50 shades of baffled
Of all the wide variety of things that people get up to in this world, one of the most eternally mystifying for me has been pornography in all its forms. You may well think that’s weird. OK, let me walk you through my reasoning on the subject.
First of all, I know that most people like sex. Most people like sex a lot, in fact. They even go so far as to say that they need sex, as though it were food or oxygen or something. Fine; no problem. Let’s go with that. I have no concept of what it is to feel as though I need sex, but let’s suppose that the people who say they need sex literally do so on the same level that they need food.
Even if that is the case, it is also true that porn isn’t sex. As far as I can see, porn is to sex like a painting of a Roman banquet is to food: extremely idealised and no use whatsoever when you’re hungry. And this is the bit I really don’t understand. If you need sex and are in a position to have it, then surely you can do that and porn becomes irrelevant. But if you’re not in a position to have sex, then wouldn’t looking at porn be simply frustrating, in the same way that you wouldn’t want to look at the image of the cake in my header if you hadn’t eaten for three days? I therefore have to conclude that porn is illogical, Captain.
Now, clearly, from most people’s point of view there must be a flaw in this thinking somewhere, or porn wouldn’t be as popular as it is. It’s certainly true that not everything in life has to be logical, but it’s also true that people do not generally seek out painful and frustrating experiences, and therefore if I use logic on the information I have available and deduce from it that porn must be at best irrelevant and at worst frustrating, then I obviously have some significant information missing. I therefore have to go back and re-examine my original assumptions.
This leads me to put forth an alternative hypothesis. Although porn isn’t sex, it is in fact sufficiently similar to it to satisfy sexual needs. That certainly fits better with the available evidence, but it seems to create as many problems as it solves. If sex is a genuine need, why should porn satisfy it? We don’t satisfy our hunger by looking at photos of cake, or even looking at real cake that we can’t access ourselves. And if sex is not a genuine need and can therefore be satisfied by something that is not sex, then why are so many people insistent that it is?
This tends to be the point where I give up and decide that I am never going to understand it. It just is. There are plenty of people in the world who like it, and as far as I am concerned they are welcome to it, provided that:
- they keep it away from children, who do not have the sexual or emotional maturity yet to understand that porn has nothing to do with real-life sexual relationships;
- nobody is harmed or exploited in the making of the porn;
- and they don’t ask me to look at it.