Porn Survey – Results & Thoughts

Firstly, I would like to thank all of you who took the time to participate in my very quick, informal porn survey. And an even bigger thank you to those who commented, elaborated, or offered their thoughts when none of the options fit the way in which you use porn. (Just a note, if you feel uncomfortable about having your comment hanging around, let me know and I’ll take it down).

It may seem like considering angels wanking on a pin’s head, but the reason for the survey was primarily to find out whether porn was used as a state-change tool or not. So you can see the questions fall into two broad categories – using porn when you are already horny, and using porn to either shift a state (e.i. from bored to horny, or from some other state to horny) or using it to attempt to change someone else’s state.

As you can see from the results, (click ‘view results) people mostly use porn once they’re horny, but a  significant number use it to GET horny. 40%! This is fascinating. The idea that we consciously decide to move ourselves from a state of non-desire to desire. In essence, a significant number of us actively manufacture desire.

Theorists like Zizek, following Lacan, have posited that culture teaches us what to want. And, more recently with the rise of intense consumerism, not only does it command us to Enjoy! but also positions us as beings that are somehow incomplete, not fully engaged in the social project, if we aren’t actively desiring. And, of course, we are offered ways to remedy our lack of desire.

You can see this, most notably, in that we are constantly presented with social ideals that valorize individuals in desirous states. Ambitious, hungry, envious, insatiable, etc. The activity of wanting is essential to the activity of consuming. Marketing and advertising techniques have moved, in the last hundred years from : ‘buy this’ to ‘want this’ to ‘need this’ to ‘be this’. So that being desirous has gone from being an occasional state of being to a permanent mark of a well-constituted self.

People who don’t want … uninteresting, unnatural, useless to the system of demand and supply.

It is even more enigmatic when women are not only valorized for their insatiability but demonized for it at the same time.  In our culture, she’s both a ‘fully actualized woman’ and a ‘greedy whore’.  So that even when you obey that implicit injunction to ‘enjoy!’, you are also punished and shamed for it. You can’t win. And it is my premise that this is exactly where they want you, because in that state of confusion, or trying to decipher the unintelligible mixed messages, you are at a permanent disadvantage, and therefore much more manageable.

For men, I suspect it’s been this way for much longer. I know men who really aren’t all that interested in sex, but feel they should be, as if their lack of interest is proof of some tremendous deficit in their masculinity. Which of course encourages them to do whatever they must to GET interested and, most especially, to be SEEN to be interested. But not too interested. If you’re too interested you get painted as a desperate loser. So… always interested and yet somehow… not really that interested.

It’s kind of amazing we don’t all go mad.

The irony for me is, that I think this dynamic actually engenders, in some of us, an active resistance to desire. i.e. ‘I do not want to be taught what I want’, or ‘I do not want to be shamed or manipulated into wanting’.

Anyway, in my ongoing project to formulate new transgressions, it is interesting that one transgression is not to want. How I actually tie that into eroticism is going to be tricky. But it’s interesting.

P.S. I have also noted that we seem to get a lot of pleasure not only from watching porn, but discussing what we watch, why, etc. That survey got me the most amount of comments I’ve ever had on this blog!

Thank you again.

 

7 Thoughts on “Porn Survey – Results & Thoughts

  1. cjlemire on July 5, 2015 at 10:43 am said:

    Hmmm. Like the scene from The Breakfast Club…

    Allison: “It’s kind of a double-edged sword, isn’t it?”
    Claire: “A what?”
    Allison: “Well, if you say you haven’t, you’re a prude; if you say you have, you’re a slut. It’s a trap. You want to but you can’t and when you do you wish you didn’t, right? Or are you a tease?”
    Andrew: “She’s a tease. All girls are teases.”

  2. Yes, we are told and taught what we should like, what we should want. And especially what we should do. Those who resit the tide are pushed to feel ashamed and lost. After all, they need to join the herd and get to consuming.

    I am not sure that the double standard on women will go away–it might die down a bit more but ‘damned if you do or don’t’ seems persistently hard to eradicate.

    • I’m fairly sure the double standard for all genders serves an essential purpose of placing us all in a permanent state of cognitive dissonance. We’re so much more malleable there.

  3. I’ll have to read Zizek. I come at the understanding of learned desire from Rene Girard’s mimetic theory of violence. Never mind that he became a catholic homophobe as a result of his analysis. That’s what happens to those afraid to theorize chaos. But he lived his ideas based the necessity of learning desire from a stabilizing source that leads, naturally, to scapegoating the nonconformist and unifying culture as a result. We learn to desire what The Other desires.

    • Girard and Zizek were both massively influenced by Lacan’s theory of the structure of desire.

      We live in the symbolic order. We must use language to communicate to each other and we must have laws and prohibitions or we’ll have chaos (I’m not a wholehearted supporter of Zizek’s absolutism). Personally, I believe that there is a middle way between slavish adherence to a hegemonic message and rendering myself a totally incoherent desubjectivized thing.

      Quite honestly, if the methodology I’ve used for this doctorate has taught me one life-changing thing, it is to never assume that my desire is mine. It has been to always interrogate it. (I think I always did, to some extent and that was why writing about erotic desire compelled me so much – it was always, I think, a way of trying to map out what was really going on beneath the surface lust). That doesn’t mean I stop desiring. But it has meant that I am less likely to accept, without question, that what I desire plays any significant role in who I am.

      I don’t think there’s any possibility of an absolute escape from this maze, unless one decides to go be a hermit in some hills somewhere. But, there is informed consent. And we absolutely cannot rely on the structures of power that order our lives to volunteer that information. We have to actively interrogate it, demand it, and then make the choices possible within the parameters that are feasibly available.

  4. But… isn’t there room for a situation where someone isn’t feeling horny, but knows from experience that if (s)he takes steps to stimulate horniness (“artificially”), (s)he will get into it, have a pleasurable experience, and be glad to have made the effort? I think that’s happened to me on occasion, though I’m generally in the “already horny” camp as far as porn use. I would make the comparison to feeling bored and listless in a room, and not craving a walk outside, but knowing that deliberately going over to the window might “artificially” trigger a desire to go for a walk outside, which will inevitably bring pleasure and a sense of “I’m glad I did that.”

    • What I’m trying to say is, I think that what can be described as “manufacturing” one’s own desire doesn’t NECESSARILY mean the individual doing so is being manipulated or oppressed by social expectations. Sometimes yes, sometimes no, I imagine. I think, as is so often the case with this kind of thing, there’s a danger of overapplying the go-to paradigms.

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