9 surprising reasons why you should be watching porn

Does porn have any redeeming benefits?

Published September 2, 2017 5:58AM (EDT)

In this Jan. 21, 2015, photo, a man takes a picture of a woman at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. The idea that porn stars might have to wear protection in productions filmed in Nevada generated a buzz among some of the 25,000 attendees collecting autographs from porn stars posing in fishnet stockings and bustiers. (AP Photo/John Locher) (AP Photo/John Locher)
In this Jan. 21, 2015, photo, a man takes a picture of a woman at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. The idea that porn stars might have to wear protection in productions filmed in Nevada generated a buzz among some of the 25,000 attendees collecting autographs from porn stars posing in fishnet stockings and bustiers. (AP Photo/John Locher) (AP Photo/John Locher)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet


There’s no question that porn gets a lot of things wrong about sex. These days, we can’t throw a nipple clamp out of a window without it landing on a study claiming porn is ruining humanity in some way (and probably condemning you for littering). Perhaps a telling example of this is that I typed “porn is” into Google and this was the only suggestion:

Some say porn negatively affects men’s feelings toward women, leads to affairs and addiction, and can even adversely impact users’ attention span and memory.

It remains to be seen what kind of long-term impacts porn will have on us (and the upcoming smartphone generations who now have 24/7 access to porn), but little is said about porn’s redeeming benefits. What, if any, are the ways that porn is good for us?

Let’s, as they might say in a porn, go deep.

1. Does porn make men see women as objects?

Who knows? I’m just a table who somehow knows how to type.

I kid, I kid. But let’s not forget that we have treated women like objects for CENTURIES, long before cheerleaders began having frolicsome locker room orgies. Can we really say that porn is the cause of this objectification? Is it leading to more widespread abuse? Or is something deeper at play?

According to the Atlantic, the ubiquitousness of porn has correlated with a drastic decline in sexual abuse toward women. In fact, as pornography’s accessibility has exploded (from 1990 or so), sexual assault rates have gone down — by 55% in the last 20 years, according to the National Crime Victim Survey. “There is no more extreme or pernicious act of using and abusing women as sexual objects rather than treating them as humans. And to get rape rates as low as porn-saturated 2013 and 2014, you’ve got to go back to the 1970s.”

Furthermore, in a 2009 paper published in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, Milton Diamond reviewed a broad number of studies that have explored the supposed ill effects of pornography. He concluded, "If anything, there is an inverse causal relationship between an increase in pornography and sex crimes. . . . No such cause and effect has been demonstrated with any negative consequence."

2. Porn increases sexual and overall satisfaction.

This may sound simple, but watching porn tends to, well, make people feel good.

A 2008 study by researchers studying hardcore porn’s effects on Danish men and women found that “respondents construed the viewing of hardcore pornography as beneficial to their sex lives, their attitudes towards sex, their perceptions and attitudes towards members of the opposite sex, toward life in general, and overall.”

The paper’s abstract ends with: “We conclude that the overall findings suggest that many young Danish adults believe that pornography has had primarily a positive effect on various aspects of their lives.”

The next time anyone mentions “self-care” to you, perhaps you should consider increasing your life satisfaction by engaging in some hand-to-gland combat.

3. Porn encourages masturbation.

In spite of persistent myths and false information (blindness, hairy palms, etc.) research has consistently shown that masturbation is healthy, increases one’s fertility, and can even make us better partners (because people who masturbate are taking care of their own sexual needs). And what facilitates masturbation better than porn?

What about my rich, interior sexual imagination, you ask? That’s all well and good, but for the 99% of us who aren't Amélie, we need a little extra help.

Need more reasons? According to Planned Parenthood, masturbation releases sexual tension, reduces stress, helps you sleep better, improves your self-esteem and body image, helps treat sexual problems, relieves menstrual cramps and muscle tension, and strengthens muscle tone in your pelvic and anal areas, thus reducing women’s chances for UTIs, incontinence, and other fun things like “uterine prolapse.” In men, masturbation helps reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

4. Porn is a form of safe sex.

Unlike physical sex, watching porn spreads no diseases, leads to zero pregnancies, and doesn’t engage with vicious judgments like slut-shaming (unless, you know, you’re into that). Plus, using porn to satisfy one’s sexual needs is safe, free-to-cheap, and convenient. And it can even be used as a sex aid for IRL sex, as many couples can attest.

“Porn can actually help foster emotional and sexual intimacy,” says psychologist David Schnarch, author of "Resurrecting Sex: Solving Sexual Problems and Revolutionizing Your Relationship." “A significant portion of our work in helping couples develop a deeper sexual connection is through erotic images. Erotica, as well as couples’ own masturbatory fantasies, can be useful tools for helping them develop as adults.”

5. Porn makes you better at math.

Even if you’re not masturbating, simply watching porn or reading erotica helps alleviate stress. In possibly the best study in existence from Carnegie Mellon, researchers forced men to look at semi-erotic photos (think Victoria’s Secret catalogs) and then take a math test. Results showed that the men who looked at erotic photos actually did a lot better on the test than men who had, I guess, flipped through "Better Homes and Gardens."

Why? Looking at semi-erotic pictures reduced men’s cortisol (the stress hormone) by half. Lower stress = better concentration (and better mental performance in general). This is also true of women, so ladies, the next time you find yourself faced with a long division problem, perhaps you should pick up that "Fifty Shades of Grey" novel.

6. Porn helps to normalize desires.

Do you enjoy getting off to women farting on cakes? What about popping balloons between your legs? Dressing up as pandas? Harry Potter? Ronald McDonald? Do you like having sex with your car? If you can conceive of a desire, there’s an extremely good chance that internet porn exists to accommodate it.

This cornucopia of xxx-rated images and videos helps to eradicate sexual stigma and reduce shame by showing would-be-wankers that they aren’t alone, that they’re desires are legitimate, and that, while certain fetishes may not be as popular as others, they are out there, nevertheless, and this is a good thing.

7. Mainstream porn gave rise to awesome, queer, diverse, indie porn.

No one questions that mainstream porn has a lot of shortcomings — but one amazing upside of mainstream porn’s profound lack is that we now have tons of sex-positive, feminist, queer, indie, hairy, nonbinary, body-positive, and ethical porn to choose from. Sites like the Pink & White ProductionsIndie Porn RevolutionNaughty NaturalFTM F**ker, and many others are changing the porn game, allowing new, diverse desires to be seen and enjoyed and wanked to.

Plus, as I have written before, DIY porn is also seeing its day in the sun, with directors like Madison Young urging folks to get behind (and in front of) the camera. "We can't wait for the mainstream to represent our stories and our sexuality in a way that is authentic and resonates with us," Young told me in a previous interview. “It's up to us — the artists, the activists, to care about and create change for the cultural advancement of our communities, and the way in which we are represented as individuals and sexual beings.”

There’s no better way I can think to stick it to the man than by sticking it to yourself and supporting indie artists and entrepreneurs.

8. Porn helps you figure out what turns you on.

How do sexual beings find out what they like in bed? Unless you are one of the few liars, excuse me, people who only jerk it while thinking of their monogamous partner, you’re probably getting your fantasy fodder from porn and erotica. It is, after all, like masturbation, one of the tools at our disposal to find out what turns us on.

This is especially true for folks with non-mainstream desires, like queer people, kinksters, and those into BDSM. Uninitiated masochists don’t just wake up one day, throw on a ball gag and a rodeo clown outfit, and head down to their local dungeon for some impact play and some needling. Porn is one of the ways we educate ourselves about ourselves, our desires, our hard-nos, our hard-ons, what delights us, what disgusts us, and what disgusts us in a way that actually maybe we might sort of like with the right person in the right circumstance.

It’s a safe, judgment-free way to explore, expand our horizontal horizons, and learn about the wild, wild world of arousal.

9. Porn is entertaining.

Without the existence of smut, this Tumblr of indifferent cats in amateur porn also would not exist. Is that really a world you want to live in?

And neither would “safe for work” porn, whereby porn stills are digitally altered to appear as if porn performers are, say, enjoying a cola, shaving a poodle, or helping Santa Claus deliver some presents.

Then there’s Blackboards in Porn, whereby a person analyzes the math equations, grammar lessons, and other writing on blackboards in the backgrounds of porn videos. E = MC BARED

And let’s not forget Just Another IKEA Catalog, a Tumblr dedicated to “Scandinavian modern style furniture and accessories in amateur pornography.” The list goes on and on.

By Anna Pulley

@annapulley writes about sex and social media for SF Weekly, AlterNet, After Ellen and the Chicago Tribune. She's also attempting to lead a haiku revival on her blog, annapulley.com. Let her send you overly personal emails: http://tinyletter.com/annapulley.

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Alternet Internet Porn Masturbation Men Objectification Porn Safe Sex Sexuality