Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Now that we’re a full week away from the stress of potentially seeing her in the White House (and now that I’m chilling with a Phoenix columnist, shout out jkeefe1!), I finally feel safe to discuss Sarah Palin and Who’s Nailin’ Paylin?, potentially the Deep Throat of our generation.
It shouldn’t be too surprising that Dr. Strokes does not approve. Yes, I laughed a bit when I first heard about it, and yes, the movie of Ricky Gervais reading from the script is pretty hilarious too, but bottom line—I don’t care if the Marquis did it, this is 2008 and I can’t condone speech in which a public figure is explicitly sexualized without their consent.
As the story bounced around the blogosphere, seeing so many links and so little condemnation was upsetting. Melissa McEwan at Shakesville makes my point well when she writes, “we require of our female politicians a skin so thick they’re not meant to care when it’s reproduced in vinyl for the singular purpose of being cum on by men who quite possibly can’t even locate the US on a map.”
Is your skin that thick? Because mine definitely isn’t. Sarah Palin erotica, despite the argument of literary merit, is also pretty darn objectionable.
If you want to dress up as Sarah Palin in your bedroom and use her in your fantasies that’s fine with me, and should be fine with Sarah, given that it’s a straight bedroom within the bonds of wedlock.
But please don’t push it into the public sphere, because that’s crossing the line into sexual harassment and last time I checked it was a crime.
Somebody who was trying to argue with me on this point (and argue with me, if you want—that’s what the comments are for) pointed me to the Obama dildo, saying that this showed that it wasn’t about sexism and it was all in good fun!
Right, I replied, because sexual harassment is suddenly negated when you add racist tropes about caricatured black men. I’ll stick with my Hitachi Magic Wand, thank you very much.
So how do I feel about porn when it doesn’t involve Vice Presidential candidates and make me hate everything a little bit more? Better. Certainly less humorless.
(Admittedly I haven’t had much luck in finding orgasm-free porn to match my orgasm-free bed, but hey. You lose some.)
I think porn can play a really healthy role in your sex life if you use it right, by expecting it to be a fun thing to watch that will really get you turned on, and a really unhealthy role if you’re pushing yourself places that you’re not ready to go or using it as an escape from being in your own body.
When I watch porn, I am always ready to see some things that might sort of squick me out (which is why you should figure out how fast-forward works ahead of time—sometimes I’ll get to a BDSM scene I just can’t watch), but I’m excited about seeing things that will really turn me on. I pop the DVD in the laptop, whip out the vibrator (or the partner) and make sure to have built-in decompression time after watching whatever we’re watching—to think about how the movie made me feel if it’s just me, to talk to my partner about how we both felt if it’s the two of us.
(Unlike a lot of people, I’ve never thought of watching porn as somehow being unfaithful to my partner, so I won’t touch that question in this column: it’s not an attitude I understand particularly well and I’m not sure I can give any helpful advice.)
I do want all my porn to feature freely consenting and enthusiastic performers who clearly have a lot of say in what’s going on before the cameras—porn is only a good thing when it’s about people owning their sexuality. I don’t want any of my porn to play into sexist, racist, or homophobic tropes. I would get bothered if my partner wanted to watch porn that didn’t follow those basic requirements, and I would get bothered if my partner was bringing attitudes and expectations from porn into our bed.
“When Harry Met Sally” may have done more for public perceptions of “what orgasms should sound like” than porn ever has, but dude. Expecting those sounds is not cool either way. Neither is expecting your partner to look like a porn star, although we knew that. Neither is expecting to be able to follow the porn standard for foreplay. Neither is expecting that your partner will enjoy the same positions that porn features prominently. Neither is expecting your sex to be slick and unemotional and strangely devoid of mess.
These things are all possible—hell, maybe your partner is a porn star!—but unlikely. Think about it—porn is designed for visual and aural impact, but sex with your partner should be designed for full-body, full-mind, full-soul impact, which includes but is not chiefly reliant on visual and aural impact.
If they look exactly the same, you’re probably doing something wrong.
I’ll leave you with some of my favorite recommendations for porn, all of which I think are great introductory films if you’re interested in straight or lesbian porn—I’m not a woman who gets turned on by gay male porn, so I don’t have specific recommendations there.
1. Comstock Films are so perfect for couples even Oprah recommended them and so hot that they’re, well, molten. These are documentary-style films of real couples who tell you how they fell in love and then invite you to look in on their bedroom. Right now they have a gay feature, a lesbian feature, and two straight films (one featuring an awesome interracial couple), but once you’ve watched those and realized you can’t get enough, don’t despair! They’re coming out with more soon, including an older straight couple, which rocks. If you like believable and emotional porn, or if you want to foray into couples porn, I can’t recommend this company enough.
2. Tristan Taormino’s Chemistry series asks the simple question: what happens when porn stars stop being polite and start getting real? She puts a bunch of porn stars in a house for the weekend and they decide what to do with themselves. I’m a sucker for reality television and also for reality porn, apparently. Just be ready for a lot of anal sex.
3. Interested in lesbians and transfolk having sex? The Crash Pad series may be for you. I stumbled across it totally by accident. The website promises “pretty much anything else two women with a well-supplied toy chest and a lot of energy can do to one another” and, well, they certainly came up with an awful lot of stuff. I should add that Superfreak, from the same director, has the best premise ever, although I haven’t actually seen it.
4. Veronica Hart’s movies are characterized by high-quality, clever scripts—the sex itself is more conventional than the first two I’ve suggested, but hot and woman-positive. Still Insatiable is a movie about a female politician that doesn’t, you know, steal anybody’s actual persona, in addition to being about ten trillion times more clever than Nailin’ Paylin anyway.
5. If you like bondage at all, particularly woman-on-woman bondage, check out films directed by Madison Young. It’s not surprising that it’s easier for me to watch girls tying up girls, and also it’s much more comfortable for me to watch Madison being tied up when I know she’s directing the very same film.
If you want more, many more amazing films have been recommended at some point by Violet Blue, who has watched a lot more porn and knows a lot more about this than I do.
(Although I’m happy to answer more questions too.)
Nail safely and sanely until next week,