We were surprised by how many of our readers took offense at our Wise Guys’ response to the recent question, “Do Men Care What Labia Look Like?” To our mind, the guys were basically saying, “Love what you got, most men already do, porn ideals be damned.” But apparently that message didn’t go over loud and clear. So, to rectify the situation, this week’s Comment of the Week is some labia love from reader Figleaf — who also happens to moonlight as a Wise Guy.
First letâ€™s talk about labia, since thatâ€™s the main question: I think itâ€™s a good idea to think of labia the same way you think of, say, ears, scrotums, tongues, or elbows â€” maybe in isolation you could say some are super-duper cute and others are unsightly. But a lot like elbows or scrotums, how they look doesnâ€™t reallyÂ matter because who sees them in isolation?
Now letâ€™s talk about labias in porn, since thatâ€™s the context of the question. At the end of the day a heck of a lot that happens in porn has at least as much to do with production and distribution as it does with whatâ€™s actually erotic.
The sometimes grotesque positions would be one: there has to be a clear line of sight for the camera. â€śMoney shotsâ€ť would be another big one: wiping semen off skin takes a 10th the time it takes to squeeze it out of oneâ€™s orifices. Which takes us to the next oddity: while youâ€™ll see plenty of semen (and, even more commonly, fake semen) you almost never see natural lubrication. People in porn evidently go through a lot of towels, in part, because the alternative is paying a lot more for laundry, upholstery cleaner, and rental damage deposits. (How erotic is that?!?!?)
Tiny labia are another possible fallout: biggest â€śsoft-coreâ€ť porn companies pay a lot of attention to markets like hotel pay-per-view, and nations or states that are willing to tolerate porn as long as it doesnâ€™t go â€śtoo far.â€ť And one big measure â€” best exemplified by Australiaâ€™s domineering Classification Board â€” is â€śdiscreet genital detail.â€ť By which they mean literal or no visible labia minora.
With a result that, for instance, visible labia are photoshopped over or even right out of existence. Or, even better, unaroused models with very small labia are preferentially hired, and therefore are preferentially viewed.
The problem with these shortcuts, time-savers, and censorship-avoiding techniques is that without countervailing real-world sex education, a lot of viewers end up believing thatâ€™s not just what people are supposed to do (money shots? seriously?) but also how theyâ€™re supposed to look (tiny labia? seriously?).
Anyway, for really stupid reasons porn shortcuts end up having very real consequences. Itâ€™s definitely worth pushing back on this and other porn-induced cliches: It doesnâ€™t feel as good when real men ejaculate outside their partnerâ€™s bodies. Iâ€™m pretty sure â€śreverse jackhammerâ€ť positions donâ€™t feel good forÂ anybody in real life. And, especially, real women get aroused during sex and real women donâ€™t have airbrushed labia.