11/12/09
The Virgin Diaries: All I Really Needed to Know I Learned from Porn

Our contributor Katherine Chen, an English major at Princeton University (check out her personal site here), is penning a series of confessions for EMandLO.com collectively called “The Virgin Diaries.” In her first installment, she wrote about how her sex education began (hint: poorly). Here she elaborates on how it improved:

My first porn video: A woman with large breasts and reddish brown hair sits in what appears to be a dentist’s chair. Her legs are sprawled apart, revealing her shaved vulva. A man enters the room, dressed in a doctor’s jacket with a stethoscope around his neck. She tells him, “There’s something wrong with me. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. I can’t feel anything down there.”

Now, at this point, having had absolutely no sexual experience myself and being completely ignorant about anatomy and sexual function, I silently registered to myself that insomnia and hunger were somehow related to sex. I did everything but jot this down on notebook paper.

The man in the doctor’s jacket grins and says, “Well, let’s see what I can do” and unzips his pants. He pulls something out.

I had never seen a penis before — not my father’s penis, an animal’s penis, or another kid’s penis. So I wasn’t really sure what exactly he was holding in his hand. The whole scene felt like some kind of colossal joke, and I began to laugh. But then:

The woman begins to groan. Her back arches. The camera zooms back and forth between the woman’s face, breasts, and vagina. Her vaginal lips look shiny and wet in the fluorescent light of the room.

Were they like that before? I couldn’t remember, and I was too entranced with what was going on to rewind back to the beginning. I could feel myself get tense, and then it happened:

The man begins to thrust into the woman. She puts a finger in her mouth and sucks on it like a baby. Occasionally, she laughs.

I thought his…thing looked a little bit like a purple-tipped club, and I couldn’t imagine that it was doing the woman any good. But she seemed to enjoy it. Before things got really heated, I quickly X-ed out of Windows Media Player for fear of getting caught. I walked very quickly out of the room, holding my times table assignments in one hand and a mechanical pencil in the other.

I suppose most people would assume that such a graphic lesson in sex would be traumatizing for a young girl. For me, it wasn’t. A few minutes of this sex scene explained more to me than any book on menstrual cycles ever could. From that point on, I was intrigued by and curious about sex, which from the looks of it seemed like a wholly positive thing. From my first foray into the adult entertainment world I concluded the following:

  • Sex can be healing.
  • Sex can be satisfying for both parties.
  • Sex is rather like giving a baby its bottle.
  • Women seem to enjoy sex more than men.

Those were certainly much more sexually positive messages than the ones I’d gotten from my mother or my school. My mom always classified every single sexually active female as either a prostitute or a “dumb animal” who had nothing better to do with her time. I would have probably agreed with her, if it weren’t for Asia Carrera, the Mensa genius and musical prodigy who performed at Carnegie Hall twice before turning 15, taught English at a college in Japan when she was 16, and became a successful porn star at 20 (pictured above).

And the fact that the porn star Belladonna had semi-retired in 2007 because she was concerned about contracting STDs like herpes had a much bigger impact on me than my sex ed teacher insisting I memorize the side effects of every genital infection out there. Plus, the messages in the classroom were so mixed and ambiguous: According to Mr. X, some people should have sex (married people), but others shouldn’t (unmarried people). I didn’t buy it.

Of course, I realize there are some drawbacks to relying solely on porn for my sex education. My view of sex is undoubtedly limited and skewed: in my mind, couples romp around, women can’t stop groaning, men’s hips can’t stop gyrating, and everyone basically acts animalistic and crazy all the time. I can’t imagine sex as a spiritual or even a “lovely” thing. It’s fun, enjoyable, adventurous and satisfying, but never sentimental or even loving.

On the other hand, I’ve never considered porn misogynistic or sexist. Fortunately the videos I’ve watched didn’t portray the women as victims, but as active and enthusiastic participants. Like I said, they always seemed to be enjoying it more than the men (although I guess that could just be “good acting”). And even I realize that the scenarios of porn films are unrealistic — they’re fantasies that most viewers understand can’t be replicated in real life. Even if you “set up” a scene with your partner, it’s just not going to be the same.

So whenever I finally do get around to having sex myself, I’m pretty confident that, like the best porn, I’ll have some good moves, I’ll use a condom, I won’t be self-conscious, and — most importantly — I’ll have fun.

Katherine Chen

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15 Comments on "The Virgin Diaries: All I Really Needed to Know I Learned from Porn"

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Wendell
Wendell
6 years 9 months ago

Thank you, Nika, for your comment–it’s very sensible in the face of a lot of absolutist anti-porn and pro-porn talk. It seems the camps on either extreme end are glossing over how complex porn can be–even how each person defines the word!

Enrico
Enrico
6 years 10 months ago
All you need to know about sex you can learn from common sense, hands-only masturbation, and a stigma-free environment. The problem with teaching about sex is secondary to the pandemic problems that everyone has with *learning* about sex. The first and most important step in achieving proper sexual health is simply being brought up in an environment with other sexually-healthy people. With most parents’ (those that are still together) having sex lives that range from secretive and embarrassed to bouts of loud, dispassionate brute-force fucking, no reasonably intelligent person should be surprised that sexual ignorance is not only an implicit… Read more »
Brad's Angel
Brad's Angel
6 years 10 months ago
I have the priviledge of teaching sex ed to my sixth graders. However there are so many limitations to what I can tell my kids. It can be SO frustrating. I am deeply spiritual and a devout Christian but I have no intention of forcing my beliefs on my kids. I simply want them to know more than what the textbook includes like self-pleasure and how men’s needs differ from women’s needs. If I had had someone who was willing to be very open and frank about human sexuality when I was in junior high and high school, I don’t… Read more »
Nika DeVita
Nika DeVita
6 years 10 months ago
Well, I’ve DONE porn. I was active in the adult industry for many years. As a woman, I can say it has been a wonderfully liberating experience! But, I’m also bi-sexual and an exhibitionist too. I didn’t have sex with strange men either. I was primarily just doing girl/girl stuff. I had two rules when it came to the adult industry (this includes exotic dancing as well): 1) If I wouldn’t do it for free, I wouldn’t do it for money. 2) If I couldn’t do it completely sober, I wouldn’t do it. Period. I always enjoyed what I did.… Read more »
Vanessa
Vanessa
6 years 10 months ago
I have to say I like watching porn with my bf. It’s exciting knowing what turns him on. He lets me know and I can tell by how he watches what he likes. Then I can incorporate that into our play in the bedroom and boy! It really turns him on like crazy! While the men aren’t all that we would like in terms of satisfying women (please ladies — u know most of those women are completely faking it all the time!), the point is that the men who like to watch are so turned on that they would… Read more »
Major Tom
Major Tom
6 years 10 months ago
Different cultures treat sex and sexuality very differently. Here in North America we seem to be trapped inside a tiny box when it comes to sex. Missionary position and a few assorted other ideas and that’s it. Asian culture is much more open about what we would term “kinky”. Tentacle porn, power fantasies, all sorts of things that White Anglo America thinks is “wrong”. I’ll bet you anything that if you poke around a little bit you’ll find lots of people, even people you know, who secretly (or openly) fantasize about, or practice, stuff like that. Most just won’t admit… Read more »
Adriana
6 years 10 months ago
Porn, as educational material, is definitely a double edged sword. Like Mr Manpower mentioned, you can take away a lot of negatives and false assumptions. Your assumptions were surprisingly positive but different people take things differently. I likely would have focused on the negatives porn is portraying (which is something I do too often). Of course, just because porn can be helpful and is enjoyable for all sorts of people and comes in a variety for just about everyone doesn’t mean it can’t also be sexist or misogynistic. Porn is quite the umbrella term and there are absolutely some works… Read more »
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