Sarah's Reviews > Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality

Pornland by Gail Dines
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's review
Feb 18, 2012

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bookshelves: non-fiction, sex, pornography
Read in February, 2012

I didn't think pornography was as lurid as it was described in this book! I always thought it was just films of girls taking their shirts off (which was bad enough). Who knew things like gonzo pornography, money (cum) shots, vomiting and urination fetishes existed? Reading this made me realize how totally ignorant I was of the roots of the hypersexualized culture that surrounded (and continues to surround) me, which, thank goodness, I ain't anymore.

This was the first book I read about pornography, and while I don't regret reading it (Dines's work is undoubtedly important, especially considering that pornography is such controversial field), I was expecting a more academic and scrupulously researched approach. I don't want to seem like I'm trivializing her work--the amount of research she did must have been staggering--but I did think a lot of it was based on her own interpretations.

While I concede that I'm largely inexperienced when it comes to sex, I have heard of accounts of people who enjoy being anally penetrated, along with consensual S&M. She disparages both of these acts as debasing and degrading to women and seems to conclude that all women would suffer from such acts. It also seems like she thinks sexual experimentation--which was purportedly a large part of the popular television series Sex and the City--is not a viable way to explore sex with one's partner. For instance, she describes one of the characters as being uncomfortable initially with her potential partner's urination fetish (something that I personally think I would be uncomfortable with too), but tries to adjust to it albeit with some limitations. I think that a relationship should be about discovering what your boundaries are with your partner, whether sexually, physically, mentally, or physically. Granted, I haven't actually watched Sex and the City so I'm well aware that I'm offering a fractured critique.

Regardless, I'm interested in reading more about the topic and I'm pretty sure a lot of that has to do with Dines herself. I appreciated the chapter she wrote on growing up female in a pornified culture; it was definitely relevant, and I think it's opened my mind to analyzing the types of choices I'll make in the future. She really made it clear that a lot of porn is about business and that many companies--including Amazon--profit from the business indirectly. Pornland was a good introduction to pornography culture, and how exactly it affects the people who use it, the people who interact with the people who use it, and the potential consequences that spring from using it.
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