Leeds School of Business

Girl on Girl: Porn for you and porn for me

During my sophomore year of college I met a girl in a women’s studies class who told me she was ending her relationship because she continuously caught her boyfriend cheating on her with porn. At the time, I thought she was crazy. Porn?! That’s a break-up-able offense? Don’t all boys watch that stuff?

Then, last summer, I opened my (now ex) boyfriend’s phone. He was right there next to me with nothing to hide, and I had no intention of looking for anything. I just opened the Safari app, and right there, before my eyes — naked girls with throbbing nipples and men with overpowering chests waving around dildos.

He wasn’t even embarrassed. Not that he necessarily had a reason to be, but he didn’t care that I cared. He told me, “All guys watch porn, I bet your dad watches porn while he’s at work.”

I wouldn’t say that it’s what ultimately ended that relationship, but it’s a moment that has definitely stuck with me as I continue to try and figure it out. Is watching porn cheating on your significant other? Or is it just hurtful, and is that something else? What even is cheating? Where is the line?

When you cheat on a test you look at someone’s paper when you’re not supposed to. When you cheat in a game you try to get away with a move that you hope the others won’t notice. When you cheat in a relationship — how far outside the bounds do you have to go to call it that?

I think what bothered my classmate was the secrecy. That she felt she was catching her boyfriend doing this thing that she had made clear belittled their relationship. I suppose that’s how I felt when I had my experience — not necessarily that I had been cheated on, but that my boyfriend needed something else … someone else … to fulfill something that he obviously wasn’t getting from me. That is a damn hard pill to swallow. It fills you with self-doubt and it discourages your ability to succeed in the relationship. Even worse, he had no problem letting me feel that way because, in his eyes, he was doing what all men were doing, whether they were in a relationship or not, and it wasn’t wrong.

I spoke to a few friends about their experiences with porn in their own relationships. One shared that she and her partner watched porn together, which made his private porn consumption something that included her. Another said that her girlfriend was open about watching porn and that it wasn’t a worry because of the communication within the relationship in regards to porn. A man I spoke to told me that he would always prefer the real deal, but that when he’s away from his girlfriend it’s just a personal activity that feels separate, not an interference.

So maybe that’s the trick — the openness versus the secrecy. Although, how does one come out to their significant other and say, “I watch porn!” More so, why does it have to be a declaration, when watching porn may be a private and personal time?

Maybe it’s unclear what things a relationship can’t have, but it’s crystal clear what it must have. Your feelings are valid. And when they get hurt, you have a right to voice them out of respect for yourself and your relationship. So is porn cheating? Or is your partner just plain secretive and it doesn’t work for you? I think that porn might be a name for a different issue. If what you require is an open line of communication and you’re not getting that, then porn might only be one example of the whole thing going south. On the flip side, private activity from either partner might need to be respected. Because, my darling, if you’re spending your personal time on PornHub, who’s to say I can’t do the same thing? ;)

Porn might be cheating and it might not be. But whatever feels outside the bounds of the sanctity of your relationship matters, because you matter and your feelings and your self-worth are essential. Be there flailing on-screen penises or not, you must be your first priority. The girl from my women’s studies class isn’t wrong and neither are the people who are down with their partners getting down on themselves! It’s a personal choice and a different conversation in each relationship.

Contact CU Independent Opinion Columnist Dani Pinkus at danielle.pinkus@colorado.edu.

About Dani Pinkus

Dani Pinkus is our Girl on Girl feminist writer and opinion section editor. She is an undergraduate CU student studying English with an emphasis in creative writing and a minor in women and gender studies.

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