Can Watching Porn Be Cheating?


Watching sex In a monogamous relationship, is it reasonable to expect your partner to not watch porn?

There was a recent letter to Scarleteen, the sex advice and information site for teenagers and young people. In this letter, the querant was upset because her boyfriend (a) watched porn, and (b) would soon be going on a road trip with his buddies in which he might be getting lap dances. The querant was upset about this — partly because she was a feminist who thought these activities were sexist, and partly because it triggered insecurities about her own body and made her feel inadequate.

Scarleteen’s reply? Feminism doesn’t automatically mean you’re anti-porn — there’s a wide range of feminist views about pornography — and enjoying porn doesn’t automatically make you sexist. When it comes to the details of your relationship and the agreements you make about sexual activity outside it — from porn/ lap dances/ other sexual entertainment to flat-out non-monogamy — you need to decide what would be your ideal, what would be on your “absolutely not” list, and what you’re willing to compromise on. And you need to recognize that your partner has as much right to their version of this list as you do to yours — and then see if you can negotiate a common ground.

Which sounds perfectly reasonable at first.

And then I started thinking about it.

*

Thus begins my latest piece on the Blowfish Blog, Can Watching Porn Be Cheating? To find out why I think watching porn doesn’t fall into the category of “sexual practices you can reasonably expect your partner to give up,” read the rest of the piece. (And if you’re inspired to comment here, please consider cross-posting your comment to the Blowfish Blog — they like comments there, too.) Enjoy!

Comments

  1. says

    Oh, picky, picky, picky. You and your bourgeois expectation that blog posts saying “Read this piece” include a link. What an unreasonable sense of entitlement.
    Or, to put it another way: Oops. Sorry. Fixed now.

  2. says

    I’m not sure if the illustration you used is deliberate, but I give David Loftus “Watching Sex” a major thumbs up. While it has the inherent limitations of being an anecdotal study, along the lines of the Hite Report, I think it gives a spot-on view of men’s experiences with porn and what they get out of it. Its a great antidote to a lot of second-hand assumptions about men and porn that are often demonizing and way off-base.

  3. Leum says

    Greta, dunno if you take requests, but if you do, I’d really like to see one on the stigmatization of porn and masturbation as being alternatives to real sex, and to the association of single people (who presumably masturbate) as being losers because they masturbate instead of having real sex. Seems at least tangentially related to this topic.
    Actually, it could be totally related, now I think on it. How much of the upset is because the guy (or gal as the case may be) wants fake sex when he can get the real thing? Why oh why is he using the inferior version of the it? How pathetic of a lover must I be if he prefers to imitation?

  4. ToppHogg says

    When one partner lays claim to the thoughts and activities of the other, it doesn’t matter if the thoughts and actions involve sex or Sexuagesima. It is an exercise of power and involuntary control. It is a demand to submit to the will of the other. In other words, “you WILL be who I want you to be, and not who you are.”
    To pick up on Leum’s thought regarding wanting “fake sex when he can get the real thing”, are you sure that “the real thing” is real? Is it as available as advertised? Generally, it isn’t. The person doing the complaining just doesn’t want to admit that his/her sex drive is much less than the partner’s and doesn’t want to partner’s desire for pleasure to be realized.

  5. says

    Leum:
    I like your idea about taking on the stigmatization of porn viewing and masturbation as a substitute for “the real thing”.
    For me, the answer is really simple. I really like the “visual” aspect of sex, and I count being a voyeur as definite fetish of mine. I don’t see it as a substitute for various kinds of one-on-one sexual interaction, but as something that pleasurable in its own right and in a different way. The idea of having to “give up” one for the other seems ludicrous to me. That would be like saying if you’re having intercourse regularly, why would you possibly want a hand job?
    Generally, I find porn the best way to satisfy voyeuristic urges. Because unless I have one of those rare partners who’s willing to “perform” for me with another person, then that’s a big area of visual pleasure that isn’t always available from a partner.

  6. says

    Iamcuriousblue: Yes, I’ve read “Watching Sex.” Excellent book. I haven’t always read the books I use to illustrate my blog posts — sometimes I just pick titles or covers that seem to illustrate my point — but that one, I have read, and enjoyed tremendously, and highly recommend to anyone interested in this topic.

  7. says

    The links to the articles are missing … Though I’d really like to read them …
    Of course, I’d also love to actually have some serious discussions on this topic, but it seems a bit hard to find people who are willing to seriously think about it.

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