yes! i've gotten in the conversation with a few people about why girls cry for the beatles, nkotb, bieber, etc - with my opinion being that it's intense arousal and confusion about it. i remember having a less severe form of that reaction when i was 11-13.
posted by nadawi at 8:04 PM on November 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Favors"? Not, say, "resembles"?

I believe it's a fairly normal Southern US usage.
posted by yoink at 8:05 PM on November 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


That James Deen vs parents framing is just embarrassing.
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:05 PM on November 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


James Deen's self-declared greatest artistic achievement
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:07 PM on November 18, 2012 [26 favorites]


If only Kayden Kross had told David Foster Wallace she was a fan, amirite? We might right now have both David Foster Wallace and one hell of an interesting novel.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:08 PM on November 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


"A good portion of Deen's oeuvre consists of rather not-nice stuff: spitting, whipping, choking, slapping, etc. "
I never understood the whole "choking" thing. Like, when a guy just starts choking a woman during sex. Do females enjoy erotic asphyxiation?
posted by Redfield at 8:12 PM on November 18, 2012


Like, when a guy just starts choking a woman during sex.

Well, outside porn it's considered polite to ask first...
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:14 PM on November 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


James deen put his cock in a tube...

you can watch the process here with belladonna and her fist/arm. it's nsfw in that they're making a sex toy, but everyone is dressed.
posted by nadawi at 8:14 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do females enjoy erotic asphyxiation?

Some do, as "females" are not a monolithic group.
posted by lalex at 8:14 PM on November 18, 2012 [49 favorites]


Some females.
posted by peacheater at 8:15 PM on November 18, 2012


I never understood the whole "choking" thing.

I think it's more common to enjoy pretending to choke/be choked by someone, as part of a domination/submission fantasy, which is very commonly enjoyed
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:15 PM on November 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Porn Star with a Publicist.
posted by TimTypeZed at 8:16 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Females" is a creepy noun to use when "women" is available.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:16 PM on November 18, 2012 [94 favorites]


Do females enjoy erotic asphyxiation?

Count me in as a female who enjoys this.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:16 PM on November 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Do females enjoy erotic asphyxiation?

some do. some don't. i found it by myself before i ever saw any porn or so much as kissed someone. it's mainstream enough that checkout lane magazines offer it as a sex tip, but they say things like, "hang your head over the side of the bed to make the blood rush to your head for a mind-blowing orgasm!" or whatever - same idea though.
posted by nadawi at 8:17 PM on November 18, 2012


there are all sorts of reasons to like breath play and choking that aren't related to bdsm - and, of course, all sorts of reasons that are related. i don't think this restricted to women or submissives.
posted by nadawi at 8:19 PM on November 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


there are all sorts of reasons to like breath play and choking that aren't related to bdsm - and, of course, all sorts of reasons that are related. i don't think this restricted to women or submissives.

Indeed. It's a pretty natural thing for your hands to go there. Without seeing the films in question, I doubt he's, like, wringing anybody's neck or anything.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:22 PM on November 18, 2012


motivational
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:24 PM on November 18, 2012 [15 favorites]


I think I remember reading about some doctor testifying (where?) that girls had orgasms at Elvis and Beatles shows.
posted by thelonius at 8:26 PM on November 18, 2012


What is up with the writing in this piece? There's a lot of obvious thesaurus thumbin' in it - so many 50-cent words.
posted by flex at 8:27 PM on November 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think this post should be a little more up-front about the contents before the fold. I thought it'd be about Justin Bieber or some accordion-playing teen sensation or something. It could cause trouble for people clicking on it at work when offices open up tomorrow.
posted by painquale at 8:28 PM on November 18, 2012


I think I remember reading about some doctor testifying (where?) that girls had orgasms at Elvis and Beatles shows.

I am imagining a super creepy dude standing around in a lab coat with a clipboard and trying to convince girls to let him probe them.
posted by elizardbits at 8:29 PM on November 18, 2012


Why I’d Be Glad If My Daughter Was Watching James Deen
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:30 PM on November 18, 2012 [14 favorites]


There is, of course, nothing the least bit bothersome with young boys being familiar with pornography.
posted by modernserf at 8:34 PM on November 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


I read the text above the fold, and was like OH GOD YES MY KID IS STILL TINY BUT I TOTALLY HAVE ANXIETY ABOUT WHAT KIDS GET UP TO ON THE INTERNET! And then I clicked and discovered that it was just some porn guy, and I experienced a really intense surge of relief.

Signed, raised by hippie weirdos.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 8:42 PM on November 18, 2012 [12 favorites]


As a linguist, I took particular delight in the anecdote where "I'll be licking her ass, [getting her ass all wet so you can fuck her] [while she's sucking your cock]" was misinterpreted as "I'll be licking her ass, [getting her ass all wet so you can [fuck her while she's sucking your cock]]". Oh, syntactic ambiguity in the wild! Shame it's a *touch* too explicit to put in a problem set...
posted by ootandaboot at 8:43 PM on November 18, 2012 [18 favorites]


You know, I have been expecting someone like him to emerge for some time now, and he is just as short and slight, personable, biddable, unpredatory, and unthreatening as I could have hoped-- though apparently quite a bit smarter than I thought he'd be!

Oh well; there really is a war between men and women, and he is a soldier, a weapon, and contested ground all at once.

I only wish I could feel better about the whole business.
posted by jamjam at 8:44 PM on November 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Best line in the whole goddamned article:

"He will not dress as a clown and have sex with someone; nor will he permit someone dressed as a clown to have sex with him. Clowns make James Deen uncomfortable."
posted by echolalia67 at 8:45 PM on November 18, 2012 [41 favorites]


And we respect his right to be squicked out by clowns! So it goes with modern sexuality. Huzzah!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:52 PM on November 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


a yawning, defanged lamprey with strep throat.

OK, that was good. Oh god, the visual--!
posted by nacho fries at 8:53 PM on November 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


NSFW: James Deen Is A Baby Panda And This Is A Gangbang
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:56 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


James Deen with a clown making honka-honka-honka noises would be incredibly amusing.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:56 PM on November 18, 2012


Purely because it's on topic (sort of -- it's porn) and probably won't fly as a FPP on its own this this here, I present to you an article I was just reading over lunch, and because this will inevitably veer into "porn some women like" anyway:

Girls on film: Australia's 'reality porn' king
He’s a pioneer of online “female-friendly ethical erotica” – and it’s making him a motza. Chris Johnston meets Aussie “reality porn” king Garion Hall.
(Safe For Work)

1. Yes, he did take his name from The Belgariad.
2. Abby Winters probably doesn't exist as a person.
3. Yes, all that stuff about urination is true.


And finally, panda gangbang is not a phrase I thought I would ever read.
posted by Mezentian at 8:59 PM on November 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


i've gotten in the conversation with a few people about why girls cry for the beatles, nkotb, bieber, etc - with my opinion being that it's intense arousal and confusion about it.

I disagree about the "confusion" part. When I was 13 and watching Robert Plant onstage, I knew exactly what I wanted from him and/or to do with him, and there was no confusion whatsoever. I'm certain that your average Belieber feels the same way.
posted by jokeefe at 9:04 PM on November 18, 2012 [16 favorites]


Deen is interesting (and in fact, he reminds me a bit of Gay superstar Colby Keller for his wit, his artistiry, and is construction of personal personae that includes porn), I wonder about the tension b/w him insisting on safety and consent wrt harsh scenes (getting hit is hot, getting choked is hot, if its consensual) and his not using condoms and working against porn industry requiring condoms. With the rise of barebacking in gay porn, straight porn's entire absence of rubbers is really problematic. Can someone explain it.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:04 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I loved the porn equivalent of Eats Shoots and Leaves.
posted by arcticseal at 9:07 PM on November 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


jokeefe - everyone is different. i think the girls bursting into tears might know what she wants to do or some vague idea that it's related to sexy times, but i remember still being very confused, bordering on scared, about the rush of hormones and the dampening of my panties up until i was about 12 or 13, even though i started masturbating 3 or 4 years earlier. it absolutely drove me to bursting into tears when a boy i liked said hi.
posted by nadawi at 9:08 PM on November 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


There is, of course, nothing the least bit bothersome with young boys being familiar with pornography.

Duh. Boys wanting to have sex is natural.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:10 PM on November 18, 2012


James Deen on California's new condom measure
posted by naoko at 9:11 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Killer Krush -- more on fangirls.
posted by empath at 9:13 PM on November 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


James Deen on California's new condom measure

That's definitely measure like law and not measure like measurement or like an exciting new size or anything. Definitely. And I knew this from the start.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:16 PM on November 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sorry to get anyone's hopes up!
posted by naoko at 9:20 PM on November 18, 2012


naoko: "James Deen on California's new condom measure"

I don't see how that law can stand, it's a pretty straightforward violation of the first amendment.
posted by mullingitover at 9:20 PM on November 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


panda gangbang is not a phrase I thought I would ever read.

Well, you've only been around for six months, so I guess it's understandable.
posted by tzikeh at 9:25 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pepsi Blue-movie Star
posted by Stoatfarm at 9:40 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The jocularity of the GQ piece bugs me. I don't know why. You would look silly if you tried to write about this subject in the style of William Langewiesche. But Wells Tower still manages to make himself look silly. He doesn't fit his style to his subject. The professionalism of big pornography, not to mention James Deen's contentment with his work, doesn't harmonize with Tower's mess of neologism and five-dollar vocabulary.

He's pretending to belong to a demimonde that doesn't exist. When he's not doing that, he's trying to Say Something about Men's Wishes. He could have cut his raptures and left Deen's lack of companionship, Proxy Paige's suffering, and Allie James's personal damage to speak for themselves. Journalism teachers should use this article to demonstrate the validity of some of their stricter rules.

Anyway, Wells wrote about a subject worth covering. I like James Deen's attitude, which is much healthier for the young girls in his audience than, say, Twilight.

Of course, no one's watching porn for their health.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:45 PM on November 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


There is, of course, nothing the least bit bothersome with young boys being familiar with pornography.

Yeah exactly. "The shocking new phenomenon of young boys following the career of a female porn star!" Not a thing.

I never went through a Belieber phase or whatever, but I was reading hardcore BDSM male/male slash fic by junior high. Previous to that I was confused about my sexuality but hadn't really identified it with men yet-- there was a weird stage in between where I had crushes on boys but didn't identify my sexual arousal with them, but it passed quickly, thanks to the internet. I wish the situation were just better for girls in general. I mean, when guys get all "of course I watch porn, I'm a guy, there's porn, guys watch porn," it used to bother me, but I couldn't put my finger on why-- now I can, and it's that it must be so nice for there to exist this entire "adult entertainment" industry just for you. For straight men, that is. I think I was jealous and annoyed that the world was so fucked up about it.

I can't imagine how many women would regularly watch porn alone if 1) there wasn't a strong cultural prohibition against it and 2) it was actually made for them. As a teenager the vast majority of porn kind of turned me off for sexism reasons (not intellectual reasons, visceral ones), but when I'd occasionally come across the right video, I couldn't help myself. They weren't all soft, nice, feminine erotica either, some of them were quite brutal. I also masturbated to Sears catalogs and the weird sex ads in the back of my parents' True Crime magazines. It's weird that we think only young boys feel or are capable of feeling that kind of sexual compulsion, especially during puberty.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:52 PM on November 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


*saying "for straight men" was kind of confusing, there's a lot of porn for men in general, but I was annoyed mostly talking to straight men/boyfriends about it (since there was usually the implication that as a girl I would not get the appeal or something).
posted by stoneandstar at 9:56 PM on November 18, 2012


The jocularity of the GQ piece bugs me. I don't know why.

It definitely had tone problems. I got the feeling the author felt he was writing Another Fucking Porn Industry Fluff Piece and that he was at his best when he finally said the hell with it and used it as an opportunity to practice his purple prose instead. But then he got defensive about it at the end which was a shame.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:06 PM on November 18, 2012


James Deen's self-declared greatest artistic achievement

I think that's an LA thing. I used to have a lemon tree in my back yard in Silverlake, the neighbor kids were always stealing the lemons. I didn't really care, I never used them, and they'd just fall into my yard and rot if someone didn't take them. So one day I was cooking something that needed a lemon. I went into my back yard and plucked one, a big lemon 4 inches in diameter. I cut it in half, it was 3 inches of rind with 1 inch of woody, bitter pulp in the middle.

So there, ya lemon stealin whores! The lemons were sour anyway.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:21 PM on November 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Deen has a store, and I can't figure out if I want to buy the 'No Panties Allowed' or the 'Finger Blast Chart' poster. Although, the Ass Slam t-shirt is in serious contention, the brass knuckle butt plug is a bit pricey.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:25 PM on November 18, 2012


You know, I have been expecting someone like him to emerge for some time now, and he is just as short and slight, personable, biddable, unpredatory, and unthreatening as I could have hoped-- though apparently quite a bit smarter than I thought he'd be!

Oh well; there really is a war between men and women, and he is a soldier, a weapon, and contested ground all at once.


. . . hang on, what? I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to say here, but the way you list these adjectives makes it sound like Deen is somehow remarkably "personable, biddable, unpredatory and unthreatening." But he's only unusual by the standards of the porn industry -- he's a lot closer than the rest of the industry to your average guy and, probably, your average sexual encounter. Not to mention that, since he's partly famous for very aggressive kink porn, presumably nobody's drawn to him because they're mixing him up with a teddy bear -- rather, what you read as "biddable" is actually more like "pays attention to consent." Which strikes me as a big step forward for men and women alike, not some kind of action in a war between men and women (???).
posted by ostro at 10:28 PM on November 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, the "short and slight" bit probably contributed to his fame less because it makes him nonthreatening (if that's what you're implying) and more because it makes his penis look bigger.
posted by ostro at 10:30 PM on November 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


The idea that "pays attention to consent" is unusual for men is really depressing to me.
posted by davejay at 10:46 PM on November 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


from article: "...an Italian porn star known for full-contact choreographies in which he dragoons pretty ladies into tonguing his caboose."

I just thought I'd let you all know that I have a new least favorite phrase.
posted by koeselitz at 10:48 PM on November 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Also for sale in his store: The James Deen Signature Cock, which I like because it implies that he has like twelve different cocks but this is his top-of-the-line ultra-premium cock that he fucks you with on special occasions.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:58 PM on November 18, 2012 [20 favorites]


Now I have The Little Red Caboose imaged in my head.

MY EYES MAY NOT RECOVER. Particularly since... Ugh.
Rosebud ain't just a sled, if you know what I mean. (and if you don't, you don't want to).
MY BRAIN MAY NOT RECOVER.
posted by Mezentian at 11:01 PM on November 18, 2012


Am I the only one who finds this all terribly disrespectful of the memory of James Dean?
posted by Scram at 11:02 PM on November 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


The idea that "pays attention to consent" is unusual for men is really depressing to me.

Well, yeah, it is depressing, but on the other hand, this is mainly in the context of the sex industry, where mainstream porn can be incredibly gonzo (ie, brutal) and there is no real indication that the performers, the men in this case, are particularly self-aware, or particularly care about what they are doing, and how they are doing it, to their partners.

Which differentiates Deen, I suppose. The people (men? women?) who are watching his porn are presumably also keyed into the whole idea of consent, and that there are some people who like to be on the receiving end of rough stuff, and some who are not into it.

Which is incremental progress.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:14 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


What is up with the writing in this piece?

The author had to fill eight pages were one or two would've been sufficient.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:53 PM on November 18, 2012


Of course, no one's watching porn for their health.

But I read somewhere that regular masturbation was good for my prostate! Honest!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:28 AM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


That lemon stealing whores video up-thread is simultaneously cracking me up and bringing back weird memories of multi-day drug trips with people who were way more into the fetish scene than I ever was. On day 3 or 4 I might step out into the backyard for a cigarette to see a couple whispering ridiculous, fantastical words of love to one another in the sunshine while a coked up girl in her underwear and heels stumbled around behind them, although she was usually holding a whiskey bottle instead of loading lemons into her bra. Generally that was the signal to call it quits and go home to bed for a few days.
posted by mannequito at 12:29 AM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Actually, jamjam, would you be willing to elaborate on what you meant? I'm interested in what you're saying but honestly can't tell if you mean that porn is a war against women and women are striking back or that men should be relieved that James Deen is so nonthreatening or something else entirely.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:33 AM on November 19, 2012


The idea that "pays attention to consent" is unusual for men is really depressing to me.

I've slept with maybe two or three people total who didn't violate my consent in some way. Often they were open to being educated about what they did and once they realized it, felt bad about it. It's just that men are really not taught about consent. Most men probably don't really know what active consent means, or have never realized that someone might feel intimidated by them doing something that, to them, seems normal or even romantic (and it might be romantic for a different person...which is where consent and communication come in).
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:44 AM on November 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


mullingitover: "naoko: "James Deen on California's new condom measure"

I don't see how that law can stand, it's a pretty straightforward violation of the first amendment
"

That's freedom of expression. Literally.
posted by Red Loop at 2:31 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Clowns make James Deen uncomfortable.

They intimidate him. (You know what they say: big feet, big shoes, etc.)
posted by pracowity at 3:15 AM on November 19, 2012


I'm going to be late for work because I am here reading an article about a porn star...but it seems to me that maybe male porn stars have less psychological ramifications (like the other one married to the woman, the guy who does gay porn) and maybe less conflicted or complicated reasons why they are doing it in the first place. I may get jumped on here for saying it...but I don't think porn star is a desirable career choice for most women (as in 'I always wanted to be a....')- especially once the money is taken out of it. The women seem damaged, the men don't. How's that for a controversial statement?
posted by bquarters at 3:57 AM on November 19, 2012


I never understood the whole "choking" thing. Like, when a guy just starts choking a woman during sex. Do females enjoy erotic asphyxiation?

Some do. Some don't.
However, I'd safely wager that the percentage of real-world women who enjoy treatment along the lines of choking, spitting, gagging, etc. is far, far lower that what it seems to be if you accept porn as some type of societal benchmark.

Porn remains overwhelmingly a male-centered entertainment, Mr. Deen's supposed popularity with young women notwithstanding. Frankly, I'm not convinced of it. I smell marketing at work, myself.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:41 AM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


How's that for a controversial statement?

Predictable, tired, and sexist? Not controversial at all with most of the population?

I don't want to start a big derail about the condom law, but lots of smart people in the LA adult industry (see Bobbi Starr) oppose it for sound reasons, for example that testing has a lower failure rate than condoms so the condom law will expose more performers to HIV not fewer, that condoms are not designed for the kind of sex it takes to shoot a film and will fail even more than usual, and that the law is not based on sound studies, but lobbying by a problematic organization.

I have to add that I feel a deep kinship with James Deen based about 95% on my conviction that he's as frustrated Southwest don't fly BUR - SFO as I am.
posted by crabintheocean at 4:53 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the most interesting thing I learned from this is that the sex is not actually completely scripted, which is fascinating. I always thought it'd be more "do this exactly for four minutes, then this" sort of stuff. Instead he....negotiates boundaries, takes some general cues, and goes for it? Fascinating.
posted by corb at 5:08 AM on November 19, 2012


The whole article is about this priapic young man who can drive for hours across California without rest to have an hour of sex with women he doesn't know and still remain tumescent for the stills shots.

And we still don't get a title like "***** Without a Pause."
posted by MuffinMan at 5:20 AM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wow, I had not heard of the Columbiners mentioned in empath's link. Lots of interesting points made there.
posted by XMLicious at 5:22 AM on November 19, 2012


I read the leader ("For any parent concerned about what their teen does online, the huge popularity of the young man you are about to meet may be deeply disturbing.") and I thought to myself "This is going to be about James Deen, Nice Guy Next Door of porn." I am both tickled and somewhat concerned to have been dead right on all counts.
posted by which_chick at 5:25 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the real story here is how involved Deen is in Kink.com's general mainstreaming of BDSM.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:40 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


...James Deen, Nice Guy Next Door of porn

I have to admit, after perusing Deen's blog, I'm just a tad disturbed that the supposed "nice guy next door" is pretty-much pushing the usual bdsm/choking/spitting/rough anal/degrading/etc. that pervades porn today. Hardly "nice", nor "next door" really. Other than his "not a steroidal meathead bubba" looks, I'm at a loss to determine the reason for his celebrity.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:42 AM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Porn remains overwhelmingly a male-centered entertainment, Mr. Deen's supposed popularity with young women notwithstanding. Frankly, I'm not convinced of it. I smell marketing at work, myself.

For what it's worth, my mom board is somewhat obsessed with him, producing hundreds of comments about him and coming up with strategies to get him to notice them (us?). I think he's very attractive to a lot of women. I can't say about teenagers, though.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:43 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I disagree about the "confusion" part. When I was 13 and watching Robert Plant onstage, I knew exactly what I wanted from him and/or to do with him, and there was no confusion whatsoever.

I think the "confusion" part comes from a lot of girls feeling all of that on the one hand, but on the other hand being uneasy about feeling that because of either "is it...okay that I feel that? Does that make me a bad girl?" or because of "but what is doing that with him actually gonna really be like?" I really think a lot of girls go for celebrity crushes because somewhere subconsciously they know they're never going to happen, so it's a safe place to project sexual desire until they're more comfortable with the fact that they actually have sexual desire.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:06 AM on November 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


I first heard about him in this article. It shows how things have changed - I was a teenager in the 90s, so my exposure to porn was print stuff aimed at men, Barely Legal etc, with horrid misogynistic copy and girls who, even to a teenager, looked disturbingly young. I first saw internet porn in 1998, when I was 16, and only then at someone's house because we didn;'t have a home connection - I was curious and looked up the 'weird porn' on AskJeeves, but I still found porn really weird - as a teenage girl from a Catholic school, there was the feeling that I shouldn't be looking at it, and I had the idea it wasn;t really designed for women anyway.

I can't read the article as I'm at work, but the poster upthread about Beatlemania/Bieber Fever is right. It's not seen as acceptable for teenage girls to look at porn (but wahey lads fwoargh red blooded men have tits under the mattress unless they're some kind of poof or something) and in a way, even if sex scared me a bit, I would have liked something that made me feel it was okay to have sexual feelings and it didn't make me weird or a slut. I think something like that is even more important now that young women can very easily find hardcore porn online without looking too hard. I bet it's even more confusing if you realise you're kinky or gay - you can find horrid, exploitative-looking BDSM or 'lesbians' on most porn sites but nothing that resembles what it might be like if you do it in real life, and I think that's what teenage girls are most curious about.

It's why 50 Shades is so popular - partly women who have never come across erotica for much the same reasons, and partly women who would really like to get into using porn but haven't found something which isn't misogynistic, exploitative, fake-looking or uses women that look creepily young. I bet there'd be a lot of men who'd sign on for something like that too.
posted by mippy at 6:20 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


...and partly women who would really like to get into using porn but haven't found something which isn't misogynistic, exploitative, fake-looking or uses women that look creepily young. I bet there'd be a lot of men who'd sign on for something like that too.

Yes, this.
A good part of the reason I am concerned for Deen's supposed popularity among young girls is that he's really just pushing the same generalized "brutality = sexuality" view that has become such a staple of porn today. His boy-next-door demeanor and looks are, really, just a marketing hook to widen porn's appeal to an audience this stuff usually repulses...young girls and women. They're making the same old violent crap, but with an acceptable face.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:37 AM on November 19, 2012


"you start sucking his dingy."

At least I know the technical lingo now.

Porn remains overwhelmingly a male-centered entertainment, Mr. Deen's supposed popularity with young women notwithstanding. Frankly, I'm not convinced of it. I smell marketing at work, myself.

I dunno. I mean, I keep reading comments and blog articles by women talking about how much they like him. At some point you'd want to hear what they are saying, I'd think. I was kind of skeptical and then I saw a linked clip somewhere that was like half regular boring porn and half intensely erotic focused on the woman, like very carefully wrapping her up in his muscular arms, etc; that clip made me see where that attraction is coming from. I haven't seen all that much porn, but I've seen basically none that does what he sometimes does.
posted by Forktine at 6:37 AM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


From what I remember and have witnessed when I leave safe search off images at work (apparently the name of a yarn is also the name of a porn star) bukkake seems really common online. I have kinky friends who would appreciate well-done BDSM and I can see how it can turn people on, but bukkake makes me feel really quite queasy and is one of those things which I don't see the appeal of at all unless it's a humilation thing. I can't imagine how weird it must seem to a teen girl who would see this stuff and think it's automatically what boys want. (When I was a teenager, we somehow got the impression all men, everywhere, wanted threesomes, and it made me a bit worried in case I didn't want to do it - sex with one person seemed kind of scary enough.) What's the brutality trend - is it possible to find non-icky kink stuff online, or is it something a young browser would find it hard to come across?
posted by mippy at 6:46 AM on November 19, 2012


bukkake makes me feel really quite queasy and is one of those things which I don't see the appeal of at all unless it's a humilation thing. I can't imagine how weird it must seem to a teen girl who would see this stuff and think it's automatically what boys want.

I was never a teen girl, nor did I have the pleasure of the buffet of porn we enjoy today, but as a teenage lad I can remember spending a lot of time thinking "really? That's what people like and do/want/want to watch"?

And that was your garden variety stuff like golden showers, threesomes and camels.
Not that I saw the camels (or horses, or mice) myself, but I understand the magazine (camels) and video cassette (horse/mice) was doing the rounds of the school.

Random data point there, admittedly. But there you have it.
posted by Mezentian at 6:56 AM on November 19, 2012


From what I remember and have witnessed when I leave safe search off images at work (apparently the name of a yarn is also the name of a porn star) bukkake seems really common online. I have kinky friends who would appreciate well-done BDSM and I can see how it can turn people on, but bukkake makes me feel really quite queasy and is one of those things which I don't see the appeal of at all unless it's a humilation thing.

I'm guessing for most bukkake is a humiliation thing; I'm sure there are people who have a different reason for liking it, but that's true of pretty much any sex thing. I think humiliation is almost certainly the bog standard reason for liking bukkake.

I also thought we reached peak bukkake in 1998, I haven't seen any genuine bukkake (money shots, obviously, but not bukkake) in porn in a while, but I might just be looking in the wrong places.

stoneandstar - yes! i've gotten in the conversation with a few people about why girls cry for the beatles, nkotb, bieber, etc - with my opinion being that it's intense arousal and confusion about it. i remember having a less severe form of that reaction when i was 11-13.

i think you're right about sexuality underlying Beatlemania, etc. , but I wouldn't say they're crying purely because of arousal and confusion about that. The collective effervescence of those sorts of concerts is incredibly intense and I think it would cause some people to cry just from being in the room.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:57 AM on November 19, 2012


I was reading a book about Britain in the late 50s early 60s, and cinema owners reported 'female hysteria' and puddles of urine under cinema seats after showings of A Hard Day's Night. I think it's part sexuality, part being able to get together in a group of people who feel as passionate as you do - almost like a female-gendered version of football crowds, fans being able to shout and wave banners and take over the road in their masses. Nobody looks at football supporters askance in quite the same way they do Beliebers or Twihards or even Rollers fans back in the day, though.
posted by mippy at 7:13 AM on November 19, 2012


I was reading a book about Britain in the late 50s early 60s, and cinema owners reported 'female hysteria' and puddles of urine under cinema seats after showings of A Hard Day's Night. I think it's part sexuality, part being able to get together in a group of people who feel as passionate as you do - almost like a female-gendered version of football crowds, fans being able to shout and wave banners and take over the road in their masses. Nobody looks at football supporters askance in quite the same way they do Beliebers or Twihards or even Rollers fans back in the day, though.

Yeah, there's certainly a gendered difference here in terms of how the outside world treats it, but they're all of a piece. I also think this converges a bit on the thread about how men and women react with different emotions, women are more likely to react to the abundance of emotion by crying than men. Obviously, this isn't universal, but you don't see a lot of men moved to tears purely because of emotions of being at a game. Moved to all sorts of other emotions, but much more seldomly tears.

Also, Rollers fans? Is that the Bay City Rollers? 'Cause I like the Bay City Rollers, but I had no idea they were ever a phenomena like that.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:28 AM on November 19, 2012


kenko: ""Small and swart, snacking avidly on Miss Kross, Deen vaguely favors the incubus in Fuseli's The Nightmare."

"Favors"? Not, say, "resembles"? This writing is beyond weird.
"

This is a Southernism. A child "favors" one parent or the other in looks or mannerism. The author, Wells Tower, grew up in North Carolina.
posted by workerant at 7:39 AM on November 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


i think you're right about sexuality underlying Beatlemania

Actually (sorry this is a bit jumbled) I think Beatlemania was more of a release of energy and a way of expressing previously unthinkable feelings of desire, simultaneous with the impossibility of ever uniting with the desired object. A lot more powerful and complex than sports games are for guys.

The stereotypical screaming girl at the Beatles show was in fact experiencing a socially-sanctioned temporary mental breakdown (hysteria) due to the overwhelming weight of these feelings. It's not really the same as hipsters in Vice magazine saying 'yeah, porn's cool' while James Deen gobs on another woman's face.
posted by colie at 7:39 AM on November 19, 2012


I am a female and I will totally admit to this thread not being my introduction to James Deen.

He's cute, he's kinky, and no matter what he's doing he's intensely focused on his partners' response. That's hot. He's constantly whispering things into his partners' ears that's for them only and not for the viewer. That's also hot.

Also I am happy that Lemon Stealing Whores has been linked. Pure. Comedy. Gold.
posted by Windigo at 7:41 AM on November 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


Also, Rollers fans? Is that the Bay City Rollers? 'Cause I like the Bay City Rollers, but I had no idea they were ever a phenomena like that.

Oh, god yes.
Rollermania was a tabloid phenomenon. I can't remember if it was the BCR or David Essex where the swell of kids was so great that a girl actually got crushed to death, but girls commonly fainted and had to be taken away by St John's Ambulance.

I wasn't born then but there's a great piece by Sheryl Garratt about her experiences as a superfan in the anthology Love Is The Drug which is an essential read if you're interested in teenage fandom and sexuality. I think someone else wrote a whole book about her Rollermania experience, but I can't recall who right now.
posted by mippy at 7:47 AM on November 19, 2012


Actually (sorry this is a bit jumbled) I think Beatlemania was more of a release of energy and a way of expressing previously unthinkable feelings of desire, simultaneous with the impossibility of ever uniting with the desired object. A lot more powerful and complex than sports games are for guys.

The stereotypical screaming girl at the Beatles show was in fact experiencing a socially-sanctioned temporary mental breakdown (hysteria) due to the overwhelming weight of these feelings. It's not really the same as hipsters in Vice magazine saying 'yeah, porn's cool' while James Deen gobs on another woman's face.


I'm not sure I'm seeing the distinction between that and a sports game, at least where we're talking about attendance at or viewing with a sufficiently large group (watching at home on your couch alone is a different animal). The behavior of sports fans is often what I'd call a "socially-sanction temporary mental breakdown" due to the overwhelming weight of their feelings about the game.

If it's less intense that has to do with frequency (you can to a game on a much more regular basis that a Beatles concert) and the fact that the teenagers in general just have more emotions to release than adults. I think they're both cases of people releasing intense emotions in a group, and responding to the collective effervescence inherent in that release of communal emotion. The difference is one of degree rather than type.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:48 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is the book I meant - it's a US fan's story though, not sure how huge they were in the States.
posted by mippy at 7:50 AM on November 19, 2012


Scram: Am I the only one who finds this all terribly disrespectful of the memory of James Dean?

Seeing how he slathers the ladies in butter and deep fries them before sex, I'd say it was an homage to Paula Deen.
posted by dr_dank at 7:52 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seeing as how it's about a guy and his sausage, I'd say it's a homage to Jimmy Dean.
posted by Bugbread at 7:58 AM on November 19, 2012 [13 favorites]


The difference is one of degree rather than type.

I'm really not sure... sports games seem to allow men to be critical commentators on the action as well as devoted fans, able to criticise the play harshly and coach's decisions etc, even to turn against the team and start booing if it all goes wrong.

Teenager at Beatles concert is being driven mad by the fact that she knows she cannot be united with the object of desire, yet he keeps singing these wild songs of love straight at me!

Reminds me of how Ringo was *by far* the most popular Beatle because many girls said straight out that they thought they might have a better chance of getting him because he wasn't as pretty, not the leader, etc. Do sports fans make these deranged fantasy-world bargains with themselves?

On the other hand, I've certainly seen men break down emotionally and then look for violence at sports games.
posted by colie at 8:00 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Remember the hooligan firms in the 80s? Just like there were kids who go to concerts or premieres just to scream, there were young men who would go to games just to fight. One is seen as a social menace, the other is seen as the object of derision.
posted by mippy at 8:06 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, my mom board is somewhat obsessed with him

The first three times I read this, I missed the word "board" and thought WHY? WHY would a mother share this kind of information with her child? I was very relieved when I read it through a fourth time.
posted by Daily Alice at 8:08 AM on November 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


Reminds me of how Ringo was *by far* the most popular Beatle because many girls said straight out that they thought they might have a better chance of getting him because he wasn't as pretty, not the leader, etc. Do sports fans make these deranged fantasy-world bargains with themselves?

I think there's analogous situations, sure. In sports, the thing that fans most want to be a part of isn't the individuals, it's the game and the team. The equivalent bargain, if you will, is when people identify most strongly with the players that most resemble them. This is part of the reason you get devoted followings for less athletic or talented white players. Fans (largely marginally athletic white men themselves) see more of themselves in David Eckstein or Mike Alstott than they do in Albert Pujols or Walter Payton. This isn't to say that people dislike Pujols or Payton, just that a large portion of the fan base is (largely unconsciously) saying "if I were on this team, this would be the guy I would be like" and latching their affections on them accordingly. When I was 10, I loved the everliving fuck out of a Carolina basketball player named Eric Montross because he was tall and kind awkward like I was. When I dreamed of being on the court, it wasn't as the most talented, it was as the more attainable.

I also think that sports teams effectively sing love songs at their fans (fans are the 12th man, we can't do it without our fans, etc.) while simultaneously denying their fans the ability to actually be part of the action on the field. Hell, at least in American football, players actually interact in brief tantalizing ways with the fans by doing things like leaping into the stands or throwing them balls, and people do go nuts when it happens. It's people getting a chance to interact with an otherwise unattainable object of desire. It's not sexual desire, but I think it is desire.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:16 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do females enjoy erotic asphyxiation?

I tried to ask around for you, but it turned out there's like, 3 billion of them.
posted by spaltavian at 8:40 AM on November 19, 2012 [19 favorites]


I have to admit, after perusing Deen's blog, I'm just a tad disturbed that the supposed "nice guy next door" is pretty-much pushing the usual bdsm/choking/spitting/rough anal/degrading/etc. that pervades porn today. Hardly "nice", nor "next door" really. Other than his "not a steroidal meathead bubba" looks, I'm at a loss to determine the reason for his celebrity.

I would conjecture that many women, if not most, are more interested in his non-BDSM work. I'm not a fan of BDSM, but I have seen his more "vanilla" work and it's smoking hot for the reasons many women have stated - he seems very focused on the woman's pleasure, he makes eye contact with them, whispers in their ear, etc.,. It's extremely erotic because he and his partner seem to be having the kind of sex most women enjoy and don't always get in their day-to-day sex life with their actual partners.
posted by echolalia67 at 8:56 AM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have to admit, after perusing Deen's blog, I'm just a tad disturbed that the supposed "nice guy next door" is pretty-much pushing the usual bdsm/choking/spitting/rough anal/degrading/etc. that pervades porn today. Hardly "nice", nor "next door" really. Other than his "not a steroidal meathead bubba" looks, I'm at a loss to determine the reason for his celebrity.

I would conjecture that many women, if not most, are more interested in his non-BDSM work. I'm not a fan of BDSM, but I have seen his more "vanilla" work and it's smoking hot for the reasons many women have stated - he seems very focused on the woman's pleasure, he makes eye contact with them, whispers in their ear, etc.,. It's extremely erotic because he and his partner seem to be having the kind of sex most women enjoy and don't always get in their day-to-day sex life with their actual partners.


I'm actually a little uneasy with the attitude that assume that either 1) that there's something wrong with women being interested in BDSM/choking/degrading/etc. or 2) that they're not really interested in it. Plenty of women do like rough degrading sex, both in reality and in porn, and I think if we're going to be sex and porn positive for women, we need to accept that rather than be disturbed by it or assume that they're really looking for something else. It's entirely possible that James Deen has legions of female fans who love watching him have rough anal sex with women.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:05 AM on November 19, 2012 [21 favorites]


There's nothing more depressing than hearing about guys who are really, really good at doing sex.
posted by colie at 9:17 AM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Plenty of women do like rough degrading sex, both in reality and in porn, and I think if we're going to be sex and porn positive for women, we need to accept that rather than be disturbed by it or assume that they're really looking for something else.

We are aware of this; but I think the fear is rather that BDSM and rough sex in porn promotes an imagined "percentage of women who do like rough sex" which is far larger than the actual percentage.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:27 AM on November 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm actually a little uneasy with the attitude that assume that either 1) that there's something wrong with women being interested in BDSM/choking/degrading/etc. or 2) that they're not really interested in it.

That's why I said "many, if not most". I'm sure that there are plenty of healthy, well adjusted women who get off on watching Deen's more kinky work. I'm just saying that most women are probably more interested in his conventional stuff. I'd even conjecture that his "vanilla" films would give women a sense of safety and a comfort zone to explore kink - kind of like dipping a toe in the pool to see if you like the temperature of the water.
posted by echolalia67 at 9:31 AM on November 19, 2012


We are aware of this; but I think the fear is rather that BDSM and rough sex in porn promotes an imagined "percentage of women who do like rough sex" which is far larger than the actual percentage

Fair enough, but isn't that a fear to be directed at men rather than women? A "don't assume all women are like the women you see in porn" message, rather than a "I'm disturbed that women say they like this rough porn" or "don't worry they don't really" message, which were the messages I was responding to?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:31 AM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


How did "cunnilinctory" get past the editors?

Get past the who, now?
posted by steambadger at 9:37 AM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bulgaroktonos: “Fair enough, but isn't that a fear to be directed at men rather than women? A 'don't assume all women are like the women you see in porn' message, rather than a 'I'm disturbed that women say they like this rough porn' or 'don't worry they don't really' message, which were the messages I was responding to?”

Hm. Are those really messages that anybody was sending in this thread, though? I'm not sure.
posted by koeselitz at 9:47 AM on November 19, 2012


isn't that a fear to be directed at men rather than women? A "don't assume all women are like the women you see in porn" message, rather than a "I'm disturbed that women say they like this rough porn" or "don't worry they don't really" message, which were the messages I was responding to?

I wasn't getting that read from the messages you were responding to at all, though.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:00 AM on November 19, 2012


“Fair enough, but isn't that a fear to be directed at men rather than women? A 'don't assume all women are like the women you see in porn' message ..."

I think that is exactly what is going on here. I think that the majority of MeFi men get it. Still, I don't think it ever hurts to to have a thoughtful discussion about the subject of porn sex vs. real-life sex, setting & respecting boundaries, and the importance of seeking and gaining enthusiastic consent from your partner.
posted by echolalia67 at 10:01 AM on November 19, 2012


Well, we did have the "do women really like choking?" question, as well as someone saying they were disturbed that this porn star popular among women was rough, and someone else saying that the women who like were probably drawn to his vanilla stuff.* Given that the prevalence of rough stuff comes up when people talk about Deen, I think it's worth making talking about the fact that "rough and degrading" does not mean that women shouldn't enjoy it, and that was a vibe I got from a couple comments.

*This is almost certainly true as a matter of pure numbers, but it kind of discounts women who do enjoy non-vanilla sex and tacitly accepts that being disturbed by women like rough porn is acceptable by changing the argument to "it's not all that disturbing stuff."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:06 AM on November 19, 2012


This is totally delightful to me. I had vaguely hard about this guy before, but reading up on him in this post, I feel like sending him a fan letter and I've never even seen his stuff. (Or his, you know, stuff.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:09 AM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hunter Thompson wrote this before he discovered drugs. Or Hell's Angels. I surprised myself by reading it all the way through. I wanted to see what her mother thought of the picture. I was intrigued by the literary value. I'm a sucker for cute turns of phrase.

Not that kind of sucker.

Crap. No more Leave it To The Beaver.

Crap again.

I should have just let it go.
posted by mule98J at 10:49 AM on November 19, 2012


What is hot about James Deen to me is that he is a) rough as fuck and b) completely attentive to his partner's desires while doing so. Perfect! I certainly would not kick him out of bed for farting.
posted by By The Grace of God at 11:42 AM on November 19, 2012 [10 favorites]


ABC nightline on James Deen
posted by Blasdelb at 1:46 PM on November 19, 2012


It's not seen as acceptable for teenage girls to look at porn (but wahey lads fwoargh red blooded men have tits under the mattress unless they're some kind of poof or something) and in a way, even if sex scared me a bit, I would have liked something that made me feel it was okay to have sexual feelings and it didn't make me weird or a slut. I think something like that is even more important now that young women can very easily find hardcore porn online without looking too hard. I bet it's even more confusing if you realise you're kinky or gay - you can find horrid, exploitative-looking BDSM or 'lesbians' on most porn sites but nothing that resembles what it might be like if you do it in real life, and I think that's what teenage girls are most curious about.

It's why 50 Shades is so popular - partly women who have never come across erotica for much the same reasons, and partly women who would really like to get into using porn but haven't found something which isn't misogynistic, exploitative, fake-looking or uses women that look creepily young.


I'm missing something here, and this isn't a dig at you, mippy. But: I've seen enough of Deen's "work." Scenes where, for example, he's having sex with a woman who's been ball-gagged and bound in a bar, with a whole bunch of people around who, occasionally, spit on her.

Uh, that's not misogynistic? Or it's not misogynistic if she consents to it?
posted by kgasmart at 1:46 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm missing something here, and this isn't a dig at you, mippy. But: I've seen enough of Deen's "work." Scenes where, for example, he's having sex with a woman who's been ball-gagged and bound in a bar, with a whole bunch of people around who, occasionally, spit on her.

Uh, that's not misogynistic? Or it's not misogynistic if she consents to it?


What if I told you there were women (and men!) who were into having that sort of thing done to them, and who were otherwise totally normal? And who really wished they could find porn that depicted that sort of thing and that was actually aimed at women as well as men?
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:14 PM on November 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


"I'm missing something here, and this isn't a dig at you, mippy. But: I've seen enough of Deen's "work." Scenes where, for example, he's having sex with a woman who's been ball-gagged and bound in a bar, with a whole bunch of people around who, occasionally, spit on her.

Uh, that's not misogynistic? Or it's not misogynistic if she consents to it?
"

So what you are suggesting is that, these many women who are into this, their choices/dispositions/interests arn't good enough and you know better ones for them to have?
posted by Blasdelb at 2:22 PM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


kgasmart: "Uh, that's not misogynistic? Or it's not misogynistic if she consents to it?"

Blasdelb: "So what you are suggesting is that, these many women who are into this, their choices/dispositions/interests arn't good enough and you know better ones for them to have?"

I don't understand this mindset at all. We all agree that there is a lot of misogyny in society, and that people often internalize that misogyny. But, because being sex positive is a good thing, we pretend that no women can internalize misogyny when it comes to sex? That anything that any women whatsoever like cannot, ipso facto, be misogyny?

If I'm not allowed to call slapping women, spitting on them, etc. "misogynistic", because some women like it, and as a man, I shouldn't tell people what they should or shouldn't like, then is it ok if my wife calls it misogynistic? And if she calls it misogynistic, am I allowed to agree with her?
posted by Bugbread at 2:59 PM on November 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm missing something here, and this isn't a dig at you, mippy. But: I've seen enough of Deen's "work." Scenes where, for example, he's having sex with a woman who's been ball-gagged and bound in a bar, with a whole bunch of people around who, occasionally, spit on her.

Uh, that's not misogynistic? Or it's not misogynistic if she consents to it?


If she consents to it is an active participant and is actively sexually pleasured by it, then no. Not in the least bit.

The stuff you're referring to is probably the stuff filmed at Kink.com HQ in the old Armory building in SF. Most of the videos they do have an interview at the end w/ the performer on the receiving end of the... attentions being filmed. And it's pretty much "Wow, I love doing that, I came so hard, I love being treated this way, yadda, yadda." (They do both het & gay porn). Most of those group scenes are also co-ed.

I've read interviews from the founder who basically said "There are enough people who get off on being treated this way that there's no need to bring in people who aren't enjoying themselves and just doing it for the money".

But yes, some people actually do have great orgasms when you spit on them while they're gagged and tied up. Some of them are also women.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:13 PM on November 19, 2012


I don't understand this mindset at all. We all agree that there is a lot of misogyny in society, and that people often internalize that misogyny. But, because being sex positive is a good thing, we pretend that no women can internalize misogyny when it comes to sex? That anything that any women whatsoever like cannot, ipso facto, be misogyny?

The issue is that 1) you're assuming it's internalized misogyny when it could be any number of things, especially given that plenty of men enjoy the same activities and 2) women (and men) who enjoy non-vanilla sex get enough shit from people without people giving it to them from a different direction.

Maybe it is misogynistic for women to want to be hit and spit on, maybe it isn't (there's really not a good way to tell), but they like and they're adults and it's not really any of your business to complain about other people's sex life.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 3:15 PM on November 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


If I'm not allowed to call slapping women, spitting on them, etc. "misogynistic", because some women like it, and as a man, I shouldn't tell people what they should or shouldn't like, then is it ok if my wife calls it misogynistic? And if she calls it misogynistic, am I allowed to agree with her?

People can call something what they want. Doesn't mean others have to view their decision as reasonable or accurate.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:28 PM on November 19, 2012


What if I told you there were women (and men!) who were into having that sort of thing done to them, and who were otherwise totally normal? And who really wished they could find porn that depicted that sort of thing and that was actually aimed at women as well as men?

I've got a hunch it's easier for those women to find porn that appeals to them than it would be for women who aren't into that sort of thing to find porn that appeals to them.

(For the record: I've looked for such porn. Unless I'm really looking in the wrong place, it's rare.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:28 PM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Bugbread: "I don't understand this mindset at all. We all agree that there is a lot of misogyny in society, and that people often internalize that misogyny. But, because being sex positive is a good thing, we pretend that no women can internalize misogyny when it comes to sex? That anything that any women whatsoever like cannot, ipso facto, be misogyny?

If I'm not allowed to call slapping women, spitting on them, etc. "misogynistic", because some women like it, and as a man, I shouldn't tell people what they should or shouldn't like, then is it ok if my wife calls it misogynistic? And if she calls it misogynistic, am I allowed to agree with her?
"
Internalized misogyny makes a really poor model for understanding the pleasure that the subset of women who enjoy being spit on and slapped derive from dom/sub situations. For starters, it totally fails to explain the nearly equivalently large number of straight and gay men who have equivalent sub fantasies. Regardless, it is indeed a reflection of deeply rooted misogyny for someone, male or female, who is not one of these women and are not speaking for themselves or their own sexual interests but instead trying to explain other women's interests to speak for them without evidence, a clear rational of any kind, or even a basic knowledge of the communities of folks who have those interests.

Women are indeed quite capable of misogyny, we've got that thread going now, but, even if it did have misogynistic roots, attraction is not a moral act. Declaring that mutually consensual, enthusiastic, and harmless kinks are somehow bad however certainly is.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:32 PM on November 19, 2012


Yeah, I've got a long history here of being very sex positive, as well as being in favor of sex workers, et.al. But, I find current trends in porn to be very disturbing from a feminist standpoint. Porn in the last decade has become increasingly violent and degrading to the bottom of either sex.
posted by dejah420 at 3:35 PM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I've got a hunch it's easier for those women to find porn that appeals to them than it would be for women who aren't into that sort of thing to find porn that appeals to them.

(For the record: I've looked for such porn. Unless I'm really looking in the wrong place, it's rare.)
"

Empress, sadly both are pretty rare. Porn marketed to appeal to straight men with unexamined BDSM interests is pretty different from the kind of porn we're talking about and James Deen does in ways that are not necessarily immediately obvious to those without sub interests.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:39 PM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bulgaroktonos: "they like and they're adults and it's not really any of your business to complain about other people's sex life."

Well, then it's a bit of a rock and a hard place situation. If you're presented with something you believe is 1) misogynistic (and you're supposed to call out misogyny when you see it), but 2) sexual and consensual (which you're supposed to unilaterally accept), then you have to pick which is more important to you, I guess.

I guess I consider fighting misogyny to be everyone's business, regardless of where it happens. And, to be clear, I'm just talking about disliking misogyny in porn. I'm not talking about keeping consenting adults from doing what they want to, any more than when I say "Eminem's lyrics are misogynistic" I'm talking about preventing Eminem from singing about what he wants to. He's free to sing it, I'm free to find it misogynistic. Gonzo porn producers are allowed to degrade women on film to make a buck, and I'm free to find it misogynistic.
posted by Bugbread at 3:45 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


i'm far more unsettled by things that go on in naughty america or bang bus than what goes on over at kink.com.
posted by nadawi at 3:46 PM on November 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


i feel like james deen's approach to sex and kink is similar to the approach you find in stuff from pink&white productions - it's hyper sexed, it's rough, but it's made hotter by enthusiastic consent. that makes it very different than what you'll find at generic big porn houses with a random porn duo.
posted by nadawi at 3:50 PM on November 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


i'm far more unsettled by things that go on in naughty america or bang bus than what goes on over at kink.com.

COSIGN! There is some horrible, HORRIBLE porn out there that honest-to-Elvis seems to come from a place of misogyny and outright hatred of women. I'm a married het guy who likes rough sex & porn and there is some HATEFUL shit out there.

James Deen, kink.com, etc, these folk are the well-mannered, polite, we like you and want everyone to have a good time and that involves ball gags & ropes & some slapping crowd.

One doesn't start getting to the truly horrible stuff until you move past JD.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 4:00 PM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I think "why do people like rough sex?" and "why are women in porn slapped around so much?" are two really different questions.

In the real world, there are individual people (of all genders!) that like getting beaten on, and other individual people who like doing the beating, and when they find each other and get each other off it's a beautiful thing. I don't think that's necessarily evidence of misogyny.

In the porn world, it is famously impossble to find anything that looks like real vanilla sex. Even "vanilla" porn is incredibly rough, to the point where most of the stuff in it would count as BDSM if you did it in the real world. Hell, I'm a pretty kinky guy, and a lot of the content in so-called "vanilla" porn really goes well beyond my boundaries. (I'm thinking of the oral sex in particular. I like sucking cock, and I like having my cock sucked, and I'm a kinky motherfucker, but there's no way in hell I'd participate in that sort of facefucking — in either role — without a safeword and an awful lot of negotiation and even then I'd be reluctant to go there at all.) The "norm" is just skewed incredibly far over towards the women-as-submissive-sluts end of things.

And I do think there's something misogynistic there. Not that you personally must be a misogynist to make or enjoy that sort of porn — but that in a better world, it would be one flavor among many instead of the standard default.

That certainly matches my own feelings about Eminem, which are basically "He was actually really damn good at what he did, and he had every right to do it, and I'm gonna keep listening to it — but it says something sort of depressing about our culture that he ended up so much bigger than any progressive/feminist/"conscious"/whatever rap act ever did."
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:09 PM on November 19, 2012 [13 favorites]


What nebulawindphone said. I've actually completely quit watching mainstream porn because a lot of it disturbs me (and I am very into BDSM).
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:20 PM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


And, to be clear, I'm just talking about disliking misogyny in porn. I'm not talking about keeping consenting adults from doing what they want to

I'm not really sure that's a particularly easy distinction to make. Telling someone that what they do in their own home is fine, but you're upset by people watching videos of people doing the things they enjoy is tricky. Not impossible, but you have to do a lot more work than say "he's slapping that woman! Misogyny!"

Well, then it's a bit of a rock and a hard place situation. If you're presented with something you believe is 1) misogynistic (and you're supposed to call out misogyny when you see it), but 2) sexual and consensual (which you're supposed to unilaterally accept), then you have to pick which is more important to you, I guess..

There's misogyny all over; you could spent every waking moment of your life calling it out. If you see it in porn, that's fine, but understand that when you explicitly take time to call it out in porn that women enjoy, you're making it harder for women to enjoy porn that they like without feeling shame; women get enough shit about their sexuality from all sides without another group joining the fray to tell them what they're doing wrong. Fighting misogyny is an admirable goal, but when you do it in a way that's psychologically harmful to actual women, I think you've prioritized the wrong thing.

As far as mainstream porn goes; yeah, a lot of it appeals to guys who are into BDSM and don't quite realize it yet. It's very rough, rougher than I like a lot of the time, and I'm not timid by any means. I think the answer to that problem is more people making more diverse porn that appeals to a wide variety of tastes, which is the direction of the industry, as far as I can tell.

I also think that the fact of the matter a lot of men like sex that is rough and degrading to women. If you think that's a problem, the solution would seem to be education about things like the importance of consent and mutual enjoyment as well as how to express a fondness for rough or degrading sex in a healthy way, rather than trying to stigmatize those desires. Complaining about people having sexual desires you don't like never works to change those desires, and a taste for rough porn is a sexual desire even doesn't fall under the "consenting adults doing what they want" idea of sex.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 4:32 PM on November 19, 2012


Bulgaroktonos: "I'm not really sure that's a particularly easy distinction to make. Telling someone that what they do in their own home is fine, but you're upset by people watching videos of people doing the things they enjoy is tricky."

I may not have expressed myself clearly. I didn't mean to say "doing is fine, but watching is not", I meant to say "doing or watching are both, to some degree, misogynistic (with the degree of misogyny attendant on many factors), but I don't believe they should be illegal", just like singing a misogynist song and listening to a misogynist song are both, to some degree, misogynistic, but I'm not saying Cannibal Corpse should be pulled off the shelves.

Bulgaroktonos: "If you think that's a problem, the solution would seem to be education about things like the importance of consent and mutual enjoyment as well as how to express a fondness for rough or degrading sex in a healthy way, rather than trying to stigmatize those desires. Complaining about people having sexual desires you don't like never works to change those desires"

That makes sense. I'm certainly not trying to convince anyone here in this thread that they should switch their sexual tastes. It's just that Blasdelb's comment rubbed me wrong, saying not that "complaining about perceived misogyny in porn isn't going to change peoples' desires", but implying that calling abuse porn misogynistic was, in itself, actual some kind of crypto-misogyny. That's the key idea I'm disagreeing with.
posted by Bugbread at 5:01 PM on November 19, 2012


Bugbread: I think the trouble here is the ambiguity of the word "misogynistic," and a lot of the pushback you're getting is more like "Hey, careful where you point that" than anything else.

I mean, if I say "that scene was misogynistic," it could mean
  1. "The guy in that scene was acting like he hated women"
  2. "The director of that scene obviously hates women"
  3. "Anyone who enjoys that scene obviously hates women"
  4. "Some women who watch that scene find it upsetting and threatening"
  5. "Every woman who watches that scene ought to find it upsetting and threatening"
and so on. Seems pretty clear that you'd agree with some of those but not others — but just saying "this is misogynistic" doesn't really make it clear, and so you end up with a lot of folks saying "Wait, I like that stuff, are you calling me a bad person?"
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:13 PM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't understand this mindset at all. We all agree that there is a lot of misogyny in society, and that people often internalize that misogyny. But, because being sex positive is a good thing, we pretend that no women can internalize misogyny when it comes to sex? That anything that any women whatsoever like cannot, ipso facto, be misogyny?

I think a lot of people like being degraded during sex, and sexism (and racism actually) are really powerful triggers for humiliation. I don't think there's anything "internalized" about it, unless I'm imagining "internalized sexism" to mean something other than it really does. Misogyny is being used as a tool for degradation. What's dicey about it is whether or not it's okay to use it in that way in an industry that is on the whole hugely skewed toward male pleasure. It's kind of fucked up, but that doesn't make it less viscerally effective.

Likewise there are men that like to be called fat slobs and idiots and so on because it's powerfully humiliating. I think calling the desire to be humiliated in general "internalized misogyny" is a huge misunderstanding of human sexuality. (Not that anyone was explicitly saying that? Idk, I didn't read the entire thread).

I agree with Empress and others that it's very very difficult for women who don't like rough porn to find what they like. I, on the other hand, do like watching a rough anal scene, so I'm in luck, but it's just another way that culture privileges sexual behavior that favors men and male dominance.
posted by stoneandstar at 5:17 PM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I may not have expressed myself clearly. I didn't mean to say "doing is fine, but watching is not", I meant to say "doing or watching are both, to some degree, misogynistic (with the degree of misogyny attendant on many factors), but I don't believe they should be illegal", just like singing a misogynist song and listening to a misogynist song are both, to some degree, misogynistic, but I'm not saying Cannibal Corpse should be pulled off the shelves.

Denying women agency in their own choices isn't "crypto misogyny" it's just straight up misogyny. When you say that anyone into that is actually wrong and only thinks that because society has twisted them, you are insulting those women. Surely some have internalized misogyny, but most women are sexually competent.

Somehow, I doubt you would be insisting that any man who enjoyed this "abuse" must have internalized misandry.
posted by spaltavian at 5:18 PM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I agree with nebulawindphone that watching porn directed for men that features a lot of misogynistic humiliation very easily feeds into pre-existing misogyny and makes the world a more difficult place for women. I actually do totally believe that, I think porn as it exists has a net negative effect on women (just based on my experiences). But it doesn't make me enjoy humiliation less. I agree that we should have a more nuanced way of calling porn "misogynistic" so that we're discussing specific factors, because targeting humiliation in general is pointless.
posted by stoneandstar at 5:20 PM on November 19, 2012


If we're getting away from porn and going into rough sex at home with a male top and a female bottom/submissive, well, I have to strongly disagree that it is inherently misogynistic. It can be done with a lot of love, generosity, and respect for the woman. I've honestly felt the happiest and most comfortable as a sexual person and comfortable with my body while bottoming for someone I trusted and liked, who was really into making sure I had a good time. Saying that it was misogynistic even when there was no hatred there, I felt awesome, and the guy wanted me to feel awesome...that to me makes no sense. I don't think you can divorce the experiences of the people experiencing the sex from the specific sex acts themselves, look at them from the outside, and say "that's misogynistic" or "that's not misogynistic". I mean, how many date rapes look like nice, normal vanilla sex? There comes a point where the feelings and intentions of the people involved become more important than the assumptions of a third party who isn't even witnessing the acts in question.

This is different from porn, because porn is by definition not private and affects a lot of people besides just the actors directly involved (and it's a lot easier to make a case that it can have a misogynistic effect even if the people involved are not themselves being misogynistic).
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:11 PM on November 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


spaltavian: "Somehow, I doubt you would be insisting that any man who enjoyed this "abuse" must have internalized misandry."

In most cases, probably not, but that's because our society isn't exactly rife with misandry.

spaltavian: "Denying women agency in their own choices isn't "crypto misogyny" it's just straight up misogyny."

This is all Kgasmart said: "I'm missing something here, and this isn't a dig at you, mippy. But: I've seen enough of Deen's "work." Scenes where, for example, he's having sex with a woman who's been ball-gagged and bound in a bar, with a whole bunch of people around who, occasionally, spit on her.

Uh, that's not misogynistic? Or it's not misogynistic if she consents to it?


I fail to see how this "denies women agency in their choices" and is therefore straight-up misogyny.

I somehow feel like I'm in the Zwarte Piet discussion, with folks saying, "Not all blacks in the Netherlands find it racist, so therefore it isn't, and therefore calling it racist is in itself racist."
posted by Bugbread at 6:23 PM on November 19, 2012


I agree with Empress and others that it's very very difficult for women who don't like rough porn to find what they like. I, on the other hand, do like watching a rough anal scene, so I'm in luck, but it's just another way that culture privileges sexual behavior that favors men and male dominance.

I'm a man who's happy taking the dominant role sexually, and I don't feel well served by the porn I've seen. I think it's partly a consent thing -- it's hard to assess consent in porn, and the scenes of James Deen that get linked a lot have a very unusual (for porn) vibe of "woah, total consent!" going on that is incredibly hot. Generic rough porn/bdsm stuff doesn't have that, and as a result isn't hot.

And I do think there's something misogynistic there. Not that you personally must be a misogynist to make or enjoy that sort of porn — but that in a better world, it would be one flavor among many instead of the standard default.

I agree. It's interesting how in a world where porn is easy to find and most if not all flavors of sexuality are represented, how monotonous the vast majority seems to be.
posted by Forktine at 6:30 PM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's like he actually likes the women he has sex with.

And he wants them to enjoy the sex.

And most of them seem to like him too.

And then he even says nice things about the women he has sex with.

How novel.
posted by whoaali at 6:35 PM on November 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


You know, on further reflection, I guess misogyny is another of the many issues I should just not give my opinion on. I'm not saying that in a defensive or mean way, but sincerely. I really never expected to be engaged in a discussion where saying "a video of a man physically abusing a woman for sexual gratification is a bad thing" would be considered a misogynistic position to take.

I guess me commenting on misogyny is like me commenting on guitar construction or rocket design — I don't have enough knowledge on the subject to have a useful opinion, so it's stupid for me to run my mouth off about it. I can't really see how my engagement in this discussion has benefited me, or anyone else in the thread, and I apologize.
posted by Bugbread at 6:37 PM on November 19, 2012


a video of a man physically abusing a woman for sexual gratification

The point you are missing is that it is for the sexual gratification of both happily consenting parties. It's not solely about the man's gratification. I don't get why this is so difficult to see.
posted by elizardbits at 7:51 PM on November 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Thanks Bugbread. I just think it's an incredible copout to say - it's misogynistic if it's being imposed upon you but NOT misogynistic if you want it imposed upon you. Can we just say, some people are turned on by misogyny, so long as they think they have control over it?

I don't give a fuck what people want or like. What I do think is odd is for people to say that they shall be the arbiters of what is and isn't misogynistic, based solely on whether something turns them on or not.
posted by kgasmart at 7:58 PM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


elizardbits: "The point you are missing is that it is for the sexual gratification of both happily consenting parties. It's not solely about the man's gratification. I don't get why this is so difficult to see."

No, I get that part.
posted by Bugbread at 7:59 PM on November 19, 2012


kgasmart: "I'm missing something here, and this isn't a dig at you, mippy. But: I've seen enough of Deen's 'work.' Scenes where, for example, he's having sex with a woman who's been ball-gagged and bound in a bar, with a whole bunch of people around who, occasionally, spit on her. Uh, that's not misogynistic? Or it's not misogynistic if she consents to it?"

Blasdelb: "So what you are suggesting is that, these many women who are into this, their choices/dispositions/interests arn't good enough and you know better ones for them to have?"

It seems worthwhile to note that we made a leap here. There's a huge difference between (a) women (and men) who may enjoy rough sex, ball gags, binding, etc and (b) James Deen making very popular pornography which seems at a glance to cater to those tastes. One may accept and welcome (a) while disputing the validity of (b). As I believe Empress has been indicating here, it might be that, far from simply catering to a market segment that prefers that type of sex, this particular popular kind of pornography is also having the unintended effect that it's reinforcing misogynist tropes among the mass of viewers who are watching it.

What I mean is: statistically, the vast majority of people who will watch James Deen's scenes are heterosexual men. I am willing to bet that the majority of men who watch him won't notice or otherwise internalize the fact that he supposedly cares so much about consent. What they'll see is a man roughing up a woman sexually and a woman who enthusiastically consents. The fact that porn normalizes certain male expectations about the way women act in the real world is at this point almost a cliche, but it isn't any less true. It seems to me that this kind of pornography tends to lead men to expect that deep down all women want this type of sex - or at least to believe that that is the ideal. Sure, there are women who do, but not all do. And when men go into sex believing that that's what all women want, then both men and women end up suffering.

Mostly, it's interesting to me that we make this identification now - we identify the sex act with the pornographic representation. When someone says that maybe the representation is wrong, the response is a defense of the act itself; every time someone in this thread has questioned whether Deen's work is misogynist, the response has been: no, women who like this kind of sex are not misogynist. It's as though there's this expectation, this extension of sexual rights - if you like a particular kind of sex, then society owes it to you that you be able to view a representation of that kind of sex while masturbating. I wonder if that's true. It seems to me that actual sexual freedom is a separate thing that's much more important than the luxury of having pornography tailored to one's interests. And I can't help but feel as though the popularization of images of rough, male-dominant sex must have some impact on the minds of people who end up watching it.
posted by koeselitz at 10:01 PM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is the thing: in our society, images and stories of violence against women are ubiquitous. It's an constant theme on television, in movies, in comics, etc. I think it can probably be said that this is because of patriarchal society; violence against women is superficially condemned, but in truth it is an incessant reminder that women are supposed to be victims, are supposed to look to men as their saving protectors and guardians.

Now, I know it's dangerous to try to talk about what's behind the sexual predilections of others, but it seems to me that, in the face of this constant bombardment with the "women are helpless victims of violence" message, it would make sense that some women (and men) might find liberation in turning the tables on that narrative. BDSM seems to me to be a way of dealing spiritually with power imbalances one faces in life, and in this case it makes some sense; consenting to violence, demanding it even, finding and embracing someone who can inflict violence and degradation as an act of pure love - this is a kind of revolutionary act, a rebellion against the pressures which frequently demand that women play the part of helpless victims saved by noble men.

So we've got two things here: we have a media narrative of violence against women who need kind men to rescue them - and we have a lot of women and men who rebel against this narrative by combining violence with love. The issue, I think, is that a lot of us look at this and worry that it's the media narrative rather than the rebellion against that narrative. I think the world of pornography is naturally very shifting and changeable, and the way it is perceived is almost invariably different from the way it's intended simply because of the individualized nature of sexuality.

It seems reasonable at least to be concerned that James Deen's work is really just fading into the larger pornographic tapestry of women being victims of men. I imagine there are plenty of men who watch it for the wrong reasons.
posted by koeselitz at 10:35 PM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have no doubt that the popularization of images of rough, male-dominant sex have an impact on society, and I wish there was more pornography that catered to women-centric fantasies in a really radical way, like, really being focalized through female desire, even while involving female submission. I think changing the discourse like that would solve a lot of ills.

But I think when there exists pornography like James Deen's that makes women feel comfortable and sexually "listened to," it's not sufficient to just point at society in general and say "these are misogynistic trends and this pornography is misogynist." Sure, that's part of a more complicated critique of what's going on. But if some women want to see a woman being spit on while gangbanged, that's what they want to see. That's what's unique about Deen's films for a lot of women; they're not gritting their teeth through the nasty, clearly misogynist parts, they're actually enjoying the eroticism of the entire scene. Claiming that for themselves is actually kind of a big deal. It's sort of the fundamental tenet of BDSM or whatever, that the submissive is in charge because he/she's dictating what he/she wants and will permit.

In fact, as a woman who does want to see raunchy porn, it's as much about wanting to see men in a state of irrepressible arousal as it is about wanting to feel humiliated. I am very very sympathetic to the idea that seeing repeated pornographic images of women being dominated by men serves to neglect women who want more tame or loving or just "normal" images of sexuality, but the narrative that all women want is gentle, loving sex, and don't really like rough sex except for making men happy, and are not only lying to themselves but reveling in misogyny is really difficult to shoulder too. In the real world, if you like rough anal sex, some men will start thinking of you as a slut and lose respect for you thanks to the madonna/whore complex. If we accept as a baseline truth that a lot of people, male and female, enjoy being humiliated sexually, then writing the women in this group off as being sort of damaged or having internalized misogyny is bad for them and also nonsensical. Are the men who enjoy being humiliated totally off the hook, while the women who enjoy being humiliated have to shoulder social responsibility for their turn ons?

Context matters too. If a man calls me a slut during sex because he has no respect for women and finds me trashy for having sex with him and thinks he can get away with whatever he wants during sex because women are weak and too fragile to protest, I will (want to) knee his fucking balls in. If he treats me with contempt, sex is over. But if I'm sharing a humiliation fantasy with someone and he calls me a slut because we enjoy the power imbalance, we're savoring an experience together, and I don't see how that's misogynist or that we're "just" saying it's not because it's a turn-on. It's playing with misogyny, sure, and it will probably always be fraught, but if the person saying it doesn't believe that women are dirty and slutty for wanting sex or that judging them by their sexual histories is meaningful, then where does the actual misogyny reside? I used to have a boyfriend who wanted me to pretend he was my young student and that I was taking advantage of him sexually. He wanted me to call him humiliating names while I was doing this. Is this really internalized misandry (ugh) or is it just a part of human sexuality? It seems more to me like we're appropriating parts of a sexist discourse to create powerful humiliation fantasies.

koeselitz, I appreciate your critique. But I do think though that often when people see a porno where there's, well, a bunch of guys spitting on a woman being gangbanged, they're usually not just saying "this, in the context of the porn industry and a greater patriarchal society contributes to misogynist trends and fails to challenge rape culture and sexist narratives about sexuality," they usually seem to be thinking, "men who like this are misogynists, and women who like it... must have internalized misogyny, because how else could they enjoy it?" I think that you're right that pornography is a highly individual experience, and I also think that not understanding sadism and masochism in the larger context of human sexuality leads to a lot of shallow feminist critique.

Sometimes I wonder what the real issue we're targeting is: is it men who are ignorant about female sexuality and thus treat women on the whole as mere pornographic fantasies, while women go along with it because they don't have the social power to resist? Or is it the idea that pornography is encouraging rape fantasies and producing rapists? I don't think the latter is true.

I do think it's saddening that extreme sexual behavior seems to be more and more common as a result of pornography. On the other hand, if anal sex weren't as normalized as it is now, I'm fairly certain that I would be ashamed of how much pleasure it gives me and unable to enjoy it with a partner. And it is extremely pleasurable for me, so I would really be missing out. There's a lot going on there.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:06 PM on November 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


I really never expected to be engaged in a discussion where saying "a video of a man physically abusing a woman for sexual gratification is a bad thing" would be considered a misogynistic position to take.

Is a video of a woman physically abusing a man for sexual gratification beyond critique because it complies with our ideas about how power should be overturned? Would that video be unproblematic? Are male sadism and female masochism themselves the problem? Or is the problem that male sadism and female masochism are overrepresented in pornography, and thus the video itself may or may not be misogynist, but is refracted through the lens of the dominant culture? Does it make sense to invalidate the sexuality of female masochists because the overculture provides legal and economic advantages to men? Are rape fantasies themselves responsible for rape?
posted by stoneandstar at 11:14 PM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


But if some women want to see a woman being spit on while gangbanged, that's what they want to see.

Am I the only one who thinks it's perfectly possible to become initially aroused by something and then take a step back and say, Jesus Christ, how did it come to this?
posted by colie at 11:44 PM on November 19, 2012


stoneandstar: "koeselitz, I appreciate your critique. But I do think though that often when people see a porno where there's, well, a bunch of guys spitting on a woman being gangbanged, they're usually not just saying 'this, in the context of the porn industry and a greater patriarchal society contributes to misogynist trends and fails to challenge rape culture and sexist narratives about sexuality,' they usually seem to be thinking, 'men who like this are misogynists, and women who like it... must have internalized misogyny, because how else could they enjoy it?'"

Er - I disagree. If that were true - if people watching James Deen were usually condemning it as misogynist for some reason - then he would broke; but clearly people watch it and enjoy it and at least ostensibly believe that it's harmless. My point is more that I also really doubt that most men watching James Deen's stuff are thinking "this is a liberating inversion of sexist tropes." I think most men watching James Deen's porn probably completely ignore any enthusiastic consent from the women involved - which is pretty much standard in porn now, more or less - and focus on the violence.

"I am very very sympathetic to the idea that seeing repeated pornographic images of women being dominated by men serves to neglect women who want more tame or loving or just 'normal' images of sexuality, but the narrative that all women want is gentle, loving sex, and don't really like rough sex except for making men happy, and are not only lying to themselves but reveling in misogyny is really difficult to shoulder too."

I was about to say that I don't really like either of those things being normalized as the correct sexual approach, but really we're getting to the point where I have to be honest and confess that I really doubt the benefit of pornography as a media industry. We're living in the era of mass media manipulation for the sake of marketing products. When we move from erotica to pornography - that is, when we move from free expression of sexuality to an intentionally manipulative mass-marketed media industry - we get to the point where this is by necessity going to begin to calcify one unhealthy and even destructive idea or another. For the sake of preserving its monopoly status and its position as an underground commodity for which people pay a premium, the pornography industry necessarily must prop up patriarchal tropes like the shamefulness of sex and the subjugation of women to men. I feel like James Deen seems to have his sexual priorities straight, and seems to approach the whole thing in a relatively healthy way - but I'm not sure that matters, since his scenes are almost instantly coopted by an industry that unavoidably seeks to subjugate women and keep sex a shameful hidden thing.

I can imagine erotic images that are respectful and open-ended enough not to insist that anyone who prefers sex that's different is doing it wrong. I just don't see room for those images in porn today - not as it is. Sex should never be an industry; industries by their very nature normalize the ideal consumer and attempt to uphold traditional structures, no matter how harmful, in the name of stability.

And, reading back over this, I can imagine that it sounds like I'm saying porn is evil and people who watch it are evil. If that were the case, I'd have to include myself as evil, I guess. What I'm really trying to say is that I really wish erotic images could be liberated from the industrial chains that inevitably drag them down and turn them against us. And I really feel as though we can't expect pornography to stop reinforcing patriarchal bullshit and victimizing women and men until it stops being about a money-generating industry and starts being about free expression of sexuality.
posted by koeselitz at 12:41 AM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


What is hot about James Deen to me is that he is a) rough as fuck

I presume you mean sexually rough, not the UK meaning of 'rough as fuck' which made me think that it would be a bit unfair for him to shoot stag films with a hangover.
posted by mippy at 1:44 AM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is some horrible, HORRIBLE porn out there that honest-to-Elvis seems to come from a place of misogyny and outright hatred of women. I'm a married het guy who likes rough sex & porn and there is some HATEFUL shit out there.

I came across a video online of a woman tied up and giving 'oral pleasure', but it seemed less kinky and more like the woman was being forced to do so against her will, dragged around from room to room while some other guys were just milling around in the background drinking beer. It reminded me a bit of those shock sites that were popular when I was a teenager, where you'd look just to make sure that what you were seeing was what you were seeing even though it was repulsive. Maybe it was all consensual and I just don;t know my way around BDSM enough to know whether this was all part of the game and a big humiliation scenario and she really wasn't as utterly terrified as she looked, but it was fucking horrible and disturbed me for ages. This was something I came across fairly accidentally, not by typing in 'Slovenian piss rape' into Google, for example. I can't imagine how much that kind of thing would have fucked up my views on sexuality if I'd seen it as a younger, more inexperienced person.
posted by mippy at 1:52 AM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


BDSM seems to me to be a way of dealing spiritually with power imbalances one faces in life

Yeah, I can't speak for everyone, but I'm into it because it gets me off (and gets off the people I'm with) and allows for the kind of connection and intimacy that I imagine vanilla sex allows a lot of people who are into it. It's also not a high-minded choice that I made because of power dynamics or the dominant narrative or whatever--I've been into it since I remember having any serious sexual thoughts. I think there's a danger of over-intellectualizing or over-idealizing BDSM, and ignoring the fact that women want to get off and often like sex that is consensual and geared towards our pleasure. I also should say that I don't top men (my primary kink) to upend the power balance either--I do it because it gets both of us off.

It's always interesting to see people start talking about misogyny as a response to women enjoying themselves! I see things like, say, female beauty standards as a million times more oppressive to me on a daily basis than two people enjoying rough sex in the privacy of their own home. Again, porn is different for a lot of reasons, but consensual private rough sex? Man, call me when you fix makeup and body hair removal and stupid shoe expectations. Or societal expectations about parenting. I would like my child's father to be able to take him out AND have a private place to change his diaper AND have people not ask him where I am.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:37 AM on November 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


When we move from erotica to pornography - that is, when we move from free expression of sexuality to an intentionally manipulative mass-marketed media industry

I'm not an expert on the etymology of porn/erotica, but that definition strikes me as super problematic and ahistorical, and everything that follows from it is going to be just as problematic.

an industry that unavoidably seeks to subjugate women and keep sex a shameful hidden thing.

I don't buy this. Maybe the subjugation of women, in some cases and in some ways. But do the films directed by Joanna Angel (Deen's ex, by the way) subjugate women? It's not all Slovenian piss porn, and we are at a point where there are women-owned production companies and women are a marked and growing part of the market. Whatever subjugation is happening is a lot more complex than it was in the 1950s and 60s with Mafia-run distribution networks, illegality, and total male control of the process.

And that's the subjugation thing. If you can explain to me how the porn industry, in all its glorious complexity, is trying to keep sex shameful and hidden, I'm all ears, but I'm not seeing it. Old-school porn, yeah, and the nasty Slovenian piss porn that someone mentioned above, yeah, I can see that also. But the kind of modern, couples-centric porn that he is filming early in the article? The alt-porn of Joanna Angel? I'm not seeing an agenda for hiddenness and shamefullness there.
posted by Forktine at 5:21 AM on November 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Action movies teach us that the majority of conflicts can be resolved with no further consequences through the delivery of a well executed kick to the face.
posted by yonega at 7:20 AM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one who thinks it's perfectly possible to become initially aroused by something and then take a step back and say, Jesus Christ, how did it come to this?

No, throughout history plenty of people have felt entitled to dictate to women what they should and should not want sexually, and many people have indicated that women's sexuality is the main moral concern of society, and therefore society has a vested interest in commenting, shaming and controlling it. Ot's an idea as old as the Bronze Age. (Your appeal to Jesus of Nazareth is particularly apt.)
posted by spaltavian at 7:50 AM on November 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


(Has anyone else noticed it seems to be Let's Itemize All the Misogynistic Things week on MeFi -- not that there's anything wrong with that -- or am I just hallucinating [again])?

Like the "music industry," hasn't the "porn industry" been hugely decentered and transformed by DIY? I had the impression there's like 87,000 metric tons of free amateur porn video online.

About Deen's plain vanilla material, I watched a fan favorite (super duper NSFW), purely for research purposes, yesterday, and I have to say, it ain't the cruddy generic vanilla from the Sav-a-Lot with the freezer burn on the carton and the lid that tears open 'cause it's stuck to the sides by some gross gummy partial-melt residue. Oh no, this right here is your small-batch artisanal no-growth-hormone whole bean vanilla from the local organic dairy.

Anyhow, compared with the old-school Marilyn Chambers-type porn of my yout', this is a vast improvement. They are just not the same thing at all. Much more naturalistic in every respect. It's like the difference between a Snagglepuss [titter] cartoon and a Nova episode featuring actual lions.

The "babysitter invites her boyfriend over" framing is totally brilliant because nearly every single woman I know (of my generation) either actually did that as a teen or knows someone who did. Also, babysitting has enormous erotic associations for some women because the houses where we babysat are where the porn was kept before there was an Internet. Man, my friend Karole sat for this couple two streets away from my house that had a cornucopia of dirty magazines in their linen closet.

The only things that could use some work are incorporating more of a Tracy-and-Hepburn, peer-to-peer vibe. Yes, the woman is present and joyfully participating, but she's following the leader the whole time instead of that being more fluid and collaborative; she doesn't seem to initiate anything or actively assert herself.* On the other hand, sometimes what looks sort of passive or responsive is actually just someone experiencing the trance-iness of intense sensation and concentration, so whatever. There are some moments when Deen seems genuinely driven wild, but more of that would be nice.

The camera work is by and large free of Extreme Gynecological Close-ups; it mainly lets us look at whatever we want to look at rather than forcing our gaze here or there, but not the whole time. And every time the camera pulls my attention away from what I want to look at, that says, OH THERE'S A CAMERA, RIGHT and also, JUST IN CASE YOU'RE DIGGING THIS, PLEASE REMEMBER IT'S REALLY FOR GUYS. All in all, if my 18 year old niece is watching this video, good for her.

*Weirdly enough, a submissive woman in BDSM scenes generally seems much more active and equal to me than the girl in this vanilla video. Because bottoms set the boundaries or at the very least negotiate them. I can't articulate it, but they don't "follow"; they don't just, I don't know, lie there and "get serviced." They have the veto power (regular and line-item). If President Obama, in addition to his other powers, had a line-item veto and Congress had no override, well, we'd hardly say Barack was being subjugated just because he wasn't personally moving the bill through much of the process.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:56 AM on November 20, 2012


Like the "music industry," hasn't the "porn industry" been hugely decentered and transformed by DIY? I had the impression there's like 87,000 metric tons of free amateur porn video online.

There is stuff claiming to be amateur porn. But more often than not it is the same-old-shit with shittier camera work so it looks like it's amateur. And no I will not tell you how I know this.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:00 AM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think there's this bright line that says "if it turns you on, it's not problematic" or "what you do in the privacy of your bedroom cannot be problematic" or "if it's an improvement on X, then it's not problematic". There's plenty that we do to function within the existing paradigm that is problematic - beauty standards, societal expectations, and yes, sexually. I don't think that means it is wrong that we do these things or that we are wrong if we like them or they turn us on.

But I think these things exist within the society we live in, that we were brought up in, that we internalized. We like these things (and are turned on by this or that) all within that context. We cannot opt-out of that context and say "I like these things because I simply like them, and that is all, there is no more to it" and not acknowledge how these things came to be or why, or not acknowledge how it is represented by and interpreted by the society we live in. Well, I mean, you can *say* that if you want, but it isn't true.

None of this can be reduced to or resolved by - there is this side, and there is that side; pick a side. I think people want these things to be black-and-white so they're easier to understand and cope with and function under, but they are not. You can acknowledge what is good about a certain representation or action, and acknowledge what is not so great about it, all at the same time.

Awareness and analyzing is important, IMO. It's not going to evolve if it's not acknowledged, picked apart, and rebuilt.
posted by flex at 8:01 AM on November 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


In most cases, probably not, but that's because our society isn't exactly rife with misandry.

So then I have two questions for you: why do you think some men might enjoy being submissive, and do you think any of those reasons might also be applied to women?
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:10 AM on November 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


We cannot opt-out of that context and say "I like these things because I simply like them, and that is all, there is no more to it" and not acknowledge how these things came to be or why, or not acknowledge how it is represented by and interpreted by the society we live in.

This was all I was trying to get at with my comment about stepping back and thinking, Christ look at this stuff. I mean, we're not animals at the mercy of every single variant of desire that comes our way. Just speaking as a man, I can be a bit aroused by something visually and then also think, "yikes, actually this is a guy in his socks, spitting into a splayed anus for 800 dollars while it's filmed by a bunch of small time crooks in LA. Have I gone mad?"
posted by colie at 8:28 AM on November 20, 2012


Like the "music industry," hasn't the "porn industry" been hugely decentered and transformed by DIY? I had the impression there's like 87,000 metric tons of free amateur porn video online.

There is stuff claiming to be amateur porn. But more often than not it is the same-old-shit with shittier camera work so it looks like it's amateur. And no I will not tell you how I know this.


I think what you're describing is gonzo porn.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:31 AM on November 20, 2012


We like these things (and are turned on by this or that) all within that context.

Okay, I'm not going to argue with this premise because honestly I just don't feel like it. But I assume you can see that these kinds of arguments can be troubling to people, right? Because on some level it removes the agency of women to consent to and participate in things that they like. They're being told they like these things and want to do these things not because they honestly enjoy them and wish to participate in them, but because they have been warped into wanting these things through societal expectations and internalized emotional attachments to, idk, gender norms?
posted by elizardbits at 8:33 AM on November 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'd say less that it removes the agency of women than that it acknowledges that agency and choice are not the only things that influence people's actions, that nobody has 100% total agency and self-determination and control over everything they do. It's really just the age-old free will vs. determinism vs. nature vs. nurture vs. all of the above debate.

I am not a robot at the mercy of the 4800 influences operating on me. But I'm also not free of those influences.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:43 AM on November 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think you can honestly enjoy something and wish to participate in it, and *still* acknowledge that you are a product of the society that surrounds you, that you were brought up in, that you are soaking in every day of your life - and that when you enjoy it and participate in it you are doing so within that context.

Believe me, this is not something I talk about dispassionately, or something I don't deeply feel myself. I process this every day. Just because people don't want to hear it or think about it doesn't make it not-true.
posted by flex at 8:47 AM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is stuff claiming to be amateur porn. But more often than not it is the same-old-shit with shittier camera work so it looks like it's amateur.

Again - I heard from a friend - a lot of it features very young looking women, or seems to be cam videos of ex-girlfriends (labelled as such) and that's creepy too. It'd be kind of like going onto a site for new, independently-operated bands and ending up finding slightly mis-labelled Nickleback videos. Or finding out that your local independent coffee place is actually a secret Starbucks franchise with a different fascia.

The "babysitter invites her boyfriend over" framing is totally brilliant because nearly every single woman I know (of my generation) either actually did that as a teen or knows someone who did.

None of us (my friends then and now) babysat as kids (not that I had a hot boyfriend who was sexually curious anyway, I spent much of my teenage years and a bit later wondering where the sex-positive, non-boring, non-arsehole guys were hanging out) but I can totally see that - it;s an improvement on 'man with sexy teen babysitter'.
posted by mippy at 9:02 AM on November 20, 2012


Unfortunately, mippy, the man-with-the-sexy-teen-babysitter scenario occurs in the movie excerpted in FelliniBlank's post.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:12 AM on November 20, 2012


Unfortunately, mippy, the man-with-the-sexy-teen-babysitter scenario occurs in the movie excerpted in FelliniBlank's post.

Oh crap -- I saw the leering at the beginning but didn't watch the thing all the way through.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:16 AM on November 20, 2012


Another thing that can trouble folks is what can feel like a tendency to point out the pee in somebody else's swimming pool as if to suggest there are some magical Platonic pee-free pools somewhere that everyone could dive into instead if we wanted.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:47 AM on November 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


(And I mean that can occur in the whole society-wide conversation, not this thread!)
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:50 AM on November 20, 2012


Because on some level it removes the agency of women to consent to and participate in things that they like. They're being told they like these things and want to do these things not because they honestly enjoy them and wish to participate in them, but because they have been warped into wanting these things through societal expectations and internalized emotional attachments to, idk, gender norms?


Why does one hold their fork in their right hand and their knife in their right or vice versa?
Why does it matter how close people stand to someone when they talk to them?
Why does one take their shoes off (or leave them on) when they come home?
Why do people wear clothes?
Why does one nod their head to indicate yes and shake it to indicate no? or vice versa? or neither?
Why does one think eating bugs is gross? Or not?

All of this is stuff people mostly have no choice in - habits that developed simply because of the culture one grows up in. Yet nobody talks about people's agency being removed when it comes to how much personal space they need when talking to someone but when it comes to sex, it's "oh no! You say I have no agency because my preferences have been influenced by society." I don't understand it.

Yes, people's sexual preferences, like a lot of other stuff in their lives, has been shaped by societal norms, cultural influences, people you associate with and all kinds of other random things including but in no way limited to your thoughts and feelings.

How does this remove agency when this applies to so much other stuff in people's lives? When this is essentially how people work?
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:50 AM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yup. Bingo. What felliniBlank said. Your (general) sexual habits, likes, dislikes, and practices are just as rooted in misogynistic society as mine are. I strongly resent and disagree with the idea that enthusiastically consensual and private bdsm is any more " problematic" and requiring of thoughtfulness about its roots in misogyny than hetero vanilla sex.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:56 AM on November 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


FelliniBlank, I didn't mean to diminish the quality of the scene you pointed out - it's pretty great for what it is. Still, I'm glad it got separated from the rest of the movie.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:06 AM on November 20, 2012


Your (general) sexual habits, likes, dislikes, and practices are just as rooted in misogynistic society as mine are. I strongly resent and disagree with the idea that enthusiastically consensual and private bdsm is any more "problematic" and requiring of thoughtfulness about its roots in misogyny than hetero vanilla sex.

I *absolutely* think that "hetero vanilla sex" requires as much thoughtfulness about its societal context as BDSM.
I have never said otherwise and I have never believed otherwise.
posted by flex at 10:10 AM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I strongly resent and disagree with the idea that enthusiastically consensual and private bdsm is any more " problematic" and requiring of thoughtfulness about its roots in misogyny than hetero vanilla sex.

But we're not having this discussion about what James Deen might do in his own bedroom. We are talking about the public performances he gets paid for.
posted by colie at 10:11 AM on November 20, 2012


I mean, for fuck's sake, there's way more people out there having "hetero vanilla sex" than people participating in BDSM.

What has more of an effect, what is more a part of most people's everyday lives - that we are surrounded by, that we are advertised to and what is assumed the norm? At least within BDSM there's negotiation and consent brought to the fore - I don't think many people having "hetero vanilla sex" would even think they should be considering those issues, would even be looking at the context; it's not a conscious thing for most people.
posted by flex at 10:31 AM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Y'all, I just went way back to where this started, and I think we are all in fact having two different conversations simultaneously.

I think a lot of people started reacting to this quote, reprinted for your reference:
"A good portion of Deen's oeuvre consists of rather not-nice stuff: spitting, whipping, choking, slapping, etc. "
I never understood the whole "choking" thing. Like, when a guy just starts choking a woman during sex. Do females enjoy erotic asphyxiation?
a lot of people came in to say "hell, no, I don't". And then a few others came in to say "I do, though". And then we got into a whole thing about whether it's okay for women to like that or not.

But I think we're all coming at this quote -- and, by extension, this conversation - from two different perspectives:

1. The vanilla chicks who don't like the rough stuff, and are uneasy about the "good portion of Dean's oeuvre" that seems to do this a lot. Because a lot of other porn also implies that all women are sekritly deep down into this, and that kind of disconnect just ain't cool to women who really, really aren't into it.

2. The chicks who do like this who are reacting to the "I never understood the chocking thing" section of the quote, and then by seeing all the vanilla women being all "ack eek" about it, and then they ended up feeling bad because "god dammit don't tell me I don't like this or tell me that i'm suffering gender oppression because I dig this for christ's sake".

I think it's important to remember that women who like playing with BDSM aren't, like, suffering oppression trauma and don't have weird troubled childhoods or anything like that; it's just a thing. Wiring is funky sometimes. But by the same token, it's important to remember that porn often paints a very, very different picture of what "typical women" are into when it comes to rough sex, and some of the people here may have had some weird experiences with that ("did you just come on my FACE, dude? You couldn't have asked me first?").

So - to answer the original comment that started all of this - some women may dig erotic asphixiation, and some women don't but may dig other things, but everyone's different so porn shouldn't be used as a human relations manual, and you don't have to "understand" anything about what kind of kink someone may be into other than "some people just dig that and so whatever".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:39 AM on November 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


AMEN
posted by elizardbits at 10:40 AM on November 20, 2012


Why does one hold their fork in their right hand and their knife in their right or vice versa?
Why does it matter how close people stand to someone when they talk to them?
Why does one take their shoes off (or leave them on) when they come home?
Why do people wear clothes?
Why does one nod their head to indicate yes and shake it to indicate no? or vice versa? or neither?
Why does one think eating bugs is gross? Or not?

All of this is stuff people mostly have no choice in - habits that developed simply because of the culture one grows up in. Yet nobody talks about people's agency being removed when it comes to how much personal space they need when talking to someone but when it comes to sex, it's "oh no! You say I have no agency because my preferences have been influenced by society." I don't understand it.


I don't think anyone's arguing that people's sexual preferences in this way are completely freely chosen; in fact, I think a lot of kinky people would tell you that their particular kinks are deeply rooted in parts of their brains that they don't really control.

The difference is that when you talk about sex and misogyny you're working in a context that's way more fraught with potential problems than talking to someone about what hand they hold their fork in. When you tell someone that their sexual preferences are rooted in societal misogyny you're 1) trampling into a deeply personal area of their lives about which people feel more emotion and shame than other areas and 2)implicitly judging their preferences. The result is that you're taking desires about which people already feel a great deal of shame and passing additional judgment on them. I understand that people might not mean to do this, but I believe that a large enough of women with an interest in kinky sex are going to feel this way for it to be worth talking about. I also think it's disingenuous to treat a deeply personal and important part of someone's life like it's the same as whether or not they wear shoes inside.

The other issue here is that you're not simply saying "your sex preferences are rooted in your experiences including society" you're saying "your sex preferences are rooted in a specific societal feature and that feature is misogyny." That goes beyond making a generic statement about how people's preferences are influenced by society. Maybe women who enjoy being humiliated or dominated do it because of societal misogyny, but there's a ton of other reasons that could be at play, too (as evidenced by the men who enjoy it), and those reasons get ignored with the conversation is just about how rough porn is misogynistic. In that way, while not really denying women agency per se you're ignoring their individualized experience.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:43 AM on November 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's just like cilantro, really.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:43 AM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am not coming at this discussion from either of EmpressC's perspectives, FWIW.
posted by flex at 10:48 AM on November 20, 2012


women who like playing with BDSM aren't, like, suffering oppression trauma and don't have weird troubled childhoods or anything like that; it's just a thing

Could be the time to remember that a disproportionate amount of the women James Deen has sex with in the pornography industry definitely *did* have troubled childhoods and are continuing to be in abusive relationships with men in the industry.
posted by colie at 10:49 AM on November 20, 2012


And I don't mean that in a smarty pants way (entirely). Just look how discussions of perceived innocuous, totally individual, and trivial personal preferences shake out. I have seriously had a colleague chase me down the hall trying to squirt hand lotion on my arm because of some random comment I made a week before about not using or liking hand lotion.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:50 AM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Could be the time to remember that a disproportionate amount of the women James Deen has sex with in the pornography industry definitely *did* have troubled childhoods and are continuing to be in abusive relationships with men in the industry.

Yeah, but just let's not use that as a reason to second-guess the women in here who have said "look, I like rough stuff and there's nothing wrong with that, okay?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:51 AM on November 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Could be the time to remember you can't listen until you stop talking.
posted by Pudhoho at 10:52 AM on November 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


the percentage of women who work in mall photography studios who have been abused is pretty high - something about people pleasing and creating perfect family memories probably - abused women work in lots of careers and using their abuse as a reason to not accept their consent about their life choices sucks.

i think a general conversation about the problems in porn is fair play, but i do think it sucks that it seems to burn its brightest when the topic is "things women have said gets them off" - you want to talk about seymore butts or some of the porn made out of eastern europe - there's all sorts of things to say about misogyny. you want to pile all that crap on james deen - a guy who really seems to understand that there are problems and uses his place in the industry to focus on enthusiastic consent - you're going to get some push back.
posted by nadawi at 11:13 AM on November 20, 2012 [14 favorites]


Am I the only one who thinks it's perfectly possible to become initially aroused by something and then take a step back and say, Jesus Christ, how did it come to this?

Seriously? What's the point? Are people running around full of breast-beating and concern because some men like being spit on and humiliated during sex? Why are women uniquely responsible for all the social ills of the world, presumably caused by men? I mean, if I were being a good feminist whenever it comes to these discussions about whether women are responsible for their own oppression I'd never wear makeup or fantasize sexually about the things which arouse me the most, I guess-- sounds like fun.

And it didn't "come to this," I've had fantasies like this since before I'd ever seen a porno, before I even really knew what sex was. I had fantasies about being spanked when I was a kid, masturbating without understanding sex or sexual desire. In ancient times, people liked some pretty grotesque shit too. Acting like it's "come to this" is part of the misunderstanding, really. And I'm okay with the idea that some people would rather practice their sexualities within certain bounds that they've set for themselves, but dictating that to other people, particularly women who probably already deal with slut-shaming and internalized shame about being sexual and expressing their taboo desires, is not actually helping those women, it's restricting them.

I am capable of acknowledging the norms that have led me to like what I like and I think I did a pretty good job of explaining how misogyny is used in humiliation fantasies from my perspective. But saying that it's about my internalized misogyny and that my sexuality is fucked up and I need to acknowledge that while hanging my head, unlike conventional vanilla sex (where men often "naturally" dominate, due to cultural norms), or sex where women dominate men, is just silly and unsophisticated.

Should we be concerned about the fact that so many women like the missionary position and like having the man on top? I have a feeling that people who like the missionary position would find that going a bit far, but why not. The assumption that men should dominate in conventional, vanilla, hetero sex and that women should not show arousal and men should pursue women are harmful and deeply rooted in our culture. Let's eradicate them by saying women should always initiate sex and should always be on top and calling the shots.

i think a general conversation about the problems in porn is fair play, but i do think it sucks that it seems to burn its brightest when the topic is "things women have said gets them off" - you want to talk about seymore butts or some of the porn made out of eastern europe - there's all sorts of things to say about misogyny. you want to pile all that crap on james deen - a guy who really seems to understand that there are problems and uses his place in the industry to focus on enthusiastic consent - you're going to get some push back.

Completely, completely, completely. You want to critique the porn industry, why not start where there is brutal, real-life misogyny taking place-- with directors who are raping their actresses, and with porn that's made without any self-consciousness about gender and consent. Why attack James Deen for being self-conscious about his role, making porn that appeals to women? Folks, we're literally looking at pornos that women enthusiastically love and saying, "but wait, these are fucked up, this is kind of bad for women." It's impossible to have this conversation without acknowledging the range of different sexualities that (in this case hetero) women have. (And again, I agree that there is a huge problem with over-representation of male dominance in porno. But that doesn't mean that women who like it are doing things wrong, any moreso than women who like their man on top calling the shots are, from the premise of a patriarchal society.)
posted by stoneandstar at 2:02 PM on November 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


Am I the only one who thinks it's perfectly possible to become initially aroused by something and then take a step back and say, Jesus Christ, how did it come to this?

Seems I'm getting flamed for this comment, and fair enough, I am way out of my depth on this topic. I didn't want to offend anyone, sorry if I did.

I said it as a man who sometimes sees the kind of James Deen porn and thinks it could be arousing, but also finds it very problematic and repellent at the same time. Not as a criticism of women who like doing whatever they like with guys in their bedrooms.

:-)
posted by colie at 2:47 PM on November 20, 2012


In ancient times, people liked some pretty grotesque shit too.

Exactly. Spoiler alert: Leda and the Swan was not actually the result of some dude watching bestiality on redtube.
posted by elizardbits at 3:00 PM on November 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


thelonius: I think I remember reading about some doctor testifying (where?) that girls had orgasms at Elvis and Beatles shows.
Some (much? most?) of the girls passing out at Elvis shows were hired to perform as a publicity stunt. No doubt the good "doctor" is in on the shill; at most I would say: How would he know?
posted by IAmBroom at 6:45 PM on November 20, 2012


colie: "Am I the only one who thinks it's perfectly possible to become initially aroused by something and then take a step back and say, Jesus Christ, how did it come to this?"

stoneandstar: "Seriously? What's the point? Are people running around full of breast-beating and concern because some men like being spit on and humiliated during sex? Why are women uniquely responsible for all the social ills of the world, presumably caused by men? I mean, if I were being a good feminist whenever it comes to these discussions about whether women are responsible for their own oppression I'd never wear makeup or fantasize sexually about the things which arouse me the most, I guess-- sounds like fun."

colie does make kind of a good point, as I think he's clarified nicely above, even if initially it seemed a little vague. Note that colie is a man, and that, when he talks about recoiling sometimes, he's emphatically not saying that women are complicit in their own oppression or that women are "women are uniquely responsible" for anything at all.

What I think colie is talking about is this sort of moment when a lot of us men get done watching something like a James Deen scene and suddenly stop short and say to ourselves: "okay, wow. I consider myself a progressive guy; I call myself a feminist; I try to stand against misogyny and for equality wherever and whenever I can - and I was just aroused while watching images of a guy doing some stuff that totally looked really abusive. Is that okay? Or am I really just a huge hypocrite?"

It is okay, of course. Rough sex is not abuse. What matters is consensuality. It's just - well, I think a guy who is caring and thoughtful really just has to have a moment when he stops and thinks a bit about James Deen's motivations. I have to say that, having thought about this, I do respect James Deen more than I did. I have a feeling he really does have this stuff sorted out pretty well for himself, and understands what consensuality and respect mean in these situations.
posted by koeselitz at 10:35 PM on November 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


One thing that I think there has been a lot of hand wringing about in this conversation is the effect that porn might have on increasing the number of total men who are turned on by these things. Now the effect that porn might have on these sorts of things is fantastically unclear, if there is any meaningful effect, but I do want to note that within just about every kind of dom/sub community conceivable there is a shortage of doms and an excess of subs. That is, especially progressive ones who call themselves feminists and try to stand against misogyny and for equality wherever they can.

In addition to being ok because consent is what matters, getting off on the kinds of things Deen does couldn't really be meaningfully said to be in any way hypocritical, as attraction is not a moral act. It is a lot closer anyway to an innate quality, and I think it is a shame that so many would be doms with the dispositions to beanplate things like this only see the surface layer and deprive much more than just themselves.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:48 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah koeselitz, but this is a conversation about women liking James Deen, so it does seem that in the context of the conversation the advice is for women to maybe step away and not indulge their darker urges. As in, if I can do this, why do we have to approve of women refusing to. I don't think that's good advice for men or women (neither do you it seems) but it does seem like there are quite a few guys in this conversation who are actually coming down kind of hard on women who are comfortable with (and very self-aware about) their interest in hardcore pornography, because they themselves have taught themselves to step away as a method of dealing with the misogyny in porn. I guess it seems likely that men and women deal with these issues pretty differently, thanks to socialization/experience.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:11 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sigh, you're absolutely right stoneandstar; somehow, like all feminism threads it seems, this became a referendum on convincing men to not feel so bad about how women are actually people.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:20 AM on November 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Porn stars are just like us (except happier)
A longstanding cultural assumption holds that pornographic actresses arrive at porn via a history of emotional damage. After all, nobody who wanted to have sex for a living could possibly be all right in the head, right?

But a new study, published in the Journal for Sex Research, suggests that the so-called Damaged Goods Hypothesis (or DGH, which posits that "female performers in the adult entertainment industry have higher rates of childhood sexual abuse, psychological problems, and drug use compared to the typical woman") is flat-out wrong. Female porn stars experienced no more abuse than a matched sample, and they were found to enjoy sex more, have higher levels of self-esteem, positive feelings, social support, sexual satisfaction, and spirituality.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 4:36 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Porn stars are just like us (except happier)

So, from this I conclude that the secret to success is swallowing litres of semen per annum, having copious sex with people who are chosen for you (including "old, gross" men) and getting paid a lot of money. Also, enemas.

This is why I failed statistics.

Or, I am bein' snarky. It's a self-reported study of 177 porn actresses. Now, I'm not sure how many women (or men) are working in porn at the moment, but I am going to suggest it's a hell of a lot more than that, depending on how widely you cast your definition of "porn star(let)".

While it may broadly disprove the "emotional damage" issue for the more recent generation of performers, I'm not sure it disproves it for earlier generations.

I'm not surprised they "enjoy sex more, have higher levels of self-esteem, positive feelings, social support, sexual satisfaction" because they are having more sex with different partners, and (presumably) they're being made to feel desirable with all the adulation (as creepy as that can be), although it would be interesting to see a follow-up study in 5-10 years to see what happens when they leave the industry, and how much of a stigma follows them.

and spirituality.

Wait. What? Now, that is unexpected.
posted by Mezentian at 6:23 PM on November 27, 2012


to be fair, a lot of the semen is non-alcoholic pina colada mix.
posted by nadawi at 6:34 PM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


to be fair, a lot of the semen is non-alcoholic pina colada mix.

Now I want to figure out a way to surprise her with pina colada mix.
posted by Forktine at 8:51 PM on November 27, 2012


it involves plastic tubing and a squeeze ball sort of mechanism. seems like you could put it all together with a trip to walmart.
posted by nadawi at 9:31 PM on November 27, 2012


to be fair, a lot of the semen is non-alcoholic pina colada mix.

I always thought that was a bit of a myth.
I'm not sure how to search that one at work....
posted by Mezentian at 12:06 AM on November 29, 2012


i've seen lots of porn actors cite it in interviews. here is a [nsfw] discussion where actors discuss a couple specific scenes they've used it in.

if you don't need the faux semen to be edible conditioner/cetaphil mixed with lube looks good for pictures.
posted by nadawi at 12:26 AM on November 29, 2012


Interesting.
I wouldn't argue with the wife of John Stagliano. I mean, I've heard his name. That counts.

And, also:
Metafilter: We also used it in AssGas and the Mystical Glop as an added visual besides the final cumshot.
posted by Mezentian at 3:30 AM on November 29, 2012


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