Monday, May 5, 2014

Sex 101: What is "Real" Sex? (P.S. Nope, You're Wrong.)

What is sex?

Most people seem to like sex. Having it, talking about it, watching it, and whatever else they can think to do with it. Unfortunately, the jury is pretty much out on what sex really is. After having a (less than ideal) conversation with my grandmother about whether or not gay sex is “real” sex (she says no) it started to sink in just how varied the definitions of what counts, and what does not count, as sex are.

Sex is pretty basic, or so we think. People have it. People are having it right now. People had it to create the people who are currently having it, and those people are probably creating more people who will have it in the future. But what is real sex? Are there specific body parts that must be involved, a specific number of people, do there even have to be people, are there certain acts that don’t count, does one have to achieve orgasm for it to be sex, do the people involved even have to be “turned on”? The questions seem never ending.

The business of pornography seems to complicate things even further. When I was a young’un and my parents found out I’d been watching porn (I had not discovered the beauty of deleting one’s browser history yet) they told me, quite emphatically “That is not real sex.” To that, I can recall, I thought to myself, then what were they doing?

Pornography is a staged sexual act, a planned production for consumption by an audience: a performance. They decide what will happen, who will do what to whom, what props to use, what setting to shoot it  in, what soundtrack to use, etc…. The acts that they perform are not the mere trickery of fancy camera work. There are some things that the camera cannot fake, and so they are most certainly doing things that people have classified as “sex.” What is it that makes this sex “not real?”

Meet Rosa, a fictional woman I have just made up.

Let’s say Rosa wants to have sex with Tina.

Rosa sets up her place with candles, maybe cooks something delicious, puts on some smooth music, gets the strap-on and dental dams all set up on her bedside table….
She has created a specific setting, a specific tone, set up a soundtrack for their lovemaking, and chosen the “props” to be used. When Tina comes over and they get down to it, they communicate what they like and do not, and decide who will do what, etc…

So where is the difference between this and pornography? People still say that they “perform” in bed (whether well or poorly) so it cannot be that. Perhaps it is the camera work, but even then, there are people who make their own sex tapes at home.

Pornography is a step towards something is considered "ideal" perhaps. It is staged for cameras, and so, in all honesty, pornographic sex is often far prettier than "real" sex. People have spoken about trying to imitate things they have seen in the videos, and spoken about how it was not a great to experience as it was to see. Pornography seems to be "real" sex and also a simulation of sex, and yet "real" people out in the "real" world are not capable of the having the experience they see on screen because, after all of the prep time and editing and makeup, what they see is not quite what actually went on while filming was taking place.

These pornographic videos depict this simulation of sex; sex perfected.

What happens when a person sees an ideal and is incapable of having it?

They try to get it anyways.

This has, I think, led to something far greater than pornography. It has led to the world of virtual reality becoming the newest frontier in an attempt to find a "real" experience of sex that comes about as close to ideal as one can make it for themselves.

That, dears, is something I will dig into in my next post...


  1. This is interesting cause most of my friends like to state that porn is fake because its so obviously acting. That the moans, body parts, and reactions rarely ever happen in real life and that they always looked bored. "She is so faking it." But, you do bring up a point. In real life, I know plenty of women who fake everything about 80% of the time they are having sex with their other. Theres also the fact that more and more people are getting waxed, bleached, and who knows what else down there as well.

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