• paul blumer

Let’s Talk About PORN!

Power, psychopathy, and practicing safe virtual sex



Pornography has been a feature of humanity since the first horny cave painters splayed their desires in soot on stone. You can even imagine some avant garde individual using his own ejaculate to mix the paint...


Human sexuality is always active—though it’s sometimes suppressed or damaged. It’s part of the reason we’ve flourished on this planet...our mating season is now.


But urges aren’t always accompanied by a practical partner and so we must satisfy our needs with self pleasure. The fact that we’re visual creatures makes porn inevitable. The fact that we’re brilliantly innovative makes the porn industry indelible—even evolutionary. Perhaps the closest example we have to infinite growth.


Porn for the people



Though we don’t like to talk about it, we watch a LOT of porn. Up to 20% of internet searches are for adult content. PornHub boasted over 80,000 visits per minute in 2019.


Porn is so popular the industry has real power—social, political, financial.


In 2016 when North Carolina enacted a law banning trans people from their preferred bathroom, the porn site XHamster blocked access to the state while a petition circulated to retract the discriminatory law. That got people’s attention and drove grassroots support for the issue.


Just a couple months later the law was replaced with one that cut the discriminatory requirements and protected state employees...and though the fight isn’t over, it counts as a major victory in nonbinary gender rights. Fueled in part by porn people using their powers for good.


But pornography, like any other tool, can cut both ways. And those with power don’t always use it for good.


The dark side of porn



Generations of pearl-clutching prohibitionists have warned about the spiritual and visceral dangers of porn. Though their grip on society has relaxed in recent decades, their influence remains.


And in their totalitarian arguments lie many a kernel of truth.


Porn addiction for one, is very real. Like anything else that engages our reward center, porn viewership can hook us into compulsive behavior—chasing that dopamine fix. Excessive porn use can lead to erectile dysfunction even in otherwise healthy young men. In part because during intercourse with a partner, they’re no longer in sole control of the sexual experience—there’s another individual involved with their own needs and nerves and insecurities.


On top of that, highly choreographed studio porn can also give viewers unrealistic expectations about sex and how to connect with real people. The bright lights and rehearsed script sterilize the awkwardness and the funny noises and the deep vulnerability of real sex.


The 2013 movie Don Jon depicts porn addiction in raw human terms—with all the pain and self-righteous defensiveness and empathy the subject inspires. Few other mainstream cultural works address our relationship with porn so directly and unabashedly. The US consumes more porn than the next three countries combined—yet talking about its impact on our lives and psychology remains taboo.


As if pretending something doesn’t exist can make it go away.


And it gets even darker. PornHub has come under fire recently for its failure to regulate the millions of uploaded videos that pay its ad revenue—some of which feature girls who are underaged, exploited, and/or trafficked.


But PornHub isn’t going away any time soon—and the company has no motivation to change its behavior without the pressure of consumer demand. That’s where we all must do our part.


The first step is awareness. Mindful porn consumption. Recognize the dangers and dark sides. The next is actively seeking sex-positive porn produced ethically and with all parties consenting and benefiting. We have a long way to go...and a lot of wounds to heal.


Sex-positive porn



Fortunately the news isn’t all bad. PornHub’s year-end analysis also revealed a search trend toward more lifelike depictions of sex. Couples or groups just setting up a camera and recording what happens naturally. Independent studios doing the same. Not scripted, not coerced—just real people having real sex on camera.


Trending away from plastique actors and phony shrieks can only be helpful for our collective sexual health. Exploring porn through the lens of empathy—everyone involved getting what they need and giving what they can; enjoying the connection and intimacy and consent, and sharing it with viewers...leading a new sexual revolution by example and demonstrating that caring sex can be captured on camera, that women in porn can benefit and share power…such a cultural change would ripple through society in measurably positive ways.


But supply follows demand. It’s on us consumers to make change happen.


Support mom & pop porn producers


For people willing to pay for their porn, it’s not hard to find ethical, realistic, independent porn producers for any sexual taste.


Here are some examples:

Pink Label TV (women owned)

JoyBear Pictures (very British, very naughty)

Bright Desire (women owned)

Girls Out West (women owned)


Even if you stick with PornHub you can help by being mindful of what you’re watching. Look for sex-positive producers and actors who own their own image. Watch with a critical eye for videos where everyone involved is enjoying themselves.


Try searching terms like:

  • Homemade

  • Real couple

  • Verified couple

  • Porn for women

  • Popular with women

  • Feminist porn

Sex positive pornography isn’t the fix-all to our problems with porn—but it’s a good step toward educating people about consent, sexuality, empowerment, and healthy self-pleasure.


Sex therapy and regulating your porn consumption


Whether or not to use porn is an adult’s personal choice.


For some people porn is a safe quick way to indulge a fantasy and release pent-up energy and stress. If it doesn’t interfere with daily function, porn viewership can be a harmless—even helpful—habit.


It’s your responsibility as an adult to manage that habit so it stays healthy.


There are plenty of porn prohibition groups out there—but addiction or abstinence aren’t the only choices. Sex therapists often help clients control and moderate their porn use by addressing underlying areas of concern like anxiety and depression, interpersonal communication, chronic loneliness, self esteem, and other mental health aspects.


Many clients’ compulsive porn behavior is an attempt at self-medicating. Seeing a sex therapist helps them discover the root cause of their problem—beyond just stopping the obvious symptom.


Sex therapy can also help clients recognize porn’s impact on performance anxiety and erectile dysfunction, and relearn how to approach intimacy and kick addiction out of the bedroom.


Focusing on sex-positive porn is a step in the right direction. Understanding the mental health aspects of porn viewership is another. What’s next is up to you.



Not sure if your relationship with porn is healthy? Ask a sex therapist in Richmond!



Contact now


Wordwork by Quillpower


Sex Therapy at Home

Better communication for better intimacy

Exercises for mastering anxiety & facing fear

2567 Homeview Dr

Richmond, VA 23294

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© 2020 by Valerie McDonnell

Wordwork by Quillpower