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Jan 28 2010

Porn, Relationships, and What It’s Reasonable to Ask For

Deep inside annie sprinkle When you’re beginning a relationship, is it reasonable to ask your partner not to watch porn?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column here about porn. I was writing in response to an advice column by Scarleteen, an answer to a letter from a young woman who was upset because her boyfriend watched porn. I posed the question, “In a monogamous relationship, is it reasonable to expect your partner not to watch porn?” And I concluded that it was not. I concluded that people have the right to watch whatever they want when they’re by themselves and on their own time, and that asking a partner not to watch porn is no more defensible then asking them not to watch reality TV or read true crime. I concluded that trying to regulate your partner’s private cultural pleasures — pornographic or otherwise — is like trying to regulate their imagination.

But some readers thought I’d misread Scarleteen’s advice. They said Scarleteen’s point wasn’t that people have the right to ask their existing partners not to watch porn… but rather that if someone objects to porn, they should spell that out at the beginning of a relationship. And on re-reading the Scarleteen column, I think they’re right. In my defense, the situation I was writing about was, in fact, the situation described in the letter — dealing with an existing partner who watched porn, and trying to decide what to say to them. But I do think I misread Scarleteen’s intention in their response, and for that, I apologize.

So now I’m going to address the position Scarleteen took: that people who object to porn and are beginning to date someone should spell out their position early, and should state clearly that they don’t want to be involved with someone who watches it.

And I’m basically going to stand by my original position.

Which is that this is an unreasonable, overly controlling thing for an adult to ask another adult.

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That’s an excerpt from my new piece on the Blowfish Blog, Porn, Relationships, and What It’s Reasonable to Ask For. To find out why I think it’s unreasonable to ask your partner not to watch porn on their own private time — even early on in a relationship — 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!

5 comments

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  1. 1
    Funonymous

    I’m glad my girlfriend likes kinkier porn than I do. 3 Cheers for Pro Porn Feminists.

  2. 2
    Blackroseheart.wordpress.com

    As usual, I am just enjoying reading your blogs. Lurking, if you will. But I thought you might like to know about something I left for you over on my blog. ;-)

  3. 3
    Patty Mooney

    This is one of those things that should certainly be spelled out at the beginning of a relationship, along with whether or not you want to have children, your religious/ spiritual proclivities, political affiliations, etc. I still don’t get Mary Matlin and James Carville….. and I guess I never will!

  4. 4
    Nina Hartley

    You tell, ‘em, Greta! Great piece, as usual. Thanks for being so clear on this subject.
    Mwah!

  5. 5
    Nio

    You are awesome, Greta. I really enjoy your take on this stuff.

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