Liar, Something in Your Pants is on Fire

Ottawa XPress – Shotgun – Feburary 24, 2005

Catching your partner checking out porn behind your back after he’s convinced you he’s not into that is a bit like laughing and vomiting at the same time. It’s both funny and disturbing.

Whether women are tapping into the nurturing part of their brain or prefer a more inclusive sexual experience, it’s my observation that, when faced with a partner who says he’s not into porn, a woman will cease and desist. She’ll put away her handcuffs, shelve the erotica, store her sex toys and block the dirty channels on the TV, resigning herself to the fact that her lover just doesn’t get off on that. Fine.

Many women these days are accepting of pornography, kink and fantasy and want to engage their man in honest exchange or appreciation of the stuff. But apparently, like “frigid” women, some men too take issue with this practice and potential pleasure.

But if a partner says he gets nothing from porn and has no fantasies, and then is caught one night with his pants around his ankles in front of the computer screen – frankly, the ensuing conversation should deal with his dishonesty and shame issues.

The usual routine for a lot of couples is heated dialogue centered on women’s disapproval of pornography rather than the fact she was lied to.

And so begins the boring debate about how the woman thinks the habit is dirty, distasteful and dishonest, while in cases like the above, that just isn’t the problem.

Still, to console her, the phrase “Guys are like that” may come up, or “That’s just what guys do.” The discussion ends with the final defence: in light of the woman’s blow-up, which had been anticipated all along, the guy couldn’t possibly have disclosed his pursuits – he knew she’d react like this!

A case in point: Check out sex expert Dan Savage’s response to the February 3 letter from Miserable, Mad, and Married. MMM describes herself as a “well adjusted hetero chick” for whom things changed when she got married recently. “Before we married,” she writes, “my hubby denied having any sexual fantasies. I have lots and enjoy some kinks. We talked, though, and he said that he would try. Now I find out that he DOES have fantasies and that he lied to me.”

She found her husband’s collection of teenage girls porn on the computer. Her issue? “His thoughts are like the rest of the fucking culture. However, he lied and I am now feeling like I am not someone he trusts! It took time for me to adjust to being with a man who had NO fantasies … how do I get over being hurt about being lied to?”

Savage’s response blames the woman for her bad attitude toward mediocre teenager porn and chalks the entire issue up to evolution. The husband didn’t share his sexual fantasies because he probably knew his wife would convict him as boring and predictable, explains Savage. Furthermore, checking out teenage girls is OK because that’s what society does and men’s brains are wired to thinking youth is “insanely attractive.” So what the guy was doing was perfectly normal according to Savage Love.

Dan Savage is not the only critic – an online reader’s response suggested that MMM “get the fuck over it” because porn is normal. Uh, yes, but how normal is lying about liking it? And even if lying is pretty common, is it acceptable? According to Savage, it is acceptable.

With merit, the online response made the distinction between porn and fantasies, saying that fantasies are usually more “weird” than watching naked chicks online. So it seems that what we got in Savage Love’s mistreatment of MMM’s feelings about her husband is simply semantics: Porn does not equal “fantasy.” The husband said he had no fantasies. Ergo, the husband checking out porn in secret means he was not lying about having no fantasies.

When someone says to me, “Sylvie, I’ve got a splitting headache and my head’s going to explode,” I don’t really think their head is going to literally blow up, and I don’t let semantics get in the way of figuring out what they’re trying to tell me. So apply a bit of that reasoning to MMM’s situation to override the distinction of porn versus fantasy and get to the core of the matter, which is something I don’t think Savage did.

The wife got shut out. It’s like she gave up butter tarts for her man but there he is tucked away in the closet shoving a box in his mouth. He’s probably the same guy who denies masturbating but leaves the soiled Kleenex hanging about.

Tell me, what is a reasonable defense for a man who conceals his urges knowing his partner wants to share her own dirty thoughts with him? Is there some kind of high one gets from being selfish and insular about sex? Seriously, is that a new kind of fetish we’ve overlooked while convincing ourselves that chicks don’t need a sex fix too?

My take – relationships are all about sharing. And if you fuck with that, you’re fucked.

– Sylvie Hill