Here’s Why You’re Attracted to a Particular Genre of Porn

genre of pornSomeone recently asked me on Reddit why they like a certain genre of porn. It’s very complex question and a very common one, but I did my best to answer it in my off-the-cuff response.

 

I thought I’d share my thoughts here as well since it’s a question that also comes up in my work with clients.

 

Here’s my response. Let me know what you think.

 

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Thank you for asking this. It’s so common to wonder why you’re attracted to a particular kind of porn. I’ll try to answer as best I can, though without knowing more about you, I’ll need to stick to being more general.

 

 

Understanding Your Arousal Template

The first part of the answer has to do with what’s called the arousal template. The arousal template is a way of talking about all of those things that are sexually exciting to us: fantasies, body parts, scents, environments, articles of clothing, etc. Another way of referring to this is how many people have a “type” of sexual partner that they prefer. “She’s not my type,” for example, but the arousal template is a bit broader than that.

 

Arousal templates can include all kinds of things: fetishes (or what we use to refer to objectified, sexualized parts of the body like feet or articles of clothing like high heels), body parts like breasts, buttocks, etc., even Japanese anime. You name it. Sexual preferences and fantasies are as varied as the human experience, so you’re not alone when you say that you are attracted to your particular genre of porn.

 

 

Your Genre of Porn = Your Sexual Fantasies

It still doesn’t answer the question about why we have the sexual preferences that we do. The first thing we need to realize about this is that porn is essential sexual fantasy realized in video form. Porn is so powerful because it portrays sexual fantasies that are, in a sense, made real by our experience of watching it. We can think about porn as being sexual fantasy, wherein the mind can feel free to fantasize sexually.

 

Next, within sexual fantasies (by by extension, porn), one theory that I like about sexual arousal and excitement says that we tend to become sexually excited by those fantasies that release us from our feelings of guilt and shame. Often, men feel enormous guilt about the intensity of their sexuality, which is at odds with our common need to avoid hurting women in our lives.

 

Porn can be so powerful, so compellingly addictive because it allows us to, by way of the fantasy, be vigorously “sexual” (albeit by ourselves) in the fantasy without hurting others, releasing us from the guilt that we’d feel about being as ruthlessly sexual in real life. In porn, women are often portrayed as enjoying the sex, even when they’re being degraded or even abused. If she were to show any sign of pain, we’d feel guilty and the fantasy would dissolve instantly.

 

The Psychological Pull of Porn

So porn solves a psychological problem in that it allows us to engage sexual energy and feelings that we would otherwise feel guilty, embarrassed, or ashamed for experiencing. The various fantasies and sexual acts portrayed in porn can correspond to the particular ways in which people experience these feelings.

 

For example, a man may prefer videos of big breasted women because big breasts symbolize women with a lot to give emotionally, and he feels guilty about these needs. Another man may prefer videos of oral sex, as he feels guilty about being a passive recipient of sexual attention, or that he feels too anxious about exerting his own sexual energy for fear of hurting his partner.

 

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Jeremy Mast
jeremy@jeremymast.com

Jeremy is a licensed marriage and family therapist (CA LMFT90961) in private practice in Ventura, California. He helps those struggling with drugs, alcohol, and out-of-control sexual behaviors awaken to new possibilities for their lives. He lives with his wife, son, and cat in beautiful southern California.

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