Pornographic persuasion

How to make your girlfriend OK with your porn habit.

Published February 27, 2006 8:40PM (EST)

Check out a piece that was recently sent in by a Broadsheet reader. It's a column on "Women, Porn, & Insecurity" in the online men's magazine by Melissa LaRicca, one of Askmen's "female sexuality correspondents," whose work appears every other Tuesday.

I can't for the life of me figure out what the date of this article is, so it may have been around for a while, but in it, LaRicca advises men who have porn habits and girlfriends who feel crappy about those habits. She catalogs a variety of reasons women might have for objecting to their partners' smut obsessions, starting with the fact that porn might make them feel comparatively unattractive, and makes suggestions about how men can assuage their girlfriends' insecurities ("Make her feel like you want her -- badly. If she knows that you desire her, she'll be less likely to feel threatened by the women in porn movies").

LaRicca acknowledges that some women might be reasonably distressed should their boyfriends need porn to get aroused or to climax -- those crrrazy girls! -- and suggests that if men really need their Vivid fixes, they should try this: "Tell her to pick out the movie for you next time, so that she feels like she has some influence on your getting aroused. Or you could always make your own home movie." 'Cause if a chick hates that only porn stars get her man off, her idea of paradise must be getting transformed into one of them, so that she can finally get him off!

The best response comes when LaRicca addresses the pesky problem of women who find the depictions of submissive females troubling. She counsels on "how to stop [your girlfriend's] feminist rhetoric" by reminding her shrill, humorless ass that "porn movies are about sexual fantasies and not about day to day reality."

"Why should you care about how she feels?" writes LaRicca, momentarily putting aside that for starters, she's your girlfriend, so it would be sort of ideal if you cared about how she feels. But in case that doesn't move you to act, LaRicca points out, "if you change her perspective on porn, chances are, she'll be cooler about you watching it."

Look, I know a lot of men and women who enjoy porn, who feel like it enhances their relationships, who love watching it together and are more than OK with the idea of watching it separately. And I'm sure that there are lots of couples who start out uneasy about it and eventually find a healthy, fun place for it in their lives. But if you're in a relationship in which it's enough of a problem that one person is offended, threatened or made unhappy by her partner's viewing, and the person would rather come up with stupid tricks ("Don't let her know about the balloon fetish!" "Tell her it's only your fantasy to sleep with a mute submissive!" "Try to get it up for her so she feels better enough about herself that she'll let you keep watching!") than just have an honest conversation about how you both feel and what compromises you can make, maybe you should stick to the porn and get out of the relationship.

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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