Imagine a World… (A pornography parable)

Imagine a world where women had certain ingrained expectations about their romantic interests.  What do they expect in this world?  Stunts.  They GO WILD for a man who can fall down stairs, jump from moving vehicles, and light themselves on fire.  Of course most men are uncomfortable with this, but they feel that in order to keep their woman happy they have to perform.  They are competing with professional stunt men who make it look easy.  Their wives and girlfriends subscribe to StuntBoy Magazine and watch videos of stunt performances online.  And while these women understand that the men doing these things are professionals, and that they really shouldn't expect *their* man to be able to light themselves on fire and jump from a flying helicopter onto a moving train, they still *wish* that they could perform like that.  And the more the women watch these videos the less satisfied they become with their man who is only able to do lame prat falls and is downright terrified of heights.
One night Bob was feeling particularly romantic and brave, so he invited his wife into the bedroom where he had rose petals sprinkled on the bed and a bunch of candles.  Then he doused his hand in alcohol and sensuously lit it on fire.  His wife was thrilled!  It was a painful and somewhat embarrassing experience for Bob, (He forgot to have a bucket of water handy.) but it pleased her, and now he feels obligated to do this for her on a regular basis.  Slowly and subtly this obligation begins to grow into resentment.  Not directly toward his wife, mind you.  Just at the fact that the expectation is there.  That he knows if he doesn't do it, she may find another man who will.  And while she finds his relatively mild stunt to be a nice overture, she wonders why he can’t do it every night.  And add to the routine.  Maybe throw himself through a sugar-glass window every now and again.  Slowly and subtly she loses respect for her husband.  She can’t put her finger on it, but something about him disappoints her. 


kiwiburner said…
Hey Josh,

GW2 who idly surfed his way here from the GW2 forums (in case you were wondering how public this blog is ;)). I have really enjoyed reading my way down your blog and it seems that you are the kind, thoughtful, articulate dude you always present as to the GW2 community.

I really enjoyed this post (StuntBoy magazine, haha!) but I think this analogy can only be taken so far.

For example, I am a fan of pornography (no judgement!) and have been since before I met my wife. In fact I think on one of my first dates I let slip that my dissertation was called "Bedroom Bushido: Constructions of Femininity thorough hardcore Japanese Adult Video". Fortunately (despite her being Japanese) this didn't cause her to run in the opposite direction (I may have been lucky).

I remain (more than 9 years later) a fan of JAV (as its known to the fanbois) and its idiosynchracies. My wife is (unsurprisingly) not a fan, but its fair to say she gracefully tolerates my ongoing interest. However, unlike Bob, my wife KNOWS that pornography is just a fantasy, and she knows that I would never expect her to behave (in our intimate life) like those JAV girls perform. I don't lose respect for my wife because she won't, hell, I'm glad she doesn't act like that.. and I'm pretty sure that Bob's wife would be a little relieved that he doesn't often set himself on fire.

Anyway, hopefully you didn't find that whole story too repulsive. I can tell this parable was only equivalent to "kicking the ball around", but if you wanna argue it further, I'm game :D (when I'm not in the super adventure box, busy being a husband, or watching JAV that is.. hahaha).

Thanks for the compliments, good sir! I know where you're coming from. It really is a maturity thing as far as I can tell. We have more or less control over our emotional state and subconscious expectations depending on our maturity, so one who 'knows thyself' is going to be far more capable of handing something that in a less mature person could cause all sorts of problems. I'm not convinced that an avid consuming of pornography can every be completely negated by maturity. We are, after all, still animals, and no one is in complete mastery of their intellectual and emotional house. But I also would never make any absolute connections between porn consumption and terrible personality flaws. I'm also not convinced that anyone's wife is COMPLETELY cool with a guy's fascination with watching other women. It's a spectrum, of course. There are women who would simply divorce their husband if they found a secret playboy stash, but overall, I think most modern cultures have promoted the idea that women who are not ok with their husband's porn are selfish, jealous, and probably several other bad things. So I think this message shuts a lot of them up. Now I don't know you or your wife, and I'm not making ANY assumptions about either of you. Nor am I saying that what I believe is true. So please don't take this as as attack. I'm simply saying that I'm unconvinced. And because I'm not sure what it would take to convince me otherwise, I will fully acknowledge that my opinion is suspect! Thanks for sharing. And for playing!
kiwiburner said…
Thanks for your reply!

Yes, you're right that the fascination can't be rationalized/intellectualized beyond a certain point. I realize that for men, watching pornography it is pretty visceral dopamine-seeking behavior. It lacks the commitment aspect of love that builds attachment and "real" intimacy, however I don't buy that it prevents them from building those with a/their partner.

Honestly, I share your skepticism that anyone's partner is completely cool with their pornography-viewing. I did have a friend who used to boast that he and his girlfriend enjoyed watching porn together and that this formed part of their intimate life together, and I have to say I never quite believed it. Although I can't relate the two, it doesn't surprise me that their relationship only lasted about 3 years...

Likewise, I don't buy the idea that women are required to be OK with it. I count myself lucky that my wife tolerates (she definitely doesn't embrace/encourage!) it, but by the same token I wouldn't watch it while she was in the same room as me, or on a day where I was, uhm, expecting to have sex. I do believe that there are probably guys out there who tell their girlfriends that they should be OK with it and its their problem that they're not, but those guys probably tell their girlfriends lots of awful, self-confidence-undermining stuff.

But yeah... who knows, right? It's difficult to look that far beyond our own experiences. Your humility is admirable, so I'm gonna leave it there, and look forward to the inaugral issue of StuntBoy sometime in the future (feels like it would fit in the Fallout universe!)

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