Pornography: Love It or Hate It?

The February 2010 issue of Vision Magazine has the theme of "Sexual Politics." I was thrilled to write an article for them about pornography, a topic ripe for discussions of sexual and gender politics. Below is the beginning of the article; click on the link to read the entire article.

A recent Canadian study measuring the impact of pornography on 20-something-year-old men was unexpectedly cancelled. The reason? Researchers were unable to find a control group of men in their 20s who had not consumed pornography. I think that many men would chuckle after hearing this. And I think that many women could be dismayed—especially the women who are dating those 20-something-year-old men. Pornography is a loaded topic, evoking both titillation and deep discomfort. However, the typical knee-jerk reactions do little to help us understand the complexity of this prevalent yet taboo topic.

Pornography touches on many people’s deepest fears and desires—namely sex, pleasure, power, gender relations, idealized beauty, trust, guilt, and self-worth. For this reason, a better understanding of its personal impact is advantageous. The term pornography in this article refers to visual depictions of sexual behavior intended to arouse the viewer through the Internet, DVDs, and cable shows. This article focuses on gender differences, and the potential harms and benefits of pornography consumption.

It is not surprising to learn that males are much more likely to enjoy and consume pornography than females. While there is “feminist” pornography, directed by women and featuring more plot, romance, and foreplay, mainstream pornography is primarily created by and for men. Men tend to enjoy visual stimulation more, and seek out sexual novelty.

I asked a 39-year-old single male to explain the appeal of daily viewing of porn online. “I find it titillating—I use it for masturbatory fodder,” he openly responded. “It’s lazier mentally because it’s easier; it’s right there. I don’t have to conjure up an image. Looking at porn moves the process along more rapidly.”

Click HERE for entire article.

Jennifer Gunsaullus, Ph.D.

Sex Therapy & Relationship Counseling in San Diego