The Porn Letter

Dear Tender Buttons,

I know this isn’t exactly new territory or anything… but I found some porn on my boyfriend’s computer. Before you say anything, no, I wasn’t snooping. He did a very poor job of hiding it and well, yeah, I don’t exactly like what I saw. Nothing too freaky, but it showed a lot of stuff I’m definitely not comfortable doing. Our sex is fine, but recently it’s been hard to disassociate him from the porn I know he’s into. Yeah, I get that all guys watch porn, and I’ve watched enough Sex and the City to know that I should just get over it. But, I still feel like I should address this with him, at the very least, so he knows to better hide his porn! Any pointers?

Thanks,

Girl Out Of Patience

Dear GOOP,

Sex and the City delves into the whacky realm of porn in several knee-slapping episodes. Remember when the gal pals beat the heat with popcorn and some man-on-man scenes? Or when the unsexy, unlikeable one dates a guy with a massive porn addiction? She gives him an ultimatum (“It’s me or the porn!”), he picks Sasha Grey, and we all get to chuck popcorn at Cynthia Nixon’s cry-face. Not content to humiliate Ms. Nixon with just one zany tale of porn and betrayal, the writers set up Miranda for an embarrassing encounter with a spank-fetishist. Said fetishist dumps that whiny ginger to the curb when she spanks him and—you know what, stop, just stop. Sex and the City is the worst!

C’mon, everyone. Let’s take our relationship cues from less gauche sources. Should you get over your boyfriend’s porn stash? That’s a tricky question, GOOP. Some feminists oppose pornography for sound ethical or philosophical reasons. Some members of the radical right do too, for sound re-election reasons. Still others find porn distasteful, a bit too wet-and-messy, or simply intolerable. These responses to porn are (mostly) justifiable. Be honest with yourself, GOOP: Do you fit into one of these categories? If you do, no one should shame you for your discomforts. Find a way to exit the relationship gracefully.

If, as I suspect, you are using porn as a smokescreen to mask whatever is actually bothering you about your relationship, then yes—do get over it, and find the source of the real problem. Here’s something that the strange bedfellow pairing of radical feminists and evangelicals got wrong: One does not experience porn mimetically. That is to say, your boyfriend will not construct his relationship with you (or with other women) around scenes of graphic and hardcore sex.

He is not comparing you to a porn star, wishing you could bang him like a porn star, or taping your sex and uploading it to Xtube. Your paranoia may extend to diligence in watching for the manifestations of a porn addiction, but really, why bother? You’re not Cynthia Nixon!

Do not bring this up with your boyfriend, GOOP (unless he’s an avid reader of Tender Buttons: ‘Lo, GOOP’s squeeze!). Why? 1) Unless the porn was sitting on his desktop labeled “THIS IS MY PORN,” you were snooping. 2) If he’s treating you with respect and love in and out of the bedroom, then there is no cause for condemning his private enjoyment of legally obtained media.

I am not suggesting that porn isn’t a hotbed for sexist, homophobic, and racist scenes, nor am I suggesting that people exist in vacuums, safeguarded from reiterating these scenes during sex acts. Sexuality is formed by a variety of different discourses. However, if your sex has remained “fine,” then there is little evidence to suggest that your boyfriend will coerce you into performing acts that are not to your taste. If he ever does, porn or no porn, drop him and move on.

GOOP.com is the worst,

Tender Buttons

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