Posted by: Dan Savage
Topic: Porn Wars
Here's something weird: I don't like to watch porn, but I like to read about porn—please note that's "read about." Videotape of people doing what, uh, most people do without making a tape doesn't do much for me. Oh, I've glanced. But I've never rented or purchased. And now, thanks to the Internet, no one really needs to rent or purchase ever again. And as the New York Times recently reported, the Internet is killing the porn business.
The online availability of free or low-cost photos and videos has begun to take a fierce toll on sales of X-rated DVDs. Inexpensive digital technology has paved the way for aspiring amateur pornographers, who are flooding the market, while everyone in the industry is giving away more material to lure paying customers.
But I've always enjoyed reading about the production of pornography—I enjoy checking out NSFW websites like Fleshbot, where porn and pornographers are deconstructed, mocked, praised and reported on in roughly equal measure. My friends think it's odd that I stay informed about a product that I have so little interest in, comparing me to someone with a lactose intolerance reading about dairy farms in Wisconsin.
One reason I stay in the porn loop, of course, is that I write a sex-advice column, "Savage Love," for a living. Porn comes up constantly in my letters at "Savage Love." Many men enjoy looking at porn, and many women regard their boyfriend's or husband's porn-viewing habits as akin to cheating. Some straight men, of course, don't look at porn and some straight women do or don't mind—and these men and women don't send me letters, as porn isn't a point of tension or conflict in their relationships. But of all the issues I get letters about form straight couples, battling over porn—it's use, it's production, it's concealment—is right up there in the top three.
I never, however, get letters from gay men expressing the same sentiment, more proof that gay men are men first and gay second. For us, it seems, porn is a non-issue.