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.”

Their sex play seems to be all about what “he” wants “her” to do, says Bruni.

Dunham’s real life informs the show, and she 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.

Hannah and Adam

Hannah and Adam

Some women get into pornified sex, too, but usually not all the time, or at least 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 she adds,

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.”

A re-run. I’ve been out of town.

Related Posts
Sex Objects Who Don’t Enjoy Sex
Wanting “X” from Sex, but Doing “Y”
Women Want Emotionally Connected Sex. Why?

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 25, 2016, in feminism, men, objectification, pornography, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. I guess I am the first comment. But man do I connect with this article. It is so annoying that guys are the picky ones when it comes to having sex. It is very true! I find it so funny that most of the things that occur are because the guys pleasures. It never happens because of what the girl wants,( unless the girl is really dirty). It just depends on the situation. It feels like gymnastics, I LOL at that. I thought it was just me that thought some of the positions during sex are too much. It is true that women are seen as sex objects. We are not toys we like pleasure also. Now are some of the things that men do connected to internet porn? I honestly have a strong belief that it does. They watch so much porn that they want to try everything they see. We are not the porn stars here. We can not do half the things they see on there. I don’t think there is anything wrong with porn, I have watched it too but when you watch it on a daily basis then you have issues. Plus not every women enjoy most of the things you see, most of it is for show.

    • There’s a recent bestseller called “Girls & Sex: that talks about how this happens quite a lot. It’s important for young women to realize that it doesn’t have to be this way. Thanks for your thoughts on all this.

  2. From what I understand in this post is that women, of course do watch porn, and they do like it when their partner may pull some porn moves in the bed, but they don’t like it wen the guys try to make the entire experience like a porn scene. Not everything or every little detail about porn appeals to women, but it’s more about the aggressiveness, or the passion and excitement that happens in porn. I completely agree with this mindset. Guys should learn how to separate the fantasy of porn from the reality of their sex life with their woman. This does not mean all women are like this though, some may like the details you can gather from porn, but they’re not pornstar and they may be very quiet about their own personal sex life.

  3. Pornography, you know it is when you see it, as the famous quote goes. Essentially, it is the business of lewd content. If it between consenting adults, at various levels of intensity, that is a legitimate product. Now, that every stripe of porn has flooded the culture at large, Playboy, the great forerunner, has pulled up stakes. But it was never just about “porn” for Playboy and maybe that can be a lesson for some people. Is the problem with porn, per se, or with individuals not knowing how to practice moderation, not knowing how to make good decisions?

    • And if everyone is into pornified sex, then fine. But a lot of times girls think they have to do things they don’t want because that’s what’s in porn. But sex should be enjoyable, not grueling. Thanks for your thoughts on this.

      • I am hardly an all-out fan of porn. It has seeped its way into society in ways many of us would rather not think about. Whether it is girls or boys, or women or men, a lot of humans do find the whole porn thing rather tiresome and icky. I think it has its place but I am not a hooha supporter of it either, if that is what you assumed.

      • I wasn’t really sure what to assume. I figure that porn is a problem if it starts harming in some way. And whether it does depends, Right?

      • I believe we are basically on the same page. As I’ve said, as long as this involves consenting adults, then I won’t object. I certainly don’t want anyone to be harmed. In general, we all should act responsibly. You can’t really blame the porn itself. The genie is out of the bottle anyway. I think porn has done quite a lot of harm in obvious and subtle ways. We live in a more jaded and deadened society in a lot of ways because of where we find ourselves.

  4. Porn is something that from the beginning of my dating life made me feel very “unworthy”. When I found out that my boyfriend who I had lost my virginity to had been watching porn for the entire span of our relationship, I felt as if someone had just stabbed me in the gut. I felt as if I wasn’t good enough for him. This is a feeling that has not left me really as I’ve gotten older. Although, as I have gotten older, and I’ve had more experiences with sex, I’m able to resinate with what Valerie had said above. I don’t want to be just a body that you go through the pornographic motions with. No, I don’t want a cum facial at the end, no I don’t to be called a whore, and yes, I do want you to check with me about these things before you do them. The porn culture that my generation has been sucked into makes me very hesitant to have sex. I had sex with a guy a few months ago that made me feel like he was taking every inch of frustration of his life out on me while we were having sex and had no appreciation or value towards the sex we were having… It felt staged almost. When I told him I didn’t like it his answer to me was, “You just don’t know you like it. Every girl does, you just need to relax and realized right now you’re mine. You’re having sex, thats what bad girls do.” EXCUSE ME?! NO! I never asked him why he thought this way. But for me, it was safe to assume that the porn culture we sexually live within is showing guys that this is was all girls like. From what I hear from friends and what I’ve seen myself, majority of porn has some sort of female undermining qualities to it. In conclusion, the rape culture porn that we see all to often now a days is making me less and less willing to have sex. It has come to a point where as a woman I’m often in a position that I need to explain myself when I’m not into something sexually, rather than it just being okay that I don’t want to do something.

  5. I resonated with this article because I watch Girls and find that it brings to light a lot of gender issues without directly saying it. When I first saw this scene, I was watching it objectively and thought about how sad it was that Shoshanna was completely abiding to this guy because she was so insecure and just wanted to please him. But after reading this, I applied this scene to myself and more about my own experiences and all of my friends’ experiences and realized this is all too relatable; we definitely did not instill this idea that women are objects to please men, so then what did? I do not blame porn entirely but it is definitely one of many strong influences.

  6. Why there is a biasness, ?
    Why women rarely have a say when it comes to their personal choices, why they are treated as a subject than a soul, a mere body? Isn’t it that sec is something which involve a mutual respect??
    Porn industry often tries to hide this reality!!!

  7. I find porn such a interesting topic in the sense of how effects real sex life. I think a lot of men watch porn and when real sex occurs hold sex to porn standards. Which is totally not real life sex. I was watching a documentary recently about the porn industry. Interesting enough abusive porn and teen porn is the most googled search words when it comes to porn. The problem I believe with porn is that people tend to copy what they see. If people think abusive and teen porn is normal, we have a real problem. Porn is cold, its not real lovers. The plots of porn are dirty and sometimes just plain wrong. I think men need to learn theres a difference between fake and real when it comes to sex. Just as young children we learn the difference between violence on the tv being real and not.

  8. I think that porn is usually geared towards male enjoyment or primarily a male audience. So, it misrepresents what a lot of women want in sex. Men assume that all sex must be like what you see in porn. They get this idea that women like all these acrobatic moves or like to be manhandled, but often time that just feels silly or ridiculous. For example, for a friend’s bachelor party, he got a male stripper, and there was no part of my interaction with the stripper that was arousing or sexually appealing to me in the least bit. This man’s profession is to seduce his audience, but instead I found myself more annoyed than anything. His idea of how to seduce me was to pick me up and slam me onto a bed, then roughly flip me onto my front, grab my hair, and then roughly dry hump me from behind while yanking on my hair. I felt like I was in a WWE wrestling match. I am not sure why this man thought this would be enjoyable. There may be some women out there who like this, but I am not one of them. I think that the biggest problem was that he was oblivious to the fact that I did not look like I was having fun, and in fact, I was trying to get him to stop and get away from me. I think this is where men go wrong when they watch porn and try to transfer that to real life. It is fine to be adventurous in bed, but you need to be aware and in sync with what your partner wants. It should be enjoyable for both parties.

    • I think that men are often confused about what women actually like. And that may have a lot to do with the miseducation of porn. Thanks for sharing about your experience.

  9. Im wondering if it is safe to say that internet is killing sex as we know it, or is it that the world has become so much smaller by having some much accessibility in one place? With porn been such a male dominated industry, I start to wonder what is it for women, we have books like 50 shades of grade and the diary of a submissive floating around in stores are those what men think is porn for women. Sure some women may enjoy a bit of porn, I personally don’t as I think it is degrading for both men and women. However if couples have been with each other for a long enough time that they feel comfortable to play out some of the porn “moves” then go for it but for those of us still looking for that partner in life then give us a chance of some basic or vanilla sex. enjoy the basics.

  10. New reader of your very interesting blogs 🙂

    Upon reading the above article and subsequent comments, an unexpected question came to mind – do men really care about whether they please women? Pornography and media in a sense “cut out the middlewoman”. No mess, no fuss, no emotional outbursts or fights; no need to compromise or buy that new dress or monthly nail/hair bills, responsibilities to children/wives, etc. Our society in particular seems motivated in many cases by taking a path of least resistance. We can be instant millionaires through youtube or with tech stocks. Rather than demand quality products or learn to fix them, we throw out our broken, year-old coffeemaker and get a new one while justifying with “It was only $30.00”. Then, of course, we have “hook up” apps – a friend of mine went to Reno and found some random person that was “ok” enough to spend one night with – wow! Who knew?! Basically, if it is too much work, we go disposable – which appears to apply in relationships as well these days. This type of attitude not only comes out in pornography and unrealistic models/photoshopped images via media, but also via the “shock” sexual news or celebrities/general public bedroom doings – women so bold to wear vaginas on their heads, dresses made of meat, books like Shades of Grey, etc.

    Personal pleasure and/or shock sexuality is the name of the game these days (live coverage of car chases just don’t make the ratings anymore). Sure there are still the token feel good stories or “how to be a great mom/wife/husband” – but they just don’t satiate our current focal appetites. Courting a woman used to take months or years – and man got to show how very manly he was, how hard he could and would work to take care of his family, have a purpose to fulfill, be a legacy and a leader. Now a virtual woman is a click or magazine cover away (or a couple thousand dollars for a dream night with a hot girl at Comicon). Again – does a man really “need” to care how ONE woman feels with so much availability and ease of pleasure at his fingertips? Is he presented with a societal support day in and day out that providing and protecting a woman is of value or an asset anymore? We appear to be moving toward such a self-centered society with propensity of favoring shallow relationships, perhaps this is all a man needs as anything more is just too much work and not really the “in” thing anymore.

    Another thought, if deep relationships are not priority in a society, how can the skills to obtain or maintain them be taught or at least supported?

    No judgement is meant toward men here – and women sure have played their part in this evolution. This is such a deep subject with so many factors and so much history – I was simply attempting to address one question that popped into my head (which lead me to about 100 more >grin<) and then wandered with my thoughts. Human nature so fascinating to me 🙂 Thanks for the thought-provoking blogs 🙂

    • Welcome. And thank you for your thought-provoking words.

      Whether men want to please women seems to depend on the situation. If it is a hook up, especially a hook up where guys get points by bedding women, they don’t seem to care very much about the woman’s pleasure.

      Fortunately, most men do care very much if they have a girlfriend. And about three quarters of young men said they preferred emotionally connected sex over hookups in one survey at Occidental College. Only 11% of the respondents enjoyed random hookups.

      I also asked my straight male students (both male and female actually), and I have a small sample of about 40 men but about 50% said that in bed most of their focus was on their partners, about a third said they spend equal time on themselves and their partner, And only around 15% said “Mostly me.”

      Maybe there is something deeply human about desiring emotionally connected sex, because you may not expect those numbers in this culture.

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