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In the age of the Internet and increased accessibility, many people – parents, academics, socially-conscious consumers of pornography – are in crisis about the potential negative effects of porn on its consumers. Concerns range from sexual objectification of women and people of color, to unrealistic sexual expectations and increased sexual violence. These fears center around the same general idea: that pornography is problematic in many ways, and a person who watches porn will likely want to emulate it in their own sexual life.

As it turns out, there is no real support for these fears aside from flawed logic and social messaging about the dangers of porn and of sex in general. (This is distinct from legitimate criticisms of the way the mainstream porn industry treats its workers, which is not the topic of this article.)

In this sex-positive gal’s opinion, porn is not only fun and pretty unavoidable, it can actually be an important aspect of your individual sexual development. Breathe easy, all ye erotica lovers: viewing dirty (and I intend that word positively) videos and pictures will not alter your body or your mind for the worse. It will not make you a bad lover or a rapist. Here are a few of its great effects.

1. Porn can help you sexually self-actualize.

By consuming sexual content, you allow yourself to discover what does and does not turn you on – whether by thinking about it, witnessing it, or trying it at home. Your sexual imagination and your “to-try” list are not necessarily one and the same, and porn helps you to develop both. Learning to fantasize also empowers you to have more enjoyable and more varied experiences with masturbation and with sexual partners.

2. You might just learn to love your body.

While a lot of mainstream porn does reflect dangerously unrealistic beauty standards, “queer porn” that is produced in an ethical, feminist, and sex-positive manner often showcases more realistic and representative bodies. Porn that represents (but does not fetishize) different body types, abilities, genders, and colors can help you learn to love your own body. Recognizing that others are sexy, despite their nonconformity to societal beauty standards, can help you recognize that you are sexy too.

3. Similarly, porn can validate your sexuality.

If you have fantasized about a certain kind of sexual experience, seeing it represented shows you that you are not alone – whether it’s a specific sex act, your sexual orientation, a genre of kink that excites you, or anything else. Good, ethical porn shows various types of sex and actually debunks many of the sexual myths transmitted by stereotypical sex education and pop culture – for example, that sex means very little aside from penetrative sex between a cisgender man and woman.

In her HBO special “We Are Miracles,” comedian Sarah Silverman discusses her porn-watching habits. “I very rarely… occasionally… obsessively watch porn on my phone,” she opens, to a big laugh. She goes on to describe the videos that have become a part of her nightly routine, focusing on the words she plugs into the search engine to find the porn she wants. “Let me just say, my search words are not anything I would want to happen in real life. I don’t know why they’re my search words, but they are.”

The reveal brings the audience to raucous applause and laughter: the search-words are “gang bang,” “amateur,” “cum,” and “high-fives.”

I love this bit because it illustrates one of my favorite things about porn. As Ms. Silverman points out, and as I’ve mentioned, porn preferences do not necessarily reflect real-life sexual preferences. Porn, like celebrity gossip or TV shows, constructs a fantasy. You are smart enough to recognize that your real life is not the same as all aspects of that fantasy, and to select what you realistically want to imitate.

Of course, as you have probably realized by now, my preference lies with ethical porn. If you’re not sure whether you are viewing ethical content, you can ask yourself a few questions: Does this porn exclude queer people, transgender people, people of color, people of size, and/or people with disabilities? If it does include people of those identities, is the identity centered in a fetishizing and/or objectifying manner? Are women passive or else not shown as sexual agents whose pleasure matters? Does the porn end the moment a man reaches climax? Is communication and enthusiastic consent absent? Is protection absent? Do you feel guilty or uncomfortable as you watch?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you may want to choose different porn; or you may simply want to recognize those problematic aspects and continue. Porn is a varied and complex category, and you may not feel that it reinforces negative attitudes for you personally. In the end, just trust your instincts – as Sarah Silverman and many generations of porn consumers show us, you’ll be amazed at where they can take you.

tinyfish957
tinyfish957
admin@mizlovelovesbooks.com

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