Pornografía y The Economist

La muy famosa revista inglesa ‘The Economist’ lanzó esta semana un debate sobre la pornografía y si ésta es buena para las personas. Además de abrir una votación donde el ‘No’ hacia la pregunta “¿Es buena la pornografía para nosotr*s? lleva una enorme ventaja con 84 % de los votos, se abrió el debate con posiciones de distint*s expert*s. No pude evitar sentir fascinación por la respuesta de un usuario que pidió le publicaran anónimamente y que discute sobre pornografía y homosexualidad, la cual copio y pego aquí para compartir al mundo.

“Ryan”, Economist reader and pornography user

23rd November 2015

Moderator’s note: A reader got in touch to offer a viewpoint up to now missing from our debate: that of a porn user. He asked that we did not use his real name because he wanted to be able to talk more frankly about his experiences with porn and his homosexuality.

I’m 15, I’m horny and I haven’t seen anyone like me. I’ve watched Hollywood heroes suck the lips off their damsels. I’ve even peeked at bad actors and bored actresses making love in late-night erotic television dramas. And I still haven’t seen anyone like me. But now there’s a fuss: an explicit drama about the lives of men in Manchester is about to be broadcast. Too scared my parents might discover me watching it, I tape it on my bedroom VCR. Later, finally, I fast-forward through the plot to catch the snogs and the flashes of flesh I am desperate to see. This isn’t porn, it’s “Queer As Folk”, a drama about gay men, the work they do, the relationships they explore and the sex they enjoy. But for me, it’s representation. Seeing these men doing the things I want to do proves that I exist—that other people like me exist. I just have to move away to find them.

The power of porn, to me, is not just about instant pleasure; it is about education and affirmation. As a gay male who grew up in a small town where boys were bullied unless they talked about how much they wanted to have sex with women, I craved others like me. There were other boys in school who were more obviously like me, but they were shunned. I had to stay away from them so I didn’t become a target.

As I grew up and moved away, I still kept away from other gay men. My parents were hostile towards a gay family member. There was a part of me that didn’t want the same treatment, even as I grew strong enough to be able to endure it. While gay men in Britain in the noughties were enjoying ever-greater levels of respect, I stayed away from them. I didn’t like the fact that there was a “community”. I thought that was regressive.

I didn’t realise how important solidarity is. But as I began to welcome men into my bedroom—streamed via the internet to perform on my laptop screen—I started to feel a sense of community. I too feel Robert Jensen’s sadness that so much of our lives these days is lived through screens, but he seems to be ignoring the potential benefit of seeing someone like ourselves on a screen. Porn taught me what my sexuality meant and opened my eyes to pleasures I could not have imagined and acts I would have been scared of trying in real life.

My sex education was long, detailed and private. It took place in my bedroom in my rented flat in London during my 20s. All I needed was a laptop and Wi-Fi (headphones helped too). It was ten times better than anything my petrified parents would have given me if they’d tried, and a hundred times better than the cartoon of mandatory heterosexuality shown to me in school.

During this period of exploration I read plenty of feminist theory and social science. So I came to understand how media organisations objectify people, especially women, and how some fear that the representation of ever-more violent sex acts in porn could lead to sexual violence in real life. I read about how porn actors, even gay ones, take on traditional gender roles—the active and the passive. I could see how some porn denigrates and racialises people. I turned off the clips that portrayed black men as dangerous gangsters who prey on white men—a set-up favoured by white men who want to play with a power dynamic while perpetuating it.

I have a lot of time for Fiona Vera Gray’s argument that porn can make people into supermarket items, categorised and fetishised. But she does commit the offence—along with Mr Jensen—of implying that porn is only about getting your end away. In the case of sexual minorities and anyone with tastes beyond the vanilla options served up by big studios, porn is a political project. It’s about representation. It’s about the solidarity I felt when I began to explore porn and the diversity of bodies and options it presented. Every man I watched was different, every scene was novel—but they shared something with each other and with me: they were not what I saw on billboards on the street or on mainstream television programmes.

I have as much of a problem with these phoney versions of humanity as Mr Jensen does. I’ll march beside him against corporate, unrepresentative mass media. But he and I part ways when he seems to deny the power that representations of sexuality offer us all. I suspect that a person who says we should focus on building respectful communities rather than making porn is ignoring the fact that for some of us at certain points in our lives, porn is the only community we feel a part of. What community can you build for your sexuality if you’re gay and living in Saudi Arabia, a state that views you as illegal? Even in Britain, there was little room in the community of my town, my school or even my family for gay people. Porn creates a sense of solidarity. It showed me that there are people like me. Porn recognised my dignity. It showed that my sexuality is just as valid as yours.

It took a long time before I had sex with anyone. I had seen lots of things I wanted to do. And I had seen lots of different bodies, including bodies that looked like mine—bodies that were shown to have just as much fun as the ripped, oiled and hairless bodies that unfortunately dominate porn. I was 29 before I let myself be seduced. And, thanks to porn, I was instantly comfortable with him, instantly comfortable with my body, and instantly comfortable with what I wanted and how I wanted it.


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