How We Porn

How We Porn

This thread on Aborigen‘s Twitter conflates a number of issues that have been concerning me off and on ever since I started writing size smut for publication.  I’m going to lay out my current thinking on these and related topics, and as always, I am speaking only for myself, and I invite comments, questions, rebuttals, and other opinions in the replies.

The most immediate concern is that of objectification, which is not of course restricted to size smut (although there is a size-related pitfall, more on this later).  The reason why objectification is, well, objectionable is that it treats the object of desire as just that, an object rather than a whole person with a history, desires, and agency of their own.  This does not mean—as I believed in my misspent youth—that attraction to someone’s appearance is inherently objectifying or degrading.

A related phenomenon is fetishization, an intense attraction to or obsession with a specific characteristic or activity that assumes a greater importance than respecting the person possessing that characteristic or engaging in that activity.  Indulging a fetish is to constantly risk losing sight of everything and everyone else.  Being on the receiving end of fetishistic attention is a hollow experience at best.

These are examples of harmful conduct between real people in real life.  Is art that invokes such conduct involving fictional people also harmful?  Does porn have a greater or lesser responsibility than art to minimize harm?

I consume and occasionally create size smut that sometimes features humiliation, cruelty, rape, slavery, and murder.  The people who responded to Aborigen’s tweet did a thorough job of making the point—which, frankly, cannot be repeated enough—that this is fantasy and fantasy must be allowed to go wherever our minds need it to go.

This does not, however, totally absolve creators from the consequences of how others interact with their art, and this is probably a more pressing concern when it comes to porn.  The difference between being a pornographer and, say, a subway flasher is awareness of and respect for one’s audience.  Art is communication, and when done well the artist has an audience and a message in mind.

Everyone as a right to curate their own experiences, and responsible artists and pornographers should label their content accordingly.  “Shock” art and porn has its place, but the creators have to own the consequences, which are often unforeseeable.  Freedom of expression means no criminal penalties for art, but no one is entitled to attention (or a job).

Even when we diligently label our content and guard against its exposure to minors, people often respond unpredictably to art.  If you publish content that focuses on, say, tiny people being crushed beneath giant asses, viewers will draw their own conclusions about you and your message.  Size fantasy is a tiny niche genre, but even among ourselves people are operating from wildly varying premises, let alone what the normies bring (and don’t bring) to our art.  Creators cannot assume 100% responsibility for how their work is interpreted, but neither are they 0% responsible.  Take care what you put into the world.

To take a personal example, some of my stories feature tiny women being eaten alive by men.  In addition to the more general concern of living in our patriarchal society and finding gratification in men preying (often murderously so) upon women, there was the case of Gilberto Valle in New York who was convicted in part because of the cannibalism fantasies that he shared online.  I suspect almost no one in size fantasy circles would read one of my vore stories and conclude that I am a cannibal or a misogynist, nor am I worried that someone might be inspired by my stories to invent a shrink ray and start swallowing women whole, but I can never completely control how people will react to these scenarios.  Is the simple entertainment of myself and a handful (heh) of readers worth the risk that someone somewhere might read one of my stories and draw support for the notion that women are just prey for men?

I don’t know how satisfactorily that question can be answered, but it’s the reason why I write this stuff pseudonymously.

Representation and Fetishization

Aborigen wasn’t talking about racial fetishes in the tweet that proximally prompted this post, but he has tackled the issues of representation, authenticity, and cultural appropriation more than once.  These issues affect all media, but they get less attention in porn because the stigma lowers our expectations of each other.

In general, it seems much less harmful to fetishize something that doesn’t exist, like giant or tiny size, than something that does exist, like race or body types.  At the same time, it seems incomplete not to give your characters or a physical description.  I’ve gone around and around on this question, and I still haven’t settled on a satisfactory answer.

My initial tack was to avoid these descriptors wherever possible.  I was interested in focusing on the characters’ relative sizes and the interactions that flowed from that.  Any personal preference of mine for specific physical characteristics would just interfere with others’ appreciation of the story.  Occasionally I cheated by using “ethnically pronounced” names to smuggle in characters of color without awkwardly dwelling on their skin tone.

I was also aware, however, that “white” and “straight” are unmarked categories; if you fail to specify that a character diverges from this baseline, the reader will assume that the character is white and straight (and skinny, and abled).  Sophisticated literature will attend to the ethnic and cultural markers of its characters without falling into stereotypes, and I don’t know why we should expect any less of size fantasy.

Nevertheless, it’s tough for writers to write outside their personal experience, and I want everyone to be able to access my work.  I’m very curious to hear from size smut consumers how important they be able to see themselves or their ideal types in size fantasy.  Lack of representation is more visible in imagery, but stories have less excuse not to get it right.

Towards Erotica

At the risk of reducing a moral issue to an aesthetic one, I’d like to offer a more aspirational argument for composing more complex characters and scenarios in your size smut:  it’s just better art.  This is just my opinion, of course, but after decades of looking at size porn and the recent years of trying to give constructive feedback, I simply think “the good stuff” means scenarios with complete people with plausible motivations.

The distinction between porn and erotica is notoriously thorny, but I’m going to propose one for purposes of this discussion:  erotica strives to be memorable, and pornography strives to be stimulating.  Erotica sticks with you, porn sticks to your fingers.

Because he started all this, I’m going to talk about Aborigen and his ass fetish.  I haven’t read every single one of his size fantasy stories, but in a healthy percentage of them we’re going to meet at least one woman with a great ass.  Nothing wrong with that, and in any realistic narrative many characters will be introduced via one or more memorable physical characteristics.  On its own, this is neither objectification nor fetishization.

It is when the author’s fetish becomes transparent to the reader is when the story, in my opinion, fails aesthetically.  When the plot becomes too contrived or the characters behave implausibly and the only reason seems to be to get the author’s fetish object/scenario on the page, I find it dissatisfying, and I also wonder about the author’s motivations in publishing such a reductive story.

I can’t think of any of Aborigen’s story that have this failure (I would promptly alert him if I did), but I have sadly encountered it all-too-often in others’ works.  It happens even more often in size imagery, where the giant or tiny figure is literally dropped into a situation that makes no internal sense.  The most obvious example is the celebrity cut from the red carpet, enlarged, and then pasted onto Fifth Avenue.  I don’t doubt you think so-and-so would make a great giantess, but the fact that no one walking down the street is looking up at her and that she’s making a duckface at the viewer rather than interacting at all with tiny Manhattan just makes your objectifying thirst that much more obvious.

Digital rendering also enables the silliest fetishes to literally obscure the rest of the images.  If you’ve got a 48-image gallery of a coterie of giantesses with boobs the size of watermelons but floating like helium balloons, you won’t be able to escape an accusation of objectification.  How do these women breathe?  Is there any practical reason for this scenario?

I mean, I get it; no small part of my enjoyment of one-inch-tall man scenarios comes from the opportunity to be immured in giant boobs.  But it is so much better when I get to imagine and describe those boobs’ owner, what she thinks about one-inch-tall dudes, and a minimally-contrived circumstance for that to happen.  Images need narratives just as much as stories do.  Who are these people and why are they doing what they’re doing?  It’s not enough that she’s your fantasy girl; tell me why this scenario should be my fantasy.

And that’s the direction we should be going with this.  Ask yourself who your audience is.  If you don’t care if anyone likes it or gets it, why are you publishing?  If you’re just creating for people who like the exact same things you do, fine, but honestly there’s nothing challenging about that, and I don’t find it rewarding.

Some of this is down to the history of size fantasy as a genre, or array of sub-genres.  Twenty or more years ago, we were still trying to determine if there really was a community of interests here.  A lot of people were seeking validation for the narrow fetishes they had nursed in private, and labeling content by particular body parts and activities helped us find each other.  The self-loathing and shame-filled conversations that our society heaps upon porn discouraged anyone from trying to reach a wider audience, and we accepted poor quality in the interest of keeping the dream alive.

The best efforts, however, were created without reliance upon fetish thirst to sustain the work.  A story about giant asses doesn’t have to require an audience of giant ass fetishists.  Imagine a real person confronted with a giant ass and their reactions as they are almost sat upon.  Of course the ass will quickly become more important to the tiny than the person attached to it, but if we understand who they are before the those giant cheeks descend, then the tiny’s fate becomes all the more poignant.  Imagine explaining the sensations and emotions of being encased in assflesh to someone who hasn’t spent years dreaming about it.  It takes work, but it is so much more rewarding.

You will realize the most coherent and satisfying size fantasy scenario when you don’t imagine that you are composing only for size fantasists.  As a “side benefit,” you will also avoid engaging in regrettable objectification.

3 thoughts on “How We Porn

  1. It’s not enough that she’s your fantasy girl; tell me why this scenario should be my fantasy.

    Boom, mic drop.

    It really does come down to this, doesn’t it? If we can’t humanize our characters, make them relatable in some way, then WHY are you making what you’re making? Asking for standards in our porn and erotica is such a hard thing, and I commend you for trying to do it. This is a great post.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s