Highly Sexually-Active People Watch Porn! Shock!

August 2, 2014
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Every woman has her guilty pleasures. For my friend Diana, it’s watching afternoon mini-marathons of Law & Order reruns on one of the 46 cable TV channels that appear to exist solely in order to air afternoon mini-marathons of Law & Order reruns. For one of my sisters, her secret joy is reading young-adult fiction aimed at readers one-third her age.

Admittedly, one of my guilty pleasures probably won’t sound all that pleasurable to most: reading social-science research papers and studies – the more obviously flawed, the better. I’m particularly fond of so-called “studies” that amount to telephone surveys, and that “discover” things that we already know (or that we should already know, at least).

Highly Sexually-Active People Watch Porn! Shock!

The latest of these studies to register on my radar caught my eye under the headline “Hypersexuality in Women Linked to High Porn Use.” In a nutshell, what this study amounts to is a group of German social scientists calling up “nearly” 1,000 women (to reduce margin of error, most surveys poll at least 2,500 respondents) and asking them questions about their sexual behavior. Based on their responses to something called the Hypersexual Behavior Inventory, the study’s authors concluded that “High masturbation frequency, number of sexual partners, and pornography use were associated with a higher degree of hypersexual behavior in women.”

Wow – stop the fucking presses, because these incisive, intrepid German eggheads have just come to the jaw-dropping conclusion that highly sexual people tend to act frequently on their sexual desires. Color me stunned!

Now to be clear, it’s not the researchers’ fault that the media takes this rather obvious conclusion and puts it under a headline that seems to suggest that porn use is causing women to become “hypersexual” (a term that is problematic in itself – something we’ll get to in a minute here), but that doesn’t change the fact that the takeaway for most readers probably will be the notion that there’s a generation of women out there being turned into insatiable fuck-hounds because they’ve been watching too much porn.

Highly Sexually-Active People Watch Porn! Shock!

That’s not at all what the study says, mind you, but that’s what the headline suggests, so you can take it to the bank that at least a few pundits out there will spend a few minutes of their shows talking to “experts” about the “problems” being caused by women watching too much porn.

Let’s put that idea to rest right now, shall we?

As the great Bill Hicks once put it: “Playboy doesn’t cause sexual thoughts; Playboy was caused by sexual thoughts. Don’t you see?” Bill wasn’t feigning his frustration when he said that, either; it’s such a bone-simple piece of logic, but one that people just don’t want to accept. It’s preferable to wallow in shame over our perfectly natural proclivities and find someone to blame for leading us astray, I guess.

Setting aside the absurd causality question, the real problem here is with the concept of “hypersexuality” – a term that, in the context of women, essentially means “thinking about sex the same way that men do.”

Here’s a few of the statements from the Hypersexual Behavior Inventory, which one is supposed to respond to on a scale of 1 to 5, with one being “never” and five being “very often.”

  • “Doing something sexual makes me feel less lonely.”
  • “I engage in sexual activities that I know I will later regret.”
  • “I do things sexually that are against my values and beliefs.”

What the hell is wrong with feeling less lonely as a result of doing something sexual? If the something that I’m doing involves another person, feeling less lonely as a result seems appropriate… and logical. For fuck’s sake, how am I supposed to feel while I’m cuddling after sex, like I’m stranded on a deserted island, without so much as a bottle to stuff a message in?

Talk to just about any man who is honest about how he feels after jerking off, and he’ll tell you that in the immediate aftermath of masturbating, he feels about as low as it gets. If he jerks off a lot, anyway, does that mean he’s maladapted, or does it merely suggest that the bad feeling fades quickly, while the impetus to masturbate is a constant?

I don’t reject the idea of “hypersexuality” entirely, but I do reject the notion that a telephone survey of 998 German women responding to statements like “Doing something sexual helps me cope with stress” is going to shed any useful light on the issue – especially if the media’s take on the situation is “watching porn is making women too horny.”

Highly Sexually-Active People Watch Porn! Shock!

Coleen Singer is a writer, photographer, film editor and all-around geeky gal at Sssh.com, where she often waxes eloquent about sex, porn, sex toys, censorship, the literary and pandering evils of Fifty Shades of Grey and other topics not likely to be found on the Pulitzer Prize shortlist. She is also the editor and curator of EroticScribes.com. When she is not doing all of the above, Singer is an amateur stock-car racer and enjoys modifying vintage 1970s cars for the racetrack. Oh, she also likes porn.

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