I don't watch too many movies. The pretty woman, the pretty man, the first kiss, the break up, the make up, they drive off into the sunset. Everyone knows it's fake but they watch it like it's real life.
In the movie "Don Jon," Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character makes a pretty decent argument in favor of why he replaced movie watching with what's labeled as a "vice:" pornography.
The other night over dinner, a girlfriend and started talking about porn: the good, the bad and the ugly. She noted that there isn't a wide variety of choices that fit her personal desires.
As she expressed her frustrations to me about why there aren't more "suitable" options for women — in other words, more videos that demonstrate the traditional definition of "love making" as opposed to just "f*cking" — I, too, became curious as to why the majority of videos reflect the tastes of men.
I decided to look into it. Seeing as most of my friends are feminists, they had some strong opinions about porn.
Friend 1 is displeased with the options because she believes porn places unrealistic expectations on women,
I'm not a porn enthusiast, but I have seen it. As a result, I struggle with trusting men, because I feel like all men secretly want to do the disgusting, degrading acts I've seen in porn.
Friend 2, on the other hand, is an avid watcher of porn, but is also dissatisfied with what the Internet has to offer. She says,
I like watching it because it helps me escape life's harsh realities. That and, for a few minutes out of the day, all of my attention is focused on ultimate woman's pleasure. But I really have to hunt for normal ones.
After talking to my girlfriends, I realized that there must be a specific reason — or reasons — why there are fewer female-friendly videos in circulation.
I narrowed this outcome of slim pickings down to the fact that, in general, men watch porn more than women do. And, to my surprise, numbers actually back my theories.
According to an article in Slate magazine — and this survey, taken in 2013 by the Pew Research Center —, 25 percent of men watch adult videos online while only 8 percent of women admit to doing so.
When I read this statistic, I was shocked to find that only one in four men fessed up to porn-watching. So, you can imagine how taken aback I was to find that fewer than one in 10 females allegedly watch porn.
Why is the amount of women who view porn so miniscule? I narrowed this conclusion down to the following possible reasons:
1. Fear of being slut-shamed and/or wanting to retain purity.
Women have been taught since before grade school to present ourselves as pure, delicate, feminine flowers.
If some women truly take this imposition to heart, then they could very refrain from watching porn and/or engaging in masturbatory behaviors.
2. Women are not as sexually motivated as men.
I'm not sure how feasible this one is; my friends' confessions have proven otherwise.
Though, their responses are not reflective of the collective female population — they're a reasonable marker for the contemporary 20-something female.
And, if we are, in fact, just as sexually motivated, but maybe less visually motivated than men, we should reconsider changing the landscape of video content, which could, in turn, modify women's desires and willingness to admit to watching porn.
3. Inaccurate responses.
It could be that more women do watch porn, but are too embarrassed to come forward about their habits, which is what the Slate article suggests.
If these reasons are true, it is safe to assume women are cognizant of the societal stigma associated with female porn viewers.
Sure, we're more emotional than men, and perhaps a little less visual, but aren't we granted the same right to pleasure and satisfaction that men are?
My issue is with the stigma itself; if more women want to watch porn but don't or are afraid of the taboos that surround it, what's the answer to erasing the negative connotation?
Is it creating of more "soft" porn? More sex-ed classes in school? An early introduction to masturbation?
Women who aren't fans of porn shouldn't have to watch it, and I do not pass judgment on them.
But, the women who do watch porn should have viable options from which to choose.
Likewise, they should not have to feel weird, ashamed or any lesser as women.
There should be enough videos to cancel out the overwhelming number of options that my friend believes to be misogynistic, and my other friend should not have to go through four pages of male-centric porn on a website until she finds one sensual and romantic video.
The Pew Institute's research shows the number of women who regularly watch porn has increased in recent years, which leads me to believe women are becoming more and more interested in it.
If women band together and help each other out, we can slowly erase the stigma.
I'm just sitting over here, wondering why we're all okay with the elephant in the room (knowing that dudes watch porn), and why our eyes get a little wider when we find out that girls do, too.
After all, "Don Jon" said it best:
Porn isn't meant to be some lovey-dovey chick flick. It's meant to appeal to one of the most basic needs of the human — whether single or taken, young or old, gay or straight — and it should not discriminate based on gender.