Making Love + Watching Porn

By MLNP Ambassador Tricia Wise.

I was 22 and at a drag show with my boyfriend of probably six months. After a couple drinks, he pulled me aside because he “needed to apologize for something.” I was like, oh fuck here we go. He told me he was sorry, but that the night before he masturbated to this “super realistic VR porn.” We had never talked about porn before but I remember thinking, why is he making a big deal out of this, like should I be mad at him? Because I just wasn’t. I felt pretty uncomfortable talking about anything related to me or my partner’s pleasure so I didn’t really say anything after he apologized. But in my head I was like, idk that sounds hot, haha.

Although I appreciated him not wanting to upset me, it made me realize that we really don’t talk about porn/pleasure in our relationships enough. Why do we feel so uncomfortable? Or insecure? Or like it’s something we need to hide? If we had any conversations about porn and masturbation before that moment, my boyfriend at the time wouldn’t have felt guilty for something that is completely normal and that he didn’t need to feel guilty about. I also would have definitely shared that I also watch porn, which I think would have been a surprise to him.

I’ve recently had conversations with straight men who have told me they clear their phone and laptop search histories so their girlfriends don’t see that they’re watching porn because they don’t want them to get jealous. Whenever I hear things like this, I’m never surprised anymore because as a society, it feels like it’s still taboo and something we need to hide. But instead of actually communicating with their partners about it, they just assumed it would be an issue. Which I get — there’s a lot of misconceptions surrounding porn, especially that it is synonymous with misogyny, which it’s not. I also want to acknowledge that there’s def porn that is misogynist and there’s some not so ethical porn out there — but porn overall can actually be pretty great! I also know people who say they do feel insecure about their partner’s watching porn — but again, it’s the lack of awareness about what porn actually is. I believe that you are not cheating on your partner when you watch porn.

Some tips to help get more comfortable would be to 1. Communicate (who would have thought) — have a conversation about it — then you can both see where both of y’all are coming from. 2. Watch videos with your partner — it’s honestly one of my favorite things. You get to know what turns them on and is also just really fun. While bringing up how you feel about porn or asking them to watch sexy videos with you might feel a little uncomfortable, remember that it’s your partner — they care about how you feel (and if they don’t then obvs dump them).

These guys were also pretty certain their girlfriends didn’t watch porn and they couldn’t even say for sure if their girlfriends masturbated. People of all genders watch porn, too — and a lot of it. I tried to find an actual legit statistic about how many non cis-men also watch porn and only found this- which basically states that over 55% of women watch at least one porn video a month (and that a lot of us decide to make our own videos as well). There’s some good articles that talk about it, like this one, which also notes how many non cis men have been watching porn and what kinds we are most likely to watch — which is lesbain porn, gay male porn, and rough sex. Again — if all of us do it, why are we so uncomfy talking about porn and masturbation? If more couples, and people not in relationships, talked about it, I can almost guarantee that everyone’s sex life would be so much better.

We can’t expect our partners to fulfill all of our sexual needs (and really all of our needs in general) and that’s okay!

Thinking that our partners will fulfill our every need, whether that’s sexually, emotionally, or whatever inherently sets us up for failure — because no one person can do that for you. Watching porn and masturbating doesn’t mean we don’t want to fuck our partners. This absolutely does not take away from our attraction to our partner. Sometimes we just need some solo time.

The first time I watched porn I was a junior in high school (I guess technically it would be before when I watched Kim K’s sex tape, bc ofc I watched that — but that was just because everyone in my middle school was talking about it. I know I watched it with some friends, but at this point I barely remember what the context was or where I was when I saw it so we’ll go with the first time I watched porn was junior year). I know — 16 years old seems kind of late to watch porn and I have pretty much always been really open about sex. But to give some background, I grew up in a tiny ass house with a bunch of siblings and one desktop computer. This was also pre-smart phone days, so it really wasn’t accessible for me (or I just wasn’t creative enough then). I wasn’t even allowed to have any social media: no Facebook, Myspace, or AIM. I remember my mom once mentioning that she thought if I had access to the internet I would probably post nude photos of myself. In her defense, she was probably pretty spot on with that assumption (which might explain why I love posting almost full nudes on my Instagram now. Sorry mom).

Anyways, my best friend and I were drinking watermelon Four Lokos (classic) in her basement along with the guy I was hooking up with (obvs the captain of the football team that I was in LOVE with) and one of his friends. Somehow, porn came up in the convo and I mentioned that I’d never watched it. The guys freaked tf out and immediately pulled up Pornhub on my friend’s desktop. They were laughing and saying how all the other girls they showed this video to were so grossed out — so mainly they were showing me this video because just wanted a reaction out of me not because they wanted to enlighten me and help me become more sex positive. I wore headphones so that her mom who was upstairs wouldn’t hear us. They spent the next eight minutes watching me watch porn — expecting me to be disgusted. It was a pretty vanilla scene and I don’t really remember anything about it to be honest. The only thing I remember was the ending when the woman swallowed the guy’s cum and in a really sultry voice said “it tastes sweet,” and I was like, omg that’s iconic, I’m obsessed. It was the perfect mix of hot and campy (which imo is what porn is all about). They were shocked that I wasn’t completely repulsed by it, of course because they thought “all girls think porn is gross,” (which is obvs extremely false and reductive). I won’t lie, I honestly didn’t know then that girls watch porn too — my friends and I never talked about it. At that point, I understood it as something that only men watch porn while women read cheesy romance novels (not knocking those, I love the cheese sometimes). But after watching this video, I just remember thinking about how hot and powerful this woman was. Of course I always heard that women who do porn have no self respect or whatever but I was amazed at how this woman owned tf out of her sexuality. But there was still a sense that this porn wasn’t made for me — it was of course geared for cis straight men’s pleasure.

Once I went to college, I finally was able to really explore my sexuality, as one does. I did still think at that point that anything on Pornhub was just for men. Luckily, I found Tumblr (before they banned literally everything fun). TBT to the days of Tumblr porn. This opened up my eyes that porn wasn’t just for men — it’s something that everyone can *and should* enjoy. I remember watching porn on a second date with a boyfriend I had in college. It was a fun way to get to know each other and it also felt pretty intimate too. I learned of all the fun ways to enjoy porn and erotic content — audio erotica, erotic stories (shoutout to Sasha Grey for writing the first erotic novel I ever read), and of course a ton of different types of porn. Pleasure was hard for me to talk about and porn helped normalize that for me and made me feel more comfortable. Since then I’ve loved not only watching porn but also collecting any vintage porn I can get my hands on — I love buying old porn tapes from random men on Facebook, finding cool fetish books at bookstores like John Willie’s Bizarre collection, tracking down old Playboys from thrift stores, you name it, I want it. I also love going to sex shops each time I visit a new city (the seedier the better — those off the highway shops in the middle of no where are truly the best).

With all that said, I do think we need to talk about how porn can have some negative effects.

Oftentimes, people use porn as their sex education and just mimic what they see in porn. It’s important to know the difference between porn and sex — because what you see in porn isn’t always going to be fun for everyone. I do think our sex education is more to blame for this one though. If we talked about pleasure in school, then we would already be aware of the real sex-porn difference.

There are definitely body image issues that can arise especially with how our genitals should look i.e. super small inner labia, huge tits, massive dicks, etc. People need to learn that porn isn’t real, and usually isn’t an accurate depiction of what sex usually looks like. For example, a lot of the time when people squirt in porn, it’s like this intense waterfall — which I’ve learned is usually just water that is inserted into the vag before the scene and not real fluids (sorry to disappoint anyone, lol). This type of stuff can make a lot of us feel pressured that that is something we have to be doing in order to have good sex. So much of the time, what seems super pleasurable in a scene isn’t necessarily real. The main takeaway is just knowing that this isn’t real, it’s entertainment!

For anyone who isn’t a cis-het man, mainstream porn is not usually geared for us, it’s made for the male gaze (which means, hetero men are solely the intended audience which oftentimes objectifies women). Although, many of us still enjoy it! A lot of people criticise it for being too extreme but again porn isn’t real — it exists for the fantasy. Like, just because I want to watch a gangbang or someone fucking their step sibling doesn’t mean I want that in real life. Let me live. And luckily, there’s so many ethical porn companies out now that make porn for all types of people not just cis-men. Ethical porn means that the working conditions for sex workers are safe and they are getting paid fairly. It also prioritizes the pleasure of the workers and shows more realistic scenes as well as more diversity in terms of sexuality, race, body type, etc.!

And then of course, there’s MakeLoveNotPorn.

Watching videos from MakeLoveNotPorn was interesting, because when I first heard of it, I thought it was just gonna be your usual porn site, just with an interesting name. Once I realized it was real people and real couples having real, non-scripted sex, watching the videos were kind of heartwarming? (Is it weird to call videos of people banging and masturbating heartwarming?).

Porn and MLNP are totally different — I love the realness of MLNP and I also love how over the top and performative real porn can be. MLNP is great because we get to see real couples and solos having real sex. We get to see what sex actually looks like, whether that’s an embarrassing moment or laughing during it, etc. — it’s just all real and it’s so cute. It is definitely such a different viewing experience than watching porn. But of course, porn is completely different — it performative and I love that as well. And as a true lover of porn and pleasure, I love having various options to choose from depending on my mood.

I do want to acknowledge, there are some people who have an unhealthy relationship to porn and really abuse it. But for most — porn is good for you. It shouldn’t be something we are ashamed of or don’t want to talk about it with our partners — we all do it and it’s totally normal. It really helped me become more comfortable with my sexuality, as well as helped me become more comfortable talking to partners about what I like/my fantasies. Also it’s just hot — 10/10 would def recommend.

To see the difference between #realworldsex and porn for yourself, head to MakeLoveNotPorn and rent a video! MakeLoveNotPorn is pro-sex. Pro-porn. Pro-knowing the difference.

Pro-sex. Pro-porn. Pro-knowing the difference.