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Porn Guilt: Why Do I Feel Weird Watching Porn?

Porn Guilt: Why Do I Feel Weird Watching Porn?

Everyone has a different relationship to porn. Some people enjoy watching it and believe that it enhances their relationships or gives them a safe space to connect with their sexuality and explore their fantasies. But for others, they feel uncomfortable or weird and may struggle with a feeling of “porn guilt” during or after watching porn.  

Porn has never been as ubiquitous as it is now, but many of us still have a hard time discussing how we engage with it, and how we feel afterwards. So, if you’re wondering why you feel weird watching porn or guilty afterwards, we’re looking at the potential reasons why and what you can do about it.  

So, why do you have porn guilt? 

You think the content is unethical

Some people may feel bad watching porn because they fear that the content they’re watching is unethical somehow. They may fear that the movie was made without the performers’ consent, that it was made in an unsafe environment, or even that the performers are underage.

It’s important to know that legal porn is not the same as image-based sexual abuse, and sex work is not the same thing as sex trafficking. Conflating sex work with abuse hurts sex workers and other people in the porn industry, many of whom are women. 

There are some anti-porn campaigners who believe that all porn, regardless of how it was made, is inherently unethical. We know that this is not the case, but as with everything else in this world, porn is created in a society that can be misogynistic, racist, exploitative, and can therefore reflect those things if it’s not made in an environment that considers these things– just like other forms of mass media. 

What can you do about it?

Do your research and try to watch ethical porn. Ethics are subjective and vary from person to person, so it is up to the company or performer to decide what is ethical for them. However it’s usually considered that ethically produced porn is made consensually, performers are paid a fair wage, and it is produced in a safe and legal environment. 

Unfortunately it’s not easy to tell whether a free porn clip on a tube site was made ethically or not, so to find ethical porn you usually have to seek it out and pay for it. You can also go straight to the source – follow your favorite performers and pay them directly for their content.  

You can also follow adult performers who speak out about sex workers rights to learn more about the industry. Check out the Red Umbrella Fund and Sex Workers Outreach Project USA.

Read more: How to be an Ally to Sex Workers 

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Ethical Porn 

man lying in bed alone with porn guilt

You’re ashamed of the fantasies or genres of porn that you watch 

If you’re watching porn that portrays secret fantasies or desires that you have, you may feel ashamed of what you’re watching and worry what it “means”. Many people feel worried about their sexual fantasies and keep them hidden, so it makes sense that they seek them out when watching porn in secret. 

It’s totally normal to be aroused by something you might not be interested in when you’re not aroused. Due to the complex nature of arousal, when we’re turned on, the part of our brain that registers disgust and fear tends to switch off. So things that we may register as gross or weird normally, take on erotic meaning once we’re turned on. This is why people enjoy things like spitting, water-sports, and rimming during sex, but wouldn’t be interested in these things in day to day life.  

Similarly, many of our fantasies relate to power and control, and are situations that we would never actually want to engage in in real life. Our fantasies don’t have to be politically correct or have to mean something about our deeper psyche – in fact, Justin Lehmiller found that people who have fantasies often, or fantasies that are more taboo in nature, tend to simply be more imaginative and open to new things than those who fantasize less. He suggests that it’s a misconception that sexual fantasies come from deep-rooted psychological reasons. 

What can you do about it?

It’s best to just accept your fantasies for what they are. We’ve been so caught up in whether our fantasies are good or bad that we’ve forgotten that creative, unique, and playful depictions of sexuality are important for our imaginations. Plus, porn can help us tap into and safely explore some of these deeper desires, especially when it’s a more unrealistic fantasy.

The key is to recognize that fantasies don’t need to mean anything or comment on aspects of our identity. They allow us to explore other aspects of ourselves without commitment. If we can recognise our sexual fantasies as just fantasy, and speak about them more openly, we can contribute to a more liberated, sex positive society.  

Read more: Forced Sex Fantasy: A CNC Kink That No One Wants to Talk About

Read more: I Like Watching Lesbian Porn, but I’ve Never Had Sex With a Woman

You feel like you’re doing something morally wrong 

If you feel shame after watching porn and masturbating, you may feel like you’re breaking a rule or doing something morally wrong. Perhaps you grew up with parents or school educators telling you that masturbating, porn or even just thinking about sex was wrong or sinful. Or maybe no one ever spoke to you about it but you stumbled upon porn growing up and came  to your own conclusions about it. 

Our culture tells us that porn is wrong, sinful, and gross, but at the same time we’re inundated with sexualized images from the media. This can be pretty confusing and leave us with a sense of shame when we watch porn or engage with our sexuality. 

What can you do about it?

First, you need to confront your shame. Remind yourself that sex isn’t shameful, and you aren’t shameful for enjoying having it or watching it. Journal your thoughts and feelings around pornography to help you understand where these feelings may be coming from. 

Once you feel more comfortable working through your feelings on your own, it can be really helpful to discuss them with a trusted friend or partner. If you can talk about porn and bring it out of the shadows, the awkwardness and pain often begin to dissipate. Once we can diffuse these taboo subjects, we all feel less alone.

Then, seek out sex positivity. This could involve reading articles and books; listening to sex positive podcasts; watching honest depictions of sex in films and series. Not sure where to start? Here are some resources for you to dive into: 

Read more: Top 10 Women Not Afraid to Talk About Sex & Porn for Women

woman watching porn on her laptop and feeling weird

It feels like the porn you’re watching was not made for you 

If you’re a BIPOC, queer, non-binary, trans, have a disability, have a body type that is out of the “norm”, or basically if you’re not a cis heterosexual man, it can feel like porn isn’t for you. So much porn is made by cis-het men, for cis-het men, and there isn’t very much mainstream porn for “others” that’s easily accessible. We’re so used to seeing porn that highlights a euro-centric ideal for body type and sexual expression and anyone that exists outside of this ideal is either underrepresented or presented as a caricatured version. And when you don’t see bodies that look like yours or the sex you want to have, you can become very inscure about your body or your sexual performance.

Porn that portrays a diversity of bodies and sexual preferences might help you see your own body or sexuality in a new light. Images that depict a variety of natural vulvas can improve genital self-image for people with vulvas who see them. Women who watch porn say they feel more comfortable being nude and report greater self-esteem. Men who watch also report greater self-esteem and feel more satisfied with their bodies.  

What can you do about it?

Mainstream porn isn’t typically diverse, but there are some ethical porn producers who are making it a priority to showcase the natural, beautiful diversity of bodies. Support the work of people making the porn you want to see. There’s porn for everyone, it just takes a little bit more effort to seek it out. 

Whether you want to see more BIPOC, larger bodies, queer sex, trans folks, disabled performers – whatever you want, it’s out there. Do some research and find performers that are having the type of sex you want to see, or who have the types of bodies that you want to see. Follow their work and buy their content. Support the changes you want to see in the industry. 

Here are some performers and ethical porn companies to follow to get you started: 

Read more: Best Ethical Porn Sites 

You’re worried that you’re addicted to porn 

Porn addiction is a contentious issue. While it’s not a diagnosable addiction, it’s clear that some people have an uncontrollable relationship to porn. Online porn, like anything that makes people feel good, can lead to compulsive behavior that leads people to seek it out more than is deemed healthy for them. People can develop obsessive behaviors with many things in their lives, especially if those things help to alleviate stress, anxiety or loneliness. Porn should add to your life, not detract from it.

What can you do about it?

You can try to limit your porn viewing. While there’s no single answer for how much porn is “too much”, it’s worthwhile to be mindful of how porn affects you personally, and adjust your behavior accordingly. Work out what your personal relationship is with porn – what type of porn you like to watch and how often is right for you. If porn continues to be a negative contribution to your life, then it’s completely ok to stop watching it.  

Read more: Porn Addiction: Is Porn Actually Addictive

The bottom line 

Everyone’s relationship with porn will be different, and only you know what’s right for you. If you’re able to enjoy watching porn then you may feel some of the benefits of it such as increased sexual satisfaction, more orgasms, easier arousal, and reduced stress. That said, your relationship with porn is yours and if it isn’t contributing positively to your life, it’s completely ok not to watch it.

Read more: Why is Porn Good For You?

 


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