What would you do if your fiancée got a job filming porn? Emily Southwood was confronted with this conundrum and wrote about it in the book Prude: Lessons I Learned When My Fiancée Filmed Porn.
Robbie, Emily’s then-betrothed, was fresh out of film school and offered a long-term paying gig as a cameraman for the show Webdreams. In the book, Southwood explores her feelings on porn, her feelings of jealousy, what monogamy really means, how porn affects her self-image, and the effect porn has on a relationship.
It’s relieving to hear Southwood grapple publicly with how her feminist ideals and porn interact with her relationship ideals and ultimately make room for porn to coexist. Before websites such as xojane—which is not to say that they can’t be proven to be problematic—there were few women having conversations about porn openly in accessible media. It’s difficult to figure out how you feel about something as complex as porn. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable with it and it’s okay to be totally fine with it. If you’re still working it out, this book is for you.
Southwood is frank with her tinges of jealousy and insecurity coupled with the pressure to be a “cool girlfriend” and be accepting of her partner watching porn and filming it for a living. The conflicting feelings raised a lot of new questions: are they going to want to do anal now? Does that woman even like what she’s doing or does she just need the money? Does that matter, even? Does my partner think I’m an ugly troll now?
Choosing to use or enjoy porn is a personal decision. For many, the question of whether porn usage is something we’re obligated to negotiate about in intimate relationships remains.
Porn can be a useful tool for self-exploration, increasing intimacy, and fostering healthy sexuality. It can also be divisive, lead to resentment, and give space for withdrawal. Negotiating porn use in a relationship can be tricky and jealousy has a habit of trailing wherever porn exists. It’s less about what you think of porn and more about how efficiently you’re communicating with your partner. Here are a few approaches you can take:
Don’t ask, don’t tell.
You suspect your partner watches porn or vice versa. You don’t think it’s okay to control their masturbatory sex lives, but you don’t want to hear, see, or know what they’re flicking, rubbing, or jerking it to. Cool. Carry on. Trust here is crucial – no snooping through browser histories.
Bring it up.
Talk about the fact that you watch certain kinds of porn and analyse the effects that has on your expectations of your sex life or that of your partner. Express any concerns or boundaries you may have regarding pornography without going into specifics.
Go for it.
You use explicit videos and/or photos in your sexy times. You talk about and share the kinds of porn you like, your favourite actors/actresses. You fantasize together. This is a fully open-book policy that allows you to work out desires, hang-ups, issues, and everything else that comes with the territory. This, like the first option, definitely requires trust.
Just like porn, there’s no one thing that does the trick for everyone. Also, it’s okay to have no definitive feeling or to change your mind about how porn makes you feel. The most important thing is that we’re being conscious consumers and compassionate partners.
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