He thrust into the back of me, his breath heavy with grunting as he pulled my long blonde hair.
I couldn’t decide whether being flipped over into doggie style was for the better or the heinous, since losing any chance of eye contact or affection at least meant I could shut my eyes and face the wall, to force out the world—trying to forget the rawness of my scalp and vagina.
The pain was mine alone to bear. Like so many other times, I tried to remember if there was an exact moment that I had transitioned from lover to experimental play toy.
It was a relationship of all-consuming, selfless love. I had involuntarily but happily let myself become malleable and vulnerable in order to satiate my hunger for this intoxicating relationship. I was “madly and truly.”
I thought he was too.
Intuitive and expressive from years of dance, I had made sensual and slow love-making my personal mantra prior to him. But eager for my boyfriend to understand my fervent adoration, I adapted to his communication style and became pliant to his demands.
Playful for just a hot minute, sex in our relationship perniciously morphed into a mental battlefield. Suggestions of positions and costumes became firm requests to hold my facial expression “this way” and watch for “how she looks in that video… I already sent you the link.” My liberal mind and open heart tried to sail forward amidst the tempest arising within me. But while I clung to the thought of it gets better, I just need to learn, I was oblivious to his deleterious addiction to porn.
He was an emotionally astute and articulate guy. He had an abundantly loving upbringing and an uncommon sense of innocent curiosity and genuine kindness.
I mention this because I am self-respecting and—despite being enticed and blind-sided by love—had been pulled into a vicious cycle.
I mention this because despite the traits and connections that should have made us work (flourish even) the fall of our relationship was solely attributed to the effects of porn.
I mention this because for all the esteem and tenderness that surrounded this lover of mine, he was representative of a good guy ensnared by the erotic lure and abundance of porn. “Porn addict” is just another label to toss amongst the other “shopaholics” whose mouths were pried open by the invisible fist to guzzle down more and more like a proper consumer.
He is emblematic of many other men—too many good men—that have made themselves malleable and susceptible to sexual conditioning instead of vulnerable to the breathing admirers next to them.
We ended the relationship because I could not fulfill his desires. After years of hashing out world problems and spinning our life dreams in the sky with the silver lining of clouds, he stated simply that he was still in love with my mind, but that didn’t compensate for the interest he’d lost in my body.
At 5’7”, 125 lbs. and a set of teeth that once won “Best Smile,” my body had remained consistent throughout our time together. My size and image are not necessarily relevant to understanding. The only other factors that had changed in the relationship were his gaping habit of high-definition women. His acceptance and appreciation of me, normal elements of real life love, were now characterized by a detachment derived from his buy-in to the growing cult of virtual sex, hopelessly devoted to the idea of the unattainable.
I unconsciously allowed myself to be objectified by the person who knew best the unshielded parts of my heart to dagger.
Like many other women, smart women, who start chasing that society-stamped idea of beauty, I was controlled by the same mental rhythm numbing the minds of anorexics, make-up caked women, and self-declared fragile damsels, a mindset that caters to decrees men add to their “Bill of Rights for Men: Entitled to a Good Woman.” Devastatingly, these are subconscious expectations exhaled by even the most unsuspecting of men simply because America was our overriding caretaker.
The cinematography and casting of pornography is catered toward hyperbolic desires of men. It solidifies the idea over innumerable pornography films and erotic photographs that sexiness is contained within a 34” 24” 34” body that can limbo into 8 different positions and juggle moans in the air in perfect pitch. As a result, it erodes the forgiving lens of authenticity that used to craft so many relationships into a one-of-a-kind expression.
Relationships now come with a side order of virtual women chosen from a plethora of categories conveniently menu packaged to select from the best “Boobs” “Blondes” “Asses” and “Asians.” The supplemental sexual learning tool cuts right to the chase: never mind the idea of sex in a relationship once wrapped up in respect, familiarity, affection and even love—that was tossed out with our crappier PCs years ago.
Instead, porn—the introduction and guide to sex for a majority of men coming of age in recent generations in North America—literally angles sex as an act that stands independent of any other factors. “Truly sexy” women are those willing to be fucked. And women coming of age regard this as a paradigm where filling the role of sexy means a limited amount of terms.
The perpetuation of images projecting women as idealized instruments has enormously destructive potential for both genders and the latent factors of relationships that shape intimacy.
A healthy appetite for sex, playfulness and carnality are important for both genders in a relationship. And public forums for sexual expression and exploration are incredible markers for our democratic and open society. However, the complacent silence from the public regarding men’s sexual education acts as affirmation that these ideas are the norm.
Lack of discussion of alternative learning forms for young men along with porn’s heavy power-bias and intimacy-devoid nature makes its proliferation and growing consumption a force with tremendous collateral that will eventually end up fucking with us.
(This is the fifth in a seven-part series over seven days, in colloboration with the Good Men Project, addressing the question: Is Porn a Good Thing? For one of GMP’s most recent in the series, check out The History of Porn and Fear the Towel.)
Jennifer Umberg is a student at University of California Berkeley preparing to graduate after studying Peace and Conflict. She is eager to continue her education while recognizing it’s truly a lifelong, research-intensive degree to unlatch the innumerable vaults of life lessons. So far, Jennifer has worked to overcome clumsiness by throwing passion into dance—a necessity that has also become a rhythmic sense of stability and meditation. She is inflicted with chronic Catholic guilt, which is addressed by composting daily and flossing regularly (i.e. once a month). As far as technical skills go, Jennifer can saddle up curiosity and ride love. While she left her heart in East Africa and feels a tug towards Eastern Philosophy, Jenn is really just a kid whose whimsical wonders aid her in stumbling into the most unsuspecting places for answers. She wants you as her friend: http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.umberg.
Editor: Anne Clendening