12/19/2005

Let's Get It On... [DECEMBER 18, 2005]

“What ... you ... there?” my girlfriend calls from bed.
“What?” as I try to hear her. The passionate moans and ecstatic cries the TV is now emitting have grown so loud I can hardly make out a single word coming from the bedroom. I pick up the remote and lower the volume. “What was that?”
“I said, ‘What are you doing in there?’”
“Nothing, just watching some porn.”
“Oh, okay. Well come to bed when you're done. Good night, my love.”
“You got it, baby. Goodnight.” I pick up the remote and sultry groans once again fill the room as my girlfriend slips off to Slumberland.

Honestly though, I normally don’t look at porn unless it happens to be there. I’m not one of those fellas that goes off actively searching for it in the seedy side-streets of town. I’m more of an Internet type of porn guy... If a link pops up offering scantily clad women posing in compromising positions – and all a mere left-click of the mouse away – who am I to resist? The thing is, here in Spain (and the rest of Europe in general it would seem) sex is not something to be confined to the XXX rack at your local Bob’s Discount Video Shack. Here, you can find it on public TV, on billboards, even in store front window displays. Indeed, the deed and everything associated with it can be found wherever you look on the European continent.

I suppose I should first start off with the Czech Republic because, although I no longer live there, that was my first home in Europe and where I initially encountered this sexual liberalism. Many of the things I called sexual “oddities” in the Czech Republic were, as I would later discover in Spain, shared between the two countries and, I’m therefore assuming, between most other European nations as well. Porn comes on TV after midnight, naked women are used to sell anything from shampoo to exotic chocolates, and kiosks have hardcore magazines in clear view at the front next to the daily newspapers and motorcycle mags. One thing I did see, though, in the Czech Republic that I haven’t seen since were their eye-catching weather forecasts. In the United States, we usually try to get an attractive, young lady (who probably has no idea about meteorology) to give us our daily dose of weather along with the evening news. Not so in the Czech Republic. They get rid of the ridiculous “male fantasy” effect and just have a stripper, completely nude from top to bottom, walk onto the set as the next day’s forecast appears to the side of the screen. She then gets dressed accordingly... underwear, bra, skirt, shirt, and perhaps a sweater or jacket if need be. Can you imagine this type of thing coming on in the US right after Jim Lehrer’s just wrapped up talking about the new House Appropriations Bill? And I know what you’re thinking... The Czech feminists must have been up and at arms against such a shameless objectification of women when the practice first began. Well, they were and soon got their message across. The Czech TV station in question, fearful of being sued by this female outcry, pulled its act together and introduced completely nude male weather forecasts the next day. It seemed everyone was now happy.


Does anyone in the Czech Republic actually tune in for the weather forecast?
(http://www.nova.cz/tvarchiv/?period=2002-07-13..2002-07-22&prog=POCASICKO)

This kind of thing, of course, doesn’t happen all over the continent. Nude weather forecasts may just be an isolated Czech event but this mentality, the idea that sex is not something to be hidden behind closed doors, definitely pervades all types of European society. At the end of the day, it helps to explain most Europeans’ incredibly open attitude towards sex. (For example, the irrelevance my girlfriend attaches to me watching Spanish TV porn at night in the other room!) Sex is something they’ve grown up with, seen since they were children, and never been sheltered from. You can’t be human without sexual contact, the local mentality goes, so why hide from it? When I tell the Spaniards that I didn’t hear about the birds and the bees until I was 14, they inevitable ask me 1) What the hell do birds or bees have to do with that? and 2) How could you not have heard about sex before 14 years of age? I assure them that I had a hunch, but the details had somehow eluded me for the better part of a decade and a half.

The Spanish, however, don’t have that problem. They’ve been exposed to sex since, well, that first day in the playground when little José María and little María José realized that they weren’t exactly hauling along the same playtoys down there. Mommy and Daddy promptly explained what the hose and well were used for and that was the end of the mystery. The kids continued playing doctor and the adults continued sipping wine and eating tapas as they looked after them. No big deal.

But there are a few results to this sexual openness that, as a North American, did take me slightly aback at first. I mean, coming from the country where having two women kiss on TV was a “stepping stone” media event (remember that Rosanne episode in the mid-nineties?) to one where they show porn – and I’m talking about hardcore, ass-slapping penetration not those Cinemax skin-flicks – each and every night on regular public airway TV does come as a bit of a shock. Granted, they aren’t aired on the national Spanish stations and they only appear on local regional TV after midnight, but an orgy on the screen is still an orgy on the screen, no matter who’s broadcasting it or when. And just because hardcore porn aired after midnight isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, Spanish TV will still find something sexual to tempt your taste buds. Lately, there’s been this recurring commercial of a voluptuous beauty taking a shower and baring it all to the camera. The message? Her shampoo MUST work! And, even if that’s not enough, right before the beach going season begins, Spanish viewers are always bombarded by plastic surgery spots showing just how sexy and buxom you too can be with a little helpful visit to your local clinic.


You better make sure the kids are tucked away if you wanna do some Spanish channel surfing after midnight

On the other hand TV, although it might be one of the largest providers of sexual images to the Spanish public, is by no means the exclusive distributor. One can find sex everywhere. On my way to work I walk past the “fashion district” of Cádiz and, I tell you, the nipples on some of those mannequins are so erect they could cut glass. What is the point of having such ridiculously erect nipples on a plastic window model? Obviously, the proprietors think it’ll be good for business. After all, sex is supposed to sell, right?


Good Lord! Do those mannequins have nipples or radio dials?

Another Spanish proprietor that hopes to increase business through sex is the local restaurant/café owner. The other day, for example, I was dying for a cup of coffee so I slipped into the nearest corner restaurant, pulled up a seat, and ordered a cup. As I surveyed the surroundings, my eye caught sight of the CDs next to the ice cream freezer. A lot of these places set up racks by the doors with cassettes, CDs, and DVDs which they hope to sell on the side. So I got up to have a look at the DVD rack. It had a pretty good selection of films... A couple of John Wayne classics, a copy of Gone With The Wind, some golden Spanish cinema, and – you guessed it – five or six hardcore pornos. A Tale of Two Titties and Debbie Does Madrid were, of course, occupying the top spot while the poor ol’ Duke was relegated to bottom rack. If I had been a newbie to Spain, I guess it would have bothered me that that kind of rack was set up next to the ice cream freezers and, therefore, easily accessible to children. But I’ve been living here for about two years now and have even experienced a few Czech weather forecasts. I threw a quick glance over the cover of Cum and Get Me, checked to see how much they were selling Red River for, and went to the bar to enjoy the delicious, steaming beverage awaiting me.


I hear the old neighborhood restaurant is having a 2 for 1 sale on porn!

I suppose that, what it all comes down to, is that I’ve actually become desensitized to the deed. I no longer view it, as I once did, as something to be talked about behind closed doors. Something to be embarrassed about when talking to relatives and bragged about when talking to friends. Now, I think I’m starting to understand why so many Europeans think we Americans are a little crazy... Why they can never understand how the whole Monica Lewinsky thing led to impeachment hearings and yet the guy who presented us with unfounded claims of WMDs which launched an invasion of Iraq can be forgiven by putting it all off to an “intelligence error.” In the US, you can show Freddy Krueger or Jason hacking people to bits on TV but God forbid if a nipple makes an appearance or Howard Stern says “cock” on the air. In Spain, you can show your cock and say it too.

10 comments:

Deborah said...

HA!
What an entertaining read that was. This should be a newspaper column somewhere. Good work, Mr. T and P!

J.Doe said...

The whole attitude of the Italian government is 'Porn? It exists everywhere, so why not tax it?' As opposed to in the US where they would say 'Porn? We have to hide it.'

Although I must say that in Italy the young weather girls who don't know anything about the weather and only exist on the TV show to smile and look sexy wear some kind of clothing.

Expat Traveler said...

Yes definitely Europeans are much more relaxed about sex and learn about sex at an early age. I still wonder why the two continents are so different. I guess it's in the government.

Ranando said...

Great Post, I really enjoyed it.

hippo_pepperpot said...

that or the half life of acid is longer than first thought.

wv check out my jugs

Can't sit still.... said...

Nice. Definitely more open when it comes to culture, but what about openness between European partners? Are they as open with each other as the media is with them? Hmmmm.... feeling a little filisofical...sorry. :-)

Ms Bees Knees said...

mmm! I’m loving this! I’m a huge fan of porn myself and as a woman I honestly feel that porn can teach woman a great deal about their sexuality [not to mention fantastic g-spot positions and great blowjob techniques]. I have quite an extensive collection. I was raised to be comfortable with my sexuality … and lord knows I am. PS. It’s often my boyfriends who find *me* watching porn in the other room, hahah! We’d get along swimmingly.

Lori said...

Always a great read over here!!!

When my Sister in law moved to England.....she said it was soooo much more open....that you would be walking down the road and people would be laying out in the sun nude everywhere....And she said porn is on their Tv's over there after 9pm!!!

Have a great day!!!

GC PHILO said...

That's a good question "Can't Sit Still..."

I'm not really sure if partners are as open amongst themselves. I mean, I definitely know that a lot of European politicians and famous writers, actors, singers, etc. openly parade around with their mistresses (the first Czech prime minister after the fall of Communism, Vaclav Havel, married his mistress within a year of his wife's passing)... that's something that definitely would never happen in the US. In fact, the whole view is, "If the Prime Minister -- someone so powerful -- doesn't have a mistress, then who should?" I'm sure you find the same mentality in Italy. But as for on a more personal (and non-famous) level, I'm not really sure. What experiences have you had?

Franje said...

It's a strange scenario here in Canada. You see, growing up as an Italo-Canadian, I had watched the soft-pornos the Italian studios made in the 70s and which were shipped around the world. The Italian immigrants just didn't watch English movies. Soft-porno was just a part of the Italian movie industry, one didn't go out purposely to rent an Italian soft-porno. When I got older, I realized the "English" part of Canada (the major part and the part that makes the laws) did not like that kind of stuff. :)

So, my group of friends thought English-Canada was missing out on a lot.

It is still that way here. The Puritan sensibilities prevail.

I hope you are having an enjoyable holiday. I hope the new year is good for you and your girlfriend and that your students don't bug you too much. :)