Porn is in individual persons. Cultural skews and environmental backdrops count, but essentially porn is about arousal and not everyone is aroused by the same thing. I once read an article about a panel of people hired to identify trigger words for a nanny program meant to block porn. They found that there was hardly a word that someone had not used to theme porn, from domestic words like ironing or broomsticks to barnyard words which you can imagine for yourself.
Another article interviewed professional pornographers who said, “we can make porn out of anything.” Teddy bears, just-hatched chicks, any kind of ball or stick, shit or pee. The most hits I ever got for a post was entitled, “Are suspenders sexy?” Not the hidden kind to hold up stockings, but those on top of shirts. Japan banned graphic depiction of “you-know-what” going “you-know-where”, and gave birth to tentacle porn which evaded the definition of “you-know-what”. I don’t know if “you-know-where” was addressed. (I do, too: the hairy oyster. Sea creatures are so sexy. Primal.)
Shame, stigma, embarrassment, fear, guilt, immorality, secrecy, censorship, curiosity — they are all just seasoning for arousal. Violence, pain, blame, punishment, religion, are electrifiers for arousal. Adrenaline is a powerful sexual stimulant, better than Viagra, and you don’t have to buy it. A keyword search claimed: “20-something online porn users are more likely to seek out the term stepmom; by age 55 to 64, the term massage jumps to number one.” Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam in their study, “A Billion Wicked Thoughts”, identified what people craved to see by simply counting what they searched for on computers. Everyone was surprised by the amount and kind — except for the providers.
Ogas and Gaddam found physiological oxymorons (both kind of genitals present, as in a schoolgirl with a penis) were powerful. Sexy nuns. The emotional crossing of the boundary between innocent to initiated is powerful either in the other person or in oneself, which explains a lot of pedophilia. The gender of desire is specific to individuals, probably responsive to the unique situation, but once in a community of like-oriented people, the triggers installed by habit can be powerful. The media knows that and DOES it, esp. advertising of intimate and presentational materials, like makeup and clothes.
Considering all of the above, it suddenly becomes clear why conservatives of all kinds (political, religious, economic) get turned on so easily and so often. Their boundaries are strong and near, so they can get the necessary frisson easily. It’s the old “don’t move” ploy the script had Robert Redford use on Meryl Streep in “Out of Africa.” Every twitch is defiance, which is arousing. Thus, the people who attack porn are essentially asking to be aroused by defiance, so they can impose punishment which is also arousing. Censoring is a form of autostimulation. The most strict kinds of Islamists are evidently aroused by nearly everything. Life is a hard-on.
Kink is in part directly physiological, addressing reflexes of the body, including the swelling and expulsion of tissues infused with blood. (Pain.) But also it is the idea of the act, the fact of being watched, and the violation of boundaries. Some people have very close boundaries and others have boundaries hard to find — maybe death. One big orgasmic release and that’s the end. Probably the idea is more arousing than the actual fact, which often just means the cessation of function or sensation.
Effective porn means awareness of the boundaries of those involved, knowledge of what constitutes crossing or teasing those limits, and the management of things like surprise or habituation, intense sensation, and emotional involvement. Confrontation. Words and images can work as well as contact. Manipulating the degree of safety also manipulates the level of adrenaline.
In short, the same principles work for poetry or story or paintings or sculpture or songs. These are the essentials of art. Sex in the sense of procreation or genitals might have nothing to do with it. Porn can NOT be defined in terms of subject matter. Anything can be “pornalized.”
How do I know all this? That’s a boundary. A teaser.
Part of it has been my unintended desensitization. The more liberal and educated a person is, the more the boundaries are moved back, the less vulnerable one is to direct attempts to arouse. Ideas become the ultimate arousers. Ask the rioters in the streets. Ask the oblivious holding up books or scratching along paper or clicking furiously at keyboards or deep in conversation with others with the same boundaries and the same determination to cross them or push them back.
The eroticism of the mind. The emotional crossings of the limen into unsuspected realms. Not the numb dissociation that is an escape, but breathless expansion into the unknown.
People seek it by travel, but then pull back to the same familiar MacDonalds. They begin inquiry into other levels of society or disciplines of thought, but then panic when they are changed and fearful that they won’t be able to go back. They are over-aroused — can’t stand it — flood out — never the same again. It wasn’t what they expected. Porn.
If it’s too much for the individual, then they hypocritically feel they should protect everyone else by forbidding it. “Do NOT find that out!” But then they sneak back at night or in airport toilet stalls to find out more, get that jolt of arousal again. Life is too dull and boring otherwise. But education is too dangerous. (And useful.) Forbid sex instead. Fixate on rape, what it must be like to cross that boundary, blurry as it is these days.
Pretend it is about the sacredness of making babies, so long as they can be owned, abused, starved, and thrown away. That’s AFTER they are born. Before they are born they are sacred, carried by females, owned by males. “My seed, my gift to the woman.” Except now that they can be genetically identified and held accountable, the mystery and woo-woo taken out of it, the juju of “love” revealed as a fraud — well, it just goes flat. No sale for love/sex — only sales for sperm and egg, but the most powerful of all is those who know how to make it work and who own the technological equipment needed, the experts who can look in a microscope and say, “the problem is that your sperm just don’t swim.” Or, “Sorry, your mitochondria won’t make enough energy to drive the unfolding.”
Then comes the pornography of conception, a boundary of pyrex glass that demands unlimited amounts of money and possibly criminal behaviour like stealing babies. Imagine the arousal of murder in the name of motherhood. Could any boundary-crossing be more powerfully pornographic? What about sex with someone who canNOT get pregnant?

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