Rise of the machines

As anyone who has seen the Coen brothers’ “Burn After Reading” (2008) will know, modified household appliances can be used as female sex aids. This should perhaps come as little surprise: from soiled underwear available for sale in Japanese vending machines to “zoophilia,” the human desire for sexual gratification has left no stone unturned. In this context, the inception of mechanized dildos should raise few eyebrows — women have a right to orgasm when they want, how they want and without the inconvenience of a sexual partner.

Sex machines are extraordinarily efficacious; tested on a number of porn stars on an episode of the Howard Stern show, their subjects experienced such powerful orgasms that they were unable to walk, talk or even breathe. Stern himself was so taken aback he repeatedly mumbled “Are you OK?” admitting “I’m shook up.” The cameraman fared worse — he (along with his equipment) was soaked in female ejaculate.

“Poor Niagra,” as Eleanor Roosevelt once said.

The real surprise, however, was that when Stern asked “So, where can a woman buy one of these things?” their inventor replied, deadpan, “Oh no, we’re a porn company: these aren’t for sale.” In other words, these machines aren’t for women, they’re for men (OK, technically, “viewers of pornography”).

The website www.fuckingmachines.com features over fifty products, including “Intruder,” “Robospanker” and “Je Taime” and is explicitly geared towards a “masculine” market. The description of “Black Magic” is in the register of the TV power tool ad: “This sleek steel beauty is a multi-positioning, variable speed fucking machine and is a great new addition to the fleet. Its unique frame has several joints that allow for a variety of positioning possibilities … It gets the job done.”

In fact, every machine is catalogued according to its “tech spechs:” “torque,” “rpm,” “stroke length” and “ratio.”

As one of the porn stars writhes in agony (sorry, ecstasy), Howard Stern’s co-presenter says, “You’d better pray for a power outage, ’cause men are obsolete now.”

Textbook tendentious humour; the concern is very real because, as “britomart slutlover” aptly notes on the pornographic forum www.phun.org, “It’s kinda hot and kinda depressing at the same time because they really get off.”

Fucking machines indeed.

The marriage of the “kinda hot” with the “kinda depressing” is more properly known as “masochism.” This phenomenon takes its name from the nineteenth century Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, who begged his wife to inflict all manner of cruelties on him, even insisting that they sign a legal contract registering him as her slave. However, the masochistic fetish which particularly fascinated him was being cuckolded and it was his wife’s refusal to sleep with another man which ultimately led to the break up of their marriage. The Internet has allowed men to play out their masochistic fantasies in virtual reality and one senses that if www.fuckingmachines.com had been available in the 1860s, Count and Countess von Sacher-Masoch might have lived happily ever after.

There is a more general point here: much has been made of how Internet pornography demeans the women who star in it, but little is said of the extent to which, consciously or unconsciously, the viewer is also demeaned. Whether it’s the mechanical phallus of the niche www.fuckingmachines.com, or the freakishly large, hard and durable penises of mainstream pornography which emit semen by the gallon and prompt female orgasms which sound like axe murders and look like epileptic fits, the average man is left feeling like he can’t measure up. That the revenue of Internet pornography generated in the United States eclipses the combined revenue of professional football, baseball and basketball franchises testifies to the peculiar pleasure of this sensation.

As they say, there’s no accounting for taste.

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