Is "porn for women" empowering, or does it simply reinforce gender stereotypes about what women want?

Adult film star James Deen tackled the topic in an interview with Refinery 29's Leila Brillson:

My theory on porn for women is it’s just porn. Why is there porn explicitly only for women? By saying there needs to be porn for women, you’re basically isolating women as a gender, and saying, "This is how women should think. This is how their sexuality should be." It’s counterproductive (from what I understand) to the equality movement. Who says that one woman's take on sexuality is the right way to think? One woman might like to watch a film with high production value and beautiful sex. Another might like some BDSM things with beating, degradation — and it doesn’t mean either is right or wrong. Pornography is made for individuals to find what they enjoy, and what turns them on. There’s no market research on this because sexuality is always developing, growing, and evolving. You could talk to a million people about what they like in porn, and you’re going to get a million answers of what a million people like in porn at that moment.

Women make up an estimated one-third of visitors to pornography websites, but it's unclear how many of them gravitate towards "porn for women." The search term didn't make the list in a recent PornHub infographic showing the most popular porn search terms by state.

Maybe there's something to Deen's theory after all.

[h/t the Frisky]

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  • Keeps Your Blood Flowing

    According to Dr. Jennifer Berman, co-founder of the Female Sexual Medicine Center at UCLA, orgasms increase your circulation, keeping the blood flowing to your genital area. This in turn keeps your tissue healthy!

  • It's A Form Of Cardio

    Although it can't be considered an alternative to daily exercise, having an orgasm is a cardiovascular activity. "Your heart rate increases, blood pressure increases [and your] respiratory rate increases," says Berman. And because it's akin to running in many physiological respects, your body also releases endorphins. Sounds like a pretty fun way to work your heart out.

  • Lifts Your Mood

    Feeling down in the dumps? An orgasm might be just what you need to pick yourself up. In addition to endorphins, dopamine and oxytocin are also released during orgasm. All three of these hormones have what Berman terms "mood-enhancing effects." In fact, dopamine is the same hormone that's released when individuals use drugs such as cocaine -- or eat something really delicious.

  • Helps You Sleep

    A little pleasure may go a long way towards a good night's rest. A recent survey of 1,800 women found that over 30 percent of them used sexual release as a natural sedative.

  • Keeps Your Brain Healthy

    Having an orgasm not only works out your heart, but also your head. Barry Komisaruk, Ph.D. <a href="http://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/tips-moves/orgasm-news" target="_hplink">told <em>Cosmopolitan</em></a> that orgasms actually nourish the brain with oxygen. "Functional MRI images show that women's brains utilize much more oxygen during orgasm than usual," Komisaruk says.

  • It's A Natural Painkiller

    One thing that Victorian practitioners may have been onto is that orgasms can work to soothe certain aches and pains -- namely migraines and menstrual cramps. (So now you know what to do next time you have a headache if you don't feel like popping an Excedrin.) According to Berman, the contractions that make up an orgasm can actually work to evacuate blood clots during your period, providing some temporary relief.

  • It Relieves Stress

    Most of our lives are so hectic that it's hard to even imagine being relaxed. However, it turns out that <em>sexual</em> release can double as <em>stress</em> relief. Not only do the hormones help with this task, Berman says that being sexual also gives our minds a break: "When we're stressed out and overextending ourselves, [we're] not being in the moment. Being sexual requires us to focus on one thing only."

  • Gives You A Healthy Glow

    There actually might be something to the idea that we "glow" after sex. The hormone DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), which shows <a href="http://www.ivillage.com/secret-health-benefits-sex/4-a-283856" target="_hplink">increased levels during sexual excitement</a>, can actually make your skin healthier.

  • Aids Your Emotional Health

    Last but not least, when you know what it takes to make yourself orgasm, you may increase your emotional confidence and intelligence. "When you understand how your body works and ... [that it] is capable of pleasure on its own, regardless of your partner status, you make much better decisions in relationships," says Logan Levkoff, Ph.D., a sexologist and certified sexuality educator. "You don't look to someone else to legitimize that you're a sexual being."