Healthy lives for young people
Sex

Porn: Rachel’s story

Porn can help you work out what turns you on, but also what you don’t enjoy. Rachel, 20, shares her experience of discovering porn and how she has found what works for her.

When I was first introduced to the world of porn, I was recommended to go to Redtube. Redtube had a terrible layout and all sorts of ads and thumbnails advertising painful-looking sex with giant penises, so I didn’t stay on there long.

After trying out xHamster, YouPorn, and xTube, I settled on Pornhub – the ads on there were marginally more bearable and if I stayed to the ‘for women’ and ‘lesbian’ categories, the sex wasn’t so hideous.

I stumbled upon porn (mostly) by accident. Really, I was just figuring out my sexuality and searching “girls kissing” on Google images to stare at the photos for ages to figure out 1) why I liked it so much and 2) if I was lesbian, why did I like boys too? That story’s a whole other can of worms to open, so we’ll focus on the porn bit for now.

All I was searching for were some innocent images of fully clothed women kissing each other, and all of a sudden, BAM!

I’d clicked on a link to one of the image’s sites and I was looking at a full-blown porn page.

Previously, I’d dabbled with soft porn (ah, the good old days when Nuts had images of topless women available for free online and safe from the embarrassment of having to buy one from a newsagent), but never looked at actual videos of people having sex.

Like I said before, the ‘for women’ and ‘lesbian’ stuff wasn’t so bad – it was the straight stuff that left me feeling super weird after watching it. The women would pull all these unnatural expressions and gasp and moan and shout out weird phrases whilst the man stood behind her, completely silent, merely a solid chest and penis to pull out and finish off on a pair of boobs at the end. The blowjob scenes were always really long, drawn-out, and frankly, rather dull. At least with the lesbian stuff you didn’t have to sit through that, but even that felt very performative and difficult to get invested in.

It’s not really surprising that porn leaves a lot of women feeling a bit icky after watching it. It’s not made for us.

MindGeek is a Canadian company that owns 90% of porn on the internet,* including sites such as PornHub, Redtube, and YouPorn. They also own production companies like Brazzers, Digital Playground, Twistys… you name it, they probably own it. They almost have a monopoly on the entire porn industry.

An issue I have with the content made by these companies and uploaded later onto the free tube sites they’re linked to is that it’s all very… misogynistic. There! I said it! Wow, that felt good. Anyway, when watching this stuff you can’t help but notice that the women are often degraded – and I’m not kink-shaming here, if that’s your thing, go for it – but even in the more ‘vanilla’ videos, the women are there to serve the men sexually and are rarely sexual subjects. They’re objects. And this is why their porn leaves a lot of women, including me, feeling very… bleugh

Not only this, but when I started watching documentaries like Hot Girls Wanted and YouTube videos by former adult performer Paige Jennings, I began to realise just how exploitative the porn industry can be, whether mainstream or amateur.

When I was younger, I genuinely considered what a career in the porn industry would be like.

After doing some research through watching these videos, I realised it wasn’t for me, because it had the potential to seriously compromise my safety.

Pornographic talent ‘agents’ have a reputation for going to parties in areas like Miami or LA and searching for high school girls to encourage to enter the porn industry as soon as they turn eighteen. At this age, they’re seen as more impressionable and easier to coerce into more extreme, painful acts that will receive more views, and earn porn companies more money.

If they speak out against this kind of behaviour, they’re branded as a ‘diva’ – such as Jennings was when she asked to use a condom with a male performer who she discovered to have syphilis (she was refused this, and after she rejected shooting with the performer, she had to pay hundreds of dollars in damages to the cast and crew that came on set that day). You can hear about this story on her YouTube channel.

Many sex workers experience harassment, and struggle to be taken seriously by authorities when they want to report this, or even a targeted assault, because stigma attached to their job convinces people that they’re ‘asking for it’.**

Despite all of this, I don’t think porn is inherently bad.

Through a little bit of ‘research’, I found stuff that worked for me, and it helped me realise what my turn-ons and turn-offs were – reading erotic novels is one option, or, like I settled upon, reading fan fiction (my OTP is Johnlock for anyone who cares!!! Thanks for asking.)

A bit later, I found directors like Erika Lust creating feminist, inclusive, sex-positive porn that looks beautiful, and tells beautiful stories. She created xConfessions, a site where she makes erotic films out of fantasises people have sent to her – and she gets in a diverse range of feminist directors in to direct these videos too. She actively works to make a safe and comfortable working environment for the cast and crew, organising rehearsals, and discussing with performers what acts they feel comfortable doing and allowing them to take breaks whenever they need during a shoot.

Reading fan fiction and watching Erika Lust productions made watching less vanilla activities in porn more accessible and less intimidating.

Within those stories communication is written in to show enthusiastic, explicit consent, and how this allows for genuinely good sex to be carried out.

So, next time you’re looking for a lil’ somethin’ somethin’ – why not explore your options and see what else is out there besides boring old Pornhub?

Follow Rachel’s sex positive Instagram @peek.show


* Source: Philosophy, Pussycats, and Porn (Stoya, 2018)

** Sexual harassment is any form of unwanted sexual behaviour. Sexual assault, abuse or violence is any act of unwanted sexual contact. If someone else’s behaviour is making you feel uncomfortable then it’s not okay. More information and support

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