Porn for Women: because women don’t like sex

This morning – by which I mean this evening, because a night of paper-writing has confused my sleep schedule – I read the new XKCD, as I do every Monday, and found myself confused. This was, of course, because I’d mercifully never been exposed to the horrors of Porn for Women. Ashley directed me to this recent Happy Bodies post, and I was on my way. So: what is Porn for Women? The easiest answer is, It’s really, really stupid. It’s a website that assumes that the biggest turn-on for women is, to quote Randall Munroe, “hot, clothed guys cooking, doing laundry, and vacuuming.” And has lots and lots of pictures and captions about exactly that.

Where to start talking about what’s wrong with this picture? Usually, it wouldn’t be worth wasting time over, except that it’s a nice little object lesson in the stranglehold of absolutist gender roles. Ostensibly “reclaim[ing pornography] for the rest of us,” it’s 1) not actual pornography, unless you have some extremely specific fetishes and 2) full of generalization, after generalization, after generalization. Also, can you say condescending? God, it’s like one giant jewelry commercial! The smug, obnoxious expressions on these men’s faces practically scream, “You’re a woman, so you’re really easy to please and flatter!” Christ, it’s called “Porn for Women,” not “Porn for Lobotomy Patients”!

Let’s take a quick look at some of the nausea-inspiring imagery this site provides.

God, fighting preordained gender roles is such an uphill battle. This website is ostensibly showing how men should act toward women, but their suggested course of action is to treat all women like perpetually pregnant, dainty, retarded flowers, all the time. Also, from the way he’s looking up from his coffee, it looks like the woman in question has just stumbled out of bed. Maybe there’s some sort of Stepford Wives ruse going on here? Or maybe this is Coraline 2, and he’s the Other Husband? Did I already say, “Can you say condescending?” Because… condescending!

The way this is written and designed, it feels like the creators of this website didn’t think women wanted men to treat them well so much as behave like they’re totally emasculated. This isn’t porn for women. It looks more like a mid-’70s Mad Magazine cartoon about the effects of Women’s Lib. Something else that angers me about this website: it assumes a proper course of action for men in relationships with women, based on yet more assumptions about what women like. It also treats men who follow these guidelines like they’re doing something heroic. “Wow, listening to your significant other’s desires or interests? You deserve a gold star!”

Hell, I wouldn’t want to go “NFL playoffs” in the first place, but I wouldn’t particularly want to go to a crafts fair either. And what if the woman who this “porn” is being directed at doesn’t like crafts fairs? Too bad, because she’s a woman? And what about the postcard where the shirtless man says, “As soon as I finish the laundry, I’ll do the grocery shopping. And I’ll take the kids with me so you can relax”? Wouldn’t it be a little more pornographic if the shirtless man said he’d drop the children off somewhere so they can “relax” together? But far be it from me to question Porn for Women’s universal applicability to all women.

If you see fit to visit the website, don’t miss their quiz. Each question has three totally transparent options, which amount to 1) he’s a housework-doing, gift-buying demigod, 2) he’s flawed, and 3) he’s a narcissistic, puerile troglodyte. Because it’s not like men behave different ways at different times. As if they’re, oh, people. Yet despite how little actual humanity this website tolerates in men, it’s funny how man-centric is. The emphasis is entirely on the man (’cause God knows lesbians don’t exist!) performing all these selfless acts, with the assumption that the passive female watching him will experience pleasure. These “pornographic” men are so insistently thoughtful and generous that it’s oppressive. Because isn’t that what women want? A grinning, chore-loving family man who’s dead inside?

Normally a website like this wouldn’t be worth as much attention as I’m giving it, but I think it’s a great example of how obnoxiously restrictive so many conventional views of gender are. Either he’s a normal man, or he’s this nonexistent “porn star” dream man who wants to do housework and cook! Though he still doesn’t care what you think. Oh, God, no. Could you imagine that? Like a man and woman, talking to each other about their own thoughts and feelings, communicating what they want through language? That’d be too much. Instead, men wishing to please their women should toss on an apron, light a scented candle, and throw that woman in the bath while you fix something with an Italian name. Also, tell her how much you care about her. Forced kindness is the key to every woman’s heart. (Because their locks are all exactly the same. And unlocking them means they have sex with you.)

Note: for actual porn for women (and men and queers and whomever) please feel free to click any of the options in the Alt Smut section of the blogroll. —>

29 Comments

Filed under Media, relationships, Sexuality

29 responses to “Porn for Women: because women don’t like sex

  1. I KNOW. Wow, this post is fab. Every sentence is razor-sharp. Very amusing to read, even if the whole thing is infuriating. Awesome work!

  2. apocalypsecakes

    You forgot to mention the porn we like that includes holding hands, sipping tea and petting cats.

  3. AmyH

    I think the so-called “Porn for Women” is hilarious! My sister gave me a book of it for Christmas two years ago and we laughed ourselves silly. It’s just so over-the-top absurd – that’s why it’s funny!

    Of course, I like so-called “real” porn, too, but that’s neither here nor there.

    :)

  4. thelunchbreakphilanthropist

    seems in the same vein as the new Old Spice “Smell like a man, man” marketing campaign. i have to comment in the same manner as AmyH, saying that I’m pretty sure the Porn for Women series is a joke… Both it and the “I’m on a horse” commercial seem to be making fun of the stereotypes of what has traditionally been seen as want’s for women. Is it really so different from the work by Anne Taintor?

  5. Hi, queer here. I agree that its an awful snub, but I found this thoroughly entertaining.

  6. Lori Schmidt Lutze

    Silly me—I love “Porn for Women” and have gotten many big laughs out of it. Maybe you’re not married with kids? Anyway, I wish I was Anne Taintor. Love her, too.

  7. I think you make an interesting point about how “man-centric” it is – how even though it’s called Porn for Women, it’s still all about the man. We don’t even SEE a woman anywhere.

    Great post, it definitely made me think about some things!

  8. Good post, although I gotta wonder if that website is meant to be entirely satirical. I don’t know…it just seems like your making fun of something when you call it pornography when it’s not actually pornography

  9. City Girl 101's

    What a great read! will tell my girlfriends about this one. Great work.

  10. “Porn for Women” is intended as a joke, making fun of how men see women. Think of any beer commercial. I laughed.

  11. Sweet Lord…this blog entry is fan-freakin-tastic and speaks directly to something we’ll have on our blog talk show soon.

    I’m also writing about it more myself. AWESOME.

  12. thanks for posting this. a friend gave me a copy for my birthday and i thought “REALLY?! this is how you think i think?!?!”

  13. @Epiphora, apocalypsecakes, Salvador, hannahfergesen, City Girl 101, wisemath, and ingrid: Thank you very much.

    As to whether Porn for Women is intended as a joke or not: I really don’t believe so. Its tone doesn’t really smack of sarcasm. I know it’s not seriously trying to put these images forward as pornography, but it is suggesting that this is what women want out of men, and not ironically.

    Also, a lot of the pictures and blog posts on the site don’t make any sense if you read them as intentionally funny, and the same goes for the quiz – they read as straightforward presentations of what would presumably satisfy women. As such, they’re advocating all kinds of ridiculous attitudes about gender, as I observed in my post.

    I can definitely imagine finding Porn for Women funny, but after further glancing around the site, I really don’t think that’s how they meant it. However, I think we can all agree that Anne Taintor is just awesome.

    Thanks a lot to all for reading and commenting, and please do so again in the future!

  14. Cocos Mac

    Clearly, this website is a satire. You missed the point. It’s actually really funny.

    • Ashley

      As Andreas just stated in his reply he doesn’t believe that the website is meant as satire. But the fact of the matter is that, even if it is, even if it’s supposed to be some big joke, that doesn’t mean I have to think it’s funny. Doesn’t mean I have to like it. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t further outdated gender stereotypes (or the fact that it’s all painfully heteronormative). The ‘it’s-just-a-joke’ argument is always used when ‘humorless’ people point out fucked up shit. You can think it’s funny all you want. I don’t.

  15. kathleenescapades

    I loved this post. That is all.

  16. Tasha

    Well thank you!!! This was the highlight of my night lol…it just makes me shake my head and wonder…as a woman, thisi is how we’re viewed!?!?!

    thanks again for this amazing post :)

    http://imnotfancy.wordpress.com

    cheers,

    Tasha

  17. I actually liked the website…”porn” isn’t just watching someone get pounded (although I like that too, lol!) but about what gets a person off. If my husband said/did some of the things on that site, I’d attack him! Hell, we women say/do some of the things for our partners we see on the “real porn” so why not?

  18. satire……….at every sentence…………….
    but, its OK.

  19. notallmen

    Hilarious post. I’m really curious to contact the creators of the site, to know if it’s pure satire, or if what you write sums up the type of world they’s really like to live in.

    On the theme of gender, male behaviour, and women ‘porn’, you can check out my blog, which is divided into five parts: Sex, Travel, Food, Life, and information about the book I published last year, entitled ‘Not All Men Are Monsters’. I wouldn’t be plugging it here, except that it seems to relate completely to your post, as it’s an unconventional portrayal of real 21st century men, based on true events in my life. And the sex blog seems to be appreciated by women, who are sharing and conversing about true fantasies, not role reversals that turn men into bitches..

    elsexo.wordpress.com

  20. SR

    It is a confusing site. Not sure to take it seriously. This is 2010, though to be fair my mother would find that site shameful. And “wannasnuggle” does not transmit ‘porn-fuelled’ thoughts. Confusing. ‘Unisex’ erotic sites needn’t be in yer face. My most dearest site deals with erotic art, illustration & literature. Porn For Women does absolutely none. Not sure who it is targetted for. Why be lukewarm about a hot subject!?

  21. Thank god I kept the receipt for those scented candles I got at the craft fair! I’m going to take them back and demand a refund just as soon as I finish arranging these flowers to compliment the three-course meal I just cooked. God, I’m so pornorific.

  22. bahia

    I also heard about this from XKCD, but it wasn’t until I saw the site that I got annoyed. I completely agree with everything you say in your post. Most women I know get turned on by an egalitarian relationship with you each give a little and each receive a little.

  23. niftalicious

    You raise a very interesting point. This perspective didn’t occur to me when I chuckled over it the first time I saw it, however I think those who stridently defend it as “funny” can’t see how it’s also oppressive in its stereotyping.

  24. So . . . let me see if I understand the gist of Porn for Women. What really turns women on is 50’s stereotype women who are really men? Not me. Of course, I like being different from everyone else. Just ‘ornery, I guess. ;)

  25. Joe

    A quick message from the bottom rung of society…

    The generalization that men aren’t women and women aren’t men is true. We’re financially poor (relatively speaking) and things like neglect, lack of opportunity, poor choices, poor modeling or a general lack of trust oppress us from achieving anything great so we give up trying. When men give up trying (working, achieving goals) then we just go back to playing. Which usually means hobbies like sports or something with an engine that goes fast. It’s not complicated.

    Sure there is variation and outliers in gender roles but the human animal is built in such a way that predominantly we are male and female, like every other mammal I can think of. It works because the things that make us different are the only things that can bring us together for procreation.

    If men didn’t have so much testosterone then we wouldn’t want to have sex as much, if at all. (I can say that because I started a soy diet that wiped out my sex drive. It seems I’ve been on either side of the fence now.) If women weren’t nurturing then our offspring wouldn’t be cared for in the way that they are needed. Men wouldn’t do it, we’re just not built for it.

    So, if you don’t mind me saying so, separate but equal is fine with me as long as “equal” never means “the same”. Please Mr/Mrs/Ms in control of advertising and media, quit trying to efeminize men and masculinate women. All that seems to be doing is making men at the bottom rung of society play more.

    Which means we want nothing to do with our wives, our children, our jobs or anything else that makes us work with no return on our effort. I know it’s more complicated than that, but that’s the way I see it from the bottom of this ladder.

    FWIW

    –Joe

    • Ashley

      The problem with things like this, things that are severely steeped in gender roles, the gender roles that you are saying are so important to procreation and are generally true is that they shut out and alienate people who don’t ‘match’ those gender roles. They force people into boxes and whenever someone is outside that box, it’s a struggle. This is the problem with such staunch gender roles. I am not for the effemation or masculinization of either gender; I am for people being the person they want to be without having to worry about all these socially constructed gender rules and regulations that they don’t meet. Even the points that you make are steeped in generalizations. To say that men ‘wouldn’t do it’ (nurture their children) is insulting to every father out there who does. To imply that men need to be horny all the time so that there will be procreation trivializes female sexuality and desire, treating as if it did not exist. And suggesting that all women are nurturing is contradictory to all the women out there who don’t have a nurturing bone in their bodies, like myself (in terms of maternity; I have no maternal feelings whatsoever). And the entire point is all made in the defense of men and women being wired a certain way for the sole purpose of procreation; that in itself shuts out a huge group of people who either can’t or don’t want children.

      I appreciate the time you took to comment and open up this dialogue. Thanks for reading.

      • I like what you said, especially from “To imply that men need to be horny all the time so that there will be procreation trivializes female sexuality and desire, treating as if it did not exist…..” all the way to the end.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s