Today an advice-seeker tells Dear Prudence that watching porn made her boyfriend ask her to get breast implants. But is porn really the issue here?
Here's what "My B's Are Getting an F" has to say:
I am in my 30s, own my house, and have a good job. I also have an adorable 4-year-old daughter and am in a loving and supportive live-in relationship of three years. (He's not my daughter's father.) My boyfriend recently told me that he would like it if I got breast implants. I am a B cup, and although he says he loves my body, he adds, "But I'd really like it if your breasts were larger." This came up when I discovered that my boyfriend was regularly watching porn. His explanation is that he prefers a different body type from mine. This was news to me, since we have sex one or two times a day, and it's excellent. I have never felt insecure about my body-just the opposite, as I have worked as a model. I love him and want him to be happy, and I'm beginning to wonder whether I should go ahead with enhancement just to please him. But I am trying to raise my daughter to be proud of her body, and it will be difficult upholding that if she finds out Mommy changed her body to please a man.
Prudence is oddly charitable toward B's boyfriend, writing back,
Actually, I think your boyfriend really does like your body the way it is. It's hard to fake sexual excitement 500 times a year. It sounds like what might have happened is that you discovered his porn-viewing habit, and since you're having sex with him as frequently as other people consume vitamin pills, you got offended and outraged. Backed into a corner, he felt forced to admit he likes to look at women with really large breasts, and things spiraled out of control from there.
Given that B and her dude have an active sex life, there's no real reason porn should be a problem in their relationship. But if B was worried about it, "I'd really like it if your breasts were larger" is the exact wrong response. The boyfriend took a potentially tense situation, in which he and his girlfriend could have talked openly about their sexual needs and desires and how porn could fit into those, and instead made it about what was wrong with his girlfriend's body. This is many women's nightmare about dudes' porn consumption — "he really wants women who look like them, not me" — and Boyfriend blew his chance to allay B's fears and enjoy his entertainment in relative peace.
When I talked to porn star Nina Hartley, she addressed problems like the one Boyfriend and B are having:
If a woman feels pressure in her private life to conform to what's going on onscreen, in terms of grooming and behavior, then that's a stressor in the relationship. Porn is not doing anything here. Porn is bringing up the fact that there's tension and lack of communication between the partners or mutual resentment, mutual frustration, mutual whatever. And if one partner is so rude and inconsiderate to say, "hey why don't you do what that chick on camera is doing," you got a problem.
Hartley has a point: the kind of dude who's going to tell his girlfriend to get implants probably doesn't need porn to help him be a dick. That's because he doesn't understand a fundamental truth about relationships: if you want someone with big boobs, date someone with big boobs. If you want someone fat, date someone fat; if you like them thin, date someone thin. Don't date someone who doesn't do it for you and then try to change her so she does. And if you're basically turned on by your partner but, in an ideal world, might change something about her body, just keep it to yourself. If you fail to do so, a letter to an advice column will probably be the least of your worries.