Porn OK Please: A Single Woman’s Pursuit of Pleasure

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Porn OK Please: A Single Woman’s Pursuit of Pleasure

Illustration: Akshita Monga

I

never really knew that losing your virginity was such a big deal. I lost mine at 15 after dating my first boyfriend, who was then 19, for a year. Unlike other adults my age – who were playing with themselves while I was getting it on with my guy – this was also my first experience. Only now do I fully comprehend why my older friends labelled him a child molester, although, to be fair, not a bone in my body had then said no.

My attitude to sex, however, is completely at odds with other forms of sexual gratification. I couldn’t bring myself to watch porn for the longest time, considering it a gross, guy thing. And even now, I am revolted by the idea of masturbation.

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In the barren initial decades of the 2000s, when teenagers had very few outlets for their raging sex drives, I first discovered FashionTV on a hot summer day. Obviously, I was initially outraged by the women models walking around in sheer tops, their nipples showing. At the same time, I just couldn’t get myself to stop watching the channel every moment I was home alone. Semi-naked women, sipping on wine and blowing rings of smoke to the camera – a wave of hot air would run all through my body.

And then one day, just like that, FashionTV disappeared from my cable and I forgot about its existence until I officially saw porn (by chance) at the ripe old age of 23. A young Asian girl in a school uniform undressed and pleasured herself. Ugh, I nearly threw up. It did however plant the seed of curiosity. Over the next few months, I’d search for porn on Google and let it just stay there – I didn’t have the courage to click on any of the links. Will someone find out? Will the police land up at my doorstep? Will I go to hell?

In all these intervening years until I got married, despite being sexually active, I never once remember discussing porn or sex with friends. Maybe because I only hung out with guys. I’d occasionally find myself in the midst of their incessant laughter, as they discussed a clip that they had circulated among each other. They’d speak in some sort of code language, and I never got the references. If I asked, I’d politely be told it was something exclusive to the boys.

The only time I asked a girlfriend if she’d watch porn with me, I was met with a, “Eeewww! Are you gay?!”

I was never privy to their “group screenings”. I’d hear of CDs being bought and passed around, but the bro code was strong. For the boys, irrespective of their relationship status, there was just one aim: Have a pole, must score a goal! There were zero inhibitions to watching smut together and saying I’m going to jerk off in the bathroom.

I was an outsider among my girl friends, who thought I was practically a guy. But over time, I realised almost everybody I knew watched porn – even the girls. Some discovered it early on in life while others blossomed much later. Most of them watched porn – ranging from Literotica to explicit – because of a lack of action in their lives or when they were on a break in a relationship. But what struck me most was that unlike the guys, porn watching was never a group activity. Almost all of them considered it a guilt-tinged solo occupation, or something you legitimised by watching with a partner. The only time I asked a girlfriend if she’d watch porn with me, I was met with a, “Eeewww! Are you gay?!”

Last year, a widely circulated piece titled “Why I Share My Favourite Porn With Other Women” encouraged female readers to “talk about the porn you love”. “Several men have told me that their first porn-viewing experience was in a group of boys, one of whom had chanced upon on an illicit DVD or an empty cybercafé. It happened largely without shame… Their pursuit of solo pleasure has always been acceptable. Boys will be boys, right? What it means for girls to be girls, on the other hand, has always had less to do with freedom and more to do with restraint.”

Almost all my girlfriends shared this sense of shame about watching porn and about pleasuring themselves. No matter how hard we try to undo the damage of our education and our socialisation as “ideal” young women, watching pornography and pursuing sexual pleasure remains the last frontier, forever coloured by a patina of embarrassment. Because good women are to be available for sexual pleasure, not actively pursue it. So even as our bodies want to give in to pornography, our minds pull us back.

I didn’t quite fully appreciate what porn could do for me until I was on the verge of separation from my husband. When the sex is sparse and intimacy close to nothing, youporn.com is a place of solace. When I did eventually muster the courage to watch a porn video, I had my first orgasm without a partner (and I didn’t even have to touch myself). I was blown away by the idea that this was even possible. But it brought about another, deeper realisation. In those testing times, watching porn in anger and frustration, could be summed up only in one feeling: Relief.

Since my separation, porn has done me a world of good. I watch it frequently, often when I am bored, but mostly out of curiosity. Over the years, I’ve explored many genres – fetish, fantasy, massage, casting couch, same sex, anime, threesome, and everything except BDSM. I enjoy the story, the build-up where each person has a defined role to play.

Even now, I sometimes feel guilty after I come, but the feeling only lasts until my next orgasm. Most importantly, I don’t miss the sex.

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