WOMEN

What Porn Means to Us: Twenty Couples on Tentacles, Baywatch, and the Skin Flicks They Share, Fear, and Imitate

10/02/2012 10:39 am ET

A man I was dating told me that he liked watching anime scenes of sea creatures raping schoolgirls with their tentacles. His arousal bothered him. I was surprised to discover that it didn’t bother me, but my live-and-let-live attitude gave me pause: Was I colluding with misogyny?

Conflicting studies have suggested that porn leads to aggression, divorce, and depression — as well as lower rates of rape, better sex, and deeper commitments. We only know for certain that since the start of the Internet’s reign, porn has moved online, diversified, and sped up: Every day nearly 20 million viewers visit Xvideos, the web’s most trafficked porn site, and YouPorn is six times the size of Hulu. With porn consumption ubiquitous — and, by most reports, increasing and evolving — I asked couples and individuals how they discuss porn with their dates and partners. The result: twenty conversations about porn.

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