I recently had to track my online activity for a 48-hour period as part of a college assignment. I went into it with a certain amount of trepidation but I also with a piqued sense of curiosity — not about my own internet habits, but those of my classmates. Will they cop to their salacious habits? You know they’re watching it or reading it, will they admit to it? During the orientation for this exercise, when the professor asked the class about preconceived notions of the internet, it was on the tip of my tongue to blurt out the old meme “The Internet is for porn,” but I held back. Watching internet porn, it seems, is only slightly less embarrassing to admit to than watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians .
Personal admission time: I tend to be a bit suspicious of men who don’t watch pornography from time to time. Guys who watch it constantly and compulsively are another story, but there’s something about a man who doesn’t occasionally indulge in pornography that’s just unnatural. I remember a man I dated about twenty years ago, and the first time I stayed in his home for a weekend. I fully expected to find a little porn or some equivalent — I found none. This was in glaring contrast to my roommate at the time, who openly and proudly displayed his vast collection of lesbian porn for any and all to see. For most young women, discovering that her boyfriend had no pornography in his possession would be a wonderful revelation, one to tell all your friends about: “He doesn’t have any porn in his house! Stunning?!” For me, it was the opposite. Conversations with my friends went more like this: “He doesn’t have any porn in his house . . . no, none. Not a drop. Something’s wrong here.” I felt that it bespoke of a closed-off, repressed attitude toward sex, and that feeling has changed little over the years. My opinion of pornography used to be an exception to the rule for women, but it appears that may be changing.
Pornography for women seems to be undergoing something of a renaissance. How else can one explain the popularity of the ridiculously implausible Fifty Shades of Grey? But even as attitudes change, some things stay the same. Women’s pornography still seems to be mainly literary based, perhaps because the majority of visual porn is geared toward men — I’ve heard of “feminist porn” but I have yet to actually see it. I’ve often heard the saying that men are mostly visually stimulated, while women’s arousal takes place mainly in the mind. I don’t know if that’s necessarily true, but the rise of fan-fiction and books like Fifty Shades of Grey (which began as an online Twilight fanfic series) certainly lend credence to that adage. Hopefully, one good thing that may result from the Fifty Shades craze is that perhaps more female writers who are appalled by the state of “mommy porn” as I am will take it upon themselves to write good quality, realistic, thought provoking and sexually stimulating erotica for women. There is loads of room for improvement. It may even lead to a new-and-improved female-geared porn industry, which I for one would welcome wholeheartedly.
Porn – in all its forms – has been here some time – and it isn’t going away. Why not strive to make it, like human sexuality itself, something that men and women alike embrace; could enjoying porn become guilt and shame free? Here’s a novel concept; a new and healthy sexual revolution for the digital age.
External links & references
- 12 reasons why why porn filters won’t work : The Guardian
- 50 Shades of Grey : how the number$ stack up
- The pornography statistics : Forbes.com
Photo by Roger Atwood, via Flickr, cc.