Distinguishing between fantasy and stark reality in porn

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Alone while masturbating, with a partner or while at a party, the many styles of pornography have the capability to enhance, scintillate and complicate our sex lives.

All in all, porn is about as ubiquitous as vomit on the street after a Thirsty Thursday on Sixth Street. From erotic sculptures in ancient Khajuraho temples in India (of images such as a man pleasuring three women at the same time while standing on his head) to late-night, 30-second Chatroulette sessions at the Perry-Castañeda Library — leading to at least seven sightings of something nude — sexual images have been and will continue to be a part of our existence. It is the way that we engage with and understand these images and pornography that is crucial to our sexual health.

Although we live in a country where sex education often does not even properly educate us about basic anatomy, sexual images are all around us. If you do watch content of the pornographic nature, “porn literacy” is a learned and vital skill to understanding our bodies and sexual pleasure in the world outside of cyberspace.

Dr. Marty Klein, a sex therapist and author, discusses porn, specifically porn literacy, in his blog, Sexual Intelligence.

To be porn literate is to understand that porn sex does not always mirror real sex or typical bodies. Sex in porn is often one-sided, male-centric and a fantasy that does not depict condom use, proper lubrication or sexual pleasure of all parties involved. Porn literacy enables us to understand that no one’s anal cavity is as receptive to sex without practice as in porn; porn literacy enables us to understand not all pizza boys get oral sex from horny housewives. Porn literacy helps us accept our bodies the way they are and celebrate their triumphs and challenges, even when our penises can’t stay as hard as the penis of Mr. Naughty MacNasty, the plumber who is here to fix our, uh, pipes.

Because parents and teachers often do not give sufficient guidance about sex, relationships and porn literacy, Cindy Gallop started makelovenotporn.com, a website and blog offering an alternative to hardcore porn in order to “rehabilitate” generations to become more considerate sexual partners.

Last week I interviewed strangers in a coffee shop in New York City and discussed porn with my Longhorn lovers back home about habits and opinions of pornography. I was elated by the sheer amount of responses and thoughtful opinions I received. Conversations included detailed descriptions of categories of porn they found most appealing, a tip about a porn film shot near the UT Tower and answers ranging from porn “ruins society,” to “porn is my reward for studying hard” and “I have a girlfriend, we both watch it.”

It is vital to distinguish that due to religious beliefs, varying cultural norms and moral codes, it is improbable that any opposing views in the debate over pornography will resolve their differences, even when presented with research or statistics. What we can do is educate ourselves about sex and pleasure, realize porn sex is often highly scripted, practice our communication skills and truly care about the sexual bliss and needs of the people we have sex with.

Whether you want to watch Peter Griffin give it to Lois, see “The Sex Life of Robots” by brilliant artist Michael Sullivan, read “Fifty Shades of Grey,” watch LGBTQ porn, hardcore porn, feminist porn, hipster porn, mature porn or threesomes, foursomes or more-somes, anything that you can think of has been made into porn. No one person expresses his or her sexual desires in the same way as another, so why should pornography be any different?

As long as you realize that most women don’t reach orgasm six times in a minute, that nurses don’t perform happy endings after a flu shot and you’re not skipping class everyday to watch XXX feature films or breaking any laws, porn can be a healthy endeavor for those who choose to watch it.

Printed on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 as: Differentiating between porn fantasies and reality