Is Instagram soft porn a good thing?

ALECIA SIMMONDS
Last updated 13:00 18/06/2014
Porn
Instagram/pornforwomen

FANTASY MAN: A porn site for women wouldn't be complete without a generous dose of Mr Ryan Gosling.

Related Links

Is porn messing with your head? How amateur porn hurts women No more porn bodies

Relevant offers

Love & Sex

Why women have risky sex on vacation I'm a straight woman married to a woman A WNBA basketball love story Sexercise: An exciting alternative to the gym Cost-Per-Orgasm? This guy's just awful The pornification of food Dating sites risky shortcut to romance Eating our way out of sexual hunger? What's your secret to lasting love? The dos and don'ts of first dates

Matt Bomer is a babe. There he is, all heavy-lidded eyes, Italian suit, and a jawline so sharp it could slice glass and possibly your heart into a thousand tiny pieces. Matt is smiling coyly, which is understandable given that he has just made the cut for Sarah Gidick's wildly successful Instagram account Porn for Women.

Matt mixes on the account (which currently has 97,180 followers) with people like Christian Bale, who appears in a photo from Little Women dressed in a pirate shirt pressing foreheads with Winona Ryder, David Beckham in soft focus family mode kissing his daughter's cheek and Ryan Gosling, among others.

The hotness of these men is beyond dispute. The question is whether the images should be called porn? And if so, then why does only women's porn have to be so boring and beta-versioned and well-clothed? Why not call the website Hotties for Heteros? Or Babes for Breeders? Why porn?

If you haven't yet seen the Porn for Women Instagram account or the recently launched website, it's basically a very well-selected compilation of aesthetically pleasing white men with a few African-Americans thrown in for good measure. I'm not sure why straight women would not also be attracted to Asian, Latino, Indigenous or African men, but when surveying the smorgasbord of menfolk on the interweb, Gidick has sampled variants of Shepherd's Pie for your delectation.

And like Shepherd's Pie the images themselves are warm, comforting and bland with the meaty parts well hidden. There's no sex, no getting loose, and no nudity. This is because Gidick is expanding the definition of porn to include more female-oriented forms of sensory titillation.

'At the end of the day, women and men are not turned on the same way - it's just the reality of the situation' she told The Daily Beast.

Her own female friends 'sound really happy nine times out of ten when a guy is handsome and treats them well. The perfect package is what makes their head spin.'

Giddick's logic consisted of googling the term porn and finding 'one of the first definitions [to be] a sensory reaction'. From here she thought about how images of food are considered to be porn ergo images of hot men may also be porn.  When handsome men pass girls in the street, she said, they get this 'Oh my god' feeling. So I was like, OK, these images are just like porn.'

Flawless reasoning.

At first glance you might think that the project of turning women from sexual objects to subjects is one that any self-respecting feminist would support. And given that porn does tend to consist of men rhetorically querying whether women's 'pussies like that?', we may want to get behind someone who is making the term porn more female-friendly.

Ad Feedback

Possibly. But I'm not convinced.

My problem is that Gidick feeds into a centuries-old myth that presents women's sexuality as emotional, monogamous, reproductive and soft-focused in contrast to the salivating, libidinous, polygamous, and bestial sexuality of men.

Porn for men is rapacious and sweaty and naked. Porn for women is Christian Bale in that weird pirate shirt (sorry, can't move on, the image has scarred).

Without casting any doubts upon the accuracy of Gidick's findings from her survey of friends and her Research-By-Google methodology, we might also do well to consider other actual studies of the issue.

For instance eminent sexologist Meredith Chivers tells a very different story. Chivers, as reported in Daniel Bergner's book What do Women Want presented women with a vast collection of pornographic images: gay men having sex, straights merrily copulating, lesbians engaged in spirited sex acts and bonobos humping away. She inserted a device into the women's vaginas to measure blood flow to the area (and thus arousal) and then got them to record how turned on they were by each image. The women's self-reports were conservative: straight women were turned on by straight sex, lesbians by lesbian sex and so forth.

But the inserted device suggested something quite different. Unlike men who also undertook the experiment, women were turned on by virtually everything...yes, including the bonobos.

In fact, the only pornographic image that didn't arouse women was a Swedish man ambling down the beach with a flaccid penis. (It was his flaccid penis, he wasn't carrying a severed one).

What can we conclude from this? Well, a lot of women like seeing images of sex. In fact, according to Bergner, it shows that women's desires more than men's are omnivorous, lusty, polygamous, responsive to rude pictures, and incessantly aroused. And unlike men they are sadly taught to deny these desires.

My problem with Gidick's Porn for Women is that it seems to perpetuate the myth of a passive, homely female sexuality and in so doing to continue the repression and denial of women's desires.

Leaving aside the powder-keg issue of whether feminist porn can actually ever exist, I could think of two improvements to the Porn for Women account. Firstly, non-Anglo men can also be attractive. At present there is not one Asian man on the website nor are there any androgynous looking men.

And secondly, why not represent the true range of women's desires? Chuck in some naked women, gay men, lesbians (and maybe bonobos), stop pretending that women don't like sex and take that ghastly pirate shirt off Christian Bale.

- Daily Life

Comments

Special offers
Opinion poll

Do long-distance relationships work?

Yes, if you work at them.

No, they're a waste of time and money.

Vote Result

Related story: (See story)

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content