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Do It Yourself
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Written by Amanda Gannon   
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 00:50

On a piece of particle board, small nails and screws form the stenciled outline of the words

Photo from Flickr, here.  Creative Commons 2.0.

A couple of weeks ago, in Femdom, Intimacy, and Porn, I complained at length about the lack of erotic material that appeals to me.  It's a subject I think I could rant about every damn day and not get tired of it, but I must move on.  Specifically, to my least favorite rebuttal of all.

A common response to this problem is "There's not demand for that kind of thing.  If you don't like it, make your own."  Usually followed by a smiley.  And by "common," I mean that I see it almost every single time the subject comes up, to the point that I'm usually surprised not to see it.

Look around.  You're in the cyberspace living room of two pornographers.  I do make my own.  It doesn't help much.  The process of creating your own porn doesn't leave you with a product that you can appreciate in the same way as something that is totally new to you.

"Make it yourself" also completely fails to take into account the fact that it's so much less viscerally satisfying to read or look at something when it holds no surprises and can therefore hold no suspense.

It also assumes that people are willing to appear in visual porn, or have the considerable skill and professional resources required to "make their own."  Anyone not willing to fuck on camera, or who isn't a writer, is supposed to just suck it up, I guess.

It's like offering someone nothing but hamburgers to eat every day, and when they say they might like some steak, you tell them to go butcher their own cow and cook and eat their own damn steak.  And if they don't, they didn't really want that steak all that much, did they?  Even overlooking the fact that most people wouldn't know what to do with a whole dead cow, even professional chefs like sitting down to a meal someone else has prepared once in a while.

We went into this a little bit in The Woman in the Header: Part II, the way a lack of an actual product to fill a demand is perceived as lack of demand itself.  It's like clothing manufacturers only shipping a few plus-size clothes to actual meatspace stores, and then looking at the dismal sales figures and saying "Well, I guess there's no demand."

If all you are offering is something that your would-be target audience doesn't want or cannot use, you can't use their lack of interest in what you offer to claim that the audience for what they want doesn't exist. Assuming that they really didn't want it all that badly just because they don't make it themselves is uber-dickery.  It ignores, almost en passant, the very serious distinction between creator and consumer - watching or reading something someone else has created is entertainment, making that same thing yourself is work.  It's not just a little to the side of what you wanted, it is the complete and total opposite.

If I am making something - even if it's just for myself - then I am not a consumer, I am a fucking entertainer.  I am not being entertained.  (I resent this for many reasons, one of them being that I am already expected to be the entertainment most of the time.  Whether that's by friends, to which I've consented, or as a writer, to which I aspire, or by my culture, which tells me that because I have tits and a cunt, I should be pleasant and attractive – entertaining – at all times, to which I strenuously object. )

Sometimes there is no option, really.  Sometimes there just is not something exactly like what you wanted.  But I don't feel like the things I personally want are all that outlandish.  So why do they not exist?  It's not lack of demand, that's for sure, because I am hardly alone.  The lack of supply to meet that demand is not the whole problem.  It's just the surface.  Ask yourself what prejudices and wrong attitudes and sexist thinking are behind that lack?  That is the real problem.

It's not a question with an easy answer, which is where the "make it yourself" answer comes in, because it is essentially a way to say "No, you're wrong, shut up.  Stop bothering me.  I'm trying to watch MILFs In Heat."  It is a conversational shutdown tactic by people who are presumably happy that the status remain quo, when the status is not quo at all.  And it is so handily disguised as a pep talk, a kind of "Well, you should just take your awesome and go make that stuff.  Call us when you're done, 'kay?"

It can be passed off as something intended to motivate, when it is far more often just a way to make you stop talking by people who don't want to have that conversation.  Who don't want to admit that there is something wrong.  After all, they're getting what they want.  Why admit that there's a problem, why admit that what they want isn't enough?  Why kick up all that dust?

Insisting that porn that I like should be available to me does not mean that other folks will notice a sudden lack of stuff that they like; it doesn't imply that what other folks like is unimportant; and saying that I don't want to have to create it myself is not passing the buck.

Saying "Do it yourself!" does all of those things.

Funny how that shit works, innit?