Dear Mariella: A Guardian rape culture fantasy
Did you hear the one about the woman who enjoyed porn? Yeah, an actual flesh-and-bone woman – not a latex and silicon love doll reading a grunty Porn Valley script – got off on watching other humans have sex? Shocking isn’t it? Well, not to you who bought 50 Shades of Grey – especially you who bought it online and so negated the need to reach for it in the bookshop. I;m talking about you, the Guardian readers who study the Dear Mariella agony aunt column for research purposes:
The Dilemma I am a woman in my early 20s, about to graduate from university and consider myself very independent with a healthy, normal, happy life. About two years ago I started watching porn. I didn’t even know what to look for, then I began to develop my own tastes and searched for specific things.
Porn is so mainstream it no longer shocks. It very rarely surprises. Oddly, there are no moves to ban porn; but there are calls to censor images that portray woman in certain ways in the bottom-shelf media. Apparently, you can be insulted by Page 3 and shamed by an advert inviting women to be ‘Beach Body Ready’ but it’s ok to access hardcore porn broadcast via your Sky TV box and talk about what gets you hot in public. The woman in the bikini on the London Underground poster is obscene; but the woman in the newspaper advert for sex chat lines is not. Porn is just there. Deal with it.
Censorship’s a funny old game.
What worries me is that my searches are for simulations of abuse – something that doesn’t reflect at all what I feel about the subject. I hate patriarchy and rape culture. Another issue that worries me is that now, when having sex with my boyfriend, I invent abuse stories and play them in my head in order to reach orgasm. I don’t like to role play any of those fantasies, I like to feel loved when having sex. I feel like none of this is healthy nor nurturing for my self development. Is it really that worthy of preoccupation?
The thing about porn is that it’s safe. There’s no need for intimacy when you can just gawp and toss. No fear of rejection, pregnancy, STDs, a court case and where to go for a pre-bonk dinner and post-coitus escape. As ‘Worried of The Guardian’ notes, she doesn’t really need her boyfriend for sex. Sex without whatshisface is more satisfying. Intimacy is so very out of fashion. Sex, as with so much in modern life, is all about me, me, me – of god, yes – ME!.