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porn or social sex you choose?

by – Kai, lead somatic sexologist

SO I have managed to get your attention. I thought it would be a great idea to have a healthy discussion about pornography. You see I have enjoyed much porn in life, out of satisfying my own instant sexual gratification and fantasies. I have learned much from porn. I have also learned (what not to do) from porn the hard way. One thing is for sure that pornography gave me was insight into the objectification of both woman and men. The ramming of hard penises into orifices comes to mind, which has never been helpful. Come to think about it I have always felt something missing from porn. As a somatic sexologist/sex educator and academic I sometimes need to watch porn to inform my own research. Trust me it’s not exciting when I am thinking about ‘thinking porn’.

Porn has grown exponentially on the internet. YouPorn, X-Tube, X-Hampster, PornMD, Tube8, Porn Hub, RedTube, Tumblr . . . and the many other sites you can access. There are obviously many reasons for this – $$$. The fact of the matter is that we are all sexual beings and require erotic stimuli. Before the age of the internet there was porn magazines such as Hustler, Playboy, Playgirl. Even Japanese erotic pillow books in ancient times existed – Poem of the Pillow and other stories reflect this, not exactly porn but still erotic artwork.

What happened before porn? Well humans conjured up sexual fantasies and sexual experiences with each other. If I think about our closest relatives the Bonobo, we may have even grouped around and watched each other… Bonobos doing it here. Who said Voyeurism is not natural? Add a few ancient phallic symbols and breasts painted on rocks – and let our imaginations run wild. None of which is really reflected in today’s porn. How times have changed. But have our brains changed? Are our brains wired to process this kind of media? Norman Doidge has an interesting article on the plasticity of the brain and the use of porn.

In fact, much of porn today is heavily influenced by a world where quick bucks need to be made, unrealistic sexual experiences with bodies that are pruned, tucked, modified. Many porn stars aren’t even in consent with their own bodies and sexual practices, so how can this be healthy for others to watch. This is where I believe porn becomes toxic. It’s OK to love and have sexual fantasies, but it is where fantasy and real life sexual situations/experiences tend to blur. It is easy to forget that porn is a movie with actors and actresses who have the role to excite your neurons and release feel good chemicals. Which is great don’t get me wrong who can’t deny themselves pleasure. Pleasure in the form of orgasm is really healthy for your mind and body.

More of a concern for me though is teenager’s picking up porn traits that aren’t necessarily healthy, having a negative impact on their own sexual experiences/encounters. For example, unprotected sex. BTW The New York Times has a great article on (when children see internet pornography), exploring the conversations/situations parents have experienced when their child stumbled or not so stumbled across internet porn.

Erotic material can be helpful when you’re single and want to have sex with yourself. People can also learn about different types of genitals from some porn. If you are curious about masturbation or sexual positions I assure you that you will discover many styles from internet porn. Sexual videos can be used educationally for example here, here, or even here. Porn can allow you to safely explore fetishes such as podophilia, without being shamed – if that’s your thing. There is no shame with having a fetish by the way. Author and feminist Wendy McElroy has defended porn in her lengthy article  here.

I recently discovered Cindy Gallop on TED. View her TED talk on Make Love, Not Porn. Here is someone trying to make a difference in the world by moving away from porn and towards something we now call “social sex”. Social sex is more about the people having the sexual experience and not necessarily about the bodies. This is where it becomes rather authentic. Make Love, Not Porn is Cindy’s dream . . . and I thought I would share it with you. Cindy’s concept is #real world sex. That is people having social sex. I invite you to explore real world sex. You may even want to make and submit your own social sex. Feel free to check out the Make Love, Not Porn website.

As a somatic sexologist I feel it’s necessary to have erotic fantasies and explore these through different mediums/technology. It’s how we fashion and invite such media to our minds. People need to be conscious about this.  As a community we need to educate everyone about making love not porn. If you think you spend too much time watching porn,  don’t know how to navigate your porn fantasies or have concerns about porn . . . Polysoma can certainly help you with that.