feminism / porn / Sex

Why Sex Ed About Porn Is So Dang Important

I just read this fabulous article on Carnal Nation: Sympathy For the Anti-Porn Feminists by Clarisse Thorn, which instantly drew me out of a Sunday, Mad Men/ Salt & Pepper Kettle Chips stupor and made me think. Thanks for that, Clarisse. The sentiments expressed in this piece really resonated with me. Here’s a soundbite to get an idea of what I’m talking about but pretty please read it in full, it’s excellent.

So how can I have sympathy for anti-porn feminists? Only because I remember how I felt just a few years ago. I remember that I felt so confused about my own sexuality; I remember how resentful I felt, that sex seemed so easy for men—that the world seemed to facilitate their sex drives so thoroughly, particularly by providing all this porn!

I remember how hurt I felt by porn, because I believed that it represented “what men want”, and that therefore I was “supposed” to act like porn women—even though the way women acted in porn didn’t appeal to me at all. I remember how scared I felt, when I believed that rape porn reflected “all men’s desires”, and concluded that “all men secretly would love to commit rape”. The porn that I’d seen felt as though it set the standard for my sexual behavior, and I hated that standard, but I didn’t see a way out. Because even with all my liberal, sex-positive sex education, there were serious flaws in my knowledge about sex. Not to mention the fact that I hadn’t yet wrapped my mind around the concept of fully-negotiated, 100% consensual rape fantasy sex.

As Clarisse expresses at the beginning of her article,  I also formerly held the opinion that porn was just something that all men liked and I simply had to accept that fact and move on. But I quietly (and okay, sometimes not so quietly) worried about the kinds of sex porn promoted and the images of women it portrayed. And I also, like Clarisse, had men fib to me about their relationships with porn. In turn, I swiftly projected my feelings of mistrust onto XXX. But the more I judged the men in my life from across the fence and avoided  having real discussions about those concerns, the greater my misconceptions grew.

While some of my thoughts began to change with more sexual experience, what really made me confront my issues/fears/misconceptions was, yes, you guessed it–my man’s job filming reality TV porn. Only then did I glean the real sex education that I am grateful for. And I don’t mean just by watching lots of porn and discovering the vast array of porn out there, which sure, I’ve now done, but by having thoughtful discussions about it and undoing my negative and harmful shame and blame mentality. I may have arrived here otherwise. Who knows. But I, too, sympathize with anti-porn feminists and (in my humble opinion) know just how they feel. Because, man, am I glad not to feel that way anymore. Here’s to consent and sex ed!

And now back to Joanie and my chips.

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