Porn vs. Erotica: What Women Really Want

This story is intended for mature audiences only.

Ever wonder why most women hate porn? Then you’ll want to keep reading.

Michael and Chloe go to dinner. The food is sex on a plate—rubbed and grilled, sauced and drizzled, earthy and sea-scented. The wine is warming, causing her face to glow, his ears to buzz.

Afterwards they hit that new club uptown and listen to some great live music. They dance the salsa, swirling and humping, pelvises pressed together in a slow grind. In the car they snuggle close. Fingers entwine, tongues swirl. Hands play on thighs and breasts. Fabrics strain.

By the time they reach home, he’s tenting his trousers. She’s damp and giddy. He struggles to get the key in the door. She presses her hard nipples into his back and fumbles with his belt buckle. She’s ready to be swept off to the bedroom, entered and ravished. He reads the signals differently, thinking this might be the night to try something new.

While she’s in the toilet, he flips on the TV, slips in a CD (“Horny Teenage Tailgunners”), and cues it up. She hears it before she sees it. “Yeah, yeah, give it to me, give it to me.” He pats the sofa next to him. On screen, under bright lights, a heavy-chested tanned man with a penis the size of a baseball bat plunges into a woman from behind. She’s as blonde as California, sports size DD breasts, rock hard abs, and an ass and legs to die for.

Michael’s flushed and horny. Chloe’s threatened, wondering why he’d want this woman instead of her, wondering why he couldn’t just ask for anal sex, if that’s what he really wanted.

Hands on her hips, she admits she was pretty turned on by the first two paragraphs of this article, but finds the porn video more repulsive than sexy. She spins on her heel and heads to the bedroom, locking the door behind her and vowing to herself to dye her hair, get a boob job, and lose ten pounds. He’s left alone with a raging erection, wondering why she’s so uncool.

Images versus Writing

This vignette highlights a basic difference in men and women that both sexes can benefit from understanding.

Sex researchers have known for sometime that while men prefer to seek sexual stimulation from images, women favor reading about love, romance, and sex.

While men are likely to be turned on by the sight of strange couples and threesomes cavorting on staged sets, many women feel threatened by the carved bodies, pretty faces, and the practiced capabilities of the porno queens.

While men are willing to settle for scenes of disembodied sex organs colliding together under bright lights, women are more likely to enjoy and be aroused by depictions of sex between characters they care about in the context of stories in which they’re engaged.

Marketers have long taken advantage of these differences. They realize that men buy and consume most of the porn on the Internet and on video and target their offerings to males. Publishers of sexually explicit stories and novels, on the other hand, target female readers. The most successful and widely read stories and novels are those involving strong female protagonists engaged in romantic relationships. The sex takes place in the context of those relationships.

Porn versus Erotica

Some explain the differences in men and women’s tastes by saying that men prefer “porn,” while women prefer “erotica.”

In this sense, “porn” means hard core images of professional and attractive models performing stylized sex for pay—think “facial,” “double-penetration,” “deep throating,” “fisting,” and “money shot.” It’s these conventions and stylized images that many women find threatening and demeaning rather than stimulating.

By contrast, “erotica” refers to softer images of, and especially writings about, sex. The characters may be model-attractive, but are just as likely to look like ordinary people. Erotica may be explicit in its depiction or description of sex, but is just as likely to involve the more mundane sex almost of us are lucky to enjoy once or twice a week.

Erotica, in its written form, ranges from raunchy Penthouse Forum anecdotes of frat house sex to literary erotica complete with beautifully crafted sentences, fascinating characters, and zingy plots.

What it Means for Couples

First, women who aren’t turned on by a porn video shouldn’t feel inadequate. They should have the confidence to share their feelings with their partners. Men should respect what their female partners tell them and understand that it’s probably not personal.

Second, men looking to stimulate their female partners or encourage them to try something different should recognize that they’ll probably have better luck with an erotic story than a porn video. And while it’s no secret that men get turned on by sexually explicit images, they’ll also find themselves just as excited by stories and novels about sex. It just takes a little longer.

Finally, women curious about sexual activities, positions, fetishes, or life styles they might not be ready to explore in real life may find it easier to read about such things than watch a pornographic video clip. Women seeking sexual stimulation on their own will likely respond more favorably to a hot story or novel than a gaudy and bawdy porno film.

Bottom line: Couples should discuss what works best for them, keeping in mind a basic difference between men and women. Words work best for women, while images are preferred by men.


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