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11 unexpected benefits of watching porn

Photo via gniliep/Flickr

Honestly, guys, you could learn a thing or two. 

On the internet, it’s easier to find a screed about why you need to give up porn or why it’s ruining our kids, our relationships, and our lives than it is to read about potential benefits of porn. You can blame almost anything on porn, from the shortening of our attention spans to the rising divorce rates. Most recently, Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) called pornography a “root cause” of school shootings.

While pornography won’t be curing cancer anytime soon, it isn’t always as bad as the anti-porn frenzy would suggest (the internet’s version of Reefer Madness) and, in fact, comes with surprising benefits for porn users. While we’ve also covered the very real dangers of porn addiction, there’s worth in discussing its benefits. To defend porn against its critics, three porn enthusiasts from the Daily Dot’s past and present—EJ Dickson, Nico Lang, and Kristen Hubby—are here to tell you some of the benefits of porn.

The benefits of watching porn

1) Because it’s healthy

Despite the many, many, many studies claiming that porn is bad for your brain and your relationships, there are just as many studies saying that porn does not cause irrevocable harm to the brain or your sex life—in fact, it might even be kinda good for you. In a paper from 2008, two Danish researchers Gert Hald and Neil Malamuth concluded from a survey of 688 Danish adults that porn did not yield any negative mental or health effects. In fact, the researchers found a positive correlation between the subjects’ porn viewing and increased sexual satisfaction, as well as self-reported benefits in other areas of their lives.

is porn bad : benefits of porn Photo via Pexels (CC-BY)

And as for the old chestnut that too much porn viewing can lead to addiction? The consensus is still pretty split on that one, but some sex researchers like Dr. Louanne Cole Weston believe it’s important to differentiate between an addiction and a compulsion, in the same vein as compulsive nail-biting.

“People who say pornography is an addiction, they tend to come from the addiction community and not always the field of mental health or sexuality,” Weston told me a few months ago. “They tend to say ‘This is dangerous, porn is fraught with danger. You better watch out, it’s a slippery slope.’ It was sort of the same as people in the drug addiction community saying if you smoke pot, you better watch out or you’ll be doing heroin.”

Translation: Porn is probs not gonna send you on the street, muttering to yourself about alien satellites in your brain with needles in both your arms. If anything, the only thing it’ll probably do is make your arm a little buffer. —EJ Dickson

2) Because sometimes it’s better than the real thing

Some nights you want to get dolled up, put on a freakum dress, and pretend to be someone who does not eat food out of the garbage long enough to trick a guy into having sex with you, but you don’t always want to put in the kind of effort that involves changing out of your pajama pants. In lieu of being able to have sex with your Netflix subscription (in which case no one would ever leave the house), free Internet porn is the next best thing.

Those who are anti-porn might suggest that you use your one-some time to create your own erotic fantasy, escaping into the vast Blue Lagoon-like garden of your sexual imagination, but that’s not really the point of pornography. Porn is great for when you want your fantasies created for you; because let’s be honest, we’re not always that creative. For someone who writes for a living, my erotic reveries are shockingly dull, displaying all the playful imagination of a golf match. You can only picture George Clooney being bent over a table so many times before you beg to change the channel. (Sorry, G-Cloo.)

benefits of pornography Screengrab via pornhub.com

I don’t think pornography is a replacement for the real thing, but research has shown that having a healthy masturbation schedule actually makes us better sex partners—and partners in general. While being good for your physical and mental health (as EJ mentioned), it’s a way to continue making sure that your own sexual needs are being met outside of the bedroom, which is likely why it’s so common, even for those in relationships.

Surveys show that anywhere from 70 to 95 percent of adult men and women get it on alone, and, yes, that includes people involved in monogamous relationships,” wrote The Frisky’s Erin Flaherty. “According to Kinsey research, 40 percent of men and 30 percent of women in relationships masturbate. A survey of Playboy readers found 72 percent of married men masturbate, and a similar Redbook survey found 68 percent of married women do it, too.”

As Flaherty argues, watching porn in a relationship isn’t cheating, just like watching it when you’re single doesn’t make you immoral or perpetuate our singledom. It’s a necessary part of self-love. Besides, if you’re worried that porn might be ruining your sexcapades or your relationships, perhaps they weren’t that good to begin with. —Nico Lang

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3) Because it relieves stress

Life can be stressful, and from my experience, owning a stress ball does not make the complicated twists and turns any easier to deal with. Sure, practicing a few down-dogs and cobras may have helped me find my center, but just like sex, porn decreases stress as well.

When you are stressed your brain releases cortisol that blocks problem-solving and the ability to think clearly. In a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University, men who flipped through pictures of naked women cut their cortisol in half and did a lot better on a math test.

is porn bad : stress relief Photo via Pixabay (CC-BY)

Cool, right? Women also experience a decrease in cortisol, and of the 85 percent of women who say they watch porn to escape reality, 23 percent of them say it also relieves their stress. Watching porn is accessible, and it’s OK to end a very stressful day in the comfort of your own home with a little erotica if you feel like it. —Kristen Hubby

4) Because it’s hilarious

I don’t watch porn often with my boyfriend, mostly because we have wildly divergent tastes. He likes ten-minute sloppy blowjob clips. I’m a fan of narrative-driven vintage content, particularly if the term “X-rated musical fantasy” is somewhere in the title. But when we do, we tend to focus less on the action onscreen and more on what’s going on in the background.

For instance: Why is there a long-haired Maine coon at the living-room orgy? Did he receive an invitation, or is he merely an impartial observer? (We’re not the only people to discuss the presence of cats in pornos, too, if the Tumblr “Indifferent Cats in Amateur Porn” is any indication). Why does the same KARLSTAD white chaise sectional appear in literally every gay porn I’ve ever seen? Did every gay porn producer get together and decide to do a run on IKEAAnd why do lady porn stars’ voices always crack like that of a goddamn bar mitzvah boy’s when they’re trying to talk dirty? 

Benefits of watching pornography : Brazzers Screengrab via Brazzers

By saying that porn is “funny,” I’m not trying to denigrate porn and the people who make it. I’m saying that porn is funny because sex, in general, with its unanticipated noises and bodily fluids and ridiculous O-faces, is funny. The fact that there’s an added level artifice to porn makes it even funnier: Even if you can’t get into porn itself, you can at least get into the Ron Swanson-esque expression on the Maine coon’s face as he watches his camgirl owner go to town on herself with a drilldo.

And besides, research shows that laughter is an aphrodisiac. So even if you guys are busy chuckling over the Thuja Green Giant-sized bush on that ’70s MILF porn star, it’s dollars to donuts if you keep watching, you won’t be laughing for very long. (Because you’ll be fucking. You know, in case that wasn’t, like, clear.) —E.D.

5) Because it could benefit your relationship

Watching porn with your partner can open both of your minds to new sexual possibilities. My last long-term boyfriend and I did not watch porn together, and once that ended (thank god), I found someone I felt more comfortable enough with, making it easier to communicate and have confidence in our sex-capades.

benefits of porn : couple using smartphones Photo via AnaBGD/GettyImages (Licensed)

A lot of porn skews realistic expectations, but as long as you and your partner set practical guidelines and boundaries both parties are bound to be satisfied. From the study conducted by Ann Summers, 58 percent of women who said they watch porn with their significant other said it positively affected their sex life and created a safe space to ask for what they want.

When both parties are sexually confident in their relationship, they are probably more committed and less likely to stray (unless the emotional connection isn’t there, but that’s a different story). —K.H.

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6) Because exploring your sexuality is how you find out what you like.

There’s a reason that the first step in every queer man’s coming out process is looking at pornography. Unless you’re exposed to sexual practices outside of what you’ve been told is acceptable, it’s hard to become comfortable with your own desires or normalize them in your brain. Just as sex ed is how we find out about the mechanics of sex—what goes where—pornography is how many of us begin to figure out how that relates to our sexualities. Pornography is not an ideal replacement for sex ed (because if you think Bait Bus is realistic, you’re in for a world of hurt), but it’s an excellent education as to what’s out there for you to explore.

is porn bad: photo of women's restroom Photo via Oneras/Flickr

This isn’t just true for gay men. Porn allows all users a safe space to work out proclivities they might be uncomfortable elsewhere, like sleep porn or rape porn. There’s not always an opportunity in daily life for a primer on the wide world of tentacle erotica, and finding these resources for ourselves is how many of us become exposed to them. How else would people in the BDSM and leather communities have figured out that’s what they were into without some hot muscle bear action to help show them the way?

And even for those who find themselves entrenched in a niche community, porn can be a way to continue to explore your sexual horizons and re-educate your desires. Sex researcher and blogger Jaime Woo used internet porn to explore the world outside of who he had been taught to find attractive. In his BOYS essay, “The Gandhi School of Hookups,” the Chinese-Canadian writer describes the process of actively exploring men of a plethora of races like being a “kid who suddenly realized that the candy shop spanned blocks.”

We all know that porn is a profoundly racist institution, but so is online dating—and all dating, for that matter. The more we more to break down the limitations within ourselves, the more we make the world a better place for our wanking and non-wanking needs. —N.L.

7) Because watching porn may decrease aggressive tendencies

Anger causes us to do things we normally wouldn’t do, like yell at a server because your favorite restaurant isn’t selling the duck confit you’ve been craving all week. If porn reduces stress, it should also have a correlation to reduce aggressive tendencies. Contrary to the belief that porn causes people to be sexist or commit violent crimes, watching a moderate amount of porn may actually decrease the likelihood of someone committing a sex crime. It’s a controversial idea, one that’s been researched a lot, and a popular study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that watching pornography offers a safe place to express sexual, deviant desires. —K.H.

8) Because honestly, guys, you could probs learn a thing or two

Let’s just get this out of the way: Porn is by no means an instructional manual for how to have sex IRL. It’s a fantasy, and sometimes it’s a very silly one. No one (or at least very few people) enjoys having sex the way people have sex in porn. No one (or at least very few people) is turned on by spitting into a butt, or gagging on a penis, or washing their face with baby batter—or any of the other porn tropes that lead anti-porn activists to conclude that porn is always dangerous and destructive to women. But just because something is gross to you doesn’t mean that no one is into it. And just because you’ve seen a few things in porn that you wouldn’t do in your own sex life, it doesn’t mean there are zero benefits of porn for regular viewers.

benefits of porn Screengrab via YouTube

The fact is, regardless of whether you think you’re the Itzhak Pearlman of having sex, you probably aren’t. You’re probably just OK at it. Just as aspiring concert violinists learn how to better their craft by watching Pearlman play, your own sexual repertoire could similarly benefit from watching an adult performer whose skills you respect and admire.

Porn can also help jump-start your know-how when it comes to better pleasing yourself. If you masturbate semi-regularly, chances are you know enough about yourself and what you like to be able to ask for it in bed. Ultimately, this will lead to a much more satisfying sex life, whether alone or with a partner. —E.D.

9) Watching porn may increase your libido

Although past studies and speculation say that watching porn decrease your chances of being turned on by your partner IRL and may cause a sexual dysfunction, new research suggests otherwise.

A 2015 study conducted by the University of California found a positive correlation between porn and a man’s sex drive. Scientists at the university asked 280 men to record their porn-viewing experience while tracking their libido to see if watching sexual stimuli is related to how someone responds to real-life sexual advances in the bedroom.

The scientists found that men who watched more than two hours of porn had a higher desire for sex with a partner than just masturbation, or “solo-sex.”

benefits of porn : study Screengrab via ResearchGate

10) Because it’s affordable

Save a few bucks and stay inside for your next personal romp session.

Visiting your local strip club (or brothel or escort service, what have you) frequently can cost you a lot of money, and sometimes being in the comfort of your home adds a nice touch rather than striking up a conversation with a stranger. Also, getting off in public is walking the fine line of harassment. 

There are a lot of free porn sites offering quality porn that’s just as good as the real deal, and may even offer better and more specific sexual content than paying someone IRL.

benefits of porn Pexels

11) Because it satisfies your desires

So, you have a foot fetish, you’re aroused by clowns, or you like dominatrix costumes but your partner isn’t really into that kind of foreplay. That’s OK—there’s a porn site for that.

One of the great things about online porn is the ability to satisfy any fetish or desire you may have when it comes to sex. Porn sites that are tailored to these desires also comfort you in knowing you aren’t the only one who is turned on by specific characteristics. It creates a sense of community.

Porn is also a great option for couples who are hesitant to try sexual positions that are more rough like anal or the practice of BDSM. Watching porn can either ease the idea of trying the positions out, or solidify the decision to leave it to the professionals. It’ll always be there for you to indulge in when the timing is right.

Still looking around? Here’s your guide to the best porn GIFs and where to find them, high-quality VR porn, the best porn search engines, everything you need to know about BDSM, and the hottest porn stars you should follow on Instagram. Plus, everything you need to know about watching porn safely in your browser.

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance. 

EJ Dickson

EJ Dickson

EJ Dickson is a writer and editor who primarily covers sex, dating, and relationships, with a special focus on the intersection of intimacy and technology. She served as the Daily Dot’s IRL editor from January 2014 to July 2015. Her work has since appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Mic, Bustle, Romper, and Men’s Health.

Kristen Hubby

Kristen Hubby

Kristen Hubby is a tech and lifestyle reporter. Her writing focuses on sex, pop culture, streaming entertainment, and social media, with an emphasis on major platforms like Snapchat, YouTube, and Spotify. Her work has also appeared in Austin Monthly and the Austin American-Statesman, where she covered local news and the dining scene in Austin, Texas.

Nico Lang

Nico Lang

Nico Lang is an essayist, movie critic, and reporter who specializes in the intersection of politics and LGBTQ issues. His work has been featured in Rolling Stone, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, Jezebel, Esquire, and BuzzFeed, among other notable publications.