We Humans Like to See Other Humans Having Sex

Mon, 04/06/2015 - 08:18
Submitted by Lawrence Lanoff

This week, I've been thinking about all of the students who have come to me with their fears and anxieties around their use of porn over the years. It seems that so many people can get trapped in the porn rabbit hole of triggering dopamine and essentially using porn as a way to get lost or escape from reality.

However, there is the potential to use porn in more of a positive, life-affirming, life-supportive manner.

Porn exists. That’s a fact and a reality. We humans like to see other humans having sex.

The way I see it, porn is a form of human play and human play is essential to human wellbeing. If we can begin to take the morality of sex out of the equation and do as our cousins the bonobos do, and treat sex as more of play and bonding, then we have the chance to see the redemptive qualities of porn.

I have been super creative during the last few months and my use of porn naturally diminished by about 95%. But what I have noticed is that porn can be an amazing jumpstart to my sexual energy and allows me to continue to cultivate my sexual appetite and desire.

For me, porn has always been fun.

It’s a way of exploring things that I haven’t explored before. It’s a way of bonding with other people who are interested in the same ideas that I am and it’s a way of, as I said, jumpstarting my sexual energy and sexual creativity.

So imagine a world where we see porn as a part of life as opposed to an aberration of life, where we use porn as a way to alter mood, decrease depression and increase tolerance of sexual differences. Of course if you’re using porn all, it is impossible to not increase your tolerance of different sexual behaviors because this myriad of human behaviors is depicted even in the most normative porn sites.

So that is really the awesome thing about porn.

And what I’m about to say is just my own little theory. But I think the reason young people are growing up so sexually tolerant is because of porn. Porn has exposed them to ideas that we didn’t have access to when I was a kid. I personally had to get access to different ideas about sex through the Nixon administration’s huge book it produced on porn. It was a semi-scathing view of porn. For me however, it was my treasure trove of the different ways human beings get off. And it made me so happy because I realized that the things that I was interested in were not unusual.

My take away from the Nixon report was that, in fact, we have a diverse culture of humans and we have a diverse sexual appetite. And all of this is completely normal. So perhaps we should stop demonizing porn and openly consider including porn in our dialogue and in our field of sex play. Maybe porn is simply an expression of adult humans at play and play can be a positive thing to help with our moods - especially if it’s integrated into life – as opposed to something that must be used in secret and in hiding.

If porn is something that we use to escape our feelings and emotions – that we use to escape our feelings and our fears about reality – that may not be the best thing. And using porn as education is as ridiculous as tying to learn how to drive while by watching The Fast And The Furious 7.

However, by integrating porn into real life, by integrating it into the relationship conversation, by integrating it into our fun and our play and us it as a way to deepen our connection with our partners, in my experience porn has been only a positive thing.

Watching porn with our partners is a great method to explore different ideas and desires, that we could be open to exploring in real life – well that’s actually a super positive thing.

Maybe porn is not the problem, but rather our beliefs about it are.

President of Pleasure. Buster of shame and myths.

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re: Porn "addiction" and shame issues

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 06:51

I couldn't agree more.  Your title says it all - we enjoy viewing each other enjoying sex.
Whenever the topic of porn comes up, I keep reminding people that humans have indulged in erotica since the beginning of history, whether it's in the form of wall drawings, rice paper drawings, sculpture, prose, poetry, photography or video.
As our technology has evolved, so has our media. That should come as no surprise to anyone.  Says Paul Fishbein - the founder and president of Adult Video News - “The first thing that a lot of people did when they got their VCR was rent or purchase an adult movie, like ‘Deep Throat.’ ‘Devil in Miss Jones,’ ‘Behind the Green Door,’ or ‘Debbie Does Dallas.’"
And of course, today, adult media is at our fingertips via computers.  But what's really behind it all, beneath it all, at the core, is that - as you said - we simply enjoy seeing others enjoying sex.
Now, how we incorporate that adult media in our lives is the rest of the story.  Obviously, some people with religious inhibitions think porn is evil.  And I suppose there are others who simply cannot get enough.  Guess what - this is the human condition; the ability (or lack of ability) in moderating our desires.
But that doesn't mean that adult media/porn is in any way - in and of itself - dangerous.  There are a whole host of things in our daily lives that have the potential to be "dangerous," but that doesn't stop us from using or enjoying them.
Keep up the good work, Lawrence.

teenagers & porn

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 09:33

As the mother of two teenage daughters it's not at all clear to me that teenagers are "growing up so sexually tolerant" due to porn. They're certainly not better informed as a general rule.

In the UK there is a sad lack of good Sex&Relationship Education (SRE) provided on a consistent basis throughout schools. The prevalence of quite hardcore porn in young men's lives is being used in it's place and leads to some very strange places.

There are the boys who are horrified at the sight of body hair on a real girl, who insist that pubic hair is "dirty" as if we didn't have enough body issues to worry about as teenagers.

There is the insistence that the girl must be broken in some way if she doesn't orgasm after 2 minutes PIV sex, or perhaps worse still doesn't orgasm in the right way with squirting preferred.

I'm not sure I want my 17yearold to be asked for anal on her first date with a boy.

This isn't a problem with porn per se, though the quality of porn used by teenagers that I know seems to be pretty poor, cliched male-centric crap. The problem is one of education and balance. If education were comprehensive and compulsory even bad porn couldn't do too much damage. At the moment it certainly isn't making my daughter's lives any easier as they and their girlfriends negotiate their first sexual encounters.

porn potpourri

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 14:47
bila kolbe

Although not a large sample population was tapped for the Youtube video imbedded in Carlin's recent post, "Dehli girls talk openly about masturbation", nevertheless, almost all the girls cited porn as an effective stimulant for their masturbation practice. It's porn potpourri, some of it fragrant and refreshing, and there's the stuff that reeks, consumer choice. Although nothing beats a wild imagination for churning out fantastic fantasies as a prelude to wondrous solo sex, I'm starting to like some of the computer-generated 3D porn incorporating other worldly landscapes and personages. The beat goes on!

porn - A Reality of community sensuality re: teenagers

Mon, 04/13/2015 - 12:47
feminist indignation (not verified)

Dear North London Housewife,

       You have the most lovely and thought provoking posts. I hear an invitation to rap our heads around the cultural implications of the broad verity of "performance sex". And it is the
word "performance" that I am hearing you are drawing a distinction
between all the virtues of Lawrence Lanoff's essay on porn and the difficulties
your daughters face because of stylized representations of sex.

      While porn as Lanoff says is "… treasure trove of the different ways human beings get off
…. Maybe …
is simply an expression of adult humans at play." perhaps that is the idealized connection between sensual understanding and libertarian business. What I hear you North
London saying is your daughters are not seeing the community nature of porn.
Not shown are contract negotiations, (more money for anal, no condom, body type
and new novel extreme antics) how hard it is to achieve quality exhibition on
set and whether afterward the performers high fived each other or reached for
ice packs. Are you saying Lanoff's porn is not like the days we lived in groups
we learned a lot from watching hearing and living with people before, during
and after they had sex? Are adults and our youth being sealed off from each
other and knowledge of our humanity? Are you saying you lament the fact that
porn does not modle community learning and provide a more accurate cultural
context for sex?

     The fact that porn is business based performance photography separates us from the reality that sex takes place within people between people and as community. I hear you objecting that by selling product business can culturally change how we as humans experience our sexuality. Of course Blogs like Betty's do the same.

     The difference being here even though it's largely anonymous; people get to see the humanity of sexual expression and are able to be moved and changed by the questions. Here they quickly learn there is no such thing as idealized sex just people groping for sensual learning and understanding as community.

      I also hear Lawrence Lanoff saying the same thing about pornography that it furthers our sensual connection as community and would guess your distinctions about your daughter's experiences are most welcome caveats to his thesis.



Joyful not prescriptive

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 12:13

feminist indignation  - Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Let me try to reply equally carefully.

Reading through your post has made me think, and perhaps the differences between Lawrence and myself on this thread are because of the age groups we are considering. I am very focused on young teenagers just starting out on their sexual journey because this is the age of my daughters but perhaps Lawrence is more focused on people in their 20s, a decade later.

While there are significant problems still to be overcome, it is clear from changing attitudes and legislation that this younger generation is more tolerant of varying sexual orientations and attitudes. I'm not convinced this relates to increased porn so much as the financial empowerment of working women, the hard work of gay, bi, trans activists etc.

I'm also not convinced that this more general tolerance towards "others" translates into a personal acceptance of sexual diversity. Young teenage boys and men do not seem especially tolerant when it comes to their own sexuality. Actually, they seem more and more anxious.

Ofcourse young teenage boys are not buying their own porn, they're downloading free onto their phones or borrowing from their parent's collection and inviting friends over. Mostly the porn they see is cheap and nasty, sometimes cheap and cheerful but always stereotyped. Without good SexEd I see kids using porn as an educational resource as if it were factual rather than the stylised representation you describe so well.

What does this mean in practice?

In free/cheap porn, women's bodies are hair-free, skinny almost childlike in proportion except for enormous fake breasts. They look like dolls. Unless they come from a household where the women are comfortable in their own skins, boys expect their naked girlfriend's body to look like a porn star. Seriously who needs that on a first date?
The sex in free or cheap porn is mostly PIV, occasionally anal and always male fantasy based. The women always orgasm very quickly usually squirting a mile high. This is what young boys who haven't been taught better think their first sexual encounter will be like and if it isn't then the girl must be "broken" - he knows this because he's seen it on tv.

So for first encounters, porn seems very limiting for kids. It promotes a very prescriptive, one diminsional, male-centric view of sex and can send young people down a very unsatistfying pathway, one that Betty seems to spend a lot of time rescuing young men and women from in her blog. Your comments about "performance" were very interesting. Young people can be very keen to conform, and sexual performance anxiety must be stressful for young men.

When I was a kid there was a lot less information and that was far from ideal. But we were free to explore our bodies and sexuality in a way that is less and less possible. There was a space free from adult expectations, prescriptions and rules.

And some of us learned to take our own time to enjoy the journey. We found our own way to orgasms and there was a lot more laughter along the way.
Sex should always be joyful, even at the beginning.

Generational challenges -- At least inEurope it not war.

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 09:58
feminist indignation (not verified)

Dear North London Housewife,

    Thanks for bringing me back to hearing you. I was trying to hear both you and Lawrence Lanoff. Once children are grown one forgets how taxing it is to have adolescents in the house. Friends who did not make it through those years unharmed leave a ghastly memory for every
parent. The pit falls of youth are numerous from addiction, accidents,
A-Levels, HIV, suicides, car crashes, usurious and stupid friends and adults
that lead kids astray. As parents it seems like each day is swimming against a
tide of children pulling away into a dangerous unforgiving world. I hear sex
looms high on your scale but I see and recall many more uncertainties of youth.

      Sex aside I hear you saying we seem to be more cut off from one another by economic fortune, and by a world ever more automated and digitized. Robert Putnam writes about this in "Bowling Alone", and "Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis".

     I'm guessing that loss of connection between people and as community translates to a loss of connection within people. We are becoming more disjointed from each other and less able to support each other. I hear a lot of this in your comments relating to teenage
sex. I'm wondering if the iphone has done as much to interrupt human connection,
as did the move from group hunter-gatherer life to individual farmer. The
libertarian free business model for porn seems an easy target for Prime
Minister, David Cameron, but it is probably just a small manifestation of much
greater disenfranchising changes in our society for the worse, changes these
free market and social conservatives favor.

     In this context I am imagining I hearing your diatribe differently as characterized by, "In free/cheap porn, women's bodies are hair-free, skinny almost childlike in proportion except for
enormous fake breasts." about porn and teenage boys. Instead am I
imagining I hearing a request for more education about, what relationships do
for developing (children, adolescent) minds, their out look, self identity and
well being as community? I'm wondering what you mean by education. Relationship
education starts at least at birth but in many cultures integration of the
sexual aspects of relationships is taboo. ?Outrageous? -- perhaps what you are
asking for is permission to have a neighborhood teen porn night where parents
can talk about sex in terms of the modern digital cut off culture. Show movies
and talk about all your concerns raised here. It would be the counter culture
to the iphone - real human connection talking about images that affect each
person very differently but extremely viscerally. Sure, you'd be the talk the
neighborhood's Mums. Personally it makes me uncomfortable and I would never
have thought of it with my kids.

     You raise an interesting question, "How to meet your needs for community and learning?"

    Having had adolescents of my own I have lived your journey. Parents worry about sons and daughters differently. Having had both and having been one, I'm not sure it is any less difficult for the other sex - just different. The development of girls and boys seems to
intrigue, bore, disgust, intimidate and perplex the other. Hearing you talk
about boys and your daughters says to me why can't boys be more like girls and
reminds me of the song from "My Fair Lady", "Why can't a woman
be more like a man?" (see You Tube clip)


     What I hear from you is a desire to create in your family for your daughters a secure attachment base from which they can pull way - grow into a world more capable of safely embracing them. Are you intent on creating a community that values human connection and

     Our children of different generations face different challenges. At least in Europe it is not war. Dear Mum and Dad, I hear your fear and hope.

The Perils of Porn

Sun, 06/07/2015 - 15:01
Serati (not verified)

Partly I agree, but itsounds a little idialistic. What about the dangersof the porn industry? By watching porn we are condoning it an perpetuating it.

I LOVE porn

Wed, 06/10/2015 - 08:29
Johnjohnjohn (not verified)


I'm 63 and I LOVE porn, with significant provisos.

It has to be non-violent. I love watching women masturbating. I love watching loving, healthy couples having sex.

My girl loves watching with me.

There must be NO hurt and it must all be consensual.

And even if consensual means pain or other bad stuff, not interested.


Oriental Herbivores?

Fri, 06/12/2015 - 18:07

I am still trying to wrap my brain around this one........I read a story not so long ago about the men in China or Japan...not sure where, but it was the Oriental men that say they would rather masturbate to porn than have sex and interpersonal relationships with women (any maybe homosexual sex as well, cannot recall), but I think this serves as a paramount mile stone of what can go wrong with a society or glitch in human sexual development when it is heavily porn-fed. I am not one who promotes a diet of hard core or continual viewing of porn. Once in a while for variety of other sexy stuff also is cool, but as with any over abuse of anything, I do think we suffer repercussions that are terrible for us as human animals and disrupts our natural state of functioning and operation. Just my opinion, but that article freaked me out! Bad enough women in the USA are turning to masturbation as their sole sexual outlet because the men here do not want to conform to pleasuring us and resist the tried and true out of spite it seems, sex must be defined as intercourse as a main dish, and it has to run all their way. But our women are frustrated, angry, resentful, and turning into these herbivores as well!! Think about it!