[NB: This post should definitely be read as a huge plug for Pandora Blake’s work, both in general and the specific work mentioned]
There are lots of videos out there with camera angles that depict the spanker’s point of view; just as there are lots of videos that portray the top’s fantasy, and images of spankees representing the dominant gaze. Our latest film captures the intimacy of an over-the-knee spanking through shots that portray the spankee’s point of view.
In this post, I want to expand somewhat on the comment I left at the Dreams of Spanking blog post, and talk about my reactions to the difference between a male/Top gaze, and a female/Bottom gaze.
My first reaction was to feel very affirmed and recognised. The typical male gaze essentially constructs a male performer as a placeholder into whose position the viewer is expected to project himself (it’s assumed it’s a he, not a she, zie or other preferred pronoun). As Orlando C’s research “The Subjective Experience of Pornography” examines, this is not as universal a relationship to porn as some would suggest (Orlando’s report linked makes specific reference to “male gaze”). However, it does appear to be the assumption both of the producers and of those who analyse porn.
In terms of what turns me on, a big part of what I enjoy about BDSM/sex as a Top is the connection that comes from seeing a reaction and empathising with it while also being the cause of it: I like watching, hearing, feeling, the way a partner responds. Naturally, therefore, if I want to use porn as a surrogate for that, then I look at porn that shows me a Bottom experiencing whatever type of thing I want to fantasise about today. However, that means that I don’t see myself, except incidentally, in these images. Quite literally, the porn is not about me (it’s made for my consumption, but it’s about the female character whom I am presumed to desire).
Pandora Blake, in showing a “spankee’s gaze”, reverses that somewhat. While I quibble with calling it a Bottom’s POV, the focus is very much on seeing the Top and relating to him. I watched the trailer in the blog post and, as I said, I felt affirmed and recognised. I wrote in my comment there that, “For me personally, I don’t know what I look like when I deliver a spanking, but I imagine it is something like Tom’s expressions shown there.” I described the feeling as being not “what turns me on”, but rather, “a more intimate relationship with myself.” (Intriguingly, this is also something that I notice about my masochism – about feeling an intimate connection with myself – although in a different way than this video/photoset produces it.)
In a theme that will almost certainly be revisited in future posts about various topics, I feel that in society there is a curious sense in which male sexuality is taken for granted and therefore viewed as incidental, when it comes to things like porn, dating advice, etc. “Alex’s POV” challenges that and, for once, makes it possible to examine and relate to a male, Top, engagement with the experience. I am full of introspection (the positive form of “overthinking”!) so naturally, I view this as a Good Thing. The effect for me of viewing this was to feel valued, interesting, and attractive. In short, to feel loved (or at least, “desired”). This makes me wonder tentatively if the research that I have tended to pooh-pooh in the past about porn having negative effects on the watcher may not be revealing anything about porn per se, but rather about the effect of the male gaze in general?
As I said, I quibbled with calling the video a “Bottom’s POV” (based on the blog post and photos/trailer included in it). I Bottom as well as Top, but the camera angles and so on did not bring to life the experience of being there in the way that I hoped it would (if anything, the video brought more to life the experience of Topping than Bottoming, precisely because I got to see a version of myself portrayed in it). Reflecting on this, I wrote in my comment there:
There again, I’m not sure it’s possible to show through video the *sense* of being there. For fantasies, that may be why I turn to the written word when I want to immerse myself in being the spankee rather than watching, or being with, a spankee (For instance, from the post above, “She lies over his knee on the edge of the bed, feeling his strong thighs support her hips.” put me there far more than anything in the trailer or photos in the post did).
This brought to mind another of the regularly-accepted “facts” of porn: the myth that “Men like images, women like words”, to explain why men watch porn whereas women apparently don’t, but do seem to enjoy erotic/”romance” novels. Could it be, I ask myself, that it’s not about preferring images to words, but that the roles that women expect to see themselves in, are easier to bring to life by describing the senses that aren’t involved in video (that is, external and internal sensation, rather than watching or listening)? Maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree there, but it’s a point that attracts my curiosity.
Pandora Blake continues, in amongst her regular fare (all of it made with a feminist, fairtrade perspective), to experiment with new ways of looking at spanking and to break the homogeneity (even, “hegemony”) of porn’s worldview. Like I noted at the top of the post – this is a mega plug, go and look, and (if you like spanking porn and social justice, and can afford it) buy membership to her site.