Finally, Porn for Women?

What Women Really Think
Nov. 17 2010 2:26 PM

Finally, Porn for Women?

For years, porn producers have tried to market to women and always given up, for various reasons. Now, Playboy TV is trying again. Apparently the channel is too soft core for porn-loving men, and too hard core for women, who control the household cable bill.  So they are introducing a new set of faux reality shows about people who actually know each other having sex, or almost having sex. Playboy is betting that women want porn, but they want it their way: "nonenhanced body parts, varied body shapes and 'contextualized’ sex," the Times reports.  "They want the romance to flow organically from the story and not pop up in a forced fashion as is the case in so many adult movies," says cultural analyst Sharon Lee.

The channel would do well to remember the case of "Markus," the first legal male prostitute in the U.S., who was hired at a Nevada brothel in January. He compared himself to Rosa Parks and quit merely a month later for lack of customers. It’s true that statistics on women and their sexual habits suggest that a lot has changed – women are more demanding, adventurous, and get as good as they give, as Slate ’s William Saletan puts it in his analysis of the latest sex survey . But surveys and market research can be misleading. When it comes to what women find sexy on the screen, they can be notoriously tricky customers; in the New York Times magazine story What Women Want , women were described as aroused by many strange things – an image of a woman exercising – more than they were by a picture of a strapping man. What women said they found sexy and what the plethysmograph recorded made it seem as if body and mind belonged to two different people, Daniel Bergner reported. And an early description of one of the Playboy TV channel’s new shows – "monogamous couples receiving advice on how to achieve greater intimacy" – truly sounds like a parody of what a woman might say on a market research survey about sex.

Hanna Rosin is the founder of DoubleX and a writer for the Atlantic. She is also the author of The End of Men. Follow her on Twitter.