Love & Sex

10 Things to Learn from the First Ever Journal of ‘Porn Studies’

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The day that smut got peer-reviewed.

Friday the journal of Porn Studies, "the first dedicated, international, peer-reviewed journal to critically explore those cultural products and services designated as pornographic" was released. It's the first academic journal to take a focalized look at an area we all enjoy but hardly theorize about. In its inaugural issue, the first 30 articles in Porn Studies took on everything from gonzo porn to gay erotic manga. Here are the 10 best things we learned when our smut got peer-reviewed.

1. Porn and feminism are not mutually exclusive.

Pornography and feminism can co-exist peacefully, as long as (all) performers are treated ethically. The success of feminism in porn often coincides with a desire for authenticity on the part of the performers. As Stoya says, “what better way to provide authentic arousal, chemistry, and real orgasms than booking people who want to have sex with each other together and hiring performers to perform acts they enjoy?”

2. Porn helps us find out who we really are.

Queer porn is empowering for the viewers and the performers. It tends to be more politically, personally, and creatively driven than other genres. Queer porn is often a passion project for those who make it, and it has the power to really tear down the kinds of sexual and gender-based limitations that society places upon us. Queer porn can be great for everyone — straight, gay, queer, bi-curious, etc

3. Porn is about objectification, but that's not all bad.

Political statements aside, the inherent purpose of porn is sexual stimulation, and therefore it is impossible not to objectify and fetishize bodies in porn whether they are male, female, gay, straight, or gender queer. That makes politicizing porn uncomfortable, but it's also a reason porn is important. We objectify what's on camera so we don't objectify the people we encounter in real life.

4. Many adult performers enjoy the sex they have on camera.

Authenticity in porn is helpful in preventing the “othering” of sex performers, and also in creating truly feminist pornography. Porn can be truly ethical — or truly feministy — when the performers are asked what they like and don't like and given agency over which sexual acts they will engage in on-screen.

5. Porn can be educational.

Porn as a sex education ('porn as pedagogy') could revolutionize the dialogue about sex between adults and adolescents. It could open up discussion about problematic sexual tropes of misogyny, homophobia, or racism in porn, while also bridging the gap between adult and teen knowledge of sex.

6. Watching porn does not make people violent or misogynistic!

Most porn does not cause increased violence or misogyny!  Of course there are problematic forms of pornography, but porn in general contributes to a more progressive and sex-positive environment. Removing porn from society will not end sex crime. In fact, these crimes are sometimes more prevalent in societies in which pornography is banned because these cultures are often more sexually stifled and misogynistic overall.

7. Psychological studies of porn-watchers are limited.

Critical and applied psychologies are helpful in analyzing the lived realities of those who engage with pornography. Mainstream research focuses on the effects of porn on human attitudes and behaviors, so it would be helpful to extend psychological studies of those who view porn beyond just these effects.

8. Porn is not a Western thing.

Although, porn studies are dominated by European and American scholarly networks, even though many countries in Asia are active in influencing global porn culture. Porn research should extend to include non-Western cultures because it will open up a wider discussion about "technological innovation, internet politics, and sexuality rights and obscenity legislation."

9. Porn, Porno, Pornography — there's a difference.

Terminology matters. Pornography has been adopted by anti-porn and pro-censorship organizations, likely for the formality of the term. Academically, the study author proposes that we use the term 'porn' instead, because it shows that those who study porn are not threatened by or afraid of it.

10. Porn workers are real workers.

So maybe you knew that already. But porn workers are laborers, and the state of porn labor can tell us a lot about labor under capitalism. We must take porn seriously as a job in order to understand the field and use it to the cultural advantage.

Image via Instagram