Women Who Stray

Notes on the history and current practice of female infidelity

Women Watching Porn? Not in My Town!

The government takes on female sexuality, yet again.

Albuquerque women won't be allowed to watch porn this year! Photo: blogs.voices.com

The famous "zone defense" against sex strikes again! Across our country, communities use zoning laws to restrict, censor and suppress sexuality. It's an easy way to kick sexual behavior out of a community, or at least, over the border. This is why as you drive across the country, you'll see strip clubs and porno theaters, on the outskirts of towns, often just across the town border.

In my hometown of Albuquerque, these regulations have just been used to shutdown an erotic film festival, hosted by women. Women watch porn? No way. Porn is for men! Men are the sex that is turned on by visual depictions of sex, not women, not the fairer sex! Say it ain't so!

Pornotopia is a film festival put on by the wonderful ladies who run Self-Serve, a sex-positive sexuality store, or resource center. These ladies do more than just sell porn and sex toys, they educate, counsel and refer. The folks that go to their store are not wearing trenchcoats and furtive expressions. They go in nervous, and come out excited, educated and hopeful that their sex life has a new aspect (toy, position, or accoutrement).

In its first year, Pornotopia triggered an ACLU battle, as the City tried to shut it down. This year, the zoning commission seems to have won, playing games with rules, and preventing women from watching porn in public.

Why does this matter? Isn't it okay for communities to restrict dirty, naughty perverts to the other side of the traintracks? Send them to the poor area, let them be with the druggies and scum, where they belong! This is sadly just a form of socioeconomic discrimination and isolation, treating areas struck by poverty as garbage cans for those parts of human behavior that the allegedly "purer" parts of society doesn't want around.

And after all, women don't really like porn! Do they? In fact, studies by Meredith Chivers show that women react as strongly to porn as men do. In some cases, it seems that women actually react more strongly to porn than do men, as women respond with physiological arousal to visual depictions of almost any sexual activity, whereas men seem to be much more rigid and limited in what they respond to. But, whereas men respond with both physical and psychological arousal, women more frequently show physical arousal, at the same time they deny being turned on. So, women react to porn, they may just be unwilling or unable to acknowledge it - after all, they are taught from childhood that "good girls don't do that!"

Okay you say, alright, so maybe women react to porn, but they don't like the hardcore stuff. They want the nice stuff, romance, flowers and chocolate, then sex. They're not like men, who just want the money shot. Actually, in contrast to the belief that men watching pornography is just about the “gynecological shot,” and that all men care about is genitalia, recent research at the Atlanta Center for Behavioral Neuroscience has shown that when men watch pornography, the thing they attend to most, is a woman’s face. In fact, compared to women watching pornography, men looked at the faces of porn actors sooner and more, than women did!

So, if women really want to watch porn, and they don't want to go to some seedy, sketchy porn theater, let them use the Internet like everybody else! But, why should they have to? Doesn't it send an ugly message, that women can only acknowledge their sexual desires in private? Doesn't this smack strongly of civil rights violations? And targeted towards women?

Do YOU trust the government to manage female sexuality? I don't. Especially when it seems like every anti-sex governmental crusader is actually a closet pervert. The latest is described by fellow blogger Marty Klein, reporting on Federal Judge Jack Camp, who ruled that a Georgia law restricting strip clubs (using zoning regulations!) was legal. Guess what? Camp was shortly thereafter reportedly discovered in a strip club, with his stripper girlfriend, involved in naughty sex and drug-dealing. Do you want this guy ruling on your sexual behavior?And isn't interesting that the States that are the most socially and politically conservative, that have the most stringent zoning restrictions on adult entertainment, just happen to be the greatest consumers of Internet pornography? Can we say hypocrisy?

A female-run, female focused erotic film festival? Great idea - too bad your government disagrees. Photo: Selfservetoys.com

And, here's an interesting question raised by the censorship efforts against Self-Serve's efforts - "What is adult entertainment?" That's easy, right, it's about sex, hardcore sex, you know, porn. But, defining those laws is actually pretty hard, especially in today's world of sexuality. Did you know there's a group of fetishists who masturbate watching videos of people shivering in the cold? Not naked people, just normal people, normally dressed, but cold. So if a group of those folks put on an erotic festival, dedicated to their definition of erotic, can it be shut down?

I understand that many people have what they believe are good reasons to fear and dislike pornography. But, the world of sexuality, eroticism, and entertainment is not black and white. To create laws that will effectively suppress the sexuality and adult entertainment some people don't like, means giving away the freedoms that define our society. Society and government has an ugly history of restricting female sexuality - the first law imposed by one of the first governments in human history, outlawed the practice of a single female having multiple husbands, and ordered the stoning death of such women.

As I've written in recent blogs, a huge majority of people have sexual fantasies and desires that society deems in one way or another to be unacceptable. Be careful, when you point that governmental finger at other people's sexuality. When you empower the government to restrict the sexuality of others, it won't be long before they're knocking on your bedroom door as well.

David J. Ley, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and author of Insatiable Wives, Women Who Stray and The Men Who Love Them, available from Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

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