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Why women who watch porn have more ‘friends with benefits’

Cooper is one of the best-known female radio personalities in NY. A radio veteran, and Gracie Award winner, she currently hosts her own morning show for Cox Media Group, aptly named 'The Cooper Lawrence Show'. She can be heard mornings o...

Study shows women who watch porn are more likely to have 'friends with benefits'

No sooner did Alanis Morisette coin the term, “friends with benefits," in her 1995 song, “Head Over Feet" than psychologists started studying those relationships. Are they good for you? Bad for you? What part does alcohol play in them — significant — and should you cuddle after or just sneak out the door before morning?

More: What I learned from going to a sex party with my boyfriend

It’s the latest study on friends with benefits that has everyone in the scientific community fascinated and polarized. In its simplest terms, the study found that the more porn women watched, the more “friends with benefits” relationships they were likely to be in, and that’s a good thing. Age is a factor too. This study found that this is truer for Millennials — and some Gen Xers — than it is for older generations.

Women have always been in charge

Women are doing most of the sexual decision-making anyway, so it stands to reason that sexual attitudes are loosening up. The General Social Survey has been bugging Americans about sex since 1972. Back then, over 67 percent of us thought premarital sex was wrong, but by 2000 it was just 8.4 percent. That means more casual sex, so why not throw some porn viewing in there?

Many women who watch porn do so to learn so they can have better sex with their partners. There is a great deal of female erotica that ranges from images of women calling the shots in bed, to scenarios like those in a romance novel that feature extremely hot and heavy sex between two people who are falling in love.

Women tend to prefer more sex-positive pornography that gives us a smorgasbord of choices when it comes to our own personal sexual menu. Hence, the learning experience, horizon-broadening factor is a major draw. The focus is primarily on consent and safety, but once those two areas are settled, game on.

Women seeking porn

I want you to also think about access and how that has positively impacted our sexuality. In the 1970s and '80s, women who were curious about pornography were slut-shamed. They also put themselves in danger by walking into X-rated peep shows or sex shops, not just because those kinds of establishments were in terrible neighborhoods, but they likely encountered harassment from the men in these shops.

More: A stranger had to loan me money to pay for my sex toy

On the Internet, you can indulge your curiosities. You can buy sex toys with no apprehension or just view sexual acts without spending a dime, which is what we seem to prefer. A Marie Claire study found that 75 percent of women prefer their porn on free sites.

All of this leads to a greater sense of agency over our own desires, which has a positive impact on well-being, as well as personal, emotional and physical health. It also has some bearing on our attitudes towards our male — and female — friends, sexually. We can rehearse what we’ve learned with friends who won’t judge before we use our skills in the big leagues, with the guy/girl who makes us swoon.

How much porn are women actually watching?

That depends on whom you ask. Most researchers will tell you that the number is probably much higher than reported since a) how many of us are going to even admit we watch porn? b) many researchers are men (see “a”), or c) women who are watching porn are not the ones being studied. I mean, do you watch porn? Did anyone ever ask you that question in a scientific environment? I didn’t think so. One highly criticized Pew study in 2013 said that only 2 percent of women watched porn, which seemed ridiculous, especially since another study right behind that one said that it was more like 16 percent. Last year, we learned that 24 percent of us lady folk were viewing porn. Regardless of the actual number, I’m just happy that we live in these sex-positive times, where even the World Health Organization is worried about our orgasms.

More sexytime

Porn-watching women are having more casual sex, and I think that’s great. Casual sex is about being sexually empowered. It’s about our own happiness, and it’s about moving forward. If you think that women having casual sex is a problem, you’re on the wrong side of history. More open sexual attitudes are making us less promiscuous, not more. We’re evolving in the right direction. I feel terrible for our grandmothers who wore girdles which made it so they couldn’t even open their legs.

In the '90s, Eve Ensler made everyone say the word “vagina” in public with The Vagina Monologues, and now a record number of women are watching porn and having more friends with benefits. We’re flipping the sexual script and we’re changing our expectations of relationships. “Friends with benefits” relationships help us avoid jealously, hurt feelings, getting overly attached and leave us feeling stronger. That’s because in the end, we belong to ourselves, and that’s a very empowering place to be.

More: Macy Gray orgasms and is not afraid to sing about it

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