DID YOU SEE: Cindy Gallop’s TED Talk on Make Love Not Porn

A colleague sent me a link to this TED Talk by Cindy Gallop, correctly assuming that I would be interested. I’d read an article about her in the New York Times that made me feel like I’d discovered a kindred spirit. She certainly speaks my language. As she says at the beginning of her talk, dating younger men has put her in direct contact with “what happens when total freedom of access to hardcore pornography online meets our reluctance as a society to talk openly and honestly about sex and results in porn therefore becoming by default the sex education of today.”

Gallop launched a website, a YouTube channel, and a kind of movement she calls Make Love Not Porn. What I like about her vision of Make Love Not Porn is that she defines her philosophy succinctly as: Pro-Sex, Pro-Porn, Pro-Knowing the Difference. Like me, she has concerns that pornography adversely affects the sex that people have by giving a distorted picture of what constitutes pleasurable erotic interaction. Commercial porn often depicts certain extreme acts (slapping, hair-pulling, ejaculating on faces) as if they’re commonplace and universally desirable while leaving out lots of stuff that contributes to satisfying sexual encounters. “Real-world sex is funny, messy, and responsible,” she points out, and she is determined to make real-world sex socially acceptable to have, to talk about, and to witness. Her solution is to create a Web 2.0 TV channel where regular people can submit videos of themselves having “real-world sex” that, for a modest fee, can be viewed by people who want to watch something that looks more like their own sex lives than commercial porn.

I’m all for the idea in theory, with a couple of reservations. I don’t share her assumption that all, most, or even many people are eager to share video of themselves in the throes of erotic intimacy. I know that social media make it seem like no one cares about privacy anymore and we’re all letting it hang out for the world to see. But I also know that’s not true and that people who post pictures and videos of themselves having sex online constitute a self-selected minority. They may be generous and right-minded and wonderful, but they’re still members of the tribe of exhibitionists, which I don’t think includes everybody. Also, when I go to the website and check out the free previews (“peeks”) of the videos (which are carefully curated by Gallop and her associates), none of them make me want to plunk down my $5, mostly because they are 100% hetero but also because they don’t look that different from the enthusiastic amateur videos you can see on XTube. I wonder what MakeLoveNotPorn videos made by and for gay men would look like.

Check out Gallop’s video and let me know what YOU think.

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ASK DON: Dealing with the no-load blues

Q: I’m going crazy having lost my prostate 10 yrs ago at 53. I’m so frustrated I’m about to give up. Who would date a man who is just now coming out and that cannot cum?

dry ejaculation

A: If you think that no one will date a man who can’t produce ejaculate, I can assure you that you are wrong. You would be surprised to know how many men are in similar situations and still dating and functioning sexually.

YES, there are guys who are incorrigible cum-hounds. They’re not gonna be the guys for you. YES, there are guys who put a huge amount of pressure on themselves and their partners to perform like porn stars — get hard on demand, fuck on demand, get fucked on demand, squirt on demand. They’re not gonna be the guys for you. YES, there are women eager to be impregnated…but I suspect you’re not interested in that market.

Those populations are a fraction of the world of gay men looking for dates, partners, hook-ups, fuck buddies, husbands, etc. There are plenty of other guys who might well be interested in you. There are plenty of guys who are so accustomed to jerking themselves off  that they can’t cum in someone else’s presence, and they harbor varying degrees of self-consciousness about it and might well be relieved to find someone they don’t have to hide that from. There are guys who’ve had either prostate cancer or some pre-cancerous condition and had TURPs, and they don’t produce ejaculate anymore. There are guys who are squeamish about cum and would just as soon not see it anyway. There are guys who can’t stand the taste of cum and scrupulously avoid it. There are plenty of guys who aren’t into anal sex but are totally into oral sex. There are plenty of guys who are just into sex, who are just into intimacy, who are into the actual person they’re with rather than some Fantasy Guy with XYZ characteristics. There are plenty of guys who’ve been through Body Electric, who are interested in building erotic energy without the goal of ejaculating, who are on the path of tantra. Surely, you’ve met some of these guys somewhere along the line….? I can assure you they’re out there. Are you open to meeting them?

Let’s face it, we all have imperfections. In my experience, if you’re OK with your body, other people will be OK with it. And if they’re not, fuck ’em (or rather don’t fuck ’em) and move on —  their loss.

For guys who have radical prostatectomies, there’s definitely a sense of loss, and it’s very important to process that loss with some form of mourning. If you’re able to do that yourself, or with a friend or loved one, great. Sometimes that’s what a group or a short stint of therapy is good for. From your cry of frustration, it occurs to me to wonder if you’ve worked through your own anger/grief/fear about your illness, treatment, removal of your prostate, and all that went with that. Maybe you would benefit from getting some support to work through that stuff. I’d be happy to do some counselling/coaching with you on this issue via Skype, or I could recommend someone in your area for you to consult.

Have a question for Don? Feel free to message me privately here.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Change

In ancient India hunters developed a proven method for catching monkeys. The monkeys were quick by nature and clever enough to dismantle all kinds of traps set for them. The trap that they couldn’t dismantle involved a simple trick that trapped them in their own nature. A big coconut would be found and hollowed out. Then a hole would be made in it, just large enough to allow a monkey’s paw to pass through. The coconut would then be pinned to the ground and some tempting, fragrant fruit would be placed inside the hollowed shell.

Inevitably, a monkey would approach the shell full of desire for the fragrant food it could smell and almost taste. As soon as the paw of the monkey had slipped through the hole and grasped the food inside the trap, the poor fellow would become caught because the fist holding the food was too large to pass back through the hole in the shell.

In order to become free of the trap all the monkey had to do was let go of the prize that it coveted so much. More often than not, the hand that held the desired fruit would not let it go. Thus, the monkey was trapped by what it desired and held onto no matter how near freedom might be. Release from the entrapment was right at hand and just within their grasp. However, most would stay trapped and imprisoned, caught by a narrow desire, but also by a fierce and blind unwillingness to simply let go of what they held to be necessary or important.

People can be just that way. Many take hold of something and refuse to let go, even when they become stuck in one place, even if they can’t taste the sweetness they first reached for in life. Some hold onto another person and refuse to let go, even when each part of the relationship becomes a trap. Others take up an idea, a political belief or a religious notion that was supposed to set them free. After a time, they become trapped inside narrowing ideas or rigid rules. Next thing you know, they are caught in a trap made of their beliefs.

Change is hard because we hold onto what keeps us from changing; because freedom feels like losing something that we are used to clinging to; because real change means that we would no longer desire what others insist upon and no longer restrict ourselves to the game at hand. Fate may be what we wish to deny when claiming that we are free; but it is also what we unconsciously cling to in order to avoid letting go of who we think we are.

— Michael Meade, Fate and Destiny: The Two Agreements of the Soul

fate & destiny rev ed