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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Porn vs. reality

Pizza Guy knocks.

The door swings open to reveal a half-naked woman with neck-down alopecia and two balloons attached to her ribcage.

“I hear somebody ordered a large sausage pizza?”

We all know where it goes from there.

Pornography is as old as civilization itself — even prehistoric rock art depicted erotic images. Pornographic films, such as the Le Coucher de la Mariée striptease, were in production less than a year after the motion picture was invented in 1895.

And since the advent of the internet, porn has become more accessible than ever before.

This has led, unsurprisingly, to quite a bit of self-righteous backlash. Porn is immoral, they say. It’s filthy. It is corrupting the minds of the people who watch it with depraved thoughts. If you watch porn, you should feel ashamed, especially if you are a girl.

I beg to disagree.

Porn has many benefits for those who enjoy watching it. For those not in sexual relationships, it can provide relief from sexual frustration. For those with sexual partners, porn can inspire new ideas. It can even provide virtual “variety” for those who crave it, but are in monogamous relationships. Porn can help people having difficulty orgasming or conjuring their own fantasies while flying solo.

In and of itself, porn is great.

My issue is not with the immorality or “corrupting influence” of porn. The only real problem with pornography stems from the fact that there is very little discourse about real sex to counter the discourse in porn sex.

Sure, sex surrounds us every day in advertisements, music, TV — you name it. But what our society still lacks is the ability to communicate about sex openly and honestly.

This is not to say people are actively confused by the difference between the porn world and the real world. If they were, Woodstock’s would have won most popular place to work two weeks ago. But porn has nevertheless influenced our sex lives because of the lack of other, less glamorized sexual discourse.

For many young people, porn has replaced sex ed. Parents don’t want to talk to their kids about anything beyond the missionary position, so they learn everything else about how they should act from the easiest place they can find it: online porn.

This would not be so much of an issue if the narrative of most free, mainstream internet porn was not so predictable. Almost all of this (most widely available) porn is made by straight men, for straight men. And, according to these videos, the end-all goal of every sexual encounter is the male orgasm.

This is not only damaging to young women (who grow up not feeling as entitled to orgasm) but to young men as well. Sex is not all about the orgasm. Sometimes girls don’t come, and this seems to be accepted, but sometimes guys don’t, either. And because of porn, this is seen as a failure. Guys feel the need to apologize, even if the girl got off and the sex was thoroughly enjoyable.

Even for us college kids, the less-than-smooth moments that are a part of every sexual encounter would be far less mortifying if we were willing to have more open dialogues about sex. Everyone has experienced awkward noises, stubborn bra straps and mid-coital sneezes, but many feel embarrassed because these things are never seen in the videos where many of us have learned about how sex is “supposed” to go.

Porn stars never queef.

Porn won’t ever mirror real life, and it shouldn’t have to. It is entertainment, and therefore meant to look good for the camera, and usually be shocking enough to garner views and downloads.

We should never feel ashamed or embarrassed to watch porn, but need to keep in mind that the narrative most porn presents is as narrow-minded as the people who condemn it. Sex is not about looking perfect, and it’s not all about ejaculation, either. It’s about having fun with your partner and making each other feel good.

And the only way we can perpetuate that idea as opposed to the one presented in porn, the only way we can balance the pornographic narrative, is to stop seeing our sex lives as a hush-hush issue.

MARISA MASSARA wants to hear about your sex life! She can be reached at mvmassara@ucdavis.edu.

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