Reflections on Graphic Sexual Horror

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Graphic Sexual Horror is a documentary film about the late, hardcore BDSM pornsite, insex.com. To me, this film can be succinctly described as a brain virus. Since the seven days that I have seen it, I've not quite been able to shake it from my head. The images of women chained, cropped and tortured for viewing pleasure continue to project themselves into the dark of my eyelids, and my brain is still working overtime to try to make sense of it all.

Part of the reason why this film is such a mind-fuck is because of the utter lack of positioning on the part of the documentary makers. The film took a stand back position, gracefully allowing the porn and this company to be shown for what it was, without any sway on what we as viewers were to think of it. The film was neither a monologue at or a dialogue with the viewer on the subject. Rather, it felt  like some omniscient third party, passing along information and images to be burned into our retinas.

Here is what you need to know in order to understand the film: Insex was a brainchild of BDSM enthusiast and artist, PD. The site employed models, many of whom that weren't into BDSM, to engage in hardcore BDSM play on camera for a generous amount of money. There was always a safeword any model could use to end the session, but the women were also rewarded with more cash, the longer they went and the more they endured. This site was eventually shut down by the State.

As Arvan points out in his review of the film, taking a feminist argument with porn that centers on showing beautiful women suffering as men torture them just feels a little too easy, a little generic. Kind of like those feminist blogs that repeatedly become shocked and abhorred by Dov Charney of American Apparel; the joke kinda ends up on them.

Yet my inner feminist, as laid back as she might be, did inevitably stir. One of the ex-models described her first set and explained that before coming into film, they are asked what they are willing to do or not do, and what they might be apprehensive about. This model had never had anal sex, and was clearly apprehensive about doing so. On her first shoot, PD broke that boundary. As she laid tied up, ass up on the floor, he penetrated her anally with a nearly baseball-bat sized instrument. She went onto say that although she hadn't used her safeword, she felt like she had been raped.

When this was brought up during the discussion after the film, a woman who had been invited on stage because she had once done a session herself with PD said, "she said she felt like she was raped, it's not the same thing as being raped." I agree it is not the same thing, but I don't think it is the opposite of rape either. I don't think consent is a yes-no/black-white issue. What it seemed the model was explaining is a tight-rope walk of that delicate, fuzzy line of consent.

Another aspect of consent that the film captured is the act of putting your own comfort aside in order to prove sexual prowess. The women in the film often talked about the sexual acts as a test of strength and endurance, a way to overcome their own limits in terms of fear and pain threshold. This is an aspect of sex that I haven't seen discussed very openly. In my own sex life I know that I have done this very thing, not to these extremes and not in BDSM, but in putting my partners needs first. I've been penetrated in ways that I didn't enjoy, or barred pain that wasn't turning me on at the expense of the sex, to accommodate my partner, and I have sometimes enjoyed doing that. 

That inner feminist of mine could argue that is a product of the patriarchy, how women are raised to accommodate the needs of everyone around them first. However, I also have a sneaking suspicion that men have done this too. This grinning and bearing for a partner also brings up the personal issue of consent and how we sometimes do things we don't want to, for our partners. That is okay, yet could easily spin into gray areas and cross certain lines and it is ultimately up to the person in the sexual act to decide what they feel okay with. The problem is that in most vanilla relationships there isn't a safeword. And further, many of us are so out of touch with our emotions or how to express them that traveling into gray areas feels out of our control.

One of the lines from the film that keeps running through my own mind is, "I thought I was this feminist, who was in control and knew what she wanted. I guess not." This was spoken from the aforementioned model who addressed the rape issue. It has been said time and time again that what we want in bed, is not necessarily what we want socially or politically. It is still a dark thing to address.

As this film hasn't left my mind, what it has made me see is that I found the porn, not always a turn-on but very alluring. I also walked away feeling like I "got" BDSM in a new way, where my light experimentation with ropes or spanking without bruises only hinted at it. It is more than the image of a woman suffering. It playing with something raw and often historical-- fears that run deep as blood. Even though we know the porn is safe, there is some element of playing with the line of life and death. And I find that a turn-on. I think that sexual fantasy is a playground for the unconscious to get a work-out and the art of insex lived on this plane. While the company or even the porn itself might not have been politically correct, we are left with stunning, in depth porn that can be used a guide to our own unconscious, to help us dig to the very core of our being and question what we find in those dark passages along the way.


Rabbit White
http://rabbitwrite.com

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