The Naked Truth

By Meghan Plumpton, Staff Writer

Published: Saturday, October 20, 2007

Updated: Monday, April 19, 2010

Beautifully romantic lovemaking and raunchy pig sex: What sexual fantasy, I ask, does porn not satisfy? With more variety than a department store, we are all bound to come across a flick we enjoy. My advice: learn about it, embrace it, and don't knock something until you try it.

If everyone jumped off a bridge I may not follow, but what are we to say of the fact that everyone seems to be watching porn? In Liza Featherstone's article from Psychologytoday.com, "You, Me and Porn Make Three" she says, "According to comScore, which measures Internet traffic, 66 percent of Internet-using men between the ages of 18 and 34 look at online porn at least once a month." FYI: that's one third of men our age. Not to be the group's advocate towards cliché peer-pressure, but "if everyone's watching it" I think we should know as much as we can before making up our minds either way.

Maybe we should start by understanding porn's long-standing place in history. Before Heffner's magazine stole the show in the 1950's, there were the magazines of the 1880's. The art of pornography even ran rampant in pre-Christian Rome. Libidomag.com's Dr. Marianna Beck reveals the popularity of the Victorian magazines. One such magazine, The Pearl, published between 1879 and 1880, "contained serialized novels, short stories, poems, songs, jokes, limericks, letters, and gossip with a heavy interest in flagellation, as well as homosexuality and bisexuality. At one point, the entire collection was sold in a three-volume set for the sum of 25 pounds -- roughly the annual salary of the average worker of the time." The mere monetary value of the publication shows how important it was to the society. Why would someone have paid a year's salary for something no one wanted?

In a second article on Libidomag.com by Tracy Scarpino, "Porn in Ancient Rome," she expounds upon the availability of Roman porn, "From graffiti scrawled on the walls of Pompeii to the poetry of Ovid and Catullus, the Romans left behind an abundance of erotic material. In addition to poetry and artwork, there are many accounts of live performances ranging from the mild to the obscene that can be classified as pornographic." Over two thousand years ago, Caesar's folk were already figuring out how to get their porn on. Let's not be na've in thinking porn is a habit of only our corrupt, modern culture, when people have been enjoying it for centuries.

Without scrawling it on walls, people of the 21-century have found their own reasons to enjoy porn. One reason Dr. Erik Janssen says men enjoy porn is because they are built that way. In his PBS.org article, "Why People Use Porn," he says that for men, it satisfies their primeval instinct to spread their seed, without all of the negatives that in today's world go along with doing so, "Thus, men evolved a sexual psychology that makes sex with new women exciting both to imagine and to engage in, and this made men especially responsive to visual signals of sex," he claims.

This is not to say that only men are interested in porn. Janssen observes that the lack of interest people assume women have for it might be because until recently, the majority of porn was made with the intent to please men. Biologically speaking, women have the same reaction to porn as men: it does nice things to their sacred parts. "Laboratory studies have shown that women almost invariantly show physical signs of sexual excitement to porn movies, as indicated by increased vaginal blood flow," said Janssen. I think it would be safe to assume with "better focused" material, women could take part in the pleasure of porn as well.

As long as both partners are on the Porn Express, it can be a good thing for relationships as well. No longer just for the 40 year-old virgin, Featherstone supports the use of porn in relationships because, "Fantasy is certainly a part of a healthy sex life, and porn does contribute significantly to the archive of sexy scenarios in our heads. It can also inspire couples to experiment more." Couples that are into porn tend to be more creative and open with each other in the bedroom.

The major caution of watching pornography is how it could negatively affect relationships. Some women, according to Featherstone, consider it a form of cheating, or that their man is getting something from these women where they are falling short. Others feel it degrades women, or gives men the idea that it is okay to do so. As a woman, I would like to interject that this should not be (if it actually is) the goal of porn. While I'd like to think that we could all enjoy porn as one big, happy, equal, sexual family, I would also like to note that this is a major pitfall of porn and something to be discussed early on in a relationship. Right next to "where are you from" and "what's your major," one should beg the question, "what kind of porn do you like?"

So use those brains, my intelligent and well-educated peers! It's okay not to be comfortable with it, but it's also okay to like it. Until next time, go on with our bad selves, and remember to keep it kinky but keep it safe.

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