My favourite thing about writing about porn is holing myself up in my bedroom, opening a browser, dropping my panties and getting to call the next step ‘research’. (My other favourite thing is the terrible by-mistake euphemisms – I’m never going to use the words ‘holing myself up’ ever again.) And no one takes research as seriously as I do.
It doesn’t take having spanned the worlds of both amateur enthusiast and professional perv to know that there’s more to watching porn than a fast-track to getting off though – and that’s usually less about what you’re connecting to and more about who you’re connecting with.
From solo screenings to exploring the erotic with a partner and sharing smut with your squad to watching a gangbang in, well, a gang, whatever configuration of people you find yourself in, they’ve all got compelling reasons to keep browsing, not to mentioning, researching...
When I’ve closed my door, settled onto my bed and opened that browser tab – long before I’ve even ventured to put my hand down my pants or grab a toy – the decision to watch porn is about getting in touch with myself. Yes, I went there. When you’re watching porn alone, it’s all about you – your desires, your fantasies, your whims in that moment, your remaining data balance...
It’s nobody’s business but yours (and maybe Google, Facebook and whoever does the targeted advertising at Wish). Here are some more of my favourite things about watching porn on my own. Being able to skip straight to the dirtiest bits, cumming in 4.8 seconds and then still having the rest of the evening free to work on that article about watching porn that was due a month ago. (Based on a true story.)
Filling in the gaps left by conventional sex ed. It’s all very well and good to say that porn perpetuates unrealistic expectations but when your entire sex education up until the point of watching porn for the first time was putting a condom on a banana... I mean, at least there are actual genitals involved. And with more sites like Lustery focusing on more authentic passion, more inclusive content and all types of fucking, I’m not the only one who gets to call watching porn ‘research’ anymore.
The only con for me? The part where I invariably get pussy juice on my touchpad.
With a partner
The first time you watch porn with a partner is a relationship milestone. Assuming you’ve approached it the right way – communication and consent long before you press ‘play’ – partnered porn viewing is about more than foreplay fodder: it can be a surprisingly intimate act. This is the one time a screen probably isn’t a distraction. Instead, it becomes a tool to lay your fantasies about as bare as they get. I like things bare.
What I also like about trading Netflix and chill for filth and fucking is that if you’re too shy to verbalise something you’re into to a lover, well, there’s probably porn for that. Watching porn together can be a valuable first step to rewriting the script and switching up the plot in your own sex life.
Being a voyeur removes the pressure to do, giving you the space to observe and decide if is something you’d like to try or if it’s funnest as a fantasy, something shared between you and your sweetie (and again, Google, Facebook and whoever does the targeted advertising at Wish).
The way I see it – or, rather, the ways I’ve seen it – there are two types of watching porn with friends. There’s when you’ve just realised that there’s way more to sex than anyone told you and you want to know everything about it but you’re also intimidated as fuck and kind of need a buddy to egg you on. The first porn I ever saw was with friends and it was horribly cringy and even as I felt myself getting wet – something I would never have admitted – I could also feel myself dying inside – again, something I wouldn’t admit.
When you’re older (or at least wiser), watching porn with your pals is no longer a dare but what happens when we know what we like so well that we’re willing to share. If watching porn with a partner is how we expand our bedroom repertoires, watching porn with friends is how we expand, well, our porn horizons.
It’s not about setting a mood, it’s not about exploring a certain interest; it’s show-and-tell. I tell my friends when I discover a great mascara brand or when I have an excellent poop or when I see a cute dog – of course, I’m going to tell them when I discover great porn. If I can see them drooling in person, even better.
Watching porn in public sounds like an awkward boner fest waiting to happen... until you actually try it. Events like this month’s Berlin Porn Film Festival are a prime example of taking the genre beyond the bedroom, showcasing smut as art, as social and political commentary, as a platform for exploring identity, as a feminist statement, as something to share, discuss and debate.
They’re also a good reminder that you can be fully clothed, on your best behaviour with not a bottle of lube in sight let alone the option to skip the build-up, and porn can still be as engaging as when... well, as when you’re doing research.