Porn Is Lying to Us: The Unrealistic Ideas Perpetuated By Adult Films

Porn is a pretty ubiquitous part of people’s lives now. What used to exist only in magazines quietly tucked under the beds of horny teenage boys and middle-aged men can now be easily accessed with just a few taps on the smartphone or clicks of the mouse. Feminists have argued for years that the sexy medium has negative effects on women, but now women are expressing their opinions on porn in a new Reddit thread.

Redditors in the AskWomen forum were asked by a user what expectations they felt porn had imposed on their own sex lives. The original question, “I know guys tend to have a lot of misconception about real life sex due to the porn we watched before actually doing the did [sic] the first time..but does it also happen with women?” generated some thought-provoking responses, catalogued by HuffPo:

User astralrayn had an unrealistic expectation of orgasms. “I thought orgasms were much easier to achieve than they actually are. As a result I thought something was wrong with me for a long time. I just assumed that PIV [penis in vagina] = almost instant orgasm. I was so disappointed to find that wasn't the case.”

Other users noted the impact that porn (and the expectations from men that follow) had on their own perceptions of their genitals. “I used to think I needed vaginoplasty when I was a teenager because of porn,” wrote one Redditor, and a chorus of agreement from other users followed in the comments. Men’s genitals weren’t spared, either – “I thought penises were going to be much larger. I also thought their aroused size was just their normal size.”

Some indicated that sex in porn was just too sexist to be enjoyable. “I thought having sex with a man meant having to pretend I enjoyed it even if I wasn't, that it didn't matter if I had an orgasm, and that it was normal for a guy not to give a shit about my pleasure,” writes Danianne.

These misconceptions are likely not uncommon. Even if women aren’t avid watchers of porn (and some are), the men in their lives likely expect a certain level of adherence to the standards that pornography presents about sex. This, of course, puts immeasurable pressure on women to make themselves desirable in a “sex kitten” type of way.

The increase in availability of porn, which of course coincides with the ubiquity of the Internet, has manifested in a number of physical and psychological ways. More women shave their pubic hair than ever before, and procedures like labiaplasty didn’t become popular for cosmetic reasons until porn really hit its stride in the 1990s.

This isn’t to suggest that all porn is bad. Many women enjoy watching porn alone and sharing it with their partners. What is bad, though, is allowing the unreasonable expectations presented in a fantasy sex scene to infiltrate the bedroom in a way that negatively impacts women.

Maybe it’s time that women took a more active role in finding feminist (or at least non-degrading) porn for their partners to watch, or to enjoy as a couple. Obviously that isn’t our responsibility as women, but it could go a long way in helping men recognize that pleasure is a two way street.