Y Me: What's your position on porn?

Posted 8:59am on Wednesday, Apr. 11, 2012

I got an interesting question from a reader that I thought warranted a little more discussion than just a short answer. Jay in Euless is at odds with his live-in girlfriend about him watching Internet pornography.

Dear Y Me: I just moved in with my girlfriend, and she caught me watching porn on our [shared] computer. Now she has forbidden me from watching Internet porn and checks my browsing history all the time. The computer we use is actually mine, so I feel like I should be able to do whatever I want on it. She thinks porn is gross, and that I should only be masturbating about her. What should I do?

-- Jay

Dear Jay: That's a tough one, man. The idea that you should only think about one woman while masturbating is absurd. I also think it's equally naive of her to demand that you stop watching porn altogether. I believe strongly that it's healthy to watch porn, as long as it doesn't take over your life or involve anything outside of the boundaries of the law. Porn is awesome, and like all awesome things (booze, coffee, Easy Cheese, to name a few) it's easy to go overboard with it.

I wish I knew her specific objection to porn. I get that there are some very damaged "performers" in the world of porn. But I also believe that consenting adults, even damaged ones, have the right to do whatever they want with their bodies. And we have the right to watch.

It sounds like you two need to hammer this thing out right away, if you want your new living arrangement to work. I'd explain to her that fantasy and what stimulates a guy visually are a very important part of a man's sexual identity.

Unless you're both very experienced lovers, it's important to test boundaries and try new things, in order to keep your sex life from becoming boring.

Also, Jay, you can erase your browsing history. (I'm just saying.)

Jay's issue got me to thinking about my own porn-watching habits, and I spoke with some friends to get their thoughts on the subject.

I watch Internet pornography almost every day. When I talk to other single guy friends of mine, most of them report similar habits. A few friends told me they watch porn a minimum of three times a day, even without the intent to pleasure themselves to it.

With that in mind, when I recently shared my zeal for porn with a female friend of mine, she responded with a look of horror. She was just surprised that it was such a routine part of my day and went so far as to accuse me of being addicted to porn.

I don't agree, and I thought she was manifesting the puritanical idea that sex only belongs behind closed doors. I was ready for that fight, but her actual objection surprised me and made me think a little.

As it turns out, she didn't object to porn in principle, just the abuse of it (which she conceded was tricky to determine). She said that porn creates unrealistic standards for sex, and watching it too much blurs the line between fantasy and reality for some guys. Real sex, she posited, rarely resembles porn -- unless it's a special occasion, and a lot of booze and Easy Cheese is involved.

Having been in a couple of very long-term relationships, I can say that I've stolen ideas to spice up my sex life directly from porn. I don't think it blurs any lines, and my tastes aren't so extravagant that I needed a safe word (not that there's anything wrong with that). It's kind of a de facto manual and a good source for couples looking to experiment.

I'd love to get your thoughts on how much porn is too much. E-mail, tweet or Facebook-message me.

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