What are your feelings about porn?
You could answer how you feel personally about engaging in it (or not) or how you theoretically think about porn. I’ve thought about this question for a while, but I always held back on asking it because it reminds me of one of those very invasive questions that appear in academic articles on asexuality. I can’t put my finger on exactly what’s “wrong” with the question. Maybe it’s the voyeuristic context of the academic articles that sometimes shove asexual people into these narrow stereotypical boxes for an assumed allosexual audience, making them seem unusual and other. Or maybe I just know many asexual people don’t want to talk about porn and I feel uncomfortable encouraging them to engage in it (so please don’t, if this is you).
Last month I asked about aegosexuality, which includes some aces who watch, read, or otherwise engage in pornographic content that doesn’t involve their own identity. I’m sure porn is also useful to other aces and completely not helpful or unwanted by many.
Theoretically I have mixed feelings about porn. Porn is messy and complicated and sometimes feminist and awesome. It is sometimes big companies producing films with exploited workers and sometimes individuals making videos at home on their Iphones (free or for a small fee). Ariel Levy writes one of the big problems with porn in general is that it replicates the same images over and over again, diminishing an expansive view of sexuality to a limited number of encouraged acts and scripts. So for some, porn minimizes what is possible. It actually makes us think there’s something wrong with us if we don’t like what we see on Pornhub (and I may be sex-favourable, but I hate most things on Pornhub). Luckily some porn does otherwise, depicting all kinds of consensual acts, and it’s there that I see the potential.
Navigating porn is probably difficult for aces or anyone that is only interested in certain scenes or activities or repulsed or turned off by others. Many sites have large ads that depict intense acts targeted at a stereotypical straight male gaze. They are full of potential triggers and probably inaccessible to many. I appreciate that websites like Archive of our Own and Literotica only show content after explicitly searching for it by specific terms. Users will largely only see content they want and be warned away from content they don’t by reading the full list of tags.