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are you competing with a porn star?

A friend once said to me that he’d have a difficult time becoming aroused by a woman who was not typically ‘clean shaven down there’. This propelled a heated debate into the modification of the female sex and led me to question whether the consumption of internet porn is impacting the way men desire women.

It’s no taboo to enter a beauty parlor and ask for a “Brazilian” i.e. the painful epilation of all genital hair and sometimes around the anal orifice too. Some women embrace the idea claiming that it’s just another part of personal hygiene and sexual appeal. According to Glamour Magazine, a poll conducted by Schick showed that 73% of women said ‘bikini line maintenance is a part of their normal beauty routine’ with 79% of men (out of 500) claiming to “like neatened up bikini areas.”

So how does genital hair removal relate to porn induced fantasies? According to Dr. Gail Dines, Professor of Sociology and author of ‘Pornland’, it comes as no secret that this industry fails to display any hint of real life. She states that ‘Brazilian waxes come straight from the pornography industry’ and that most female students she meets ‘have no pubic hair’ due to the fact that ‘their boyfriends don’t like it.’ Dines purports that because pornography continues to be ‘glamourised’, women are ‘capitulating to men’s sex demands because there are very few alternatives of being female.’

She says that porn is distorting the way men feel sexually, stating that the men she has spoken to became ‘upset and angry’ when their wives and girlfriends do not act, ‘look or behave’ like their ‘favourite porn stars.’ Dines believes that porn has bled sex dry of ‘intimacy, emotions and connection.’

A 2004 Elle-MSNBC.com poll found ‘35% of men felt sex with real women had become less arousing’ and was incomparable to images of ‘virtual sex.’ How much has that poll perhaps risen in the past eight years and why? According to author Manfred Dworschak the desire to appear hairless stems from the cultivation of ‘the young girl look’ including ‘innocent Bambi faces and turned in knees’ indicating that ‘half a generation may be backing away from an adult sex life.’

To add to this, the term ‘copulatory impotence’ has been coined to describe a phenomenon in which men are able to acquire erections whilst watching porn but unable to become aroused while engaging in sex with their partners. According to authors Gary Wilson and Marnia Robinson, this leads to a person’s chronic dissatisfaction due to constantly craving ‘the unattainable.’ The article suggests that the overstimulation of porn creates a near constant release of dopamine, ‘pumping up cravings for novel stimuli’ which cannot necessarily be met in reality and therefore interferes with the natural process of human bonding.

Though there is no scientific evidence to prove that porn correlates with impotence, anecdotal evidence indicates otherwise. One man states, ‘I was proud that I could look at a hot girl on the street and not feel the slightest hint of arousal because porn had desensitized me.’ Several young men also testified that they found abstaining from porn to be sexually and emotionally rewarding.

Today, a woman can log online and publicly talk about her sex life. She can express concern that her partner’s sexual emancipation includes ejaculating in almost every orifice of her body including her ‘mouth’, anus, ‘stomach’ and even on her face. One woman justifies that ‘swallowing’ semen is a symbol of acceptance and is ‘satisfying on an instinctual level.’ Satisfying for whom, I find myself asking.

Though there are no specific statistics to state that men prefer these sexual acts, public health boards show an alarming increase in the amount of women that discuss their partner’s perverse preferences. One woman’s statement signals a cry for help, she says that her partner decided porn was about ‘variation’ for him and that if she deprived him of it, ‘he would go and cheat on me.’

Perhaps this can, in some way, relate back to popular American film culture, with movies such as Cruel Intentions, Superbad and No Strings Attached that portray young women who are eager to perform oral sex on their partners and engage in sex that lasts for no longer than a minute, but don’t depict any foreplay. In fact, according to these cleverly scripted films, the simple act of penetration has a woman in fits of ecstasy, bringing her to the brink of orgasm within seconds. And if films are indeed considered a reflection of modern life, then perhaps a man subconsciously expects the same of his girlfriend.

So while our men may be developing a case of wandering eyes for the unattainable woman, we should consider that this could just be an unresolved issue of lost romance. According to relationship coach Rinatta Paries, the first step toward rekindling romance is through physical touch. She suggests that even if it feels ‘artificial’ to touch your partner at first, reconnecting will become easier if you continue to be more intimate. I have to wonder though, if the relationship has gotten to the point of such distance that affection feels ‘artificial’, why should we even bother?

Ultimately, couples should treat one another with respect rather than having disconnected, vacant and even overly aggressive sex for the sake of reaching an orgasm. If our partners begin to question why we haven’t waxed within an inch of our lives or why we’re uncomfortable with opening our mouths for something other than a kiss, perhaps we should remind them that we are trying to “make love, not porn.”

By Sophia Anna

What do you think? Is porn harming our sex lives and/or male perceptions of female sexuality? Do you watch porn? Let us know your thoughts below!

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9 thoughts on “are you competing with a porn star?

  1. Well written article. I think as a man the amount of porn and some of the terrible corruptions of it have caused men to believe that sex is a hard-hitting exercise rather than something to be consensually enjoyed. Now that ‘soft’ porn is treated as an essential thing in blockbuster movies, men (particularly those who have never been intimate) have extravagant and flamboyant ideas on how to give a woman a ‘good time’ or an orgasm. This is at the expense of actually talking, being intimate and finding what you like as a couple.

    Coincidentally, since sincere dialog is something missing in most porn, I think some men feel honest conversation is unnecessary.

    But, I dont think porn has to hurt peoples sex lives provided they can tell the difference between fantasy and reality. The same difference between playing video games and shooting fictional characters, and actually shooting people in real life. If men are unable to draw that line, then they need a serious reality check. It was parodied in the TV series Friends, when Joey and Chandler get free porn, and they are desensitized to the point that they believe every girl they meet should be having sex with them (the bankclerk, the mail girl etc). An extreme example, but not far from the truth for those men who watch porn every day.

    To perform this reality check, give a guy a book detailing the porn industry and an honest account of what happens – ‘popular’ porn is never between a loving couple, but between two actors doing a script. Furthermore, the setup, rehearsals, extra takes; makes something that originally appears sexually stimulating into a rehearsed naked play with bad actors.

    And to be honest on your other point, while a jungle on either a man or a female in their nether regions is slightly disgusting, no evidence of hair at all makes me think if they are really a woman or just a girl.

    On the wandering eye issue, if society keeps depicting men who love multiple sexual partners (Barney from How I Met Your Mother, the entirety of Two and a Half Men, Californication, etc) then insecure men will believe this is what they should get.

    If a greater emphasis was given to what a loving relationship can actually provide (warmth, companionship, someone to talk to about your day, your problems, dreams, desires) then maybe the overriding desires for insecure men would change.

    Finally, while sexual scenarios are starting to change and evolve as a part of culture (as a result of porn and otherwise), it doesn’t mean that men or women need to subscribe to the latest ‘trends’.

    Love and respect.

    Regards
    Guest158

  2. As a straight woman I regret having ever watched porn. Unfortunately I did for the first time about 6 months ago. It made me immediately conscious of my own ‘jungle’, of the extent of my boundaries (ie saying no to anal sex), of how imperfect my body is.

    I think the issue really boils down to one of physical pain for women and girls; waxing your vagina is intensely uncomfortable. I’m told anal sex can be excruciating, especially the first time. I could diet and exercise incessantly to achieve an ideal body by the standards of the porn industry but not without significant self-deprivation (I enjoy carbohydrates).

    Mainstream porn means that women experience more corporeal pain on a daily basis in order to feel desirable, not to mention a potential lack of non-violent, mutually pleasurable sex in a heterosexual relationship. That shit cray and I hate it!

  3. I agree with you to a point. Yes, porn is effecting our sexuality – especially men’s expectations.

    1. Perfect Women
    Yes, porn does display “perfect” women, and normal young women are forced to compete with that unrealistic standard (which often includes waxing, being self-conscious of weight, questioning if our lady bits are ‘attractive’ enough, or even trying to correct them, e.g. dye to make your ‘lips’ pinker, or even labiaplasty!).

    2. Men’s Appetites
    I also think there’s some merit to the argument that porn has drastically widened young men’s appetites – because they have seen so much, they want the full array themselves, and instantly. (Rather than discovering new variations naturally by mutual experimentation with a partner).

    However, lets not over-dramatise, or over-simplify. Porn is not the only thing distorting sex. Nor is porn only a negative force.

    For instance, your article draws a link between porn, and men expecting women to be in ecstasy over mere penetration and sex that last for only a minute, without foreplay.

    1. Porn has a lot of foreplay
    Now, porn actually shows a lot of foreplay. Admittedly, a lot of the more basic porn just showcase blow-jobs. But overall, it must be acknowledged that the porn industry has widened the scope of sexual expression and experimentation. Young men (and women) grow up these days with a lot more examples of things to try, than our grandparents did.

    2. Porn makes men want to please women
    This may sound like a strange claim, but I think porn has helped men realise women’s sexual needs. Only a decade ago, a Seinfeld episode questioned whether the “female orgasm” actually existed. Two decades ago, men were more interested in getting ‘notches on their belt’, than pleasing their partner. Today, young men feel ashamed and embarrassed if they haven’t pleased their partner. Seeing women enjoying sex in porn, makes men (and women) feel that this is normal – that women should be as wild, passionate and sexual as men are.

    My feelings overall are that yes, there are some problems with the porn industry, and those should be acknowledged, discussed, and addressed where necessary. But overstating the situation is unhelpful as well.

    (And when it comes down to it, most men I know still prefer a real life warm wet woman, to a porn movie on a screen. Until the Japanese start making perfect sex robots (which they will) I think sex and making love is pretty safe.)

  4. I think this is a well referenced article, but I think some things need to be considered:

    1) The article assumes that there’s a direct correlation between consuming media images and acting or behaving in an according way. But, as Guest158 alludes to, people can distinguish between fantasy and reality. People do it when they are “playing video games and shooting fictional characters”, and, despite the proliferation of violent video games in recent decades, young people have become less violent in the real world. So you can’t simply assume a direct causation effect between watching porn and “believing” that’s how the real world works.

    2) You say that the porn is making sexual inequality worse, but, other than a Elle-MSNBC.com poll, you haven’t really demonstrated that it was better before the proliferation of video porn. There’s plenty of historical evidence that people had weird fetishes in the past, if you want a great example, read James Joyce’s love letter to his girlfriend, where he describes his desire for grotty anal sex, yet he clearly hadn’t gotten the idea from smutty porn videos.

    3) I’m in no doubt that there is a great deal of sexual inequality in bedrooms across the world, but I don’t think it’s been proven that this inequality is due to the culture, rather than the culture being due to more fundamental problems of human nature, where the availability of “brazilians” is simply a modern, mass marketed, means of assuaging one’s lack of confidence or feelings of inadequacy. I think it’s probably been the case in most cultures for most of history that women have been compelled to attain some arbitrary ideal.
    This isn’t to say that this is, or should be, a permanent state of affairs, I just think that if the material and structural conditions of women were changed, a change in the culture would consequently follow, not the other way round.

  5. Pingback: Five Things Women Can’t Do | Culture | Featured | Lip Magazine

  6. The reference to Gary Wilson is a good one I think. I’ve recently become familiar with his library of research and resources about how porn affects the brain. Our hunter-gatherer brain is unprepared for the rapid fire ability of high speed internet showing us unlimited variety.

    There’s a crazy study where male rats will literally screw themselves to death by exhaustion, but only when the researchers keep plunking a new female into his cage after he’s done with the last one. If he’s left to one, he does his thing and curls up to sleep. Online porn is like someone is dangling woman after woman times in front of us. I haven’t heard of death by exhaustion from watching porn but I’m sure there’s an ER doc out there somewhere with some good stories.

    • Scientists don’t try and and discern human behavior from studies of rats anymore. It occurred to the post-behavioralist schools of psychology that humans and rats are quite actually quite different.

  7. I tried to compete with my husband’s porn stars but failed miserably. What a waste of a life! Porn addicts don’t love their wives, they love porn stars!

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