In the packrattish hoard of accumulata that is my music collection, I recently discovered a song by Russian singer Alla Pugacheva, about a man who loves a woman so much that he sells his house and buys a million red roses, so that she opens her blinds and sees a sea of flowers outside her window. In the end, she can’t stay, and he winds up alone, but it’s okay because they shared a moment in this sea of flowers.
Apparently this is supposed to be romantic. I confess that my first thought was, “Where’s this moron going to live, now that he sold his house to pay for a bunch of flowers that are going to wither in a few days?”
It’s one thing to have larger-than-life events in a story or song; it makes things more exciting. But the story in this song is just insane. So there must be something else going on.
It’s well known that men and women are turned on by different things. Heck, men look at porn, while women read it. I think this goes back to the different amounts of time and effort the two sexes have to invest in reproduction. For a man to pass on his genes, he has to invest, at a bare minimum, something like five minutes (if he has sex with a woman and disappears). For a woman to pass on her genes, the bare minimum is nine months (if she gives the baby up for adoption the moment it’s born).
So natural selection should favor women who are picky about who they have sex with. Specifically, it’d be nice to pick a dependable father, someone who’s in it for the long haul, and who’ll help raise the kids or at least be a good provider. And a friend of mine who writes romance on the side tells me this is reflected in women’s porn: there has to be character development.
Traditional romantic gestures, be it the traditional knight’s quest for his lady love, starting a war with Troy to get Helen back, or just Joe Average spending a quarter of his yearly salary on an engagement ring, represent an investment (of time, effort, money) in the relationship. It shows that the suitor is serious, in a way that’s hard to fake. Okay, so women like it when men do things to show that they mean it.
One of the differences between porn and, say, a spy novel with a sex scene in it, is that porn takes one stimulus and cranks it up to the exclusion of everything else. (Which is why I think it’s fair to characterize The Passion of the Christ as Christian porn.)
There’s a subset of men’s porn that involves women with large breasts. And not just large but, thanks to the modern medical miracle of silicone implants, freakishly large.
I think the song I mentioned at the beginning is an instance of the same phenomenon: take a stimulus and exaggerate it beyond all reasonable bounds (same as turning our ancestors’ taste for sweet fruit into Pixy Stix, really). The difference being that one can be performed in polite company and the other requires First Amendment protection.