Could More Porn Actually Make Us Healthier?

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A woman who attended a porn trade show came away thinking we should watch more.

Maybe the answer isn't getting rid of porn, but exposing ourselves to more of it. And not just porn, all things sexual. Toys, workshops, bodies. Let me explain: I spent a weekend at the Adult Video Network Adult Entertainment Expo and Awards Show. I was exposed to vibrators that look like rubber duckies and masturbation devices for men, girls in bikinis blowing up balloons until they popped and films made to titillate that showed only bare feet. I saw women wearing nothing but paint, dancers sliding up and down slick poles, film stars signing autographs while wearing little more than a smile.

As I flew to Vegas, I have to admit, I wondered how all of it would make me feel—I imagined a short, average looking 38-old in the middle of all this skin and glitter. Would I feel ugly? Grossed out? Uncomfortable? Sad? Angry? Truth be told, I felt it all at one point or another throughout the weekend. It's a lot to process. But more than anything, believe it or not, I felt sexy.

 

No, really.

It was palpable. The sexual tension. The conspiracy of like-minded people. The sense of naughtiness right there out in the open. And despite the fact that some of the porn and other "exhibits" weren't my taste, it didn't make me feel uncomfortable. It made me feel empowered. Like, if all of this is OK, than what isn't ok?

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not talking about bestiality or incest or any of the things that slippery slope theorists go on about. I'm talking about healthy, consensual, adult fantasies. Being among all these people and all their desires made lust seem, well, healthy. Imagine that.

Time and again I hear that being exposed to porn dulls people's connection to true sexuality, that it skews one's understanding of reality, that it turns honest men (and women) into creepy perverts. I don't buy it. Not after hanging out with and talking to the porn vendors and stars and fans and production people. I think just the opposite happened. Because it was all out in the open, there was no need for anyone to act out in an inappropriate way or feel somehow like a misfit.

Perhaps it's not the porn that's the problem but the way we treat it with such disdain.

There's no need to be a peeping tom if you can look all you want; no need to be too scared of doing it wrong if you can talk to experts; no need to worry you're a freak if you can see that other people are into the same kind of things as you. It seems to me that it's time to normalize sexuality. And if it seems counterintuitive to make sex normal with the rather abnormal sex found in porn, maybe that makes perfect sense.

We're not getting anywhere looking at sex and porn as we are now. So, maybe standing things on their head is just what we need to do. "Sex is not meant to be educational," porn star extraordinaire Nina Hartley said at a workshop called "Porn Sex vs. Real Sex." "It's meant to be entertainment." Instead, we look at it as the forbidden. And that always leads to the same results – guilt for wanting and an increased desire for whatever the forbidden item or act is.

Maybe if we could accept porn for what it is, or at least what it can be—a fun and freeing way to express ourselves sexually—then maybe there wouldn't be the kind of sexual repression that plagues our country and rules some people's lives.

Countries where the law doesn't dictate the drinking age have far fewer problems with alcohol exist than the U.S.  In places where sex isn't the dirty word it is here, the residents have nowhere near the kinds of issues we have with sexuality. Maybe it's not the porn and the alcohol we should be so worried about. You'd think we might have learned something from Prohibition: the less there is of something the more people crave it.

I spent time at the event with an old colleague of mine, Dan Michalski of pokerati.com. He lives in Vegas and spends lots of time in casinos—for work, of course. It was interesting taking all of this in and talking about it with a guy, especially a guy who's around the glittery life all the time. And you know what? He felt the same way I did. And when a man and a woman agree on something like porn, I can't help but figure we must be on to something.

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