I can still remember my first time like it was yesterday – from the film that we watched before the big deed, to the dodgy roll-up he made me afterwards that I pretended to smoke even though I don’t really like cigarettes, and I especially don’t like dodgy roll ups that have a bit of rizla card for a filter. I also remember being really annoyed that, despite much research on my part beforehand to work out what to expect, it had been rather rubbish. No doubt due in part to my own massive insecurities (ahhh sex! What if I’m rubbish? What if I look different to every other girl he’s ever had sex with? What if I look different to every other girl IN THE WORLD? Oh God I’m a freak of womankind, AND I’ve got a spot on my chin...) I was really, really worried that it was going to go horribly wrong, and that somehow I would be a failure at sex, and therefore at life. When it finally happened my main aim was to get it over with as quickly as possible, without saying or doing anything monumentally stupid.
This turned out to be exactly what happened. I can say categorically, without a hint of a lie, that I was a failure at sex that night, despite all my efforts to get through it without any mistakes. As I reflect now on that fateful night several years ago, I can see with perfect clarity where it all went horribly wrong for me, made all the more clear by the fact that I have never made this mistake again.
I did not laugh.
As a fully grown member of the adult brigade I really enjoy the fact that sex is a thoroughly entertaining business. Even the most attractive, lithe and limber couple of greek gods can’t pull off genuinely sexy, non-funny sex for longer than a few minutes at a time, because there’s just too much re-arranging going on! Unless you're willing to stay almost perfectly still in strategically placed lighting that makes everyone look a little bit more tanned and thin than they actually are, then you should be prepared for the fact that having sex sometimes makes you look like an over-excited seal playing find the salmon.
I discovered that sex was unintentionally hilarious when I worked a summer season abroad, nearly a year after that fateful night with the man with no visible sense of humour. For starters, we all lived in caravans. Caravans are notoriously unsexy dwellings, and we discovered that three people living in a two-bedroom caravan for 4 months did not create a shag-friendly environment. Luckily, we also spent a lot of time wearing fancy dress1 and getting drunk, which is an extremely shag-friendly environment! A summer of living such a carefree lifestyle completely changed my attitude and expectations of sex forever and for the better. For one thing, I actually enjoyed sex! It’s difficult to believe now that for several months I genuinely didn’t understand why everyone made such a fuss about sex – it wasn’t doing anything for me! I had a fling with one of my fellow holiday reps that opened my eyes to the possibilities of sex (how to risk assess sex in public places2 – still one of my favourite extreme sports!) I returned to England with a new found enjoyment of sex and a much better understanding of the importance of intimacy (because you cannot have sex in a high-risk situation with someone you don’t trust!)
1 which led to my best walk of shame ever - dressed as Princess Leia, with a faint blue sheen courtesy of the smurf I went home with
2 do you require an escape route? Is it likely you will be arrested if caught? Is the environment populated with any dangerous flora or fauna? Is there CCTV? If you answered yes to 2 or more of these, then it’s definitely a public place – go for it!
Eight years later and I still feel a little lost in the crazy, strange world of adult relations. Thanks in large part to being single for most of my twenties I have had a fair few sexual partners since my holiday romance3, all of which have been memorable in their own way, for a variety of reasons good and bad. The most vivid memories are really, really good ones, which brings me back around to the point of this long and rambling tale: I am certain that sex is supposed to be fun, and therefore it’s ok to laugh during sex. Recently however I have found myself wanting to laugh for an entirely less savoury reason, and I am laying the blame squarely on the shoulders of one perpetrator: porn.
3 who is now one of my best friends, and has pinky-sworn to invite me on his stag night when it happens – I made him do it because I want to get drunk in Munich and wear a Viking helmet.
‘Laugh at porn?’ I hear you say – and I have done so many times, but never before for this particular reason....For a while now I have maintained a very casual friends-with-benefits relationship with one of my male friends, and even when I lived in London we stayed in sporadic skype contact. He is a very successful artistic type and very attractive to boot (just like me, boom!) and when I first moved back to Devon we had a few nights in together, as two single people are perfectly at liberty to do. I have often thought that a ‘relationship’ like this one is often the best way to enjoy the kinkier aspects of your sexual personality, safe in the knowledge that the only time you will ever have to look the other person in the eye is when you agree on a safe word. This was certainly true of our situation, and as much as I enjoyed spending time with him it was safe in the knowledge that he would never make for a good long term emotional investment4. As much as I respect and admire him as an artist, and enjoy his company (naked or otherwise) he has one flaw that is impossible to avoid – he has sex like he’s in a porn film.
4 for example, I’m fairly certain he has had sex with at least 5 of my friends, which makes for a very strange game of ‘Six degrees of separation’ that my mind can’t quite handle. I’m not one of life’s sharers.
To be clear – I am not a porn prude. I have watched a lot of porn in my adult life, for a variety of reasons including entertainment, personal gratification, educational purposes, masters research and boredom, and have come to the conclusion that porn is ruining people’s sex lives.
I’m certainly not the first person to notice this – Caitlin Moran dedicated a chapter of her book ‘How to be a Woman’ to the topic, and Mr B Gentleman Rhymer raps melodically about the lack of kissing in porn. I spent hours of university lectures discussing how unerotic pornography has become5 and even more hours drinking wine with my friends and comparing notes on how rubbish we think porn is (which makes me a pub quiz level porn expert, at the very least). There are many ways to ruin a perfectly good sex session, and most of the ones I have experienced are related to copying moves you’ve seen in a cheap n’ nasty free porn vid (such as those available on youporn). The more I researched the more I realised that I have, for several years, been the recipient of stealth porn shagging! So many times my concentration during a sexual encounter has been disrupted by an awkward or confusing action that doesn’t fit with the natural rhythm of the moment, but I had never made the connection until recently...they were doing porn at me!!
5 which led to a heated debate about whether or not the table dancing scene in ‘From Dusk til Dawn’ is misogynistic. My personal view was that Salma Hayek effectively penetrates Quentin Tarantino after simulating urinating on him with a bottle of beer in a public place...no one else shared my interpretation.
Some of you are probably nodding knowingly – you too have experienced someone doing porn at you. If however you are still in the dark (or you think you might be a porn-doer!), here’s my top ten list of things I have personally experienced over the past 8 years that indicate someone is doing porn at you...
1. Foreplay consists of attempting to wear you like a glove puppet, followed by genuine surprise that you don’t really enjoy that very much, especially when only given 30 seconds to warm up.
2. Foreplay consists of saying hello, removing you clothes and attempting to enter the dangerzone in the space of 2 minutes. This drops to 1 minute 30 seconds if between the hours of 1am and 5am.
3. Your partner attempts to have sex with you without touching any part of your body except your tinderbox, leaving you cold, stark and very confused.
4. Your partner indicates, generally very politely, that they would much prefer you with no pubic hair. The reason will probably be that you will enjoy the sex more. It’s all for you.
5. Your partner does not want to climax inside you5
6. Your partner changes position every other minute – presumably to get a nice variety of camera angles?
7. Your partner asks you to call them Daddy6.
8. Your partner uses spit as a lubricant, and applies it by spitting on you.
9. Your partner attempts anal penetration the first time you have sex.
10. Your partner attempting to 'sprint-shag' you for ten minutes. By then end it feels like someone has punched you in the cervix.
5 I am aware that this is not specific to porn, but when accompanied by any two other items from the list it’s a fairly good indicator.
6 yes, this happened to me once. No, I still haven’t completely recovered.
If this list sounds a bit unpleasant, that’s because all of these things are unpleasant to experience7. Luckily for me I have never had all ten in one sitting – can you imagine the therapy bill? Nevertheless these actions and many more like them are cropping up uninvited more and more in my sex life, and I don’t like it! Going back to my recent encounter with my sex friend, I got to the stage where I could no longer be annoyed if he did some porn at me. As unpleasant as some of these things are, they are also fairly ridiculous. When I realised this I very quietly began to laugh. And in hindsight, I think this is by far the most sensible option. Modern porn is unrealistic, unerotic and seemingly designed for instant visual gratification, with no room for lust, desire, romance or prolonged enjoyment. And that is ridiculous. The man in question however, is incredibly sexy and thoroughly invested in mutual gratification. I’m happy to state he’s in my all-time top three, despite occasional lapses of doing porn at me, thanks in large part to his non-porn related skills of seduction and other nifty tricks.
7 If it sounds unrealistic then Congratulations! You don’t do any of these things!