Book Review: Ethical Porn for Dicks

ethicapornfordicks
Image description: Ethical Porn for Dicks cover features a black illustration of an ancient erotic Petroglyph. The book is resting on top of a black and white computer keyboard.

Here at The Unlaced Librarian I love having conversations about porn. I want to find as many resources as I can to help individuals understand the role porn plays in their sexualities, help couples communicate to each other about how porn fits into their relationships, and untangle the stigmas society has placed on porn and sexual expression.

Ethical Porn For Dicks: A Man’s Guide to Responsible Viewing Pleasure (Three L Media, 2016) by Dr. David J. Ley is an excellent resource for all of the above.

The first thing I like about this book is that it is targeted toward men. Look, I don’t have a dick attached to me. But I have talked to a lot of people over the years since I’ve been a sex writer, and by far, straight men in relationships have been the people writing in or asking me for resources about porn.

In my experience I see men, especially straight men, who feel left out of a lot of the sexuality resources that have been published. Most of the publications regarding porn I’ve seen that target men directly are from movements trying to get men to stop watching porn… no matter what.

So I’m not surprised when men tell me they are having a difficult time integrating pornography into their sexuality and relationships in a healthy way. So this book, I feel, is particularly important in the discussion about sex. Though Ley does talk about gay men as well as trans men and women, and women in the book, I like that there is a focus on straight men’s desires and fantasies.

The overall tone of this book is conversational, down to earth, and flows well. The author uses humor and a great balance of compassion and assertiveness when discussing many complex issues.

I have read a fair amount of books about porn. I’ve talked to a lot of people about porn. I’ve had access to many different resources regarding porn. But there were still questions I had about porn that were answered in this book. This book covers things that I have not seen in other publications and offers a detailed list in the back of researchers, psychologists, and individuals within the adult industry that are working toward an ethical and open approach to making and viewing pornography.

This book confronts a lot of taboo topics in the discussion of pornography. With sections titled, “Guilt, Religion, and Porn,” “Children, Teens, and Porn,” and “When Porn Really Can Ruin Your Life” readers don’t just get the sunshine and roses view of porn. Ley discusses difficult issues in a realistic and balanced manner. Other sections include “Dealing with Porn-Related Problems,” “Porn and Your Relationship,” and “Porn, Fantasy, and ‘Real Sex'” that dissects more common anxieties surrounding the use of pornography. At the end of the book, the author talks about things consumers can do to help support ethical porn and reshape the adult industry.

Also worth mention is the illustrations. (Does that get your attention?) The book is tied together with illustrations of ancient erotic Petroglyphs, or as the author has endearingly titled them “Petro-porn.”

petroglyphporn
Image description: An ink drawn illustration of an erotic Petroglyph featuring three figures from the book.

These ancient carvings depict sexual acts and shows us just how long humans have felt a desire to record and showcase images of sexuality. The act of sex in its many forms has been a part of art and human experience since the earliest of our days. I found this not only a fun way to visually hold the book together, but also a rather deep, transcendent commentary on the modern conversation within the pages.

Overall I recommend this book not just because I agree with much of the philosophy and psychological foundation therein—I recommend this book because I think it is useful. I think Ley offers a perspective and models conversations that will make it easier to understand the social and psychological framework surrounding porn, empathize with different viewpoints, and have compassion for all parties having the conversation about sex—especially if that person you need to show compassion for is yourself or your partner.

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