By J.T. Benjamin (Guest Blogger)
I’ll never forget my first real exposure to pornography. The June, 1979 issue of Playboy Magazine featured Monique St. Pierre as Playmate of the Year, and Louann Fernald as Playmate of the Month. The former was European, Nordic, sleek, sultry, and exotic. She wore a glamorous, shimmering evening gown on the cover of the magazine. The latter was homegrown, olive-skinned, buxom and as wholesome as the sundress-wearing college student-girl next door she was.
And I was hypnotized by both. The magazine had been “borrowed” by a friend of mine from his older brother, the same way I “borrowed” it from my friend. (My shameful introduction into a life of crime and debauchery).
To this point, my Catholic upbringing had induced me to fear sexuality; any sexual image, any sexual concept, any sexual thought meant the hellfire of eternal damnation. And yet, when I gazed upon those gorgeous, nude, sensual images, a little voice in the back of my head told me that when considering the opportunity to see more full frontal female nudity versus the risk of eternal damnation,, I decided to take my chances. The flames of Hell? Nothing compared to Playmate of the Month.
So began my descent into Hell. I masturbated. I fantasized. I procured more porn. More Playboys. Penthouse. Hustler. Then came the movies. The first few were in the company of others, at which I laughed and pretended to be more amused than aroused, but after a while, I stopped pretending and I simply watched the movies alone. Then I started reading porn. Oh, sure. Some people called it “erotica,”, but I knew that if I read it or watched it and I got a hard-on, it was porn. And I embraced it. And watching it or reading it made me a better person.
How? I’m so glad you asked.
First, as the saying goes, “Once you’ve seen one woman naked, you want to see them all naked.” My exposure to the sultry Monique St. Pierre and the charmingly homespun Louann Fernald only made me want to pursue examination of the female form in every way possible. I examined naked women in every way, shape and form Pale skin, dark skin, olive skin, blonde, brunette, redhead, large breasts, little boy breasts, firm ass, long legs, short legs, buxom figure, petite figure, every possible configuration, and every possible way to look beautiful. I gained an appreciation for the female form that can only come from considering all the possibilities. Through pornography, I saw beauty and sensuality in everyone.
Then, came the exploration of alternative sexualities. At first, like most ignorant adolescents, I initially saw homosexuality or bisexuality as some sort of aberration or deviation. Once I started exploring pornography, I saw these alternative sexualities as something as normal as my fascination with girls with glasses, 140 IQs and fishnet stockings. Lesbian sex? Okay. Bondage? Sure, why not. Leather? You bet. Homosexuality? Okay with me. Not my bag, but still.
Ultimately, I figured out that what (or who) turned other people on wasn’t my problem or even my business, because, as the saying goes, “Different strokes for different folks.”
Thirdly, I have turn-ons, kinks, and depravities. Thanks to my exposure to porn, I realized everyone else does, too. It’s no more appropriate for me to cast judgment on the kinks of others as it would be for those others to cast judgment on my kinks. So, when the issue of same-sex marriage came up, it was easy for me to decide which side to choose. Everyone’s entitled to their own pursuit of happiness. I wouldn’t have come to this realization without exposure (through porn) to this notion.
Finally, ultimately, in my opinion, the goal of porn is arousal. Either the arousal of one’s partner, one’s own arousal, or even the arousal of total strangers. For myself, porn isn’t fun if someone else isn’t having fun. I take pride in the fact that when I’ve been intimate with others, I’ve exerted the utmost effort in giving as much pleasure as possible to my partner or partners. For the most part, as far as I’ve been led to believe, I’ve been successful in that effort more often than not. I wouldn’t be so diligent in those efforts if not for the exposure to porn I’ve had over the years.
In short, thanks to my exploration of pornography I’ve learned how to be curious about sex, adventurous about sex, tolerant about concepts of arousal divergent from my own, and I’ve acquired a general notion that someone else’s idea of pleasure is simply none of my business.
So, why do I write about porn? Well, I just want to give something back.
About the Author
J.T. Benjamin, latter-day hippie, writer, philosopher, and porn pundit, has been a member of ERWA since 1998. These days he’s working on the Great American Sex Novel when he’s not a cubicle slave for The Man and being devoted to his Lovely Wife, children, five dogs, three cats, and his mortgage.