Sex is an interesting thing on the academic level.
Ok, it’s pretty goddamn interesting on the practical level too, but stick with me here.
Culturally (western culture in particular), we’re brought up to think of it as something that’s supposed to be private and intimate, strictly between two people – preferably with a strong emotional connection.
In practice… well, not so much. In fact, humans as a whole aren’t just interested in keeping sex to private sessions; we’re also – as a species – interested checking out other people’s sexin. If there’s anything that has remained constant over the millennia of human evolution it’s this: we may love having sex, but we’re also always up for watching other people bone too. It seems to actually be hard-coded into our systems; there’s evidence that female copulatory vocalizations – which is fancy talk for “women’s screaming orgasms” – are specifically for arousing other people, especially men. Not just the man currently having sex… other men. Like, anyone else in ear-shot. Getting other men hot and bothered by advertising that sex is going on rightthefucknow has a number of benefits including possibly inviting other partners to have sex (with her) and induce an element of sperm competition into the mix.
Porn – watching other people have sex in various forms and mediums – has been with us from the beginning of human existence. As soon as we figured out that abstract symbols could represent external concepts, somebody scrawled boobs on the cave wall.
When we realized that stone could be carved into representative shapes, they started carving marble wangs and basalt naked chicks. All those nude paintings hanging in museums weren’t just celebrations of the human form expressed in a visual medium – they were also created with an eye towards the erotic; having nude paintings in your collection was considered to be scandalously naughty.
Fast forward 50,000 years and we get to the age when watching other people fuck is as simple as typing “fucking” into Google.
Go on. Try it. I’ll wait.
It’s interesting – since the advent of mass-market pornography, we’ve found ourselves at odds with our own desires. We’re told that porn is horrible, damaging and degrading for everybody involved by one group, while another points out that not only are there no reliable studies on the effects of porn that show all these horrible results, the question is based off a profoundly biased view of human sexuality. Then there’s the fact of porn’s enduring popularity despite all attempts to kill it, the way it’s influenced modern culture in more ways than just teaching people that maybe they wanted to try positions other than missionary or that they might like to try a finger up the jacksie… needless to say, porn is an indelible part of both culture and the human psyche.
Now to be fair up front: I’m unabashedly pro porn. I’ll freely admit there are troublesome aspects – it’s rife with sexism, misogyny and racism… just like mainstream entertainment, really – but I’m not here to argue the pros and cons or play “my study that validates my point of view is more scientifically rigorous1 and accurate than YOUR study”. I’ll also be riding hard2 on the comments section; if things get too heated, I’ll start deleting comments. If people start picking fights, I’ll drop the hammer3, so let’s keep it civil there.
Now… let’s talk a little about porn, shall we?