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January 8, 2011

The Glass House: when it is ok to call it cheating in a relationship?

Is there a difference between watching a woman masturbate live and watching the same woman masturbate on a television screen? Most people I know would consider it cheating if you saw another person naked pleasure themselves; would it make a difference if there was an impenetrable yet invisible barrier between the masturbator and the watcher? These are the sorts of questions posed by Chuck Klosterman in an article he published in his latest book, Klosterman IV. Ever since reading that, I’ve had endless thoughts on the nature of cheating and sex, a sort of the metaphysics of sexuality. Where does sex start? Where does cheating start? If I’m at a party and a topless woman walks in front of me, have I cheated? What if the same happened on the street? A strip club? I’m pretty sure that most guys would have no problem with all of this; what’s more, they’d say that it doesn’t matter where you get your appetite as long as you come home for dinner. It doesn’t seem to be so lackadaisical for women.

Men masturbate. Therefore, unless they’ve got incredibly vivid imaginations, they’re watching some variety of pornography. Men will masturbate even when in a relationship. Therefore, it’s imaginable that in the same night they’ll see various women naked, both live and virtually. Yet, I have trouble believing that watching porn could ever be constituted as cheating. The difference between watching porn and watching it live seems to lie in the possibility of the action – on the internet, there’s no real possibility of interaction with the girl; in real life, there’s nothing really holding you back unless there’s a physical partition or the like. At the same time, like it or not, men are getting off to other women when watching porn. If we’re dealing with levels of reality between the real and the virtual, the virtual takes the lead against the imagined (ie. the girlfriend on a lonely night).

The possible nature of the encounter seems to increase with amateur porn. These flicks are often shot from the point of view of the guy, who, by holding the camera, remains anonymous while his girlfriend attaches herself to his penis like a vacuum cleaner. The point of view of the camera is positioned perfectly for the viewer to replace the cameraman in the scene – ostensibly, when watching amateur porn we are to imagine ourselves getting done by average looking women. The whole premise of amateur porn is that this could happen, rather than professional porn, which would require way too much planning to make it fruitful. In the end, the only difference between watching amateur porn and having real sex is the presence of the woman.

Cheating seems to start as soon as one wants to do something about it. If a topless woman approached me in the street, only in hindsight would I think about her erotically – at the present moment I’d be too busy scraping my jaw off the pavement amidst a pool of drool. But, in hindsight, even if I were to want to bump uglies, it’s much too late. The possibility of the encounter has dropped to zero. Likewise, with pornography, the possibility of the encounter is always at zero, unless amateur porn is one’s poison of choice, in which case the possibility is a virtual certainty, though, this possibility is virtually impossible to carry out. In reality, as long as there is no possibility, there is virtually no cheating. All I need now is an enormous, portable, unbreakable glass partition.

This Interesting Controversy is brought to you by: Sebastian Buzzalino

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