Humans have probably always enjoyed sex as more than just a series of motions towards procreation. An experience that has such potential for us, not only for pleasure, but also for the intimate link it can create between two people, is bound to inspire creative work. And sex has been artistically represented since before the wheel was invented.
One wonders if our hairier ancestors would sneak into remote "bathroom" caves and masturbate to erotic paintings on dirt walls. We do know that humans have been creating paintings, drawings, and sculpture depicting sex and sexualized people since the Stone Age. One such example is the Venus figurines, which are small clay, stone or ivory statuettes from the Paleolithic era. Most believe that they represent fertility goddesses. The accentuated breasts, stomach and buttocks plainly express sexuality. In fact, one author refers to these statuettes as the "paleolithic prototypes of the Playgirl of the Month (3)." Has it ever happened that one of our female predecessors resented a lover for eyeing a voluptuous Venus statuette too fondly?
Today, sexually explicit material designed to induce sexual arousal is generally referred to as pornography. Porn has generated a booming entertainment industry. This industry caters to our wildest fantasies and depicts sex in as many different ways as we can imagine. On the World Wide Web alone, 10,000 porn sites generate $1 billion annually. 39 new porn sites are added everyday (4). A large part of Hollywood's income is drawn from making X-rated movies. The industry wouldn't be experiencing such rapid growth without us, the consumers. With little exception, some form of porn plays a part in our lives (to varying degrees, of course).
Anyone of legal age can buy a sexually explicit magazine (the selection is vast and varied) for private perusal in the bathroom or bedroom. The VCR has helped to change the face of porn. Mouth watering sex acts re-enacted in your living room! What luxury! And cable television offers you tantalizing morsels of sexy activity, for a small fee, of course.
The birth of the Internet has revamped the world of porn considerably. No longer do you have to sheepishly present the latest "Playgirl" or "Penthouse" to the smirking cashier, shamefully give her three dollars and skulk home. Nor do you have to trudge to the video store, and duck into the private X-rated room under the disapproving glare of someone renting "Mighty Ducks II". Maybe your experiences are not as I describe, but nevertheless, there is no longer any need for those archenemies, porn and public, to mingle.
Now, your most exquisite fantasy can be generated from your home. All you have to do is sit at the desk, mouse in hand. The possibilities are endless, the fantasies limitless. And nobody has to know about your little pastime, unless they are invited (or are motivated to engage in high level espionage with the "history" files in your browser).
So what are the experiences of modern women and men with porn? Does on-line porn differ from other types of porn? How do you feel about it all? How does your partner feel about it? Is it a part of your couple's sex-life? The best way to find out is to ask, so we did. We posted a survey of 28 questions in the beginning of March. The response was phenomenal with over 10,000 participants! We analyzed the data and compiled the thousands of comments to give a comprehensive and informative view of the habits and attitudes of our society.
We also spoke with many counselors, and asked for their professional opinions on pornography, relationships and porn, and the possibilities of porn addiction.
Between your excellent comments and the suggestions offered by professional counselors, we have constructed ten basic guidelines towards dealing with the massive inundation of pornography that we are experiencing going into the 21st century.