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Confessions of a Frigid Man
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Men Who Avert Their Eyes from “Male Frigidity”
Section 1: What is “Male Frigidity”?
1 My Experience of Pornography
In what follows I will conduct a methodical search for the secrets of “lolicon” and “uniform” fetishes, but before beginning this inquiry in this chapter, I will consider men’s sexual sensations. It may seem an over-serious and slightly somber discussion, but I ask the reader to bear with me because I do not think it is possible to talk about male sexuality without addressing this subject.
At a symposium held by the Japan Women’s Studies Association in 2002. I gave a presentation on pornography and “frigidity” from a male perspective. As I was speaking before renowned feminists, I was quite nervous. I asked the audience to refrain from recording my presentation because I intended to speak at length about my own experiences. Instead of a recording, I published the content of my talk in the journal Women’s Studies Vol.10 (2003). In this chapter I have revised the content of this lecture and attempted to present it in a more accessible form.
The theme of the symposium was “men and pornography.” I decided to speak based on my own experience of pornography because there is great diversity within male sexuality and it is therefore impossible to say “this is how it is when it comes to men.” At this point, all I can say is “this is how it is in my case.” This is also why I have decided to write this book using the subject “I” (in what follows I write from a heterosexual perspective, but this is only because I myself am attracted to women. I do not in any way mean to disregard homosexuality).
When it comes to pornography, I can state that what I prefer are the sorts of photographs and videos that are extremely common; what I want to look at is the sort of pornography that is normally sold. As a result, even if I am only speaking of my own experiences, what I have to say may presumably also apply to the majority of men who share my preferences.
So under what sorts of circumstances do men look at pornography? Taking myself as an example, to begin with, there are times when for some reason I start to feel like viewing pornography. Regarding what happens when I view pornography, while there are times when looking is enough and I then go out for dinner or do something else, there are also times when I masturbate while viewing. Masturbation often ends in ejaculation. Of course, there are also times when I view pornography with the clear aim of ejaculating.
2 Afterwards there is a feeling of having been left alone
Here let us consider the question of what men do with pornography after they have ejaculated. After they have masturbated and ejaculated, what do they do with the photographs or videos they have been viewing? Looking at my own case, there is only one answer. Once I have ejaculated, it is inconceivable that I would continue to look at the pornography I had been viewing. After ejaculation, I quickly close the magazine or book of photographs I have been looking at, or stop the video I have been watching. I want to get the pornography I have been viewing out of my sight as quickly as possible. After ejaculation, it is transformed into something I do not want to see again, at least not until some time has passed. I often have an urge to go outside and get some fresh air in order to change my mood. Why do I feel this way? In order to understand what is happening, we must first understand the “experience of alienation (a sense of being expelled from a place of comfort and left completely alone).
There is a myth that ejaculation is extremely pleasurable and allows men to experience supreme bliss. There are many people who think that ejaculation gives men a feeling of supreme ecstasy; women, in particular, may be likely to believe this. But there is a dangerous trap here.
Based on my own experience, the idea that ejaculation produces a sensation of supreme bliss seems preposterous. Ejaculation brings only the pleasure of expelling a liquid; the sensation might be described as “feeling refreshed now that everything has come out.” Here I would like you to consider for yourself whether there are any men who are “moved to tears” by ejaculation, who find themselves “unable to stand,” whose “mind goes completely blank,” or who are so stricken with pleasure that they find themselves “unable to speak properly,” and, if some men do indeed experience these states during sex, whether they are really caused by ejaculation.
While there are of course differences between individuals, it seems that there are at least some women who experience the kind of extreme pleasure described above. I, however, have never experienced such pleasure during ejaculation. If I reflect on the moment of ejaculation, I note that I continue to be aware of my surroundings. Ejaculation is experienced as a twitching convulsion in my genitals, during which I remain able to support myself using my muscles and maintain a state of clear awareness of everything going on around me like a soldier holding a gun. After ejaculation my excitement rapidly dissipates. The sexual excitement I had been feeling disappears, leaving only a sense of indescribable emptiness.
Immediately after ejaculation, a steady sense of balance and full mobility return. I am immediately able to get up and find my underwear or go to the toilet without any difficulty. I am not even given enough time to feel the “lingering aftertaste of sex” throughout my whole body because as soon as I ejaculate my feeling of sexual pleasure is extinguished. If I am to be completely honest, then based on my own experience, I can only conclude that this is how my male body is made.
3 “Ejaculation is an act of excretion”
It has already been pointed out many times that men do not feel all that much pleasure during ejaculation. Author Yang Sok-il, for example, has asserted that “ejaculation is an act of excretion.” He writes, “Men’s sexual desire is similar to a desire to urinate when one’s bladder is full. It therefore follows that just as you feel relieved after urinating, after ejaculating a man’s sexual desire is for the time being suppressed” (Men’s Nature[Otoko no Saga], Gentōsha Autorō Bunko, 1999, p.86, p.180, originally published in 1992).
Psychologist Wilhelm Reich writes that for men without the ability to feel [sexual pleasure] “the sexual act is nothing but an evacuation, followed by a reaction of disgust.” (The Function of the Orgasm, Souvenir Press, 1973, p.164, originally published in 1948).
Columnist Michael Ventura writes that “ejaculation is a muscle spasm that many men often feel with virtually no sensation but the twitch of a spasm” and “many ejaculations for many men happen without any sensation of coming.” (Michael Ventura “Coming” in Keith Thompson (ed.), To Be a Man, Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1991, p.124).
Jun’ichi Watanabe writes the following about the feeling after ejaculation: “The instant a man ejaculates everything is over . . . in other words, if a man experiences strong pleasure while ejaculating, afterwards all that remains is a feeling of emptiness that can only be described as making one think of death” (The Nature of Men, p.152).
Examining my own experience, I find that when I am sexually excited I think that ejaculation will transport me to a world of great pleasure, but after I actually ejaculate, this promise is always betrayed and I feel as though I have been left alone in the middle of a barren desert. In Life Studies Approaches to Bioethics (Seimeigaku ni Naniga Dekiruka?, Keisō Shobō, 2001). I refer to this experience of alienation as “male frigidity.”
This is how I experience ejaculation. Of course, there can be pleasure that causes me to forget myself, but it occurs before ejaculation – it is only something I experience on an emotional level during sex.
4 What lies at the core of “male frigidity”
I use the term “male frigidity” to refer to two phenomena. One is ejaculation not being accompanied by any great feeling of pleasure; for “frigid” men, there is only the brief pleasure of excretion. The second is a rapid loss of excitement after ejaculation accompanied by a sensation of collapse throughout the entire body and a desolate feeling of emptiness. In my case the second problem is the more serious. I say this because while by prolonging the process before ejaculation I can experience sexual excitement for quite a long time and by using special techniques I have been able to slightly increase the pleasure I feel when ejaculating, no amount of effort has allowed me to reduce the sudden loss of arousal and feeling of emptiness that immediately follows ejaculation. Watanabe’s phrase “a feeling of emptiness that makes one think of death” is apt. Ejaculation always resulting in this feeling of despair is what lies at the core of “male frigidity.”
I do not know what percentage of men suffer from “male frigidity.” All I can be certain of is that I do. I refer to this condition as “male frigidity” because I am sure that if I were a woman and told a doctor of my symptoms, I would be diagnosed with “female sexual arousal disorder,” i.e., “frigidity.”
So what is ejaculation like for men who do not suffer from male frigidity? If ejaculation is more than a “pleasurable excretion,” and if following ejaculation a man’s entire body is filled with a feeling of blissful fulfillment that lingers for a considerable period of time, and if he never experiences a feeling of emptiness, then I would say he is not “frigid.” But this is not how ejaculation is for me.
5 A repeating cycle of a feeling of potency => pleasure => a feeling of failure
The following can be said regarding the relationship between “erection” and “ejaculation.”
To begin with, when I have an “erection” my entire body is suffused with a sense of potency. I am filled with an urge to insert my penis into a woman’s body. At this time I feel almost no sense of self-negation or self-rejection. There may even be a sense of triumphant pride in being a man.
But my “erection” is ended by “ejaculation.” There is then the momentary pleasure of excretion followed by an inescapable feeling of emptiness.
In other words, the process leading from “erection” to “ejaculation” begins with an “I’m good enough” sense of potency, passes through a brief feeling of pleasure during ejaculation, and then abruptly inverts itself and plunges into feelings of collapse, emptiness and failure. This precipitous fall awaits me whenever I engage in sex or masturbation. After ejaculating, I feel a desire to turn away from anything related to sex for a while, but as time passes, my sexual appetite begins to return and I begin the cycle once again. Repeating this feeling of descent into despondency over and over again throughout one’s life is the defining symptom of “male frigidity.” Of course, there are times when I feel wholeheartedly that having had sex was a good thing. But this is an emotional sense of satisfaction or happiness that I was able to have sex with a woman I love. It is in no way a feeling of bliss brought on by ejaculation.
As it is unpleasant to look directly at this feeling of collapse, I tend to focus instead on the activities that lead up to ejaculation. Men depicted in pornographic videos slip out of the frame as soon as they have ejaculated, or in some cases, the video itself ends. Pornography cannot succeed unless it banishes what happens after ejaculation from our thoughts.
When I have sex with a woman I love, my feelings of affection for her can emotionally compensate for the feeling of emptiness that follows ejaculation. In such cases, I am left with the sense that the sex was good. But this is only because I have been able to use my emotions to divert my consciousness from the physical sensation of collapse. I have this feeling of falling inward even when the sex itself has been emotionally satisfying.
6 Men who avert their eyes from “male frigidity”
In psychiatry, the term “male orgasmic disorder” (DSM-IV:302.74) is used to describe a condition in which a man cannot ejaculate or requires an inordinate amount of time to ejaculate when having sex normally, but the “male frigidity” I am describing does not fall within this definition.
When it comes to men’s sexual health, attention is given to three major problems: erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and delayed ejaculation. The focus is on whether or not a man can get an erection and whether or not he can ejaculate with desirable timing. In comparison, the question of whether or not he feels pleasure while ejaculating is seen as a minor issue.
Evidence for this can be seen in the fact that one of the standard textbooks in the field of sex therapy, Helen Singer Kaplan’s The New Sex Therapy (1974), restricts male sexual difficulties to these three conditions. “Male frigidity” is not mentioned.
In the clinical world, the biggest problem for men is thought to be erectile dysfunction while the biggest problem for women is thought to be female sexual arousal disorder or “frigidity.” I believe that “male frigidity” is just as big an issue as “female frigidity,” but very few experts share this view. In the JapaneseEncyclopedia of Psychotherapy [Shinririnshōdaijiten revised ed. Baifūkan, 2004], for example, the entry for “frigidity” reads as follows: “Frigidity is a female sexual disorder characterized by an absence or extreme weakness of sexual feeling and inability to achieve orgasm.” This is followed by a more detailed description of this disorder, but nothing is said about it occurring in men. In most cases, the term “frigidity” is used synonymously with “female frigidity” and is employed to describe an illness for which treatment is required.
There is some kind of mechanism at work here.
While the idea that “ejaculation is more or less just like urinating” is talked about quietly here and there, social strictures seem to have been engineered such that we must never say things like “if ejaculation is no more pleasurable than peeing, is this not a sign of frigidity?” in front of other people. To assert this publicly is akin to saying “the emperor has no clothes”; such a thing is out of the question in a society in which men are placed in a position of superiority.
To get a proper erection in front of a woman and to give her sexual pleasure: these are the trials a man must pass. Things are arranged so that men are made to feel self-respect and self-affirmation by being able to do these things well. No matter how empty a man feels after ejaculation, his mind is so occupied with whether he performed well as a man and whether he gave the woman pleasure during sex that he is incapable of delving deeply into subjects like “male frigidity.” In this way, the problem of “male frigidity” is banished from a man’s consciousness before he is aware of it.
Furthermore, the phrase “male frigidity” indicates that regarding sexual pleasure it is men and not women who are to be the object of treatment. Even if becoming the object of treatment is not necessarily implied, this phrase indicates at very least that it is in a man’s sexual pleasure that the fundamental problem lies. For a male dominated society, this is an uncomfortable way of thinking. Such a society will presumably ignore “male frigidity” as much as possible.
Returning to what I said earlier, I think that deep within the minds of “frigid men” there is a “feeling of defeat.” They “feel defeated” because no matter what they do, they can never experience the kind of pleasure felt by women. In one of her books, Chikako Ogura correctly asserts that men experience feelings of awe and fright in the face of women whose sexual response is full and powerful, think that “women’s sexual pleasure is several times stronger than men’s – men are just tools,” and as a result harbor unease and anxiety (Myths about Sex Dismantled[Sekkusu Shinwa Kaitai Shinsho], Chikuma Bunko, 1995, pp.70-71, originally published in 1988).
In men’s minds there is the fantasy that “women feel extraordinary pleasure during sex.” This idea arises because in films and pornographic videos women are depicted having multiple orgasms and experiencing intense pleasure. Men will presumably compare their own ejaculation to what women are shown to be experiencing in these scenes. Various surveys have shown, however, that quite a large number of women do not experience a clear orgasm during sex. (According to a report published by Shere Hite, only 26% of women are always able to reach orgasm during sex. Orgasm itself also differs among individuals). Nevertheless, women in pornographic videos are always writhing in pleasure. As long as men continue to watch these sorts of videos, this fantasy regarding female pleasure will never be removed from the back of their minds. Sex between “frigid” men and women might thus be an activity in which each thinks “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence” without ever saying so.
7 Men’s rules for talking about sex
I suspect that quite a large number of men are vaguely aware that their bodies are “frigid.” You can easily come to this conclusion by listening to how men talk about sex. The rules for discussing their sexual experiences hold that while they may talk proudly about how hot the girl was at the “soapland” [a kind of brothel] they visited yesterday, for example, and how tight she was, they will say almost nothing about how heavenly it felt when they ejaculated. While they talk in detail about how a woman’s body responded, they do not speak about their own wonderful experiences of ejaculation. The same can more or less be said of the “fūzoku” [sex trade] reports found in men’s magazines and tabloids. Their authors hold forth at great length on the details of a sex worker’s body and sexual technique with a grandiloquence that suggests they have something to hide. Almost nothing is said about the actual sensations that the man who is telling the story experienced during ejaculation.
There is much talk of “so and so is great in bed” and “her such and such technique is amazing,” but these sorts of phrases begin to sound like invocations meant to ward off an evil spirit. The evil spirit that must be kept at bay here is “male frigidity.” Kazunori Taniguchi writes the following about how he felt after paying for sex: “I was hurting myself. Ejaculation was nothing more than an excretion . . . . I was nauseated by my own existence” (Men Who Buy Sex[Sei wo Kau Otoko], Pandora, 1997, p.25). This is a truly frank confession. I do not have any personal experience of paying for intercourse or other sexual services, but I can easily imagine what Taniguchi is trying to express.
I understand “male frigidity” very well because it is something I have experienced myself. There are probably many men who, having read this far, would say that they themselves are not “frigid.” Of course, I do not believe that every man is “frigid.” What I want to suggest is that until now there has been far too little discussion of “male frigidity.”
Some may object to what I have been saying on the grounds that men’s and women’s bodies are put together differently and as such it is strange to compare them in a straightforward manner; it is silly to say that men are frigid because they do not experience pleasure the way women do. This may be the case, but my sense of emptiness after ejaculation and feeling of “coming down” as my excitement rapidly dissipates cause real suffering. Since the man in question himself complains of mental or physical suffering, should what he is experiencing not indeed be seen as a “medical condition” in a wide sense of the term? (To say that it is a medical condition, however, does not necessarily imply that it should be treated – I will return to this issue in Chapter 5).
I think it would be interesting to see what would happen if men talked frankly and shared their thoughts on how they feel during and after ejaculation and how these feelings affect their sexuality. The scales would presumably fall from their eyes and they would come to understand the diversity of male sexuality. In any case, I set out to write this book based on my own experiences. Even when I do speak about men in general, I have tried to avoid saying “this is how men are” whenever possible. It has been my intention to write with the utmost respect for men whose sexual sensitivity differs from mine.
8 Kinsey was aware of “male frigidity”
There is an academic field, “sexology,” in which scientific research into male and female sexuality is conducted. So how have men’s sensations during sex been viewed within this field up until now? Here, things may get a bit technical, but as this is a very important point, I think close consideration is warranted.
Alfred Kinsey published Sexual Behavior of the Human Male in 1948 after conducting a statistical survey. This remains the largest study on sex ever conducted. Kinsey used the technical term “orgasm” to describe the climax of sexual arousal. Orgasm involves sexual excitement reaching its peak, muscular convulsions, and a rapid decline in arousal. And since in the case of males this sexual response occurs at the time of ejaculation, Kinsey held that “ejaculation = orgasm.”
Kinsey did note that the physical orgasm and the pleasure caused by an orgasm should not be equated. He also stated that there are different levels of sexual satisfaction, including cases in which ejaculation brings almost no pleasure. Kinsey was aware of one aspect of “male frigidity.” What is surprising is that immediately following his acknowledgment of this phenomenon Kinsey writes as follows:
With this declaration, Kinsey, the father of modern sexology, established the “ejaculation”=“orgasm”= “sexual climax” formula. The problem of “male frigidity,” that is to say, the possibility that the whole process of ejaculation may not be all that pleasurable, then disappeared from the central discussion in the field of sexology. This initial misstep has had far-reaching implications.
9 Influence of the “ejaculation = orgasm” formula
William Masters and Virginia Johnson conducted scientific observations of men and women actually having sex and published their findings in a book entitled Human Sexual Response in 1966. This text has come to be viewed as the “bible” of sexology. In Chapter Fourteen the authors discuss the psychological state of men during ejaculation, but what is addressed is the sensation experienced when seminal fluid is expelled and the relationship between intensity of pleasure and volume of ejaculate. No mention is made of a feeling of emptiness following ejaculation. (William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson, Human Sexual Response. Little Brown and Company, 1966, pp.214-217).
In 1981, Shere Hite administered a detailed survey on male sexuality to more than seven thousand American men and published the results in The Hite Report on Male Sexuality (Knopf, 1981). This is the most detailed set of self-reported data on male sexuality currently available. Hite, however, employed Kinsey’s formula without alteration, and asked men about their experiences with the assumption that “ejaculation = orgasm.” As a result of this mistake, she failed to elicit men’s thoughts on “male frigidity.” Not only does her study come up short in this regard, but it also concludes without obtaining clear answers concerning what exactly men feel during orgasm and how these sensations differ from what is experienced by women.
So what about the field of sex therapy? The magnitude of Kinsey’s influence can also be seen in Helen Singer Kaplan’s The New Sex Therapy (Brunner/Mazel, 1974).
A later text published in 1992, Bernie Zilbergeld’s The New Male Sexuality,contains the following passage:
Zilbergeld thus corrects Kinsey’s thesis, reaffirming that there are some men who do not experience much pleasure during ejaculation. Regarding what men feel after ejaculating, however, he writes only that they “experience lassitude and deep relaxation” (p.96). This is the only mention of how men feel after ejaculation in this five hundred and eighty page explication of male sexuality. The paucity of discussion of this topic is singular. “Male frigidity” remains completely unexplored.
Section 2: Analyzing the “Sensation of Something Piling Up”
10 Where does the feeling that “something is piling up” come from?
Men describe ejaculation as “release [nuku].” I do not know who first came up with this expression but I think it is very apt. Using the image of the air being energetically “released” from a tautly inflated balloon to describe ejaculation is not far off the mark.
Here we should note that “release” requires something to have been “pent up” to begin with. Feeling that “I really want to ejaculate” is close to the sensation of needing to “release” something that is building up within one’s body. So what exactly is it that is “pent up” inside us? The normal response would be that it is sperm or seminal fluid that is piling up: if nothing is done, these fluids build up inside us, so we must expel them from our bodies on a regular basis. Tai Hikosaka expresses this as follows: “You have to release materials that pile up inside you. If you hold them in too long, they become poisonous for your body. Let them come spurting out! Unlike women, men cannot endure abstinence. This should be obvious, since our bodies are constructed differently.” (Myths of Masculinity [Dansei shinwa], Komichi Shobō, 1991, p. 157). But from a scientific point of view, it is incorrect to say that sperm “piles up” if it is not released; unused sperm are naturally broken down and absorbed by the body.
But this does not explain the feeling, the irritating sensation, that something is piling up. I think this “piling up” sensation has both physiological and mental causes. As a physiological cause, it is speculated that there are changes in the levels of sex hormones and other physiological materials in the blood. I am told that heavy smokers have unbearable urges to smoke when the level of nicotine in their blood drops. Materials carried in our blood can affect our thoughts and feelings. When it comes to sexual desire, the involvement of androgen is suspected. Stimulation caused by seminal fluid within the prostate might also be involved.
So what about mental causes? Let me reflect on what happens in my own case. In what sort of circumstances do I get the urge to masturbate? To begin with, I often get this urge after being stimulated by an erotic movie or manga. This is an extremely straightforward reaction. But this is not all.
11 A sense of “unease” and a feeling of “wanting to harm”
Upon careful reflection, it seems that I sometimes masturbate when I have a sense of “unease” or “anxiety.” I think erotic thoughts and masturbate when, for any number of reasons, I feel a sense of unease that will not go away even if I listen to my favorite music or eat delicious food. I also do this when I feel like there is “no way out” of problems I am facing at work or in my personal life. It may be that I masturbate when there is a problem I need to deal with but I feel crushed by my inability to do anything about it and the feeling of powerlessness this creates. In such situations I want to take my mind off the problem in front of me. Using the sexual organs easily at hand to accomplish this seems reasonable.
Another situation that comes to mind is when I have a feeling of “wanting to harm.” When I am on edge and feel a desire to abuse or hurt someone, I feel like this gets bound up with sexual desire.
Upon reflection, however, I note that whenever I masturbate because I am anxious or feel that there is “no way out,” or because I have an “urge to harm,” all this leads to is the feeling of desolate emptiness that follows ejaculation, an inevitably depressing outcome. This is “male frigidity” at its worst.
12 Why “release”?
Thinking about it in this way, in my own case at least, it is not as though I masturbate because I like it so much I cannot resist. I don’t particularly want to do it, but since things have “piled up,” they “must be released.” I masturbate and “release” this pressure because if I do not do something about what piles up inside me, I become frustrated and irritable, lose my ability to concentrate, have the urge to break things, and cannot contain myself. Of course, there are also times when I masturbate because I want to feel the excitement and elation of having an erection, but even in such cases there is indeed a feeling within me that I am doing it out of necessity.
When I say this, it may seem as though I am claiming that “male sexuality is determined from birth.” Feminists have warned against the view, which they call “essentialism,” that “the feelings and behavior that accompany sexuality are determined biologically from birth,” because it inevitably leads to a defiant posture of “men are born this way so there is nothing we can do about it.”
This is a very important point regarding everything discussed in this book, so I want to explain my thoughts on it quite clearly. I think male sexuality includes both elements determined biologically from birth and elements learned later in life. When it comes to the feeling of emptiness after ejaculation, I think innate, biologically determined elements play a very large role. The actual sexual behavior of men, on the other hand, seems to be largely influenced by what the individual learns growing up (this is indicated by research on feral children).
It may be impossible to cure “male frigidity,” but the sexual behavior of men can and must be changed. This is what I want to express throughout this book. When I write about “lolicon” and pornography, I do not see these as rooted deeply in the minds and bodies of men and thus impossible to change. I think it should be possible for men to shift their sexual behavior in a different direction by carefully analyzing what has been etched into their own minds and bodies.
Section 3: What is Pornography to Men?
13 When watching pornography makes a man “want to do it”
Next I would like to take a look at how “male frigidity” affects the way men enjoy pornography.
Even without watching pornography, it is possible for men to masturbate just by imagining erotic scenes on our own. There are times, however, when we want to do it while watching pornography. In what sort of circumstances does this urge arise?
To begin with, when a man cannot be with the woman he is seeing, he sometimes satisfies himself by projecting her image onto the women who appear in pornography.
There are also cases when a man is not in any sort of sexual relationship and must instead make do by having virtual sex with adult video actresses.
In other cases, men view pornography, even though they are married or have a partner, often doing so on the sly without their wife or partner knowing. They do this in order to satisfy their desire to have sex with a different type of woman than the one they are with. They may also look at women in pornography in order to fantasize about having sex with the kind of young, beautiful women they do not normally encounter.
These are uses of pornography that any man can understand.
There are also other, hidden motivations behind male masturbation using pornography. Let us look at a few of them.
First, it can satisfy an “urge to hurt women.” In the previous section, I mentioned a desire to “hurt someone” as one reason to masturbate.Pornography can also be used as a means of satisfying this desire to abuse or hurt someone.
In pornography, women are fundamentally portrayed as slaves to men’s sexual desire. They must do whatever men tell them, and even if they temporarily resist, they are eventually made to obey men through violence or sexual technique. A great deal of pornography has been produced in which a man forces a woman who resists him to do his bidding. While making the woman do as he says, in the end he forces her to experience sexual pleasure, and, saying things like “this is what you wanted all along,” shifts all blame in her direction. In this way men escape any feelings of guilt. They can even delude themselves into thinking that the woman has unconditionally surrendered because of their power as men.
Feminists have pointed out that misogyny and a desire to subjugate women lie at the root of this kind of pornography. I think this is correct. So where do these feelings come from?
14 The misogyny of “frigid men”
“Male frigidity” is, I suspect, one of the causes of this hatred of women. I say this because every time he ejaculates, a “frigid man” is confronted by the awareness of his own lack of ecstatic pleasure, and if he compares himself to a woman, he may start to wonder why only women can feel such ecstasy. An anger that women are allowed to feel such profound pleasure when men can only feel a relief similar to that of urination may begin to arise within him. He cannot abide the existence of “women who feel pleasure.”
In this way, “men who can’t feel pleasure” begin to carry a resentment of women deep within themselves. This gives rise to feelings of “misogyny.”When it comes to “misogyny,” many possible causes have already been suggested, including resentment of mothers who dominated the man in question when he was an infant and of women in society who are more successful than he is, and to these I would like to add “male frigidity” as another reason men may come to resent women.
Men in the grip of this “misogyny” want to get some kind of revenge against “women who feel pleasure.” This is also one reason they watch pornography. By watching pornography in which a man dominates a reluctant woman, forces her to do whatever he wants, and gains control over her sexual pleasure, a man can enjoy an illusion of superiority. Men seek to dominate women to exact revenge for the pleasure only women can feel.
A similar psychological mechanism can be seen in rapists. Rape is an act in which violence against women takes a sexual form. It has been said that in some cases rape is committed in order to take revenge on women, and I think one motivation for this may be a desire to exact retribution on “women who feel pleasure.” And this retribution is directed towards the organ that provides this pleasure, the female genitals.
When a high school girl was killed and buried in concrete in Tokyo in 1988–89, it was discovered that the men who raped her, in addition to brutally punching and kicking her, inflicted multiple acts of unimaginable violence on her genitals. In cases of rape and murder during war, too, there have been many reports of this kind of violence, including objects being shoved into the genitals of the women who have been killed. Rather than “hatred of women,” in these cases is it not perhaps more accurate to speak of “hatred of the organ that gives women pleasure”? This is retribution against the organ that allows women to feel pleasure. I firmly believe there is a deep connection between violence directed towards female genitals and “male frigidity.” This is how deeply rooted a phenomenon “male frigidity” can be. (There are many texts that address battlefield rape, including Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape, Simon and Schuster, 1975, and Tai Hikosaka’s Myths of Masculinity [Dansei Shinwa], Komichi Shobō, 1991. Satoshi Sugita’s The Politics of Rape [Reipu no Seijigaku], Akashi Shoten, 2003, is essential reading on men who commit rape).
15 Watching pornography as an act of “self-harm”
A second motivation for masturbation using pornography is that it satisfies a desire to “harm oneself.” This can be dubbed “pornography as self-harm.” It is possible to steal a moment of pleasure and relief by hurting oneself.
Many times while watching pornography I have thought to myself, “Perhaps I am taking pleasure in harming myself by watching this.” The type of scene that gives rise to these sorts of thoughts is one in which a woman who at first resists is aggressively pursued and ends up writhing in pleasure. This is perhaps the most common scenario found in pornographic videos, but as I watch it unfold, I am beset by a feeling of masochistic pleasure as if I were somehow hurting myself repeatedly and mercilessly.
A careful analysis shows that this masochistic pleasure comes in two forms.
One is the pleasure of watching something you cherish being smashed into pieces. This is a psychological mechanism I suspect readers will find easy to understand. Take, for example, a beautiful girl in a high school uniform. Even though we want to keep her just as she is, pretty and innocent, in pornography there are often scenes in which such girls have their uniforms torn off and are mercilessly raped. When I watch such scenes, I feel the masochistic pleasure and excitement of seeing the girl in a uniform I wanted so badly to protect being brutally destroyed.
In order for this pleasure to be maximized, the girl should be depicted as being exquisitely delicate and beautiful at the start. Once viewers have been made to empathize with a vulnerable and beautiful girl, they will then feel a much stronger sense of masochism when she is brutally raped. The use of scenes like those normally found in “idol videos” [non-pornographic videos featuring teen “idols”] at the beginning of pornographic videos is presumably an attempt to achieve this effect: “To think that such an innocent girl could end up like this!” This is often described as the pleasure of defiling what is sacred; Georges Bataille, for example, goes as far as to assert that “taboos exist only to be broken” (Georges Bataille, Eroticism, Japanese translation, Chikuma Gakugei Bunko, 2004, p.103. Originally published in 1957).
16 Men who wallow in the masochistic pleasure of watching “women who can experience ecstasy”
The second form of masochistic pleasure is completely different. When I watch pornography that follows the “golden pattern” in which a woman resists at first but ends up writhing in ecstasy, I feel an unmistakably masochistic pleasure at the sight of a woman experiencing such bliss. This is something that is not normally remarked upon so I would like to examine it in some detail.
With this idea in mind, reflecting on the pornography I have seen I am struck by the fact that there are many scenes in which the man relentlessly asks the woman who is being raped, “This actually makes you feel good, doesn’t it?” He will not stop asking her this until she admits to feeling pleasure; it is like a kind of ritual.
This ritual can of course be interpreted as a way of confirming that the man “controls” the pleasure of the woman. I think this is indeed correct. The man may also feel pleasure by projecting himself onto the woman who is experiencing ecstasy. There seem to be some men who manipulate their own awareness in this way. In addition, however, we must also take note of another hidden psychological mechanism that underlies this ritual.
This can best be described as the man watching the woman’s ecstasy and needling himself over and over again with the thought that he himself cannot feel this kind of pleasure, or in other words, with the thought that he is a “frigid man.” Since for a man to force an unwilling woman to feel pleasure means facing the fact that he himself cannot do so, the effect is therefore that of a man tormenting himself. So why do “frigid men” nevertheless pay money for pornography? There is only one answer: because they want to experience the masochistic pleasure of torturing themselves. I think this kind of psychological mechanism lies deep within the minds of “frigid men,” even if they are not aware of it.
This is a form of self-harm: “I want to see a woman feel more and more pleasure, and I want to hurt my frigid self more and more by watching her.” By watching pornography, a man burns the image of a woman feeling pleasure into the back of his mind, and in doing so goes on hurting himself by driving home again and again the fact that he is a “loser” who cannot feel this kind of ecstasy himself.
When a deep psychological wound has been suffered, further injuring oneself in the same spot can bring intense pleasure. Women who have unwillingly accepted violent treatment at the hands of their husbands sometimes confess this kind of masochistic pleasure, and it is true that there is a pleasurable melting sensation that can be felt by wallowing in self-pity. Women who engage in “cutting” (making small cuts on their wrists) experience a sense of relief when they cut themselves. Once someone has experienced the pleasure of masochistic acts or self-harm, it is a very difficult practice from which to escape.
It is my hypothesis that this kind of mechanism is also present in pornography. In nearly all pornographic videos, it is arranged so that in the end the woman feels pleasure.
The more pleasure the woman feels the more masochistic pleasure the men watching her enjoy. This hypothesis that there is “enjoyment of pornography as a form of self-harm” does not seem likely to find immediate acceptance. But this is the significance of pornography when viewed from the perspective of “male frigidity.”
17 What is the idea at the root of pornography?
Thinking about pornography in this way, its essential elements seem to be “a woman being harmed” and “a man harming himself by watching.” It is because of this essential idea of “causing harm to human beings” that pornography has not developed as a healthy form of popular entertainment. Pornography is rooted in the darker side of the human psyche, the desire to feel pleasure by causing harm. The desire to cause someone harm is an evil that lies, to a greater or lesser extent, within everyone, man and woman alike. Pornography is a flower that grows out of this malevolent soil. When I presented this idea at a symposium, one of the female participants commented that if pornography has established a foothold at such a deep level of the male psyche, it will be extremely difficult to get rid of it. I think this is indeed the case.
But there will presumably also be those who argue that pornography is not such a dark or evil thing. They will say that there are also pornographic videos in which people happily enjoy mutually pleasant sex and erotic novels and movies that couples can enjoy together. These forms of entertainment are sometimes also referred to as “erotica.” (Examples of this genre include Michele Slung (ed.), Fever: Sensual Stories by Women Writers, HarperCollins, 1994, and Lonnie Barbach (ed.), Pleasures: Women Write Erotica, Doubleday, 1984).
If we look at the vast amount of adult magazines, videos, and Internet sites, however, we cannot help but conclude that a large majority of such materials treat women as toys of men’s sexuality and are created to satisfy the selfish desires and fantasies of men. I became keenly aware of this as I conducted research in the course of writing this book. Susan Brownmiller writes that “like rape, [pornography] is a male invention, designed to dehumanize women, to reduce the female to an object of sexual access” (Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape, p.392), and I think this is indeed accurate. Within the mountains of pornographic materials that have been produced, those that depict men and women having mutually pleasurable, equitable sex are no more than a handful, and it is impossible to form an accurate image of the whole by putting just this tiny segment under a microscope.
Before proceeding any further, there is something that must be noted: the level of coercion, reluctant participation, pregnancy, and STD infection in the places where these photos and videos are actually produced has been estimated to be much higher than we normally assume. Presumably this kind of harm is not easily brought into the open because society is largely indifferent to the welfare of women who appear in pornography. There is also a good chance that these productions are funded by organized crime, and there are deep connections to prostitution. Before talking about whether pornography should be regulated, we need a system to protect women working in this industry from coercion and mistreatment. Presumably most men who watch pornography do not want these women to actually have their human rights violated. To begin with, we need some means of ensuring such violations do not occur. We must then think about what is to be done within our society about the desire to watch depictions of people being sexually tormented, molested, harmed or made to cry. These desires can be found in women as well as in men. It is something that needs to be addressed by both sexes.
In this chapter, my priority has been the elucidation of “male frigidity,” and I have not attempted to address whether pornography itself is good or bad. As some readers may be left with the impression that I have no problem with the content of pornography as it currently exists, I would like to state explicitly that this is not the case. It is true that I myself have used pornography, but this is in no way something I can endorse. I think the circumstances surrounding pornography must be changed. I hope to eventually consider this issue in greater detail.
“Male frigidity” is not simply an “orgasm disorder” of the genitals of the sort addressed within the fields of psychiatry and sex therapy. The scope of this condition extends far beyond the physical genitals themselves, shaping how men think and behave regarding sex, influencing their relationships with women, and deeply affecting their relationships with other people in general.
As I have stated, “frigid” men seek revenge against women who are capable of feeling pleasure and attempt to attain a position of superiority over them. But this is not all. “Frigid men” reject their own bodies to such a great extent that in some cases they even try to escape from them. In the following chapters I will carefully examine some of the secrets of these men that have until now avoided direct scrutiny.
(End of Chapter 2)