Porn & Its Impact

What role does porn play in your day-to-day life, your relationship, in sex education and the culture around sexuality? What impact has it have and how is it changing? What have you learned?

On Nov 22nd, we hosted a discussion on this topic, joined by 15 people who brought unique viewpoints and experiences into the room.

These are some of our questions, reflections, and takeaways. As you read, notice what makes sense to you and what triggers a reaction in you. Use this as a jumping off point to ask more questions and engage other interested people in conversation!

P.S. If you are interested in more sex-positive conversations (discussing sex calmly and candidly, like we might discuss food or hobbies), look at Sex Geeks Singapore.

Our interests spanned quite a breadth of topics — from personal experiences to intellectual or political angles:

  • How do parents talk to (or allow for conversation about) pornography and sex?
  • What impact did our initial exposure to porn or erotic content have on us?
  • How does porn influence our expectations of sex, particularly of sex in romantic relationships?
  • Why might we watch porn or masturbate?
  • Is watching porn cheating?
  • What role does porn play in relationships?
  • How is porn conceived of in more conservative families, cultures, or countries?
  • What reactions do people have against porn? (is it cool, something to avoid and cut cold turkey?)
  • What is good about porn?
  • How does porn allow people to explore kink and sexuality?
  • What is the life of a porn actor or webcam host like?
  • What’s the future of porn and its impact? What would improve porn?
  • How do people know the difference between what is “just” porn and what is real/realistic/good to do?

At the end, there was a general consensus that we expected this conversation to be difficult and awkward — it’s something we may want to discuss with friends, but never do — but in reality, we found the discussion to be easy and comfortable.

Once we agreed on a topic and guidelines for discussion (inviting openness, being respectful and curious about each other’s opinions, sharing without need for solutions or well-defined conclusions), stories and ideas were shared and welcomed.

QUESTIONS / TAKEAWAYS

Why (or when) do you watch porn?

  • a default go-to when I’m bored
  • quick stress relief
  • a distraction when I’m feeling work pressure
  • a easy way to get some emotional and sexual engagement when I do not have a partner or they are not interested
  • if I’m feeling unfocused, a way to get off and get focused again
  • when I’m lonely — there’s a strong human element
  • when I’m curious what’s out there, what kinds of creative crazy things do people do with each other?

How does porn factor into relationships? Jealousy, cheating, sharing, and encouragement — 

  • does my partner compare me to the people in the porn clip?
  • why do they get pleasure from porn rather than from me?
  • I share some of my porn links with my partner, but there is some that I hide and would be afraid to share
  • I encourage my partners to watch porn
  • I feel that having sex with me is very different from watching porn and they should enjoy it feeling
  • would my partner be less likely to cheat if they can happily watch porn when I’m not around?
  • what does is mean for me when my partner watches something specific?
  • does my partner have a fantasy I’m not aware of or cannot fulfill?
  • watching porn together can be a fun way to know who is excited when
  • sometimes, people/couples have trouble getting aroused without porn

Discussing sex or porn with a parent or child –

  • “Just know that I know you’re learning more about sex/porn/relationships, and I’m here if you ever have questions!”
  • opening up a bridge, a communication channel, and keeping that open — without forcing information or beliefs on children
  • getting a sense that sex is good and should be enjoyed mutually
  • shutting down conversations about sex/bodies/nudity makes it taboo
  • would like a sense of self-confidence and self-exploration
  • would like to know how love and sex relate
  • interested in what’s realistic or good to do  and what’s not (fantasy, unusual, unique, illegal)
  • know that children as early as 3 start getting curious about the differences between female and male bodies — this is normal, not perverse, and it is simply curiosity
  • a heads up about what erections are and the change from clear to white ejaculate would save boys a lot of fear and shame
  • shame is learned/taught

What would we like more of from sex education?

  • would like to fill that gap between when I realise porn exists and when I have sex — ideally with social education, self-awareness and discovery
  • schools can help parents and support their role
  • modernise — talk about sexting, naked picture/video pressures, grooming, and other ideas that may be learned from movies/porn/magazines etc
  • avoiding the topic is not the way! Sure, we can talk about reproduction without talking about sex but the internet is there and students will research… and their information will come from all kinds of different sources
  • what can replace porn? hobbies, creativity, social activities, reading

What are the benefits of porn? We spend so much time on the negatives –

  • a way to learn about potential fantasies and experiences to share with a partner
  • an efficient way to get excited and find release
  • can be a space for creativity
  • a place where nudity and bodies and desires are not hidden and embarrassing but out in the open
  • (porn stars are often very sex-positive and body-positive!)

What are the connotations of a someone who watches porn?

  • can’t get sex
  • lewd or perverse
  • cool (if they don’t get too excited)
  • negative stereotypes mean that people do not discuss issues that come up or what’s portrayed in porn, and keep their ideas and beliefs hidden for a very long time

Should we stop watching porn completely? (the “nofap” movement)

  • “nofap” is the idea that porn is bad and dulls our ability to be excited and pleasured, so we should stop completely
  • If not stop completely, then “nofap” believes we should watch as little as possible and not masturbate to porn
  • what is addiction? perhaps when people cannot get aroused with porn
  • should we go cold turkey? moderate? try to fill in more positive non-porn activities?
  • sex addicts is similar to AA — provides space to share and accountability
  • healthy porn use starts from self-awareness!
  • “mindful masturbation” is a newer concept — it may involve using porn but not looking at it continuously, thus focusing on the sensation for most of the time, or focusing on touch altogether

What’s the future of porn? Technology and its impact –

  • VR porn is already taking off
  • Lots of individual creators now — live webcams are extremely popular
  • there is some regulation, but not much on cartoons — for example, hentai can display rape, beasiality, necrophilia, pedophilia freely
  • who’s responsible for regulating content?
  • How do people know what’s real and good to emulate, and what’s not?
  • porn is good because there is no rejection — real world, outside of porn, can be quite intimidating
  • The End of Porn — documentary about porn stars careers

Is porn objectifying? Where is there educational, realistic, humanising porn?

  • “Are they interested in me or just in having sex with me?”
  • There are gender stereotypes — that “boys will be boys” and “men have needs for sex/orgasm” whereas women have needs for emotion, and only want for sex
  • Be careful when making claims via gender — this is how we learned, but it is a highly simplified way of viewing the world
  • Does porn teach men to chase and women to play hard to get and then enthusiastically express their enjoyment?
  • Does porn teach that men can do whatever they want to women (who are nearby, naked, etc)?
  • How do these stereotypes play out in non-heterosexual porn?
  • What might you have learned from porn or movies?
  • Most free porn is rather male-centered and stereotypical, but there are a lot of paid sites with quality content
  • four-chambered heart — porn with an alternative, kinky, non-hetero aesthetic
  • erika lust — porn with morals, story, and reality
  • hegre art — art-focused porn, a lot of massage, sensuality, and ballerina gracefulness
  • omgyes — not porn — an explicit and professional educational site on pleasuring women — they with interviewed thousands of women on how they like to be pleasured, came up with a number of techniques and patterns, show videos of specific women, and have online models/games to try the different techniques

P.S. If you are interested in more sex-positive conversations (discussing sex calmly and candidly, like we might discuss food or hobbies), look at Sex Geeks Singapore.

 

 

Angela OgnevPorn & Its Impact
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