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Prescription for a Porn-Positive World

One of the enduring hot-button issues in our culture (and every other culture) is sexually explicit material. Everyone has an opinion on what we, as a society, ought to allow—and what should be prohibited.

Everyone has an opinion, but not all opinions are formed through sound reasoning. More often than not, our opinions are visceral responses to things that frighten us, or that we don’t understand. And if we don’t like it, don’t understand it, or it puts us off, why, that’s reason enough to have it banned!

It’s no surprise that people on both ends of the political spectrum can comfortably join forces in a pogrom against porn. It’s the great boogieman, after all: the corruptor of youth; that which erodes family values and degrades human sexual expression. What’s not to hate about porn?

I suppose if all that were true, there wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar industry cranking out everything from soft-core erotica to extreme hardcore. But there is, and it reflects the simple principle of supply and demand. If so many people honestly believe that sexually explicit material is bad for us and our society, why the huge demand?

Case in point—19-year-old Alex from Indianapolis writes:

Hey Dick,
I noticed from your bio that you are a pornographer. How do you justify that? Isn’t pornography basically an insult to human sexuality? How do you square that with being a sex therapist and believing, as you say, that you affirm the fundamental goodness of sexuality in human life, both as a personal need and as an interpersonal bond?”

Wow, Alex! You actually took the time to read my bio? I’m impressed! You bring up a very interesting point, albeit with a bit of a jab. You’re right; I have been a pornographer. If that’s the only word you can come up with to describe what I did at Daddy Oohhh! Productions. I like to think that the adult material I produce is not in conflict with my basic, overall philosophy about human sexuality. (By the way, thank you for quoting it as accurately as you did.)

Admittedly, porn is a thorny issue in our sex-negative culture. Lots of people are hostile to the notion that there could actually be something uplifting and life-affirming about the depiction, in any medium, of sexual behaviors. Lots of people believe that even nudity, let alone full-blown sex, is bad and that it corrupts the consumer, especially if the consumer is a youth. I don’t happen to share that perception. But this is such a touchy subject for most that it’s very difficult to have a civil discourse about the place pornography has in our (or any other) culture. Since we find it so difficult to talk about sexual issues in the public forum, it’s no surprise that pornography—i.e., the public exposure of sexual things—continues to be the big, bad boogieman for even otherwise enlightened people.

I hasten to add that, for the most part, the adult entertainment industry richly deserves the dubious reputation it has. There is an enormous amount of content in the marketplace that degrades, dehumanizes and exploits. And I’m not just talking about the stuff that doesn’t suit my tastes. Because there’s a lot of good stuff out there that doesn’t particularly appeal to me.

Therefore, I caution you in your youthful zeal not to reject everything that depicts sexual behavior as worthless just because a good portion of it is indeed shameful junk. That would be like discarding all religion because a good portion of its practitioners degrade, dehumanize and shame those who don’t share their belief system.

You apparently also think there is an inherent contradiction between being a sex therapist and a pornographer. I don’t agree. For nearly 30 years, I’ve been involved in all sorts of cutting-edge sex education and sexual enrichment projects. So why not attempt to bring a fresh, healthier perspective to adult entertainment? Sounds like the perfect role for a sexologist to me.

Humans have been depicting sexual behavior, in one fashion or another, since we were able to scratch images on the walls of our caves. Some of these depictions are intended to titillate, others to educate, even others to edify, but all are expressions of the passions of the person who scratched, painted, wrote or committed to film (or videotape) the images they did. I think that if you were really interested in getting to know my thoughts about pornography, you’d do well to check out some of my work. And let’s not forget that in more sex-positive societies than our own, sexual practices were and are integral parts of worshiping the deity.

Porn, like most forms of human expression, has both gold and dross. And just maybe, we need the crap in order to appreciate the treasures. Also, today’s porn may be tomorrow’s art. Ask Henry Miller or Anaïs Nin. A lot of stuff that hangs in the Louvre museum today was, upon its creation, considered scandalous and pornographic as well. Happily, we, along with our perceptions, evolve.

The definition of what is ‘pornographic’ changes with the times. Community standards also play a part. A lingerie catalog that showed women in bras and panties might be “pornographic” in one place, but no big deal in another.

I argue that there is a purpose to sexual depictions, pornographic or not. Otherwise, why would these depictions be so pervasive and appear in every culture? And it’s not just because it’s art. Most pornography is decidedly not art. So if it’s not art per se, what is it? Most pornography is simply designed to arouse sexual desire. And that, generally speaking, is a really good thing. It’s precisely this pursuit that probably brought you, young Alex, to me in the first place. Am I correct?

Sexual desire can stimulate an array of thoughts and behaviors from tender, intimate and passionate to raw, fierce and cruel. The mood of the consumer also plays a part. If your libido is raging, you might find a certain depiction stimulating, while the same depiction can cause disgust when your hormones are more in check. Porn tends to imitate what people fantasize about, rather than what actually happens in the lives of most of us. As a result, nearly everything is exaggerated in pornography: body parts, sexual situations, as well as sexual responses. Everything is staged and a lot is faked. Exaggeration is a time-honored way of calling attention to something that is otherwise pretty commonplace…you know, like sex.

In the end, Alex, you will have to decide for yourself what merits pornography might have in our culture. I suggest, however, that you approach porn with a slightly more dispassionate eye than you are currently using. You may find that it has something to teach you about yourself, your culture and the history of humankind.

Good luck!

Fighting Fair — a Tutorial

I have just the thing for all you folks out there who are in a relationship. If you’re like every other couple I know, you have your share of tension. And let’s face it—tension leads to fighting. And fighting, if not done fairly, can lead to hurting your partner—even if that’s not your intention.

Here are Cheryl and Vern; they have a problem:

Doc,
We’ve been married for 11 years and have two great kids, ages 4 and 7. We both have full-time jobs, so family life is at a premium. Lately we’ve hit a rough patch and we seem to be fighting more than usual. We still love each other very much, but the sniping and bitchiness is getting us down. I know this is not specifically a sex question, but do you know how we could cut down on all this bickering or make it so we don’t lose it with each other?

Every relationship has its bones of contention. And it’s natural and healthy to want to hash things out. I think it’s so much better to get things out in the open, rather than let them fester all bottled up inside. Of course, there is a danger of exploding and letting things just fly in every direction. Someone is liable to get hurt. But if you give your venting some structure—fair fighting technique, for example—you’ll be more likely to get your point across with out bludgeoning one another.

First thing—we tend to fight more when we’re irritable. Stress and sleep deprivation make us cranky. And from the sound of it, you guys are definitely stressed, if not also sleep deprived. Your lifestyle is setting you up for confrontation. So no amount of fair fight training is gonna make a difference until there’s some change in your lifestyle. In fact, I suggest that you not even attempt to embrace these techniques if you’re not serious about integrating them into your lifestyle. It would be like committing to non-violence while you’re stocking up on guns and ammo.

Let’s take a look at some of the basics. The way you word a complaint will make a big difference. For instance, avoid “you” statements as much as possible. “You” statements tend to make your partner feel like he/she is to blame. “You make me angry.” “You don’t trust me.” “You’re not making sense.” “You never take the time to compliment me anymore.” “You are always to busy for me and my needs.”

I suggest that you use “I” statements instead. “I” statements reflect the way you feel. “I feel angry when I hear things like that.” “I want you to trust me.” “I don’t understand what you are saying.” “I don’t hear compliments from you anymore.” “I feel like I’m not important to you anymore.”

You see how in the first instance, the “you” statements blame your partner. They also assume he/she should know better, and that they’re doing this to you on purpose. The problem with assumptions like these is they only make things worse. They also put your partner in a defensive posture. “No, I didn’t.” “That ridiculous.” “I am, too!” “You’ve got to be kidding.”

In the second instance the “I” statements are more open-ended. They invite a response without putting your partner on the defensive. This is also a useful way of soliciting your partner’s feedback. “I’m not trying to make you angry.” “I want to trust you too, but how can I?” “Let me put it another way.” “I know I should try harder to compliment you.” “I’m so swamped; I have a difficult time prioritizing everything these days.”

Another basic to fighting fair is giving concrete examples of what you are talking about. Let’s say you’re talking about money matters. That’s always a big bugaboo in any relationship. Use “I” statements along with an example: “I felt like you just blew off the family budget when you made that purchase. I know you were thinking of the whole family when you bought it. It’s just I would really like some input on major expenditures like this. How are we going to adjust the budget for next month to pay for this?”

You see how the concrete example demonstrates your concern without clobbering your partner? You also suggested that you understood why the thing happened. And, most importantly, you offer a solution—that the two of you pull together as a team to resolve the budget crisis.

You know how sometimes you know exactly what you want to say, but it doesn’t come out right? This is more likely to happen in the heat of an argument. To short-circuit this dangerous hazard, I suggest that before either of you launches into a tirade against the other, you take the time to plan out what you want to say. Jot down some notes, bullet points, if you will. This, of course, also creates a natural cooling off period. The goal of fighting fair is to make the situation better, not worse.

If you guys are prone to fighting, I suggest that you take a cue from those in the kink community. In negotiating a BDSM scene, the participants always agree on a safeword before the scene begins. This safeword is a word that will be out of the context in the scenario, or in your case the argument. This safe word is used when someone is reaching his/her limit in the scene, or in your case, when your fight is veering toward emotional violence.

For example, let’s say you guys decide on the word “pickle.” You find yourself in a spat; things are heating up. You are dangerously close to saying some very hurtful things, things you know you will regret later. This is the time to employ the safe word. Or, let’s say, you are being browbeaten and harangued and you feel emotionally vulnerable. You don’t want to react or turn up the volume, so you use the safe word. If you commit to a safe word and one of you uses it and the other one ignores it, then that person is not only breaking the rules of fighting fair, he or she is guilty of domestic violence. And that ought never be tolerated. Get it? Got it? Good!

Here are some other things to consider when structuring your arguments so as not to devastate your partner. The time to commit to fighting fair must happen before there is a row. So I suggest that you sit down one quiet evening and pound out your own guidelines. You’ll also need to give these rules teeth. If there are no consequences for breaking an agreed upon rule, then what’s the point?

1. Pick the right time and place for the fight. Don’t bring up problems when you don’t have time to talk about them (like right before you or your partner has to leave for work). Don’t fight when you’re drinking. If things are coming to a head, but there’s no time for a fair fight, commit to a concrete time later to take on the issue. Be sure you honor that commitment and not just avoid the fight.

2. State your feelings honestly, without sarcasm or insults. Jot down the points you want to make. Delete anything that is intended to hurt or humiliate your partner.

3. Stick to the issue at hand. Don’t go bringing up things that happened in the past, even to make your point.

4. Fair fighting is not about placing blame. It’s about solving problems.

5. Stick to “I” statements and stay away from “you” statements.

6. Avoid words like “always” and “never.” “You always do that.” “I never get what I need.” This will help you avoid criticizing your partner’s entire personality.

7. Don’t mind-read. If you don’t know how your partner feels or what he/she thinks, then ASK.

8. Incorporate positive statements and compliments along with your complaints. Make a sandwich: complaint—compliment—criticism. Like this: “You’re a lying sonofabitch!” “I love your shoes!” “You should eat shit and die!”

Okay, I’m kidding on the last part up. But you could say something like: “I sometimes feel so alone. I know you’re trying to be more present. Is there any way we can work it that we have more quality time together, to love and nurture one another?” This sandwich technique will soften the blow of any complaint and your partner will be less defensive.

Remember, you are not alone. All couples have their share of problems. No couple will see eye to eye on everything. But if you know how to fight fair when fighting is called for, you’ll be able to structure your arguments so that you can resolve the issues without damaging your partner’s ego.

Good luck!

It ain’t necessarily so!

Podcasts will resume on Monday, September 6th.

Name: Tomasz
Gender:
Age: 64
Location: Budapest
Are there any vitamins or minerals that will increase the amount of ejaculate? Thanks…your site is very nice and provides a great service!

Why, aren’t you a sweetheart, Tomasz! Thank you for your kind words.

There are loads and loads of companies out there who claim to have products that will increase the volume of a man’s ejaculate. But when I search the web for products that promote male sexual enhancement, or potency, or whatever; I do so as a skeptic. That’s how everyone should go about such a search. If you keep your eyes open and look beyond the pseudo-medical babble you’ll discover two very important things, just like I did.

First, every site I visited advertises their product as a miracle medical breakthrough. Often there is a testimonial or two from some doctor (MD) or doctor (Ph.D.) who substantiates the claims being made. We never really discover who these professionals are, but we are encouraged to take their words as gospel. Why? Well because we all know that professional people would never knowingly try and hoodwink us. Exactly! And if you buy that we have some swampland in Louisiana for ya.

Each site also claimed that the product they hawk has undergone rigorous clinical studies proving its efficacy. But they never actually cite any of the studies in question or where these supposed studies were published. Here’s a tip, if there is a sited study and that study was sponsored by the company that produced the product, or is published by them, then you know you’re in trouble.

Second, inevitably the manufacturers of these products make the most outlandish claims. Take this one for instance. I’ll not disclose the product’s name, but this is actual promotional copy from one site. It says, Product X will…

  • Intensify ejaculatory contractions due to the strengthening of the vas deferens muscle (the muscle responsible for the expulsion of semen)
  • Increase volume of released ejaculate
  • Produce faster recovery for second orgasms
  • Improve semen quality
  • Produce more satisfying orgasms due to increased contractions and ejaculate
  • Improve prostate health
  • Improve Erectile Dysfunction caused by diabetes
  • Increase sexual well-being and vitality
  • Cure cancer
  • End world hunger

Ok, I made the last two up.

One has only to look closely at the claims to realize they’re hogwash. Besides, they don’t really tell us anything other than the product in question might somehow improve something that may have something to do with male virility. The same could be said about a glass of water.

Listen up…

The truth is, Tomasz, you can probably do just as well with a modest daily intake of a zinc and lecithin supplements. For some, these nutrients have a noticeable effect on the volume of ejaculate produced. And they’re a whole lot cheaper and easier to get then the trumped-up stuff you see online.

Keeping yourself hydrated will also increase the volume of your spunk. It just stands to reason, the more hydrated you are the easier and more efficiently all your glands responsible for secreting a watery substance, like your prostate and seminal vesicles, will have getting water from the bloodstream. If you’re dehydrated, your glands will not have as much water available, and subsequently you’ll spooge considerably less.

Good Luck!

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