Porn: When It Helps & When It Hurts

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Internet Porn
Some couples use it to sex up a relationship. For others, it spells the end.

Nowhere do you find stranger bedfellows than in porn—and I'm not even talking about the performers. Seldom do feminists, fundamentalists and the federal government find themselves on common ground, but all three are currently united in an anti-porn ménage a trois. On the other side of the issue are free-speech advocates, porn stars and the 40 million Americans who, according to Internet Filter Review, regularly visit X-rated websites.

The only thing everyone agrees on? There's more porn now than ever, thanks to the wonders of technology.

Like most things, porn was a lot harder in the old days. Back then, getting your hands on anything steamier than Playboy required donning a pervy-looking raincoat, driving to the seamy side of town, skulking into a shop with blinking "XXX" neon lights, browsing the wares in the company of some scary characters before getting up the courage to bring your purchases to the cashier. And then you still had to sneak the plain brown bag into the house.

Now, porn is delivered instantly at the click of a button, steaming hot, right into your living room.

For some people, it's a piquant condiment for their sex lives. "As a single woman who doesn't have a lot of sexual partners right now, it comes in handy when my imagination isn't up to par," says Zoe,* a writer in New York. Her personal not-so-guilty pleasure? Erotic stories, as well as the occasional movie. "A well-written story, that takes you through all the stages of sexual arousal to orgasm, is heaven. I wouldn't say that porn replaces real sexual experiences, but it helps when things are slow."

But it's not just for soloing. "It's also a great relationship enhancer. My ex-husband and I used it as a toy—almost like a dildo—on Friday nights," she recalls.

She finds that writing porn is an even bigger aphrodisiac. "I started writing it with my long-distance boyfriend who lived in England," she says. "It's the biggest turn on—for me and him. I get excited writing the story, then reaching the climax on page, all of which affects my body in the same way."