Basic Guide to Porn

There is so much porn around that it can be hard sifting out what we do and don’t like. This guide should give you some of the basics, particularly for those not just into porn made for straight men.

 

It feels like a cliché to say that since increased access to the internet porn is now only one or two clicks away. Porn traffic accounts for a huge amount of internet – 5 porn sites were in the top 50 websites of 2012, they are up there with the most popular search engines, social media sites and national news pages (2 are more popular than the BBC homepage) http://www.alexa.com/topsites

This piece is a primer for people who are interesting in finding porn that they do like: there is so much porn of so many different types (in so many different places) so this really is a basic guide.  Additionally even though some porn is aimed at particular groups of people it might not match up to what we are actually interested in. For instance some porn aimed at women might show luvvy duvvy gentle kissing and lovemaking but some women might be more interested in seeing close ups of genitals and very hard rough sex. I guess this is one of the problems about porn: the studios have a rigid idea on what people might be into, but our desires often don’t fit into neatly labelled boxes.

We like what we like and what we like around porn can be very personal and not something we want to share with someone (a partner for instance). Research looking into what different people do with porn is emerging (rather than looking at simply cause and effects). This looks at how viewers engage with porn, whether they are seeing themselves as part of the action or observing. How some people use porn as an educator. How people use porn to work through sexual issues, or discover things about genders, sexualities or power identity that is important to them. Some people may only find ethical, inclusive and politically correct a turn on – however others may find that looking at porn which conflicts with their personal values a turn on too. It’s complex. (For more about this research look up the work of Feona Attwood or Clarissa Smith)

Porn aimed at straight men

Studies about how much people watch porn are often a bit shonky and unreliable (see this one from The Sun). However evidence from web information companies suggest that our assumptions about who clicks on porn may be true – young men are most likely to look at porn, but also that there are increasing numbers of women watching porn.

Remember that scene in the office when Keith gives Tim some advice about the difference between men and women: ie that men are turned on by what they see and women are turned on by what they hear? Well sorry to have to correct you Keith but women can be turned on by what they see too. Women are just as able to be turned on by what they see – it just depends on what they are looking at.

Most porn consumers are still straight men, so most porn is made for them. There is a huge amount of it and, although there is a a lot more diversity than lots of people give it credit for, there are two main things distinguishing porn made for straight men and porn made for straight women (or couples).

The camera focusses on the woman.

The woman is the star of the show (women performers get paid significantly more than men) so the camera looks at her and her body for the most part. We don’t get to see much of men’s faces in a lot of porn and their body is only really seen if the woman is in shot too. Research suggests that women can and do enjoy watching a woman as they may project themselves into the scene they are watching rather than objectifying the bodies they see (although lots of straight women really enjoy watching gay porn because they can see bodies and genitals that turn them on).

The woman looks at the camera.

In porn made for straight men the woman in the scene looks at the camera, this is presumably to help men watching project themselves into the scene so that they can imagine having sex with her. Some porn has the man holding the camera so that the woman is ostensibly having sex with whoever is watching (known as Gonzo or Point Of View). Which is great for lots of straight guys but not so great for straight women. Rupp and Wallen found that women were less interested in looking at porn where the woman was looking at the camera – this was the only dissimilarity between men and women in the study.

There are lots of other reasons why women might not find porn aimed at men a turn on – some of it has storylines which are negative about women, some may find some porn too aggressive or violent (without expressed consent), some may find the sex too unrealistic (pizza delivery boys – really?) however these all might be themes in porn that lots of men find a turn off too.

Porn tube sites have many different categories which can be perused by the viewer – for instance at the time of writing You Porn has 62 different categories ranging from amateur to 3D. These categories should give you some idea of what is around, but even if you found a category you liked you aren’t going to like everything you see – some of it you may find disgusting or unpleasant, but remember different strokes for different folks. (It’s highly unlikely that any porn on these sites is going to be illegal for more on porn and the law click here).

These ‘porn tube’ sites are a good place to start simply because they have so much content. Performers aren’t getting paid for this though, think of them as being adverts for their paid sites. If people don’t subscribe then performers don’t get paid. Porn scenes are often illegally downloaded which is just as illegal and wrong as nicking anything else. So if you see a studio or a performer you like you could consider getting a subscription. Porn subscription costs anything between £10 and £30 per month depending on what service you sign up for. They either offer streams of videos or downloadable content. You can just sign up for one month if you wish, they should make it clear where you can cancel your subscription so that you aren’t charged for any more months than you want.

Porn which is aimed at straight women

Porn aimed at straight women (not necessarily enjoyed by all straight women watching porn or not enjoyed by straight men) is still in the minority but there’s increasing amounts of it. But what is it?

Porn producers for women say that their customers want scenes which look like they have real chemistry between the performers, where they really seem to be enjoying what they are doing. They should be looking at each other rather than at the camera. There should be as much focus on the man as the woman as well as on the couple as a whole. Anna Span is a UK indie-porn producer/director who tries to ensure that her scenes are 1/3 focussed on the man, 1/3 focussed on the woman and 1/3 focussed on them both. Porn for women often has high production values but also features realistic scenes.

On tube sites such as You Porn the category ‘couples’ features a lot of this kind of porn (either that it features real life couples or is something that couples might want to watch together). In fact the most popular scenes on You Porn (at the time of writing) are these kinds of scenes – this suggests that this kind of porn may not be something that just women are into (and also that men and women are not as different from each other as some would have us believe).

In addition to Anna Span other names to look out for in the porn for women world are Tristan Taormino, who makes interesting porn (as well as sex education videos) and Erika Lust who creates porn for women which has very high production values.

Another site which might be more women/couple friendly is makelovenotporn.tv where people can upload their own high quality sexual content. It’s a pay site but the creator Cindy Gallop is very clear that half of what you pay to watch the videos goes directly to the people who have made the video.

For more on porn for women check this piece from Sense About Sex.

Porn aimed at LGBT folk

There are usually specific categories or even separate tube sites for porn featuring men having sex with men – youporngay.com for instance has similar categories to its ‘straight’ neighbour youporn.com in addition to gay porn specific categories (such as ‘bears’). This is also where you are more likely to find bisexual guys – bisexual men are pretty much invisible in straight porn.

There’s an awful lot of lesbian porn around but as much of this is aimed at the straight men market it might not be to every lesbian’s taste. Perhaps try http://www.fatalemedia.com There are also an awful lot of bisexual women in straight porn but for more realistic representations of bisexuality some of the indie producers might be your best bet. See also this piece on lesbian porn.

Formerly known as No Fauxxx, Indie Porn Revolution http://www.indiepornrevolution.com has a diverse range of porn catering for lots of people. It has a nice blend of different sexualities and genders and is very ‘queer’ friendly. Also look out for genderqueer performer Jiz Lee and trans man Buck Angel whose documentary ‘Sexing the Transman’ gives an insight into female to male trans folk.

Porn for folk into kink

Tube sites might be a good place to start for finding kink porn (porn featuring BDSM, pain, power play, restraint, etc). Kink.com is a pay site which features tons of this kind of content. One of the things attracting people to BDSM is their emphasis on informed consent and on ethics – many of their scenes feature before and after interviews with the performers talking about what is about to happen and how the scene was for them (this is something which the non-kink porn studios are adopting).

There are lots of other sites out there too, many sites are run by the performers/directors themselves so you know that by paying to see their videos you are putting money in their pocket and not a faceless investor. There are so many different kinks out there it’s difficult to recommend a particular kind of porn: but two kinky porn performers/producers whom I know from twitter are @pandorablake and @msmaggiemayhem both of whom have really interesting blogs.

Porn literature

Obviously there is Fifty Shades of Grey, but there’s tons and tons of erotic literature out there. Anais Nin’s ‘Delta of Venus’ is a classic as is The Story of O by Anne Desclos. For other alternatives to Christian and Ana try Violet Blue’s erotic reading list. I’m enjoying reading Emily Dubberley’s latest read and you can also get some more erotica inspiration over at Cliterati.

Scarlet Magazine, an erotic magazine for women, sadly no longer has a print edition to buy at WHSmith but they have digital editions to purchase via their website http://www.scarletmagazine.co.uk. There’s also a ton of free erotic literature in many different categories for you to browse over at literotica.com. You could also get involved in writing your own!

Lastly some recommended reading for everyone about porn and the internet is tinynibbles.com Violet Blue’s must read blog. She has a fantastic link page featuring her own porn recommendations.

Justin Hancock