“Porn-sharing”: a simple sharing phenomenon or a radical change in the male-female paradigm?

Introduction

Today, porn is increasingly part of our intimate lives. This statement is confirmed by the ranking of the most searched sites in the world. In fact, according to research from June 2019, we can see that behind the social giants and Wikipedia, the sites with the most searches are Pornhub (position 8) and Xvideos (position 10). The data is about a year and a half old, but given the current pandemic situation, I am inclined to think that the data reflects reality even today, or even positions have been scaled. 

In recent years, porn sites have had a major change in their structure, and there is an increasing amount of amateur content. This article is not intended to talk about porn, its pros, and its cons. Nor is it intended to judge whether it is right or wrong to share intimate material. Nor is it intended to treat sex as taboo. The author wants to say that for him sex and the intimate sphere are one of the greatest freedoms that can exist, intimacy is a transitory moment in which everything is permissible as long as all parties want it. The focus of the text is only on online sharing because I think that the internal dynamics involved are much greater than they seem, and in some ways could also go some way to redefining the whole paradigm of intimacy in the male-female relationship. The text is divided into three parts:

  • The first part tries very quickly to tell the “technicality” of this process, trying to highlight how porn sites have changed from yesterday to today.
  • The second point tries to hypothesize (it is only the writer’s thought) the reason for this sharing of one’s intimate material.
  • The third point concerns my conclusions, trying to better understand this process, to ask questions, which maybe will be a starting point for future research. 

Porn sites: from platforms to communities 

In recent years, porn sites have undergone an important evolution, about which too little has been said. They have evolved along social lines. If initially porn sites were simply streaming platforms, where the big porn companies (or even individual users) uploaded their videos, today those sites have become real communities. Let’s take a look at Pornhub: I think everyone has entered the Canadian site at least once. Today, in my opinion, the site has turned from a streaming platform into a social network. Inside, thousands of user profiles create a porn-sharing community. Among the users, we find both professionals in the sector, who have transformed themselves into ‘red light freelancers’ and couples or single amateurs. The various profiles can post photos and videos, there is a bio where you can put any information you think is useful, and individual profiles can be followed or not. It’s kind of like Instagram, but with an adapted theme. Nowadays more and more people are signing up and sharing their intimate material, and it’s not just Purnhub. Several platforms offer similar services, one of the most famous is Onlyfans, which uses different methods, but is based on the same themes (it is fair to say that Onlyfans does not only contain intimate material, many people use it from personal trainers who share their workouts to makeup artists). Today the phenomenon is on the rise, especially towards the Z generation, and this is an important indication of how the intimate sphere is moving towards mass sharing.

Sharing, sharing, sharing 

We know: today we live in the world of sharing. This is a fact, as is the fact that modern means of communication have shaped the society we live in. This is why sharing one’s intimacy is completely logical in the process of sharing the world. It makes total sense to think that after sharing moments, dreams, emotions, one also gets to share one’s intimacy. Generally speaking, when one tries to understand what motivates a user to share their intimate material, the answers given are on average two: because it excites them or for money. Surely there is some truth in both answers, but I don’t think they are the real reason, let me explain better.

As far as arousal is concerned, it is an answer that does not seem to me to be suitable for two reasons: The first is the fact that vision is unidirectional, once uploaded online a potentially infinite number of people can see you, without you seeing them. Being seen by a stranger during sex is a common perversion, but those who have this perversion want to see who is looking at them, which is not the case behind the screen. Another important point is the time factor, arousal is a transitory state, while the uploaded video has an indefinite permanence. 

I also don’t think the economic reason fully explains the driving force. We indeed live in a world of great uncertainty, it’s not easy to find your way, especially among young people, and this is evidenced by the fact that many countries have a high unemployment rate. Young, attractive people might think about entering the sector, it is a possibility. But again, I am not fully satisfied with the answer, and porn too, although there is a lot of consumption, is becoming saturated. 

I think a possible answer lies in the motivations that drive us to share other content on other platforms. I think that in psychological processes the driving motive for us to share is a sense of approval. I don’t want to be provocative, but in fact, I think it’s one of the main reasons. When I post a photo on Instagram I choose one that I like, but that I think other people might like too, I’m looking for approval. This article is also a good example of that. I try to argue a thought that I have had for some time, hoping that the reader will approve of it. Everything that is shared is indirectly based on the approval of others. Following the same reasoning, even nude or amateur porn has the usual driving motive. If we look at it from a biological perspective, I think it makes complete sense. Intimacy and sex are how we bring about reproduction, the ultimate goal of life from a purely biological perspective. Sharing the fact that you can do it, and well, is an evolutionary endorsement in itself. I do not want to go into Freudianism about Oedipal relationships within the family sphere, with the fragmentation of the ego and its recomposition in the media. This too could be part of further reflection for the reader, but approval I consider the main point. 

Conclusion 

I wanted to deal with this topic because I believe that it contains greater dynamics than might appear at first sight. As stated by social science expert Alison Wolf, “there is no record of human societies ever applying total sexual freedom”. With this statement by a renowned social expert, I do not intend to channel the discourse against sexual emancipation or anything else, but rather to present a fact trying to put it in context with the situation described so far. These codes have various origins and are constantly being redefined by the society in which we live, but some have deeper roots than others. So how should porn-sharing be interpreted concerning these codes? I interpret this phenomenon as a possible and total redefinition of the paradigm in the male-female relationship on a social scale. In short, a simple action can hide within it what could be an evolution within those processes on which social interaction is based. As I see it, each of us wants to feel ‘special’ in some way, and after the biological reason, this is what makes us choose one person over another. Now intimacy is a very personal thing, and there is no right or wrong way to experience it. But if we look at the average, intimacy is closely linked to the condition of feeling special. You are special to me and therefore you can see me naked. With the phenomenon of sharing the dynamic changes, because obviously by sharing anyone can see, and the paradigm shifts. It may seem obvious and trivial, but I think that feeling unique is a very important point in a relationship and has deep roots. Today we are at the beginning of the phenomenon, but the data indicate that shortly this phenomenon will be much more widespread, so the question arises: how will the man-woman relationship evolve? The relationship of uniqueness within the relationship is something that cannot disappear because it serves to define a relationship and the role that person has for us. So if it no longer resides in intimacy, what will take its place? Will intimate jealousy disappear in the male-female relationship? Or will it represent too great an emotional burden, destabilizing relationships and making them more fragile and superficial? And for those who will not be able to adapt to the new social paradigm? How will they manage to relate in the loving and intimate sphere? Will the role of intimacy itself be redefined? Many questions arise, and few answers we can give. One thing is certain, on the horizon close to us great changes are taking place. 

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