Fragments of Evolving Manhood: Thinking About Pornography 3

Warning: This post contains a graphic description of a scene from video pornography.

In the heterosexual pornographic video Secrets, there is a woman-on-woman scene—both the women are white—in which one of the performers, wearing a suit and tie, uses a large purple dildo to play the role of a man. This “male” woman handles her false organ precisely the way a physiologically male performer would handle his real one. She holds the synthetic appendage so it emerges from the unzipped fly of her pants, strokes it while she performs oral sex on her partner and even has her partner fellate it. All of this activity is captured by the camera in a way that highlights the women’s self-awareness that they are playing with gender, or at least with the gender of the “male” woman. All signs of playfulness disappear, however, in the seriousness with which the camera takes the simulated cum shot. There is—just as there would be if a man were involved—a close up of the dildo being aimed at the vagina of the “female” woman. Then the “male” woman’s hand “masturbates” the rubber organ until it “ejaculates,” appearing to emit a white, semen-like fluid, which in reality is released from the “male” woman’s palm. The “male” woman rubs the tip of the dildo gently against the “female” woman’s besmeared genitals, just the way a man would if he were playing in the scene; there are some brief moments of kissing and cuddling afterward, with the “female” woman on top; and then the film moves on.

Consider now, if you will, a very different woman-on-woman scene. Imagine the women use a dildo that squirts and that, rather than giving us a simulated cum shot, the camera shows the “male” woman taking the dildo out of the harness she is wearing and squirting the fake semen all over her partner. In this scene, though, what comes out of the dildo is fruit juice, or maybe wine, and when the partner wrestles the fake penis from the first woman’s hands and squirts it back, the women fall on each other, laughing out loud and licking the fluid from each other’s skin. Then the camera cuts to the next scene in which they pass the dildo back and forth between them, like the toy it really is, giggling at the air that wheezes out when they squeeze its fully-drained testicles, and then putting it aside as they settle into bed to watch television.

A scene like this, in which two women treat a surrogate penis with such profound lack of respect for the power and control a penis is supposed to represent would never make it into a video like Secrets. After all, a penis that can be tossed aside, even one that has clearly been made to be tossed aside, cannot help but suggest what has to be one of the most threatening ideas within the context of male dominant heterosexuality and, therefore, mainstream heterosexual porn, i.e., that men can be tossed aside just as easily. Yet there is no escaping the fact that the fake cum shot in Secrets can be read as making precisely that point. For just underneath the more traditional reading of the scene as demonstrating that the dildo cannot measure up to the “real thing,” is the absence of irony in how the cum shot was filmed, suggesting that perhaps the woman with the purple dildo can indeed stand in for a man, that maybe a flesh-and-blood dildo is all a man’s body really is.

Cross posted on The Poetry in the Politics and the Politics in the Poetry

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One Response to Fragments of Evolving Manhood: Thinking About Pornography 3

  1. 1
    Doug S. says:

    What’s that line? “In porn, women are objectified into sex objects, and men are objectified into props?”