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The Blue & Gray Press | May 23, 2018

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Porn: Not Just for Guys

Gentlemen, I’m about to blow your mind: girls watch porn.

Until recently, I thought that this was common knowledge. My friends and I have been having hilarious sleepovers featuring adult websites since we were fifteen (the contents of the actual sleepover were decidedly non-pornographic.) To most of the people I know, the concept of porn as a boy’s club is laughable. However, after some conversations with men on campus, it has come to my attention that women’s consumption role in the adult entertainment industry goes largely unnoticed.

This astounds me, although it probably shouldn’t. Mainstream porn is male-centric in both its advertising (“Single ladies in your area,” “Grow 3 inches in 3 weeks!”) and its aesthetic focus. While the proportions and attractiveness of female stars are of the utmost importance, there is no gender reciprocity. Have you ever really looked at some of the guys who do porn? I’ve seen food items that were more sexually appealing.

The pervasiveness of point-of-view videos only further reinforces the point. The majority of porn is designed for the male viewer, designed so that he may more easily envision himself having hot, hot sex with the woman onscreen. However, when, as a Nielsen Media Research study claims, one in three people accessing porn are female, this creates a problem. As well as potentially alienating a huge consumer base—13 million American women check out online porn at least once a month—the industry also reinforces the idea of female sexuality as being shameful by relegating “female-friendly” videos to specialty sections in stores and separate categories on websites.

This is also widely apparent in porn’s approach to the LGBT community. While male gay porn is readily available and varied, the majority of “lesbian” porn is designed for the consumption of straight men and ignores the needs of the people actually participating in girl-on-girl sex.

This issue isn’t limited to campus. There is a multi-billion dollar industry that thrives on targeting male viewers. But the University of Mary Washington has brought it close to home. Last year, Gail Dines was hired as the keynote speaker for women’s history month. Ms. Dines makes her professional career writing about how porn hurts women. Her book, “Pornland,” is a 256-page diatribe on the evils of the genre and defends the idea that porn is a cause of sexual assault and misogyny. Even eight months later, I hear people discussing that event. She made an impression on the way our school views women and adult entertainment, and I don’t think it was a good one.

I wish that we could have an open dialogue about women and porn and how fantastic that combination can be. I wish that it was more socially acceptable for girls to discuss their favorite sites and stores. I wish that Jenna Jameson could have male co-stars who were even remotely attractive. But for now, I wish that the culture of the campus would convey the reality of who’s clogging up Apogee between the hours of 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. For one-third of your unwatched YouTube videos and crashed Tumblr pages, you have the ladies to blame.

Comments

  1. 2010 alum

    It’s not much of a surprise anymore to hear that yes, women do watch and perhaps enjoy pornography. I say perhaps because most women I have spoken to about this subject (and of course, I do not argue that their views are necessarily representative of the UMW female population or women anywhere as a whole) use words more along the lines of “gross,” “ridiculous” and at best “interesting.” Most men consume pornography, but perhaps that simply attests to males being more reliably aroused by visual stimuli. I have yet to hear a man ever say, “and after I climaxed, I finished watching the video to see where the plot would lead.” But that’s an aside. My question is why do you, Claire Pickard, watch pornography? Is it empowering? I recommend (if you haven’t already) you take a look at Ariel Levy’s book, Female Chauvinist Pigs: Is Raunch Culture the New Women’s Liberation? She has an interesting theory on the popularity of pornography among women today and participation in what would have been considered the antithesis of feminism even a decade ago.

  2. I enjoy the pun in the beginning of your article.