At Daily Life Australia, a column on porn star James Deen and his merrily disruptive sexuality:
“It felt really good to be in a classroom where we could openly acknowledge that women get horny too without it being unsafe or weird,” one student wrote in an email.
“What I got out of his talk was encouragement not to be ashamed of ourselves,” said another student. “We fear living out our true desires, and we fear the shame that will most likely shadow us if we do. Our college’s reaction to James Deen shows us exactly how much they’re still invested in perpetuating that shame … at least for women.”
It would be wrong to equate criticism of the industry that has made Deen a superstar with a refusal to accept that women are visual creatures, too. It’s possible to be against both porn and shame. At the same time, there’s no denying that Deen’s meteoric rise reflects a cultural shift towards acknowledging that young (and not so young) women are as hungry for sexual pleasure as men.
As the unprecedentedly nervous administrative reaction to Deen’s appearance on my campus showed, that shift is profoundly threatening. When men realise that women aren’t just sexy, but sexual in their own right, the fear of not being able to live up to female demands can become overwhelming.
The more we deny and shame women’s libidos, the more we insulate men from the pressure to satisfy them. That’s what makes Deen such a destabilising, even dangerous cultural figure.