Welcome back to the Student Sexuality Information Service (SSIS) column, where we answer any and all of Brandeis students’ questions about sex, sexuality, identity and relationships. If you have a question you’d like answered in our next column, email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a question in our Google Form: https://tinyurl.com/AskSSIS. Any and all questions are welcome: there are no bad, stupid or weird questions!
(Note: These answers are good-faith attempts by SSIS to be helpful to the Brandeis community, and are by no means exhaustive or to be taken as universal. If these answers don’t resonate with you, either pay them no mind or reach out to us with suggestions for improvement!)
Is it wrong to use internet porn as a form of self care? Whenever I’ve had a difficult week or accomplish a task, I reward myself with gay porn. It makes me feel good, yet afterwards I feel ashamed.
Porn can absolutely be self care! Self care varies from person to person, but it is generally something that is relaxing, makes you feel good about yourself and gives you a break from life for a little bit. Self care is often also something that benefits your physical and mental health. Watching porn and masturbation stimulate the reward centers in the brain and release chemicals that make you feel happy and relaxed. Studies have shown that watching porn releases dopamine (a happy chemical) and reduces cortisol levels (a stress chemical). Watching porn can be beneficial to almost all areas of life. Other studies have shown that consuming pornographic media has a positive effect on the sex lives of all genders, as it increases feelings of emotional and sexual intimacy between partners. Watching porn and masturbation carry no risk of pregnancy. Pornography can also be a great way to explore new things in a safe and controlled environment. There is porn for almost every preference and kink, and it helps to normalize sexual desires.
Feeling shame around watching porn and sex is also a very common feeling. Society often promotes the notion that porn is “bad” or “immoral” and this can be something that’s hard to get rid of. It can be helpful to ask yourself questions to identify where the shame is coming from like “do I always feel ashamed when I watch porn?” “Am I worried that people think what I’m doing is wrong?” and “Do I feel ashamed when masturbating or just when I watch porn?” Asking questions to identify feelings and origins of the negative feelings can help to build a foundation for overcoming shameful feelings. In addition, it can help to surround yourself with sex positive media and messages. SSIS has a library that you can borrow books from that range from sexual technique guides to erotica to novels. It may also help to try consuming a different style of porn. Some people find that they prefer erotic literature to videos or that they prefer a particular sight. SSIS has a list of recommended ethical porn websites, listed below, that feature inclusive actors and plot lines. It can also be helpful to think about the role that porn plays in your life. While porn can be safe and healthy to consume, some people struggle with a need to compulsively watch porn and it can impact their everyday lives. This can have a negative impact on mental and physical health. It is important to remember that this is fairly rare but it is something to keep in mind if porn begins to feel compulsive.
Overall, porn can be great self care and can have a very positive impact on sex and mental wellbeing. SSIS is here to answer any questions about porn, consumption or porn recommendations!
Ethical porn websites:
- ForTheGirls.com (clips from videos are free, need to be a member to access full videos ($22.95 for first 30 days and $15.95/month after first month))
- Pinklabel.tv (can buy or rent films/videos or pay $9.99/month for a subscription/membership)
- CrashPadSeries.com (subscription-based)
- https://lustcinema.com/ (some free, some subscription based)
- Bellesa.co (pay whatever you want)
- Joybear.com (subscription-based)