Friday, January 23, 2015

Making a go of it

-David Schraub has a fascinating article about British anti-Semitism, the law, and more. Read it.

-Rachel Hills has a sweeping feature about female sexual fluidity. Read that, too. Yes, I arrived at the story with a few preexisting gripes about how the topic is generally covered, but Rachel addressed basically all the ones I might have come up with. Although I do have one remaining question - for Rachel, but also for WWPD readers: Why are the onscreen same-sex couples of erotic interest to straight women lesbians rather than gay men? It makes sense what Rachel found, about straight women being put off by scenarios that are demeaning to women or about enforcing gender roles, but this doesn't explain why two women, as versus two people of the gender to whom straight women are, by definition, attracted. I wonder if - and I realize this is a bleak interpretation - this isn't just a case of women being socialized to look at images of women's bodies, in the non-sexual realm. (Fashion magazines, thigh-envy, etc.)

-Obligatory self-promotion: Today was my radio debut. Veronica Rueckert invited me on "Central Time" on Wisconsin Public Radio to talk about undersharing. Given the number of public-radio podcasts I've listened to while walking Bisou, I figured I'd have some sense of how this sort of thing goes, but was still petrified for the first minute or so. I now have a newfound respect for everyone who goes on these shows and manages not to babble.

6 comments:

Rachel @ Musings of an Inappropriate Woman said...

Glad you liked the story! Re: gay porn versus lesbian porn, I think it's a matter of "and" rather than "or" - there are LOTS of women who like gay male porn too. Because (as I know you know) women are people, not a category, and they don't all like the same things. In fact, when I first started working on this story, a lot of the experts I approached assumed that it would be about gay male porn.

Interesting take on Andrew Sullivan's blog, too - I'd never thought of it that way. I see a lot of the same social forces you do at play, but tend to think of sexuality as a driving desire for pleasure and connection whose gender direction is learned rather than innate in many cases (very Freudian of me). Or rather, I think that some people are very strong 0s and 6s on the Kinsey scale, but many more people would be open to people of both genders if we didn't live in a society that was so "Heterosexual or else!" (Or for gay men in particular, "Pick a team or else!") I've heard the same fluidity Lisa Diamond has, in both gay people and straight people, men and women, even if it's only a matter of, "In another time and place, sure." That said, I also think that human sexuality IS complexly social by its very nature (because humans are complexly social), so there is no such thing as a hidden "true" sexuality we would enact if only we didn't have that pesky culture to deal with.

Phoebe said...

Rachel,

Your point "that human sexuality IS complexly social by its very nature (because humans are complexly social), so there is no such thing as a hidden "true" sexuality we would enact if only we didn't have that pesky culture to deal with" seems right. It makes me think that my issue has really been with people claiming that women but not men are innately sexually fluid (and that women are innately interested in what just so conveniently happens to titillate men).

"In fact, when I first started working on this story, a lot of the experts I approached assumed that it would be about gay male porn."

That really surprises me!

Rachel @ Musings of an Inappropriate Woman said...

"It makes me think that my issue has really been with people claiming that women but not men are innately sexually fluid (and that women are innately interested in what just so conveniently happens to titillate men)."

Yeah, totally. And that is something that I was VERY careful to avoid in the article. That, and "Women might like watching lesbian porn, but of course none of us would ever be lesbians, teehee!"

And re: women and gay male erotica, there's actually been a lot of research on it, at least from a cultural studies perspective. I did a presentation on it back when I was an undergrad. There is comparatively little research on women and lesbian erotica, though - many of the researchers I spoke to were at a loss.

David Schraub said...

Rachel: That was a very interesting article. It does make one wonder about why there isn't (/whether there can be?) heterosexual pornography that doesn't speak to these desires. Granting that for some of the viewers the appeal lies in the "fluidity", for others it seems like they'd prefer heterosexual acts if only there were ones that spoke to how they experienced (or wanted to experience) sex.

Mainstream het porn bores the hell out of me for the reasons your interviewees describe: it's bloodless, passionless, has disturbing power dynamics, and just generally does not seem to speak to anything authentic with respect to my own sexual experience. IFeelMyself is light-years beyond any other porn site I'm aware of, but there is no heterosexual analogue to it. Why not? The answer, I worry, is that there actually isn't a market for IFM-style heterosexual sex, at least among men. But even the cynic that I am has trouble believing that.

[Also, thanks for the plug of my article. Even it was paired against an article about female sexual fluidity and porn watching, a match-up which I'm sure will be absolutely competitive :-)].

Phoebe said...

David,

I find European anti-Semitism more interesting as a topic, all things equal, than lesbian porn. Fine, me and like three other people on earth, but your article seems to be holding its own all the same.

Andrew Stevens said...

I have met many women who like watching two men together. I think the key socialization problem which makes it somewhat rare is the assumption that men who have sex with men must be completely gay or at least are not "masculine enough" to be desirable sexual partners. (Even if the man would be incredibly hot to the woman in any other context.)

The appeal of lesbian porn to most men is to imaginatively insert himself into the scene or at least imagine that the two women are "performing" for him. Presumably the same would apply to a woman, but if she is laboring under the assumption that any man who would have sex with another man wouldn't be interested in her, then that option is closed to her.

So I think the lack of appeal gay porn has for women has a lot to do with the assumed sexual non-fluidity of men and cultural assumptions about masculinity.

To echo Rachel above, it has always been very obvious to me that some people are born gay (or become so extremely early in life), some people are born straight (or etc.), and some people are born with a choice. Anecdotally, most gay men I know I am personally convinced had a choice at least at one time. (Though I certainly know gay men who I am certain never had a choice at all.)