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»I watch porn when I'm stressed out«

Explicit content — Twenty courageous students share their experiences with porn.

Today’s students grew up in an age that saw a great deal of technological development. This includes a rapid increase in the accessibility of porn. When Bluetooth got big, kids could use their button-clad phones to send and receive videos they downloaded from their computers. Nowadays, those kids are all grown up and it doesn’t take more than a minute to connect to a porn-site and start watching.

Hence my decision to seek out some of my fellow students and enquire about their histories of porn: how did they first stumble upon this world? What effect(s) did porn have on them and their sexual lives? Did porn help them in any way or do they consider it a damaging experience?

But my dad is a Muslim, so it was also something scary and forbidden

Woman who watched porn since the age of 12

I roam the halls of the South Campus and visit those of the Faculty of Science. I search in the library of building 23 at KUA and venture into a cosy bar, Caféen?, at Nørre Campus. During these outings I find many who are willing to share their views and experiences with me: 20 students in total—nine women and eleven men.

What follows is not an attempt to make generalizations. It is a fabric patched together from twenty different walks of life: more specifically, it is a look at the role that porn played (and plays) in them.

Due to the private nature of this topic, most of my sources want to remain anonymous: in these cases only the person’s field of study, department and/or the faculty at which they are enrolled is mentioned.

First Encounters: erotic writings, Channel Copenhagen and VHS tapes

Many of my interviewees were introduced to some form of pornography by the age of 12-13: twelve out of the twenty people, in fact. Among those who were above 13, we find ages 14, 15 and even 17 as the points of first encounter.

»I was 12 years old. It was summer and I found some erotic stories in some women’s magazines and I started searching for similar erotic stories on the internet on the family computer,« says a woman who studies Communication and Information Technology at UCPH.

»And when you search for things like that you quickly find porn. It was something new and exciting, and I realised I’d rather watch porn than read it. But my dad is a Muslim, so it was also something scary and forbidden. Also, back then I didn’t know it was possible to delete the browser history! So, it’s a miracle my dad never found out – when searching for ‘Porsche,’ for example.«

»One time, I actually got a virus on the computer while watching porn. The machine went black and I couldn’t tell my dad about it. So, what I did was I got on a different computer and started searching for solutions to the virus on YouTube and in the end I was actually able to fix the computer on my own. That’s how I found out I like IT,« she concludes and adds »so mine is a nice porn story.«

The longest streak I ever went without masturbating has been the best stage of my life! You feel great.

Philosophy student, who lives in celibacy until marriage

Others found their first experiences with porn using the television: »I was in 5th grade in primary school, I think, and I saw porn for the first time on the family TV one night while my parents were asleep,« says Anders, a Computer Science student.

»It was a regular man-and-woman movie. They were doing it on the pool-table and I remember it got very boring after a while: the same screwing over and over again.«

Another student, from Anthropology, says he was 14 when »there was a videotape going around in class — a VHS. One of my friends’ parents had some porn with fake, camouflage titles written on the sides of the tapes, but my friend knew which was what.«

I also meet with a girl, from Biology, whose first time was with a group of classmates: »I wasn’t ready. I was about 10 or 11 years old and I was at a sleepover with a bunch of girls from my class. There was this channel back then, Kanal København (Channel Copenhagen, ed.), that showed porn during the late hours, and we watched it all night long: girl on girl, man on man, we saw everything.«

Similarly, a Medical student’s first experience with porn was through Channel Copenhagen around the age 11 or 12: »I saw my dad watching porn from a different room of our house and I was interested to see what it was all about. At some point later on, during a night I couldn’t sleep, I watched some porn myself. But in the beginning it was out of curiosity and I thought it was disgusting.«

How much porn?

Many of my small sample of students watch porn several times a week. Some do it 3 or 5 times, while others can occasionally reach 6 or 7 times per week. Such is the case of Games Technology student from ITU, Alex, who I’m first acquainted with at a Nørre Campus bar:

if I wanna’ squeeze one out, I’ll damn well do it

Alex, Games Technology student

»Since getting started, my porn consumption underwent constant acceleration up until now. Especially because I live alone and my attitude is: ‘if I wanna’ squeeze one out, I’ll damn well do it.’ So now I watch porn 6 or 7 times a week. During a boring period I can watch even more.«

Anthropology student number 2 tells me he watches the most porn when he’s under a significant amount of stress.

»I watch the most porn when I’m stressed out or when me and my girlfriend have a hard time syncing with each other. In those periods I can hit 5 or 6 times a week. I think that porn can be both a product and a cause of the busy lives we lead. I mean that porn can be helpful when I’m in the fast lane, e.g. having exams, and need a quick fix; but other times porn actually prompts me to keep living the fast life instead of slowing down — those times I’m less inclined to make love to my partner because it takes much more effort than opening the laptop and watching porn.«

A math student, age 35, who I interview while a bunch of other math students are having a party a few meters away, watches porn about once every week. This has not always been the case:

»I spent 10 years in the army and was sent off to Afghanistan twice. In the army, it was an open thing that everybody had porn. We used to go and ask each other ‘do you have some good porn on your hard-drive?’ If someone had two hard-drives, we knew one of them was reserved exclusively for porn. At that time, being locked away for six months, I guess my porn consumption might have been high.«

I watched bondage, anal and orgies, to mention a few. I found it interesting to discover the different types of sex out there. At one point, I was so inspired I actually considered becoming a sexologist
Woman, Communication and IT student

However, there are also those who consume porn at a much lower rate, and those who don’t watch porn at all anymore. Another math student, this time a woman, says she can’t really remember the last time she watched porn:

»If I must say something I’d say it was about a year ago. In the beginning I wanted to see what’s out there and then I got over it. It doesn’t appeal to me anymore.«

As I said earlier: the more stress the more porn

Male anthropology student

Likewise, another woman from Mathematics says she has only ever watched porn 3 times in her life:

»The first one was during my high school years, the second time with my boyfriend, and then about 2 months ago I looked up bondage-sex on the internet.« Then there’s a student from philosophy who strives to abstain from porn completely, and lives in celibacy until marriage:

»Some people have this notion that if you live without jerking-off you’re tormenting yourself — this is not true at all. The longest streak I ever went without masturbating has been the best stage of my life! You feel great. You feel awesome.«

What kind of porn do you watch?

»My taste in porn has evolved from strictly man-on-woman to e.g. lesbian and biracial. I’m just being open minded and use porn as a means to seek out different forms of sex: it’s a way to satisfy my curiosity. But I’m not into violence, incest and degrading stuff,« says a student from Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, MEF.

In a similar fashion, the Communication and IT student, who I have mentioned before, started experimenting with porn as a teenager:

»I watched bondage, anal and orgies, to mention a few. I found it interesting to discover the different types of sex out there. At one point, I was so inspired I actually considered becoming a sexologist.«

Such discoveries are part of all 20 students’ stories. Many of them went from soft-core porn to at least acquiring some knowledge about hard-core genres such as hentai, Grey’s Anatomy parody porn, bondage, BDSM, forced, redheads, petite women, and all kinds of other fucked up shit. No illegal stuff, but yeah I’ve been places.«

»I often pursue in porn what I would not pursue in real life: big chicks, for example; women I wouldn’t be proud to present to mom and dad,« says Anthropology student number 1.

Indeed, Anthropology student number 2 has a similar approach: »If I want to see high school girls getting it on I look that up and find films set in those surroundings. So, really, porn is a medium to realise my fantasies. This is also why I often prefer to watch porn made in Denmark: starring girls who look like the ones I see around me in real-life. So, it’s a kind of ‘reality-stamp’ for me if there’s something that indicates the actors are Danish.«

I don’t like to look at pumped-up, plastic tits and fake, screaming orgasms

Tanja studies Portugese and Brazilian

Tanja (Portuguese and Brazilian studies) is also more intrigued by realistic porn: »I think often amateur porn is the most exciting, because it’s much more realistic. I don’t like to look at pumped-up, plastic tits and fake, screaming orgasms. Also, I like to see stuff where the men dominate the women, explaining what they’re going to do to them, and not where dicks are pumped so hard down some poor girl’s throat that she is about to be sick. As in real life, it can be good to be dominated, but respectfully.«

All 20 students use free sites to access porn. Only one of the interviewees says »I have tried to pay for it before: when I found some video I just had to watch more of. But these subscriptions never lasted more than a month.« The MEF student says that she, too, gains access to porn through such free sites, but she’s not happy about this: »It’s a bit problematic because there can be some unethical things going on. There’s less security in the free-porn industry: people not getting paid, sometimes filters don’t hold as well as they should and it’s easy access for people doing illegal stuff, e.g. trafficking – it’s more difficult to hold them accountable on these sites.«

Pain: Head in a vagina, squirting pressure and rewired brains

The already mentioned Biology student says »I have been traumatised by porn a couple of times. Really. For example, I once saw a video that depicted a bald man pushing his entire head into a woman’s vagina. Or, when I was a child and I watched the kid’s animation series Kim Possible someone showed me a porn version of it where the main character, Kim, was banged by 3 man in all her holes.«

When I ask these students about any porn-caused troubles in past or present relationships I usually receive a brief ‘no.’ But not from Biology student number 2:

»One of my exes was really into these squirting videos. That was his dream: to make me squirt. But I was like ‘it isn’t so easy to make someone squirt.’ But he kept insisting he could do it to me so this caused some friction between us. I told him ‘just leave it’.«

I have previously quoted a philosophy student who lives in celibacy, for the time being, and who is actually a Christian Protestant. We converse sitting in big, comfortable chairs in front of the large windows of the Library of English, Germanic and Romance studies. He says:

I don’t think it’s healthy to give in immediately every time you have an urge

Male philosophy student

»I think porn is destructive. It’s just like a drug: it can rewire your brain – your dopamine receptor. You release a lot of dopamine without creating anything, you reward your brain for nothing – and the next time you will need to get a higher rush to achieve the same level of dopamine release. Thus, your taste becomes more extreme,« he says and points to a website for more information on the matter.

He then tells more about his personal reactions to watching porn: »Images hunt me afterwards and I feel like I’m in a fog or having a hangover. For me it’s about learning how to master my sexuality. I don’t think it’s healthy to give in immediately every time you have an urge – it’s good to learn some self-control. I also think that sexual energy should be used towards another person in an environment of love. And if you’re not in a relationship, focus this energy into something else.«

Other negative side-effects

Anthropology student number 2 mentions several side-effects he considers negative consequences of porn:

My taste in porn has evolved from strictly man-on-woman to e.g. lesbian and biracial

Woman studying Media, Cognition and Communication

1.     »I think that porn has affected my preferences in women. Or, rather, beauty ideals that are reflected in porn. These ideals often oversee personality traits and I think this has caused me to be shallow at times.

2.     I tend to be very visual during sex, but the ideal thing would be for me to be able to just close my eyes and make love. I don’t know whether this is a male tendency or a side effect of porn.

3.     Also, the speed of my love-making has probably also been influenced by porn. Meaning that I might have sometimes applied the way I approach porn to the way I approach my girlfriend: not being tender but being rather impatient towards her.

4.     I sometimes need the relaxation that comes with masturbating (which I often conduct with porn). As I said earlier: the more stress the more porn. It’s kind of like a cigarette or alcohol: a bit like an addiction, a way of coping.«

Games Technology student Alex has also had his share of porn-related issues: »I have had what is called ‘porn induced erectile dysfunction’—I was in situations where I was in bed with a really pretty lady and nothing was going on between my legs. Nothing. Also, your standards rise when you watch porn: porn-ladies are pretty while 90% of the population is not. Furthermore, it lowers your desire to seek out real sexual relations: it takes max 30 minutes to masturbate while it can take hours to get a lady (if you succeed at getting one at all).«

I often pursue in porn what I would not pursue in real life: big chicks, for example; women I wouldn’t be proud to present to mom and dad
Male Anthropology student

One’s confidence can also become a victim of pornography. Consider the case of the medical student, a woman, who tells that »porn has really damaged my self-esteem when I was younger. All those ‘perfect’ women you see in porn movies really intimidated me. It took a long time to grow out of this and it can still be a bit of an issue sometimes. But now I’m mostly of the opinion that if you don’t like what you see: fuck off.«

Gain: Education, confidence and a means to discover

Let’s return to the anonymous MEF student and see what she gained from watching porn:

»I think that sexual education isn’t good enough at all. They teach about diseases, prevention, and then there are tiny inputs about masturbating. But they don’t teach about sex in a proper, non-judgemental way – they should be more sex-positive. They should be open and they should not make kids feel bad about what they like sexually. And I think porn can help with this sometimes: it normalizes sex for people – it helped me in accepting my desires. And yes, porn definitely had an effect on my taste in sex. It allows for experimentation: I can try new things and see whether they’re something for me or not. So, I think that porn benefited me more than it has done harm.«

The student studying medicine shares the above discontent about sexual education and has some additional opinions on the matter: »In sex education you are not educated on how to have sex. And porn movies can serve as guides: teenagers should learn from them. They should watch some types of porn but should stay away from others. And a girl of 11 should most certainly not watch women being hit and spit on. But there’s not much to do about it. The answer does not lie in violating your child’s privacy to make sure he/she doesn’t watch porn: it would have ruined my self-esteem even more if my mother would’ve kept a constant eye on my browsing history. You should put some boundaries to a certain extent, but beyond that you just have to trust your kids.«

I’m much into BDSM-type rough stuff and porn showed me that I’m not alone in having such kinky taste

Woman studying mathematics

While the woman who I quote for the above paragraph, as you will remember, had self-esteem issues due to porn, I also meet with a woman from Mathematics who had the opposite experience: »I’m much into BDSM-type rough stuff and porn showed me that I’m not alone in having such kinky taste — that I’m not a freak, even if I’m different from the mainstream. In this way it actually boosted my confidence.«

According to Anthropology student number 1, porn can also serve as a sexual catalyst in a relationship: »I have employed porn with a partner and it was useful for getting new ideas and getting in the mood.«

Finally, I will let these words close the section as uttered by the Communication and IT student: »I have used porn to learn how to do some things. I started doing bondage after having seen it in porn. Nothing crazy, but a minimalist version of the bondage-sex you see in some movies. So, I think porn is a good thing. It also satisfies one’s needs and having needs is part of being human.«

Consequences in the grey zone: be it good or bad, it’s because of porn

Some by-products of porn consumption are not easily defined as pain or gain. One could even argue that such binary labelling of the above experiences is somewhat too simple and lacks realistic complexity. However, in the case of the following examples, this identification is even more difficult. Nonetheless, they are stories that I find worthy of sharing:

I have had stressful days when something made me horny and I had to have the satisfaction that comes with getting off

Woman, Communication og IT student

»I have had stressful days when something made me horny and I had to have the satisfaction that comes with getting off — even though I was busy and had to read a lot,« says the Communication and IT student. She continues: »there have also been times when I skipped dinner to watch some porn and masturbate: I would tell my parents ‘I’ll be out in half an hour’ and I locked the door. But sometimes I would go at it for 2 or 3 hours and my siblings would be knocking on the door shouting ‘let me in, I need my bag’ and I would shout back ‘leave me alone, I’m reading’.«

»Porn probably did affect my sexuality in some way, but I started watching way before I first had sex: so it’s hard to know how. I have a good example regarding this: I was at a Christmas party and I was talking with some people — the same age as my parents. They told me that blowjobs were not a very common thing back when they were young. Nowadays, many expect it from their partners. So, changes that I was ‘born into’ are hard to realise as such,« says another science student at UCPH.

In conclusion of the grey-zone let us read a Neuroscience student’s words: »Porn, for me, has very much had an effect on the sequence (or structure) of real-life sex. The way many porn movies unfold is often how my sexual endeavours develop from A to Z.«

Is this a good or a bad thing? You decide.

What about today’s level of accessibility?

One of the notions that prompted my quest to write this article is the unprecedented level of access that people have to porn in the 21st century. I receive some intriguing answers upon my inquiry about this topic:

The Philosophy student says »I think the level of accessibility should, in an ideal world, somehow be limited. Especially for children: their brains are so sensitive to stimuli that I don’t think it’s healthy to expose them to porn. So, in my opinion, if you can’t remove porn from the internet, at least make it less accessible.«

All those ‘perfect’ women you see in porn movies really intimidated me

Woman studying medicine

The ex-military math student is also sympathetic to the idea of some sort of accessibility-restraint for children: »Maybe accessibility should be limited for, say, people under 15 or 16. But you can’t ban porn: that would probably have some bad repercussions. For some, porn is the only means of sexual satisfaction and I can imagine people would get very frustrated if it was taken away from them. Violence and rape rates would probably go up.«

»In the end I think porn is a good thing. It’s a healthy space for indulging in your fantasies. I also think that the level of accessibility in itself is good, but the amount of porn that some people consume can be bad. So, it’s like fat people and food: we consider being fat unhealthy, but that doesn’t mean the amount of food available to us and the accessibility we have to it is bad. And if you only watch porn, you don’t procreate. Our species would die out quickly if everyone would only watch porn,« says Alex from Games Technology.

Final thoughts

I will let Anthropology student number 2 draw the curtains on this article:

»In our normative society, everything you are is based on how you act. And there are high sexual restriction: if you loose these sexual boundaries you risk loosing everything. These boundaries result in the creation of a space for pornography to exist in — a space where things have to be made explicit. This space is a symptom of a diseased society that is not primal, not natural. Don’t get me wrong, you need these boundaries to maintain order, but they deny certain aspects of our nature nonetheless.«

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