I waited until after dark to write this. And I'll confess, I required a few glasses of wine to loosen up, first. It’s not that I’m embarrassed to talk about porn. Not exactly. But somehow, even though I write regularly about sexual politics, the idea of writing about porn in the daytime seemed … kind of shameful. Or at the very least, uncomfortable. Even in my role as a dispassionate journalistic observer.
Because really, I’m not a dispassionate observer — not even in the literal sense. I’m a woman who has sex. Who enjoys sex. Of this fact I am very much unashamed. The notion that women ought to — and do — enjoy sex is as old as the second wave of feminism. Vibrators may have titillated Sex and the City fans in the late '90s, but by now they’ve moved out of the realm of bachelorette party gag gifts and into the bedrooms of 52 percent of women. And academics and public-health experts agree: Women who masturbate are happy and healthy and more sexually fulfilled. So why, then, do we still start stammering and blushing (even hours past deadline, when we’ve had half a bottle of cab) when the discussion turns to women watching porn?
Clearly, there’s a narrative about how women are supposed to pleasure themselves. It involves tasteful (or maybe even cheesy bodice-ripping) erotica. It involves a lively imagination. It involves vibrating silicone rabbit ears. It involves candlelight and bubble baths. But if you even allude to the fact that a woman's solo sexual pleasure might include watching two actors have sex with each other for money, the discussion gets awkward.
This is strange! It’s 2012. Many, many women watch porn. A full 66 percent of us, in fact. And most women certainly know other women who do. We talk about it with our friends. Maybe not loudly, and maybe not in public. We might not be able to pick out a porno for our girl friends the way we’d select a sweater off the rack. But, we have an idea or two about what they watch. We might not be into the same stuff, but we don’t think it’s shameful or gross. It’s a matter of preference. On a personal and interpersonal level, we get that.
There's a pretty big caveat here, though, so click through to keep reading.
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