Is Porn Changing the Way We Kiss?

 

Porn Kiss

Porn Kiss

“Kissing-and I mean like, yummy, smacking kissing – is the most delicious, most beautiful and passionate thing that two people can do, bar none. Better than sex, hands down.”

Drew Barrymore

 

 

I’m afraid that young people aren’t kissing as much as they used to, especially during sex. Last weekend I watched Rules of Attraction, a 2002 cult film based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis. Though it’s seven years old, its portrayal of sex-based relationships on college campuses is still accurate. There is plenty of sexual attraction, but not much emotional connection. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised then, when I realized about halfway through the movie that there wasn’t any kissing in the sex scenes. I thought it strange; when I was growing up in the 70s, making out was an essential precursor to even the most casual sex.

In thinking about what’s changed in the last 30 years, I quickly hypothesized that the ready availability of porn might have something to do with this. Technology has made it possible for many young men to view explicit porn every day. It is a popular male bonding activity among college guys. In recent years, porn has showcased behaviors that have quickly become part of the mainstream young heterosexual scene, including Brazilian waxing and girl-on-girl kissing. Now it appears that the practice of anal sex is increasing dramatically among young people, thanks to its popularity in porn. Today, there is evidence that girls feel pressured to participate in threesomes, and to allow their partners to ejaculate onto their faces, the quintessential porn flick money shot.

I decided to do a little, ahem, research, and checked out a few porn sites to see for myself. Bingo. Lots of banging, very little kissing. And that was true even on the amateur sites, where regular folks upload videos of themselves having sex to share the love with the viewing public. Though I wasn’t a big consumer of porn thirty years ago, I suspect there wasn’t much kissing in those movies either. What’s different today is that porn is now the primary form of sex ed for young men, and they’re mimicking those behaviors in their own lives. What kissing I did find online was strange, almost reptilian. I learned that this is called pornkissing:

To kiss someone with tongue but no lips, as in adult movies (UrbanDictionary.com).

(As an interesting aside, I found far more passionate kissing on the gay [male] porn sites. It wasn’t the norm, but plenty of videos were named to imply that the actors were in love, so it was clearly a draw for some viewers.)

Surprisingly, very little research has been done on the subject of kissing. A 2007 study of 1,041 college students at the State University of  New York at Albany did reveal some interesting things about how the genders differ in their view of kissing.[1. Susan M. Hughes, Marissa A. Harrison, and Gordon G. Gallup, Jr., State University of New York, Albany, NY, Sex Differences in Romantic Kissing Among College Students: An Evolutionary Perspective, Evolutionary Psychology Journal, 2007, 5(3): 612-631.]

  • Men consider kissing a means to an end, such as gaining sexual favors or reconciling after a fight.
  • Women kiss to establish and monitor the status of their relationship, and consider it a crucial element in finding a partner.
  • Kissing is biologically powerful; it releases feel-good dopamine and endorphins to the brain, reduces cortisol (stress hormone) levels, and floods the brain with oxytocin.
  • Women value kissing before, during and after sexual encounters.
  • More than half of the men said they would be happy to have sex without kissing, compared with fifteen percent of the women.
  • Men expect kissing to lead to sex half the time, compared with one-third of the time for women.
  • Men are more likely to initiate French kissing, perhaps hoping to arouse the woman with the testosterone in their saliva.
  • Tasting another’s saliva gives you their “chemical fingerprint.” Saliva and sweat contain pheromones, and help you determine your level of attraction and compatibility to a person.

 

Because the vast majority of porn viewers are men, and because most porn is produced by men, it is not surprising that porn focuses on what men want. But what are the long-term implications for emotional intimacy and relationships in our culture when young men are learning most of what they know about courtship from porn? How do women feel about the norms of porn becoming part of the mainstream sexual script?

In 2003, third-wave feminist Naomi Wolf wrote a seminal piece for New York Magazine called The Porn Myth. She made the point that the onslaught of porn is deadening the male libido, who see fewer real women as “porn-worthy”:

“If your appetite is stimulated and fed by poor-quality material, it takes more junk to fill you up. People are not closer because of porn but further apart; people are not more turned on in their daily lives but less so.”

She believes that young women on college campuses worry that if they do not offer what porn offers, they won’t be able to hold a guy.

And now it appears that they may not be able to kiss him either.

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  • David

    I like this post.

    I think it illustrates how sex has become very male-centered, despite the advances of feminism. In the end, our entire society suffers, because men’s drives, when unchecked and distilled, are rather piggish, and I say that as a man.

    Now let me say something really controversial–perhaps certain aspects of feminism have exacerbated this problem. (Hear me out–I’m not anti-feminism.) It seems certain feminist schools of thought propagated the idea that men and women were identical in every way, minimizing any differences. So in the past before feminism, if women wanted a less objectifying and more intimate sexual experience (unlike the ones your post describes), there were expected cultural differences between the genders that helped a woman get that. (Hence, your observation from 30 years ago.) Now, women are supposed to meet men on men’s terms (ostensibly to prove they’re “one of the guys”) and are getting caught in a lot of unsatisfying circumstances (like the ones you described).

    Just a thought.

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  • Yail Bloor

    I'm just gonna say. I watch porn. When I am with a girl I like to kiss. When I have sex I like to kiss. After I like to kiss. I like kissing even if sex is not involved. Kissing is awesome. I don't think porn has anything to do with people's kissing habits. And most real men know the difference between porn and real life. Porn is a fantasy. Any guy who thinks otherwise is likely a douchebag. It is true there are many. But we all know that women prefer douchebags….

    (that is a joke by the way…)

  • http://buy-oxytocin.com Oxytocin lover

    Nice article. Have to say because of porn I expect my girlfriend to do a lot of things that I have seen in the porn. I do not force her to do anything and if shes not comfortable with it its cool.
    As a side note I am not going to kiss here after I have just ejaculated all over her face, double standards I know I'll probably get flamed for this.

  • susanawalsh

    Yail, you totally have your shit together on this issue, imho. It really is about keeping porn in the fantasy realm and not bringing it into your own relationships.

  • susanawalsh

    That's honest, and not surprising. (If I didn't think this was happening, I wouldn't have written the article.) I'm glad you let your gf determine what she is comfortable with. I do wonder, though, about the long-term impact of porn on relationships. For example, Viagra prescriptions for guys in the 20-30 age range are skyrocketing. They just can't get it up for sex that doesn't mimic porn, and for women who don't look like porn stars. Not saying that applies to you ;-)

  • R

    I (a woman) actually sort of dislike kissing. Even after all of my years of experience, I never got used to the feeling, and I could never really understand what feels so great about it.

    However, I do love cuddling a lot. I definitely prefer hugging/holding over kissing.

  • R

    I think a lot more men are influenced by porn than you believe. Porn is generally something that men and boys begin to watch at a very young age, high school and college age probably. Because of this, they tend to learn about sex from porn rather than learning about it from more realistic sources or from experience. Then, by the time they have sex, their minds are filled with unreasonable expectations for women and sex.

    Another thing that I find interesting (albeit very disturbing) is that all of the previous boyfriends that I've had that have had to either rape me or pressure me into sex have been the men who watch rape-porn. I think that they see women in porn begging the man to stop, but in the end loving the sex anyway, and they have these expectations for me as well. This kind of influence on men is extremely disturbing..

  • susanawalsh

    R, thanks for commenting, that's interesting. I do know in my own life that there are some nights when I just want to cuddle, period. I don't want to take it to the kissing level, which invariably leads to sex. Hugging and holding feels so great all the time~

  • R

    I (a woman) actually sort of dislike kissing. Even after all of my years of experience, I never got used to the feeling, and I could never really understand what feels so great about it.

    However, I do love cuddling a lot. I definitely prefer hugging/holding over kissing.

  • R

    I think a lot more men are influenced by porn than you believe. Porn is generally something that men and boys begin to watch at a very young age, high school and college age probably. Because of this, they tend to learn about sex from porn rather than learning about it from more realistic sources or from experience. Then, by the time they have sex, their minds are filled with unreasonable expectations for women and sex.

    Another thing that I find interesting (albeit very disturbing) is that all of the previous boyfriends that I've had that have had to either rape me or pressure me into sex have been the men who watch rape-porn. I think that they see women in porn begging the man to stop, but in the end loving the sex anyway, and they have these expectations for me as well. This kind of influence on men is extremely disturbing..

  • susanawalsh

    R, thanks for commenting, that's interesting. I do know in my own life that there are some nights when I just want to cuddle, period. I don't want to take it to the kissing level, which invariably leads to sex. Hugging and holding feels so great all the time~

  • http://kikyohatake.tumblr.com tiara

    I agree with this article. I know that not all men are like this but when I overhear guys in my high school talk about sex its like they only talk about it the way porn portrays sex (i’ve seen porn…got addicted only because it looks retarded then I let go…I’ve stayed single for a long time on purpose because of that). And there are some females who see sex the porn way either because that’s all that they know or because like you said they feel the pressure to satisfy a guy who likes it like that. But i’m a seventeen year old virgin so what do I know?

  • http://www.theatheistindian.com Atheist Indian

    Trying to understand social or sexual trends from films, media surveys and porn is probably not the best bet, IMO. As a male in his 20s, I have watched porn on occasions and I still like kissing, not just as a precursur to sex, but for kissing’s sake as well. It is like an ice cream, which can be had be enjoyed as a dessert after a meal or as a snack in its own right.

    Having said that, I think porn does effect how men expect sex, relationships and women’s bodies to be like. It is inevitable, if the only ‘sexual experience’ they had for years after their puberty is what they see in porn. I have seen many cases of guys complaining about how the women they have been with are ‘lacking’ in sexual expertise or how they expected female bodies to be like. It is rather common in India, where men spend almost a decade after puberty before they get laid.

  • Xfing

    A very insightful and contemporary article. Porn does indeed cut down on the kissing drastically. Even though I’m male, I get a boner almost exclusively for tentative and rare stuff such as making out, entwining hands, dirty looks etc. As for kissing in porn: watching loving, passionate kissing doesn’t turn me on nearly as much as deep kissing but with the hint of casuality. The so-called “porn kissing” is also great, but if alternated with normal kissing. It’s fun to watch on its own, but definitely works better as a variety enhancer rather than the main attraction.