• Andrea Waling

How to Navigate Porn in Relationships

Recently I was invited to talk about pornography and relationships for the Spotify series Search Engine Sex, hosted by Rowie Walden. Chatting with Rowie was a great opportunity to talk more about the challenges and benefits of pornography as a part of sexual desires, practices and experiences.



What is ethical and feminist porn?


Ethical porn is concerned with the conditions in which pornography has been created. This includes treatment and health and well-being of the actors, how actors have been compensated (i.e. paid), and the environmental conditions in which the pornography has been directed and filmed.


Feminist porn includes all of the above considerations, with an additional dimension of thinking about inequalities that pornography can promote and addressing them by focusing on women's and trans and gender diverse experiences of pleasure, as well as having a diversity in cast such as body shape and size, disabilities, and race and ethnicity among other factors.


For more, listen to the QUICKIE: What is ethical porn.


Can porn be a part of a healthy relationship?


There's a lot of debate about whether or not pornography can be a part of a healthy relationship dynamic. Some are vehement that porn is bad and the industry needs to be dismantled. Others, including myself, recognise that porn can be a part of a positive relationship dynamic, but that this is dependent on a number of factors.


Porn can be a great place to learn about new fantasies and desires, and research has shown that it can promote and foster intimacy in relationships. Porn can be part of a toolkit of sexual pleasure, and can spark exciting new adventures for people.


When is porn not good?


Having porn as a part of a sexual repertoire within relationships does require partners to have strong and transparent communication. The reality is that porn can be a factor in peoples' negative experiences of sex, and many kinds of porn promote harm and abuse, particularly towards women and trans and gender diverse people. Porn does promote unrealistic bodies and expectations concerning sex and sexual intimacies, and often privileges penile-vaginal penetration and cisgender, heterosexual men's presumed pleasures.


People, especially cisgender women can often feel pressured to have to perform sexual acts in accordance with pornography that they themselves may not be interested in, or derive any pleasure. People can also feel pressured or expected to have to like porn, when in fact some may not.


Pornography can also promote harmful ideas about gender, class, bodies, race and ethnicity, and sexuality. Not everyone has access to education and literacy that can support them in understanding the unrealistic expectations that porn presents.


For more, listen to How to Navigate Porn in a Relationship.