Female porn addiction

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Female porn addiction

08 Feb, 2012

It’s no secret that women enjoy porn, but where’s the line between harmless habit and damaging addiction? By Rebecca Whish.

 

Beth, a 23-year-old office assistant, twists the cap off a bottle of wine and pours herself a large glass of red. A bubble bath is waiting for her upstairs and there are fresh sheets on her queen-sized bed. She’s getting into the mood for a night she knows is going to be sexually climactic.

But Beth won’t have a 3D, flesh-and-blood lover joining her tonight. Nope. She’ll be driving herself to O-Town with an expensive mechanical companion and a variety of internet pornography clips.

“I know exactly what my body likes and responds to, so if i’m in the mood, I’d rather take myself there with porn than pick up some guy at the pub and put up with his fumbling,” says Beth. “Plus, watching people have sex on film helps me to lose myself in the moment and get really aroused.”

Beth is not alone in her solo voyages. the number of female porn-watchers is on the rise, with recent studies suggesting at least one in three Australian women enjoy viewing explicit material regularly.

Easy accessibility (ahem, thousands of free adult sites) is the main reason more women have started watching pornography, according to sex therapist Desiree Spierings from Sexual Health Australia.

She cites a US study that found women are just as stimulated by porn as men. “Researchers monitored genital temperature changes to measure sexual arousal, and found that both men and women displayed arousal within 30 seconds,” she explains.

“Men reached maximum arousal in 11 minutes, women in 12.” excited that science is finally acknowledging that women are sexual beings; Spierings adds that the one-minute difference between the sexes is statistically negligible.

“There’s also been an attitudinal shift,” she says. “Women are becoming more open and explorative with their sexuality.”
The burgeoning genre of “romporn” (romantic pornography) is also paving the X-rated way.

Leigh Messer, Editor of adultshop.com, saw a 10 per cent spike in the number of women purchasing X-rated DVDs between 2008 and 2011. She believes more rom-porn options drove this increase.

“[Women enjoy] adult films produced by women, with a female audience in mind,” she says. “These films have higher production values, softer sex and more storylines. Plus, the actors look more natural and less plastic.”

As for Beth and her solo sessions, Spiering’s expert opinion is that they’re positive and could even help improve her sex life. “Expressing sexual urges by watching porn and masturbating is good for wellbeing. It lowers stress levels, improves mood, helps sleep, decreases pain and burns energy.”

However, she cautions that even when our bodies physically respond to watching pornography, not every woman feels empowered to enjoy the show.

“Many women are uncomfortable watching porn, feeling that it exploits, degrades and sexually objectifies women.” This sentiment has likely contributed to the demand for more affectionate rom-porn films.

James* and Lucy* watch adult movies to get in the mood pretty much every time they want to have sex. “James originally suggested watching porn and i agreed reluctantly,” explains Lucy, “but then i actually really liked it.

It helps with foreplay and makes it easier to let myself go. Porn has also prompted us to introduce things like role playing, toys and masks, which has made sex much more exciting.”

The couple enjoy the naughty taboo feeling of watching X-rated movies, though, Lucy admits, her partner is far more into it than she is. “James already had quite a large collection of good-quality fetish porn before we got together!”

“The ‘for couples’ category is far and away the most popular X-rated genre adultshop.com sells,” says Messer. “It makes up about 20 per cent of total DVD sales, followed by the ‘educational’ section and then ‘comedy’ – all very female-friendly.”

While pornography can be a fun way to inject some pizazz into your sex life, it’s important to be sensitive to your partner. “X-rated films, particularly the hard-core variety, can create false expectations about what sex involves and looks like,” cautions Spierings.

“Sex is very much a learned behaviour. If we learn to be sexual through watching porn, we can have issues when it comes time for the actual performance, because the real thing is very different to what happens in a movie.”

Spierings has noticed that problems develop in couples when one feels inadequate as a result of watching porn. “They develop a fear that they don’t measure up to the bodies and abilities of the actors on screen.”

In our hyper-connected, internet-driven society, pretty much any sexual taste can be catered to at any time. Type the kinkiest thing you can think of into your smart phone at the bus stop and hey presto, look what Google found! (Just hope that there aren’t any little kids standing behind you).

Of course, this easy access presents a challenge for people who struggle with boundaries. “I started watching porn in second year uni,” says 29-year-old Renee. “A guy I was sleeping with put some on and I was intrigued.

This sounds strange, but I felt a kind of power watching it. I downloaded hundreds of free X-rated clips so that I could watch porn, masturbate and feel that power whenever I was lonely or stressed.”

While Renee started out watching vanilla videos featuring one girl and one guy, she quickly realised that the internet could provide a whole smorgasbord of perversions.

“Things really escalated and I found myself becoming more desensitised,” she admits. Renee even started watching hard-core porn on her work computer– had anyone checked her hard drive, she almost certainly would have gotten the sack on the spot.

According to Spierings, you’re addicted to porn if you want to stop watching but can’t, and your habit is interfering with your work and relationships.

Sexual Attention Deficit Disorder (SADD) is the term sex therapist Ian Kerner coined to describe the desensitisation porn addicts experience. “Because [they] have become accustomed to high levels of visual stimulation, the neuropathways in their brains become wired to get gratification from intense visual novelty.”

This makes it harder to feel aroused when having sex with a real man (e.g. your boyfriend) in a real scenario (e.g. your bed), because the brain has been trained to think that standard-issue sex is a gang-bang in a ski lodge with four chiselled, phenomenally-endowed male models.

Renee ended up reading self-help books and getting counselling to quit her compulsive viewing of explicit material. “When you first decide to quit, it’s pretty much a day-by-day, moment-by-moment choice not to watch. Especially if you spend a lot of time on the computer ... especially when it’s a laptop.”

To this day, Renee will be at work or in a social situation and “out of nowhere, a graphic visual will come into my mind”. She’s not alone in her struggle. Jason Dean, founder of the Quit Porn Addiction counselling service, reports that almost one in three of his current clients are women.

Just two years ago, he didn’t have any female clients. What’s good for you Pornography is like chilli: There are different kinds, from the inferno-hot bird’s eyes that make you feel sick, to the mild varieties that are actually quite pleasant in a stir-fry.

If you feel comfortable with it, a touch can add some spice to your life, however, indulge in too much and you’ll be distressed and in need of an ice pack.

It all comes down to personal preference, knowing yourself, and most importantly, knowing when to say, “I’m turning this off now”. Know what you like and what makes you feel good, because porn should be a fun night in – not a metaphorical chilli-eating competition.

*Names have been changed.

 

Comments

Inevitable. Maybe there will

Inevitable. Maybe there will be more understanding and less shame all around.

If only we could reclassify romance novels. Both mess with our brains. Porn with sexual interests. Romance novels seem like they might alter much more.