Posted: Jul 15, 2013 10:00 AM
 
While dirty romance novels are all the rage, pornography hasn't gone mainstream. We talked to a panel of moms to find out how they really feel about porn.

Erotica for women is a huge industry right now. But when it comes to pornography, are women as likely to purchase and consume? We talked to sex experts and a panel of real moms to learn more about what women feel about porn.

She doesn't mind her husband watching it

Sarah reads smut and believes it helps her sex life. She doesn't mind her husband's occasional porn enjoyment. “If my husband gets that from visual porn, I'm cool. It doesn't upset me or offend me if my husband watches porn without me, and I don't want to be in a relationship where something like that has to be lied about,” she says, pointing out the distinction between an occasional thing and a pathological behavior.

She acknowledges that it can be exploitative

Amber watches porn occasionally with her husband and has some qualms about the industry. “I think it can be exploitative at times. But most media can be exploitative at times. The clothing industry can be exploitative at times. So much of what we consume has downsides,” she says, adding that she's selective. “I want to feel good about what I'm seeing. It's harder to find good porn, but it does exist.”

She doesn't like how porn treats women

Martha is a mom of two. “I have such mixed feelings about porn,” she says. “I don't mind the Playboy-type stuff so much, but the XXX stuff is just too much. Sometimes I want my hubby to have access to it because I'm just too tired! But we have two daughters, and I hate what hardcore porn does to women.”

She enjoys it more than her husband does

Tracey and her husband have both enjoyed porn, but she has a greater fascination with it. She has erotic prints on the mantel in her bedroom. “I like it in print, more than video. I like images that are sexual without being overt,” she says. “I love erotic photography, from Bettie Page S&M pin-ups, to everything by Robert Mapplethorpe, to 70s bush-porn, to suicide girls — there's more art and style here, I find.”

She believes objectification is not OK

Holly and her husband occasionally watched porn together, but no longer do. “Our sexuality is a gift and mystery enough, without the introduction of fantasy," she says. “That our bodies were created to experience pleasure when united is exciting all on its own! If our bodies are only for pleasure, we are reduced to relational experiences that ignore that we have a dignity above animals.”

She prefers when it's directed by women

“Picky Britches” writes for the Glitterhood project. “I view pornography as a medium that can be positive or negative, like any other entertainment,” she says. “I personally love watching porn, but I'm picky about it. I generally purchase porn directed by women. I have a few friends in the industry and I like to support them. My husband and I share our porn. We have different tastes, but see porn as a way to enhance our sexual experiences.”

She used to watch in secret

Essie was fascinated by porn but didn't feel comfortable sharing that with her ex. She watched it in secret. Now in a new relationship, she is comfortable being open about enjoying porn. “Neither of us is offended in any way if the other masturbates to porn,” she says. “We have a similar high sex drive and have had many good conversations how we feel about sexual activities.”

She's never watched it

Betsy was briefly tricked into watching porn, but hasn't watched it otherwise. “Porn, for me, is a bit like a bad film adaptation of my favorite book. It ruins the fantasy,” she says. “And I shudder at the thought, if it's true, that teens are taking cues from it. All this pubic hair phobia is worrisome.”


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Find out what the experts have to say about porn

Melissa Jones, Ph.D., is a sex educator with mixed feelings on porn. “It can definitely play with women's confidence as we compare ourselves to the women in the porn right down to the smallest flaw,” she says, adding that porn created by women for women can be educational. “It still may not be for every woman, but I have found it to be a huge help to women with low libido or those who need help with fantasy.”

Carole Lieberman, M.D., is a psychiatrist and sex expert who believes that porn can hinder relationships. “Porn dampens the mood for many women because women feel as though the man is implying that they are not attractive enough to turn him on,” she says. According to Lieberman, always requiring porn to become aroused or watching it obsessively can both be signs of serious relationship problems that need to be addressed with the help of a professional.

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