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Felicia Gilljam

"The sex in porn videos is choreographed to give a clear, unobstructed view of the penetration. It's choreographed to look good -- not to feel good."

While I get that you're probably right about this, I still wonder whether it's actually what the overwhelming majority of people want the overwhelming majority of the time. I find the ridiculous contorted positions frequented by porn actors rather off-putting because of the complete lack of realism. Less detail and realism is preferable. I cannot possibly be the only person to feel this way!

Felicia Gilljam

Less detail and MORE realism, of course. Apologies...


Well done. I'm comfortable talking to my kids about sex, but they'd rather I didn't (puritans!). Fortunately, they can't always avoid it, though I don't think they'll ever again ask what a taint is in a fast food drive through with friends present. Thanks for the great links, which I will forward to my kids in the most mild-mannered way I can manage.

nina hartley

An excellent post, Greta. I, too, rail constantly against the use of porn as sex ed, as it's not designed to be sex ed, but sex entertainment. As someone who does both education and entertainment, there is a big difference between the two. We need to do more in school, and at home, to teach our young people about the realities of sex.

Speaking as an insider though, the comment, "standards of female beauty in porn are almost as rigid with pussies as they are with basic body types, and female genital cosmetic surgery in the porn industry is getting increasingly and depressingly common," is off base. If you look closely at the now-visible vulvas of the women, you'll see "innies," "outies," and all other sorts of vulvar types. The stunning variety in the appearance of female genitalia is now on display in ways it never was in the 1970's. To my knowledge, only two women have had any type of cosmetic genital surgery, so it's certainly not at all common in porn. Women in porn are not accepted or rejected over the appearance of their vulvas, since a willingness to show said vulva is what's selected for.

Body types are actually more varied than we're lead to believe, though they are almost always very heavily groomed (hair removal, manicures, tanning, hair coloring/extensions, etc.) to reflect dominant-culture sensibilities. LIke people everywhere, porn performers like to make the most of what nature gave them, and the blonde, nordic beauty is still the standard of comparison (though there is a large and growing "ethnic" niche in porn, as well, which has a much wider range of body types in it.)

If you look behind the grooming, however, you'll see all sorts of bodies (like mine) what would never have been able to make it in any other modeling medium. I'm six inches shorter, and 25 pounds heavier, than your average fashion model, yet I've made a good living for 25 years in this game. A fair number of women are actually on the skinny, flat butted, boxy-hipped, square-torsoed side of things. The women are pretty enough, but rarely pretty enough to have made it in straight modeling or acting. In general, a porn performer is slightly above average in appearance and makes the most of what nature gave him or her.

Porn is not about "reality," though real people perform in the videos. It's about sexual fantasy. Toward that end, people are groomed within an inch of their lives. One thing that is very common with both genders is the shaving of pubic hair. This is not a tip of the hat to covert child sexualization. It simply is to make things more visible; more pornographic, if you will. The men do it, as well, which is a spill over from gay porn sensibilities. Plus, the players feel cleaner (you're having sex with people you don't know very well. Being shaved is like using breath strips-it's a way of being polite), and sensations are carried better on smooth skin than on furry. In the case of the men, "the shorter the shrub, the taller the tree." Some men even go through the tedium of full-body shaving, which women don't have to do.

Luckily for us, more and more lesbians and other queer people are making movies that reflect their sensibilities, and these videos are finding an audience. Support your local alterna-porn if you can find it.

Porn Video Clips

Nice web site. honestly, i was looking for a blog site like this as i also love porn.

Linus' helper monkey

An incredibly minor quibble about a great post: This American Life is produced by Chicago Public Radio and distributed by Public Radio International, not National Public Radio. PRI is kinda like NPR, in that it produces and distributes content, and some of that content ends up on NPR stations, but they're different animals. Anyway, great post!

nina hartley

Yes, the quibble about genital surgery was minor, which is why I mentioned it, as the entire post is realy excellent overall.

I think Greta likes to be in the know about these things, which is why I posted it in the first place.


Nor is it normal (or desirable) for a man to withdraw before ejaculation and spaff over his partners face.


4 words, honey:

Midwest Teen Sex Show!

Online videocast, very funny and real. Created by a mom who wanted REAL sex info for her kids and her kids' friends. Very good stuff, and fun to watch!

Hi, Nina!!


Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I don't know where parents get the misguided notion that if schools don't mention sex (or tell them "Just Say No") then kids not only won't do it, but won't go looking for information about it. Have they forgotten their own youth? Of course they'll try to lie and claim they never snitched a look at nudie mags or peeked in a neighbor's window but that's just not the case.

I can't fathom why a parent would prefer their kids get an education from anywhere but knowledgeable instructors armed with facts.


Interesting post. No porn is definitely not sex education. The purpose of all porn is sexual arousal [often without gratification]

There are a lot of porn sites featuring women on women which are rather popular with men [and distasteful to most lesbians]

I wonder what your take is on lesbian movies [no porn] and lesbian porn


Lesbian Movies


Good article. My only comment would be about "the standards of female beauty in porn." I've watched my share of porn and "beautiful" women in porn are very few and far between. An actually pretty face every now and then would be nice. Since they are so rare I have virtually given up on porn.

Timothy (TRiG)

Have you seen Cindy Gallop's TED talk about pornography? It's fascinating stuff. And she's launched a website called Make Love Not Porn.

According to an article on AlterNet, “Guys who do not watch pornography do not exist.”



You have really hit the nail on the head!

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