As an avid watcher of porn, I don’t think it’s healthy that the phrase “avid watcher of porn,” immediately conjures an image of a 45-year-old, beer-bellied man sitting on a fading orange leather couch in his basement, drooling on his sweat-stained Hooters t-shirt in my head. The stereotypes surrounding pornography and those who watch it are not only entirely inaccurate when compared to actual statistics, but they’re unfair and potentially dangerous, as with most misinformation in the world of sex and sexuality. Turns out educating ourselves about the real spectrum of sexual expression helps reduce shame! Who knew!


In 2015, Marie Claire conducted a study of 3,000 self-reported female porn-watchers, and the results shocked a lot of people. Turns out, roughly 31% of those surveyed claimed to watch porn at least weekly, and 10% responded that they watch porn daily. These women are primarily watching heterosexual and lesbian porn on their smartphones, and feeling really weird and guilty about it afterward. Not shocking. According to the study, there seems to be a lot of concern about the treatment of women in the industry—a concern I certainly share—as well as concern about feeling like they “need” it in order to orgasm.


There’s no question: Porn has a bad rap, and oftentimes, that’s for good reason. Many porn performers are quick to point out the dangers of the porn industry as it stands, just as they are quick to defend their chosen career paths (and yes, many women do choose to go into sex work on their own—while sex trafficking is a very serious and legitimate issue, it is unhelpful to believe that every sex worker is a victim of violence or trafficking). Stoya, a porn star and author, shared with the Huffington Post the problems that she sees in the porn industry: “‘Successful companies can be callous, cutthroat or sketchy,’ says Stoya. She objects in particular to Manwin (a.k.a. MindGeek), which owns a network of porn distribution sites including XTube, Pornhub and YouPorn. ‘They bought Digital Playground, and that’s why I don’t work for Digital Playground anymore. I just couldn’t stand them.’” Women are vulnerable in the porn industry, but not all subject to the same abuse and coercion.


Porn, like everything else in the world of sex, is complicated and nuanced, and our relationships to it are bound to be just as complicated and nuanced alongside it. And while we should continue to push for reforms within the industry—my tidbit of advice? Put women in charge!—we can also appreciate that watching porn does not make us bad people; it does not make us dirty; it does not make us perverted. It makes us, according to this study, really frickin’ normal. So, you normal, nasty gal: Here are five feminist pornos for you to watch, courtesy of Marie Claire. Enjoy ‘em!

 

 

 

Written by Emma Glassman-Hughes

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