Porn, and semen: The devil’s glue

There might be a few thousand men world wide who haven’t watched porn online. You know, guys who live in villages in the jungles of Papua New Guinea – places without internet, or computers, or electricity, where the grass and the trees themselves are still black and white.

For the rest of the world though, it’s a safe bet that men watch porn. Its even a reasonably safe bet that women watch porn as well. A survey conducted several years ago indicated that 30% of porn’s online audience was female, and that number made no account of under-reporting, or lying by female respondents. However, in spite of a substantial female audience, most porn is a male oriented entertainment medium. And a nearly universal element of modern porn is a standardized device within the visual narrative of fantasy sex depicted in this entertainment medium, called the money shot, in which a male porn performer, usually reduced by camera angle to a de-personalized, disembodied penis ejaculates onto the face, or sometimes the face and breasts of the female performer.

This is usually the climax of a porn scene, and in fact is such an important element the visual language of modern porn that an entire genre of porn focuses on just this climactic moment. Taken from the japanese word meaning “to splash” the porn genre of “bukakke” is a distillation of this visual moment, often using more than one male performer to multiply the visual effect of the porn performance.

And this is a key point to remember; that what we’re talking about when we discuss porn is not sex. Certainly, it’s an activity that simulates sex. It involves naked people, various sexual activities, orgasms and so on, but the performers are not people in the privacy of their bedrooms doing what you or I would do with our respective partners. Along with one or more male and female actors are cameramen, sound technicians, if its a bigger budget, a producer, sometimes directors, make up people props and such.

Porn is not sex. It is theatre. Within that theater, the semen – or in some cases – the water and icing sugar splashed onto the face of the female performers is both more and less than bodily fluid produced during a male orgasm. It is, in the language of porn a mystical substance. What we might call semen, whether it’s icing sugar or corn starch or silicone and water or actual ejaculate is the distilled concentrated and symbolic representation of the sexual desire, the lust and the sexual identity not of the male actor, the guy objectified to a degree that he’s not even a person, but an anonymous cypher, standing as a place-holder for the projection of the male porn audience’s fantasy. Semen in porn is the symbolic representation of the sexuality, the lust, and the sexual identity of the viewer.

A female performer, turning her face up, opening her mouth and smiling sweetly as several tablespoons of sticky white fluid are squirted onto her face is conveying, in the visual language of porn – her acceptance, indeed, her love of the sexual desire, pleasure and sexual identity of the man watching that porn, from behind a computer screen.

That is the visual device employed, and that is what we are shown in porn every time we seem so-called semen splattering the upturned face of a female performer – this is not semen and even if it is semen, it is only there to symbolize the presence, the desire, and the human sexuality of that fantasy’s intended audience. Within the visual world of that fantasy, theatrically splashed semen is the symbolic acceptance of the masculine sexuality of the audience. It is, in modern context, almost a mystical fluid.

Of course in the view of those who condemn porn, calling for it’s prohibition and variously claiming it degrades the paid performers,  this nearly mystical moment has another character entirely. Rather than symbolizing acceptance of the sexuality, the desire and the pleasure of that invisible first person presence – porn’s audience – the depiction of a female performer splashed with semen is a moment of unique degradation. She is the object of scorn, hatred and violence and those few tablespoons of fluid are concentrated malice.

Saint Augustine wrote in the forth century that the penis was a demon rod. This was a purposeful attack on male sexual identity because the pre-Abrahamic pagan religions provided a path to male spiritual identity. In order to yoke men to service within the doctrine of the early church, this natural path to male spirituality and and divinity had to be closed.

Feminism’s condemnation of male sexuality is a direct borrowing from the church’s closure of masculine sexuality as a path for men to connect to a spiritual identity through their own bodies and sexuality. To an anti-porn feminist semen cannot be a symbolic representation of human desire, lust and pleasure – splashing on the face of a female performer. No, for them this magical white fluid is the devil’s glue.

But for this conception to have currency, and in order for the theatrical act of performed sex to degrade women, male sexuality must be in poisonous in concept. And when this is understood  the cry of degradation of women in porn is revealed as a truly hateful view of male sexuality and masculine identity.

Recommended Content

Skip to toolbar