Porn and Me

I was so blown away by a post of Trinity’s on her experiences with porn that I felt motivated to think about my relationship with the medium. So here are some disorganized musings.

I attribute the whole thing to the fact that I was a rather traditional nerdy girl, who came of age with guys.

Maybe a year or two years ago (it seems so long ago in my head, but I guess it wasn’t), I was learning about and becoming accustomed to ideas of sex, sexual identity, and sexual expression for the first time, and growing into an idea of myself as a sexual being. I started giving names to feelings, responses that I had, and I moved from a stage of “fascination” with certain concepts or people to a stage of sexual attraction and arousal. That feeling I once described to my little sister as “needing to pee” became, I realized (particularly after watching a rather bizarre French documentary on Swedish television), swelling of my clitoris. I learned more, I read more, I talked more, and my hormone balances changed. The stories I told myself to fall asleep at night stopped having a plot, I noticed. Instead I would fixate, almost unconsciously, on the same scene, whether it was the scene where the protagonist (a cooler version of myself) had detention with the incredibly sexy young teacher, or the one where the protagonists committed a disciplinary infraction on an 18th-century Royal Navy ship and the cat was (literally) let out of the bag. (I was fond of that one. But beside the point.)

So here we are, I’m 16 or so, pretty emotionally immature, and not quite sure how to piece together my very extensive reading knowledge of sex education with my own feelings, which I can’t control and don’t understand. In the meantime, I make some new friends—and my new friends, as it happens, are a little more at ease with themselves and a little more at ease with me. Unlike the guys I always tried to make friends with in my classes, these guys were willing to talk about “guy stuff” to each other in front of me. It was the first time I’d ever heard anyone talk openly about their own sexual responses. I was kind of taken aback, but in the interests of being accepted, I adjusted. Naturally, because these were your average adolescent males, I started to hear about porn (in fact, it might have been around the second time I hung out with them outside of school). I’d never heard anyone talk about it before; I had only the vaguest clinical idea of what it was. I’d certainly never seen any. But I heard my friends mention the genre of entertainment in passing, and so formed the opinion they presented: that porn isn’t harmful, that it is normal to watch it, and that this is often done as an aid to masturbation, which is also perfectly natural (well, I knew that part from my teen health websites). I started to “heheh” at sexual references, and I started to become accustomed to their world.

I didn’t really integrate myself completely in it, though—and still haven’t—because, I suppose, I’m undeniably wired like a woman. Sex drive isn’t omnipresent for me, and it especially wasn’t two years ago, as a very late bloomer. Also, all this information was new to me, who had never even considered self-pleasure before I heard it discussed, and I didn’t entirely understand that this porn idea could apply to women as well. At the time I didn’t have very many female friends, and those I had did not tend to be sexually well-adjusted. I was very confused: to a certain extent, I didn’t think of sexualization as something women did, and that was partly because I saw it as “wrong”—I remember having ethical quandaries about the way my male friends would sometimes objectify women (until I, terribly, found myself doing it too, and figured I couldn’t really maintain the moral high ground). But at the same time, because what I knew other people had was a life with a sex drive, I began to think I was not quite normal. I described myself as asexual for a few months, until I grew into myself a little better and realized that wasn’t accurate at all.

So shit, I’ve gotten way off-track. What about the porn? I took 700 words to explain where I am now, and perhaps none too clearly. I think I’m biologically and hormonally as sexually developed as I’m going to be for a young adult woman (if not experienced or comfortable), and here I am. I still don’t watch porn, and I still don’t masturbate. I had problems with the masturbation, and I gave up trying so hard. I still feel bad that I can’t do something everyone else can do (even the female friends I’ve since, happily, acquired), but I also figure it’s probably not worth investing that much stress into it. And porn. What do I think about that?

You must understand I don’t think it’s wrong, or amoral—I’m a big supporter of the porn industry, of the idea of graphic portrayal of sexual material, and all that stuff. I would have no problem with a significant other who watched porn, or indeed one who was interested in watching porn with me. Sometimes someone will send me a clip or a picture and I’ll watch it or look at it—sometimes I’ve seen some very attractive things that way. Because of the way I’ve grown into myself, I think it’s amusing when I can agree with one of those straight guys about a good porn clip, or a hot actress (still a fairly rare occurrence, though). It’s like sharing a taste in, y’know, non-sexual movies. And I do a fair amount of research-type work into porn, reading the old shit and watching the more modern shit. I watched Deep Throat once because I wanted to know what started porno film, and of course I’ve read the standards from Fanny Hill to Story of O.

But I don’t go seeking it out to pleasure myself. And I can’t help but think that’s a little weird. I’m not sure if I’m repressed, or if I do secretly think it’s a bit wrong, or unhealthy. I think that to a certain extent, I’m still wedded to that misconception I had back when I started learning about it that porn is a guy thing, and I’m not a guy, therefore it’s not really my problem. I guess I don’t know where to start, or what to look for. I’m hard to please, certainly, and not only do I not like to see cocks (which kind of rules out a lot there), I don’t find anything interesting in mainstream heterosexual notions of female beauty. I guess I’m too lazy or too nervous to go searching for something other than the first Internet pop-up that confronts me. I guess I can tackle porn on a scientific or social or historical level, and when I think about it there’s a lot of sort of unusual stuff I’ve seen in my intellectual curiosity about unusual fetishes, or indeed about my own relatively vanilla ones. But then move outside of the scientific and say “This is hot”? That’s not something I’m too good at doing.

Someone sent me a porno once that I do actually like (and that made me feel like I’d finally succeeded in dealing with my sexuality), and as it’s all I’ve got other than the tenth re-reading of Story of O, there are times in the dark of night when I’ll navigate the complicated folder structure I set up to hide it and sit down and watch it all the way through. I squirm with something—is it discomfort at seeing a naked woman (something that’s never happened in real life), or is it just a little bit of carnal pleasure at what the man in the video says and does to her? I guess I wouldn’t keep watching it if I didn’t like it, and yet I’ve never—in a year, I think it’s been—typed in the URL that appears at the bottom of the video. I’ve never gone looking for more like it, tried to find out what I’m into, or if watching this stuff could help me masturbate the way I first learned it did other people.

Just like, for this 18-year-old virgin, sex is something other people have, porn is something other people derive pleasure from. It’s great for them, and I’m happy they can enjoy themselves. The first thing I learned about porn was that it is fun to watch and a healthy sexual indulgence. Combine that with what I know now about consent and 2257 and all that good stuff, and I have absolutely no qualms about saying that I am completely pro-porn and proud of it.

In a strictly abstract sense.

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One Response to “Porn and Me”

  1. HI!

    Thanks for the link! :)

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your responses being a bit less visceral and a bit more abstract — mine are often like that when I’m looking at porn alone. (Not *always*, but actually getting my motor running is a bit more difficult than just liking something, or not really being aroused by it at the moment, but using it as fantasy fodder later. It may just be a gender difference or hormone-difference.)

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