The Positive Power of Porn

I use the internet every day. I use it to search for the answers to random questions that come to mind, to get the news, watch films and television.

Yesterday I was searching for design ideas for the new apartment in Kiev Sasha’s father has given us as a present. Over the next few months, it needs to be fitted out. It is a new build and is now just 4 walls in a pretty development. We need to make fundamental decisions such as where do we want walls, do we want an open plan kitchen together with design questions around fittings and colour schemes.

With my absence, this has been put on Sasha and she is doing a tremendous job while I offer little more than encouragement from a distance. What I can do, however, is send her examples of what I think is good design which she can then share with the designer.

To be honest they may not necessarily be good design but examples of the way I would like our apartment to be. Modern, stylish and yet still cosy for those cold winter Ukrainian nights.

These were the focus of yesterday’s internet searches.

Luxury modern apartment design yielded appropriate pictures, even if they were 100 times larger than ours. However, as soon as my search precision waivered porn started to appear with images of naked women, legs akimbo although, to be honest, decorating some very smart apartments.

I am not a puritan and I am not complaining other than yesterday it was frustrating. For once this wasn’t what I wanted. Kitchens, showers, bathrooms and sensuous bedrooms were my focus, but it did prompt another question.

All the photos were of women. There was not a man in sight. There were no naked couples enjoying each other while pointing out the intricate design on the architrave. If simple searches brought back porn images then there must be a demand. And this is where my inquisitiveness kicked in and the question I asked was, who is watching porn?

Pornhub is one of the largest of all porn sites and recently they gave us some of their porn demand statistics.

  • In 2017 alone, Pornhub got 28.5 billion visits. That’s almost 1,000 visits a second, or 78.1 million a day.
  • Enough porn was watched in 2016 on this one website that all the data would fill 194 million USB sticks. If you put the USB sticks end to end, they’d wrap all the way around the moon.
  • In 2016, 91,980,225,000 videos were watched on Pornhub. That’s 12.5 videos for every person on the planet.
  • Also, more than 4,599,000,000 hours of porn were watched on the site in just one year. That’s equal to 5,246 centuries.

That is on just the one site, Pornhub. I have repeated those because they are mind-boggling large.

Unlike Alexandra, my psychologist co-author in Ukraine, it is not for me to try and interpret this admittedly single sourced, data. What I can say, however, is that there is a lot of porn hypocrisy. On the one hand, society condemns porn while still watching it. A British Government Minister recently had to resign because porn was found on, admittedly, his work computer. Those Pornhub statistics suggest that you would be lucky to find a computer without porn links.

But still, I hadn’t explained why the images being shown to me were of women.

In a study in 2006, 68% of those who consumed porn online were men while women only made up 13.6%. However, times are changing. Now, 76% of 18 to 30-year-old American women report that they watch porn at least once a month. Women are now just as likely to be watching porn as a man.

I offer no comment other than to say that the survey running on the book site shows that women are now equally open to fantasies and so therefore porn. It has always been assumed that women’s porn was softer, gentler and more loving.

Feminists argue that porn degrades women. That is probably true but porn is one of the few industries that has a male gender pay gap. Surveys suggest that female porn actors have more self-esteem than the rest of the population, and again from the analytics released by Pornhub women are 113% more likely to search the term hardcore than men. They are also over 105% more likely to seek out genres of porn like gangbang and rough sex.

Porn is like alcohol. In moderation, it is fine for adults, can have positive benefits but in excess, it is a negative and far from benign influence.

Openness and acceptance will allow a meaningful discussion. It will allow us to address porn addiction. Couples will see the possible positive impact that porn can have in a relationship. Porn will be discussed without embarrassment, and then most importantly we can talk about its impact on children.

It is perverse that the political mess over the last two weeks that has surrounded Amber Rudd, The British Home Secretary, has taken the spotlight off another failure of British policy.  This weekend, the end of April 2018, was supposed to be one when access to any porn site was controlled by positive age verification.

It won’t enough just to tick an age verification box. Probably credit card details will be required and if you are underage then access is banned. There was a lot of blah blah when it was announced. Digital economy minister Matt Hancock said it would mean the UK having the “most robust internet child protection measures of any country in the world”. We would be there this weekend if the introduction hadn’t been delayed until at least the end of 2018.

Porn is pervasive and it has opened the discussion of sex and sexuality.

English rugby player, James Haskell has been talking to the Daily Star about his forthcoming wedding to Chloe Madeley. I was impressed by her openness. ‘I’m a really sexual person,‘ she told The Daily Star. ‘If I had a partner who didn’t want to have a very sexual relationship then that would be a problem for me.’

She continued: ‘It is massive for James. One of the reasons we stuck together in the early days before we totally committed was because we were so compatible. Our sex is continually changing as our relationship grows, so it stays interesting.’ 

When Sasha is interviewed before our wedding I hope she is as open and says something very similar and maybe even adds that when we were apart occasionally we shared porn. She wouldn’t be lying.

Faithful in love – how to avoid tempation

These pieces were never meant to be a vehicle for questions and answers and particularly not an agony aunt column, but I have succumbed. A reader from America has sent me a question. I am flattered that she thinks I may have something to add that is useful. So here is the question from Lilly (not her real name):

“When you are in a relationship, how do you stay faithful to one person, forget that there are other options out there and stop being curious about others?”

Wow! Not an easy question to start with and I am not sure I am particularly well qualified to answer it, but all I can do is say what I believe.

There is a continual buzz in the world. We are on our phones, rarely to make a call but searching our social networks to see what others are doing and suggesting what we could be doing it, if only we had the courage. We search down the latest trends? What are the trending hashtags? Sexualised advertising is everywhere, and porn is now common place. I have no problem with porn per se and for viewer it offers all sorts of potentially exciting ideas. We don’t want to be left out.

It is easy to feel that you are living a narrow and unexciting life. It is the fear that you are missing out.

I can understand why Lilly feels the need to ask her question.

Of course, that is not the reality. Everyone you are watching you is wanting what you have. It is like two mountain rescuers and their St Bernard dogs, each with a barrel of brandy around their necks. They are climbing a mountain and each few hundred metres, for €10 a tot, they buy a warming drink from each other. By the top of the mountain the barrels are empty, the mountaineers are drunk but neither has made any money.

Lilly, I come from a prejudice that being faithful is a prerequisite of love and everything hereafter will reflect that. You must bear that in mind as you read this.

Before you can even think about being unfaithful there needs to be a relationship and to stay faithful means of course that there is a relationship that you want to maintain. I don’t know how much you love your partner but from your question I assume you do. if you didn’t then you would never be asking the question.

When we form a partnership, we make formal and informal commitments which are based on love and, most importantly, trust. Making that commitment is extraordinarily difficult and requires total trust. I know that more than anyone; Sasha and I live over 3,000 miles apart. Trust is crucial to us.

Surely, Lilly, being unfaithful is a total breakdown of trust? It is never love you are betraying it is trust and that hurts far more. If you are in a shared loving relationship, then you must be faithful. It is as simple as that.

Of course, it is never as simple as that, I just liked the moral authority in the phrase. The level of trust will wax and wane. That is the nature of life and you both have a responsibility to manage the changes and ensure there is more waxing than waning. As with most things the best way to ensure this is to talk, talk and talk some more.

I haven’t always been good at communicating but over time I have improved and become much better to the point that my honesty is driving Sasha mad. A simple question from her can involve a long answer as I try to make sure that I answer honestly, and nothing is left out. Dishonesty by deliberate or accidental omission is still dishonesty.

Sasha and I also do something very rare. Every day, without exception, we write to each other and we share every thought, but don’t believe it is all loving or sensual. Mostly it is but I know when she is cross with me. Sasha can find words and phrases that, if her letter had been handwritten it would have been a scrawl of venomous green ink. Similarly, I hope I can sometimes find a tone that expresses my displeasure. But we talk through our problems. We are open and honest with each other and it doesn’t change when we are together.

We have agreed that when we are living together we will find a way to recreate our daily letters. We will make sure that we spend at least an hour or two every day properly concentrating on each other. We don’t want a chat while one of us is cooking, pushing a hoover or watching Crystal Palace playing football. We will find proper one to one time when our only concentration is on each other. We will (and please excuse this word) verbalise both our letters and the time we spend now writing letters.

The letters have done more than nurture love and trust they have made sure that we have also become best friends. We share everything. There are no secrets.

Lilly, have you noticed that we are never ‘unfaithful’ to our best friends?  In our letters Sasha and I are doing what friends always do, talk. She is my best friend. We want to be best friends, we are best friends and the best and strongest love is when your partner is also your best friend.

Love and trust, like any delicate, tropical, flower need to be nourished with continual attention. They are the most delicate of flowers.

The problem is that you can have a strong, loving, stable, relationship yet still face temptations.

Sasha and I met on a dating site which I have learnt later are part of a syndicated relationship and however many times I unsubscribed I pop up somewhere else. I have given up and now just delete the meeting requests and naked pictures as they arrive and send them to the junk email box.  However, I do occasionally peek before deleting and think momentarily about all the sexual favours being offered. I don’t dwell for long because I love Sasha, but I can see the temptation.

It was Oscar Wilde’s character Lord Darlington in Lady Windermere’s Fan who said, “I can resist everything except temptation”. Maybe that is the creed of today’s society. Couple that with FOMO, the ‘fear of missing out’ that is driving much of modern society and we have your problem.

The reality is that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and you have this feeling that maybe it is. We have temptation thrust in our faces.

Whenever temptation has come my way I ask myself a question. What am I going to lose if I give in? I am in love with Sasha and I know she will hate me for saying this but, she isn’t perfect. She can and sometimes does annoy and upset me but the things I love far outweigh anything she could do to annoy me. Those are every bit as much a part of her personality and they make her real. It is not just that I love her but the pain of losing her would never be worth giving in to any temptations. The loss would be mine.

Lilly, the final part of your question asked about ‘being curious about others’.

I have recently edited a new book – Alexandra ( which is the story of a Ukrainian psychologist who specialises in female sensual and erotic fantasies. Other than dulled excitement of editing and proof reading these exciting stories over thirty of forty times, it is interesting because it opens something that I hadn’t previously thought about. Women have erotic fantasies every bit as much as men.

In my very misogynist way I had assumed that it was only men who had sexual fantasies. Of course, it was only men. That is why the porn industry is what it is. I was wrong as Alexandra (who I met through Sasha, she is one of her best friends) repeatedly tells me.

The problem is that women have always been reluctant to share their fantasies with their partners and, as Alexandra tells me, women need that same sensual excitement in their relationships. And so, Lilly, my advice would very much be to talk openly to your partner about your sensual needs.

Alexandra, tells me that is what women do when they talk with each other (unlike men in the pub who just brag about what they would like to do with the barmaid). Maybe if you were to talk to your partner about your fantasies, you may just find more common ground than you thought.

Being unfaithful doesn’t have to be a full on, naked romp on a rainy afternoon in a shady hotel. You can be ‘unfaithful’ without leaving your office. In the press recently there has been discussion about a concept called Micro-Cheating asking the question, are you unknowingly being unfaithful? (

According to an Australian psychologist, a range of actions, including having a secret online conversation and leaving heart emojis on a friend’s Facebook post, might be seen as micro-cheating. Melanie Schilling told Huffington Post Australia that it comes down to “seemingly small actions that indicate a person is emotionally or physically focused on someone outside their relationship”

Further examples she gave include saving someone in your phone contacts under a different name, reaching out to an ex-partner to mark a significant event, and sharing private jokes. But these examples divided social media, with some people defending the term, while others called it abusive.

Similarly, what if you follow a good-looking man who walks through the office? Do you cast an admiring glance and wonder on his glutes and pecs, width and length? Is that being unfaithful?

I know many women who would have cuffed me round the head if I wasn’t concentrating totally at them. A glance at a pretty woman walking past me is seen as cheating. I don’t do it now.

While I was thinking about this piece I asked Sasha for her advice to you and this is what she said,

Gerry, you know that I trust you, you know that I love you and I am open and want to try new things with you (there is a little censorship here as Sasha describes something sensual that we could do on a cold winter’s night!). There are lots to try for us, and if we do this together then our love will grow.

For me the most important is that you love me and only me and that I am the one you always dream about!!

I think there is a strong trust that makes our relations so strong, so we keep our relations even though there are so many miles between us.

As ever she says everything far more succinctly than me.

Lilly, this is not an answer but some rather random thoughts. There is no single answer, but I hope my few words have given you some insights. I hope your love sustains and you are both very happy, for a very long time.

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