Here, thanks to ForHerAddicts is part 2 of Sarah’s personal journey with pornography. Just like many men who use porn compulsively, Sarah found that her constant engagement with it brought negative personal effects and even the loss of ability to use her own fantasies.
As I grew older, I discovered that my partners used porn and I began to use it as well. Even though I was clearly not the target audience, it still triggered sexual responses in me. However, the porn I saw only ever made me feel bad. I didn’t like anything about it. It was just so fake. I was always a feminist and this image of women just made me angry. Other than the natural attraction to sex, there was nothing I found positive and healthy about what I was seeing. (I even found so-called feministic or woman-friendly porn to be just women as objects, posing and performing for men.) Sex only seemed to be about what men wanted, and what porn painted was the image we should all aspire to. Slowly but surely I started to lose my own fantasies and focused on what my partner liked. In a way I just wanted to be part of their sex life and watching what they watched was the only way I knew how to do that at the time. Porn gave me an instant ‘fix’ while I was using it, but after I would feel empty and then I’d try to push those feelings aside.
Despite this dislike of the sex I was seeing, I continued to use it. The older I got the more [that] porn was available. I didn’t really use hardcore porn until I was about 23 but it didn’t take long for this to become more of a regular activity in my life, even when single. I didn’t fully discover the world of Internet porn, though, until I began my last relationship, around 27. Most of the men I dated used porn (only later did I fully understand they were addicts), and I always felt bullied into accepting it in relationships and by society. I tried to believe the lies about it being a harmless ‘image’ – even though I knew it wasn’t. It was far more to these men than they admitted or that I could fully understand at the time. None of them wanted to share porn or use it in our sex life. It was their private little pleasure which they were ‘entitled’ to. It had far more power and pull than I could ever have. Men chose porn over having sex many times and everyone around me kept reinforcing this was just ‘normal’ and fine.
Many of my friends weren’t happy with it in their relationships either, but they kept lying to themselves to keep their men happy, making excuses and actually reinforcing all the typical gender stereotypes. It was really my problem and just ‘what men do’. And if I talked about or critiqued porn then I was nuts and should know my place as a woman who couldn’t possibly have the same natural sexual urges in the same amount as men have. I didn’t think this product I was seeing was just normal and fine, or believe men were more sexual than women. Men were just more encouraged and fed pornified substances. But in true co-dependent style I let everyone else’s opinions win. I’d check and search my boyfriends’ stuff; I was obsessive in nature; and then I’d watch what they were getting off to behind my back. I both hated it and loved it.
Looking back and at the time, some of the things I watched made me feel sick. I loathed myself for so long for getting off to it: lies, objectification, manipulation, abuse, from both sexes, all for money. But again I swept those feelings and opinions away. Paradoxically, I felt that by me using porn I was taking back some of the power that society, these relationships and men had and were taking from me. It was easier to block it all out if I was a user too. I think of myself as having a fairly high sex drive. The men I was with claimed to have high sex drives too. But in reality their sex drive was aimed at porn and ‘fantasy’ – not at real sex with a partner who loved them, even if that’s what they claimed. It was focused on their masturbation fantasies and their ideal women, which, in turn, spilled into our sex life. They would want what they saw in porn; some even subtly made it quite clear my body could be better.
There was no way one woman could compete with the array of women who were willing to do whatever these men desired (many of whom had altered their natural bodies to be perfect for their customers’ tastes). In turn these men couldn’t really connect emotionally and certainly not sexually with just one woman; they made it clear that it was their ‘right’ not to, but it was unheard of and not OK that I might do the same. It was a catch 22. I couldn’t see a way of getting it out of my life and relationships, so this pushed me further into living my sex life in my head and in secret.
My real sex life was all about what the man enjoyed. I’d feel guilty if I didn’t want what they wanted or couldn’t perform the act as well as they’d like. I felt bad for not cumming so it became easier to fake it and protect my man’s ego. Porn and society had brainwashed me to put my needs second and theirs first, and to make my sexuality an act. I wasn’t happy but didn’t know how to change. I was trapped. Much like with my father, I’d battle with these men and their beliefs but I’d always end up putting up with it and crushing my self worth and making my self extremely ill in the process.
Sarah’s story continues in part 3
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