Women Watching Porn: The Silent Majority

 
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Data from porn streaming site Pornhub, currently the largest pornographic site on the internet with 81 million daily visitors, revealed that between 2015 and 2018 the proportion of women users had risen from 24% to 29%. Rather un-shockingly, ‘Porn for Women’ was the top trending search throughout 2017, increasing by over 1400%.

As the womanly art of self-pleasuring becomes more prominent online, many of us still struggle to discuss it openly with our peers. While women are progressively finding our voice in a global stage, especially since the advent of the #MeToo movement and the rise of female representation in media, there is still much to be done at an interpersonal level.

Whether it’s fear of being judged, internalised shame or just plain awkwardness what keeps women masturbation in the closet, it is important to recognise the power of such dialogues in our daily interactions in order to create culture change. This not only involves normalising the use of sex toys for self-pleasure, but also reclaiming porn as a means to achieve it.

Undoubtedly, porn is still a predominantly male-dominated industry – both in the supply and demand side. The majority of the readily available content on the web is targeted to men, and it is socially accepted that most men are regular consumers, or have at least consumed pornography in one form or another. And a large part of this traditional porn is reflective of the culture of women commodification, which contributes to workplace harassment and rape culture, and can drive away female consumers from the experience.

Regrettably, the double standard for female self-pleasure also plays a big part in its normalisation. The idea of women as regular porn consumers is often met with a giggle in the best of cases, and with value judgement and disapproval in the worst of them. In some countries around the world, confessing to such sexual experimentation will even get women socially ostracised.   

Change is slow, but luckily there is no shortage of options for those of us who want to own our sexuality on our own terms. With dozens of types of vibrators to choose from, each with its own distinct features specially tailored to the female anatomy; and the upsurge of ethically-produced feminist porn available, it is fair to say that in the last decade fourth wave feminism has critically contributed to paving the way to greater sexual equality.

By being selective of the pornography we consume and conscientious of the importance of discussing it in an open and natural way, social perceptions will gradually improve. While the sexual liberation of the 60s achieved an unprecedented amount of sexual agency for women, it did not fully liberate female sexuality from the male-perspective. To be free to claim our desires, on our terms, is a categorical imperative of our times.