So it feels like porn is pretty much mainstream now yes? The ante has been upped and it's not unusual to turn on your TV and see tits, bums and even penises (and this might be on 'The One Show' at 7 o' clock). There's a lot of debate about how it's desensitising people and making them less able to enjoy 'real' sex (whatever that means). There's also concern around the way in which women who work in the industry are treated - are they truly empowered and enjoying having their fannies ploughed all day? Or are they victims? There's also the rise of some super- aggressive imagery that is frankly...pretty upsetting. Women gagging. Women being half-strangled. Smacked in the face. But let's move away from all that for now.
Instead we decided to do our own little experiment here at The Hotbed Collective. And actually watch the stuff instead of huffing and puffing and quoting some sad statistic from 'The Daily Mail'. So we started with a week. Every night.
To begin the experiment, first off, step into the fold, me, Anniki. I'm 44 and have lived a sheltered life (sexually anyway). I've never been tied up. Or worn a strap-on. And on the porn front, I watched some in my twenties (when it was on VHS and not widely available everywhere all the time) and then didn't watch any for a long time. I don't know why, I think I was just quite busy trying to sort out my career and climbing the slippery corporate ladder. So some of the old ideas of porn have stayed with me- big, hairy men in tight Speedos and women with perms in polyester nighties. Then when Cherry, Lisa and I started The Hotbed Collective, I felt like I needed to get to know it better. You can't really talk about something if you have no idea what it is.
So I watched some and then a bit more. I kept a short diary to see how it made me feel. I should point out two things - a) I didn't watch it in public b) I usually watched it at night on my own. I kept to mainstream sites and literally went on the first ones that popped up when I typed in PORN. I am not sophisticated. I'm a novice I guess.
Day One: No body hair and excuse me but are you peeing or something else?
Okay, so I have obviously been living in a cave but none of these women have BODY HAIR! I am basically an orangutan. The other thing is just how many categories there are. So DP, Interracial, Three-somes, Gang-bangs, Massage, MILF's or scenarios that combine all of the above. And these adverts keep popping up and they seem to feature local women who are all saying they want to have sex with me. I'm worried that I might see someone I actually know and then have to avoid them in the garden centre soft-play. (I actually think these ads are fictitious but I don't want to click just in case).
Do I feel turned on? A bit sexy maybe but it's also making me feel sad. I just watched a woman getting two small penises squashed into her vagina at the same time. I didn't think that'd feel too great.
Day Two: What is this obsession with holes and sticking things in holes?
It's the second day (I should point out I didn't watch all day yesterday and I won't today either- I'm a busy woman and have to get some bargains down at Lidl before the day is out). So first off, all the videos pretty much move straight into penetrative intercourse. Or men penetrating something. Men sticking their willies down throats or in vaginas or bums. Sometimes it's three men doing this at the same time to the same person. There's no conversation, and dare I say it, no foreplay or even interesting dirty talk. In the old days I'm pretty sure a man with a fake beard and boiler suit would turn up to 'fix the washing machine' but nowadays the man comes in, takes his pants off and starts sticking it in.
I actually just yawned.
Day Three: Not feeling well
I don't feel like watching porn today. I am getting my period.
Day Four: Guilt and porn
It's funny, once I start watching porn, I have this initial phase where maybe I'm shocked by what I'm watching (like a woman basically peeing herself) and then after a bit, I start checking my FB page and then scrolling through IG and thinking about taking something out of the freezer. So am I becoming desensitised? I am spending more time looking at the outfits and the hairstyles it seems. I am also finding some of the images popping into my head at inappropriate moments.
And then there's guilt. This guilt is possibly because I am from an older generation who hasn't grown up with accessible porn. Today I feel like I'm fifteen again and it's the morning after I snogged Bobby Kinnear (and then realised he was still going out with my friend Becca).
Day Five: Do I like this? Mmmmm....
So I should qualify this by saying that I haven't watched much 'feminist porn' - in fact NONE. This is because I want to access the stuff people are worrying about and because unfortunately the word 'feminist porn' doesn't sound erotic, and makes me think of my Mum in a pair of scruffy dungarees, angrily scrawling in her Spare Rib diary because she's missed her 'all women Tai Chi class at the leisure centre yet again'. I AM a feminist by the way so don't start throwing tampons at me. I just think there could be a more sexy name perhaps? It's clear that I don't want to just see men sticking it in all the damn time. The problem is I'm not sure what the alternative is.
Day Six: I am hallucinating
Seeing balls, penises, tits, arses everywhere even whilst preparing the pesto pasta. Feeling disorientated. When I just said Hi to a local Dad in the park, I immediately looked at his crotch and imagined two women kneeling on either side servicing him. I am relieved that this will soon be over.
Day Seven: So what have I learnt?
By Day Seven I've come to the conclusion that porn needs further investigation. I'm tired of watching women moan and writhe about when it's obvious that they aren't turned on. There doesn't seem to be a genre around 'pleasuring women' or one around 'foreplay'. The lesson being taught is that women love to have a penis smacked against their face without much preamble and they tend to orgasm even if a man isn't actually touching them. This worries me as it means there will potentially be generations of people who are hopeless lovers and don't understand why that's the case.
So there you go. We'll be continuing this experiment to get Cherry and Lisa's perspective but I kind of wanted to wash my eyes and eat macrobiotic food for a while.
And definitely not see anymore penises.