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Teach Healthy Sexuality

Female Friendly Porn–What It Is and Why It’s Still Harmful

So much porn is violent, degrading and hateful towards women–almost beyond imagination. One study shows that women receive 97% of the physical aggression in porn. That’s why some, including women, are advocating for a “female friendly” genre of porn–one where women are not verbally or physically abused and their sexual pleasure is portrayed in a positive, romantic light. 

Proponents of female friendly porn reason that if porn isn’t violent or degrading to women, it should be an acceptable form of entertainment or even sex ed for our teens. So why do I still caution against it?

Why female friendly porn is not the answer

At it’s foundation, pornography is harmful. No matter the content or genre, it will always lead to a host of difficult problems. I’ve identified at least four reasons why female friendly porn is not the answer. As parents and professionals who work with children, it’s important to think deeply and develop rational and credible arguments against all forms of pornography. 

1. A healthy, intimate sexual relationship cannot be taught or performed on a screen

It’s something that is created between two partners who know and trust each other. Sexual intimacy has more to do with character traits than physical traits. An intimate sexual relationship is a unique creation for each and every couple. 

Consider pair figure skating in the Olympics. It’s beautiful how the partners skate with such unity and harmony. You won’t be surprised that the best pair skating teams have good communication and conflict resolution skills, besides their athletic ability. They work with each other for years to develop the unity you see when they skate together. 

Can you imagine asking the male and female gold medalists in single figure skating to skate together and try to win a gold medal in pair skating? It wouldn’t work.

The healthiest and best sexual intimacy is developed as a pair, over years, with the same partner. In fact, there’s a lot of research showing that married couples enjoy more satisfying and frequent sex than singles. 

Related: Healthy Sex vs. Porn Sex: 7 Crucial Comparisons to Teach Your Kid (Before XXX Hijacks Their Future)

2. Any kind of porn teaches the brain that sex is a solitary, self-focused sport with ever changing pixel partners

Some watch porn as a type of sex ed–to learn new sex acts, how to better perform sexually. But sex as a “performance” is not the best model if you want a satisfying, healthy and empowering sex life. 

Sex as a performance focuses your attention on yourself and can create anxiety–are you performing well enough? It also focuses your attention on the other person as a performer, not someone you love and want to show affection for. 

“In a one-night stand, in short-term relationships, sex can be more of a ‘performance.’” -Mike Lousada, a psychosexual therapist quoted in The Guardian

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3. Using porn often leads to dependence on porn for sexual arousal 

Porn acts as a “supernormal” stimulus (meaning a stimulus that is exaggerated or intensified). Once a person begins using porn for arousal, the brain craves even more sexual stimulation and novelty–new videos with more extreme sex acts. 

Related: Porn Addiction and Kids–Neuropsychologist Reveals Who Is Most Vulnerable: An Interview with Dr. Gola

When a person begins to watch porn to get aroused (even if it’s female friendly), they are teaching their brain to be aroused by pixels on a screen instead of a real person. 

If they’re alone and masturbating to female friendly porn, they’re wiring the brain for sex as a solo sport. They may begin to find it difficult to become aroused by a partner in real life.

Related: Do You Know Why Kids Masturbate? Therapist Gives 5 Reasons and Top Tips for a Healthy Response Plan

4. It’s easy to escalate from female friendly porn to hard core

As a person becomes increasingly dependent on porn for arousal, their brain will seek more novel and more extreme porn–to increase the dopamine flowing across their brain.

Eventually, the risk is that they leave female-friendly porn for something a bit edgier, a bit newer, and more extreme. And it’s easy to find! The dopamine-loving brain wants to seek pleasure, and seeking is easy to do on an  internet with endless videos. And the cycle continues. 

Unfortunately, people can start out with “female friendly” porn, only to find that they’ve escalated to violent porn, rape porn, or child sexual assault material (CSAM). They hate themselves for wanting what used to disgust them. Getting aroused and feeling pleasure by watching someone else’s pain–isn’t that a recipe for a sociopath? Sadly, porn is filled with antisocial scripts that influence users when they follow their fetishes on porn sites. 

Norman Doidge, M.D., New York Times bestselling author of The Brain That Changes Itself says this about pornography:

“Pornographers promise healthy pleasure and relief from sexual tension, but what they often deliver is an addiction, tolerance, and an eventual decrease in pleasure. Paradoxically, the male patients I worked with often craved pornography but didn’t like it…The content of what they found exciting changed as the websites introduced themes and scripts that altered their brains without their awareness.”

Porn seems to lead people who use it compulsively to abandon their moral judgment or ethics. And that makes sense because as with any addiction, the “feeling brain” takes charge and the “thinking brain”-the part of the brain that makes ethical choices–is left out. 

“In a 2016 study, researchers found that 46.9% of respondents reported that, over time, they began watching pornography that had previously disinterested or even disgusted them.” -Fight the New Drug

Related: How Porn Use Becomes an Addiction (Simplified!)

For all of these reasons, I believe that female friendly porn is not a healthy option for women or anyone. Female friendly porn, like other genres of porn, teaches the brain that sex is all about performance. Female friendly porn cannot teach you to have a great sex life because a healthy sex life has more to do with inner qualities like empathy, kindness, loyalty and respect–and all the traits that go into establishing a true friendship–rather than the sex acts you can do. Finally, female friendly porn can easily escalate to more extreme forms of porn and addiction.

Brain Defense: Digital Safety Curriculum - Family Edition

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