Men, Women & Internet Porn

girls_jewsThe first time you see Lena Dunham’s character having sex in the new HBO series “Girls,” her back is to her boyfriend, who seems to regard her as an inconveniently loquacious halfway point between partner and prop, and her concern is whether she’s correctly following instructions.

“So I can just stay like this for a little while?” she asks. “Do you need me to move more?”

Those are the opening lines from New York Times columnist, Frank Bruni, writing about the HBO series “Girls” which premiered April 15. I wrote a bit about the interview last week asking, “Is male or female sexuality better?” But Lena and Frank have more to say, and so do I.

Bruni says their sex play seems to be all about what “he” wants “her” to do. Dunham’s real life informs the show, and Dunham suggests that what the proverbial “he” wants is often NOT what “she” wants. Amidst aggressive posturing and “a lot of errant hair pulling” she has thought, “There’s no way any teenage girl taught you and reinforced that behavior.”

The scene, and Dunham’ comments, suggest a depersonalized sexuality with women as objects, sex as sometimes harsh gymnastics and, too often, all about “his” pleasure.

She thinks it’s tied to internet porn, which so many young men are steeped in.

Some women get into pornified sex, too, but usually not all the time, or not on the first few dates. And most seem to want something more, even if porn-sex is a part of the experience.

Meet Valerie, who discovered pornography at age 12 and was very excited by it. Today she sometimes finds it exciting when men pull porn moves on her. But at the same time she says, “It’s icky”:

I don’t just want to become Body A. I want men to feel like they are with me, Valerie, a particular woman with a particular body and my own unique personality. I want them to be in the moment, as opposed to going through some form of learned behavior. I want it to be our own experience as opposed to an imitation of porn.

She talks of Miguel, a musician. She can tell he’s into porn by how he acts:

Lights glaring, gaping at her body parts, manipulating her into positions popular in pornography so he could admire her. He was aggressive, he was confident, he was following a formula. He was cold.

As Valerie saw it, “He thought it was hot, that he was a stud. I felt cheapened. I felt so empty after the experience.”

Dunham can relate, saying that, “People can be so available in a superficial sense that they’re inaccessible in a deeper one.”

One woman wrote about her and her friends’ experiences for GQ and offered tips for the internet-drenched generation. She loves both porn and sex, she says, but warns that not all women are charmed by being called a “dirty whore.” Most women don’t want anal three times in one night – and not from men they barely know.

And why is it, she asks, that orgasming inside someone, “the goal of every dude for zillions of years,” now seems to pale in comparison to “facials”? Noting the irony, “It hardly seems fair to call that sex. It’s more like masturbation with a fellow 3-D person. You finish with your hand, after all, like you’ve done with a million clips.” And please, no facials on the fourth date. “That’s stuff to save for later, when the excitement of someone new has worn into a comfortable live-tweeting-Monk-from-bed kind of cohabitation.”

And maybe when there’s a larger context of relationship, and not just empty sex.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on April 18, 2012, in gender, men, objectification, pornography, relationships, sex, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. The solution is to wait to have sex until you feel you really know the person which can take a significant amount of time.

    Most men will leave after the fourth date when you refuse sex. Perfect. Now you’ve just weeded out a poor mate. I know it isn’t as easy as I put it, especially if you’re feeling lonely and vulnerable but in the end you’ll be glad that you waited.

    Nobody likes to be used.

    • Surprising how much confusion exists out there between women and men on sex.

    • Yeah I completely agree – NOBODY LIKES TO BE USED … MEN TOO.
      I have with plenty of women who were glad to go out on dates especially with me paying for this dates taking their time before they figure out whats good for them.

      I believe in MUTUALITY which means the solution is not wait till YOU finding the middle ground. Placing a time table of how much you need to wait before you have sex is as worse as putting a time table until when I wait.

      Most normal adults find them selves having sex on the second or third date due to passion and mutual interest – that fire – if I don’t feel it from the other side I just leave not because its a forth date but because it is not feeling mutual.

      You need to understand that like you guys want to spend their life with a partner that finds them attractive, a lacking sex life is showing a missing interest – hence no mutuality. Hence no need to keep on dating …

      advising some one to wait … by giving this advise to women you are keeping the repression of female sexuality and with it the chances for equality – a women should do what she wants to do as an individual and a liberal – there is no guidelines for how she should act …. If she chose to go to bed then that’s mutual same as he chose to go to bed …. as I have said NOBODY LIKES TO BE USED … MEN TOO and a men will not be allowed to complain about getting used if he chose to go to bed with the girl just the same.

  2. The biggest issue of sex is sexual communication. How does someone keep the flame going if the sex is awkward and uncomfortable,for either partner? Talking before, during and after sex is the only way to insure both people are achieving an ultimate goal. If you feel comfortable enough to allow a person to have sex with you, you be comfortable enough with that person to tell them what you like and dislike in sex. However most people don’t ever want to bring logistical talk into to bedroom it can be far to awkward. A camp counselor of mine who has her degree in the human sexuality once advised me on sex communication and how to make the logistics of sex sound sexy. The yes’s and no’s and the do’s and don’ts having the ability to make these terms sound sexy is tricky. Being able to discuss your sexual openness in a way that is sexy can make sex a more pleasurable experience and lessen the tension between what is the next sex cue and am I doing this right question. The issue of porn coming into play is that porn is for the most part staged and actors are told how and what to do when having sex and there is usually an order of how the scenes takes place. Unfortunately actual sex is not like porn and it’s usually not staged. Kinda like how life is not like a movie. Getting a sex education of porn is usually the most unrealistic way of learning how to have sex. The only true way to understand sex and make it a better is to
    A. Be comfortable enough to have sex with your partner
    B. Be open to communication when having sex
    C. Gain experience.

  3. I saw this movie called “Woman on Top” starring Penelope Cruz. The character she plays likes to have control in and outside the bedroom. When she was having intercourse with her husband/significant other she loved being on top because it gave her control. This caused problems with their union that they separated for sometime in the movie. Their is a class stratification between men and women, and men are “suppose” to be the ones to take charge and lead women into being something great.
    Lena Dunham mentions that there is a “depersonalized sexuality with women as objects…[it’s] all about ‘his’ pleasure.” Men are more likely to watch porn and fantasize about doing such acts to their ONS (one night stand) partner, or their significant other, and this does objectify women because they are being used as a toy. Men are exercising their fantasies on women to see if this experiment will cause pleasure to them. It seems as though sex is one sided in the bedroom, and men need to have control. Valerie says it’s icky to think of yourself as a just a body, and not a human who has feelings. Maybe this is why their is an emotional disconnect when men are having sex because they are probably more focused on what they are doing, than the person they are doing.

    I liked Jaen’s point in waiting. I agree waiting to have sex is important because it should be something meaningful, and if a guy just happens to break up with you because you didn’t give him what you want, then his lost (on to the next). Women have a lot of power, but sometimes it is not always executed because they feel pressured into doing something. Nina, I agree communication is very important especially if sex is about give and take.

  4. What i understand is some men just want to sleep after they do their job and they feel good. However, the women expect more than that such as holding their lady and talking to them and sleeping together. Or some guys just getting excited when they watch the porn, or hope that their lady can do like those in porn. Many women can accept it but many cannot. Same thing with men, some of them like it like porn stars, but some will think their women are sluts or wonder how many guys she sleeps with, etc.

  5. We learn how to function in society though socialization. Functioning in society encompasses our role in the community as well as our intimate relationships. Porn is a major epidemic, it is a multi million dollar industry and it is a modern twist on prositition (the oldest profession known to man) and voyarism. Millions of people watch it and because it is not openly talked about or socially acceptable to watch, internet porn has room to anchor itself in people’s lives because there is no accountability.

    It is more common than not that little girls like Valerie get on the Internet or go on their brothers computer and snoop around. Schools have been taking on the role of sex education, not parents. So between school and pornography is where boys and girls learn how to have sex and what it means to have a sexual relationship. I believe no one can judge anothers’ sex conduct that’s for god to decide its not a question of moral or immoral its about consequences. Good and bad consequences, which ones you’re willing to deal with.

    But I believe porn is harmful to a women’s pysche because it compartmentalizes sex and what it means to be sexy in a very narrow arrangement.

  6. Weiyi Xia (Klark)

    It is all about gender difference. Men and women usually have different opinions about sex: while men focus more on physical contact during sex, women usually see sex as a way to express emotions and improve relationship. In terms of internet porn, it seems nowadays that is how men get to know about all kinds of “sex positions” or “moves”, and after they learned them, of course they would want to give them a try. However, when it is obvious that men are using the “moves” learned from pornography, women would feel used; it is like when a child learns about a new way to play with a toy, and he play with it that not because how much he likes the toy, it is because he wants to try that way of playing. When things come down to this, women could feel worthless because they feel like they are the “toy”. I think both men and women need to understand why each other are doing certain things or feeling certain ways, and when they understand, it is much easier to solve the problems.

  7. While I think some pornography can go too far at times, or just be weird, (although obviously someone probably finds it attractive), I think it falls a lot more onto the parent’s and the man’s shoulders. Pornography is fantasy, it is not real and the people watching it need to realize that, and the parents need to explain that. They can’t hide from the idea that their child (if male) probably has, or will, watch porn at some point. If the parents don’t want him to be sexually active that’s fine, but sexually educated is a must in this day and age.

    As someone who didn’t really get a huge sex talk from my parents, I’m constantly shocked when I hear about guys from my female friends that seem to have gotten all their dating/sex tips from porn or bad tv. Yet, here I am, a person who mostly educated themselves on what they wanted using the internet, with apparently a much better understanding than guys who were “raised right”. I was shocked to hear that my current girlfriend had never had pleasurable sex, her ex had apparently been raised right as well, since as she recalled, his typical sex repertoire consisted of one move, thrust as hard as he could for 30 seconds and be done.

    And yet, while I do watch pornography, and enjoy it, I have never once watched and gone “yeah that’ll work on girls, these paid actresses are enjoying it, everyone will!” And that simply came from the idea that, not all the things I’ve seen in porn are things I’d enjoy, so why the hell would the girl enjoy it. I think, like someone else said above, it’s really about communication between the man and woman, they need to discuss what each likes, and dislikes. Maybe she does enjoy certain “porn-esque” things, maybe she’d rather not. Not all women like dirty talk, not all women hate it, some women want a nice medium, and to be honest, the same goes for guys. I would feel very weird if someone requested I called them a filthy slut or… god forbid wanted to call me daddy or something.

  8. Another aspect of how (internet) porn is affecting women in particular is that it enhances many women’s insecurities about their perceived physical imperfections. It doesn’t help when perhaps some men and women come to associate what is sexy/attractive with how many ‘porn stars’ look – big breasts, big lips, tanned, etc but also the focus on women’s genitalia. Not only has the popularity of Brazilian and Holloywood waxes increased, but so has the number of women seeking genital plastic surgery and a ‘designer vagina’. This is painful, usually totally unnecessary and can have significant complications. Women are not just being judged for their facial beauty and their figures, but also the most intimate parts of their body. Is it any surprise they’re insecure?

  9. Christina Gomez

    In class we talked about how some women think that by having meaningless sex, they are proving their equality with men. But in reality, women are left feeling “cheapened” or used because of the pornified sex most men enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, I think women like feeling like pornstars to an extent. Like when I have sex, I enjoy dressing up like a pornstar for my boyfriend. He makes me feel sexy and the sexy outfits make me feel even sexier. But the difference between our sex and the sex pornstars engage in is that we have strong emotions for each other, we both know that we aren’t doing this with anyone else and its more of an expression of feeling. I believe you can only really enjoy sex when there is some kind of meaning behind the actions. Pornstars have sex for a living, they have taken the emotion out of the action completely, its more of an addiction. And in my eyes, sex was never supposed be that way. Yes, porn is arousing but its not something we should study and attempt to reenact every time we have sex. Its wrong, in my opinion, that many men enjoy meaningless sex. And it is just as wrong that women try to do the same thing because they are contributing to this pornified sex epidemic.

  10. Daisy Valenzuela

    Empty sex has become somewhat popular. I feel like men and women that mainly use porn for their sexual lives hardly know their partners. The reason why women are finding that their partners are not in the moment may be because there is no chemistry between them and the porn moves are just an experiment. If women want to get over the meaningless sex, maybe they should wait a while until they actually get to know their partners and build some kind of relationship. This kind of sex can bring a lot of confusion between two people, but I think it should be made clear from the start what they want.

  11. I have been exposed to porn quite late yet what I have seen in porn seems to be something else from what those WOMEN describe and even further I am not the only one who sees it.

    When approaching the typical mainstream porn –
    Porn is featuring a goddess that is both humble, pure and sweet and the same time hold all the aspects of sexuality, playfulness and fun.

    The male is a piece of meat(penis), a prop, by the description of many porn actors. And while the male is clearly enjoying himself it is the female face and sound and body movements that the viewer is exposed to and all of them indicate of pleasure (for the people who will wanna rush to comment : even if its just acting, in movies people don’t die they just act yet you still relate to it). It is all about women the mainstream porn, while maybe the positions are directed by him it is for her own pleasure that they are being done ….

    “the goal of every dude for zillions of years,” Its a reflects – not a goal.

    Women watch porn, not a few of them – in fact numbers suggest about 45% of the viewers are women. The reason is that biology is strong and when anonymity is provided than its easier to go by your demands. Yet they are to afraid to expose it, they are shamed and this shame denies them from influencing porn’s creation which will lead eventually to a not male-audience-focused porn. When a more middle ground porn will be the mainstream then it will become less objectifying for women and the same time will empower men as a sexy creations they are!

    * A quick not about the Feminists try to educate women what they want – it failed cause it came from a point of view that women want to see less graphics and more emotions. Don’t try to revamp it to your theory – try to do like any product in the market – answer the demand – and their is plenty of demand …

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