Was this porn search something to worry about or something to ignore?
January 21, 2014 10:08 AM   Subscribe

My husband was born and educated in Pakistan where we met and married almost ten years ago. Soon after we moved back to London I saw that he had entered a search term on our browser that upset me but I didn't process completely at the time. He has used one of those words in the context of our children now and after a sudden lightbulb moment when I was thinking about it, I'm not sure what to make of it.


He is a very involved and loving parent and never shied away from normal parental duties with our daughters. One of our daughters still wets herself at night and from time to time her genitals become irritated if we don't remind her to remove her night pants as soon as she wakes. When this happens I apply zinc cream for a few days and it disappears. My husband hates this duty and is one of the few ones he insists I do. He also makes our daughters bathe their own genitals, although I still do our youngest because of the night pants.


He has an IT background and can easily remove all traces of anything inappropriate on a computer. I have no skills in this area. I have never had any reason to ever suspect him of anything and my gut tells me there is nothing to worry about. But our sex life has in the past some very long droughts and I am trying not to read anything in to that other than that he hasn't settled well in to English life and is an introvert with some depression. When he is not stressed we have a regular and very satisfying sex life.

The search term he had used was "London gal student pussy". I was repulsed and angry thinking of exploited and struggling university students but didn't think of gal as being a child.Until he posted something on twitter about his gals (our daughters). The porn search predates the birth of our children by several years and when we met I had told him I did not want kids, I subsequently changed my mind and he was happy enough to have them but not desperate. He is a devoted father, with all the normal frustration and impatience of an unremarkable parent. Our kids are happy and appropriate and use correct anatomical language and have had the "no secrets" child safety discussion at their schools.

Is there anything to worry about? Is gal a word for little girls to well read/educated people in Pakistan? Please tell me that I'm worried for nothing, I tend to lean towards anxiety as a rule. If I should worry, what should I do? We have never discussed the porn search ever again. I'm sure he doesn't think I would remember the exact phrase. We had a discussion at the time that I was uncomfortable with porn and we agreed that it wasn't part of our sex life. There has never been anything to discover again.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Gal" means "girl," and is simply informal and rather out of fashion, at least in the US (can't speak for Pakistan, of course). While a girl is by definition a child, it is distressingly common to use "girl" to refer to adult women as well. If he had used the world "girl" in his search instead, would you have the same concern when he referred to "his girls"? I wouldn't. Porn actresses are frequently referred to as "girls" despite being legal adults. In context he was almost certainly looking for young women, not minors.

BTW, you might try putting your actual question earlier in the post next time. I was rather icked out by reading about your daughters' genital bathing habits (really and truly NONE of my business) three paragraphs before the first question mark...
posted by kindall at 10:24 AM on January 21 [16 favorites]


So if I read your question correctly, a search term from the distant past is bothering you now?

Did something happen recently to bring it up now? Other than him using the word "gal"? And having a hard time adjusting to new life in the UK?

I'm not from the UK but the word "gal" can have a wide age range.

So maybe it is just a trigger word for you. Especially if you have anxiety and trend towards suspicion / mistrust.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:26 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


From a MeFite who would prefer to remain anon:
I really wouldn't put all that much stock into it. The 'schoolgirl' fetish is an incredibly common and, thankfully, usually represented by models over the age of 18. It isn't generally a slippery slope to pedophilia, as you're probably worried it might be. 'Gal' is probably just a general colloquialism of his, and while the connection is an easy and off-putting one to make, I don't think there's anything there... it was probably just a subconscious transfer of language he was already used to using in any situation involving a younger female.

He sounds like a good guy in need of an outlet. The one he's found seems perfectly normative, in the larger context of porn habits. Cut him some slack until you have more evidence of foul intent, if any ever comes to light.
posted by jessamyn at 10:29 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


If your husband is, as you say, well read and well educated, and if he has an IT background, I seriously doubt he would ever have been stupid enough to look for child porn on Google. Based on that, I'm comfortable assuming that his search for "gal," several years ago, did not mean he was looking for children.

I'm not sure exactly how I'd take the fact that he appeared to be looking for university trim that was local to him, but one assumes this is a discussion you've already had and thrashed out with him.

So,

Please tell me that I'm worried for nothing

I'm pretty sure you're worried for nothing.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:30 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


That search term is, uh, specific. I feel like he must've been trying to find a specific video or something that he had seen. But this was also 10 years ago. If he had never showed any inkling of hiding anything or behaving in an unusual way, I'm not sure why you are stressing about a porn search from a decade ago that seems benign. I agree that "gal" means "girl" and it's pretty normal to refer to young adult women (in their 20s, totally legal) as girls. If this search doesn't fit into any sort of other context, I'd take it at face value and relax.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:31 AM on January 21 [5 favorites]


i don't understand what the issue is. are you worried he's abusing your daughters because he called them gals on twitter and once wanted to look at some undergrad pussy? men looking at porn is totally normal. it's also fine if he doesn't want to bathe your daughters--in a lot of cultures that would be "woman's work". so....unless your girls show signs of abuse don't worry about it.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:31 AM on January 21


To be honest, this sounds to me like a slightly bizarre over-reaction unless there are other clues you're picking up on.

No, gal is not commonly used in Pakistan to mean anything at all, let along 'little girl', though it is probably familiar to people who picked it up from online usage or Archie comics. But for a non-native speaker it's easy to assume that 'gal' is short for 'girl' in any context so I expect he meant to search for pornography featuring young women in the first instance. 'Girl' is commonly used in Pakistan to mean 'girl child' but also 'young unmarried women'.*

This may be particularly true if he is from the type of background which didn't have significant exposure to Anglophone pop culture when growing up. And there's a particular type of young locally educated middle class IT professional who comes from a family which is still quietly conservative in its habits and beliefs, but which is gradually becoming part of a global middle class.

It doesn't seem odd to me at all that he is uncomfortable helping with your daughter's nappy duties. It's several steps beyond what many Pakistani men would find appropriate.

I am a Pakistani woman in London and received all my secondary school education in Pakistan. Feel free to MeMail me if you like.

*bachi means little girl and may be used in a degradingly sexual way when applied to someone past puberty.
larki means girl.
aurat or khatoon means woman, and has implications of married woman.
posted by tavegyl at 10:31 AM on January 21 [3 favorites]


I would imagine "student" in a porn search generally refers to and returns college-age women.
posted by quincunx at 10:39 AM on January 21 [3 favorites]


'Gal', like colloquialisms in general, is pretty poor as a general search term.
To me, either 'London Gal' is the name of a particular site/model/blog/channel/whatever, or it's a typo ('Gail'?).
posted by anagrama at 11:18 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


I just did a google search with those terms and found a website called Tube Gals where there is a porn star named London Keyes who gets screwed in her pussy in a teacher-student scenario.

Sounds like he was looking for a specific video.

Your husband is not interested in sex with little girls. He is, however, good at refinding favorite videos without bookmarking them. This is totally normal. Breathe easy.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 11:28 AM on January 21 [12 favorites]


It seems the bathing is a point of concern. It is totally normal for parents to stop bathing their children's private areas once the children are old enough to take care of this themselves.
posted by yohko at 11:42 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the level of concern expressed her seems way out of proportion to, well, anything. And the stuff about genital bathing is completely bizarre and doesn't seem appropriate for this question? In any case, "gal" is kinda outmoded as a term but has absolutely nothing to do with young children.
posted by Justinian at 12:12 PM on January 21 [7 favorites]


I would not be concerned given the information given.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:17 PM on January 21


I think it's very normal to be uncomfortable with the idea of washing or touching your opposite-gender child's genitals. I don't think that being uncomfortable with it means anything, in particular.

I would be more concerned if he constantly did want to be bathing your daughters and applying ointments to sensitive areas.
posted by Sara C. at 2:07 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


You have not told us whether your husband's primary language is English or Urdu. Native English speakers know the subtle differences between "girl" and "gal." It would not surprise me that a non-native speaker would not fully grasp them.
posted by yclipse at 2:15 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


One I'm concerned that you felt compelled to tell us that he allows his children to bathe themselves. I think that is an indicator that you may have non clear ideas on healthy boundaries.

I do not want to alarm and the search term probably means nothing. However bedwetting past the normal age of bedwetting plus irritation can be a huge sign. Get your daughter evaluated by a doctor if she reports irritation and you are concerned.
posted by AlexiaSky at 2:58 PM on January 21


The specific use of the word "gal" wouldn't be a red flag for me, but your worry is a red flag for me. I do not worry that all men in my extended social circle might have a sexual interest in little girls, but there are a few men I've encountered where that worry does seem relevant. Talk to your kids and keep an eye out- if your intuition is flagging this, it's worth following up. Here is some advice for talking to the kids. The "no secrets" child safety discussion should happen at home, not just in school.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 4:02 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


bedwetting past the normal age of bedwetting...

OP has been married for under a decade. The "search predates the birth of our children by several years." The kids are in the normal age bracket for it.

I found the video whimsicalnymph refers to very easily and it seems worth commenting on that it looks like anon did not perform a web search with the search terms in question? That, to me, seems unusually fearful of web smut. I don't mean to suggest that everybody should thrill to Googling for XXX, but if you are so far removed from it that you can't even peek, I imagine evidence of somebody else's peeking might be unusually unnerving.
posted by kmennie at 7:00 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]


However bedwetting past the normal age of bedwetting plus irritation can be a huge sign.

Huh? That is a sign that he is into little girls? WHAT? I had never heard such a thing and googled it -- 15 percent of kids past age 5 (several million kids) still wet the bed at night. It's normal and likely means absolutely nothing, especially if it's not like the kid was fully potty trained and then regressed. Furthermore, OP didn't even tell us the age of the daughter she was talking about. Talk about jumping to conclusions and giving alarmist advice. I'm not a parent nor have I ever been, but if the kid is old enough to apply their own ointment, I don't think it can possibly be viewed suspiciously that he would rather have the kid put her own ointment on. Since they use the ointment, I assume OP has spoken to a doctor about it already anyway.

Like I said, if there is anything else suspicious to be of, that's one thing. But the info contained in OP's question is hardly anything to worry about, IMO.
posted by AppleTurnover at 7:07 PM on January 21


His behaviour with your kids is pretty straightforward for a traditionally-raised father who is trying to be more egalitarian, and by school-age, they should be bathing themselves pretty much. Everyone's advice above is pretty solid if you don't have more red flags to add.

But and it absolutely may not apply at all, so please ignore if not relevant, but reading your post I would suggest that possibly you are more bothered by the thought that he has been accessing porn in secret? A blanket ban on it with no discussion ever again, while you are aware he has the IT skills to cover his tracks and probably has been, seems like there may be a silent no-go area in your marriage about sex and porn that you are troubled by. Just to consider that this is a really common area for couples to disagree over and need to figure out, sometimes with the help of a therapist (who will have helped many other couples dealing with the same kind of thing) - but when you're struggling with this, it can feel very isolating, rejecting and scary. But good and kind men and women view pornography and erotica as well, and it's more complicated than porn being a sign of danger alone.
posted by viggorlijah at 2:17 AM on January 22


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