Straight men rarely talking to each other about porn isn’t one of those mysteries. In general, they watch it alone and cover their tracks when they’re done.
I talked with three brave straight men about their porn and masturbation habits. Before anyone gets on me about choosing only straight men: they may rule the world but there are plenty of ways sex negativity affects hetero dudes as well. I write about the continuum of human sexuality and it’s nice to let a straight dude say “I like sex stuff, I masturbate, I’m not a creep and I have quirks like everyone else.”
Peter watches about five to eight hours of porn a week, often loading several of those hours on a lazy Saturday afternoon. He reads erotic and looks at images on DeviantArt and Instagram. He watches some video but doesn’t like the inevitable spam and also says “some of it gets a little too intense.”
What do you look for in porn? Keywords, fetishes?
“Um… I like… [to himself] aw what the hell. I like kinky stuff. Tasteful kinky but kinky.”
What does “tasteful kinky” mean?
“Um. Imma try to answer than honestly. I’m into like, light bondage stuff. Not like, crazy latex and really nutsy stuff but a little tying up, a little light flogging, spanking, stuff like that.
Would I want that printed on a shirt I wore everyday or would I want my boss to know that? [No]
Male or female dominant? Or something more gender fluid?
You mentioned Instagram and DeviantArt: what about Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit?
No, I don’t get into that. Years ago I got into a dirty chat-type thing through Craigslist. It sounds so dated now but that was how people connected around like, 2007, 2005.
How often do you masturbate without porn/consume porn without masturbating?
I never consume porn without masturbating, or at least trying to. I can masturbate without porn.
What about watching or talking about porn with a partner?
Yeah I’ve done that.
Do you talk to anyone about your porn and masturbation interests? I’ve told friends. You’re far more apt to talk about your real-life sex life than you are about what interests you in porn. But you get that. I’ve gotten there with a bunch of buddies and they’ve told me back. It’s just not a natural topic of conversation.
I think it has but only because the accessibility has changed. I remember Playboy. Your brother’s Playboy was your intro to porn. The internet just blew everything up. I don’t know to what extent the internet conditioned my preferences or my preferences were there and I sought them out online. My general proclivity for mild bondage has been there since puberty.
The thing with the internet is fetishes get so specific. It would be tougher if you were into furries and you’re in Oklahoma before the internet. What the hell did you do?
Go out to your farm?
Right. The internet just exploded the options. You can find exactly what you’re into.
Has that diversity in porn created new kinks for you/helped you discover ones you didn’t know you had?
It validated my kink. When I was 16, I had no way of knowing if anyone else was into this. Because the vast majority of porn you came across was just plain vanilla two people fucking. VHS, Playboy, Penthouse, it was just people copulating. That’s not really kink.
Do you ever feel guilt? Because of a partner, because of society, religion, etc.?
Ha, yeah. None of the above on the reasons, it's more a feeling of stepping outside yourself and seeing what you're doing. There's always the danger, I think, of porn supplanting real human relationships. When I feel that way I'll generally go on a porn fast for a few weeks or so.
John consumes porn in various forms almost every day. He watches video and occasionally views cam girls. Having been separated from his wife for a few months, he has “reverted to bachelor masturbation habits.” For him, masturbation to orgasm is about sleep and relaxation while porn is “a treat, like sitting down to a favorite TV show.”
So mostly video?
Mostly video. The idea of buying a magazine now seems so archaic.
How different were your porn habits when you weren’t separated?
My wife and I used to watch porn together but it’s not really her thing. I never wanted it to be a secret from her but I masturbated less for the idea of saving myself for her, for sex. I used it to calm myself. And when she’s not here I feel freer to watch a whole half-hour, a whole scene from beginning to end.
The porn thing is just a nice way of having genre fiction or something, at the end of the day.
Is there a difference in the porn you consume and the kind of sex you have? Kinks you only exercise through porn and masturbation?
Yeah. I only started watching video porn about 20 years ago. I’ve had a kind of Joy of Sex set of practices. Finding things like Kink.com opened me up to kinks that I wouldn’t have thought really possible.
I’ll dip into BDSM stuff on Kink.com that’s at the outer range of any possibility [to enact].
Is Kink.com your go-to for porn video?
It’s one pull. My go-to now is Chaturbate, the cam site. So if I just want to see naked bodies, naked women, I can go there. The performers are in various states of their performance and it’s often not … I’m often not even masturbating to that, I just want to see boobs. Or I wanna see someone naked. Or a beautiful smile.
It’s nice not to be as distracted by desire as I was in my teens and early 20s. But when I wanna feel like I have a sexuality, that I’ve forgotten all day long, I just hop onto one of those sites and go ‘oh yeah, there’s some wonderful breasts.’ And I just get this warm feeling.
Do you ever interact with the cam girls?
I haven’t on that site. I’m one of the grays, one of the freeloaders. And I feel a little bad about that. But I think that’s true of a lot of us. I’ve paid for a few things and I guess I would pay for more if I felt a little wealthier. But I do think that’s significant. I’m basically freeloading. If it’s something like xHamster or PornTube, it’s freeloading off someone else’s flavor. Unless they posted it themselves, as some do to promote their sites.
I got off the point, what was the point?
Do you interact with the girls?
Oh yeah. So I’ve tried that back in the days of phone sex and on cam sites once or twice. I guess I didn’t find it as thrilling as it seemed like it might be. And it was expensive. So the combination of those two things didn’t outweigh [the guilt].
Do you have favorite keywords or fetishes?
Let’s see… yeah. Gosh this is personal.
Feel free to just say yes or no
I know. I’m really happy to have a frank conversation. I like when the single camera actress tells you how to jerk off. Either hospitably or in a fem-dom way. There’s a whole string of fem-dom videos where she starts off by saying ‘I own you’ and takes off in that direction, in some sort of humiliatrix way. That’s definitely one of those things that, in my personal life, I’ve never experienced. I fantasize about it but it’s not something I’m really interested in exploring.
Do you use sites like Twitter, Tumblr or Reddit?
I follow some people on Instagram who are sexy. Who have a sexy, feminist sensibility. This is not so much a sexual response but I like when they post a hot photo of themselves. So I dip into that. That’s about her [his emphasis] desire and I piggyback on that.
It’s funny, when I look at media like porn stars’ Twitter feeds I always feel kind of dirty.
Because it’s so public?
I think so, because of the stigma. Back when you had to buy a magazine, you felt a little dirty. Like you were going to be exposed. And while there’s some transgressive piece of that that’s exciting, ultimately it’s not what I want.
Looking at still images to masturbate to or get aroused by seems kinda... I don’t know. There are probably a lot of reasons why it’s not as effective or arousing. There’s maybe more objectification because you’re looking at the boobs and there’s less action, less agency on the part of the woman.
Then I start thinking about the lighting. Which is another delight to online porn: watching the production values increase over the decades.
You’ve mentioned guilt - do you ever talk about porn/fantasies/masturbation with friends?
A little bit, not so much. I do talk about it a little bit on a more intellectual level. I make a strong defense of porn in my personal life [as opposed to] the pearl clutching.
Viewing porn as a labor issue, I come out of that school of feminism that responded very much to Andrea Dworkin and the concerns raised about the treatment and exploitation of women. But I’m probably more of the Gen X, Susie Bright, sex positive camp. The pro-sex response [to porn] is very complex but that’s the culture I feel most comfortable with. So occasionally I have passionate conversations about why I think people need representations of sexual behaviors but I don’t usually get into my own habits.
David: 66, straight
David lives alone and doesn’t go to PornHub.
What are your porn sources and what would you consider porn?
When I discovered the internet, I investigated what was going on and found I wasn’t really interested in some porn. What I was more interested in was erotic art. Or just nudism. Naturalism and nudity. I’m not interested in the nudist thing of just full-frontal, mostly white people tanning on the beach somewhere. That doesn’t interest me.
Before calling you, I looked up pornography, to find out what we’re talking about. That led me to ‘obscene,’ which I find really interesting. In my old Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary, there are three definitions for obscene. One is ‘offensive to modesty or decency,’ two is ‘causing or intended to cause sexual excitement or lust,’ and three is ‘‘abominable, disgusting and repulsive.’
I try to avoid the ‘abominable, disgusting and repulsive’ and I enjoy, a bit, the ‘causing sexual excitement.’ I’m not going there for modesty, I’m going there to see the human form. I do that when I’m able, lately every two or three days.
What would you consider abominable, disgusting and repulsive?
Porn in which the people in view are doing it for the camera [as opposed for themselves and their own pleasure].
There’s a fascination in porn with copulation that just goes on and on. It’s really interesting to me that these men don’t release until they’re out of the vagina. It’s not orgasmic.
What I’m interested in is lovemaking between people, not what you might call fornication.
Do you look at drawings, photos or both?
I’ve looked at portraits. I haven’t seen much in the way of drawings, that would be a neat thing. I’ve been limited to Flickr, I think it’s called.
I was in Sweden in 1968 at what was billed as the First International Exhibit of Erotic Art. That was a lot of fun.
What about videos? Have you found any in the nature of what you’re talking about?
I have not. I think it might be somewhat more available in actual movies. I used to have a limited data thing [he couldn’t stream easily]. I could do that now if I was sophisticated but I’m not very sophisticated.
Do you masturbate to any of it or is it just for the art value?
For the art value, though I do enjoy arousal. I’m not very good at saving but I saved, at one point, maybe about 12 pictures. If I look at enough of them, it’s a very deep arousal.
But that’s not what you initially go to it for?
Well, sometimes I’m looking for that. I haven’t been with a partner since 2003. Ejaculation is supposedly helpful for the prostate and whatnot.
You mentioned the obscene aspects: do you ever feel guilt when you look at videos, or any of the material you look at?
There are some photos where they’re obviously on nude beaches, taking pictures without consent. They make a thing of being able to take pictures of people without being up front. I don’t like that. It’s essentially theft. I don’t like that at all.
I also feel disgust because it doesn’t seem to be for a woman’s pleasure.
Is that an aspect that’s important to you?
Absolutely. But I don’t see much of it.
There’s another reason, which is that porn seems to be infiltrated a lot with viruses. Some of them are set up where there’s a whole array of pictures and if you click on them, you really don’t know where you’re going. And I don’t like that at all. I also don’t like the advertising that goes with it. I don’t like the lead-ins where someone says ‘I’m a mile away, do you wanna fuck me?’ That’s ridiculous.