Why Do Straight Women Enjoy Watching Lesbian Porn?

This question has been buzzing like crazy in my brain all day, demanding an answer I was worried that I’d never be able to give it. My inner bisexual knew what I wanted the answer to be. “theyreallylikewomentheyreallylikewomentheyreallylikewomen.” It would be more evidence to me that we are, after all, existing on a sexual scale of preference, rather than fixed to a straight/gay binary.

But that felt like an easy answer. It doesn’t seem quite that straightforward. Straight men, for instance, do not watch gay porn. They just don’t. They need some girl-flesh to get off to and watching men do things to men generally makes them squirm, or die inside or something. I’ve been told by men of the world that “guy on guy sex is just “unnatural”, whereas girl on girl is part of the way of the world – because men like to watch it DUH! And so do straight women, apparently. So if the answer is simply that “we’re all a little bit bi, then girls are clearly a little bit more bi than boys; a conclusion that makes very little logical sense.

It’s fairly obvious that men are anxious about their masculinity, and that so much as daring to watch Brokeback Mountain can be perceived as a gay, anti-male threat in many circles. There’s simply no reason for a manly straight man to watch gay porn if he isn’t immediately aroused by it.  And if he is, then then the instant conclusion is, of course, that it’s because he’s a repressed gay(not bi). On the other hand, straight porn is a harder sell to women because representationally it’s … pretty horrible mostly. In terms of power dynamics it’s not only all male fantasy, it more often than not features male dominance and displays of power over women.  Women in porn are mostly fuck toys.  As a woman, it’s not easy to get into a space/frame of mind for being aroused when the person on-screen you identify with is being objectified and shown as dehumanised or subservient.  

If we consider lesbian porn, instead, it’s entirely different. Of course, lesbian porn isn’t actually made for either straight or gay women to enjoy, it’s still a male fantasy game, but no matter how tawdry the onscreen dynamic is still entirely different. Instead of watching a male figure dominating and subduing women, two (or more) women are meeting for sex and pleasuring one another on rather more equal power- terms. How much easier to switch off and feel arousal if there’s at least something onscreen that the woman can identify with  How much more enjoyable. The male in straight porn is so often a little bit threatening, but in lesbian porn that figure has gone.  It may not be that all women are fantasising about fucking the woman onscreen as men are when they watch straight porn.  They may be using the sexual scenario as a way to fuel their own, more abstract, fantasies.

If this is close to correct, does that make straight women free from the potential, horrific curse of being labelled bisexual – are they still being honest with themselves if they call themselves straight? Well, I guess this depends on how one views sex/arousal; I doubt that most women who say this are actually lying, but I think that their language of sexuality and our culture of anti bisexuality suggests to them that the straight box is the one they should fit into. Does saying “I like watching women onscreen, but I wouldn’t go out and have sex with one” mean that you are definitely straight? For me, whatever the reason you’re doing it, surely the fact is that if watching two women having sex arouses you, takes you to a place in which you have erotic thoughts and desires, then you’re aroused by the thought of your own sex.(Do you have to actually have sex with a woman to consider yourself a bisexual woman?) In my mind, that’s still a strong indication that sexuality exists on a continuum, and that what we call ourselves, straight, gay, bi, pan or whatever, we still have the possibility to break free from the constrictions of our language and the boxes it tries to put is in and consider that sex and desire is flexible and more than a little unpredictable. 

She Wakes

She Wakes
(Author’s note: I wrote this attempting to capture a gentler, more sensual moment.)

Her body lies sprawling, naked and peaceful, an erotic adornment to the stark crisp linen of her bed. The dawning sun shyly observes her calm and unmoving beauty, for she lies perfectly still but for the soft regular rise and fall of her small delicate bosom. Strong male hands run lightly across the tips of her breasts and grab hold of her curving hips; a firm cock slides gently inside of her; and she wakes.

The first coy greetings of the morning sun tentatively shine through and brighten the room, illuminating her precious nudity. She yawns, stretches out her arms, and then blearily wipes away the encrusted sleep from her sticky eyes. The bolder rays beam their warmth across her smiling face and neck, bringing welcome heat to the exposed breast, recently cupped so tenderly by the man now thrusting his way deeper and deeper within.

She wakes as the gentle thrusting quickens, intensifies and heats; as the penetrating rays of the sun explode and refract into a light of a thousand beautiful colours; and then it burns and dies. She feels a husky breath on her neck, her warm body is surrounded, cradled in the arms of her lover, and she emerges into the day feeling safe and content. One arm wraps tightly around her, hand playing fondly with her chest, the other gently squeezing downwards on her thigh.  His semi-rigid cock lies pressed up against her ass, while the seed it spilled trickles innocently down her leg. She wriggles, pushes her body onto his, and then giggles sweetly.  She mutters, “I love you,” incoherently before drifting back into sensuous sleep.

The sunlight creeps ever over, caressing her soft, naked skin.

Robin Thicke’s Clear Cut Lines.

I don’t know what lines Robin Thicke thought that he was blurring. The tragedy of the song is that his lines are so damn clear-cut. What’s more, this thing is so damn sexist that my jaw dropped to the floor a little when I first saw it. Then it dropped through the floor when I realised that this thing had been at no.1 in the pop charts for a decent length long time. Oh, it’s catchy alright, I’ve been humming it away to myself all day, and let’s face it, it’s another genius piece of marketing. You can imagine the “how can we create a little controversy to promote this song?” conversations. “Ok, tits alone aren’t enough to skyrocket sales, let’s make it really sexist and then say that it isn’t; that’ll grab some attention.”

It would have been helpful if rape hadn’t been brought into this. I fully respect that rape culture needs to be discussed as much as possible, but pinning a criticism on the lyric “I know you want it” as being rape-y is taking the focus away from arguments against the song that I believe to be more powerful. I have no doubt that a lot of rapists use this line, but it’s also a staple of the sexist “I know you wanna fuck me” brigade, which translates as “I’m a douche, pleeeeease fuck me”, not everyone of whom goes on to rape their would-be illustrious conquest.

Thicke’s defense of the song is worth quoting:

 Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?’ I’m like, ‘Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.’ So we just wanted to turn it over on its head and make people go, ‘Women and their bodies are beautiful. Men are always gonna want to follow them around.”

I’m no sure that anyone would believe for a second that this is either genuine or well argued, but what’s worrying is that it hardly matters, since the catchiness of the song trumps all. That and the fact that there are more than enough guys out there with low IQs who are going to identify with this video and see a popstars credibility as good enough reason to have the attitude that it champions.

So, what is that attitude exactly? The song is hardly saying “Go out and rape a woman,” but it categorically is not a song that liberates women from a repressed sexuality. Some of the songs subtler lyrics

So, hit me up when you pass through,
I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two.

“What do we need steam for,
You the hottest bitch in this place .

The way you grab me, must wanna get nasty,
Go ahead, get at me .“

Did I say subtle? I meant sad and pathetic. Where Thicke would have you believe that there’s something liberating about this song, being about women given the opportunity to unleash their sexy side, notice that it’s the man doing all of the liberating, the man saying what goes and what does not, and most importantly notice that the man is controlling the sexual language and the encounter. “I know you want it.” “You’re a hot bitch” “I’m gonna tear your ass” (seriously?) Where’s the female voice here exactly? Is this the sexual encounter that all women have secretly been dreaming of? There must be some women out there really desperate for Thicke’s big dick, I suppose.

I’m thinking that it’s not down to Thicke’s big Dick to be liberating women in the manner that he chooses, a manner that’s completely controlled by a male’s lyrics and a male’s iconography. What’s doubly insulting is that these blurred lines that are supposed to make women so mysterious and complicated are simply the Madonna/Whore duality that has been used to keep women in their place in art and literature throughout the centuries. Women – as far as men are concerned – are either the meek, virginal, containable domestic goddess (tried to domesticate you, but you’re an animal) or they are the evil, difficult to control, lustful, wild whore. Think Snow white vs her evil Stepmother (and other similar fairytales) or Cordelia vs her Sisters in King Lear.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MadonnaWhoreComplex

What this song is actually doing, under the guise of liberation from domestication, is simply showing Thicke taming both sides of what he believes to be the nature of woman. Women, you can be liberated as long as there’s a reputable member of the patriarchy about to make sure that liberated nature doesn’t get under control.  We can do better than this now, can’t we?

I couldn’t care less about the tits in the video (I can’t stop thinking that girl totally looks like Anne Hathaway) Does that pass as controversial still? I do care that their presence and actions of the women is thoroughly dependant upon Thicke’s sexual gaze. I do care a lot about Thicke’s obnoxious patriarchal messages.  I’m not seeing a lot of feminine empowerment here.