Discover more from Sex Demystified - Debunking the Sexual Norms
Everything Is About Sex, Except Sex.
And Other Ways To Recognize Porn
What is pornography? No one person can determine what is considered pornography or not because it differs for everyone. Yes, you can go to PornHub and know for sure they are offering a variety of porn videos. However, what about the every day things we see on social media, on television, in movies, or perhaps works of art.
“I know porn when I see it.”
That may be true, but again, something that’s considered pornographic can be very subjective to the person being asked.
Pornography (in some sense) has been around forever. Okay, maybe not forever, but at least we can point to documented proof in 1524. This was during the Renaissance era known as the bridge between the Middle Ages and Modern-day civilization. Great Italian artists, such as Marcantonio Raimondi, were contributing to an intellectual and artistic revolution.
Raimondi created The Sixteen Pleasures (De omnibus Veneris Schematibus)—an erotic book with a series of sexual positions explicitly depicted in engravings. Soon after, Raimondi was imprisoned by the Pope.
Yes. Keep in mind Pope Julius II forced Michelangelo to repaint nude religious figures and cover their nakedness. This gave rise to the fig leaf campaign. The Council of Trent scoured Rome for nude sculptures and started placing fig leaves to cover the genitals—or outright defacing the statue by chiseling off the genitals altogether.
Then we introduce Pietro Aretino. Also Italian, and one of the most influential writers of his time. He was a vocal critic of those who held power and well-known for his rhetoric in society. Aretino contributed to Raimondi’s scandalous book by writing lustful sonnets to accompany each of the sixteen engravings. He had to flee Rome due to the public outrage of his work and to avoid sharing a cell with Raimondi.
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Over a hundred years after Raimondi’s salacious engravings and Aretino’s libertine words—circa 1660 to 1830—there was an advent of sexually explicit texts written in Western Europe. The word “pornography,” however, wasn’t in any recorded document before 1842. The etymology lays out that the word stems from the French pornographie and the Greek pornographos "(one) depicting prostitutes," and graphein "to write"
Pornography was described as an "ancient obscene painting, especially in temples of Bacchus.” Bacchus is another name for the Greek god Dionysus—the God of the Vine; in other words, wine. We all know what too much wine does to a person. His drinking buddies were Satyrs and Silens, the virile hybrid creatures. They knew how to party.
Although the word pornography wasn’t originally used to describe illicit images until the mid-1800s, Joseph-Nicéphore Niépce provided an easier way to share those images—the camera. After four years in the making, his first successful attempt was in 1826 when he used his camera to create a permanently fixed image of his backyard. The downside, it took eight hours of exposure to capture the image on a sheet of pewter.
That was until another Frenchman, Louis Daguerre, created a way to narrow that time down to thirty-minutes. He worked with Niépce to create the daguerreotype, first successful form of photography. By the end of the 19th century, a couple more Frenchmen created motion pictures, the Lumière brothers—Auguste and Louis.
So, with that in mind, we can point to the French—known for their innate disposition for passion—as the inventors of porn as we know it today. Okay, maybe that’s a stretch. But seriously, the French kiss and ménage à trois help validate that claim.
The reality is that sex sells. It’s evident in almost everything we see. The advertising slogans use sexual innuendos to sell you with humor and titillation. The trailers for movies and television entice you with romance and sex. The images on social media offer the curves of a woman or the muscular physique of a man. The difference in what’s considered porn is the level of acceptability from those who are doing the viewing. The varying morals, religious beliefs, and culture of upbringing determine what is deemed too explicit.
We are no longer living in the 1950s and it’s evident by all the aforementioned things. Women are free to express their sexuality without fear of having to wear a proverbial scarlet letter. We can love who we love without being arrested. Even actors and music performers have OnlyFans pages with thousands of fans. Porn actors have even become more mainstream. In the end, rationalizing what’s considered pornography has significantly changed over the decades.
But what about those who are addicted to porn?
Yes, those people do exist. As with any addiction, psychological help is necessary to overcome the urges. A person who likes to watch porn daily doesn’t mean they’re an addict. A person who jeopardizes their job or relationship by ignoring their responsibilities to watch porn is an addict. Think of it the same as a person who gets drunk at work or every night at home—they HAVE to have that cocktail. It’s all about enjoying any activity in moderation without interfering with responsibilities of life.
What if you enjoy porn and your partner does not?
When you feel too ashamed to have a discussion about what turns you on for fear of rejection is a difficult situation. Watching porn together is actually one of the many options to spice things up in the bedroom. It’s not for everyone, however things take a turn for the worse when the words, “that’s disgusting,” are used.
Being judged by the person that’s supposed to love you unconditionally is hazardous to a relationship. It’s no better when it comes from someone you trusted with the information, like your best friend. It leads to hiding your true feelings and desires. Without effective communication between partners, what kind of relationship do your truly have? We don’t all have to like the same things, but we don’t have to shame someone either.
What you may not know
One of the many complaints about porn is that it objectifies women or that it’s geared to appeal to a male point of view. Let me introduce you to Erika Lust. She is an “award-winning filmmaker creating sex-positive, indie adult cinema that portrays sexually intelligent narratives, relatable characters and realistic hot sex.”
The porn industry is meant to sexually entertain its viewers and not a true representation of sex. It shouldn’t be used for education purposes and anyone under the age of eighteen shouldn’t have access. What Erika aims to do is place the focus on female pleasure. In fact, she puts women behind the camera and in all key positions.
One of the problems I’ve had with most porn is the woman more often than not have seemingly perfect bodies; or have the endurance os a marathon runner. I’ve since learned they don’t have extended sex sessions because the scenes are edited together, not filmed in one continuous take. Also, I’ve dealt with my insecurities about my own body image; because that’s where the problem stemmed. I have to ignore what society deems as the perfect body.
Nevertheless, “[Erika] refuses to typecast performers based on their age, race, sexuality, or gender, and her movies represent a wide range of human body shapes, identities, and sexualities.” We all love to see images on the screen that are representative of who we are and what we look like—our porn should be no different.
Something that may surprise you.
Did you know that PornHub has a Sexual Wellness Center available on their site. The have teamed up with Dr. Laurie Betito, a Clinical Psychologist who offers a variety of content for the betterment of your sexuality and relationships. She covers basic sexual anatomy, general reproductive health, and opens the discussion on sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Additionally, Dr. Laurie (as she’s called on the site) provides weekly Q&A sessions, discusses how to build relationships, and shares information on sexuality research.
I understand one might not head to PornHub for sex education, however, the fact that they are offering it to you is rather remarkable given their reputation. They even have a dedicated page for porn performers to get any guidance they need.
How do we keep our children from seeing pornography?
The answer to that is quite simple—be a parent. You are responsible for their care in every facet of the word. You ensure they are fed, they have shelter, and they are clothed. You make sure they go to school, do their chores, and have proper hygiene. In the end, you are responsible for what they watch and the access they have to the internet.
Is this foolproof? Not exactly; but like with anything in life, you have to be diligent if it’s important to you.
“Without supportive conversations at home and comprehensive sex education at school, porn has become the new sex ed. Porn can be misogynistic, racist, and violent and leaves young people of all genders and sexualities with a misunderstanding of what sex is and what respectful relationships look like. With the ever-growing online sex culture of today, we can't stop the younger generation from ever being exposed to sexualised images.”
Know where your child is, know who they are with, and know what they are doing. When my kids were younger, I always met with the parents of their friends they spent time with. I asked my kids questions and talked to them about the dangers they could face in the world. I also talked to them about sex and the realities of pornography.
As I’ve written about in a previous article, when my daughter was about ten-years-old, I discovered she looked up porn on her new tablet from her grandparents. I didn’t get angry with her, despite feeling panicked internally. I sat her down to calmly discuss what she saw. She was curious and had questions. It was a rather intense video of a woman using a machine that had dildo attached. The conversation was challenging for me, but important to ensure she understood what she was watching.
This set the tone for her to know that she could talk to me about anything—and that I was closely monitoring her online activities. It was never again an issue, even when she got her own phone five years later. While I pay for the phone, its service, and her livelihood, I reserve the right to check her devices when warranted. Now that she’s eighteen, I don’t feel the need to see all her online activity—but she doesn’t know that. I feel, based on our conversations, she understands the purpose of porn; and better yet gaining an understanding her own sexuality. Besides, she freely comes to me, or her bonus-dad, for conversations about sex.
Sexual imagery has never been so easily accessed and we can view it anonymously. We can also find porn to appeals to any kink or fetish you may have—and some you haven’t though about. In the online porn world, if you can think it, you will find it.
We also have access to what many may view as pornography in art, books, television, and movies. Ever sent a sexy selfie to your partner? Some may call that porn, as well. Exercising sexual freedoms is liberating for many, but terrifying for most because of the potential judgments from others.
Once you redefine what is considered pornography, you might find your limits will expand. You might appreciate, rather than find disgust, in the beauty of the human body and what it was designed to do.
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