Is Porn Making Men Bad at Sex?

adam-hart

Ahahaha! Who’s been here?:

He’d been jackhammering away for what felt like hours. “You like that, baby? You like that?” he asked, though he didn’t notice I wasn’t answering. And then, somewhere around the 18th time he said it, it hit me — I wasn’t just having bad sex. I was having bad porn sex.

That’s an excerpt from Mary Elizabeth Williams’ hilarious Salon essay in which she wonders whether adult films are making men bad at sex.

Where do we get our firsthand knowledge of sex, anyway? Unlike other “recreational pleasures” — such as sports, baking, etc — most of us don’t get to learn sex by observing firsthand. Sex ed (maybe) tells you vaguely how it’s supposed to feel, but — barring swinging — it’s not like somebody’s there to guide you. “Hence,” Williams says, “the instructional use of the erotic feature.”

We are thankfully a generation away from the days one had to do a stealthy walk of shame to the back room of the local video store for a glimpse of naked people going at it. We can, if we so choose, sit around in our underwear all day and watch Tera Patrick do what she gets paid to do. The rise of youporn.com and other user-generated sites means that “face-sitting in latex” is easier to get than a Domino’s delivery — and about as good.

She suggests that “the goal-oriented, money-shot, male-centric perspective of most porn (hint: Women don’t need to see that much fellatio) have changed us.” The ubiquity of this porn has put new pressure on women (and men; we’ll get there): Shaved pussies are expected. Pole-dancing skills don’t hurt either.

Men have new standards for themselves, too, regarding size and performance time – things that they perceive women wanting. (Which is a little funny, given the first sentence of the last paragraph; these poor dudes are doing it to themselves.) That’s where Williams comes in: “[T]hinking you can learn to make love to a woman from watching porn is like thinking you can learn to drive from watching The Fast and the Furious.”

Porno sex is about the angles and displaying the goods. Whether the actors who are putting in a hard day’s work on the job are actually enjoying themselves doesn’t matter. It’s about performance, and performance, more and more, is just another aspect of life in general. We tweet what we’re eating for dinner. We upload a photo of the party we’re celebrating right now on Facebook. And some of us are screwing like we’re trying to go viral, long on ego and short on originality.

The problem with our voyeuristic culture, Williams’ intimates, is that we’re constantly consumed with how we are seen. And it’s hard to be ”in the moment when you’re thinking of what it would be like to watch it.” What looks good doesn’t always feel good in practice. Why, a friend of Williams asked, would the man she was dating remove his dick during sex, only to thump her with it? (Who’s been there?!) She knew where he got the idea — did he think she was enjoying it? “Listen, if you’re a professional showing off his stuff for the camera, that sort of thing almost makes sense. Out of context, however, it’s another situation entirely. You know what description you never want a woman you’ve slept with to apply to your sexual technique? ‘Baffling.’”

Williams realizes all our tastes are different — one woman’s sexual sensation is another’s baffling beau. However, “if we learn from example,” she writes, “does anybody really want an education from someone who has a fluffer?

She also recognizes that men aren’t the only ones to equate porn sex with good sex, too:

I am no stranger to the notion of trying too hard myself, as a few chafed former partners would likely attest. Women have a long history of performing during sex — but our unrealistic, rock-your-world expectations are just as likely to come from “The Notebook” as they are from “Interracial Cheerleader Orgy.” My male friends have their own versions of ill-fated hookups with would-be sex queens. I’ve heard the tales. I just haven’t seen a lot of other women in action.

Williams’ interviewed a sex educator at Babeland.com to find out exactly what the biggest misconceptions caused by porn were. A Babeland survey recently found the following:

  1. How women can have orgasm from just vaginal intercourse
  2. The idea that women love semen in their faces
  3. The notion that anal sex is sexy
  4. That women prefer huge cocks

This should serve to take some porn-induced pressure off men — and women, too – Williams hopes. Porn has its place, but maybe sex ed isn’t it. And by Williams estimation, the real, messy act is a lot more fun that what’s on our laptop screens:

You don’t see a lot of laughing in porn, but some of the best sex in my life has been punctuated with fits of giggles. You don’t see a whole lot of genuine female orgasm in porn either, and believe me, that’s a pretty big part of what makes a memorable evening for a lady. Aping an adult star doesn’t make a person a lover any more than playing Rock Band makes him a musician. Good sex makes room for honest passion and uninhibited enthusiasm, and doesn’t feel like an audition for AVN rookie of the year. It’s messy and silly and profound. And unscripted.

So, what porn moves have been pulled on you? Were you gracious enough to explain why it didn’t work? (If it didn’t work.) In what other ways has porn changed our sex lives?



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56 thoughts on “Is Porn Making Men Bad at Sex?

  1. I think porn has made my husband a more conscientious lover. After we had a discussion about the violence and fantasy in porn he a lot of the mannerisms discussed in the Salon article. The hardest for him to get past was the idea that maybe I didn’t want marathon fucking all the time and that sometimes a quickie is every bit as effective.

      • Yeah, definitely NOT easy to maintain all the time. The razor is the wrong shape and size, you can’t see what you’re doing down there, etc. I tried it a few times, then told my fiance, “Look, you’re just going to have to settle for neatly trimmed, because there is no way in HELL I can keep this up.”

        He just gave me this adorable baffled look and said, “I never expected you to!”

    • Waxing isn’t as bad as everyone thinks (especially if you have someone help you, makes it harder to wimp out). Then again, I’m a guy, so my bits-n-pieces are configured a bit differently, maybe it hurts more for women parts.

      As for the style, I much prefer smooth. I just don’t find hair attractive in either men or women.

  2. Thank you so much for this article! My husband doesn’t understand why I want him to stop watching porn and the reason is this exactly! The more porn he watches the more he sucks (in a a bad way) in bed- expecting me to be full on into hardcore banging without any “fluffing” for me, and always wanting to watch himself finish so he can squirt all over. It’s baffling.

    • That’s not an argument to stop watching porn. That’s an argument for the two of you to talk more, and for him to be attentive to what you want. If you can have that discussion, and he can learn what exactly is best for you, and not some outside idea, then there is no reason it would hurt for him to also get off on the fantasy viewing sometimes. If you can’t have that discussion, or it doesn’t work, then porn is not the problem at issue.

  3. Men who want to use porn as an instructional video should look for the right porn. And by that, I mean lesbian porn. Actual lesbian porn, not straight chicks that have been paid to pretend to be into it.
    There are plenty of lipstick lesbians making porn, so it shouldn’t be off putting to most men.
    I feel like women are the only ones acting in most porn made for straight men.

      • The dead give away that you’re watching straight chicks go at it is when they kiss. If they don’t seem into the kissing, or they go straight for licking around a nipple, they’re not gay. Or even bi. And that means they’re faking everything, so the orgasms (and what cause them) can’t be taken on face value.

        Like Rhonda suggested, look at films that are marketed towards women. We can tell when chicks are acting and when they’re actually enjoying what’s happening to them.

      • Super easy way to weed out the obviously fake: fingernail length. Other than scratching backs, long nails are good for absolutely nothing.

        • I don’t think guys do mind. I do, but that’s because I’m bi and it bugs me to see chicks faking it with each other. I guess because I know what it’s supposed to look like.
          In fact, judging by the high sales of Girls Gone Wild dvds, I’m betting guys don’t mind watching straight chicks fake it at all.
          But watching that certainly wouldn’t help a guy figure out how to actually pleasure a woman.

  4. Perhaps porn is making men bad at random sex? If there’s more to it then a single random hookup between people who barely know each other, then you should be talking, and discussing what you like. This shouldn’t be a problem in a relationship. If it is, then it doesn’t matter where the bad sex is coming from, because it’s merely a sympton of the communication issues.

  5. I agree completely with Kai. If your significant other isn’t intelligent enough to separate porn from how sex is in real life, then that’s a whole different issue, altogether. The reason sex is so great in a serious relationship (for me, anyway) is because we’re open with one another and communicate what we love, like, and dislike… We also don’t expect each other to perform like porn stars – we do what feels good, which is usually a pretty fail-safe method for us. A few times we’ve watched porn together, and even that was fun!

  6. I overheard a couple of my male high school students talking about sex. One of them asked how you get good at it, and the other said, “Watch a lot of porn.” I wanted to say something (“NOOOO!!!!!” comes to mind) really badly, but unfortunately it would have been very inappropriate for me to engage in such a conversation with them. Oh, well.

  7. My fiance have a fantastic sex life, for which I’m very thankful.

    Honestly, how awkward would it be to have to tell him he’s no good in bed? That would be mortifying. And depressing.

    That we both avoid porn like the plague may or may not have something to do with that.

  8. Well, porn was definately one of the main reasons that my last relationship didn’t work. My ex watched A LOT of porn. And the longer we were together, the more he wanted me to be like the women in the movies he saw and he wanted me to enjoy sex just as they do (because, of course do all the women in porn always have lots of fun and one orgasm after the other).
    Talking didn’t work. When I said something about what I like, he only said that I just didn’t know any better and he knows what women really want (uhm…well…). Well, he also once said that every woman he ever had sex with ALWAYS had orgasms. Because he would KNOW if a woman faked (uhm….well….).

    • As mentioned above, when the talking doesn’t work, it’s not porn that’s the problem.

      Sounds like a real winner – glad to hear he’s an ex. :D

    • He sounds like the kind of guy that swears you had an orgasm even though you told him you were eating a cookie when he was busy. Some men are just too dense for words…

  9. The “thumping with penis” thing…OMG. That occurred once and the look on my face must have said it all because I got an immediate “I’m sorry. That was really stupid, wasn’t it?”

    Yes.

    Other porn-related hijinks involve the ubiquitous “come on your face” techinque (really? what about that is not disgusting, annoying and degrading?); the obsession with anal (usually correlating with a complete paranoia of his being touched anywhere near his anus); and finally, the “like that baby?” whilst hammering on rather delicate flesh with all his might (from a guy who would normally not arm wrestle a girl for fear of hurting her).

    I was asking myself the other day whether guys like porn-style sex or if they just feel they have to do it? My experience is that a guy can hardly hold on for 5 minutes with a slow grind, but can last for much longer with the Energizer Bunny routine. I think it’s numbing for them, and that it allows them to go longer which makes them think they’re doing “better.”

    No.

    • What you said in the last paragraph pretty much shed light on a dark area of my sex life with my boyfriend. When I’m in control, I like to go slower but that only ever lasts for no more that a few minutes before he takes over and starts the “Energizer Bunny routine”, as you put it. Until now, I’ve been completely baffled as to why this occurs. No wonder they can last forever with their ridiculous hammering and only five minutes with the slower sex. The slower sex just feels BETTER.

      It’s like guys think sex that is shorter than 10 minutes isn’t good sex when, on the contrary, I’d rather have 5-10 minutes of nice, slow, pleasureful sex than half an hour of laying there while my boyfriend does some serious grunt work on my vaj.

      Stupid porn.

      • “I’d rather have 5-10 minutes of nice, slow, pleasureful sex than half an hour of laying there while my boyfriend does some serious grunt work on my vaj.”

        AMEN to that.

        There was a time once, probably the second or third time we had sex, when my fiance was going all “Energizer Bunny” (Embee, I think your term is going to stick!), and I was literally lying there and thinking of the shoes I wanted to buy. Not fun.

      • The ex I mentioned above once said to me that he’s sure that I don’t really enjoy sex, because I’m not into sex sessions that take at least 1 hour. Every single time. Always. No exception.

        Not fun.

  10. My poor boyfriend has taken the porn size thing to heart unfortunately. I’ve been trying to convince him for a while now that any bigger than he is would be way too big, and that the men in the pornos are unrealistic freaks that make me want to cross my legs tightly, but he doesn’t completely believe me.

    On a side note, I can’t watch most porn anymore because the womens’ breast implants are so unnatural and ugly they totally distract me. Anyone concur?

    • I can’t stand implants,and none of my buddys like them either. Lots of men find small to medium most attractive,and some totally into flat women. Especially if the gal is confident with it,the same way most women feel about partial baldness on us,

    • I don’t watch porn myself, so am not familiar with the ridiculous implants.
      Seeing women just in other media at times though, I have a fun time informing my boyfriend of what is natural and what is fake, based on placement and movement. Can be entertaining.
      As for the look, I’m just not attracted to girls, so breasts don’t do much for me no matter what type…

      I did an informal survey of male friends once, and while most said that there is some level of attraction to large boobs, proportionality is better. When asked a general preference for small and natural or large and fake, the guys overwhelmingly voted small and natural, though with differing times required to consider. The only guy against this trend is an asshole I wish would not be invited out to things… I was not suprised to see that he was the statistical anomaly.
      Of course, this is my friends. I know there are differing thoughts out there.

      • Seriously. Bad boob jobs are just one of the distracting features for me in most modern porn. I prefer 70′s porn. Except for the fact that nobody trimmed back then. I don’t require a full shave, but for the love of all that’s sexy, trim!

        • Totally agreed.
          Except for the soundtrack covering up the sex noise…
          I do not want to feel like AT&T has me on hold while I get off…

  11. You know what? I think like Kai said, it’s more a matter of communicating your personal desires and wants. I actually *do* think the four “myths” mentioned in the article are true. I like clitoral orgasms for foreplay, but I much prefer the orgasms I get from sex.

    And not to be too vulgar, but I like semen on my body parts. I like feeling “marked.” if it’s in a hidden spot, it’s kinda fun to not wash it off and go about your day, only the two of you knowing. As for the face speficially, hey, I like his face shiny with my goo, too.

    I sometimes like a five minute, throw me around quickie, and I sometimes like a long slow session. It’s just a matter of communicating–and of course, hoping your partner is on the same page at the same time. Often… my husband and I are not. :) I want it hard and fast, and he wants slow and long. etc. etc. Alas!

    That said, not a huge fan of porn because of how fake it is. I giggle. I haven’t watched terribly much of it. But what I have seen is pretty funny. An ex liked it a lot. I remember seeing women smack their clitorises (clitori?)over and over as if that somehow feels anything like good. And that they all have the “white man’s overbite” when banging. That was funny.

    • Please elaborate on this ‘white man’s overbite’.
      ???

      As for the myths, I think the orgasm thing is not uncommon – but it’s a small subset of the population that gets any orgasm from penetration, so consider yourself lucky. :)

  12. I always pray that men do NOT learn to give oral from porn since the actors usually just use the tip of their tongue and shake their heads. It’s so bizarre. Sorry guys, but you need to a LOT more enthusiastic and willing and interested than just a tongue tip.

    I had my ex do the slapping of the penis on me a couple times. It was pretty weird… he also had a porn sized penis which unfortunately left me dry most the time (and when I went back to “average” I found that SO much more enjoyable. Big may LOOK better but average FEELS better).

    I am a total cheapo so I usually watch my films on youporn. I try to find more “professional” stuff because the cheapo crap makes me a bit uncomfortable, but sometimes that’s all a girl’s got. I feel that in the non-movie style porn the women rarely enjoy anything and rarely fake their orgasms even. It’s a bit sad and they creep me out so badly.

  13. It depends on the porn. Most of the stuff young guys go for is ridiculous and I can’t even see how MEN would get pleasure from it. There’s even some ‘straight’ porn that does it right, so you don’t even HAVE to go to the woman-aimed sites. It’s just fewer and far between.

  14. lol yea old thread but lol @joey dude nice trollz, to the other’s geez get down, bald is best for her and his teeth, anal is good, ifyou have learnt with the right guy (or girl)(s) first before having it smashed like a pippi. Marathon’s are shit for both usually, if in doubt bloody ask b4 hand (pun intended), what else…. lube yea it’s nice, toys, argh stuff this im goin for a root.

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