Pornhub’s 2015 insights on Russia: My Little Pony smut on the rise, “porn nationalism” is not a thing, MILFs are popular for a reason

Pornhub’s 2015 insights on Russia: My Little Pony smut on the rise, “porn nationalism” is not a thing, MILFs are popular for a reason

Note: I watched My Little Pony porn for the sake of research. It is not my thing, and I have Pony Traumatic Stress Disorder now (and can’t even take credit for that phrase). You can honor my sacrifice by liking, sharing, tweeting, donating, or sending Tom Hiddleston to my house with a bottle of whiskey and a box of jelly doughnuts.

There is much to learn about Russian porn trends from Pornhub’s 2015 year in review stats. We are first going to first zero in on the elephant in the room. No getting around it. It is too massive.

We must talk about My Little Pony (MLP) porn. Continue reading “Pornhub’s 2015 insights on Russia: My Little Pony smut on the rise, “porn nationalism” is not a thing, MILFs are popular for a reason”

Sixteen people to not hang out with in 2016

Sixteen people to not hang out with in 2016

Happy New Year!

I’ve been accused of being “too negative” around the blogosphere lately. “Cheer up, Natalia,” a bunch of you are saying. “Stop using indelicate words and hating on people quite as much.” I’m sure most of you have a point. But since none of you will read me if I’m going to go all zen and peace-love-and-incense-sticks on you this year (admit it. It’s true), here’s a definitive list of people you should resolve to avoid in 2016 (and all subsequent years too).  Continue reading “Sixteen people to not hang out with in 2016”

Oh my God, Becky – look at Pornhub’s statistics on Russia and anal sex videos

Someone who reads this blog has suggested that I write an overwrought essay about the latest Pornhub study, which has found that anal sex porn is “more popular in Russia than any other country.”

Naturally, I am very offended by the suggestion that my writing is overwrought, and I am stomping my foot as I let the eye-watering Moscow sunset bathe my form in amber-esque light, or whatever.

I also looked at the study and realized that there is quite a bit that needs to be said about anal sex and Russia, especially in light of recent events.

Some disclaimers:

By itself, the Pornhub study doesn’t provide concrete facts about Russia itself – no matter how many punchlines we can get out of citing it.

I really wish the Pornhub study came with dates attached. Are they tracking user data for the whole history of the site?

Finally, the plural of anecdote is not data, and so this isn’t going to be one of those posts where I use a porn site’s statistics to talk about Russian men and what they’re like in bed.

Moving on:

References to anal sex occupy an interesting niche in Russian culture. Because plenty of noise has already been made about Russia’s seeming anal sex obsession in light of its controversial law against homosexual propaganda to minors/general issues of homophobia, it’s worth pointing out some context.

For example, as political expert Pavel Svyatenkov brilliantly argued last year, a lot of Russia’s issues surrounding gay rights actually stem from the fact that anal sex is associated with humiliation in Gulag culture.

As Svyatenkov wrote:

“The philosophy of Soviet-developed homosexuality penetrated [translator note: pun not mine] even those social classes which, by definition, should not have harbored it. What does a manager mean when he says that his ‘bosses fucked [him] in the ass?’ He obviously means that he received a ‘severe reprimand from management.’ To put it in other words, the relationship between the powerful and the subordinate is interpreted via a homosexual sex act.”

Svyatenkov is specifically talking about attitudes surrounding homosexuality, of course. And his comments make even more sense in light of the Pornhub study. A taboo wouldn’t be a taboo if it didn’t have cultural roots/causes.

The Pornhub study, meanwhile, suggests that more people in general search for straight anal sex – though not by that much.

Prominent Russian sexologist Yevgeny Kulgavchyuk recently gave an interview to The Village, where he talked about how, in his view, very few women actually enjoy anal sex.

Quote:

 “I’m tired already of saving poor women from [anal sex]. Men who have watched too much porn are trying to conquer all of their women via the backyard. If the gentleman’s size is small, a woman’s erogenous zones are positioned a certain way, then some couples do get pleasure out of it. But for the majority of women, anal sex only creates painful sensations and anal fissures. And we’ve already talked about how sexual relations shouldn’t harm our health.”

Now, if you’re reading this in the West and you’re pretty liberal, there is a good chance that you are kind of surprised right now.

Obviously, our medical establishment does talk about the risks of anal – but then again, our prominent sexologists often focus on the fact that it doesn’t HAVE to be all that risky (or, for that matter, painful).

In general, I’ve found that Western sex columnists/therapists/whatever take the following view:

People should do what they want to do as long as they are being responsible and respectful of each other.

And that’s different from Russian sexologist Kulgavchyuk’s approach: He doesn’t trust his clients to figure out, and uses his position of authority to “save” a woman from unwanted anal sex.

And it’s not as if Kulgavchyuk is ZOMG in the wrong. He’s operating within a different matrix, where a) doctors are vested with more authority than their Western counterparts (look at the history of Soviet medicine to understand why) and b) women in heterosexual relationships are traditionally understood to be more vulnerable parties.

(For example, when I was pregnant, my doctor went out of her way to offer to sit down for a “chat” with my husband and explain to him that he shouldn’t be too demanding as far as sex goes. I hadn’t at all indicated to her that his attention was unwanted. But within the context of relationships in Russia, where people are much more frank about power differentials and abuse is sometimes understood as practically a given, it made perfect sense for my doctor to offer to “save” me.)

**So does all of that have to do with that Pornhub study?**

Well, we can infer that in this environment, one where mutual exploration/communication isn’t necessarily understood as the default, anal sex is considered way more of a taboo. If both men and women are being denied a middle ground where anal sex is something they can work on and even enjoy – even as they live in a culture that is relatively permissive and where porn is readily accessible – it becomes that much more of a forbidden fruit.

I also want to bring your attention back to Gulag culture. It would be a mistake to assume that it hasn’t found its way into heterosexual relationships as well. If anal sex is understood as the ultimate expression of dominance over a passive “victim,” as Gulag culture dictates, it’s going to be a phenomenon that will continue to generate both anxiety and fascination (it is my contention that Gulag culture hasn’t been done away with – it’s been sublimated). And why shouldn’t people search for that which fascinates them online?

Kulgavchyuk thinks that his patients want to screw their wives “in the backdoor” because they’ve watched too much porn. He might be right, but it’s a chicken-or-the-egg type question, actually.

Russia still lacks comprehensive sex education. In this environment, porn isn’t used merely for pleasure and entertainment – it’s also a way to satisfy curiosity and try to make up your own mind about certain kinds of practies.

you will get pregnant and die

You’re waiting for me to mention politics, and I will. Well, kind of.

Back in the spring, Mark Galeotti criticized Washington’s “aggressively cerebral” approach to the Kremlin.

I’m not nearly as thoughtful as Mark, so in the unlikely event that Obama asked me for my opinion, I would say something like:

“LOOK. RUSSIANS KNOW THAT POWER IS POWER. THEY HAVE FIGURED OUT A TERRITORY WITHIN WHICH THEY CAN BEND YOU GUYS OVER. THEY ARE BENDING YOU GUYS OVER. JUST PLEASE UNDERSTAND THIS CRUCIAL FACT. THIS IS HOW THEY THINK. THIS IS HOW THEY THINK!”

Once again, I refer to Pavel Svyatenkov’s assertion that power and subordination in Russia are often illustrated via the metaphor of anal sex.

Also, it is useful to remember that power occupies a different place in Russia than it does, say, in the States. In the U.S. we have a set-up that roughly translates to:

State –> Social/Political Institutions –> Individual

In Russia, it’s more like:

State –> Individual

There is no buffer.

And that lack of a buffer is expressed in Russia’s street culture (or kitchen culture, or, generally speaking, the private sphere), as the state bending you over and giving it to you.

I’ve said this is before and I’ll say it again: the best pop culture metaphor for Russian domestic policy is probably “Blurred Lines.”

“Well, that’s gloomy,” you’re probably saying. It can be. Russians are also quite funny about it.

And in that context, the Russian fascination with anal sex, as exposed by Pornhub, is also pretty damn funny.

Finally, and it really sucks that I have to point this out, but I will: desire is also just desire.

Maybe nothing that I’ve said here has ANY real, statistical bearing on Pornhub’s Russian fans.

It’s all just conjecture.

I haven’t heard of a single comprehensive study on the subject in Russia (Levada Center, I’m looking at you).

All I did was take some statistics and try to paint a picture that will fit them.

I am working backwards here.

;)

A few words on harlotry, the marriage industrial complex and Steven Crowder

It has come to my attention recently that some guy named Steven Crowder got married – and, for some reason, used that as a chance to launch into a massive diatribe about sluts and harlots and what have you. It was picked up my Jezebel and much hilarity involving gifs ensued.

My initial reaction to Crowder’s piece is also best summed up with a gif:

(Sent to me by a friend who sends me great gifs – and lotsa random porn to freak me out while I’m working. I salute you, brother.)

Then I read this discussion of Crowder’s um, joyful missive from the Ever After – as well as checked out Crowder’s own Twitter – and it got me thinking. About Crowder, whom I still wish all of the happiness in the world (although, if you ask me, launching into a mocking tirade about other people’s sex lives is a funny way of showing that you’re in the throes of wedded bliss), but also about our culture’s extreme Marriage Mythology.

Truth is, I know a fair amount of people who have chosen to wait to have sex. And a fair amount of people who were virgins on their wedding night. It’s just Their Way and not something to comment on beyond that, for me. That’s not really the issue here.

The issue is – the Marriage Mythology requires your wedding to be The Happiest Day of Your Life™. And if you read between the lines, happiness actually signals a kind of unreality. It can’t be a regular human experience, it has to be something Beyond That.

And there is an entire industry built around this supposition. This is why otherwise normal people will suddenly break down when confronted with the fact that their wedding invitations, the ones that were supposed to be eggshell white, actually turned out to be more like cream white. 

And abstinence is, in many ways, a kind of niche industry. You have people writing books about it. Or those who, like Crowder, write columns about it. You have people teaching abstinence education and massive abstinence campaigns with passionate-sounding slogans such as True Love Waits, slogans that are used on official jewelry and apparel and what have you.

Abstinence is industrialized the way that sex is also industrialized. Both of these narratives are packaged like a De Beers commercial. And both need each other – one is irrelevant without the other.

So beating your chest and celebrating your own decision to remain “pure” until marriage while simultaneously blasting the sluts and whores who haven’t followed your shining example is actually a pretty awesome career move. It’s a bit like coming out with an in-your-face commercial that people will talk about long after the Super Bowl is over. You’re stumping – but no one will notice unless you take a major swipe at the competition.

But let’s get real here – and talk about the actual human beings involved in making such a decision.

While I totally understand that people in the wedding (and the abstinence!) industries need to eat, ya’ll, I don’t think that using a marriage ceremony as a chance to impress other people is healthy for your relationship. I like the notion of a public celebration as dedicated to commitment and love – and for certain, there are different ways to express that. Some are more expensive than others. Sometimes, the bride is extremely lucky to take advantage of a great aunt’s vintage jewelry and post-Christmas sales events (*cough*). Some people cannot imagine a wedding ceremony without the participation of big fucking elephants – and to them I say right on.

But people like Steven Crowder here go on to frame their wedding and their wedding night as one big “HAHA FUCK YOU” to the folks who taunted him about being abstinent and I… am a little disturbed by that, I guess? Imagine if I met and married a football player – and then wrote a gloating column addressed to all of the jocks who didn’t see fit to invite me to any of our high school dances. Take THAT, fellas!

Yep, it would make me seem like a totally cool and well-adjusted human being. And one who is certainly mature enough to embark on what is supposed to be a lifelong commitment.

Yep.

P.S. What’s the deal with Crowder’s weirdly competitive insistence that the people his wife and he encountered during breakfast must have had some sort of shitty wedding – and are clearly just pathetic shits in general? Like, “MWAHAHAHA, DUDE DIDN’T COME DOWN FOR BREAKFAST, BET HE WAS A DRUNKEN ASSHOLE AT HIS OWN RECEPTION.” Yeah, ’cause that’s totally what I would assume as well – as opposed to giggling inappropriately about what a great wedding night those two probably had.

Dear Scott Adams, it’s mostly FEMALE lions who hunt. And so on.

So Scott Adams, the man behind Dilbert (oh the humanity!), showed his ass again. I read about it on Feministe. I’m not going to link to his original post – because screw it.

Still, I’d like to address it. Because oddly enough, I do agree with Scott Adams on one important point – there certainly IS a crisis of masculinity going on in countries like the United States. Though I don’t believe that said crisis hinges on the whole notion of “ZOMG men are not allowed to rape! Their natural instincts are being suppressed by hairy-legged feminist-types!”

First of all, let’s get real about rape – it happens, and most of the perpetrators get away with it. Every once in a while, you’ll have a terrible story like the Duke lacrosse fake rape thing – but the majority of sexual assaults are real, and nobody presses charges afterwards. There is usually too much shock, denial, and, hey, most women are raped by guys they know. It’s hard for them to reconcile such a breach of trust with the image they have in their heads – the image of the guy as just a normal fella.

Most rapists, I believe, don’t even refer to their actions as “rape.” Some are sick individuals who get off on the violation, but the majority, I think, don’t really get the concept of consent, and have been brought up to believe that certain women and girls are “asking for it,” etc.

There are also frequent cases of men raping other men, or boys. And I’m not just talking about prison. Hardly any of that ever gets reported.

And sometimes, women will rape men too. And most of these situations revolve around someone being drugged. And how many of those do you think are ever reported?

So the way I see it, we do, in fact, allow rape. Even though, as a society, we believe that it’s wrong – we don’t exactly deal with the issue. We merely pay lip-service to it.

Now, for some reason, Scott Adams seems to believe that rape is the most natural thing in the world. Which is odd, because how exactly does one define “natural”? Even in some of the most patriarchal societies to date – rape was framed as kinda a problem, whether for property reasons (“You violated my woman! But she BELONGS to me!”) or otherwise. Even societies that think of marital rape as no big deal, for example, tend to think of it as a violation – if not one that anyone needs to worry their pretty heads over it.

Scott Adams believes that men are basically born into a world in which their “natural instincts” are framed as “shameful and criminal.” It’s not that surprising to me that an American man, even a highly successful, even famous, American man should feel this way. Actually, fame and success are sort of part of the issue here, are they not? Being famous and successful, you have farther to fall. You are way more scrutinized. And as such, you being to scrutinize yourself more. And you realize that there are gaps in your self-knowledge. And you can’t address those gaps in a meaningful manner, because you have, indeed, had your sexuality pathologized for most of your life. Just not in the way that you think.

Americans are not big on sexual honesty. We’re not encouraged to make sense of our desires. The best most people can do is learning socially acceptable catchphrases, such as “no means no” – and hardly ever address the issue of why we need such catchphrases to begin with.

Scott Adams writes:

The way society is organized at the moment, we have no choice but to blame men for bad behavior. If we allowed men to act like unrestrained horny animals, all hell would break loose.

Society is not organized this way “at the moment.” It has always had rules. Rules have shifted over time, but rules are also the general reason why the “lion and the zebra at the watering hole” is not a valid comparison to men and women and rape. Even if you cast notions of morality aside, our brains are more complex than the brains of lions and zebras. Such complexity demands order – and justification for said order. Order is a fluid concept – but it’s also what has allowed the human species to become dominant on planet Earth.

If a man is just an unrestrained horny animal – then the entirety of human history fails to make sense. Look at Einstein. He was really into ladies…

… In fact, he was a cheater, some people even claim he was a rapist – or just a creep of sorts. He was also, um, Einstein. All jokes aside, I somehow doubt that Einstein developed the theory of relativity simply as a way to avoid dealing with “natural” sexual frustration. Rather, Einstein was a complicated human being, like everyone else, and he had his sexual urges and possibly even his violent urges – and he had his urge to do complex theoretical work. He had an oulet for his ideas – he probably had way less of an outlet for his issues with women. Was his excellence in physics unnatural? Whereas his troubled personal relationships were just dandy?

“We have no choice but to blame men for bad behaviour” – oh no! So if Einstein decided he was just going to run around and hump everything in sight, and he had never become a great physicist, this would be, like, a good thing? A natural thing? I’m fairly certain that Einstein’s brain was bigger than his dick – and I’m also fairly certain that nature, the Holy Grail of guys like Scott Adams, planned it that way – but using one and not the other would be, like, OK? And in the best interests of the human race? Wow, who knew?

I think the real problem with guys like Scott Adams is this whole fact that most American guys are brought up with the idea that they are undesirable (in fact, Einstein may have had the same problem growing up in Munich!). Just like women, when you think about it, but this insecurity is taught in a different way. The average American guy internalizes a lot of bullshit about “alpha males”, and judges himself accordingly. The lucky few are natural-born pussy magnets, the rest have to scramble and compensate somehow – that’s the game. It’s really messed up, and I think it screws up boys big-time. These boys are not taught to value themselves – at best, they’re taught how to be cocky as a means of covering up a bunch of self-esteem issues. They’re taught that their sexuality is totally separate from the rest of their identity – like an atrophied muscle. And women, they’re taught, don’t really like them. And they should pay women back in kind – should they get steamrolled or otherwise humiliated. So hating women and desiring women physically is framed as normal.

It’s a crappy situation and it affects more people than Scott Adams could shake a “round peg” at.