5 False Things We Have Thought About Porn

I love porn, but porn is not real life. I know that sounds obvious, but more and more research is showing that mainstream porn affects our sex lives — and not in a good way. Part of the problem is that we as a society don’t talk openly enough about masturbation, sex or porn. It means that a lot of people don’t get an understanding of sex and porn is left to fill in the education gaps. But because we don’t talk about porn, we make a lot of weird assumptions about it as well.

“I began realizing through dating younger men that I was encountering an issue that would quite honestly never have crossed my mind if I had not encountered it so very intimately in person,” Cindy Gallop of MakeLoveNotPorn tells Bustle. “I realize I was encountering what happened when two things converge: when today’s total freedom of access to hardcore porn online meets our society’s equally total reluctance to talk open and honestly about sex. That results in porn becoming by default the sex education today and not in a good way.”

We need to start talking and thinking critically about sex and porn, rather than just working under assumptions and stereotypes. I think porn is amazing and can be a great tool in exploring sexuality— alone or in a relationship— but we need to be realistic about it. Let’s celebrate it for what it’s good at and be critical where it’s deserved. So in that spirit, here are five false things we’ve though about porn:

1. That We Should Copy It

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 As you get older, it might seem obvious that you shouldn’t try to behave like a porn star, but when you were a younger view that probably wasn’t so apparent. In fact, a study from Middlesex University found that not only did most young boys think porn is realistic, almost half of them wanted to emulate it — as did nearly a third of young girls. I love porn, but like Gallop says, we need better education and conversations about sex so people don’t think it’s realistic.

2. That Safe Sex Doesn’t Really Matter IRL

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It really, really does. It can be easy to not think twice about the lack of condoms in most porn and assume that it’s all OK, but there’s more to it. Research in the PLOS One Journal by Dr. Eric Schrimshaw from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Dr Martin J. Downing, Jr. from the Public Health Solution found that nearly half of men who watched condom-less porn said it contributed to risky behavior in their own lives. And the authors told Bustle “We suspect, and our findings suggest, that viewing condoms in pornography leads viewers to have fantasies where condoms are used and reinforces condom use as normative behavior.” So you may be picking up more than you realize from your porn viewing habits.

3. That It’s Cheating

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Not only is watching porn not cheating — it actually makes us less likely to cheat. A survey by IllicitEncounters said that men who were having affairs were less likely to watch porn than faithful men— so actually watching porn can be a good sign for your relationship.

4. That Women Aren’t Interested In It

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Yeah, no. I can’t believe that people still think porn is a guy thing. It’s really, really not. According to a Marie Claire survey of 3,000 women, nearly a third watched porn every week and 10 percent watched it every damn day. Research from Pornhub and Buzzfeed found that women love watching rougher things like BDSM and group sex. So don’t assume we’re just looking for Fabio-style romance novels.

5. That It’s Bad For Our Relationships

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You shouldn’t think of porn as something your partner is using because you’re not enough. In fact, some experts think it can be really helpful for partners to get to know each other. “It could be helpful to ask the person to watch sex films with you to talk about what in the films is interesting, enticing, or a turn off,” clinical and research psychologist, Nicole Prause from UCLA tells Bustle. “Watching sex films before being sexual together can help dispel myths together and start honest communication.” Plus, for most of us just watching it is a turn on, so it’s a good basis for a great romp.

Originally posted on Bustle