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"Mature" Porn


The New York Times reported Sunday that women of mature age are increasingly appearing in porn. The article discusses the mid-life career change of 50-year-old De’Bella, who decided to spice up her life working as an administrative assistant by appearing in porn movies.

According to industry insiders, the mature-woman genre represents “one of the fastest growing areas of video pornography.” In fact, it will appear for the first time as a category at the prestigious AVN awards ceremony next week in Las Vegas.

Multiple explanations for this trend are plausible.

Director Urbano Martin says the market for young, airbrushed beautiful women is “oversaturated.” I can get behind that idea—looking at the current stock of most adult movie stores, they could just as soon make one porn movie and release it with a million different box covers and I doubt it would make much difference. But the market seems to like its “variety,” narrowly constricted though it may be.

Another hypothesis centers on the market demographics. According to the article, the primary consumer base for this kind of content is young men with MILF fantasies:

[The growing interest in mature-age content] has been fueled in part by pop culture’s embrace of the sexy 40-something women of “Desperate Housewives” and “Stacy’s Mom,” the 2003 hit song about a teenager’s mother who “has got it going on.”

This just doesn’t ring true. For starters, the music video for the Fountain of Wayne song referenced above (“Stacy’s Mom”) stars Rachel Hunter, a famous blonde, large-chested actress. The video does not exactly celebrate your average middle-aged mom. Furthermore, the explosion of demand for Botox treatments and wrinkle creams does not at all indicate that pop culture is doing anything to “embrace” 40-something women. The Desperate Housewife actresses are as plastic as they come—a far cry from the women like De’Bella who appear in mature-age porn.

While it’s hard to discern the root of any trend, especially one of a sexual nature, my guess is that the trend stems from a combination of middle-aged baby boomers’ desire to see women a little closer to their age as well as a growing cultural awareness of female sexuality.

On the latter point, the Times mentions in passing what may be key to understanding this pattern:

The sexual confidence of older women…is fueling the supply side as well as the demand

I doubt I’ll offend anyone’s sensibilities when I posit that the beautiful, air-brushed 19-year-olds appearing in the vast majority of porn do not represent female sexuality. They are entirely constructs of male sexuality—they essentially serve as a pretty mirror onto which men can project their sexuality and fantasies and see it reflected back at them in a novel enough way to get men off. Women, in general, contribute little if any of their authentic sexual nature into the movies (and arguably, teenage girls are far from truly grasping their authentic sexual nature). This is a function of both age as well as the overall structure and dynamic of the industry.

But times are changing. Female sexuality, for centuries overlooked and repressed into obsolescence in the middle class, Western world, is finally starting to be reclaimed and celebrated. (See second wave feminism, third wave feminism, Good Vibrations, Toys in Babeland, Annie Sprinkle, Susie Bright, Nina Hartley, etc.) And it is older (as in 25+) women leading the way. They’re more comfortable in their bodies, less constrained by teenage insecurities, more fed up with impossible standards of beauty, and more inclined to figure out (and ask for) what they want.

Ultimately I see increased interest in mature-age porn as a good thing. I consider any representation of authentic female pleasure and female-directed action a positive contribution to the industry. At the same time, I do not delude myself into thinking that this marks some sort of turning point or that it represents a lasting trend. More likely, this trend will follow the more or less bell-shaped popularity arch of most porn niches.



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