porn / women

Knowing Our Search Terms

Ah, the nineties

The other day I was chatting with a girlfriend who is a self-proclaimed, avid porn watcher and we delved into the topic of how much the Internet has changed women’s relationships with XXX. We came up with the phrase “knowing our search terms” to describe our current porn dynamics—meaning that on a menu that once read Portugreek[1] we now know what to order. Both teenagers of the nineties, we agreed that while we would never have swung the curtain to enter the adult section of our local video store, we probably would have explored porn if it had been as easy to view as it is now. But because exposure beyond Quebec’s soft core, after hours Bleu Nuit was more difficult to access, I came to certain assumptions about porn without ever really knowing what I was on about. For many years, I grappled with the idea that porn is degrading to women. And to be fair, I still do. But I have realized in my exploration of this topic that the answer to whether porn is degrading to women depends on the perceptions of too many people to be lumped into all good or all bad compartments. It’s funny to think back on my so-called, feminist, nineties rationale and realize that when blindly labeling porn as degrading, I was always thinking about it in terms of how it affected the men in my life and my relationships with them. Which is pretty anti-feminist, actually, no? Or at least very reactive rather than proactive. I had to figure things out for myself–thank you, Internet. Who knew it would start with some frantic Googling of my fiancé’s coworkers. I will now defer to the wise words of Violet Blue, on Our Porn, Ourselves speaking about women, porn and the World Wide Web:

When I was on Oprah for her episode about women who watch porn, she asked me why so many women now watch porn and are unafraid to admit they watch and enjoy it. The easy answer is to say that the Internet has afforded us the privacy to explore our inhibitions for ourselves, after decades of groups like Stop Porn Culture telling us what we should think about porn instead of finding out for ourselves.

But the real answer is in the fact that for the first time in history, the Internet has allowed us to have our own voices and speak for ourselves. The woman they’re trying to “save” from the alleged harmful effects of watching porn? Now thousands of her have a blog and will tell you exactly how porn affects them.


[1] “Portugreek,” dear readers, is a language dubbed by Kevin Costner in Waterworld when some foreign water folks approach his boat. I almost peed my pants when I heard it and rewound at least ten times. It nearly makes Waterworld worth a re-watch. Almost, Kev, almost.

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One thought on “Knowing Our Search Terms

  1. I very randomly stumbled across your blog from a link on WordPress’ homepage but just wanted to say this post really interested me.
    I’m quite virulently anti-porn, for lots of reasons – some political, some personal – but actually this comment of yours: ” I was always thinking about it in terms of how it affected the men in my life and my relationships with them. Which is pretty anti-feminist, actually, no?” has made me think. Not a good thing at 11.15pm, but interesting – thank you. This could take some while to think my head around.

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