I was asked the other day to comment upon women's use of internet p*rn and sexual sins committed alone, as one might delicately say in the confessional. The request left me thinking about the generation gap, and how the internet has transformed childhood. When I was a child, one had to protect one's child from the television. If something my parents thought their children shouldn't see began to happen on television, my parents sent us out of the room. ("Go brush your teeth!") So religiously did my parents do this, that when similar scenes, be they scary--I was sent out during "Jaws"--or sexual--I was sent out during "Brideshead Revisited", appear on British television, to this very day I quit the room. I must be like Pavlov's dog. Meanwhile, if something appears on British television that cannot be shown on Canadian television, I scream like a banshee until B.A. changes the channel.
I was strictly forbidden to read the stacks of paperback science fiction novels my mother brought home from the library, or anything in which one might discover p*rnographic or merely racy scenes. I disobeyed this injunction exactly once, I believe, and the spirited yet innocent aristocratic heroine was saved from her seducer at the last minute by her stern and vengeful brother or guardian or whatever he was anyway. (Although now that I think about it, I read a page or two of the copy of Princess Daisy being passed around Girl Guide camp.) So, it is a great irony that I have never, in fact, read a bodice-ripper, although eventually as an adult I did read the utterly forbidden Flashman series until I got bored with the sniggering hero.
As far as I recall, there was no internet in my life until 1990. My father was on the cutting edge of computers-and-linguistics or something like that, so we had a modem and a notepad with very long and elaborate code of instructions for calling up another computer and writing it an email. It took a long time, and the only pictures were of Space Invaders quality. Technically you could create pretty cross-stitched pictures out of Xs and send those, but it would take forever.
Thus, I had graduated from high school and possibly even had a BA and maybe even an MA before I ever heard of internet p*rn. And I didn't know women engaged in the solitary vice until my first week at university when I was welcomed with a big lamp post sticker announcing what percentage of women did. (What I remember best about Orientation Week was a series of photocopied pictures of men lip-locked to men and women lip-locked to women over the motto "Enjoying your Orientation?" I had never seen such photos before, and suddenly wondered if going to this university had been a terrible mistake.) I assumed the big sticker was lying because women are much purer then men, everybody knows that, etc., etc. I was nineteen, had only the most cursory grasp of the facts of life, and reality was what I wanted it to be.
To a Catholic teenager of my generation, p*rn was something that on the top shelf at the corner store, which only adults could buy, or on a video tape available for rent in the back of the video store, in that room behind the curtain, where only adults [skeezy adults] could go. In short, it was hard to get. If we wanted information about sex, the safest and most private course of action was to go to the library and find Princess Daisy when the librarian wasn't looking. Scratch that. Easiest of all was to read the racier parts of the Good News Bible during class. Potiphar's Wife, people.
This is all to say that I don't have the foggiest clue about internet p*rn and female solitary vice. In terms of dirty books and movies, my mother, backed up by Father Robert J. Fox's "Prayers for Young Catholics", totally nuked any temptation in that direction when I was wee, but I know perfectly well many women consume erotic novels like potato chips. I wonder if that messes with their love for their husbands or what. Although I am told internet p*rn messes horribly with men's expectations and ability to be sexually satisfied with natural practices, I cannot imagine any woman demanding that her husband be more like a pirate or whatever. Not a middle-aged women, anyway. Middle-aged women have seen too many news items about pirates. And I believe the solitary vice creates rather than expels loneliness, if that is what that is all about.
In my M.Div. training we were told of the importance of referrals. So if you want advice about overcoming a porn habit and/or the solitary vice, I recommend that you find a female chastity blogger who writes about this. I completely understand women not wanting to talk to priests (i.e. men) about such things, but maybe your confessor could recommend a good book or a good website. And maybe some of your fellow readers here will know of some.
I am told that women struggling with porn habits worry that people will judge them more harshly than men with porn habits, as if there is something completely unfeminine about getting a sexual rush from images. Such an idea is pretty ridiculous, for all human beings by nature (albeit fallen nature) enjoy pleasurable sensations. Generations of women have had sexual responses to racy novels and racy films. So I imagine it is not uniquely "masculine" to get a rush from racy pictures and films on the internet. However, I think it is true that people are rather more frightened of disordered forms of women's sexuality than by the non-violent disordered forms of men's sexuality. (Women have, after all, been complaining about the latter for over three thousand years, while concealing the former so as not to be horribly punished.) And thus I do think people will judge religious women more harshly.* So unless you want to be an early pioneer in changing people's perceptions of women-of-faith and porn, I suggest women-of-faith with a porn habit be very careful about choosing confidantes. However, I don't think you should be derailing your efforts to wean yourself from sinful habits with worries that you are unfeminine or that professional counselors will think you are unfeminine.
*One of the drags about being a woman of faith is that people do expect more from you than from other women. For example, other women can move in with their boyfriends, and their friends and colleagues say "Congratulations!" However, if you are caught sneaking out of your boyfriend's house at 6 A.M., the knives come out. Still, this can be good for you. One of the best slaps-in-the-face I got about my then-slipping standards was from a fallen away Catholic, living in sin, who looked at me as though I had just advocated slowly torturing kittens to death. I'm very grateful to her. But what many post-Christians do not get is that Christians who screw up are not hypocrites but sinners. We go to church not because we are good but because God is good. We go to confession not because we are good but because we are bad and want forgiveness. The biggest difference is that Christians acknowledge that we are sinners and try to do better, whereas post-Christians are increasingly uncomfortable with the ideas of sin and forgiveness of sin at all. Because they don't believe in forgiveness, they assert that their own sins aren't sins. Regrets they have a few, but too few to mention. In Scotland, there's an ad for cheap funerals in which a lively chap asserts that at his funeral he wants them to play "My Way." B.A. hates this poster. I agree there's something satanic about it.