Sometimes, it's just a cigar

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Schrodingers cat and blowjobs

Schrodinger’s cat is an unusual thought experiment that reifies our idea that reality arises from the act of observation. The notion that the cat is neither dead nor alive until we look is nothing more than pragmatism, and probably also conforms to Occam’s Law – it’s the simplest explanation rather than having to to try and explain why the cat is alive or dead.

However, it’s also a way to start understanding why porn maybe about more than just objectification.

I like people who like beingphotographed in sexual situations. I like being on the other end of the camera. The idea that porn objectifies women must mean also that, by pointing a camera at a model, I am objectifying them. The pics are often published by the models  to remind people who and how they are; I publish them because I like arousing people – I enjoy the feedback, and the people who masturbate to the pictures, and I enjoy asserting to the world that I am alive.

Of course it’s possible that by pointing the camera at a model and pressing the shutter button I objectify them. However, the models don’t appear to feel that way, or, if they do, they don’t appear at all puzzled or disappointed by it.

We’ve all experienced the reality that photography is a transformative art; by letting the subject know that they are being photographed you transform their behaviour. They pout for the camera, or they smile, or they pull a gangster pose or pretend to be doing it gangnam style.

Now, let’ think about Schrodinger’s cat again. At the moment that we observe the cat in its box it doesn’t choose to live or die; it’s actual state is made real by us observing it. The models on the other hand are collaborators in every photo I take of them. I once did an entire session where what I wanted to capture were pictures of the model hooded and bound, and she confessed that the hood wasn’t completely opaque, but she kept her eyes closed because she knew what I was trying to achieve.

Was she objectified at that moment? When  she decided to squeeze her eyes shut and imagine what being completely blindfolded would feel like?

I have always felt that when I point the camera at a model, especially my favourite model, I make real for one moment that intensity and desire that is why we have sex. She is only objectified in the same way as anArundel Tomb is objectified by a poem; it acquires a narrative of its own, and a new existence as the subject of someone’s gaze. In the process, of course, I am changed, just as Larkin appears astonished, at the end of Arundel Tomb, by the idea that the only persistent fact about the lives of the entombed gentry is that only their love persists.

There’s another issue about the way in which objectification does women like who like to model a disservice though. Objects are incapable of acting of their own will. Models, and their near cousins in the lexicon of objectification, sex workers, are not objects, they are agents, actors in their own narrative. I’ve often pondered the prevalence of the blowjob in twentieth century sex. One explanation that I have always felt drawn to is that it’s narcissistic sex taken to the extreme, that it’s all about the man on the receiving end. But what if in fact the blowjob was marketed and made popular by sex workers who wanted to make it easier to get through more customers per night?  They wouldn’t then be objects; they’d be astute business people realizing that they could make more money, in the business jargon, if they reduce the touch time and speed up the flow. Objects couldn’t make those choices*.

Further up the post I said that I share photos with others to prove I am alive. Sometimes, though, I look at those pictures, thousands of them now, and I feel alive, not because there is an object in them, but because they are studies of a model who changes me by being my subject. Women who would look at a beautiful consenting woman in a picture, plugged, bound and sprawled upon her bed and see her objectified would miss the way in which her arousal and desire sweeps over me and challenges my certainty and determination to be dominant, to lead and challenge her to explore places she would not go on her own.

*Re-reading this before I pressed the publish button I was put in mind of a young man I knew, who told me that giving older men blowjobs was the ideal way of being intimate with a man without the pain and stress of anal sex. He was also a some time rent boy, but always involved in directing his own destiny. Did sex work objectify him?

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One comment on “Schrodingers cat and blowjobs

  1. Pingback: Object and subject | Sometimes, it's just a cigar

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This entry was posted on July 14, 2013 by in Uncategorized.

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