Do Guys Want More Realistic Porn? That’s What the Leaders of the “Real Sex” Movement Think

There are many valid criticisms we can level against mainstream porn: the lighting is bad, the sex positions look awkward, and the acting is just as wooden and stilted as it was during the Boogie Nights era. But for the most part, guys don’t really care. Porn is just porn.

But a few entrepreneurs in the adult film industry are trying to change that. They think that mainstream porn skews men’s perceptions and expectations of real-life sex, and that guys deserve better. So they’re trying to disrupt the porn industry from within by creating more authentic adult content featuring actual people having sex, with nary an awkward sex position or cum shot in sight.

Aside from the occasional Pornhub Insights post, we don’t actually know a ton about what kind of porn guys are watching, let alone what kind of porn they’d like to watch: “Nobody is encouraging nor funding the Comscore of sex and porn. My academic friends can’t even get funding for academic studies of sex-related data,” says Cindy Gallop, the CEO and founder of the user-generated video-sharing platform MakeLoveNotPorn.

But we do know that the vast majority of men are watching free porn on tube sites, which tend to skew toward more hardcore, poorly produced content.

It’s worth noting that some guys don’t have strong feelings about the porn they watch; as long as they can get off, it doesn’t particularly matter. “I don’t really care if porn is staged or not. If she’s getting fcked hard, I can get my rocks off. Preferably in HD,” James, 35, says.

But it’s also true that some men would prefer to watch porn that mirrors the kind of sex they’d want to have in real life, with real people having real orgasms. Sebastian*, 33, says that he feels bored and unimpressed by what he finds on mainstream tube sites: “It’s not remotely sexy,” he told MensHealth.com. He’d prefer to watch porn that features “hugging, kissing, groping, eye contact, showing that it’s not just a job, you know? These people are sharing an experience together. Intimacy is a huge turn-on.”

Tom*, 28, echoed this sentiment: “I want the person or people involved to look and sound like they’re actually enjoying themselves. No matter how gorgeous they might be, if they’re just ‘going through the motions’ it doesn’t do much for me. Genuine pleasure and fun, ideally with actual orgasms, is what I want.”

“Genuine pleasure and fun is ideally what I want from porn.”


Recently, there’s been a move to create porn that’s more reflective of authentic sexual experiences. Richard Lawrence is the founder of Feck, the company that produces the porn sites ishotmyself and ifeelmyself (links NSFW), where women upload self-made erotic videos of themselves; he also owns Beautiful Agony, which posts user-generated videos of themselves having orgasms from the neck up.

Lawrence describes his early experiences watching porn as “uninspiring and, ironically, amateurish.” “For such a huge industry, it seemed unable to produce anything with real sexual allure that could actually turn me on,” he told MensHealth.com. “It pushed a very narrow stereotype, which they seemed to think was every man’s fantasy: [women in] stilettos, wearing caked-on makeup and the kind of clothes nobody would wear in public. It felt like being in a confectionery store where everything was made of plastic.”

Lawrence first launched ishotmyself simply because he just “wanted to make the kind of porn I’d like to see,” he says. “The candid style of a girl essentially taking naked selfies in her bedroom was really intriguing to me.” The website now features nearly 1 million images from more than 5,000 contributor.

“If you look at the expressions on [the models’] faces, there’s none of the bored, glazed-over expressions you see in mainstream porn,” he says. “It feels like she took that picture just for you, and that turns HER on.”

“I just wanted to make the kind of porn I’d like to see.”

Gallop, the CEO of the user-generated, crowdsourced video-sharing platform MakeLoveNotPorn, is the de facto godmother of the real sex movement. As she described in a now-famous 2013 TedX Talk, she was inspired to found MakeLoveNotPorn when she noticed that many of the men she dated were trying to imitate sex moves they’d seen in online porn. She realized that many men had started using porn as a form of sex ed, which had led to them internalizing inaccurate information about female pleasure or safer sex practices (most porn performers do not wear condoms on set).

In 2009, Gallop launched her website, marketing it as a platform that “celebrates real world sex” by showing videos of real-life couples having sex. Gallop differentiates it from so-called “amateur” porn, which often casts adult performers and isn’t actually “amateur” at all; instead, she refers to it as “social sex,” which she views as a new category of online sex content.

Gallop’s dream is to live in a world where couples posting videos of themselves having sex isn’t considered pornographic, but rather a snapshot of an intimate, real-life moment, the same way we’d post a vacation photo on Facebook or Instagram. “We are not competing with porn,” Gallop says. “Our competition is mainstream social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube — or rather, it would be if they allowed and enabled social sexual self-expression and self-identification, which they don’t.”

Clearly, the message has resonated with male viewers to a large extent. “I’m a 24-year-old American male and I’d never really watched any porn videos beforehand, because I thought them insensitive and over-the-top, but[…]I feel like I can actually relate to your user’s situations in their videos,” one user writes in a website review. Another adds: “I’m a happily married man who grew up at the beginning of the internet porn explosion. Your site has provided us the push that we both needed to have a healthy discussion around the subject of porn’s influence on our relationship.”

“Everyone wants to be good in bed. But nobody really knows what that means.”

Even though porn might offer a limited (or sometimes outright ridiculous) view of human sexuality, porn itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing — it’s a crucial component of a healthy sex life. There’s nothing wrong with watching porn, or using porn to explore sexual fantasies that aren’t always available in real life. But what you see in porn doesn’t necessarily translate to your real sex experiences, or make it easier to talk to your real-life partners about your sexual feelings and desires.

“Everyone wants to be good in bed,” Gallop says, “but nobody really knows what that means. So you’ll take your cues from anywhere you can.” But if you’ve ever tried to sexily spit on someone’s genitals instead of just grabbing lube, or tried to recreate an overly acrobatic sex position with your partner, you know that taking your cues from porn doesn’t always work.

At the end of the day, however, porn is only a small part of a bigger problem: our cultural discomfort surrounding talking about sex. That’s why Gallop wants MakeLoveNotPorn to “help make it easier for everyone in the world to talk about sex openly and honestly in the public domain” or “privately in your intimate relationships,” for it to be as much a part of our lives as posting a photo to Instagram. And while we might be a long way away from being comfortable with getting sexy online, talking about the real sex you want to have with the real person in front of you is undeniably the best kind of foreplay there is.