A fear of porn

Sex on Tuesday

Photo of Khristina Holterman

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The first time I watched porn was in fifth grade. It was the Kim Kardashian and Ray J sex tape. Staring intently down at my friend’s iPod Touch, we were in awe. This was what sex was — or so we thought. 

But after my innocent eyes had seen the Kim K and Ray J sex tape, porn seemed to only get worse from there. 

For a long time, I actually didn’t know women also masturbated to porn. Hearing boys around me always throwing out random women’s names, blushing and giggling as they admitted the names belonged to porn stars, I thought porn was a “boys only” kind of secret. 

This seemed especially true when my friend told me one day he was chipping in some money to join a “premium” porn website with his friends. Porn, evidently, was something for boys — talking about it loudly together and comparing the features of porn stars to those of their female classmates. I felt left out of the club. 

But with plenty of curiosity and internet access, I took matters into my own hands. Shutting my bedroom door, switching my browser to “incognito,” I typed the word “porn” into the search bar. Unsure of what (or who) was to come, I clicked on the first link: Pornhub. 

Bent over women with dicks smashed into them immediately flooded my screen. I was scared, but still intent on discovering this “boy’s” world. Clicking on various videos, fast-forwarding through the cheesy stepmom storylines, I studied the massive penises and perfect vaginas before me as a wave of insecurity flooded over my preteen self. 

This was sex. Not the intimate, romantic, missionary kissing I’d seen in rom-coms. But more importantly, this was the sex guys were sneering about at recess. 

The high-pitched screams of the women in the videos disturbed me. It didn’t look fun, it looked painful. The overly dramatic screaming and whimpering didn’t sound like my own authentic moans. The large puppy dog eyes looking up at me from the porn star with a dick in her mouth felt so childish and obedient. The men in these videos had all of the control. 

I decided I hated porn and closed the secret browser, thinking I’d never return to it. Just watching porn, I felt like I was degrading the female porn stars — and myself. 

Too nervous to ever bring it up to my female friends at the time, I was alone in my fear of porn, and even more disgusted by the boys around me. They glamorized this kind of sex, got off to it, and definitely looked forward to one day experiencing it.

But as I got older, my curiosity never subsided, and neither did my horniness. I wanted to find porn I enjoyed. 

I felt for the women on Pornhub. I wanted to help them, to watch them be kissed lovingly and made love to. Not aggressively bent over and fucked in a way that looked painful and forced. I know it’s their job and maybe even their passion, but I knew there had to be better porn than this: porn that showcased women’s pleasure as well as men’s. 

I tried Tumblr and Twitter, and the format was less intimidating to me. Simply looking up the word “sex” or “porn” brought intense GIFs and videos right before my eyes.  

And yet, it was all the same. Perfect labias and smoothly waxed skin once again ignited my insecurities. This wasn’t what my sexual partners were seeing. Was I doing it all wrong? 

The perfect porn platform for me seemed nonexistent. So I stuck to my imagination, fantasizing about my pleasurable sexual experiences and remembering all of the times I felt supported and powerful when making love. I pushed out of my mind any expectations past partners may have had from mainstream porn. 

That is, of course, until a beautiful thing happened: TikTok during quarantine. With newfound time stuck indoors, I spent a lot of it on TikTok. One day, while mindlessly scrolling through the app, a name appeared: Owen Gray. 

A girl in a TikTok video suggested that all ladies watch Gray’s videos. Curious, I went straight to the comments. Everybody raved about him, saying his were the first videos they’d seen that actually focus on women’s pleasure and women’s orgasms. I immediately looked him up. 

Pornhub. I despised the site, and yet there Gray was. A porn star who flaunted his knowledge of female satisfaction through sex, working his fingers around their clits and giving them eight orgasms without stopping. I’d found the women-empowering porn I’d long been hoping for. 

And it didn’t stop there. In the quarantine age of Instagram social justice warriors, my friends’ Instagram stories were suddenly boasting names of female-focused porn sites. From specific Tumblr pages to sites such as “Make Love Not Porn,” it seemed I wasn’t alone in my quest for feminist porn. 

With the resources I needed to escape the toxic world of women’s debasement for male enjoyment, I could enter into my own porn world — one where feminism and female pleasure is sexy and dominating women are celebrated. 

I only hope more men would ditch toxic porn and renounce the many harmful attitudes toward women that men are taught from such a young age. Maybe it would help if they realized women don’t actually scream that loud from cumshots and incessant jackhammering.

Khristina Holterman writes the Tuesday column on sex. Contact her at [email protected]