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Adult content. Porn. Erotica. X-rated videos.

As you get older, you learn more and more words for erotic content. But have you learned about the benefits of watching it?

No? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Heads-up: This is the fifth piece in Adult Entertainment & You, a limited series about porn and erotica.

We’re going back to the basics to provide you with the tools you need to create a healthy relationship with adult content — if that’s something you’re into.

Intrigued? Read more about why we’re doing this and catch up on pieces you missed here.

Before we go any further, it’s important to understand what constitutes erotic content.

Whether video, photo, illustration, or words, erotica is any content that’s created with the intention of arousing people who encounter it.

Erotic content isn’t sex education.

If you’re looking for content that’ll add fire to your loins, facilitate a wank, or help get you and your boo(s) in the mood, adult entertainment can help. (More on these benefits below.)

However, if you’re seeking content that will teach you how to perform certain sex acts, you need sex education, not erotica.

Luckily, there are free sex education materials available online (including in video format!).

Check out:

“There’s a new narrative that it’s OK if you watch porn, but even that doesn’t quite nail it,” says Jenn Doan, pleasure professional, confidence coach, and in-house writer with Afterglow.

“Porn isn’t just OK,” she says. “It can actually be good for you.”

Read on for some of the benefits.

It can turn you on Big Time

Through a combination of sounds and sights, erotica literally turns your brain on!

And when your brain turns on? Well, you turn on!

…even if you weren’t previously in the mood

Maybe masturbating brings you euphoria. Maybe orgasming helps you release stress. Maybe you have a date later and want to be rocking that post-O glow when you walk in.

If for whatever reason you want to masturbate but aren’t in the mood, erotica can help.

Sometimes even when we want to be in the mood to have sex (solo sex included!), we have to intentionally do things that will get us in the mood, explains Doan.

“Watching porn can trigger the body’s arousal response, which gets you in the mood,” she says.

It can be affirming for your sexual orientation

“It’s 1,000 percent possible to enjoy watching porn that features certain sex acts but never want to try them in real life,” Doan says.

That said, watching erotic content featuring certain sex acts, or gender or genital combinations, *can* be really affirming for your sexuality, she says.

Let’s say, for instance, you’re a bisexual person who’s never been with someone of a similar gender as you.

“Watching porn featuring two people with similar genders as you have sex, and finding it arousing, can feel validating,” Doan explains.

It can boost your self-esteem

Watching erotica that features performers who look like you can be an incredibly helpful reminder that you are deserving of pleasure.

It can improve your relationship with your partner(s)

You’ll want to become comfortable watching erotic content on your own before inviting a partner to watch it with you.

But when you get to that point, watching it with your partner can:

  • improve your communication
  • help you practice communicating your boundaries
  • give you ideas of new things to explore

“It costs time and money to make porn,” says Jiz Lee, marketing director of Pink and White Productions.

And just as you pay for all the other content that takes time and money to make (talking about your Xfinity and Hulu subscriptions!), you need to pay for your erotic content.

“Paying for porn ensures the performers get paid: the video crew, photographers, editors… the whole works,” Lee says. And not only that, but that they’re getting paid fair wages!

“Paying for your porn also means that the company gets to continue to produce porn,” adds Shine Louise Houston, director of Pink and White Productions, creator of CrashPadSeries.com, and curator of PinkLabel.TV.

This may not be a selling point for you now, but trust, once you find content you love, it will be!

Great, you’re committed to paying for your content. But how the heck do you find erotica you’ll enjoy? These tips can help.

Make a Yes/No/Maybe list

A Yes/No/Maybe list allows you to express the things you have interest, some interest, or no interest in.

Sometimes it features fill-in-the-blanks (like this one from Scarleteen). Other times it features columns, usually with a bank of sex acts at the bottom (like this one from Bex Talks).

Other Yes/No/Maybe lists to check out include this one, this one, and this one.

Typically, these lists are filled out by sexual partner(s), play partners, or (BDSM) scene mates so everyone better understands each other’s boundaries.

But you can fill one out on your own to help you think through the type of content you may be interested in watching!

For every act, toy, or name listed, ask yourself, “Do I want to see this in an erotic film?” and mark it as Yes, No, or Maybe, accordingly.

Learn about the different subscription platforms out there

There are a wide variety of subscription services for erotic content available.

That means that no matter what you indicated on your viewing list, there’s a platform for you.

Some paid platforms to look into include:

To learn more about these different subscription services, check back here for the seventh and final piece in this series, titled “You Know That Thing You’re Into? There’s an Erotic Creator for That” on March 22, 2021.

Start by subscribing to a platform for a single month

Most of the above platforms offer subscription options for 1, 3, or 12 months.

Scroll through the above platforms’ “About Us” pages and see if the platform seems to specialize in the acts you’re most interested in seeing. And if they do? Subscribe!

Heck, with most subscription fees falling somewhere between $15 and $25 per month, you might even subscribe to a few different platforms at once.

While you watch, enjoy *and* think

You might L-O-V-E the first video you watch on the platform. Or you might hate it!

“Think and talk about porn as you would any other type of cinema (drama, romantic, thriller),” suggests Anarella Martínez-Madrid, founder, CEO, and producer of Sex School.

“So, ask yourself: Who made this? What’s the purpose of this film? What details are left out? Who’s the message for? How did the content make me feel? What am I looking at?”

You might also ask yourself:

  • What about this turns me on?
  • What about this intrigues me?
  • What about this makes me feel uncomfortable?
  • Have I seen anything that has the opposite of the desired effect?

Adjust the content you’re watching on that platform accordingly

For example: Maybe you subscribed to CrashPadSeries and loved that all three of the performers were queer but wish the scene didn’t feature a realistic-looking strap-on dildo.

Next time you watch, seek out strap-on vids with nonrealistic dildos or other sex acts altogether.

At the end of the month, resubscribe or find a new platform

Liked what you saw? Keep subscribing!

If, however, you realized you were actually looking for content that was a little more artistic, queer, or kinky, you might subscribe to Four Chambers, CrashPadSeries, or Kink.com, respectively.

Consider subscribing to your favorite performers directly

“If you like a performer, you might be able to support their projects directly,” Lee says.

Many content creators these days have accounts on platforms like OnlyFans, ManyVids, Frisk, Clips4Sale, or Patreon, which allow you to buy their content directly.

Now that you have a practice that brings you pleasure, consider bolstering your one-on-one time in other ways.

Masturbate

If you weren’t already, use the time you watch erotica to self-pleasure.

“Masturbating can help you feel more confident in your own ability to meet your needs and put you in touch with your sexual energy,” Doan says.

Masturbating can give you insights into how you like to be touched, which, if you share with your sexual partner(s), can improve your partnered sex life, she adds.

Grab toys

Sex toys were literally designed to help you touch yourself in ways that your hand alone cannot. (Your hand, after all, can’t vibrate.)

Grab lube

By decreasing friction and increasing glide between your hand (or toy) and your erogenous zones, lube can increase the overall pleasure you experience during a solo sex sesh.

We live in a pretty damn sex-negative world, so some shame may come up.

Shame can present itself as:

  • regretting watching porn after you do it
  • feelings of ‘dirtiness’
  • stomach sickness

Cultivating sex positivity in other parts of your life can help fight against the likelihood that sex negativity rears its dirty head at your erotic practices.

Try:

  • unfollowing puritanical social media accounts and replacing them with sex education accounts
  • learning about and speaking out against the violence against sex workers, trans women, and femmes
  • joining or beginning a sex education book club
  • working with a sex-positive therapist

You might even try talking about sex with your partners and friends.

“When you slowly begin to believe that there’s nothing wrong about fulfilling your desires and talk about them in a safe environment, you’ll slowly feel better about watching porn,” Martínez-Madrid says.

Watching erotica can be pleasurable, affirming, and arousing. But you need to find content you like (and are paying for!) for that to be true.

If you don’t enjoy your first few videos, keep on searching. There’s smut out there that you will enjoy. Trust.


Gabrielle Kassel is a New York-based sex and wellness writer and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. She’s become a morning person, tested over 200 vibrators, and eaten, drunk, and brushed with charcoal — all in the name of journalism. In her free time, she can be found reading self-help books and romance novels, bench-pressing, or pole dancing. Follow her on Instagram.