No Mabel, You Don’t Have to Compete With Porn Actresses

One of the objections that some women have to their partners watching porn is “I can’t compete with the women in those videos.”

The idea that a woman has to compete with the women or activities in porn films is an unfortunate misunderstanding.

Now some women feel they have to compete with mainstream celebrities like Scarlett Johansson and Beyoncé (and before that, with Marilyn Monroe and Sharon Stone, and before that, with Cleopatra). That’s a fool’s errand that no one should attempt. These are professional; do not attempt to do their job in your home.

If you’re smart enough to realize you can’t (and don’t need to) compete with JLo or JLaw, why would you feel compelled to compete with Candye Kisses or Rosie Cheex?

While making superficial comparisons in life is inevitable, most men know that porn is a fantasy, not a documentary. No one actually expects his girlfriend to pay the pizza delivery guy with oral sex, and no grownup really expects his partner to look or act like a porn star. Like the NFL and Cirque du Soleil, people in porn are selected for their unusual bodies. Very unusual bodies.

Sadly, sometimes it’s women, not their men, who are comparing themselves with porn stars. Ladies, you’re not competing with a real person, you’re competing with a cinematic character—who has the benefit of lighting, editing, a fictional partner with unlimited energy and desire, and a script instructing her to defy gravity while moaning on cue.

You can’t compete with that character any more than your man can compete with the Arnold Schwarzenegger character, the Fred Astaire character, or the Sherlock Holmes character.

By the way, let’s be honest—plenty of women love to consume images of gorgeous females, too. Who else is the audience for People magazine, E! News, and those award show red carpet previews? And please don’t say you’re interested in “fashion” or “style” (or “news”)—the audience’s interest is in beautiful women wearing clothes that reveal more than they cover. Admit it—aren’t you a little disappointed when some famous babe shows up in a pants suit, or something that hides her cleavage?

(Note: Shouts of “sexism!” do not constitute a thoughtful critique here. No one ogling Leonardo di Caprio or Matthew McConaughey is thinking “what a fine actor” or “what an expressive artist.” No—eyeballing these guys is the same activity as eyeballing Kim Kardashian. Can’t we just admit it and get on with our fantasies?)

That said, plenty of porn features women who are not conventionally beautiful. There’s amateur porn, granny porn, and in-law porn, to name a few. People who view such things are looking for something other than perfect bodies. They may enjoy watching ordinary-looking people doing ordinary sexual things. They almost certainly enjoy the erotic enthusiasm, whether it’s scripted for professionals or authentic from amateurs.

If there’s any way your man compares you to porn, it’s most likely about enthusiasm—which for almost all men trumps a perfect body any time. This means your less-than-perfect body doesn’t disqualify you in bed.

When women are convinced that their partners are thinking about porn stars while having sex with them, I ask how they know this. During sex does he call you the wrong name, does he seem a million miles away, does he keep talking dirty even when you’ve asked him not to about a million times? Most women answer no. Instead of evidence, they say “Why would he focus on my saggy body during sex when he could be thinking about Ophelia Rump, who’s perfectly round and firm?”

Why would he? What about feeling desired, touching and being touched, kissing, nibbling, smelling, pleasing someone else, and feeling part of the ongoing human erotic parade? Sex with Mary FiveFingers while watching porn may provide more perfect stimulation and a more reliable orgasm, but when it comes to sex, friction isn’t everything.

So if your question is “Why would he focus on me during sex?” you may need to boost your sexual self-esteem. I’m very sympathetic if you can’t imagine why he’d rather focus on the live, imperfect naked woman he has with him rather than a maybe-perfect-looking body in a movie.

We should probably check how much your self-consciousness or despair about your body is undermining your mutual sexual enjoyment. It’s not like you’re going to wake up next week with the perfect body or boundless energy of a 24-year-old (unless you’re 24 right now), so you both need to figure out how to eroticize the conventional body of a person your age, in your condition.

At work, at the supermarket, in the airport, the world is full of beautiful bodies, male and female. Porn or no porn, every man and woman has to figure out how to feel OK with themselves when they aren’t as good-looking as others.

And how to feel OK when they don’t have as much money as others, don’t have jobs as prestigious as others, or don’t have kids as smart as others. This is the fundamental existential task of all people who want to enjoy life, and porn didn’t invent it.
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Memo to any guy who resentfully tells a woman “Why can’t you look like the women in porn,” or “Why can’t you do what the women in porn do”: Dude, the “women in porn” are ACTING. They’re following scripts designed to get you hot. Very few people do those things in real life, and very few people look like they do in real life. They’re like the characters in Lord of the Rings.

If you want your partner to be more enthusiastic or adventurous about sex, criticizing her and comparing her to fictional characters—like Wonder Woman or The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo—is guaranteed to make things worse.

 

 

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