Before we can even start to unpack the meaning of pornography, we need to understand a bit about sexual desire. Dr. Sheryl Kinsberg explains desire as having three components: a sexual interest in someone (or something), which is basically that tingly feeling you get when you’re aroused; a cognitive recognition that something is turning you on — this can be influenced by values or beliefs about who you are and what is right; and lastly, a motivational aspect — your willingness to act on your sexual interest.*
But what makes us desire the things we do? There’s no good answer to that question — whether we are gay, straight or bi, whether we desire to be spanked or to have sex outside, our individual desire profile is more than likely a complex combination of biology and life experiences.
This is why there is some concern around teens engaging with pornography. If porn is often violent and degrades women and people of colour, won’t teens who see porn think that this is a reflection of what “normal” sex and desire must be? Won’t they go into the world and treat the men and women they encounter with disrespect? Won’t they be dissatisfied with a “normal,” heterosexual, monogamous relationship with a nice, “normal” boy or girl after they’ve been exposed to all the weird and wacky porn online?
Maybe. But maybe it is just a matter of putting pornography in its proper place in our society and giving teens a little bit more credit than we do.
*“What Exactly is Desire and How Does it Fit into a Loving Relationship?” http://abcnews.go.com/Health/WellnessResource/story?id=7182897#.UL-NwORi6So