For Superbowl Sunday, some churches in the US are designating today Porn Sunday, and many will be showing a video sermon with NFL players talking about how porn has messed up their lives. Questions involving porn addiction are common among the agony aunts these days, often involving the porn addiction of a lover and the resulting lack of sex in the relationship.Wednesday night on Ch 4’s series, ‘The Joy of Teen Sex,’ teen journalist, Billie J D Porter, discussed with her peers and with a psychologist, the implications of technology in teen sex, including chat rooms and porn addictions.
Sex demands something of the participants. Granted the returns are not always equal and there are always risks, sometimes terrible risks – emotionally and physically. I’ve always said that erotica is the ultimate safe sex, but even the reading of an erotic story is a two-way exchange demanding something of the reader. But I wonder if maybe the real problem with virtual sex and having porn so readily available online is that the sex provided is TOO safe, hermetically sealed sex, sex without the Other.
I’m the first to say ‘yay’ to sex for one. I think masturbation is the cornerstone of healthy a sex life and everyone deserves a little self pleasure. But when sex for one is once-removed through the power of technology, and we’re left with sex that demands nothing of us other than showing up in front of the monitor, sex itself is declawed, disempowered, bloodless. Even in more participatory situations, like chat rooms, the virtual world is by its very nature a closed environment where sex occurs in isolation. No one gets hurt, no one gets dirty, no one has to engage with the wet ware and the messiness that goes along with it.
When sex is no risk, no mess, no fuss, then the urge for more and more can hardly come as a surprise, nor can the blurring of the lines between the real and the virtual. We’re beings of flesh and blood. Reality is the mess of it all we live in. But the mess doesn’t come without its fringe benefits, rough and tumble, primal body benefits that make us human, make us connected to ourselves and to each other. I can’t help but feel that by taking the flesh and blood, brain and brawn mess out of sex, virtual reality has made sex too predictable, too safe to ever possibly be enough for our true animal nature, and our large, needy brains. We were never intended to be sexual couch potatoes, and more will never be enough unless at least some of it is real.