For all intents and purposes, I’m basically an equal-opportunity porn consumer. Out of all the so-called porn “fetishes” that exist for online perusal these days — amateur, big booty, chubby, upskirt, pretty feet, so on and so forth — I can almost always find something to connect to. As a lifelong porn fan, I’m quite flexible that way.
The appeal of some genres, however, have remained somewhat baffling — foremost among them a popular category known as cuckolding. In a cuckold porn scene, a man, often a bit on the older side and possibly out of shape, willingly sacrifices his girlfriend or wife to a strapping young buck, sometimes African-American, who ostensibly can satisfy her more fully than her husband. These scenes include a hint of voyeurism: usually, the husband or boyfriend watches from the side, absorbing pointed comments like, “Oh, he’s so much bigger than you, it feels so good.”
To me, this doesn’t seem tantalizing; it seems almost torturous, against the grain of common sense. I’m in a monogamous long-term relationship, and the thought of watching my girlfriend have sex with a guy who’s stronger, sexier, and younger than me doesn’t excite me. It makes me feel insecure, which I don’t equate with the pleasurable sensation of being aroused.
To better understand the psycho-sexual appeal of the cuckold phenomenon, I put in a call to pornographer Billy Watson, a director who regularly shoots scenes for the X-rated site Cuckoldsessions.com.
“Dude,” Watson laughs, “Cuckolding is a giant fetish. Goes all the way back to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The Miller knew his wife was sneaking out the window to go see the candlestick maker or whatever. Porn didn’t invent cuckolding. We might have tweaked it a little bit, but cuckolding has been around forever.”
I ask Watson if he can understand what guys who watch cuckold scenes, or who participate in them in real life, are getting out of the experience.
“Essentially,” Watson answers, “cuckolding is a way for a jealous guy to keep his wits. A cuckold understands, hey, my wife wants to get sex outside of our marriage, and that really drives me crazy — unless I can sexualize it. If I can sexualize my wife being with somebody else, and kind of control it, then the jealousy feeling can go away.”
Watson informs me that the cuckold scenes he’s paid to shoot often have recurring motifs, all of which are based on mild humiliation.
“There’s small penis humiliation, there’s forced bi, which is very popular — like, I’m gonna quote unquote ‘make’ you suck a dick; there’s financial humiliation, when the girlfriend tells the guy, ‘Give me your credit card, I’m going to the mall right now. I need to shop. ‘A lot of times those scripts involve shopping to prepare for a date with another guy. ‘I need your money so I can look sexy for someone else.'”
Over the course of my conversation with Watson, I begin to surmise that part of the appeal for the man identifying with or as the cuckold in these scenes is to have his own insecurity affirmed in a very concrete way. Humiliation can be delicious, particularly when it accords to deep-seated beliefs we’ve carried with us for long periods of time — and, significantly, when we are able to somehow control the other players in the scene. There’s a sort of grandstanding to it: in most other genres of porn, the woman is the focus of the scene, and all the meaning and movement revolves around her. In a cuckold scene, however, the focus is inevitably on the person whose feelings are being wounded: the cuckold himself.
“When I first started shooting,” Watson says, “it was generally: humiliate the guy, make him watch the girlfriend get fucked, with him not liking it in a sense. But now, a lot of the members of the site have written to us to say that they want to have the girl be forced into it, meaning she’s the reluctant one, and the husband’s making her do it.”
Cuckolding, then, could be the most passive-aggressive of sexual acts: the cuck, seeking attention, satisfying self-pity, and perverse injury, manipulates his partner into torturing him. But is this always the case — is cuckolding all a labyrinthine power play, or can it also be an act characterized by open-mindedness and generosity?
Davis Woods-Morse, author of “American Cuckold,” and a proud practicing cuckold himself, says this is often the case.
“The reality is that women love sex for its own sake and everyone needs more than one person to satisfy their complex life needs. Cuckolding makes it safe for a woman to have those needs met. It has pre-assigned roles and only pretends to threaten the marriage.”
Woods-Morse’s argument is compelling. If cuckolding is fascinating, it is because it challenges common perceptions about fidelity in relationships. I’m fairly new at this monogamy thing: at times, I can experience jealousy, and as I listen to Woods-Morse explain that allowing another man to have sex with your wife can be the ultimate gesture of respect and love for your partner and her desires, I want to believe that I, too, could be as generous.
But what comes to my mind, instead, is an image of myself as the cuckold commonly found in Watson’s genre of porn: a somewhat manipulative player, getting high on the prospect of my own pre-arranged betrayal and self-degradation. And not to be a stick in the mud, but I wonder if there might be a healthier way to speak to your partner’s possible desire for partners other than yourself besides arranging for a sex session that can take place for your benefit.
Still, I won’t say that the cuckolding doesn’t have its charms, particularly in the realm of pornography, where psychological complexity typically takes a backseat to an enormously predictable and often degrading set of visual tropes. In fact, maybe it’s possible that the ideal cuckold scene is only a few steps away. It would make a point of focusing on the pleasure of the woman, engaging her in the decision-making process that leads to sex. It would also make sure that we understand the motives and desires of the so-called “strong young buck,” making him more than just an idealized reflection of the husband. Certainly, if personalities, motives, and complex desires are the best ingredients for sexiness, cuckolding has them in spades.
Would you share your partner?