Sexing up porn

I guess it should come as no surprise that the top two links that you readers clicked on from my first post were related to sex and pornography. So, since you seem to be interested, I decided to explore this for a little while.

My explorations led me to an article in Men’s Health entitled, What Type of Porn are You Into?, which summarises the findings of a U.S.A. national study by the website, PornHub. The first key finding listed is: “When analyzing the top choices from each state, the two most popular search terms were ‘teen’ and ‘creampie.’ In fact, 31 out of 50 states had ‘teen’ listed amongst their top three, while 29 out of 50 states had ‘creampie’ in theirs.” 

Now, I don’t know about you, but this finding worries me for two reasons. Firstly, what does it mean, in terms of how men are defining their masculinity, if such a large number of guys across the U.S. are specifically seeking out pornography featuring underage people? What types of ideas are men and boys forming about power and consent in sex? And how does this play out in their sexual interactions in real life?

The finding about ‘creampie’ (don’t worry – I also had to look it up) pornography is also concerning because it discourages (or, more precisely, completely ignores) condom-use. It is ironic that a site entitled Men’s Health would publish the article without any discussion about the real-life impacts on men’s health (and women’s, for that matter) of this sexual behaviour.

Although the article encourages readers to post thoughts, questions or concerns, no one has raised these issues. In fact, one of the comments from a male reader is “Thanks a lot for these sex tips, I hope they will help improve my sex life.” So if at least some men, and probably most boys, are learning about sex primarily through online pornography and their favourite types of pornography to watch feature unsafe, underage, illegal sex…and they are trying to apply this in their own sex lives…hmm….

There is fascinating research on the impact of pornography addictions on the brain, and some male sex educators talk about why they have quit watching pornography. However, my gut feeling that eliminating pornography entirely may not be realistic and, instead, more efforts need to be placed into making pornography represent safe, consensual, and realistic sex. Thankfully, sites like Make Love, Not Porn and The Pleasure Project are working hard to push this agenda. Others are also trying to normalise sex so that boys’ and girls’ main source of information about sex is their parents, teachers, and community – and not online pornography.  And what can we do? Openly talk to each other – to our friends, families, kids, partners – about sex, support initiatives to change how sex is presented in the media, or lobby companies that produce or promote pornography to highlight consent and condom-use in their material.

Other ideas? What are you doing to normalise sex?

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