Try a Little Tenderness

November 17, 2011

Whoops! Wrong channel.

I’m wondering if anyone else is sick of the sex on television.

I speak from an aesthetic rather than a moral perspective. All that panting, pounding and chewing, all that “tongue action” – when did TV producers decide that kissing involved the wholesale digestion of the human face? What sex is so urgent that it can only take place on the kitchen counter or the floor? I thought women liked a little tenderness. What about foreplay? And why is the woman always on top, shot from behind, bouncing up and down as if to say, “Look! We’re really doing it!” Because they aren’t, you know.

You know that, don’t you? That it’s simulated sex? Do you really need to see it to follow the plot? I say if you want pornography, watch pornography. Leave it to the professionals. It’s more honest and they do it better.

This whole bodily-function thing — it unnerves me. Hollywood doesn’t yet have trained vomiters or urinaters, but since both of these skills are now also routinely depicted in prime time, there ought to be a school for it.

Last week I tuned in to “The Slap,”an Australian miniseries currently wowing the critics, which depicts a group of ordinary Aussies in extremis, as it were. In the first ten minutes of Episode 2, four were devoted to fake fucking, with its attendant slurps, smacks, thrusts and convulsions.

This was followed by a bathroom scene, where the just-fucked heroine, suspecting she is pregnant, vomits for a while. She then goes to visit her mother, a cancer patient, who promptly wets the floor. That requires a return to the bathroom for a little thigh- and bottom-wiping, whereupon we finally discover that our heroine is unhappy in her job.

Who knew? It was almost as exciting as seeing Paz de la Huerta‘s water break on Episode 7 of “Boardwalk Empire.” Very dramatic — a veritable flood of amniotic fluid pouring on the floor.

Am I wrong, or aren’t there other stage devices to indicate that a woman is about to give birth? A contraction, say, followed by a sharp intake of breath, a call for the doctor and a slow sinking onto the fainting couch.

Cut to morning: The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the cry of a newborn is heard through the half-opened door of Mama’s boudoir. I’m certain this used to be enough to move the story along.

About women: Television is an equal-opportunity degrader, but it likes nothing so much as carving up dames. No man would want to see himself depicted invariably as either a fuckbucket or a mutilated corpse. He wouldn’t stand for it, any more than he can stand to see himself fully naked on the screen, as women routinely are, shaking his ass and pleasuring himself, with his Johnson flying in the wind.

This is why the women are always on top – a man’s privates must be covered. There’s the matter of “size,” about which all men are paranoid. Then there’s “performance”– can he really get it up? Finally, a man can’t risk the dim arousal that might ensue should he look at another male as a sex object. Not so dim, either, in many cases. Not dim at all.

That’s as political as I’m going to get at the moment. They’re busting heads on Wall Street.


J. Bryan Lowder, “Porn That Women Like,” in “Slate”, November 17 2011: The straight male performer must be attractive enough to serve as a prop, but not so attractive that he becomes the object of desire. Men need to see a penis in straight porn (presumably to stand in for their own), but not one that is attached to a guy who might be threateningly attractive, not to mention plausibly appealing to the woman involved. Maybe this insistence on a male blank slate (a kind of reverse objectification, when you think about it) makes it easier to project oneself onto the disembodied penis, but it also protects men from the potentially scary experience of being turned on by both partners of a heterosexual encounter. It allows them to avoid confronting the terrifying specter of homosexuality.”


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