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May 24, 2019 | Rome, Italy

Porn and the man

By | 2018-12-19T16:26:04+02:00 December 19th, 2018|"Lost In Translation"|
Michael Fassbender plays an upscale porn and sex addict in Steve McQueen's 2011 film "Shame."
W

hen I was growing up, I would have been shocked to imagine the exchange that follows. It’s not that sexuality itself has come a long way but that fantasies once reserved for “dirty” magazines now live as a cyberspace fixture, blowing away the social retarding once built into pop entertainment. Forensically detailed sex scenes didn’t begin appearing in Hollywood until the 1980s. Now, the 1980s feel like 1650. That’s why certain aspects of publicly-available porn, free speech aside, make my skin crawl.

Keep saying how much you adore thunderstorms, and you might just get a lifelong Force 5 hurricane instead.

Q: This will probably sound very boring and familiar, since I know the topic has been out there for some time. Still, I’ll give a whirl. I’m 34, college educated, too sarcastic for my own good, and certainly no stranger to dating. I’ve been in two long-term relationships that ended mostly because both sides just ran out of steam. Now, I’m involved with a sane, decent, previously married businessman and we get along just fine, both in and out of the bedroom.

But he has a porn tic. He’s been watching it for a long time and likes playing out some of what he sees. So far, so good, because that can sometimes even be interesting.

Lately, though, he’s been pressing at some boundaries, and by that, I mean wanting to enter some territory that, to put it mildly, doesn’t really interest me.

The problem is that he doesn’t understand why. He says “everything” is worth a shot, which if you wanted to push it would mean you could push someone off a cliff, just once of course. My “no” just makes him either sulk or apologize, and he’s bad at both. Plus, I don’t think he’s really apologetic.

My partner has been watching porn for a long time and likes playing out some of what he sees. So far, so good, because that can sometimes even be interesting. But now there’s a problem

What really bothers me, and here’s the crux of it, is what I sense is his inability to separate reality from fiction. I believe he truly buys into porn smiles and women annoyingly (to me) shouting how much they want more of some act or another. I keep telling him, “Hey, these people are acting out fantasies and get paid to pretend they like anything.” He says “no,” they’re genetically wired to like sex (whatever that means) and can therefore make a good living.

Putting aside our argument about what makes porn tick, I’m stuck with a guy I like, even admire, who won’t dislodge himself from believing make-believe is day-to-day reality, and I’m just spoiling his party.

The subject is getting stale, and it’s beginning to make me look like a prude, which I’m not. I just want to make clear that the person I am and the women he’s watching are different. I’m not a porn star. I don’t cartwheel on command. There are things I don’t want to do, or try. It’s called free will. What is it about (some) men that this porn thing is their Achilles heel, notably, all the public figures who’ve been irresistibly drawn its “celebrities?”

A: There’s no way to answer your question neatly. Maybe sociologists and social psychologists can, but I can’t. There is a growing gap between reality and make-believe, and gamers are a good example. They live and breathe the games they play and sink themselves into avatars, and that’s pure role-playing.

Porn has the same narcotic effect. If you watch it long enough, you see a huge cast of females (or males) behaving in near identical ways, as if they’re under a spell or as if, and here’s the rough part, they’re secretly that way, and it’s the world that has it all wrong. You’d expect intelligent men to have a handle on secret slut conspiracies, but they don’t, whether they’re 14 (hormones raging) or 44 (hormones revived and raging).

When you opened the door a crack, by playing into the fantasies you were okay with, you might have inadvertently swung it wide open. Sexual intensity isn’t very familiar with the middle-ground, since porn fantasies are all about pretending it’s a façade.

What’s a little odd about your story is that you say you like, admire, and respect this guy, words that would suggest you can talk to him straight-on regarding who you are and what you will and won’t do. That would also open the door to discussing porn, so you can ask him if he’s a slave to it. My point: something needs to give.

If you’re truly worried that he can’t differentiate between paid moaning (and imitation orgasms) and “real life,” you’re in for some serious problems ahead, and porn won’t be a part of them.

To my mind, men watching pornography is a 21st century fact of life, and I understand it in the context of sexual “relief.” It poses no problem for me personally so long as no one is emotionally or physically harmed or abused. I also draw the line at addiction, but that’s another story. I won’t take a moral high ground that no longer exists.

I will say that a man who sulks that you won’t go through with a sex act he saw on a video isn’t a man but still an adolescent, or a man regressing toward adolescence. Part of being in an adult relationship is knowing when to stop asking for things your partner finds unsettling. He can have lots of virtual relationships or one real one. You’d better ask him what it’s going to be.

About the Author:

Corinna Amendola
Corinna Amendola occasionally writes the "lost in Translation" column. Originally from Delaware, she lives with her husband in Geneva.

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