How Porn Can Influence Your Sex Life

for better or for worse

Porn has a bit of a mixed reputation. Over the last few decades, we’ve seen pornography morph from ‘naughty’ magazines hidden under people’s beds, to pay per view adult films on TV, to an internet explosion of all types and genres of porn you could ever want within the click of a button.

Porn and masturbation, especially for people with vulvas, have been quite taboo subjects. However, we’re in the midst of a thriving sexual revolution where conversations around sex and pleasure are becoming more mainstream, and people are becoming more sex positive. Between actor and feminist Emma Watson promoting sexual education website, OMGYes, stocked with instructional videos on how to make women orgasm and the many influencers and pleasure activists speaking about the importance of masturbation and a fulfilling sex life, the sexual revolution is real.

So, where does porn fit into all of this?

When we speak about porn it’s a really nuanced topic as there’s a lot we have to consider - like who’s watching it, how they’re engaging with it, how the producers and performers are treated and paid, what’s going on... (basically the who, what, when where, why and how of porn).

Porn's negative impact on sexual education

Research has found children and young people are encountering pornography at much younger ages and in greater numbers than ever before, with three of the top 10 most viewed websites in the world being porn sites. A paper called ‘Pornography, young people, and preventing violence against women’ found that nearly half of young men have seen porn by the age of 13 and nearly half of young women by the age of 15. This exposure to porn, at a vital time when young people are developing an understanding of sex and relationships (without access to any thorough, useful, age appropriate sex ed), has the opportunity greatly influence young people’s views and attitudes on these subjects. Research has shown that porn has harmful impacts on young people and adults with pornography contributing to sexual violence, sexual objectification, unsafe sex, body shaming, erectile dysfunction and lowering relationship and sexual satisfaction.

Also, porn isn’t realistic. We rarely see body hair, discussions of protection or contraception and importantly where’s the consent?! Porn completely skews perceptions of beauty, sexual standards, expectations and can affect a person’s ability to become aroused in real life sexual situations. So why is the appeal so strong? Well porn actually activates the reward mechanism in our brains at such a high level that it is more pleasurable then the average arousing stimulus, and unless we actively engage in new behaviors many people report that they feel dependent on this level of stimuli to reach heightened states of arousal and excitement. In some cases people can become addicted to porn. If that’s the case, it’s always best to seek professional support.

But I want to watch Porn, what do I do?

Georgia Grace, Frenchie’s resident Professor of Pleasure and certified sex coach, has some advice for us, “'When I speak about these positive benefits [of porn] I am only referring to adults who understand that porn is a performance and know it's function is to arouse the viewer. If adults consume porn mindfully, ethically, consensually and with embodied awareness it can be a fun, explorative and/or insightful sexual experience. It can be a way to delve into your fantasies, your eroticism or just have a good time with yourself or other/s. There's a whole lot of ethical porn out there which I am noticing many people are opting for over the mainstream websites”.

If you’ve never heard of ethical porn get onto it! Ethical porn is porn that is made consensually, respectfully, realistically, isn’t centred around the male gaze, shows diversity, and pays performers and filmmakers fairly (here are some websites to check out). Also, it has been proven that porn can have some benefits for your relationship if you watch it with your partner. One survey found that couples who watch porn together once a week or more had more satisfying sex lives and were more committed in their relationships. Plus, more than half the women surveyed believed porn gave them the courage to ask for what they wanted in bed.

 

The good news is it’s not all doom and gloom. Here at Frenchie we encourage sexual exploration, so if you typically watch porn – do some research into ethical porn sites and be more mindful of the content to engage with. Then grab your lube, your sex toys, (maybe a partner) or just your sexy self and have some fun!

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