pros & cons of porn

one of a kind when it's time to do mine, camcorder and the whole shit, press rewind

I'm gonna go ahead and say we live in a world where it is freaking impossible to avoid pornography.  When I was a wee little youngster, my curiosity made it tough to avoid (what was on those magazines covered with black plastic at 7-Eleven?  What was behind the curtain in that secret room at the video store?), but the internet was still nonexistent.  The most hardcore pornography I was exposed to before my teenage years was a few dirty mags one of my grade school friends snuck away from her dad that we peered at in complete disgust during our bus ride to school (I was SO CONFUSED about why girls were putting PENISES in their mouths like lollipops!  If you attended last week's Hump Day Q&A, you know that this traumatized me for YEARS), when my bestie and I would mute late night Cinemax and choke back giggles during sleepovers, and when I snuck snippets of "Dirty Dancing" and "Waiting to Exhale" that were hidden in my mom's dresser when I was home alone (yup, Patrick Swayze's sexual hips were apparently too hot for my young eyes).  

Nowadays, I imagine exposure to triple x-rated pornographic images from pop-ups and banner ads and on-demand and chat rooms (do those still exist?) and uncleared cookies (I'm throwing out a lot of techie terms that may or may not be correct or relevant - did you all know that cashe is pronounced "cash" and not "cash-ay" ???  I just found this out a couple weeks ago) happens well before middle school for most kids.  The increase in access and exposure to pornography has been linked to hypersexuality, rape culture, violence, sex addiction, and a whole host of other detrimental effects.  (PS. if you're looking to read more about some of these effects, I recommend checking out this book.  I don't co-sign on everything it claims, but it's definitely thought provoking.)

Let me be clear, I am not here to say those effects don't exist.  What I am claiming here is that along with some potentially harmful effects of the increase in access to pornography, there are also some benefits.  

 

While what follows is not an exhaustive list by any means, it encompasses some of the most significant ways - in my anecdotal experience working with folks around sex and relationship issues - porn can BENEFIT or DETRIMENT someone's sex and love life....

BENEFITS

  • This may sound obvious but duh, arousal!  At its baseline, porn is purposeful as a catalyst for evoking feelings of desire and sexual interest.  This can be helpful in both individual and cooperative contexts!  I will admit that I almost exclusively look to porn of one form or another, - whether it be an actual erotic film, a sexy scene from a mainstream movie (anyone remember the threesome scene in "Wild Things"? Still a reliable go-to for me!), or a steamy tumblr page - during masturbation.  The visual and auditory stimulation enhances the experience for me, allowing me to focus on my pleasure rather than the dirty dishes in the sink, the dog staring at me from the floor, or my to-do list ticking in my head.  It gives me a little prompt to fantasize, which can increase (and speed along, if desired or necessary) my orgasm.  The same holds true during sexytime with others!  Watching porn with lovers (again, porn can be loosely defined as it was above) can heighten that lust and intensity between you and a partner (or partnerSSSS). Sometimes if me and the boo are using porn to get in the mood, by the time he touches me even the slightest I'm over the edge!  The porn lubed me up (both literally and figuratively!)
  • Do you have a "typical script" of what your sexytime (solo or with a lover) looks like? Is it routine?  Mundane?  Porn can be a great help in brainstorming some new ideas!  New positions to try, new sexual activities, new roles to play out with a lover, and new stimulation strategies or techniques can all be adapted from things you see in porn (did you read about my bomb hair-flip during doggy?  totes got that from porn!).  And, I've mentioned this before, but if you're looking for ways to increase feelings of intimacy and closeness in your relationship, novel and new activities are an effective strategy.  Porn is a great resource for introducing some novelty to your sex life AND your relationship!  
  • Speaking of increasing intimacy, porn can also be a helpful way to enhance communication between yourself and your lover.  Watching porn together can provide a jumping-off point for discussing your respective turn-ons and turn-offs and activities you'd like to try!  I'll be honest - watching porn with someone else can be a little uncomfortable and a lot vulnerable.  But, the good news about that is that your lover will likely be feeling vulnerable too - and both of you being vulnerable together increases feelings of intimacy.  AND THEREFORE increases willingness to share.  You might get the inside scoop from your lover when you're in this compromising - yet safe - context.

DETRIMENTS

  • The super sad and unfortunate truth these days is that porn is sometimes the only place folks are learning about sex - about REALLY IMPORTANT topics like pleasure and bodies and safety and consent.  I cannot highlight enough that porn is not real life, you guys.  The same way you wouldn't want to learn how to drive a car by watching the "The Bourne Identity" (another top notch sexy inspo movie idea - hellooooooo Matt Damon!) you would't want to learn how to fuck by watching porn.  The people in porn are actors - whether professional or amateur - and are ACTING.  Performing stunts, even.  The woman moaning with delight while a man jack hammers his penis into her vagina is being paid to fake it.  Please don't jack hammer your dick into a pussy just because you saw it in porn.  And please, FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, don't think that if someone resists your advances that it's totally fine to persist because that's what happens in some porn scenes.  In real life, that's rape.  
  • Porn can really really mess up what we expect sex to look and feel like, and also what WE are supposed to be like.  Pornography culture can lead to some really unrealistic expectations about our bodies and our pleasure.  In the majority of mainstream porn, women are thin, able-bodied, white, with big tits, long eyelashes, long, full hair, lots of makeup, and pink, hairless genitals and small labia.  And the men all have a large penis.  We all know that this is not real life, but that doesn't always translate into us all feeling inferior if we don't measure up to those images.  Or like there isn't something wrong with us if our bodies aren't responding the same way we see bodies responding in porn (for example, if we are unable to squirt, if anal sex is painful, if we don't enjoy someone cumming on our face, if the sex we have doesn't involve penetration, we're not having multiple orgasms in a matter of minutes, etc.)  
  • Finally, mainstream porn can be incredibly damaging to the feminist movement.  Stereotypical portrayals of women perpetuate the value of a very narrow and specific image of "what it means to be a woman," and the multi-billion dollar pornography industry is - surprise surprise - controlled by men.  Many of the typical plotlines of mainstream porn surround misogynistic values where the straight, white heterosexual men hold the power and control and their pleasure is at the epicenter of the narrative.  Sex educator and feminist porn producer Tristan Taormino wrote an excellent account of the industry from a feminist perspective if you want more deets.

My hope for you all is that you can reap all the benefits of porn while keeping in mind some of the detriments I listed.  Consuming porn media (and, any media for that matter) with a critical rather than a passive eye helps us to mitigate some of these less-than-ideal effects.

Oh! I almost forgot!  If you're interested in consuming some ethically produced, quality feminist porn, click here (NSFW because duh, it's porn) or the banner I included below!  Happy viewing!  

colby zongol
 
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