Advice on sex, relationships, and more
Dear Body Party,
My partner is really into porn. Like really, really into porn. They watch it more or less every day, and it makes me really uncomfortable. Last time I brought it up they made me feel guilty for asking them to stop doing something that makes them happy. I want them to be happy, sexually and emotionally, and asking them again makes me feel gross and controlling, but not saying anything is starting to feel passive aggressive because they know I hate it. Where do I go from here?
Dear (Not A) Porn Star,
Porn is tricky. The sex positive progressive in all of us is desperate to destigmitize sexual imagery but there is no doubt that the majority of porn is problematic in is depiction of not just women but sex in general. While there are many, many problems with the porn industry as a whole, the biggest post production concern is usually regarding its unrealistic portrayal of bodies and how they have sex. Porn sex is often overly violent, forgets any notion of consent, and eschews any real displays of pleasure in favor of aesthetics. This tends to cause two distinct problems within relationships- that people either begin to feel like they can’t live up to the physical standards set by porn and that their partners don’t find them attractive anymore or their partner’s porn watching beings to impact the kind of sex they’re having together. Either one of these problems tend to lead to partners feeling neglected and un respected.
There is no solution to this problem that doesn’t involve you talking to your partner about how their habit makes you feel. Try to avoid blame, and instead explain that when they watch porn so regularly, you feel insecure about your relationship. Explain what in particular makes you uncomfortable- going in knowing what you want is an important part of fostering helpful discussing as opposed to unfruitful conflict.
One way to address this problem without asking your partner to stop watching porn completely is to discuss with them how they could change the way they watch porn. Many of the problems that arise with porn come from it being a capitalist mega structure that feeds off of the exploitation and degradation of bodies and thus propagates toxic ideas about sex and people in general. Talk to your partner about switching from mass free sites like PornHub and YouPorn to smaller sites run by independent producers. By paying independant producers of porn who make content for themselves and who work outside of that particular system of exploitation you may be able to address some of the toxicity it brings to your relationship.
Stay Safe & Have Fun,
Body Party is a positive, open-minded column about everything bodies, sex, relationships, and self love. This column is not written by a doctor but done by a person who has researched the topic and looked into your questions thoroughly. If you have any questions or problems and want advice about sex, medication, love, STD’s ect. please submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org