Marriage / porn / Relationships / Sex / women

Why Elizabeth Gilbert Has Me Thinking About Porn

I’m currently reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s much-dissed Committed and I must say I’m enjoying it. So far what’s resonating with me most is the not-new idea that marriages based on love are incredibly volatile, as opposed to marriages, say, predicated on class and obligation. Two years into my love-based marriage, I’d be daft to comment on lasting affection but I can say that unlike Liz, I was a skeptic entering into marriage the first (so-far-only) time. As fate would have it, the unlikely catalyst that helped me work through many of my fears about commitment was porn. Life is like a box of flavored condoms, or however the old adage goes.

In my own writing, I’ve been revisiting the moment when Robbie landed the porn job and trying to get back to just what bothered me so much. And it did bother me. A lot. But, being a liberal, pro-sex kind of person, it didn’t perturb me enough to ask him to decline the job. So why exactly was I threatened by my man zooming in on a bit of random pussy and cock? You might ask. Well, I’ve spent a great deal of time contemplating just that. In the process, I’ve changed from a woman who disliked porn to one who enjoys it; and from a woman who had doubts about marriage, to happily hitched. On this particular sunny Thursday with some provocation from Mrs. Gilbert, I’m thinking about how love-marriages often lead to sexual betrayal and divorce. We expect love to hold dominion over desire. But guess what? It doesn’t. The ancient Greeks knew it and we have a multi-billion dollar industry enacted in cyberspace to prove it. So for many (as it once was for me) it is disquieting to know that your lover spends candlelit dinners with you and also quality time with underage, Slavic sluts. For others, compartmentalization seems easier. While Dr. Phil would disagree with me here, we’ve created a happy loophole for fidelity wherein watching other people have sex while having sex with ourselves is not cheating. But the line is dicey and much-debated because of the complex emotions involved.

When I talk to other women about porn and specifically whether they would be cool with their men working on porn sets, the split is pretty much fifty-fifty, cool vs. not-cool. One of the questions many women have asked me about Robbie’s job is:

“Were you afraid that he would cheat on you?”

The answer is—no, not literally, I was afraid of a libidinous world that for me, then, evoked feelings of betrayal and mistrust. It just took me a while to realize that to truly steer clear of those icky feelings, I would need to a) avoid all committed relationships, and b) be an inanimate object of sorts. In the end, I still have certain qualms with porn and marriage. As for marriage, it may not be the best or only paradigm for lasting love, but I’m giving it my best shot (seriously, no pun intended this time).

Right then, that’s enough musing for one afternoon. Now to finish Committed and hike up to the Hollywood sign. Check out some charming couples who made it for the long haul at The Globe and Mail.

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