Is Porn Ruining a Generation of Lovers?

The digital age could be making us all sick in bed.

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Let’s be honest, we’ve all seen some porn. Some of us won’t admit it, but you can bet that almost every guy and woman you know has at least caught a glimpse of a skin flick. Let’s put it this way: The men are not the only ones with curiosity and a laptop.

I didn’t come into contact with porn until after college, when a boyfriend brought over an adult movie. Before that, the closest I got was sneaking a peek at my mother’s copy of Shirley Conran’s sexy bestseller Lace (Remember, “Which one of you bitches is my mother?”), which describes how a young Middle Eastern prince is sent away to be trained in the art of lovemaking. Since then, I’ve often wondered why all guys aren’t shipped out to learn a few techniques before being unleashed on the female population. Unfortunately, for this vital information most guys must rely on their dads, with their outdated birds-and-bees talks; their friends (God help us for the stuff we learn on the street); plus maybe some well-intended but insufficient sex-ed class. So how can we blame them for turning to the Internet to pick up some skills (as if that’s the only reason they watch)?

The problem is, porn doesn’t teach anyone how to be a good lover. Which may be why, although some women can tolerate watching with their partners, or alone to get turned on, they usually have their share of complaints about adult films. Studies have shown that the viewing of too much porn can desensitize someone enough to make having real-life sexual relations difficult. Not only that, guys can grow up with unrealistic expectations about the female body and the female sexual response. And we won’t even get started on the misogynistic implications of some of the more hardcore films.

With porn more accessible than ever, I wonder about all those young men out there trying to learn the ropes from these films—and about how well that’s working for their partners. After viewing a few recently posted XX scenes online (it’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it) and talking to some women who recently watched a sexy film, I realized: Porn is not a good training ground. But before we start to feel sorry for the next generation of women, here are five sad things about contemporary adult flicks that horrify me, along with some advice for ladies who might be unfortunate enough to be sleeping with a guy self-educated by the stuff.

[Note: This is not an exposé on the dark side of the industry, so we’re not examining problems like drug addiction, disease and abuse. For the purpose of this article, we’re merely exploring the lighter issues associated with heterosexual porn that relate to men and their perceptions of love.]

1. Sisters are doing it by themselves. No, we don’t mean masturbation—although that definitely has its place in current porn, particularly as a voyeuristic activity. We’re talking about sexual intercourse—the ins and outs of sex, so to speak —where women are putting in more effort than ever before. Look at some vintage porn (before 2000) and you’ll notice how the ladies are ravished by energetic and doting lovers. Now flash forward to 2015 and our leading lady is now expected to do at least half of the heavy lifting and hip thrusting. That, combined with all the twerking that’s now required, is exhausting. So the only woman who can properly fulfill this role at home is one with very strong calf muscles and a sparkling sense of humor. Of course, there is one major advantage to this new expectation: the fact that we women now have more control in the sack.

Advice for young women: If your guy wants to lie back and watch you do all the work, tell him you’ve got a headache. Unless you haven’t gotten your daily cardio, in which case, go to town on him.

2. Hairless is the new black. Evolution is occurring before our very eyes on the small screen, with the female human rapidly evolving into a 100-percent bald creature. First porn stars started getting breast implants. Then they began altering their genitals. And somewhere along the way—thanks to the proliferation of laser hair removal shops—every ounce of fuzz began disappearing from their bodies. All porn stars, men and women, are fully expected to be clean as a whistle down there. The sheer maintenance, not to mention pain, required to get this way is staggering. But take a 70s-style shag to bed and you’ll likely turn off all except the most highly evolved males (or at least guys over 40).

So what’s a woman to do? Shave, wax, tweeze, or take aim at her lady parts with a laser beam to achieve that clean Brazilian look? Besides the fact that younger guys have an extremely unrealistic expectation of the way a female body is supposed to look, there’s a whole other danger: Fashion trends tend to come full circle, so what are all those girls with permanent hair removal going to do when the bush makes a comeback? What’s worse, pubic hair traps smells used to attract mates, and lasers kill the glands at the base of each hair that release those arousing pheromones. Oops, you just zapped off your sex appeal with a laser.

Advice for young women: Pick up that razor only if YOU want to. You wouldn’t let you partner decide how you coif the hair on your head, so why let him dictate your south-of-the-border style?

Oops, you just zapped off your sex appeal with a laser.

3. The pace is all wrong. A typical porn scene goes something like this: The woman and man meet, it really doesn’t matter how, and get it on instantly. He offers about 2-and-a-half minutes of foreplay, often bypassing some vital erogenous zones, and she is so turned on by this that she drops to her knees and goes down on him—for about 35 minutes. We won’t even mention the gagging and choking that’s often part of the process (how dreadful). Later, during intercourse, in about 10 different positions that involve no eye contact or naturally occurring body angles, he barely speaks to her while she utters lots of dirty words or, better yet, yells for him to go “harder” and “faster,” which of course is impossible.

Now, the man in a full-length porn feature is sometimes slightly more attentive, more loving and affectionate, but this is rare except in female-directed, or “soft” porn. The problem is that most guys are NOT watching female-friendly porn, nor are they even watching a full-length film anymore. In this age of soundbites, they’re viewing short clips that other porn-watchers have uploaded to these free porn sites. And—surprise!—most of these snippets have been edited to show only those parts of the scene that are interesting to men—like the oral sex and intercourse. All those “boring” parts where the woman gets some attention are cut. Bottom line: It’s troublesome to think that young men are growing up with a skewed idea of female desire and what it takes to pleasure her.

Advice for young woman: Rent a full-length, female-friendly porn and watch it with your man, pointing out the things you like. If that doesn’t work, he may already be a lost cause, in which case a blowup doll may be a better match for him.

4. Mean is now mainstream. Watch a more recent porn and you’ll see a lot of nasty stuff. We’re not even talking about the goings-on in S&M films. In your regular, run-of-the-mill porn, it’s now extremely common to see partners spitting on one another (saliva is the new lube?), a repulsive gesture that’s usually reserved for one’s worst enemies. You’ll also see women being grabbed by the neck in a semi-choke, or smacked not only on the backside but on some pretty sensitive other areas of the body. Ouch! Why do men think we could possibly like this? And some of the comments on the message boards following a porn clip show just how desensitized men are to how women are being treated. Snide comments and critiques of the woman’s body are far more numerous than comments showing concern for the actress.

Advice for young women: Present your partner with a bottle of KY if he’s got a spitting problem. As far as any smacking goes, if it’s not consensual, it’s not right.

5. Women are put in a box. No, we don’t mean a cage, although that, too, happens in S&M films. We’re talking about stereotyping women, which is nothing new in porn, but now it’s occurring even more specifically. There used to be two types of women in porn: Young and Mature. Now you’ve got labels ranging from college co-eds to MILFs and Grannies. Besides age, women are also designated according to hair color, ampleness of bosom, ampleness of backside, virginity or lack thereof, marital status, and even bodily responses (we won’t go into detail). It’s good to know there’s someone out there to float every guy’s boat. We just wish it didn’t have to make us sound too much like a menu item.

Advice for young women: Be who you are and if your man truly adores you, it won’t matter if you’re not his “type.” In fact, we think types are pretty dumb. And that the sexiest sex happens when partners have a true connection, where there’s kissing instead of spitting, and playful affection instead of aggression. Men who watch porn like that—or, better yet, don’t watch much porn at all—are more likely to turn into amazing lovers.

Even if they do expect their girlfriends and wives to give half-hour blow jobs.