Sexual Pleasure and Pornography

Sexual Pleasure and Pornography
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Sexual ignorance no longer exists in the 21st century to the extent it did previously. However, the mention of sexual pleasure induces a gamut of thoughts and feelings, which can include interest, intrigue, shame, guilt and also excitement. This is mainly because sexual pleasures are marked by sexual feelings, sexual attractions or desires, which can lead to sexual arousal and, sometimes, orgasm.

However, sexual arousal and orgasm not only come from the act of sexual intercourse but, other activities that relate to sex when people are alone and are having private thoughts. Although sexual pleasures are unique and shared by a particular individual, they are still governed by societal rules and sexual norms as in previous centuries. Although some forms of sexual pleasure (e.g. pornography) are more frowned upon than others (e.g. sexual fantasies) they have often been identified as a means of educating people about sexual matters and in the learning of their own bodies. 

Sexual fantasies can be thoughts about many aspects that people, as individuals, deem desirable (e.g. fame, beautiful places and money) including erotic content and taking place whilst awake and where sexual arousal occurs. Nocturnal erections can similarly occur when asleep based on the same principles, which can lead to a nocturnal orgasm, otherwise known as a wet dream. This would suggest that the brain is as important as one’s genitals in that what we think about can enhance or lead to a sexual response through bodily functions. However, understanding people’s sexual fantasies and what content they include is under-researched mainly because eroticism is still regarded by some as politically incorrect and not a respectable function.

However, research has shown that men and women both have sexual fantasies. Although some people may not wish to admit or divulge in the content of these sexual fantasies due to embarrassment, rejection or being ridiculed by society, research over the last two decades has identified the sexual behaviours that men and women are likely to fantasise over. These include: touching and being touched sensually, oral and/or genital sex, caressing naked bodies, seducing or being seduced, having sex in unusual positions and having sex in unusual locations. It was also found that men were more likely to have sexual fantasies than women and that these were more venturesome (e.g. whipping or being whipped by a partner), whereas women would generally fantasise about having sex and getting married. Although it has been found that sexual fantasies can be internally generated, research suggests that fantasies are provoked in people by something they have seen or read. This not only individualises the types of sexual material people are likely to read, but also causes concerns over the sexual message people are subject to. This is especially so over the last twenty years where sexual images and acts have become a firm feature in the media, commercialising pornography in magazines, films and more explosively on the Internet. These developments have also caused much controversy and challenged several aspects of society, mainly in the laws on censorship on pornography.

Pornography is an elusive term that can mean different things to different cultures, historical and social contexts, and more so on individuals’ own experiences and beliefs. There is a general understanding that pornography is any sexual explicit material (visual or written) intending to cause sexual arousal. However, pornography has become a common tool that allows people to learn about sexual matters whether they want to or not, and often without the notion that they are actually viewing pornography most of the time. This has mainly become possible because of more relaxed attitude towards censorship regulations on television channels (including cable channels) and with the high usage of computers (including the Internet). Although images of the penis, vagina, anus, female nipples, slang words for sex (e.g. ‘fuck’) along with hard-core sexual activity are banned on television networks before the watershed, references to sex and programmes with sexual content are all too common.  The same could be said for computers and the Internet; however, this poses an even starker problem in that it is global, allowing for sexually explicit Web sites, interactive chat rooms and pornographic material to be viewed without much monitoring or regulation. Technological changes have allowed sexually explicit material to be seen at greater ease and it is expected to become worst with futurists predicting that virtual-reality technology along with the Internet is set to provide sexual interactions between people at a distance. This may not seem so ludicrous especially when considering companies such as Safesexplus.com already sell sex toys, which can be controlled by a remote control devise through the Internet.

Although pornography has been seems to have it uses in educating young people about their own bodies, it is our responsibility as parents to make sure our children get the correct information that does not rely on sexually explicit material to teach them about sexual matters. Talking about sexual matters more openly with our children will hopefully steer them away from the need to use porn to learn about sexual matters.

Dr Triece has provided some research on young people and pornography, but what are your thoughts as parents? What are the views of young people and the use of pornography? Have your view on Twitter@DrTriece, Parent-Zone on Facebook, or go to LinkedIn to have your say.

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About the author

Dr Triece is Founder and MD of parent-zone.com. A website that is devoted to improving sex and relationship education and the sexual health of young people by working with parents, schools, health care professionals and different organisations.