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I Love Porn -- And So Do Lots of Other Women

An ex told Sara Wong that she was "weird" for watching porn, and that it's only for guys. But she and plenty of other women beg to differ.
 
 
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I still remember the first time I “confessed” that I watched porn. My ex-boyfriend and I were lying in bed after a passionate round of sex. Adrenaline coursing through my veins, I turned to him and said, “I need to tell you something. Don’t worry, it’s not bad. It’s just that...I watch porn”.

I knew he was a fan of porn. I could even name his favorite porn star. But the moment I told him that I too watched porn, his eyes filled with disgust. The words spewing out of his mouth were not much better: “You’re weird, girls don’t watch porn. It’s strictly a guy thing.”

Of course, the irony was that we were sexually active and he admired my sexual nature in bed. He and I both enjoyed sex, but only he had the right to watch porn and had the privilege to be considered normal. If I watched porn, I was wanton, sexually abnormal, and unladylike.

Shame and guilt are inbred in girls at a young age. We are made to feel guilty about our sexuality. We are constantly reminded that modesty and purity are the most important virtues a girl can possess. Don’t we all remember our mothers telling us “Men want to marry good girls?” 

On top of my mother’s lectures on purity, I grew up in a religious Catholic family. We never missed Sunday mass and, of course, I was enrolled in Sunday school at the tender age of 6. One Sunday, my teacher, Ms. Ling, separated our class by sex. The girls were left behind while the boys went outside with a priest.

Ms. Ling then went on to educate us on the changes we would face during puberty. For a solid hour, she explained what having our period meant and brainwashed us about the importance of chastity. “No necking, no kissing, no touching, and above all, no sex.” Nothing new. I wondered what the boys were doing.

The boys—I later found out—were having a great time. The priest invited them to ask questions on masturbation, porn, and sex. He explained how Catholics viewed sexuality and told them it was normal for boys to have sexual urges.

To this day, I wish that someone could have told all the girls in our Sunday school class that having sexual urges was normal. Why did they assume that girls would not want to masturbate, watch porn, or experiment with their bodies and sexuality? Ten years ago, I sat in that classroom as other people assumed that girls were just not as sexual as boys. Now, I still see girls and young women struggling with the same issues as society constantly denies our sexuality, only allowing us to express our sexuality in a limited, constricted space.

The line between sexy and slutty is dangerously thin and blurry. As women, we are supposed to hover on the edge of that line; Paris Hilton sums it up quite beautifully, “Sexy, but not sexual.” One misstep into the gray area, be prepared to be labeled a slut or a whore. Women today are bombarded with mixed messages: On one hand, they are told that sex is the new currency, on the other, society constantly shames women who are deemed “sluts.” And yet, it is impossible and unfair to ask women to navigate the treacherously thin line between sexy and slutty.

As everyone knows, men do not struggle with a double standard in this area. Let us use the example of porn. Men can talk about porn, watch porn, watch porn together with their friends and have a great, big laugh about it. Most women, however, do not have the privilege of being open about porn. I go to one of the most liberal colleges in California, and no topic is off-limits, but I have yet to have a conversation about porn—even amongst my girlfriends.

Do not make the mistake of assuming that women do not watch porn. Many studies show that one in three porn viewers are women. So why the silence? For women, there is too much shame, stigma, and guilt attached to the subject of porn. While society encourages women to exploit our sexuality, it also shames us into silence, forcing us to deny our sexuality in many ways. 

I am not ashamed that I watch porn. But I am ashamed, remembering the guilt I felt when I admitted that I watch porn. And we need to remember that porn is not the only issue women are forced to be silent about. How often do we talk openly about female masturbation? How often do we feel the need to feign innocence and lie about the number of sexual partners we have had?   

To all the men out there: So what if I like James Deen? So what if I too can list my favorite porn stars? Oh and yes, I do masturbate, just like most men. And no, it is not “weird” that I masturbate or watch porn or watch porn and masturbate at the same time. Stop asking me to be silent. I don’t make you deny your sexuality, so stop making me deny mine. To be fair, I am not putting the blame solely on men; it is society that needs to make a change.

So the next time a woman “confesses” she watches porn, try applauding her willingness to be open and let her know that it really should not be a confession, but something to own.

Sara Wong grew up in Malaysia but is now studying at Pomona College, California. She plans to major in English and spends most of her time dancing, reading and writing.

 
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