This article is broken in that it is about mystical unicorn porn. That is, it bends over backwards to give porn-users a "fair shake" in that it is about porn that is not obviously degrading, vulgar, or gross, and I'm not sure such material even exists (aside from that fact that if it does, it by some definitions would not count as pornography in the first place). Hence this article needs work. It might also go away until these issues are rectified. Until then, I suggest you go read something else — there's got to be at least one good article on this log — or, if you wish to stick with the topic, you may wish to read about pornography elsewhere.
Way back when I wrote a paper called Pretty in Pain. ("Rape culture, by any other name —" You'll have to excuse the style; it was one of the first things I wrote at university, and went online because it predated the plethora of much better papers you'll find nowadays by several years.) Anyway. Back then I mentioned to some people that I'd love to ultimately write a treatment on porn, but given that "both sides" had studies and treatises and what-not, it would take quite some time to do the research — time I sadly didn't have. It's been years, and I still haven't found the time. And perhaps more importantly, better researchers and more insightful people than I am have. So I'll offer a — by now terribly biased — opinion instead.
Let me preface this by saying that I think sex can be great, good sex ed (which I'm sure you realise implies more than just "heterosex-ed") should be easily available as should be contraceptives, and that I believe in reproductive rights. Very leftist, very liberal, right? Now porn?
The upshot is depressingly simple: I just don't get it. On so many levels.
First up, yeah, sex can be great. If done right, etc. Porn on the other hand seems like seeing some other kid enjoy their ice-cream. Or, if you don't get it very often, seeing someone else win the lottery, I guess. (Yes, we're still in the rare genre of porn that's actually just people having sex and, in theory, enjoying it; we might get to the potentially degrading porn and that where degradation is the entire point later.) Yeah, right, you can identify with the people in the movie (Yes, we're in movie-land.), but, you know, why not just have sex yourself?
So you have this major personality defect that makes you totally offputting to your potential mates? OK, that sucks, but how that means that you should spend your time and money on porn rather than on becoming less unlikeable is, frankly speaking, beyond me. That's just, like, giving up. Honestly, that sounds like enough of a reason to outlaw blue movies right there — the sex drive is powerful, and if it can be employed to make people less asshole-y, that sounds a worthwhile societal goal. : )
So you say it's not that, it's your looks. Now that one's easy, actually — stop hoping to date supermodels. Not all men are great-looking. Not all women are great-looking, either. Matches should be possible! Like, duh.
But … but … you have a right to your phantasies? I haven't even begrudged you your phantasies yet, really. I've begrudged you someone else's. If for some reason you can't, or won't, date, what on earth keeps you from creating your own phantasies? The sex drive, as we said, is a strong one. If for some reason you can't get off to "just a fantasy," learn to draw it.Learn to write well. That way, it's still good for something productive.
And that's not even going into how I think hate-porn has a particular potential for being harmful, and how almost all porn dangerously suggests the male entitlement to the female body. I think that's exactly the agenda we don't want to further. There is no such entitlement, just like there is no entitlement for a white guy to be preferred over the black guy at hiring time. Not being an asshole is a hell of a start though when it comes to being preferred at mating time. And so is being a good lover — especially, I understand, in word-of-mouth based poly circles.
The good news. A lot of women like sex. So in theory, stop worrying about all that conquering and bribing crap. Aren't you glad you to get out that shite?
The bad news. Something still needs to be done. For many women to acknowledge that liking, and for many others to discover it, stop the slut-shaming. It's stupid, and it really really works against you, unless you're a real lousy lover and fear any comparison. If you're a lousy lover, don't give up and resort to porn. Also, don't turn to porn expecting to learn anything; not even pornographers pretend that that's the right place to learn about sex. But learn you should. And of course, this also means acknowledging that women are people. Specifically, and in many cases, people with a sex drive of their own. (If it doesn't match yours I'd think that's nothing polyness can't fix.)
When sex is the currency in some weird-ass bargain rather then something women enjoy, then you already paid your price at the door (dinner, diamond ring, marriage) to uphold your side of the deal, and all that matters during the act is your satisfaction. If on the other hand the point of the act is the act, and the pleasure to be had for both parties, then responsibility works entirely differently. Think about it.
So in short, stop that conquering meme, stop making it look like it's some antagonistic game or war where you have to trick the Madonnas amongst us out of sex. That's only true if you're a really crappy lover. Conversely, stop making it look like the rest of us are "whores", that there is no need to think about their pleasure or worth as they clearly need to be fucked — "how and by who doesn't matter, only qualification required: a penis."
We're not the enemy. We're not a prize. We're people. And many of us like sex. Just not with "just anyone." So, don't be just anyone. Will probably do your chances no end of good.
That said, my original approach from way back, looking into whether or not porn is harmful was flawed. Porn, obviously, does not exist in a vacuum. Most contemporary porn is informed by the patriarchy/rape culture, and feeds back into it; there is interaction. To expect to come up with a single reason theory was doomed from the start.