Guest blog: Giving up mainstream porn for lent

Picture courtesy of Stuart F Taylor

I’m delighted to be able to present you with an Easter-themed post today, courtesy of the fantastic Jenny Guérin (who you can follow on Twitter here). Jenny has written here for me before about withdrawing consent in a BDSM scene – and how it’s far easier than the people who write UK porn laws seem to think. Today she’s tackling a challenge I’d love to see more people have a go at: swapping mainstream porn for more ethical porn. How did Jenny do with her personal challenge of giving up mainstream porn for lent?

Giving up mainstream porn for lent

I decided to give up mainstream porn for lent. I don’t belong to any organised religion but I do enjoy a challenge – and if that challenge involves sex even better.

I write a lot about ethical pornography so I get to watch it a lot. I also watch mainstream porn, because there is so much available. I watch porn on many levels, I’m a porn nerd and I can’t help it. First, there’s the excitement of watching two, or three, or four, bodies going at it and that is always hot. Then there’s the aesthetic of what can you see – is it just faceless body parts repeating the same motions, are the body types the same cookie cutter porn star features? Pubic hair? Tattoos? Silicone? Some things I’m happy to see, others are off-putting.

Then, because I used to work in film, I’m looking at angles – is it the same shots? Is there an exciting camera angle? Use of sound, set, costume. How will it end? (Spoiler alert, if its mainstream it always ends the same goddamn way so the moment I see an expectant face tilted upwards I stop watching and find something else).

Then I think about the visible enjoyment of the performers. Do they look like they’re having a good time? How can I be so sure? Is anyone drunk? High? How long did this take to film? At what point did it stop being sexy and start being something to endure? I’ve read Ashley Blue’s autobiography Girlvert several times – absolute page turner – and she describes some filming some really tough, unpleasant scenes (and being constantly high on cocaine) – you can’t tell when you watch the films themselves.

Then I’m thinking about the logistics of it – is everyone of age, is everyone happy to have taken part in this production? How do I know for sure?

I find mainstream porn leave tonnes of these questions unanswered, and the answers they do provide aren’t always satisfying. Same angles, same body types, same ending – snore. Untold issues, uncertain levels of enjoyment – not something I want to give my time or orgasm to.

So what would happen if I cut out mainstream porn for forty days? What would change?

The rules: I focussed on what constituted ethical porn and sought that out, rather than focussing on what defined mainstream porn and avoided that. For me ethical porn is content made by a team which states that they are an independent, ethical production company. They can answer some of the questions I have around porn, the levels I described. Practically it could be a disclaimer at the start of the film stating all performers are of age and the film adheres to the legal guidelines for making porn. It could be behind the scenes footage of the performers, where they discuss the filming process. There’s an openness to the making of the work, because there isn’t any shame or deception in the work they’re making.

The motivation for my porn lent is arguably self-centred; I don’t enjoy post coital guilt. I’m also a huge advocate for ethical porn and sexual expression without shame. I want to practice what I preach and while I would never shame someone into just one type of porn, I wanted to know what impact cutting out mainstream porn would have on my personal porn habits.

First thing I discover was that I have a knee-jerk reaction for accessing mainstream porn. The urge to masturbate starts, I reach for my phone and start typing the URL of a well known hub…

I stop.

Should I just give in now?

Thought process:

Me: I’m horny, its right there, nobody would know. Would it make a difference? I can’t remember my password for the ethical website and its not saved on my phone.

Also me: You said you’d do this, you lazy fuck, go dig out your password for Crash Pad or XConfessions and keep your promises. Its only been three days!

So I do just that. I go watch something I know has been responsibly filmed and after I’m done those questions that nag at me after aren’t as loud, because they’ve been answered by the filmmakers.

The problem with mainstream porn (or one of the problems) is that it is just so convenient. Its just so easy to find and watch and it does all the things a horny girl with fifteen minutes to spare needs it to do. Its free and there’s so much to chose from.

Ethical porn is less available, you have to pay for it and there might be less choice of things to watch. The quality of filmmaking is far greater though. The stories, the production values, the visible enjoyment of performers. Once you find it and start watching it feels so much better. Its well worth the subscription fee. But sometimes I log on and find something and think to myself, “well done Jenny, you’re watching ethical porn and you’re a better person for it.”

Self-righteousness is a real boner-killer.

As the weeks go by these thoughts become less pronounced and my deliberate actions become habit. I stop thinking about logging onto to mainstream porn sites and when I do chose to use porn I find something ethically filmed.

I also started reading more porn, because there’s so much of it and the ‘performers’ are imaginary. I also started using my imagination more – there’s a particularly hot guy in my office and he’s, unwittingly, been very helpful these past few weeks. I should send him flowers.

So what changed? I found by cutting out certain habits I increased others – my consumption of erotic literature increased and I also started using my imagination more. I also felt slightly better, less guilty about watching porn. I enjoyed it more on one level, the bodies going at it, because all the other questions and levels had been addressed before I had pressed play.

By now, just before Easter, I have completely phased mainstream porn out of my browsing habits and I am happier for it. Its still not quite automatic when I think of porn to seek out the ethical stuff, but its only been forty days and I’m changing almost ten years of habit. I’m certainly happy I attempted this challenge and that I committed to it. I’m going to keep these behaviours, even though lent is over, to see if I can change my habits for good. I suspect with a little effort it is something I can do.

4 Comments

  • SweetTheSting says:

    Great post

  • New to this says:

    Interesting article and definitely a tough task! I watch some porn on popular tube sites that have the legal disclaimer about age etc at the beginning and interviews with the performers at the end, but I assumed that these are also scripted and somewhat part of the act. They never make me feel much better about the quality of porn I’m watching, so I have tried (with varying degrees of success!) to reduce the amount I watch on these kind of sites (I’m a member of crash pad for example). In your opinion, are these interviews actually real?

    • Jenny says:

      I’ve only watched post-porn interviews on Crash Pad (I understand these interviews happen on other porn films but can’t comment on these) I feel these interviews are real. The affection and respect the performers show each other while interviewing each other feels genuine and I always like watching them to understand a bit more about the performers and their experience in the industry. I’m a big fan of behind-the-scenes stuff too. Thanks for your question! x

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