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Ryerson White Ribbon Campaign: a group dedicated to ending men’s violence against women

from – The 15-year-old babysitter peruses the living room’s VHS collection, slipping movies out of their cases until a cheesy title catches her eye. The parents are out until 11 pm, the kids asleep, so she pops it in the VCR. A typical 80s style porn scenario unfolds on the big screen TV. A man strips off a woman’s clothes and she kneels to slip her lips around his cock. At this moment *Christine pulls the tape out.

“I remember being instantly fascinated and repulsed,” she says, laughing. “It’s quite titillating and natural so I wanted to look but then sort of felt bad about looking,” says the former Ryerson student.

When it comes to erotic videos almost everyone is looking, and thanks to the internet (does it serve another purpose?) our eager 10 digits can play with more than 4.2 million web pages of pornographic material. Fourteen per cent of porn users fall into the postsecondary student bracket between 18 and 24 years old and 25 per cent of daily search engine requests are for porn.

Gone are the days when you had to make a sketchy trip to the corner store with the squinty eyes of the elderly clerk screaming “SINNER” as you slide Cum Candy Cunts in Space 4 across the counter. Now that we can access our kinky fetishes within seconds, the fast food consumption of porn is screwing around with how we fuck.

Jeff Perera [pictured] thinks so. The co-chair of the Ryerson White Ribbon Campaign, a group dedicated to ending men’s violence against women, says that if men who watch porn aren’t conscious of the unequal societal power dynamics between men and women it can be a destructive thing. He grew up in a Christian household where sex was a blacklisted topic and bought his first hardcore video at a nearby mini-mart for $9.99 at 20 years old. Porn became a way for Perera to explore and alleviate his growing sexual appetite.

“What I liked about porn is that it usually gets to what it’s all about,” says Perera, snapping his fingers in a booth at the Ram in the Rye pub. Porn skips the dinner date and runs right to the bedroom.

“Its male-centric, it’s tailored for my need, that I need to get off.” Statistically speaking, males use the web to feed that need in larger numbers, making up about 72 per cent of porn users.

During a sexually unfulfilling relationship Perera began to watch porn a lot. Preferably blow job scenes where he couldn’t see the man’s face, to better insert himself into the scenario. But he soon found the fantasy wasn’t enough, he needed the whole picture. He began sleeping around with different women at work, bars, strip clubs, even in an empty classroom in the Sally Horsfield Eaton Centre. “I started to get more sexually active and my morals were just thrown out the window. I became that person that in my campus work now I try to reach out to.”

According to a study conducted by Université de Montréal assistant professor Simon Louis Lajeunesse, men’s sexual tastes have more influence over types of porn they watch, not the other way around.

He conducted informal interviews with 20 heterosexual, mostly Caucasian university students in their twenties in 2009 and found that many of their sexual preferences were similar.

“The guys already had in their heads the sexual fantasy,” says Lajeunesse. Although individual preferences stem from cultural scripts, in general it’s all the same. But despite the increase in porn’s accessibility, men’s sexual habits were in the same conventional vein as their parents.

“It’s easy to say sexuality is everywhere. It’s an illusion.” Marianne*, a Ryerson student, agrees we are probably no kinkier. But she says porn can influence men and women into adopting some fucked up perceptions of sex if they can’t separate what’s going down on the screen from reality. Marianne was called “a little whore” while lying across a former partner’s lap receiving a spanking. She responded by slapping the spanker in the face. “Fuck no, we’re not going down that route.” She considers that kind of language degrading to women and says the cliché lines are tangled up in the porn we watch.

Ejaculating on a woman’s face, or in her eyes (“pink eyeing”), deep throating to the point of gagging, and ego-stroking moans are a few other popular techniques found on men’s porn-come-true wish lists. Women are also splattered with porn-inspired misconceptions about what is realistic and attractive during the horizontal limbo. Marianne says how the goods appear cinematically is sometimes in the back of her mind. “You become used to seeing yourself very much from a male perspective. Not in terms of looking like a blonde, fake boob, bubble-assed, skinny slip of a thing. In terms of how you position yourself and how you kind of display your body to your partner. You do a lot of arching your back to stretch yourself out.”

Men fall into this trap when comparing how their cocks measure up. “You start to imagine how big is my dick compared to that guy’s dick? So it really extends to, would I be able to please this woman if it was me?” says Perera. Men are held to unrealistic performance standards too, like having to transform into a non-stop human jackhammer or deliver mind-blowing orgasms through vaginal intercourse alone. These standards are ridiculous and can be detrimental to a woman’s orgasm. Eight thousand nerve endings are concentrated in the clitoris. So it needs to be given some attention, and that’s largely overlooked in mainstream porn. “They (men) never do the reach around. “That’s essential!” exclaims Marianne. Despite all the stereotypes, she says porn can still be a positive influence.

“I’m sure some people watch it and it gives them ideas, makes their sex life much more interesting.”

Most porn is, after all, fantasy. It is an idealized version of what we want sex to be. Chelsea Miya, a fourth-year Ryerson broadcast student, agrees that although porn reflects our natural desires, a majority of porn reflects straight, male desires.

As a lesbian, she is turned off by an industry that she feels misrepresents her sexuality. “Typical straight guy lesbian porn gives you the totally wrong view of lesbian sex. And they almost always have strap-ons or something like that because guys cannot fathom a woman having sex without some sort of penis involved, even if it’s a fake one. It’s ridiculous.”

She would rather see porn that depicts realistic sex made by women for women. According to Good For Her, a woman-positive sex shop, feminist porn needs to depict real pleasure and challenge pornographic stereotypes. Christine enjoys watching feminist porn because of the natural bodies and dynamics between actors. After her teenage babysitting incident she chose not to watch mainstream porn because it was so fake that she couldn’t relate to it. “What totally shuts down any part of my sex drive is if the performers don’t look like they’re totally into it and they don’t have chemistry. It’s just sort of this acted out routine.” She says the glut of porn is fuelled by profit, while independent films focus more on artistic value.

“I really feel like it is this fast food versus organic, free-range food that you can have and maybe you don’t have one of those markets in your city.”

Christine says porn has the potential to document the beauty of real sexual experiences, but most flicks transform the act into circus sex. Huge cocks, gigantic tits, big asses, grannies, fat women. Come one, come all.

Miya says there is no such thing as a wrong fantasy. “You can fantasize about something that’s not morally right and it’s still OK, because you can’t control what your fantasies are,” she says.

Think rape-tastic tentacle porn, bestiality, incest or lolita-style vids. But sex rarely plays out like cliché, cookie cutter porn scenarios and it’s better that way. Genuine sex can be fulfilling because it involves natural flaws, playfulness, and spontaneity, much like an erotic blooper reel. “The reality is sex is sloppy, you make mistakes, you fall down, you say something stupid, you go limp, someone gets hurt, pulls a muscle, you finish in two minutes, whatever it is, it’s all those things,” says Perera.

While porn may deliver a shiny, perfect package of sex, real sex is always a hell of a lot more kinky.


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