At the end of her sexless marriage, Elle Chase went on a journey to seek the one thing she never had. This is the story of what she found.
Recently, after turning 40 and leaving a sexless marriage, I had come to the sobering realization I had never experienced “passion.” In fact, I had never identified myself as a sexual being at all and furthermore, never had pleasurable sex. I ruminated over this discovery and stunned, thought “how is it possible to reach my fortieth year never enjoying sex?” The thought was staggering, “This can’t go on” I said with determination, and made it my number one goal to achieve a fully realized and satisfied sex life … fast.
But what’s a middle-aged woman to do? I was well past the age when most women experiment, I hadn’t dated in ten years and to be honest, “dating” wasn’t interesting to me … unbridled, sweaty, sticky, lustful sex was. I was overwhelmed with what it would take to reach my goal. Where do I even start? I’m not even certain what turns me on!
Thinking back to my teenage years, I remembered that the soft-core porn of the 80’s gave me a certain tickle down-under and that I had come many times to the beautiful works of Anais Nin. The boys of that time watched porn, but these venues were socially acceptable in my circle and readily discussed with my girlfriends. But, right now my sexual thirst was so great I knew these past favorites wouldn’t satisfy. I was parched after years in the desert. I needed to take out the big guns. So, I took the leap. Contrite, I logged online and looked for a tall glass of water.
The World Wide Web offered many choices; gonzo porn, amateur porn, feminist porn, fetish porn, lesbian and gay porn, couples porn, niche porn, beautiful porn, and just plain old regular “porny” porn. It was graphic, overwhelming and shocking. Nonetheless, it was starting to work. I was becoming feverish and aroused, squirming in my seat and tingly all over. Soon, I was well on my way to scratching that itch.
I was surprised to realize that I had some shame about being so turned on by pornography. Sure, masturbating to it felt freeing and vitalizing, but it also felt dirty. I was a feminist born and bred and the old myopic stigma of pornography being a male focused and misogynistic view of sexuality hung on tight. Yet, I continued, I couldn’t deny that the more I looked at the all the different kinds of sex … the more aroused I became. This quixotic journey of mine had suddenly become even more confusing. Was I rejecting my sister suffragettes by indulging in a form of entertainment they regarded as harmful and exploitative toward women? But if it was so sexist then how is it I’m so turned on? Why am I not solely looking at feminist porn or couples porn, the porn designated for my demographic? The answer was that my previous judgments had obviously been wrong.
Disavowing my old beliefs I committed to sojourn on and follow this the path to pleasure. After indulging in an eclectic array of titillating entertainment, I found that I had developed a preference for what was considered “erotica porn” or “beautiful porn”, a more sensual and passion oriented display of sexual desire. Though my predisposition was traditional porn, this artistic and passionate beautiful porn also had its place in my newly discovered prurient sexuality. I liked both the artistic and the gratuitous fare. My libido was forming preferences and my tastes were divulging themselves. Both breeds of masturbatory fare fed my lascivious side. I would use blatant, indelicate pornography when I was in a particular mood (when a quicker gratification was desired) and the tasteful erotic porn came in handy when I would have time to fantasize and ruminate over ideal situations with my future mystery lover.
I acquired an appreciation for the sex industry in a very new way. In my case, they were providing a service that required the utmost privacy and discretion. Had I lived in a different time in history, I wouldn’t have had access to these expressions of sexuality and probably would have continued on in my life, resigned to the idea that I just wasn’t a “sexual person” and feeling dirty every time I came across a naughty postcard. “Thank God for porn!” I thought. Without it, I might never have realized that I even had sensual desires.
I’ll admit I felt a bit ridiculous having come to such a conclusion this late in life. But the more I thought about it, the more I believed it to be true, and if it was true for me then it had to be true for a large segment of the female population. How many women had I grown up beside who hadn’t tapped into the full capacity of their sexual side? How many women had I known in life who had only allowed limited forms of sexual entertainment because of labels or passed down judgments?
The further I researched new areas that excited me the more I came to see how porn was usually divided up along gender lines. The more graphic, in-your-face, cum-shot adult entertainment was marketed towards men while the softer, yet still graphic women’s genre was less prevalent, but usually more artful, story driven and passion-filled. Certainly, there were people of both sexes that had tastes for each, right? Yet there was a distinct delineation between the two. Both types of stimuli worked for me but in different ways, and if we are to be honest with ourselves I think the same could be said for other women and men alike.
Now, with many incredible, passionate sexual experiences behind me, I can say I have joyfully experienced both desire-filled, lustful, romantic sex, gritty, down on your knees “filthy” sex, soul enriching tantric sex and a splash of BDSM for good measure. Without the access and the permission I gave myself to indulge in both porn and erotica I’m not certain I would’ve had the luxury of discovering my varied tastes intimately and in the privacy of my own home.
Today, I see pornography and erotica as not mutually exclusive and, like art, it has everything to do with whose eyes it’s being viewed through. Some people look at a Jackson Pollack painting and see genius whereas others see a bunch of paint splatters. I believe it’s the same for pornography and erotica. But to me, the two are interchangeable, just different flavors of the same food. To eschew one for the other would be like only eating one kind of food for your entire life. Why would you want to deny yourself the variety and deliciousness of a vast array of spices and seasonings? Why would you limit yourself to one type of activity or stimuli because of someone else’s idea of what is appropriate or acceptable without trying it yourself first?
I’m grateful for porn, for erotica, for my internet connection and for my curiosity. Without it, I might still be searching for something I didn’t know how to find.