Study Guide

You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down Story 9: Porn

By Alice Walker

Story 9: Porn

  • In this story, our main female character is not named. We learn that she thinks women are more interesting than men, but she still hooks up with men for sexual relationships.
  • Our narrator meets a guy while doing work in African countries. They write to each other, but they move on to marry other people and have kids.
  • Our narrator and this guy both divorce and find themselves in the same city. Turns out, they're great together sexually—but that's kind of the beginning and end of it. There's no deep connection.
  • The narrator relies on her lady friends for true companionship and understanding. Still, she and her guy have a romantic relationship: dinners out, baths together, long walks, great sex.
  • It seems things are perfect. Until they're not. The dude decides to show our narrator his porn collection so that she can share in his arousal.
  • The first item the guy shows our narrator features a Black woman who looks like her friend Fannie. "Fannie" and her male companion pick up some random guy at a bar and have a threesome.
  • The second item involves a wide-eyed blonde from Minnesota who travels to the big city. She winds up in a wild sexual adventure with two Black men.
  • Back to our couple. The guy tells our narrator that he could kinda sorta be into bondage—you know, if she doesn't mind trying it out. She's had some fantasies, so she goes along hesitantly.
  • Now we see more images and plotlines from the guy's porn collection crashing into the narrative of their lovemaking. There are women of all races involved.
  • The narrator lets the guy tie her up. It's not great for her—it's nothing like her fantasies. She decides that all of this porn with bound women is just frightening.
  • But the lovemaking between these two isn't all weird. The guy goes back to his meaningful and thoughtful way of being with the narrator, and she feels loved again. She tries to please him sexually, but she fails. It's difficult for her to put the porn—as his wish list of sexual escapades—out of her mind.
  • The guy promises to throw out his porn collection since he really just wanted it to turn the narrator on, too. He doesn't want her to be freaked out.
  • But it's too late. The narrator can't stop thinking of the Black woman who looks like Fannie. She thinks it would be a nightmare for Fannie to hook up with such shady people.
  • The narrator gets so concerned about her friend that she has to interrupt some lovemaking to go check on her. But Fannie doesn't answer the phone.
  • The narrator tries to calm herself by rewriting the porn narrative, but that just brings up new anxieties. Fannie's life, in reality, is hard and sometimes frightening.
  • Fannie is a lesbian, and she and her partner have a hard time expressing their sexuality. They feel guilty about their love. (Thanks, society.)
  • Fannie is also really beautiful, and she's often propositioned on the street by men. It's gross and threatening.
  • Our main character goes on making love with her partner, but she isn't into it. As soon as she can, she ditches him and makes a beeline for Fannie's apartment.
  • Fannie isn't home, so the narrator waits on the steps. When Fannie arrives with her partner, Laura, she can't understand why her friend is so freaked out.
  • Fannie pats our narrator on the back and sends her home.
  • But nothing will be the same. The narrator's lover's porn collection rules her mind. It's depressing and gross.
  • The guy sees the change in our narrator and detects that she's faking everything with him. And it starts affecting him, too. He tries to fantasize his way out of the awkward sex, but no dice.
  • It all ends badly. The narrator and her partner are both so involved in their fantasies—she dreams of their former relationship, he thinks of his porn—that they are totally estranged from each other.

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