Sarita Sarvate

The Politics of Deep Throat

Apr 27, 2005

India Currents


Apparently there is a new documentary out about Deep Throat. Not Bob Woodward’s secret source dubbed “Deep Throat” in the Watergate investigation, but about that other, equally infamous Deep Throat, the movie, which made Linda Lovelace a household name.

The two Deep Throats had one thing in common; they were both about power politics.

I never saw Deep Throat, the movie. Porn, to me, is for human beings with little imagination.

My first exposure to porn was in the early 1980s, when I persuaded my boyfriend to take me to the X-rated theater in Berkeley, which was still in business then, so that I could satisfy my curiosity. The film started with a titillating scenario, but soon degraded into a mindless orgy, so that by the end of it, instead of being aroused, I felt worn out and dirty.

I don’t need to watch Deep Throat today to be incensed by its premise: of a woman whose fantasies are aligned with the ultimate male desires.

In the post-Monica Lewinsky era, Americans seem no longer shy of oral sex. But the one thing that people never talked about, either during the Deep Throat or the Lewinsky era, was the gender politics surrounding oral sex.

If the inequality of the Lewinsky-Clinton affair was not already reflected in their relative ages and ranks, it was obvious in the very nature of the act they were involved in. She serviced the Commander-in-Chief and he felt obligated to do little in return.

The fact was that Monica Lewinsky, a young woman with a weight problem and low self-esteem, found out, and correctly so, that the way to enter a man’s heart was not through his stomach, but through his groin.

During the Clinton impeachment charade, feminists were so busy defending Clinton that no one dared comment on the sexploitation aspect of the affair.

As for Linda Lovelace, it turns out that she was physically and sexually abused and coerced into performing what millions of males still fantasize about.

The very fact that Deep Throat was produced and distributed by the mob speaks of utter exploitation of the public.

Yes, there is a subjugation and exploitation aspect to the act that needs to be highlighted. Such subjugation is apparent in today’s pornography, which is ubiquitous over the Internet and in video stores. It is in fact one of the few growth industries still left in America.

Any attempts at curbing the spread of porn is met with resistance on the part of liberal males, who cite the first amendment in defense. I suspect that most folks who oppose the slightest restrictions on the distribution of porn don’t have children and don’t have any idea what an indelible influence the unrealistic portrayal of female bodies as well as graphic images of female subjugation can have on growing minds.

Pornography might be suitable for consumption by grown adults who presumably have the maturity to handle the responsibility. But unfortunately children are the ones who are most intrigued by it.

Sex should neither be a taboo subject, nor should it be confined to the titillating, unrealistic images of pornography.

In recent years, women have attempted to have their say on the subject. Shows like Sex and the City have attempted to portray a kind of a female equivalent of the male predator in characters like Samantha Jones. However, most women don’t really identify with her.

If Vagina Monologues and its South Asian equivalent, Yoni Ki Baat are any indication, for women, sex is associated with a lot of pain.

The truth is most women are not titillated by porn. As women age, and their hormones recede, they long for companionship more than erotic adventure. Yet, society incites men to go on Viagra and engage in an illusion. Many men, taking cues from Donald Trump and Johnny Carson, dump their older wives for newer models. Women, on the other hand, find it distasteful to attach themselves to men young enough to be their sons, and end up alone, particularly now that hormone replacement therapy has been debunked.

The makers of the documentary Deep Throat, both male, do not discuss these sexual politics; instead, they label the movie as a vehicle that launched sexual liberation.

Alas, more than 30 years after Deep Throat, there is still no open discussion of the politics of sex. And there is yet no female equivalent of Deep Throat to educate men about what we want in the bedroom.

Sarita Sarvate writes commentaries for Pacific News Service and KQED.