In the last couple of years I have spent much of my time talking to young women, about their hopes for the future, about the things that make them angry or sad or frustrated, and porn is something that crops up again and again. “I’m so sick of it,” some girl or other will rage, after a talk, a large glass of warm white wine in her hand, and she’ll tell her story. It will vary in the details, but the bare bones are always the same. She’ll have been asked to do something in bed that she was uncomfortable with, and she won’t have had the language or the confidence to refuse. This is if the guy’s especially polite, by the way. Sometimes they don’t bother to ask.
“Do you think porn influences the way men behave towards you?” I’ll ask. “Absolutely,” they always say. I have come to realise that having concerns about pornography is not merely an attitude symptomatic of a kind of puritan, conservative hysteria; it’s something that young women are worrying about on a regular basis, because they are living it. Sexually active, bright, independent young women, doing things they don’t want to do in bed, and then crying about it afterwards.
“It’s clear that porn is having an effect,” says one. “I mean, when a guy asks to come in your hair, he’s not thought that up by himself. He’s got that from somewhere.” Last year, HBO’s Girls, a series followed by its young female audience with a kind of religious fervour, contained a scene where the male character has his girlfriend crawl along the floor, before he ejaculated on her back. “Been there,” said a friend, while watching it.
Here is why we need sex education: we need sex education because (some) men are asking for anal sex on the first date. This is fact. If you do not believe it, then I’m afraid, you simply haven’t spoken to enough women in their 20s. We need sex education, because (some) men seem to think sex ends with him ejaculating on your breasts, or in your hair, or in your face. We need sex education because of a practice called “seagulling”, a boarding school import (what else?) that has spread to some university halls of residence. It involves a group of guys standing outside a mate’s door while he has sex with a girl, and then bursting in and ejaculating over her, all at once. We need sex education because women are telling me they’re fed up of being told they’re a “bitch” or a “dirty little whore” or a “slut” in bed. That they need to be “violated” or “ruined”. We need sex education because I have lost count of the number of times that young women have told me that their boyfriend or sex partner has placed his hands around their neck and tried to choke them during sex.
Of course, you may be a woman, and you may enjoy all of these things and more. Human sexuality is varied and fluid and experimentation is to be encouraged. The feminists of the 1960s held that sexual freedom was key to the liberation of women. I believe that. But it’s clear to anyone who’s out there sleeping with men, the sexual landscape has changed, and under no circumstances can it be called freedom. So often these experiences are recounted with a laugh, or a derisive snort: these men (not all men, it’s never all men, but it’s enough of them) are the butt of a joke. Outside the bedroom, their female sexual partners look down on them and their “weird” urges and requests; inside, they are expected to submit.
QotD: “If we accept prostitution as ordinary work, then we should be able to speak about what the skills of prostitution are”
If we accept prostitution as ordinary work, then we should be able to speak about what the skills of prostitution are …
The ability to control your reflex to vomit.
The ability to restrain your urge to cry.
The ability to imagine your current reality is not happening.
These are the skill sets of prostitution. These are the skill sets necessary to perform what some people would like to see normalized as ‘sex work’
Rachel Moran, Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution