Evolution of the Self

On the paradoxes of personality

Six Recent Innovations in Porn and Erotica

The Internet now offers sexual turn-ons that reality simply can't match.

Producers of Internet erotica and pornography can generally turn a sizeable profit if they’re able to craft sexually supercharged images, videos, and fiction. And to satisfy seekers’ endless quest for carnal excitement, these entrepreneurs have generated paranormal stimuli brimming with powerful erotic cues.

The almost magnetic pull of the sexuality so available on the Web is contrived to hook (though in different ways) women as well as men—and the entire LGBT population, not just heterosexuals. The very novelty and extraordinary nature of these imaginative depictions increase the probability that they’ll heighten arousal and gratify difficult-to-please sexual appetites. And advances in technology add yet another dimension to this commercially creative enterprise, stoking libidos in ways that previously weren’t possible. The end result is that such stimuli can perk up the pleasure centers of your brain like nothing that ever existed before. As in, “whew!”

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The examples I’ll use to illustrate how certain innovations in the multi-billion dollar romance/sex/porn industry are capable of manipulating us into something approaching addiction (and even push some of us headfirst into it) will come from A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World’s Largest Experiment Reveals About Human Desire (by Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, 2011). In this next-to-last post (part 11 of my 12-part series based on this important book) I’ll offer a few representative examples of the kinds of sorcery the Internet now employs to sexually seduce us. But after describing some sights and stories especially calculated to magnify our arousal, I’ll move on to my final segment, which ends on a cautionary note. That is, given the exceptional power that porn’s many illusions can have on us (or over us), they can ultimately affect—in unexpectedly negative ways—our sexuality, our fundamental views of sexuality, and whatever intimate relationship we may find ourselves in.

But here I’d like to review some of the kinds of erotica and porn that deserve to be seen as truly illusional (with the caveat that most of this evocative material can be viewed as illusional in that it’s unquestionably more fabricated, more “made up,” than real). And also keep in mind that the goal of manufacturing such illusions is, frankly, to engender craving. For the more addictive its producers make their “product,” the more likely you’ll return for more . . . and more.

This is how Ogas and Gaddam attempt to summarize the addictive potential of the situation: “Certain kinds of sexual stimuli merge together multiple sexual cues in a kind of perceptual trickery we call erotical illusions. With modern technology and some very human creativity, ancient sexual cues are now spliced together in novel combinations that can dupe or hyperstimulate our sexual perception, giving rise to curious new erotic cravings in both men and women” (pp. 214-15).

Transsexual (a.k.a. "Shemale," "T-Girl," or "Ladyboy") Porn

I’ve already discussed the erotic illusion of shemale porn in earlier posts (e.g., see "You Can't Much Help What Turns You On"). So I’ll touch on it only briefly here—and from a somewhat different vantage point. Pictures or X-rated videos of transsexual women (for whom the main audience is heterosexual men), present the viewer with the novel stimulus of a penis attached to the body of a woman (or ex-man) who, through many hormonal treatments, now possesses perfectly rounded breasts and a most attractive female figure. And the “ornamentation” of an erect penis is a powerful sexual cue not just for gays but for most straights as well—especially when it’s combined with other, far more common visual cues that heterosexual men (and many bisexual men, too) find arousing. This is the reason that shemale porn is a much more popular search category, or “niche,” on the Web than most people might imagine. Juxtapose two very different kinds of male sexual cues—that is, the usual alluring feminine cues with the most unusual cue of the erect male sex organ—and you get the kind of sexual novelty that’s capable of inflaming men’s sexual brain.

Japanese Anime and Hentai

Japanese anime (animation, often featuring adult material) and  hentai (sexually explicit animation) take us even more flagrantly in this strangely risque direction. And the erotic illusions possible are freed from all the normal constraints of reality. So transsexual characters, known as futanari, can heighten the illusion that our libido has now landed in the most idyllic place possible. As Ogas and Gaddam put it: “Futanari characters are drawn with hyperfeminine bodies, typically very young [another powerful sexual stimulant for males], with large round breasts and hourglass figures, large eyes with long eyelashes, and beautiful faces. They also possess giant horse-sized penises” [!] (p. 219).

Returning to the real world, the latest variant on employing transsexual models and actresses to activate men’s innate desire software is using actual women wearing strap-on dildos, which nonetheless seem totally authentic (though the size of their artificial member can, frankly, seem almost absurdly exaggerated). This alternative presents yet another erotic illusion contrived to exploit men’s special susceptibility for arousal through the fresh (not to say, funky) juxtaposition of sexual cues. Moreover, the sexual acts that such a female appendage allows for can also appeal to men’s sexual imagination as regards taking on the submissive sexual role many men experience as a turn-on.

Paranormal Romance

As characterized in earlier posts, women’s sexual cues—as compared to men’s—are at once less graphic and more emotional and psychological. So what might be a fair analogue for illusional shemale porn in the realm of female sexual interests? You hardly need look any further than to the phenomenally successful Stephenie Meyer’s fictional series, Twilight, as one of the more pronounced examples of a recent sub-genre known as paranormal romance. Once more emphasizing what’s been happening to make sexual cues ever more addictive, Ogas and Gaddam comment: “Over the past decade, sexy vampires, lusty werewolves, and a wide variety of supernatural beasties have replaced mere mortals as the most popular romance heroes and heroines.” And what could be more provocative than Meyer’s heroine, Bella Swan, being forced to choose “between angsty vampire hottie Edward Cullen and loyal werewolf hottie Jacob Black” (p. 221)?

It’s almost as though the huge audience for women’s romance fiction (cf. male porn) has over the years become somewhat jaded by the fare it’s routinely offered. So now it’s hungering for something new, revamped, or even turbocharged to keep its sexual brain fully stimulated. Though alpha males will still do the job . . . how about some super alphas? And the endless variation of erotic illusions that can be spotlighted through creating surreal heroes makes the powerful sexual cue of novelty well-nigh inexhaustible. And then, of course, vampires (“alphas among alphas”) have been, and always will be, especially enticing for women as erotic stimuli.

The final romantic hoop that even paranormal heroes must traverse if they’re to warrant final approval from their female audience is that beyond their studly physical prowess, inherited fortune, and fierce protectiveness, they’re able to be transformed by the heroine’s “magic hoo hoo” into a paradoxically tender and devoted partner—now capable of committing to the kind of monogamous relationship that women most desire. In paranormal novels, even when the superhero is not something other than human, his manly proportions and powers are yet rendered in a manner that at last he compels appreciation as more mythic than down-to-earth masculine. Even though he may not be a vampire or a god, he’s still much larger than life: the sort of erotic illusion that can make the heroine (and the entranced reader, who’s closely identifying with her) swoon with overwhelming lust. A realistically impossible blend of sexual cues, such heroes present readers or viewers with a rhapsodic spectacle of romance bound to make more natural portrayals pale by comparison. Talk about hyperstimulation!—these dreamy heroes are artfully, eerily forged to tantalize the addictive palate.

And what is Ogas and Gaddam’s summary of such erotic artifice? “If Japanese anime offers the greatest creative freedom for erotical illusions that titillate the male brain, then the paranormal romance is its match for the female brain” (p. 225).

Gay EroRom

Many women find gay porn arousing (just as lesbian sex has always been extremely popular among males). Yet women’s apparently growing attraction toward such porn still remains second to their booming interest in male-to-male romances, a form of erotic fiction, or EroRom, targeted for women that (at least commercially) didn’t even exist a decade ago. As in Brokeback Mountain—originally a short story written by a woman—which was viewed enthusiastically by a plethora of women, these romances focus nowhere as much on the physical relationship as they do the psychological unfolding of the softer, caring, emotional one.

Slash Stories

But the major trend here is the surging popularity on the Internet of a form of “fan fiction” curiously called slash. Here we have such provocative male/male pairings of heterosexual males as Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy, or Frodo/Legolas. Note, once again, that we’ve been deposited deep into the imaginative world of erotic illusion—a terrain of pure fantasy remote from everyday possibilities. Much “further out” than conventional gay romance stories, these fictions yet feature a remarkably similar, “feminized” plot structure in that the narrative routinely closes with an unheralded sexual and emotional involvement between the two males not originally on the horizon. In short, as in earlier romance novels, this fiction imaginatively (or magically) reconstructs the male psyche to better conform to female preferences.

Ogas and Gaddam report that more than a half-million slash stories can be found on the Web, almost all of them written by female amateurs. And these two authors also suggest the likelihood that such fiction, in engaging various female arousal cues vs. merely visual ones, affords women a more intense illusion than does lesbian porn for males. Not that the male brain can’t respond to literary illusions (or, as O & G call it, “erotic mental trickery”), but that the written word that turns them on differs conspicuously from the slash stories, gay EroRom, or paranormal romance that can be so arousing for women.

Transformation Fiction

The male literary genre to which I’m alluding here is known as transformation fiction. And while its radical name may be self-explanatory, it’s sufficiently bizarre to warrant a fuller characterization. To adopt Ogas and Gaddam’s words: “In transformation stories, a man is changed into a woman through a dazzling variety of methods: magic, chemicals, alien technology, genetic manipulation, or surgery. This change almost always occurs unwillingly [i.e., he must “submit” to it]. . . . Eventually, however, the victim adjusts to his change and comes to happily accept his new life, and all the perks that womanhood brings” (p. 232).

So the question is, given all we’ve learned about the sexual cues that routinely turn men on (most of which are common to both straight males and gays), what is it about transformation fiction that may, well, be kind of “normal”? And the answer is that, however odd this choice of turn-on might initially appear, still the nature of the sexual rewards it offers is hardly uncommon. Consider that such stories are generally teeming with promiscuous sex, as the newly metamorphosed female finds herself in situations where she must sexually gratify a variety of well-hung men. Consider also that the converted male typically makes men turn their eyes and drool, since this “he” turned “she” is portrayed as a kind of sex goddess, embodying all the features that represent potent visual cues for males—such that their lust for her is uncontrollable. Her breasts are large (to extra-extra large), her feet petite, and her dress exceedingly provocative and fashionable—so much so, in fact, that Ogas and Gaddam opine: “The stories sometimes read like an advertisement for Frederick’s of Hollywood (!).

It’s almost as though in the deepest, most narcissistic corners of their mind, many males yearn to no longer have to function as an “economic object” but instead fantasize giving themselves over to their senses and being flatteringly perceived as a “sex object” (an identity most women themselves frown upon). With a fundamental, though rather ludicrous, misunderstanding of the female psyche, they somehow imagine that if they were a woman, they’d certainly want to take advantage of their coveted gender by unrestrainedly engaging in prodigious amounts of anonymous sex. Also, as women, they can’t conceive that they wouldn’t be preoccupied with penis size. And, contrariwise, given their newfound womanly hypersexuality, they can’t possibly imagine giving much thought to their emotions—that is, if any actually exist beyond a compulsive lust for shopping and sexing.

Beyond such peculiarly masculine fantasies, consider my last post, “Dominant or Submissive? The Paradox of Power in Sexual Relationships.” Among other things, I talk there about the fact that fantasies of sexual submission—as well as dominance—can activate the reward centers of male brains. So with transformation fiction (1) pronounced submission cues are added to (2) various male visual cues, relating to the female’s youthful appearance and enticing anatomy—which are further augmented by (3) powerful psychological cues revolving around a woman’s unashamedly exhibiting sexual ecstasy in being forcefully “taken” by a strong, virile male. We end up with a cornucopia of carefully crafted sexual stimuli expressly tailored to elicit maximum arousal. Talk about potent “aids” to orgasm—or helping a man achieve a really mind-blowing one!

And this, finally, is the whole point of the various erotic illusions so well illustrated by Ogas and Gaddam. Still, we’re left with a critical question (which these authors—focusing on the many different forms of human sexual desire—couldn’t address). And that is whether all the artificially heightened ways of getting turned on—mostly compliments of the Internet and its virtually inexhaustible supply of sexual stimuli—is ultimately a good thing. We know that technology can be used just as much for evil as for good. But what about contemporary pornography, the effects of which are substantially boosted by technology?

In fact, recent studies in this area have been revealing an assortment of negative ramifications to the “surrogate sex” now so abundantly offered to us. And the findings unquestionably deserve to be reported in a separate post. So in my next, and last, segment, I’ll go beyond the material in A Billion Wicked Thoughts to summarize the latest reports on the personal and relational issues now surfacing as a result of Internet erotica and pornography being more accessible, cheaper—and addictive—than ever before.

NOTE 1: Below are titles and links to each segment of my 12-part series on this topic:

NOTE 2: If you found this post in some way enlightening (as I very much hope), I trust you’ll consider sharing it with others—so they, too, might garner new insights on the subject.

© 2012 Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.

----I invite readers to connect with me on Facebook—as well as to follow my psychological and philosophical musings on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D., who holds doctorates in English and Psychology, is a clinical psychologist and author of Paradoxical Strategies in Psychotherapy.

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