A friend of mine sent me this article from The Atlantic, about the ethics of extreme porn and the implications of consent. It’s an interesting discussion of an essay by Emily Witt, which describes the filming of a pornographic video in which a woman is bound, stripped, paraded around and publicly humiliated—all at her own request.
You can read the account for yourself. I’d recommend you go in with an empty stomach and an inquiring mind. (The model is brought to the shoot wearing a sign around her neck: I’M A WORTHLESS CUNT. Things go downhill from there.) Now, while I think we can all agree that a consenting adult in this scenario is better than some horrible non-consensual gang bang, I’m not sure it’s as simple as that. Every expression of consent arises from that individual’s accumulated life experience, from what she understands of her place in the world, from her childhood, upbringing, and relationships, from the media and the internet and the whole stew of societal influences that forms her character. The model in this video may indeed have sprung from the happiest of families and never known a moment of abuse or insecurity—and hell, it’s not outside the bounds of possibility that such a person’s dearest life wish is to be fisted and beaten and spat upon in public. To me it seems unlikely. But who am I to say?
I’m only asking, constantly wondering, how it all comes about. It’s the drain I keep circling, in this book as much as the last. Yet for all the hours I’ve spent exploring the question of sexual perversion on paper and in my own thoughts, I can’t say I’ve ever had a true epiphany on the topic. The human mind is a vast and unfathomable domain.
Do you tend to write about the questions you can’t answer, or the ones on which you’ve formed a definite opinion?