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How DIY porn might save your relationship Add to ...

"I'd like to see more couples making pornography together," I found myself declaring on television. The show was The Agenda and its host, Steve Paikin, replied, "Sociologically, you mean. Right?" I laughed. "Well.…"

The topic was modern masculinity and I was responding to a couple of the panelists' concerns that easy access to orgasm via online smut was making men less interested in making it with a real woman.

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The deleterious effect of porn on relationships is something of a hot topic these days, although it's certainly one that gets a new ride every once in a while. Notably, New York magazine recently ran a first person account - "He's Just Not That Into Anyone" - from a man who felt he'd lost the ability to "finish" with a woman because of his daily porn consumption. Other men he'd talked to spoke of a decreased amount of sex with their partners after they'd become closer with this virtual "other woman" - or other women, I should say.

I do wonder, however, if this concern is being approached from the wrong direction. An increased turn to porn could just as easily be precipitated by a problem in the relationship itself. Or it might be due to his reluctance to creatively engage his desires with his partner, desires that he quietly explores via three-to-five minute videos on his computer.

Back when the Internet was invented - or at least when I first discovered there was porn to be watched on it - I remember excitedly brainstorming what words and descriptions I would employ the next time I had a chance to insert them into the search bar. What did I want to see? The possibilities seemed endless.

After a while, though, it dawned on me that I was creating a divided sexuality. I was erecting, if you will, a wall between the sex I was having in my psyche and the sex I was having with my girlfriend. Both are important, of course, but I decided to build a doorway connecting the two: do-it-yourself dirt.

Now, you could just talk to your partner about the scenes rolling in your imagination or on your bookmarked websites, but it can be a lot of fun to write them out in a Penthouse-style letter and read it in bed, or play DP - that's director of photography - with your new iPhone. Not only is it more fun, but also it can be easier to broach possibly embarrassing requests if done in the spirit of play and performance.

"Communicating desires is emotionally dicey to bring up," says Carol Queen, a San Francisco-based sexologist, sex-store owner and editor of many tomes of erotic literature. "It might make you nervous, and it could feel very bad to get rejected. Getting turned down in a harsh way doesn't only happen around sex, but sex is a very tender place for that to happen to a person."

For the shameless man, though, it might be simple laziness that keeps his creative juices aimed solely at his monitor. (Hey, I'm sure even Casanova had down times.) But in both cases, Dr. Queen agreed that do-it-yourself porn could be one way to turn the bed back into a place where you can cry, "Action!"

Dr. Queen had one caveat, though. Well, two. The first should be obvious: You'd better only submit yourself to a permanent work of erotic art with someone you trust and not with someone who, as she puts it, "you just met and drank two bottles of champagne with." Secondly, she says, "It's best when both partners are stakeholders and talk about it in advance. If someone is too passive about it, it makes me a little bit concerned. I would like each person to feel like they want to do this adventure and have some idea of what they would like it to be."

This idea of co-directing reminded me of another article that appeared recently, in The Atlantic Monthly. In it, Natasha Vargas-Cooper argues, among other things, that egalitarian sex couldn't truly exist because, she wrote, "Male desire is not a malleable entity that can be constructed through politics, language, or media." She worries that men possess a single-minded idea of what gets them off and that this is increasingly shaped by the porn they watch.

It's probably true that there will always be some things that men will only do in our imaginations, but the implication that we have some kind of incapacity for a mutually rewarding sexual relationship sells us short. In the end, I can guarantee you a man will be willing to negotiate creative differences if there's another two hands on set.

Call me naive, but I don't think pornography and real-life sex have to be mutually exclusive. For the man who has veered too far toward the former, however, becoming his own pornographer might just be the way to achieve that, um, work-life balance.

Micah Toub is the author of Growing Up Jung: Coming of Age as the Son of Two Shrinks.

 

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