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Equal opportunity porn

Alice,

This might sound a little strange. My girlfriend and I (I am male) have thought about watching porn together as a sexual experience (we already read X-rated prose in bed). While I have actually never seen any of these movies, I know that they are predominantly aimed at heterosexual males. I would like to find something that is not demeaning toward women, so that we can be equally aroused. Any suggestions?

— In the dark

Dear In the dark, 

Props to you for beginning your cinematic quest with a mindful attitude. You're right that there's a lot of video porn aimed towards heterosexual men. You're not alone in feeling rubbed the wrong way when it comes to options. X-rated prose, sometimes called erotica, may seem to be close cousins to the novice porn surfer, but erotica and pornography usually appeal to different experiences. Some say they prefer erotica because it may portray sex in a more mutual, respectful, and balanced way as compared to video pornography. This may not come as a surprise since you and your girlfriend already enjoy X-rate prose. However, there is a genre of video pornography that’s grown out of this desire for mutual respect called ethical pornography, also known as feminist pornography. 

Many production companies that label themselves as creating "ethical porn" may not be free at times—and free videos may be harder to discern if they were truly captured ethically. A good place to start looking may be production companies that include directors and writers who identify as women. Not only can this help in finding porn that has a level of mutual respect, but some say that female-led porn is more inclusive and may show more realistic sex. If you find a company you like, consider exploring their website—typically, companies that engage in ethical porn are upfront about doing so, think banners, taglines, a mission statement on the homepage, etc. 

It’s worth noting that there’s yet to be set guidelines governing how ethical porn should be portrayed. When viewing the content itself, it’s helpful to be aware of what factors make a video more ethical. These things might include conversations of consent between the actors, modeling safer sex practices (such as wearing condoms), an emphasis on pleasure for all participants, and the portrayal of a variety of sex practices and identities among the company's stars. 

You may be happy to know that you and your girlfriend aren't alone in partaking in porn reading and watching together. There are plenty of couples who watch porn both separately and together. In fact, mutual viewing can actually have a positive impact on your relationship. Because of the video format, pornography can help partners learn new skills and positions as well as help them explore their sexual interests. These benefits are more likely to occur if the viewing is mutual, however they may not sustain if one partner begins watching more porn than the other. Having a conversation about what each of your boundaries are before partaking in sexy videos can help you both recognize if the tension becomes more than just sexual. 

It may also be worth exploring other means of mutual pleasure that can add to your viewing experience. This can include incorporating sex toys or reading advice columns or sex-positive blogs for additional tips and tricks. The genre of ethical pornography was pioneered by the late Candida Royalle and there’s a history of the genre and information about its inception on her website. Another popular production company is Bellesa, which is dedicated to female-friendly video pornography. 

While porn doesn't have to be the only place to learn more about sex, it can give a visual way for you and your girlfriend to communicate with one another. Not just watching porn but talking about the porn you watch can also benefit your relationship. Being open-minded and honest about what you like and dislike may leave you both more satisfied in the end. The genre of sex-positive porn is ever-expanding and with a little dedication, research, and communication, you're sure to hit the jackpot! 

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Last updated Oct 13, 2023
Originally published Jan 01, 1994

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