Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey.

Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey.

Women are just as capable of being ‘addicted’ to porn as men. It's official. A new German sex study has confirmed what I have long suspected and that heavy use of pornography could make some of us “hypersexual” - a personality disorder that involves spending excessive time engaged in sexual fantasies. We love a dopamine hit as much as the next fella. After all, we’re human, and our brains are wired to find novelty exciting, irrespective of our genitals or gender.

I love porn, and ever since I began researching it for my work, I’ve become increasingly seduced by its gushing celebration of the human body in all its variety; its capacity for pleasure beyond the bounds of moral, missionary stricture; and the fantasy outlet it provides. Far from believing that porn is responsible for our social and intimate decay, I am zealous about its capacity to cheer up our stress-rich, time-poor, care-worn lives. Whatever the fantasy you’d like to explore, there’s a porn clip out there for you. If you’re female, you might just need to spend a little more time riffling through the racks, so to speak.

I was never much of a dabbler as a teen. Instead, as a keen reader, I smuggled my mum’s copies of the Kama Sutra and Nancy Friday's My Secret Garden into my bedroom, stuffing them down the gap between the radiator and my single bed, dazzled by the variety of human sexual experience that sex education and Hollywood 12 ratings had not prepared me for.

My morbid feminist phase

Later, I was far more interested in having sex than watching it, particularly, in front of mirrors. In my late teens, after a debilitating few years battling with anorexia, my sex drive had all but evaporated, and when I ventured back into the online fold at university, I didn’t do it for pleasure. I was going through what I like to call my High Morbid Feminist phase, and searching for evidence of objectification and exploitation.

“Porn is the separation of the parts from the person,” read one feminist text I loved to quote in my modern literary theory class. But when I wrote my dissertation on Nabokov’s Lolita and the feminist dissections of it, something shifted. How could these theorists be riled about a fantasy depiction where the victim is a character? And wasn’t video porn full of characters too? I decided to go back to the online stuff.

Soon, I was logging on several times a week. It was high respite from the high-minded literary journalism sphere into which I was trying to break. There is some deeply erotic and artistic material out there, featuring men as beautiful as the women, and made by the likes of Erika Lust, Ms Naughty, and Pandora Blake. But I also love the raw, ragged, mainstream videos that populate the tube sites. I love kinky porn, queer porn, and decidedly hetero stuff, even more than girl-on-girl. And I love to imagine being THAT guy.

It's useful

Now, as a 30-year-old female boxing nut, I’m probably in possession of a higher sex drive - and the energy reserves to power it - than many of male peers. But once in a relationship, I’m enthusiastically monogamous. Without porn, there’d definitely be a sexual energy deficit I’d have to discharge somewhere else.

When I was given just six weeks to write an erotic memoir, I knew I was going to need ‘priming’. A daily dose of porn kept my pornographer’s pen lubricated. Finally! Something better for the 4pm slump than my previous Dairy Milk and Diet Coke fix.

We lament that porn functions as sex education in Britain, but provided you also do research on the mechanics of the moves you want to try, it can also provide fantastic inspiration. When I worked as a professional dominatrix a few years ago, I regularly watched kink porn in order to conjure new tricks that I could use on the clients. It also helped me to better understand their expectations. Far from making me feel intimated, I would watch the lame dialogue and overwrought squeals and know I could do better – and be far sexier. If you’re open to someone’s fantasyland, and they to yours, porn can’t come close to replicating the experiences you can have with one another. There is nothing as sexy as authenticity.

Porn isn’t a substitute for skin-on-skin experience. It’s an enhancement, an aperitif. It’s also a great and safe substitute for sex when you are getting over a break-up. The temptation to have sex on the rebound ebbs when you know porn can help you get the dopamine rush with none of the emotional fall-out.

Objectification doesn't have to mean dehumanisation

As for the argument that it objectifies women, well, of course it does – and what’s wrong with objectification? Contrary to many of my feminist peers, I don’t consider it short-hand for dehumanisation.

Like any woman conscious of gender and power, the issue I do still have with porn is the prevailing male dominance of the industry. Although even that is changing – and quickly - as proven by the rise of female stars now in charge of their own production such as Joanna Angel and the independent cam girl industry.

At the recent Camming Con conference in Miami, (for the web camera industry) I met with women of all shapes, weights, sizes, and asymmetries working just exactly what they had to make a more than decent living. We had glorious lunches, where neither carbs nor Pina Coladas were off limits – nor any topics of conversation. From international politics, to the problems with gel polish, to the things we would not tolerate in men, I have rarely had such a life-affirming lunch with girlfriends.

Desire is amoral. That’s a tough reality for most of us to grasp when we are brought up believing there is only one right way to love, and that’s in a mind, body and soul, only-eyes-for-you-forever kind of way. But that’s the beauty of porn. It’s there for you after a bad day, a bad break-up, or when your libido doesn’t match your partner’s. And you can bring it into your real-time relationships as much or as little as you like.

No, I won’t be giving up my porn habit any time soon. If ‘hypersexual’ is short-hand for sexually confident and creatively stimulated, please, leave me to my addiction in orgasmic peace.

Nichi Hodgson is a British author, journalist and broadcaster specialising in civil liberties, gender politics, and sex and the law. She is the Men's Health sex columnist, writes for Bustle.com on US affairs, and regularly broadcasts for the BBC and Sky News. Her memoir Bound To You, published by Hodder, is out now.

Telegraph, London