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Guys and Dolls (and Pornos)

May 29, 2011

This week I went to an anti-porn talk. Fortunately, it was not a “Porn is sinful! Masturbation makes your clit fall off and rot in hell!”-kind of talk, because I do not have time for this Westboro Baptist Church-kind of shenanigan. For those concerned about sinning, your genitals should still be intact post-porn-viewing, or else you’ve been doing it wrong.

I found the talk to be a productive discussion about how porn is “bad” in the sense that it can be damaging to sexuality. Gail Dines, author of Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, was a charming speaker who expressed her concerns about the tragically under-regulated porn industry, but without the uppity or prudishness one might expect. Dines feels that young heterosexual male sexuality is at risk because they are brought up thinking that “masculinity” means worshiping XXX sites like,,…you get the idea.

Dines also spoke about her experience interviewing a dude who sold anatomically correct sex dolls, and asked him why dolls were so popular. He replied, “It’s a way for [men] to develop relationships with real women.” Um. What. I can’t even. He went on to say that, on the day that Lars and the Real Girl (2007) came out, his sex doll website crashed because “so many men got online to check them out”.

If you haven’t seen Lars and the Real Girl, it’s a delightful dramedy about a socially inept, psychologically deluded man (Ryan Gosling, who we should all love) who believes his mannequin girlfriend is real. In the movie, Lars’ doll ownership clearly isn’t a sex thing. In real life, sex doll users probably don’t have the same quirky-indie-movie-character thing going on as Gosling does, and the owners are probs a little creepier (…understatement?).

I am fully convinced that sex robots are just around the corner (rumor has it Apple already has an app for that!). Personally, I’m in the middle of working on my fanfic-screenplay, tentatively titled The SexBot Diaries or I, Sexbot. Maybe I’ll use Arnold Schwarzenegger as my lusty protagonist; I hear he’s trying to get back into acting, right?

But sex dolls are just one teensy niche of raunch culture. Internet forums are flooded with horror stories about the porn-obsessed man who can’t get off with his real-life girlfriend anymore, the girl obsessed with how her labia is “supposed to look” since porn is the only Sex-Ed she’s had, or the guy who was legitimately shocked to find out his hook-up partner had pubic hair. For those of you who haven’t seen a real vagina before, get this through your vadge-deprived little head: the bald eagle look does not come naturally.

I realize that this post reeks of hetero-normativity. I am by no means suggesting that porn problems are limited to young, heterosexual or male populations. It’s just that these are the same dudes who go on to dominate mainstream media production; therefore it’s especially visible when porn consumption so deeply informs their products. This is the kind of stuff they need to teach us in ninth grade health class. Sadly, the only thing I remembered about mine was the chorus of ewwws! following the talk on diaphragms and finger cots.

Ultimately, the problem with porn is that it makes some people have shockingly unrealistic assumptions about what sex is supposed to look like. Here’s a hint on what it’s not supposed to look like: there is no such thing as a 23-year-old, hairless “MILF” who deep throats her neighbors’ son. Got that? Oh, and you don’t have to have an awful soundtrack bumpin’ in the background either. Unless you’re into that sort of thing–in which case, to each his own.

But enough on this for now; I need to go clear my browser history STAT.

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