Seventh Chapter – Emotions


A few days before my foray into the dark side of the internet abruptly (and appropriately) ended, New Year’s Eve came and went, and the next day The Toronto Star printed a front page picture of two teenagers enjoying a new year’s kiss. I guess it’s the kind of picture that sells holiday editions of newspapers. A cute couple. Puppy love. ‘Happy New Year’ hats.


It was then that it occurred to me that here was the one thing I wasn’t seeing on the internet. A guy and a girl – or if you prefer, a man and a woman – looking as though they were in love with each other. Or at least an expression of tenderness.


Many months later, I was on a more mainstream site that features the work of various photographers. One had posted a head-and-shoulders shot of a couple about to kiss. While there was nothing truly unique about the picture, it was well done. Within a few days, more than sixty people had posted comments about how much the picture meant to them. Why? Because it was refreshingly different from so much else that’s online.

I’m not saying that if you comb the images of the internet you can’t find pictures of couples in love; staring deeply into each other’s eyes. I’m saying that within the context of the ‘porn side’ of the internet, such images are nowhere to be found. This is surprising, because you would think that somewhere there would be webmasters whose mission is simply to promote the beauty of sexual love; to promote the sexual excitement that takes place when a man and woman discover the beauty of each other’s bodies; or some combination of the two. You’d think that somewhere out there, some cameraman snapped a picture of two people who were actually enjoying themselves. Instead, it seems you see nothing but sadness.


Look deeply into the eyes of the subjects of porn pictures, and you’ll see nothing but pain. Someone is exploiting someone else. Someone is enjoying a moment of pleasure at someone else’s expense. Whatever fantasies are being portrayed, the fantasy of mutual enjoyment is not one of them. Tenderness is not to be found. Devotion is certainly not to be found. And don’t even mention love.


Of course, all of this is in the event that you get to see two people at all. With so many younger subjects walking a fine line when it comes to age and legality, and so many seasoned porn actors dealing with disease, it’s unlikely that anybody is going to have a photographic library containing much in the way of artistic ‘couples’ shots. In the case of the younger subjects, there’s probably enough potential liability just taking the pictures without compounding it by having another subject also present in the shot. In the case of the so-called “professional” porn stars, years of that lifestyle has erased all expression off their faces; they are so visibly jaded that they wouldn’t even be able to “act” love.


So you end up with two kinds of pictures. The ones where one person is just using another person and it’s clearly about plumbing and only one individual’s pleasure, or the ones where there is one subject in the photograph, which suggests that in the western world, sex is often a solo activity.


It’s also interesting that in the majority of cases where there are two or more subjects in a shot that actually shows (or pretends to show) sexual activity, no matter how many people are in the photograph and no matter what the ratio is of male to female subjects, in the majority of cases the end result is deemed to be the servicing and satisfaction of the male. In a world where even the language used to describe sex is constructed to reflect male dominance, the guys get what they want.


The sexual gratification of women is usually shown as a solo activity. There is no sense of anything other than selfish acts either way. If you’re looking to see the beauty of sexual love online, or you’ve been duped into believing that’s the motivation for all those websites with naked people; forget it. It’s just not there to be found. Sex is about getting not about giving. Someone can be freed from the need to view the images online through outside coercion or an act of their own will, but how are they then to be reprogrammed in terms of their attitude toward sex? How, when and where can ‘love’ ever reenter the picture?


And as a message, this “missing message” – the absence of love — online is something that should concern us every bit as much as the other messages the pornography industry is promoting. As illustrated online, sex is at best purely recreational, at worst is about one person using another person for their pleasure.


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