Women watch porn to please men?

Read on for more inane explanations of why some ladies like X-rated fare!

Published July 1, 2008 9:59AM (EDT)

I just stumbled across yet another argument to add to my "feminism and porn" files. (There isn't a file cabinet large enough, let me tell you!) Today, the Sydney Morning Herald ran an article with the headline "Why women hate porn," but, curiously, the lead paragraph explains that a recent study found an increasing number of women actually like porn. It seems the article's actual aim is to explain what the hell is up with these libidinous ladies who challenge what we think we know about women and their hatred of pornography.

The key theory mentioned in the article is that this growing interest is a "by-product of the rise of porn star as the new 'it' female profession." If it were truly the new "it" female profession, Paris Hilton would have dropped her career as a jet-setting socialite the second her wildly popular sex tape was leaked, and prime-time TV would consist of "America's Next Top Porn Star" and "So You Think You Can Screw." There's no denying that we live in a "pornographied" culture, but holy hysterical hyperbole!

To add to its X-rated exegesis, the Herald quotes Pamela Paul, the author of "Pornified: How Porn Is Ruining Our Lives, Our Relationships and Our Family." She writes, "Popular culture promotes the wild fun and whimsy of the girl who loves pornography." In the context of the Herald piece, the suggestion is that women with a predilection for pornography do not actually experience sexual satisfaction from watching it, but rather from attracting men by announcing that they are one of those X-rated "wild fun" girls. In other words: Women's porn-watching is a sexual performance, the equivalent of a faked operatic orgasm.

Is it really so difficult -- or frightening -- to consider that women watch pornography because it turns them on? So often, the explanation offered for why women enjoy triple-X fare (as if an explanation is needed in the first place) is that it's the equivalent of a strip tease -- something that turns her on only because it turns him on. This view of female sexuality as performance is in line with the mainstream view that, when it comes to a woman who watches porn (or, say, has sex with other women), it's only hot if she does it to excite men.

The Herald piece ends with another common pronouncement about porn: Most women don't enjoy it because "what we need is more foreplay, more romance, more kissing after sex and more (gasp!) story line ... now wouldn't that be porn that women would want to see ..." Am I the only woman who is sick of and offended by the assumption that women require porn with a story line, an X-rated take on a Lifetime movie of the week?

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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