Myth #5: Porn is Private and Does Not Impact Relationships

Myth #5: Porn is Private and Does Not Impact Relationships July 2, 2020

Photo by Henri Pham on Unsplash

This is the penultimate installment of my series The Porn Industry is Gaslighting Us, and it’s time for things to start getting personal. Thus far, we’ve debated over ideas such as marketing to children, addiction, availability, and whether the industry is empowering to women. But I’ve relied mostly on research and other people’s stories. The question of whether porn is private is about interpersonal relationships. This is where most of my personal pain around pornography has derived from, the impetus for my change in opinion about pornography, and my eventual conclusion that both the mainstream industry and the overall cultural attitudes surrounding porn are manipulating us.

*Please be aware that the following content will discuss personal sexual encounters, masterbation, and some descriptions of abusive behavior.*

Early Sexual Exploration

I was not a sexual shy teenager. Contrary to what I was told at school, my sex drive was never less than that of my boyfriend’s. I didn’t know what was normal, and neither did he. But we were operating from very different assumptions: my assumptions came from what I was told in school and my natural bodily exploration. His assumptions came from what he learned in school and pornography.

At this point in my life, I believed unquestioningly that All Boys Watch Porn.  I also believed that Porn is Private, that his porn use was none of my business. After all, he was a separate person than me and I masturbated too and I didn’t ask him permission every time I did that. But here’s the thing: we were also being sexual together. And, while I knew what made my body feel good, he had received an entirely different ideas about what ought to work for me based on what he had seen in porn. Furthermore, the fact that he watched porn made him confident that he knew more about sex than I did. The saddest part about it is that I believed him. I trusted what he had seen more than I trusted what I knew from living in my own body. I really loved my first boyfriend, and he really loved me. But his porn use hurt us both, and we didn’t even know it. I’m willing to bet he still doesn’t know it.

Instinct and Insecurity

As my first story indicates, one of the biggest problems with porn in relationships is that it causes us to second-guess our own emotions. I shouldn’t have to put out stats and statistics about whether or not porn is empowering to say that it makes me feel like absolute garbage. I don’t need every woman to feel that way, and I don’t need that feeling analyzed and validated, because it’s really quite simple. But when it comes to porn, the pressure to accept it is so strong that for most of my life I simply denied to myself that I felt this way.

The first time I watched porn was in college. I was on an off-campus theater trip with a group of friends and a couple of us got drunk and put on a porn video. I’m pretty sure it was an Office parody. As first experiences go, it wasn’t the worst. But I saw exactly what I already knew I’d see: women who were much better looking than I doing things I would never do that looked, frankly, painful. It was demeaning even as it was arousing. It made me feel crappy. But it also made me feel cool. Because who doesn’t want to be the cool girl whose totally open about sex and totally not a prude? I pushed my true feelings down and continued on as if I didn’t feel a thing. Because admitting how I felt would only make it worse.

You Can’t Say Porn is Private when Sex is Relational

For I long time, I accepted that my partner had the categorical right to consume a product that I find personally demeaning, that harmed my self-esteem and sexual insecurity. Because Porn is Private, it couldn’t be cheating. To ask a partner not to watch porn was to be controlling and unreasonable. Your feelings on the subject are private too. This is the lie that the porn industry needs us to believe in order to continue every other abusive tactic they need to sustain themselves.

The reality is, everything sexual that takes place within a relationship affects that relationship. Sex, by it’s very nature, is relational. It cannot be contained or siphoned off into a private space separate from your partner. What you consume, how you think about sex, how you visualize sex, affects the person you are having sex with. Telling her otherwise is just gaslighting her.

Women are Real

I am a real, flesh-and-blood woman and I don’t need a fictionalized, staged, person on a screen to tell my partner how to have sex with me. The exaggerated screams, the distorted poses, the surgically augmented bodies do not represent me. Those videos represent a male fantasy that I am then expected, even on a subconscious level, to recreate. They represent a barrier to my sexual pleasure that I have to actively overcome. They stand in the way of love.

But the women on the screen are real too. They are human beings with hearts and bodies and flesh and, many of them, strongly felt opinions that are different than mine. But many of them also feel shame and regret. Many have spoken about it, although their videos continue to exist beyond their control. Because we have decided that they are not real. All that is real are the viewer and the screen. No other human beings are involved. Porn is private.

About Emily Claire Schmitt
Emily Claire Schmitt is a playwright and screenwriter focused on uncovering the mystical in the modern world. She is a Core Member of The Skeleton Rep(resents). Follow her on Twitter at @Eclaire082. You can read more about the author here.
"Thanks Mark! I will certainly be continuing to write, but not blogging."

Saying Goodbye, but Thanking You
"Thank you that's sweet of you to say"

Saying Goodbye, but Thanking You
"You can find me on my website www.emilyclaireschmitt.com and Twitter @Eclaire082.They'll probably take all of ..."

Saying Goodbye, but Thanking You
"Sorry to see you go. You were one of the only Catholic writers on here ..."

Saying Goodbye, but Thanking You

Browse Our Archives