There’s a lot of rough sex in porn and wider media now, and since porn is basically used as sex-ed these days, it makes sense to be curious or want to give stuff you’ve seen a go!

The thing is, there’s a massive difference between rough sex in porn and real-life sex…..so if you want to learn more or try something out, here’s the lowdown first…






The term ‘rough sex’ is used to refer to a range of sexual stuff like choking, spanking, biting, hitting, name calling, role-playing forced sex, aggressive oral sex/gagging, slapping etc.

Rough sex can mean different things to different people and the term can be used to describe consensual playful sexual acts right through to stuff that’s straight up sexual assault.

What do we need to Know about #rough_sex?


Most of the rough sex online looks like everyone’s really into it. On porn sites it’s called things like intense, brutal or punishing and most of the time (97%) the actors respond with pleasure or neutrality, so it looks like it’s a fun time all round. In real life, whilst some people like rough sex, many people don’t like it — and some can feel scared, pressured, unsafe or disrespected.


Research shows there are BIG differences in what people think ‘rough sex’ is, particularly between men and women. So, when someone says they’re into it in real-life, what they’re expecting might be a bit more extreme (and scary) than a partner signed up for.


Some people enjoy the fantasy of rough sex and that’s cool and nothing to be ashamed of. However, watching lots of it in porn can get tricky because it can start to shape what we expect or enjoy in real-life sex.
There’s pretty much zero discussion around consent seen in the rough sex in porn – so because someone doesn’t say ‘no’, consent is assumed. But in real life, that’s not how consent works – any kind of sex without clear consent is harmful (and can be illegal).

Some rough sex can cause harm and be pretty painful. If rough sex goes wrong and someone gets hurt, things can also get tricky with the law in NZ and even with consent, it can lead to criminal investigation.

Ethics & gender messages

Let’s call it… There’s some pretty dodgy ethics in some of the rough sex in porn. There are sexist, homophobic and racist stereotypes, with men mostly being aggressive — and usually to women who just ‘accept’ it, which in real-life is not okay.

Rough sex is a personal call and can occur safely…

…Generally in a relationship or a “thing” where there’s good trust, consent, care, communication and no one’s underage. However there are some physical and legal risks, even with mutual consent.

  • Given for every act…not just at the start
  • Given freely and confidently…without pressure, coercion or ‘vanilla shaming’ (making them feel like a prude if they’re not into it).
  • Informed…everyone knows what they’re getting into, who with, what specific acts and how to do them safely, the boundaries, and the risks.
  • Able to be withdrawn…there’s a safe word or signal that can be used any time and an agreement to stop if anyone feels frightened or uncomfortable.
  • Obvious and enthusiastic…like a 100% clear, verbal and nonverbal yes — given when sober and/or drug free!
  • Safe… whatever is consented to must be safe. In NZ, you can’t consent to ‘violence that can cause serious harm.’

Note from the sex experts

Sex is a lifetime journey… and even though porn makes rough sex look like a fun time all-round, research actually shows most young people prefer more gentle/playful sex.

What about the
kink/BDSM community
and rough sex?

Some people in the kink community practice rough sex, either by itself or as part of a BDSM scene.

There’s a big difference between sexually experienced and educated young adults/adults trying something new within the kink framework versus rough sex with a one-off hook up you may not know well.

Kinksters generally abide by RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink) which means it’s only practised when there’s been education, communication, mutual explicit (obvious) consent and ‘training’ for some riskier acts. BDSM also tends to occur only when people are sober — so everyone’s in a good headspace and there’s no regrets.


Before trying any rough sex, it’s good to take-five to think it through and see how it fits with your personal views on healthy sex and relationships.

Research tells us rough sex is much safer ‘in a relationship and when there’s trust, care and good communication’ – so here’s a quick-fire check list to start thinking through some of these things before you dive into anything…

  • Consent?
    Do we both 100% freely consent to each specific act (not just a general ‘yes to everything’)? Is consent clear, obvious, able to be withdrawn, and given without any pressure?
  • Pleasure & Respect?
    Do both/all people actually want and like rough sex? Is it pleasurable and respectful for us both/all — and are we on the same page about what pleasure and respect look like?
  • Risk/Harm/Safety?
    This might be a no brainier but… is it safe? Are we aware and okay with any possible risks (harms are real with any sexually aggressive acts), and how to manage them? Do we have a safe word or gesture (nonverbal) if one of us wants to stop, doesn’t like it, or is scared?
  • Sex & Ethics?
    Have we thought about how rough sex sits with our own personal or cultural views around gender, sexism and violence? Is this the kind of sex we feel great about having?
  • Communication?
    Have we discussed our expectations and agreed on what types of rough sex we’re going to have? Have we agreed to start more gently/playfully, and then check in during sex to make sure we’re into it.
    Aftercare (aka showing some care after sex) is super important after rough sex – so have we agreed to… check in afterwards? Make sure it was a good time for us both? Finish with some gentle or caring stuff.
If it’s a ‘no’ or you’re unsure…
about any of the above, it’s probably worth giving anything rough a pass, and exploring other stuff where it’s a good time for everyone — without the risk of things going sideways!

Had a confusing rough sex experience?

Lots of people don’t like rough sex — and it’s totally okay to not like it, and to tell a partner you’re not into it.
For some people, rough sex can be very traumatic, especially if it was unexpected, frightening or when communication was unclear. When sex acts are unwanted, you feel pressured, or you don’t consent; this is sexual assault.
This can feel extra confusing if consent was blurred and/or you like the person – so it’s super important to reach out and get some help processing it. Check out Safe to Talk

If you’re enjoying watching rough sex in porn but are worried about how it might be affecting your real-life sex and relationships – check out HERE for some tips and tools to help out.