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In defense of porn

I came across something today that kind of rubbed me the wrong way – an excerpt of an article criticized porn for being the cause why teenagers grow up not knowing what “healthy sexuality” is (I know I am picking on just a very small part of the message, but it’s more the prevalence of this view that irks me). I always find it curious how porn often gets the bad reputation and gets blamed for some people being insensitive jackasses.

Earlier this month, a study was published about effects of high porn consumption on sexist attitudes of (heterosexual) men.  Results? Some men, those who exhibited lower “agreeableness” prior to viewing porn, showed more hostility towards women afterwards. Fascinating. So, basically, guys who already had problems with/ negative opinions of women to begin with got even more aggressive after watching them have sex on screen with men other than themselves. And those guys who already did not view women in a negative light had no perceptible change in their demeanor and attitudes. I mean, that’s pretty much what I’ve believed, but it’s nice to have some sort of backing on it.

It reminds me of something the woman who started Spanx said – “money makes you more of who you already are. If you’re an asshole, you become a bigger asshole. If you’re nice, you become nicer.” Having an exposure to sex, porn, wealth or violence will not change you as a person unless you already have a pre-disposition to it and are looking for an excuse to let the reigns go. That’s why, even though I do understand that simply by virtue of being the only example of sex, “conventional” porn (more on that in a moment) may show somewhat unrealistic expectations of what sex is to children, I don’t think it’s really to blame for seemingly callous attitudes towards sex and relationships in general. A lot more responsibility lies on education that is restrictive on sex information (it is not realistic to expect teenagers to not be exposed to sex in today’s world) and on parents who try to shelter their offsprings and instead end up leaving them unprepared to navigate through confusing messages about consent, objectification, pleasure and abuse. Instead of blaming porn for the perceived carelessness, there should be active discussions and explanations that, just as is the case with mainstream movies, what one sees on the screen is a playing out of a fantasy, for entertainment and not education. Just as it’s understood that, while the main character in the movie can magically transform into a hero during a 2-minute montage, it would take a real person significant time and effort to bulk up and be ready to take on the villain, I guess some people should be explicitly taught that there is a wealth of prep being done behind the scenes for that effortless anal scene.

Porn is not uniform. As a matter of fact, it’s so diverse that I think it is a beautiful comment about how individualistic desire is in people. Yes, some like the same thing in bed (or on the floor, stairs, table, whatever) – and that is fantastic because it allows them to find someone to have the kind of sex with they enjoy. But the variety is astounding – from big production houses to amateur, masturbation to gang bangs, softcore to BDSM, furries to haircuts, and so on. There is something out there for everyone, and no one has to feel like they’re alone in what turns them on (maybe even that guy who gets turned on by farts can find someone). I might not be into all of the things out there, but as long as the fantasies acted out are consented to by all parties involved (which rules out child pornography and abuse) – I do not understand why they would be bad. I am not necessarily advocating that porn becomes readily available to kids, but the reality is that it sort of already is. It’s no longer hidden, but rather all around them and the only alternative seems to be to show that there is a variety of stimulation out there, and not just one kind.

And what is “healthy sexuality” to begin with? If someone watches the mainstream porn and wants to play out “male domination” or “violent” scenarios, does it make them unhealthy? Does the answer change if the responder is a man or a woman? What about if the gender roles in the fantasy are switched? There is nothing wrong with trying things out – it also doesn’t mean that you end up liking whatever you tried. If there was more emphasis on teaching respect and openness when it comes to sex in general, availability and content of porn shouldn’t make much of a difference, because people who already have these values instilled wouldn’t be affected by whatever they are watching, and could instead focus on finding out what and whom they actually enjoy. And if that ends up being whatever the most common images in vanilla heteronormative porn are, that’s perfectly fine as long as they find someone to experience it with them.

One thought on “In defense of porn

  1. At best, porn is art trying to imitate life; it’s main purpose isn’t to educate – it’s to stimulate and, sadly, a lot of people wind up using porn as a replacement for responsible sex education. Getting parents to do their job and teach the complexities of sex to their young ones is the one thing most parents just do not want to do. I have heard parents say, “If I don’t tell them about it, how can they miss something they don’t know about?”

    This is pure ignorance. They should remember their own experiences and how their peer group, more than anything else, helped them to develop their sexual attitudes and, yep, some of that ‘education’ wouldn’t be Kosher by a lot of standards. I know that I sat my kids down and told them what the deal was about sex – none of that birds and bees nonsense. I got chastised about it by other parents (not that I cared what they thought) but I was determined not to let my children learn about sex the hard way – trial and error can be rather dangerous for the ill-informed.

    I like porn’s diversity; if there’s something that’ll get you hard or wet, porn has something for you. But, again, it’s not a teaching tool; it’s not a good example of a way to behave with women or sex period. I know a lot of guys will watch porn and, as you say, get pissed off with their woman because she’s not having sex with him like the people on the screen are and, you betcha, I know women who have almost literally castrated their man because he can’t screw her like the examples she sees on the screen and, oh, yeah, his cock is nowhere as nice and big as the guys on the DVD.

    Because porn doesn’t ever conform to society’s concepts of ‘normal’ sex, porn has always be vilified and especially by the devoutly religious – there’s a reason why the missionary position is called that -i t’s the best position to facilitate pregnancy – and since porn isn’t about procreation, it’s bad, horrible, and all the other negative adjectives that can be applied to it.

    “Healthy sexuality.” Honestly, I don’t know what that is anymore – it falls into the “what’s normal” category because if something works for you and the people you’re having sex with, well, that’s healthy, right? Society has its own idea of this, of course… but it doesn’t even come close to the diversity of human sexuality; it’s why I, as a bisexual, get funny or dirty looks because I’m bi – I think and believe that being able to go both ways for pleasure is healthy for me – but society wouldn’t agree. Their idea of healthy is boy/girl sex and none of the freaky/kinky stuff a man and a woman can do together.

    This was a good writing – I enjoyed it and thank you for allowing me to comment at length about it!

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