The Porn Diaries #5: Are The Men Even Enjoying Themselves?

When speaking about the carefully constructed façade of pornography, people, including myself, are quick to point out the falseness of the overly enthusiastic reactions of the female star, the implausibility of a woman being ‘always ready’ and willing despite an onslaught of horrific name calling and general shaming, and the rules of physics that pretty much guarantee that no, she doesn’t like that. As something that is supposed to be representative of the ultimate male fantasy, pornography detractors go right to defending the females, assuming that the male actors are having the time of their lives. In reality, however, the behavior of men in porn is equally as bizarre, and as unrealistic sexually as their female counterparts, which leaves one wondering: if nobody is enjoying themselves, what is the point?

If you’ve ever watched porn, and chances are if you’re here you have, you’re probably well aware of the things I mentioned relating to the females. But maybe you have the same blinders as me that caused you to miss the fact that while female porn star behavior includes many overt signs that there’s no enjoyment in the act (excessive enthusiasm, awkwardly concealed grimaces, dead eyes) the men don’t seem to be enjoying themselves either.  When you really pay attention, you notice that the physical signs of arousal are quite likely pharmaceutically enhanced because there are no other traditional signs accompanying it. With scenes lasting far longer than sex in the real world (don’t forget about the time between takes, etc), it’s not a secret that Viagra is probably involved, but it seems that the very audible sounds of faked female enjoyment have been masking the complete and utter silence from the man. If the films involve abusive language toward the female, which many do, the robotic comments from the male performer, said either as awkwardly as the female’s lines or as monotonously as the stiff movements of the male performer himself, are the only things you really hear from him. There’s no real indication of enjoyment.

On top of the obvious lack of indicators of enjoyment, there’s the sheer physicality of it all. I often talk about how there’s no way the woman is enjoying that, but until recently, I never really thought about the male. When you consider the angles required to get good shots for pornography, however, it seems unlikely that the male performer is enjoying much of it either.

Some people don’t take issue with the fact that the people they’re watching to gain personal pleasure aren’t enjoying themselves. It’s unclear to me if it’s because they can pretend that they are or if that is part of the appeal itself, but I imagine it’s different for everyone. For me, however, porn falls under the same category as circuses: I get that they’re put together with the intent to hide all of the unpleasantness so that they elicit awe from the audience. The show is smooth, and fantastic, and speaks to us on a primal level and we almost can’t help but be entertained. That doesn’t change the fact that backstage, the performers are being manipulated and abused into performing, and as exciting as their show is for you, it’s certainly equally as dreadful for them.

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