Watching Porn Doesn’t Have To Be a Bad Habit
More often than not, bad habits aren’t behaviours that break with our moral code but are simply behaviours we find ourselves doing without genuinely understanding why.
If sexuality is part of our identity, then why can’t we form habits around it? While we can acknowledge say, marital sex, as part of a healthy routine, behaviours surrounding masturbation, like watching porn, are more frequently demonized. But why can’t we enjoy such expressions of our sexuality without labelling them as 'good' or 'bad'? Erotica consumption today begs for a clear representation of what wellbeing is and how it can be achieved with regards to our sexuality.
Sex, though often portrayed as performative, doesn't have to be. Deciding to explore the motivations behind sexual behaviour or feeling that feel meaningful to us, and being curious about them, can help us understand why we may ascribe feelings of shame and inadequacy to consuming porn.
Pornography is often choreographed in a certain way in order to show sex on camera, for example, missionary is rarely used as it's hard to capture details. We might also find more graphic or athletic elements in porn compared to our real sex lives, as porn is designed for entertainment. Expecting to satisfy the full spectrum of sexuality through these visual exhibitions of erotic athleticism might leave us feeling a little disconnected from our wider identities. When porn leaves us feeling fragmented, it can help to remember that sex is also simply a way of life just like eating, and a balanced diet comes from variety. Porn consumption is not the bad habit, denying what is needed for a sense of wellbeing is.
Figuring out why we watch porn and how much of our sexuality is expressed through it is a helpful step that can be missed when approaching expressions of sexuality with shame. Whilst porn is for many, a chance to break from reality, some of us may find ourselves limiting our engagement as a result of shame. For example, by watching short, graphic clips, dehumanizing the performers and emotionally disconnecting because we feel guilty about watching. If porn is perceived as inherently harmful in this way then we are more likely to assume negative opinions of ourselves, like feelings of self-disgust. It can be these harmful conclusions, along with avoiding emotion by trying to escape it that leads us to describe something as a bad habit.
One way I've found to enjoy expressions of sex on screen more was to add character and continuity to it. We rarely experience human beings in real life the way we do in porn; walking into a room, fucking, and then leaving without so much as introducing themselves. But though a performer could effectively cease to exist for us once they orgasm. We do not. For many of us experiencing shame around sexual feeling, it might be tempting to compartmentalize sex into a neat box not unlike this, with a clear start and finish. But this suggests that sex and sexual feelings have no continuity in a person's life.
After recently watching some of my favourite porn videos in a stretch, I decided to follow all my favourite pornstars, creators and brands on social media so I could resonate more with porn and erotica as something continuous. Understanding the production behind this content and humanizing the erotica, opened my emotional repertoire further. I don't only enjoy porn's genital olympics but I find myself noticing funny, thoughtful and sensual beauty in little things that happen in videos: I could be watching porn and admiring the make-up, badass angles the camera crew are doing, the costume design and sometimes why the performer is in such a good mood on that particular shoot. Like any millennial in love with mindfulness, I started to engage more of myself in what I was doing.
Observing the fullness of porn adds more layers of awareness to the experience and can open up more parts of our sexuality, like curiosity and inter-personal synergy. These parts of us are just as valid as physical arousal, our relationships enhancing our experiences of one another, be that the couple we are watching or our relationship to the sex we are watching. The synergy that expands the euphoria, not just the performance or 'athletics’. Lustery is a great way to get a more rounded experience of a couple's personalities and the dynamics of their relationship, which just makes the sex ten times hotter.
Pornography is a cinematic expression of sexuality, created by consenting, sexually free people who are comfortable to extend a lens of their sexuality for us to enjoy, support, subscribe to and engage with. 'Watching' doesn’t need to be intoxicating, it could be a way of exploring sexual relationships and quirks of other people while still enhancing wellbeing, and connecting to ourselves on a deeper level.