Here’s how much of a girl I am: It must have taken me 10 years of being online before it even registered with me that you can look at lots of porn here.
I don’t think mine was a universal experience—as every man can tell you. Good gravy, men love the online lasciviousness. I wonder how many men visited a porn site as their first World Wide Web interaction? I'd ask for a show of hands, but … EW!
The only reason I even remembered that I could go to the Internet and look at porn is that Howard Stern talked about it the other day. As it turns out, his site of choice is YouPorn, so when I got home from work that night I had to take a look.
The truth is that most dirty stuff on the Web does nothing for me. I don’t mind that it’s there and I don’t mind that men look at it. I recently moved in with a man who’s been living alone for a long time, and I actually felt kind of sorry for him, because I’m certain my presence is going to severely curtail his enjoyment of YouPorn or SpankWire or whatever sites he looks at (not that I'm certain that he does, but he is a guy). (By the way, I totally had to Google to get the name SpankWire, which is a real site. Wow. Men are weird.)
My feeling a little sorry for him got me really thinking about online pornography. Is it OK to look at it? Does it exploit women and make men not want normal, real-breasted women? Or is that all nonsense? I asked a bunch of friends and coworkers—and I’m really looking forward to that call from HR—and the general consensus was that it’s fine. A few of them mentioned things like being upfront with your partner about it, and maybe even looking at it together to spice things up once in a while.
OK, great. It sounds a lot like what people say about marijuana: it’s fine; go ahead and enjoy it; no harm is done as long as you’re not going crazy with the Cheez Whiz, as Beck would say (probably because he was smoking the marijuana). But then I did a little research. Let’s say you fire up the video "Driving Into Miss Daisy" several times a week. I read that if you watch enough porn, your brain actually recalibrates itself so that you need that kind of artificial stimulation—and not a real human being—in order to become aroused. In fact, your neural pathways eventually resemble those of other addicts. You only meant to look at a few naked hooters and now you have an addict’s brain. (There's a slippery slope joke to be made here, but I'm not touching it.)
I've also learned that if you, you know ... finish the deed in front of your computer screen, you release oxytocin, which is the hormone that makes you bond with someone. But guess what you’re bonding with? Your sexy girlfriend, Mac OS X. Your best friend, SpankWire. Miss Daisy, who you drove into again.
Of course, like most things in life, the answer here is everything in moderation. But who ever wants to do that? Especially when it comes to sex. It’s so easy to say things like, "Who is this harming? My girlfriend works late several nights a week, so why not do this instead?" So you get online and boom—you’ve screwed up your dang neural pathways. Or you start going to bed later and later, ignoring your partner, so you can instead look at "My Bare Lady." (Can you tell I’ve Googled the crap out of ridiculous X-rated movie names?)
I guess what I’ve decided is that online adult sites are not so harmless after all. I know I sound like some sort of prudish Ma Ingalls type, and that's not at all who I am. But guess what? Pa Ingalls never once got to see Internet pornography, and he was married to Ma, who was no looker, for 64 years.
She was apparently enough for Pa. And maybe the fact that he never wandered off to the barn to enjoy a little "Breast Side Story" played some small part in that (and there's another joke that I'm not going anywhere near).