The Problem With Porn

by Brett & Kate McKay on May 11, 2009 · 336 comments

in On Manhood

Porn is everywhere today. It’s impossible to pinpoint when it happened, but some time in the last couple of decades, porn went mainstream. Before you had to go to the seedy part of town to pick up a magazine or order a stag film that came in a non-suspicous brown package. Now, you can find porn pretty much anywhere you look. On TV, at your local bookstore, and especially on the internet.

This movement of porn into the mainstream is generally viewed as a healthy liberation from the suffocating sexual mores of older generations. While it’s fantastic that society has gotten past its Puritan prudishness, I do think the pendulum has swung too far when it comes to the ubiquity of pornography in our culture. Unfortunately, the ill effects that porn can have on men and women often go unnoticed by the media. Many men are left with the impression that  the proliferation of pornography is an entirely healthy phenomena.  But what effect is porn having on men? When I look around at guys today, I would say without equivocation that it’s sapping their manliness.

A Level-headed Approach

Pornography is such a polarizing issue, that it’s easy for people to take extreme sides when approaching it. Oftentimes, religious people, while very sincere in their beliefs, brand porn as vile filth that turns good men into sexual perverts and unclean lepers. I’ve sat through plenty of church sermons where porn is approached this way. However, such a approach hardly helps men rationally think through the issue. Rather it transforms porn into an even more desirable forbidden fruit, pushes porn consumption into a secretive underground fetish,  and prevents men from being honest in their need for help.

The other extreme sees porn as just a healthy expression of sexuality. Pornography is heartily encouraged in order to help people discover what pleases them sexually, no matter how graphic or violent the material is. The people in this camp will argue that as long as consenting adults are involved and no one gets hurt, then anything goes. However, this approach fails to recognize the detrimental effects porn can have on an individual, on women, and on society.

Neither extreme is helpful. What I want to have today is a frank, rational, discussion about porn and its effects on men. I’ll lay my cards out on the table from the get-go. I don’t think porn is good in any setting. I’ve just seen too many people hurt from it. But I understand that reasonable people can disagree on this issue.

Porn Can Ruin Your Life

Some people have argued that porn use can be as addictive as drugs. Personally, I don’t like the addiction label. It’s too easy to hide behind it as the reason you can’t help yourself. When I think of addiction, I think of people who suffer physical withdrawal symptoms when they finally quit. I haven’t met anybody who’s gotten the shakes when they go a week or two not looking at porn.

There is, however, no doubt that porn can be a full-blown compulsion. It’s more like food to a compulsive over-eater. Once you make those pleasure connections in your brain they can be very hard to break. And it’s not an exaggeration to say that porn can ruin your life. I know of a couple of marriages that broke up because of the guy’s insatiable addiction to porn. And I know of long-term boyfriends and girlfriends who have split up because of it. The stories out there are real and numerous. The man who gets out of bed at night and sneaks away from his wife to watch porn in his office. The man who keeps a secret stash of magazines in his car. The man who watches porn on the job and gets canned when he’s caught. I could go on.

I won’t deny that some men can consume porn and not suffer these kind of consequences. Just like I know men who have an occasional drink and aren’t alcoholics, I know men who dabble in porn and don’t become compulsive porn users.  But even if you’re one of those men who can consume porn without becoming dependent on it, I still think there’s a case to be made that porn should be avoided.  It simply won’t make you a better man in the least. And it can diminish your manliness for several reasons.

The Ways in Which Porn Saps Your Manliness

1. It objectifies women.

A real man sees a woman for who she is. He respects her and her individuality. He sees her as his equal and as a person that deserves respect. It takes a lot of work and effort to interact with women, but a real man has the cajones to do it.

Porn, on the other hand, objectifies women. It turns women into “things” that are only there to gratify a man’s sexual urge. Porn eliminates any need to connect with a woman emotionally or intellectually.

If you want an idea of how insiders in the porn industry feel about women, just ask Bill Margold, a long time performer. For Margold, his “whole reason for being this industry is to satisfy the desire of the men in the world who basically don’t care much for women and want to see men in [the porn] industry get even with the women they couldn’t have.” One writer for porn movies (they have writers?) said that pornography creates the illusion “that women are really in their rightful place and that there is no serious challenge to authority.”

If you have to view porn so you can feel like a man, you’ve got some problems. Real men don’t have to turn women into things to feel like a man.

2. It supports a filthy industry

Almost no man I know would hire a prostitute for sex. The idea of paying a stranger for sex violates their sense of propriety. But porn is basically prostitution, just a few steps removed. No matter how you slice it or rationalize it, you are paying a stranger to have sex. It’s pretty gross when you take a step back: you’re paying people to have sex so you can watch them do it. No man would ever want his sister to be a porn star, so why is it okay for someone’s else’s sister to do it? The more porn that is consumed, the more porn that is made. Even if you’re sitting in your den in Omaha, you have a hand in making the industry grow.

3. It will mess with your expectations of sex

Porn creates unrealistic expectations in the minds of men about love and sex. In porn, the women are always hot and ready to go and have perfect airbrushed bodies. Best of all, the women don’t talk. Men don’t have to worry about nagging or having to interact with the women they view in magazines and videos. Men can just have their way them, and be done with it.

The reality is that women don’t want to have sex all the time, not all women have cantaloupe-sized tatas, and women like to talk. Sometimes a lot.

Porn-obsessed men thus have a hard time starting any type of meaningful relationship because the girls they meet don’t measure up to the women in their magazines and on their websites. And when a man does establish a loving sexual relationship, many sociologists have noted that men who have used porn view their partner through a “pornographic filter.” They’ll resort to impersonal fantasy of some porn scene when they’re having sex because the love for their partner isn’t enough to satisfy them.

The porn-brained man also pushes his woman into doing things she’s not very comfortable with, seeking to act out the exotic scenes he’s seen on film. And he’ll think women are all about it. On sites like Jezebel (the writers of which are far from prudish women) women complain that men of this generation will sometimes do things like ejaculate on their face the first time they have sex, thinking that every women thinks that’s really hot. What a sad commentary on today’s men.

If you want to have a good love life, avoid the porn.

4. It creates a cycle that diminishes your sexual pleasure

While society says that more is always key to happiness, the truth is that moderation is. The pleasure receptors of our mind are sensitive mechanisms. When you first try something new, be it travel, food, or porn, the stimuli easily activate these receptors. But after repeated exposure to the stimuli, your pleasure plateaus. At this point, people often reach for more-more food, more sex, more porn, etc. in order to recover the initial pleasure they once took in the experience. But this only begins a vicious cycle in which you must seek ever greater and more intense stimulation to return to your initial pleasure level. Eventually you overwhelm and numb your pleasure receptors.  Studies have shown that when looking at porn you get used to the level of graphics-ness that is portrayed and then need to ratchet up that level to get the same thrill from it. And where will that cycle end?

While society may sell you on the idea that the more sexual images you cram into your life, the happier you’ll be, the opposite is true. To quote Naomi Wolfe:

The reason to turn off the porn might become, to thoughtful people, not a moral one but, in a way, a physical- and emotional-health one; you might want to rethink your constant access to porn in the same way that, if you want to be an athlete, you rethink your smoking. The evidence is in: Greater supply of the stimulant equals diminished capacity.

After all, pornography works in the most basic of ways on the brain: It is Pavlovian. An orgasm is one of the biggest reinforcers imaginable. If you associate orgasm with your wife, a kiss, a scent, a body, that is what, over time, will turn you on; if you open your focus to an endless stream of ever-more-transgressive images of cybersex slaves, that is what it will take to turn you on. The ubiquity of sexual images does not free eros but dilutes it. Other cultures know this. I am not advocating a return to the days of hiding female sexuality, but I am noting that the power and charge of sex are maintained when there is some sacredness to it, when it is not on tap all the time.

5. It saps your manly confidence

Porn saps a lot of confidence you have in yourself. Men usually turn to porn when they’re depressed and lonely. Instead of making the effort to get out and meet real women, many men take the easy way with porn. More often than not, after getting their fix, men feel even more depressed and lonely because the only intimacy they can get is with a magazine or a web video. It leaves them feeling empty inside. Even worse, pornography can become a crutch for a man, which in turn can sap even more of their confidence.

What do you all think? Is porn really a problem for men? Drop a line in the comment box. Again, this is a touchy issue, but I know we can have a frank discussion about this important topic with the civility and class  Art of Manliness readers are known for.

Also, stay tuned for a future post on how to quit porn.

Further reading: The Number 1 Reason Why So Many Boys and Grown Men Surf Porn (and What to Do About It).

{ 336 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Yev May 12, 2009 at 5:22 am

@Algernon:

How can anything be completely objective? The fact that this is a site about manliness, when there are thousands of people out there who are against men being men, crushes any idea of objectivity. If you don’t agree with something, say so; if not, stop whining about some fantasy ideal that doesn’t correspond to reality.

@Dave:

#1
“any interaction between two people where you don’t know their first name is basically objectification.”

- just because it also objectifies men, does that mean it doesn’t still objectify women? See the lack of logic there?

– that is both a bold claim, and a fallacy. I can and do easily treat the cashier at McDonalds as a person rather than a machine, even though I may not know their name. If the only way that you interact with people that you don’t know is by objectifying them, then that’s your issue and you should work on that, rather than claiming it is a universal truth.

#2
i won’t even address anything here because it will come down to my worldview vs. your worldview, and I understand that few such arguments can be won through the Interwebs.

#3
“Movies, friends, books, everything is a misrepresentation of sex”

- it sounds like you have a specific definition for sex; otherwise, none of the things you mentioned would be a “MIS – representation.” Please, share what sex should be… what the author is saying is that if you see certain types of actions in porn, you will naturally expect them in reality, especially if you had porn first then real sex later. Again, not for everyone, but looks to be the case for most men.

#4
“This makes no sense at all, does practicing sports or lifting weights diminish your performance?”

– yes, your performance does in fact “diminish” if you continue doing the same exercises all the time. That’s why serious athletes cross-train and weight-lifters switch up their exercises and how they do them periodically, so as not to plateau. In plateauing, their performance is lessened.

- note that the author said that it diminishes your sexual pleasure, not your sexual performance. This is a classic example of the Law of Diminishing Returns. You lose the rush the more you do something, so that the next time it’s not as gratifying, the next time after that, even less so, and so on. This of course doesn’t apply to every situation, but when it comes to pleasure it is generally true.
It goes hand-in-hand with Long-Term Potentiation, which is when a nerve gets stimulated to such a degree that it is always sensitive to that same type of stimulus afterward. An already-sensitive “pleasure neuron” is very much affected by that stimulus. So when one keeps watching the same porn over and over and over, one generally gets bored with it, and has to move on to more “exciting” things, which usually take the form of more erotic sex and, at the end of the line, violent sex. Of course this doesn’t happen all the time, but it’s interesting to note that many murderers started looking at porn at a young age (Ted Bundy is one example)

#5
“If a video or a magazine can take your manly confidence, maybe you didn’t have much in the first place??”

- nice potshot there. Only a fool thinks that nothing can hurt him. The reality is that who we are is influenced by what we see, think, and do, in various capacities. If someone struggles with videos or magazines, who are you to tell him that he is not a man? Once again, simply because you don’t have a problem with a certain issue, doesn’t mean that everyone else doesn’t either. Here’s to actually making sense and using logical thinking when we talk about issues online, and not saying anything here that we wouldn’t say to another man to his face.

Important article, good points, and generally true.

Yev

102 Gabriel May 12, 2009 at 5:26 am

Let me start off by saying that I have had a long, serious talk about porn with my loving girlfriend. Let me add to that the fact that she is no fling; we love each other very much and plan on building a life together as time goes on.

My woman is the exception rather than the rule, but she supports me and my occasional habit of watching porn. She even likes to watch some porn herself from time to time. To us, it is a release and not something that gets in the way of our relationship. There are times that we are away from each other for a while and with sex drives as strong as ours, we are healthier when we can release our sexual tension in a way that doesn’t hurt us or our relationship. You might be thinking: “don’t you feel hurt that she may be thinking about someone else, or isn’t she hurt by the idea of you doing the same?” Well, no we are not hurt because we know that at the end of the day we love each other more than any image or fantasy. Of course, it helps that our sex is off-the-wall awesome and often puts porn to shame.

All of that being said, there are some bounds within which we live. Neither of us like the extremes that porn often reaches. We don’t act out the often shocking things that happen in porn because we don’t see the appeal of it and because we have something better. We also have plenty of sex with each other, so we don’t need to let porn take over our lives.

In a nutshell, porn has its place and is to be used in moderation like anything else. If you are looking for something that will help you to deal with porn in a more healthy way, there are a few tips I can give you.

1) Forget everything everyone ever told you about porn and form your own opinion based on experience and awareness of the feelings of those around you. Do not forget that some people just hate it plain and simple, so you need to be mindful of how your actions will effect them.

2) Have great, loving, meaningful sex with someone you love deeply and are fully committed to. If you are in a relationship which is not as deep or committed as that, porn is not the problem you should be blaming. Meaningful sex will, among other things, help you to put porn in perspective. That in turn helps you to use it in moderation. If your sex is better than anything in porn, then you will not put porn over your relationship.

103 Aaron May 12, 2009 at 5:28 am

I get the distinct impression from many of the comments that they’re a bunch of guys who are slave to porn, and trying in a very public way, to justify their behavior.

Brett – the Puritans were NOT prudish. That is a label/stigma they have been given, in error. See http://bit.ly/kuge6

104 Scott May 12, 2009 at 5:35 am

This is an excellent post! Thank you for having the courage to speak to such an important issue.

105 Person May 12, 2009 at 6:16 am

This article seems to be one giant piece of hasty generalization. The author seems to base his conclusions on a very limited selection of people, frequently referring to a level of acquaintanceship. Consider some of the first things pointed out:

“When I look around at guys today, I would say without equivocation that it’s sapping their manliness.”

How is this determined? How does the author know that the guys with a lower level of manliness are the higher consumers of pornography? Even if he has statistics on the level of pornography consumption and the level of manliness how is he sure that the pornography consumption is the cause of the drop in level of manliness? At best, the author has a questionable cause. It remains useful to point out that correlation does not indicate causation.

“I’ve just seen too many people hurt from it.”

How many people has the author seen not hurt by consuming pornography or even helped by consuming it? This reeks of confirmation bias and is not a particularly useful grounds upon which to base an argument.

“I haven’t met anybody who’s gotten the shakes when they go a week or two not looking at porn.”

The author seems to indicate that he is in contact with people who have been diagnosed as having an addiction to pornography and that he keeps track of when they last watched pornography. (I will give the author the benefit of the doubt that his use of “the shakes” is a metaphorical representation of withdrawal symptoms in general.) Regardless, to claim that pornography is not addicting based on this biased selection is a hasty generalization of the worst kind.

My view of pornography notwithstanding, this article is replete with fallacious logic and is a disservice to any genuine discussion of any potential benefits pornography has and any potential harm it causes. I would encourage the author to go back and do some serious research on the psychological and sociological impacts of pornography before spouting off personal opinion dressed up to look like rational discussion.

106 James May 12, 2009 at 6:17 am

I both agree and disagree with this article.

SOME porn objectifies women. Then again, so does some books, some magazines, some art, some television and movies, and just about every beer commercial. If porn objectified women, it would be all about the man’s pleasure, using a woman as he saw fit. And there IS such porn out there. But it’s boring, and if I find that something I was watching fits that mold, it gets turned off. Most porn, the woman is enjoying herself as much if not more than the guy. A lot of WOMEN watch porn. And those that do don’t find it objectifying, usually.

How is the porn industry filthy? They do their best to be sanitary, modern films help teach safe sex in a society that refuses to. No one is “forced” into porn. It’s actually damned hard to get a job in a porno film. Women COMPETE as they do for any serious acting role. So as part of their job, people have sex with each other and get filmed. So? Wrestling, boxing, ect, is people beating the hell out of each other, and getting filmed doing it for other peoples enjoyment. I find that a hell of a lot more disturbing and unmasculine. Again, sex is not dirty.

Mess with your expectations of sex. Okay, this one i agree with wholeheartedly. I had an unhealthy attitude towards myself, size wise, due to porn. I was later informed by the woman I gave my virginity to that not only was I not smaller than usual, but above average. Most of the guys in porn are well above average in size, and tend to have muscular bodies. Of course, this is because it makes the action easier to see. And some of the things that are done (such as anal) don’t show the proper set up required to do them properly. Someone just copying porn as a guide in how to have sex will have some issues. Then again, the same could be said of watching Airplane! and deciding you can now fly a plane. Its entertainment, not education.

4, Well, i agree and disagree. I know several people involved in bdsm. They seem to always be involved in finding the newest biggest high. But I know people that do the same in non-sexual ways. Skydiving, white water rafting, other “extreme” sports. Some people are simply built that way. I don’t think you can blame porn, and I’ve yet to see a study done that shows that.
I think the most common quote I see on this point is one from serial killer Ted Bundy. He talked in an interview about being a boy and looking at the sears calendar, swimsuit and underwear sections. But that wasn’t enough, and he started looking at softcore porn. And that wasn’t enough, so he started getting hardcore porn. And THAT wasn’t enough, so he started raping and killing women.

It is NOT fair to say that porn made him do it. He was a sick puppy, mentally disturbed, badly built in some way, before he ever took look one at that Sear’s catalog.

However, the first couple of lines of the bolded quote in the article are just beautiful, and so true.

5. Umm, no. I use porn as a booster every now and then. Same as videogames. If I’ve had a bad day at work, humanity is frustrating me, I’ll turn on a game and spend half an hour blowing alien monsters into a fine green mist. Great stress relief. Same with porn. Now, there ARE people who let it take over their lives. I know that if I spend too long on my computer doing ANYTHING, my wife gets upset. But people that will obsess over porn tend to be obsessive people. If its not porn, they find other things to obsess over. I know a man who lost his wife and kid becuase he spent so much time and money trying to build the perfect stereo system. And to anyone who says, “porn took over my life”, you aren’t Tiny Tim, you don’t need a crutch. Man up and take control of your own life, don’t blame others for your own shortcomings.

107 lando May 12, 2009 at 6:18 am

This author tends to take broad stroke opinions to whitewash everything.
I agree with Scott Perry assessment. Porn is just an industry, and like most it is a for profit industry. Any inherent dificiencies a person brings with him is not necessarly attributed to pornography.

108 James May 12, 2009 at 6:24 am

“Cory on May 11th, 2009 8:23 pm

Real men need only their wife or girlfriend……simple as that. You can come back with all the reasons you want but it doesn’t change that fact. I find it odd that supposed “manly” men are sitting here defending porn. Are they flipping back and forth from articles on “The Greatest Generation” to garbage porn sites?

The truth is: Real men shouldn’t have time to sit there and play with themselves. There are yards to clean, cars to maintain, garages to organize, houses to remodel, budgets to balance, and kids/pets to raise. Sitting there for hours on end with your hands in your pants should be a wake up call that there’s better things to do with one’s time.”

If someone is spending hours with their hands down their pants, thats a problem. If a guy takes 15 to relieve some stress, thats not. You’ve moved the discussion from porn to masturbation, and are now trying to paint masturbating as evil. No, it is a natural function. Men do it, women do it, it relieves stress, it gets hormones flowing in good ways. It is no different then spending an hour in the john reading the Sunday paper, which is supposedly a quintessentially manly thing to do.

Do you know what we call a man who does nothing but clean the car, mow the lawn, pay the bills, work, ect, that DON’T take the time to find methods of relaxation? We call them dead by 40 of heart attacks.

109 Bruno Afonso May 12, 2009 at 6:27 am

Wow, I’m amazed at the amount of comments on this subject =)

I have a couple of questions before I give my opinion:

1 – to those of you who said that porn damaged your lives because you watched too much of it, I’m sure you watched it as a kind of compensation for something else you were lacking (at least, that’s where I think addictions come from). After you managed to ditch porn, did you find out what was it you were trying to compensate? And how did you work it out from then on?

2 – what about lesbian porn? Does it degrade and objectify women too? Some may argue that it is aimed at men who like to watch lesbians, but I’m sure there are also lesbian movies aimed at women. What do you think of those? (oh, and male gay porn certainly doesn’t degrade women)

3 – to the women who watch porn (not all, I know), haven’t you ever, not once, fantasized on what it would be like to have sex with one of those well hung guys you usually only see on movies?

4 – can any of you say, in truth, that you have never watched a particular position or action in porn that made you think “hmm, this looks interesting, I wonder if Mary/John would like to try this one of these days”? And maybe you did try it and find out you both liked it? (yes, I’m basing this question on mutual consent by the couple)

Honestly, I think the article in itself, biased as it may be (and Brett warned us from the beginning), is useful even if it is for the simple fact that it makes you look at the author’s perspective and get’s you to compare it with your perspective. That is often where enlightenment comes from – from debating.

I have watched lots and lots and lots of porn in the past. I still watch porn, although not as often. The reason I stopped doing it like I used to is simple: it became boring. It wasn’t because it was damaging my social life, I never stopped doing anything I needed or being with my friends to stay at home and watch porn. It simply became boring: 20 minute scenes, terrible music, close-up here, close-up there, switch positions, more close-ups, “turn around”, “say ahhhhhhh”, and smile to the camera with your best fake smile. After you’ve seen the first porn movie of this kind, you’ve seen them all, give or take a few inches or cup sizes.
However, over the years I found out that some porn movies actually have a plot, dialogues, and even a bit of romance. Those do not objectify or degrade neither women or men, they don’t portray sex as a dirty thing (kinky, yes, but not dirty in a bad way) and they can actually be entertaining.
Plus, you CAN learn somethings from porn movies, although they are not, by any chance, the best means for sexual education. I don’t think, for instance, that, if it weren’t for porn I would’ve ever tried oral sex on a woman… and you can ask my girlfriend if she’s mad about me learning that skill.

Someone has commented that porn degrades the way people perceive sex. It can, indeed, do that. Some of the people who agree with this are religious (or, at least, catholic, but I don’t want to generalize). I’d say that narrowing the sexual activity to procriation in the missionary position kind of takes away a whole lot of what sex should be too.
Also, if a husbands sneeks out of bed at night to go and watch porn, something’s wrong in the relationship and it’s not porn. If a husband feels the need to do that, then there’s a communication problem going on between the couple to start with. It’s not the fact that he watches porn, it’s the fact that he NEEDS to do it. And if a relationship lacks communication, then there is a problem whether it is porn, the husband going out every night to hang out with the boys instead of staying home to his wife, or both being at home, each one in their own room watching different programs on TV.

So, can porn degrade women? YES! Can porn degrade men? YES! Can it mess with your expectations of sex? YES! Can it create a cycle that diminishes your sexual pleasure? YES!
Does it always do all of the above? NO!

Can porn present sex in a beautiful, more intimate way? YES as well. You just have to know what you’re watching.

I think that nowadays the bigger problem is not porn having become mainstream or doing this and that to people. I think it is much more serious that children can access porn with just a single click. Now THAT, to me, can be much more damaging. But I don’t think that the answer lies in banning porn from our lives and forbidding kids from watching it (did it work for us? It didn’t!). I believe the answer lies in us talking to our kids, and explaining the risks, what is real and what is not, and, especially, TALK TO THEM about what love is about. Maybe that will keep them from turning to porn to try and self-teach themselves.

Pardon the long speech, but hey, this is fun… and addictive =P

110 James May 12, 2009 at 6:36 am

3 – to the women who watch porn (not all, I know), haven’t you ever, not once, fantasized on what it would be like to have sex with one of those well hung guys you usually only see on movies?

I know my wife has. She watches porn now and again, and once admitted to me, kinda upset, that she does fantasize about said guys. I told her that that was normal, and she was not “mentally cheating” on me, which is how she was brought up, to think that even thinking of other people after marriage is wrong. We’re humans, we’re built that way. Its how we are wired.

That said, if it WAS something that would concern me, reruns of Star Trek: the next generation, would worry me a lot more, as my wife has the hots for both Patrick Stewart and Jonathon Frakes (but only the later seasons, when Frakes started putting on some weight. )

111 Bruno Afonso May 12, 2009 at 6:41 am

“I told her that that was normal, and she was not “mentally cheating” on me, which is how she was brought up, to think that even thinking of other people after marriage is wrong. We’re humans, we’re built that way. Its how we are wired.”

Precisely. You don’t stop looking (and drooling) at the ice-cream menu just because you’re on a diet. But that doesn’t mean you are going to eat it. All it takes is commitment to said diet.
(And if you’re not commited, why bother getting married/engaged/into a serious relationship in the first place?)

112 toddes May 12, 2009 at 6:50 am

Your article lost any semblance of a rational, well-reason argument when you began it with the denigration, “While it’s fantastic that society has gotten past its Puritan prudishness….” As at least one other commenter has correctly noted, your understanding of who the Puritans are and what they stand for is lacking. At least the Puritans strived to live according to a moral code.

Reading the comments to this post is like listening to an addict denying their addiction:

It’s okay, I have it under control.

I don’t do it all the time.

I can stop whenever I want to.

Who are you to judge me?

It’s only a little bit, what harm can it do?

Unless you’ve tried it you can’t know what its like.

I only use it when I feel stressed.

Maybe it’s bad for you but look at me, I’m just fine.

113 Bill Kathrein May 12, 2009 at 7:06 am

I take exception to your claim that ” it takes a lot of work and effort to interact with women”. That is absolutely NOT TRUE ! I have a wife of 40 years and three daughters. Although I grew up with a family of six males, there was always respect and comfort in the company of women. Women want exactly the same things as men such as thoughtful communication, rational affinity, and cordial behavior. With either gender you deserve no more than you give. I also believe porn is not a problem that applies only to men. Without women ( or men for that matter ) selling themselves, there would be no porn or prostitution.

114 Terry Boyne May 12, 2009 at 7:20 am

I think your evaluation of the dangers of porn is spot on.

Those of you out there who think this industry doesn’t prey on women are kidding yourselves.

Just ask yourself this question, “Would you want the worlds’ population of men watching your mom or sister doing what you’re watching this woman do?”

If you have any sense of honor the answer is obvious.

115 James May 12, 2009 at 7:23 am

Vote -1 Vote +1Terry Boyne on May 12th, 2009 7:20 am

I think your evaluation of the dangers of porn is spot on.

Those of you out there who think this industry doesn’t prey on women are kidding yourselves.

Just ask yourself this question, “Would you want the worlds’ population of men watching your mom or sister doing what you’re watching this woman do?”

If you have any sense of honor the answer is obvious.

would i want my father or brother to be in iraq and in danger as a soldier? no, doesn’t mean i can say, then no one should be a soldier.

116 Terry Boyne May 12, 2009 at 7:26 am

One last thing I meant to add for you Christians out there who think porn is okay.
Spend some time thinking about Matthew 5:28.

“But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

117 Ryan May 12, 2009 at 7:28 am

I have to add to those who believe you are spot on.

It’s demoralizing to women and as men we should take a responsibility in that.
The women in our life deserve that from us.

Bravo.

118 Dave May 12, 2009 at 7:37 am

My wife works in an outpatient behavioral health unit and she sees people with various addictions on a daily basis. She tells me stories of people who have repeatedly been fired from jobs because they were not able to curb their porn habits while at work. I agree that calling it an addiction leaves an out for the person when what is truly needed (in my opinion, of course) is to recognize what repeated exposure to porn does to one’s body and mind and create a plan of action from that point forward.

119 Roger T. May 12, 2009 at 7:53 am

Let’s look at both sides of this issue. When we refer to porn we are talking about movies and pictures (created by men, for men) where women are acting like men in sexual relationships. The relationship instinct for men is to follow the visual and sexual cues.
But let’s also recognize that the relationship instinct in women is emotional. Women watch and read stories (created by women, for women) about relationships where men are acting like women. Watch any soap opera or TV show (Will & Grace?) and you’ll find good-looking men being emotionally available and responsive (and manipulated) for women. They talk things to death. The women bed some of them when they choose. This is setting a false expectation and exploitive image of men, which I find offensive and demeaning. Hearing a macho heterosexual man wearing a tie say, “Nobody knows how Julia feels but Julia” is unrealistic. No man would act that way. This, too, is pornography.
Women, next time you read about a man who “knew my thoughts and feelings, even before I did”, you’re reading girl-porn.

120 James May 12, 2009 at 8:00 am

Roger T. about half the directors and writers in porn are women, and there is LOTS of created by women for women porn.

121 Dave May 12, 2009 at 8:02 am

I agree that porn is a serious problem for many men. I can not see any healthy rational for the use of porn by anyone. We need to be better protectors of our minds. To Quote Mac Bledsoe, ” The thoughts in your mind rule your world.” As men, we must do a better job for everyones sake.

122 Roger T. May 12, 2009 at 8:11 am

James, whether porn is made by men or women is irrelevant. It was a broad generalization to emphasize a point. Harping on such a minor point doesn’t make the issue less true. It has little to do with my main topic – that women get their kicks in ways different from men, and that women have positioned public opinion to make this exploitation acceptible. It goes both ways.

123 Graydancer May 12, 2009 at 8:37 am

I was really enjoying this website, discovered a few days ago, and then you have to come out with this article.

Aside from the logistical fallacies (for example, for every person you personally know who broke up with their gf/wife due to porn, I can introduce you to at least two happily married couples who enjoy watching porn together. So which of us is right?) you also neglect to address the fact that women watch porn, too – as James noted. So how does that work? In fact, go to a Chippendale’s performance sometime, and then tell me that women aren’t as objectifying as men.

I also note that I can substitute “baseball” for “porn” in the article and it makes about as much sense. Anything in excess is too much – if the woman doesn’t talk to her husband but spends all her time reading Harlequin romances, it’s going to be as much of a problem. If he spends all his time fishing, it’s going to be a problem.

Lastly, and I’m sure all of my arguments will be thrown out the window when I tell you I have directed and produced porn, but I have to tell you: that “filthy” industry is filled with highly-paid intelligent athletic women who keep themselves in the peak physical health and have complete control over their bodies, what happens to them, and more. You don’t seem to have a problem with the way men destroy their bodies for pro baseball or football, but a boob job is “denigrating”?

When I went on the set to help with my first shoot, the specific direction I was given was, and I quote: “We are here to fulfill her fantasies. We are here to help her have as many orgasms as she wants in the way she wants it.” Because that’s what men and women actually want to see.

The last thing (yeah, I lied, one more thing): do you really think there’s any way to keep porn out of anything? When the oldest sculptures and paintings and mosaics and daguerrotypes and films are porn? Read up on the ways porn drives technology, in fact. Perhaps, rather than trying to fight something that has always been around, it would be healthier to find ways to get beyond the sex-negative generalizations and stereotypes and look for meaning.

In short, stop hiding behind platitudes and inaccurate knee-jerk conditioning and man up to the fact that people are sexual animals with a variety of needs and desires.

124 Dead_Eye_Eric May 12, 2009 at 8:50 am

Great article.

If a guy was watching through your window, you and your woman making love, you’d consider him a pervert. Doing the same thing through the ‘window’ of your mintor or TV. Porn is perverted.

125 Tim May 12, 2009 at 9:32 am

Count me in agreement. Looking forward to the next article.

126 Laura May 12, 2009 at 9:36 am

From a woman’s perspective, I see nothing wrong with porn as long as you approach it with the right mindset. The way I see it, only women with low self-esteem or who are not completely comfortable with themselves have problems with porn. I may not have the perfect body or a fabulously perky fake chest, but I LOVE myself. I find my body and my self as a whole to be a pretty awesome person as cheesy as that sounds. When my boyfriend and I watch porn I NEVER find myself thinking “ohhh gee look at that girl with the pierced labia and tattooed nipples…I wish I could be just like her someday!” And even if I did, what’s so wrong with that? Women compare themselves to movie stars each and every day, how is porn any different? Yet you don’t see people complaining that Angelina Jolie ruined their sex life and that she should be banned. Do I envision myself with a better body sometimes? Sure I do, but I wouldn’t trade what nature gave me for anything in the world because its uniquely mine. Women who don’t appreciate what they have should blame themselves, not porn.

I actually see porn as somewhat inspiring to women. With all the crazy fetishes out there, porn is the only place where women with deformities, who may be overweight, little people, older women, albino etc…. can express themselves sexually and display their bodies without fearing the wrath of the mainstream perspective of beauty. Ever see the King of the Hill where Peggy has her massive feet displayed on a fetish website? I highly recommend you watch it, in a silly way it really was a great episode on how even by being different there will always be people out there who appreciate your uniqueness.

Regarding the fact that porn give the men unrealistic expectations in the bedroom…well I had to laugh at that as well. I’m constantly learning new things from porn and we’re always trying them out, but if I can’t replicate some crazy “I’ll-never-be-limber-enough” position we see in porn my boyfriend doesn’t get mad, we move on and try something else. Its exciting, fun and we don’t get bored doing the same tired positions. Again its all about the mindset, you should treat porn as a teaching tool and not a means to build unobtainable expectations.

call it smut, call it degrading, call it whatever you want, but do know that there are people out there that can appreciate porn for what it is without ruining lives over it.

127 lady brett May 12, 2009 at 10:08 am

first, i want to say that, from another woman’s view, i couldn’t agree more with laura.

i agree very much with the first point you make in this article – that this is an issue which tends to (too often) be approached with extreme views. but then you seem to go on to take the (in my opinion extreme) view that porn is entirely and only a bad thing.

and i think that it can do all of the things you say. but that just means, to me, that you need to be mindful. be a mindful consumer – if you do watch/read/look at porn, look into who is producing it. is it “girls gone wild” taking advantage of people who have gotten stupidly drunk? is it someone’s personal website that is completely under their control? is it an ethical company that supports sex-worker’s rights? (women’s rights? men’s rights?) if you don’t want to watch porn that objectifies women, go find some that doesn’t – it’s out there.

and be mindful personally – if you are not capable of watching porn in moderation, or without succumbing to the negative effects mentioned, then by all means don’t watch! self-awareness goes a long way in this and many things.

128 Wolf May 12, 2009 at 10:20 am

This hits home becuase you start to think there nothing out there on the internet but this crap and it’s the only thing to do. But when you try do do it behind your parents back an’ ya get cot and found out then ya try to beat around the bush then all hell braks loos. I got Found in Middle school for this shit. My Church even did a spill. When this stuff happens it happens hard and not all of it is real and thats the worst stuff.

Cheers

129 Jacoba May 12, 2009 at 10:54 am

Again I have to commend you on your article!

I am regular reader and have learnt more about men here than I have anywhere else – and I grew up with two brothers and have husband and three sons! Your issues are real, handled with immense intelligence and balance and the writing is excellent. I can’t say that porn has ever been my thing, but for those that whose ‘thing’ it is, AoM is certainly the place for balanced advice.

Good on you.

130 dmv May 12, 2009 at 12:28 pm

@Mike:

> Anyone remember Ted Bundy? … Don’t tell me there isn’t a direct link between pornography and deeply troubled and disturbing behavior that is NOT conducive to being a man!

Porn has actually been show to *prevent* rape in a sample bigger and less biased than one serial killer: http://www.slate.com/id/2152487/

131 JNC May 12, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Thank you for the post. I feel that it is accurate , though the research is showing that there is a genuine physical addiction. As one who has taken years to finally overcome this addiction (or compulsion, if you prefer) I cannot warn men away from it strongly enough. I thank God that I overcame it before it seriously derailed my life, but I struggle even 4 years down the road. Overcoming was one of the hardest things I have done, but it is also one of the very best decisions I’ve made; and I still make it every single day.

132 B. Bingham May 12, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Thank you for this article. People who say porn doesn’t hurt people or hurt relationships are just giving in to the porn propaganda. They have become desensitized to the problem. Or they don’t know many people. I can count off 10 couples who will tell you their marriage was destroyed by porn. 2 of those couples were non religious “progressive thinkers” who thought it would spice up their love live. It did until it burned to the ground. In a marriage or even just a relationship, if you are looking at porn you are mentally cheating on your partner. PERIOD! Yes, yes, it is not the same thing as actually cheating

I’m not saying we should ban porn, (I hate anything but personal sensorship) but it is more difficult to get glue at Wal-Mart than porn anywhere. Porn even affects people who don’t view it. I love the argument that if it isn’t for you then don’t watch, buy, or participate in it. That’s like saying we are going to dump sewage off this building but we are going to hand out umbrellas. If you don’t want to get hit don’t look up. That is all well and good but what about all the splatter?

In this life there are some things that are right and something’s that are wrong. Your agreement to it or disagreement to it doesn’t change it. If you think porn is okay where do you draw the line? At what age is porn appropriate? What about child porn? What if the kid is “into it” and asked mommy and daddy if they could have sex with a 30 year old. Where do YOU draw the line? Or do you have a line?

Brett, keep up the good work! If others think this site is becoming exclusive they are right. IT IS FOR REAL MEN!!! Men who respect women, them selves and honor things like family, friends, right and wrong. The rest of you go find some sissy website that won’t make a stand for anything.

133 OCEANIC May 12, 2009 at 2:03 pm

I have two young girls and I found very violent porn on my husbands secret email address. I had tolerated his addiction for several years and put boundries on it that he was not to watch anything violent or degrading to women. I saw things that I wish I had never viewed on our home computer and I wished did not exist in our society.

My husband has admitted he likes watching women being abused and that he thought it was ok as it was available for him to view. He was spending 300 a month on porn. He even wished his new born baby would die as he had to look after her for two hours a day from 8pm till 10 pm. I did all the man jobs in the house as he said he was too tired from work. No he was too tired from watching porn till 4 am.

Im a very attractive woman, with a high sex drive, who would give most things a try but he didnt want to do with me as when I met him the sexual things he was into most normal women would not act out. He hid his sexuality from me, until I found the violent porn and confonted him with it. No mans hitting me in the face to get off.

I suspect he has acted out his fantasies with hookers and I feel sorry for the women so strung out on drugs that they allow men to treat them like this.

I want to find a real man too one that respects and loves women. That is strong enough to care for them and be there for them when they need them. Are there any men like that left anymore. I’m starting to see men at best as immature little boys that cant leave there dinkys alone and at worst as becoming perverted and sick . Where enough is never enough as porn teaches them that there is always someone whos willing to do it. I think thats very sad.

134 joel May 12, 2009 at 2:24 pm

this article is lame!

135 jediclown May 12, 2009 at 5:25 pm

if it wasnt for porn i wouldnt have learned the sidaways move so soon. i guess porn was really never about jerking off all over myself every chance i got. it was more about finding the wierdest porn to show/trade with my friends. the stuff on my HDD, in no way sexually arouses m.e its more fear and laughter based.

136 Janaury May 12, 2009 at 6:34 pm

My husband read this and thought it was very well written and had me read it. Thank you for writing such a great post on this subject! I will share it with others!

137 Brian Winters May 12, 2009 at 6:44 pm

As for people that say that Brett shouldn’t use the “I know of some guys…” and those are just isolated cases, I would like to add to the “I know of some guys that have lost jobs, wives, and have been absolutely broken by porn.” I am the guy people call when a guy has “Internet Issues.” I do lots of talks on filtering the web for home and in the work place but I am far from an expert on the topic.

Some have said that baseball or fishing or golf can cause these same types of marital problems. True. I don’t think that was the topic of the post. I don’t think that we can in one thread solve all of the problems facing men today. So let’s stay on topic.

As for those that do need research to back up the dangers of porn, let me give you some. Dr. Jennings Bryant is a “guru” when it comes to media of all kinds. Google him. He is amazing. He also does research. One article discussed his research this way…

“there is the research that shows that pornography undermines the inhibitions of those who already have some desire to rape. For example, the work of Zillmann and Bryant shows that repeated exposure to pornography for a four-week period increased men’s trivialization of rape, increased their callousness towards women, made them more likely to say that rape was the responsibility of the victim and that it was not a serious offense, and increased their estimate of the likelihood that they would rape a woman if they could get away with it. (2)

2) Zillman, Dolf & Bryant, Jennings (1984). “Effects of massive exposure to pornography.” In Neil Malamuth and Edward Donnerstein (eds.), “Pornography and Sexual Aggression” (New York: Academic Press) 115-138

I have discussed the study with a man who worked with Bryant and found that the study was actually stopped early because they saw how damaging the effects were.

I can’t say that I agree with Brett on everything but I thank him for this post. Men never used to talk about their struggles with this until the last few years and it is amazing the number of men who fight this every day.

138 rob May 12, 2009 at 8:18 pm

i know that your trying to avoid the whole religious explanation of why porn is bad, but there are some good explanations of why porn is bad.

its between Crag Gross of XXX church.com and Ron Jeremy. plus a few other people

all in all a good video

http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/faceoff

scroll down till you see the words is america addicted to porn and watch it.

hope this helps,
rob

139 Nolan Bryan Lynch May 12, 2009 at 9:07 pm

Great article, McKays.

140 SpenceGould May 12, 2009 at 9:11 pm

Wow! Lot’s and lot’s of insightful comments. I must say that salient points were made on both sides of this argument.

The very first porn I saw was about seduction and passion. The penetration was the culmination of a sexually tense build-up. There was an actual story-line and plot. The men were careful and respectful. The women were treated well and lots of attention was paid to giving them pleasure. The scenes were shot to depict, albeit graphically, people enjoying great sex. So, for a long time that is what I thought porn was about.

Porn has made me a better, more confident lover. It helped me master my oral techniques. I learned three G-spot stimulation positions from porn (two on top, one from the bottom). I’ve also learned a lot of exciting games and role-playing scenarios from porn. So, there are some things guys can pick up from porn that can actually help their relationships!

Porn also kept me from using women for strictly physical reasons. I have been tempted to pretend that I was genuinely interested women with whom I only wanted sex. However, after a few stolen moments with my favorite porn scenes, I’d be able to keep my thoughts and intentions towards women in a healthy perspective.

When I got older, it became harder and harder to find porn with story-lines and sensual dialogues. Compilations of “gag-jobs”, brutal anal scenes, and “money shots” all over the face of some coked-up, silicone shell of a woman took over the market.

Recently, I’ve become interested in vintage, usually silent, porn shot on black & white film. The women are natural and I’m turned on by their bold defiance to have sex on film during a time when porn was still unmentionable. I think it’s fun and sexy. Sometimes I get turned on and enjoy some “alone” time. Sometimes I get turned on and enjoy some “marital” time with the wife. The point is, sometimes I watch it. Not because I have some deep seeded, perverted disrespect for women. But because I enjoy it and it makes me happy. And isn’t that what life is about?

So, I’d have to agree with the old saying, “No thing is good nor evil, but it’s use will make it one or the other.”

141 opinionated May 12, 2009 at 9:28 pm

This article is spot on.

Oceanic… you are not alone.

I am a woman and was married to a man who was involved secretly in pornography for our whole marriage. It was a poison to our marriage. My husband would watch porn and get off while I was working to support the family. Finally I couldn’t live in a intimacy less relationship any longer. Once our relationship ended and he no longer had me to support his habit, his life completely fell apart and he realized the effect the pornography had on him and he had to admit he had a problem.

To anyone who says porn doesn’t hurt anyone or destroy lives I totally disagree.

Pornography is very selfish, self control is not valued or encouraged. The only goal is to satisfy ones appetite regardless of any consequences. But the truth is there are consequences whether one admits it or not.

I am encouraged to hear this issue being addressed and discussed in a healthy way. The more it is addressed honestly and openly, the more people who have been hurt by it can get help.

142 Scott May 12, 2009 at 11:40 pm

Wow. Go after some guys’ porn, and look how peevish they get!

Whether or not you find Brett & Kate’s post sufficiently annotated with research you personally deem satisfactory, such research exists. Those who argue that, on balance, the porn industry has been “helpful” (or even merely “not harmful”) to male sexuality, male-female relationships, and society as a whole, fly in the face of science, logic and experience.

Those who liken this vice to, say, a glass of scotch or maybe the occasional cigar, have both depersonalized porn and underestimated its dangerously addictive nature.

Rationalize it all you want, but ask yourself an honest, manly question: Would you be a better man without porn?

And if you really think you’re among the rare few who can consume pornographic images and prevent your brain chemistry from being negatively affected, I think you’re engaging in some serious self delusion.

Come on, guys. Garbage in, garbage out.

143 Michael La Vean May 13, 2009 at 6:27 am

I think the real problem wtih porn is the same as with any mass marketing…

It takes what a promoter believes are the appealling items…simplifies them and repackages them into bite size servings…

It is the inevitable consequence of the consumerism we see in every other industry being applied to sex…just as we will eventually have a choice only of which chain restaurant with its plastic menu we can patronize, we will be told that there are a limited number of body types that are “attractive” and we should choose body 1 through 7 or we could have the “special”…

I for one do not want to eat at Olive Garden or Denny’s for every meal the rest of my life…I like the zest and spice that come with uniqueness…

Just as I don’t look for the lowest common denominator in my food…I don’t look for the lowest common denominator in women…

Porn addiction demonstrates a lack of a taste in women…just as much as an addiction to the the Number 3 value meal at McDonalds shows a lack of taste in food…

I guess someone has to like plastic…so for all you guys that eat at McDonalds and like breast implants…more power to you…cuts down on the competition for me gettting a table at a good restaurant or a date with a real classy woman…

144 Aaron May 13, 2009 at 6:33 am

WOW.

Observe…

=== START HERE ===
+4 Vote -1 Vote +1Bruno Afonso on May 12th, 2009 6:41 am

“I told her that that was normal, and she was not “mentally cheating” on me, which is how she was brought up, to think that even thinking of other people after marriage is wrong. We’re humans, we’re built that way. Its how we are wired.”

Precisely. You don’t stop looking (and drooling) at the ice-cream menu just because you’re on a diet. But that doesn’t mean you are going to eat it. All it takes is commitment to said diet.
(And if you’re not commited, why bother getting married/engaged/into a serious relationship in the first place?)”
=== END HERE ===

Another *boy* who admits he watches porn, and further justifies his demeaning behavior. And has 4 others who give him props for his words.

(I say *boy*, because a REAL man wouldn’t treat women like a piece of meat, as you seem happy to do.)

Brett – if this isn’t proof enough that our society is in pathetic shape, and that your site is absolutely necessary… I don’t know what is.

145 Laura May 13, 2009 at 7:23 am

@ Aaron

My boyfriend watches porn and believe me, he’s all man. You may see porn as treating women as “pieces of meat” but I don’t. I find it to be a celebration of the naked human form in all its raw glory. I’m sure there are plenty of porn stars out there who CHOOSE their career because they *gasp* might just enjoy what they do. Who are you to tell them that their career choice is wrong? And to call people pathetic just because they may have different views than you is just…well…pathetic :-)

I don’t understand why the anti-porn people can’t fathom the idea that there are people out there who can appreciate and view porn without letting it destroy/overtake their lives. It seems to me that the pro-porn people have no problem accepting the fact that porn can and has ruined lives, so why not the other way around? This isn’t a black and white subject, it is something to be viewed on a case by case basis. Some people are mature enough to take porn in moderation, some people aren’t….it all depends on a person’s nature.

Why all the judgement? Let people live their lives how they deem fit, and if they happen to make bad decisions and/or can’t control their urges, well then thats their problem, not yours.

146 Scott May 13, 2009 at 8:20 am

@Laura, who writes:

“I’m sure there are plenty of porn stars out there who CHOOSE their career because they *gasp* might just enjoy what they do.”

I’ve worked in the entertainment industry here in Los Angeles — in the shadow of the “818,” porn capital of the world — for decades. And I’ve worked with a number of people on both sides of the camera who have “experience” working in hardcore porn.

For every well adjusted performer who “enjoys” what they do, I’ll show you 50 who are miserable: most have suffered physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse. Generally speaking, these aren’t people with a lot of options who simply “choose” careers in porn for the enjoyment of it all.

I’ve had the opportunity to get to know a number of these people — mostly women, but some men — personally. Almost without exception, one can look at these peoples’ profoundly broken lives and trace the majority of their problems back to a single question:

“Where was Daddy?”

Just my two cents.

147 opinionated May 13, 2009 at 10:48 am

for those who think they have a healthy taste for porn… I challenge you to go without it… deny yourself your pleasure and you will see just how much power it has over you.

Think of what you believe the purpose of sex is. Is it to satisfy your primal urge to receive personal pleasure or is a gift that a man and woman are given to share with each other discovering each other after they have discovered each other on other levels… emotionally, mentally, spiritually, socially. .. a sacred experience that should not be reduced to titillation or jumped into hastily. So many miss the mark and yearn for closeness that they mistake physical bumping and grinding for real intimacy… But it never satisfies or fills the void they are searching to fill… they continue to look in the wrong place… And begin to view sex as a commodity, weapon, drug… not a gift.

148 Laura May 13, 2009 at 10:51 am

Scott

I’m sure you are 100% correct, and I don’t doubt for a second that what you say is true. Unlike many other careers porn is an easy business to get into when nothing else in life is going your way, and truely I feel for these men/women. However I have some difficulty feeling sorry for people when they have the ability to help themselve. Again I know its easy for me to say that and I can never truely know and/or understand what they are going through.

I didn’t mean to imply that every porn start loves what they do, and I’m sure there are more that don’t than do. I guess I shouldn’t comment on what I don’t know and I apologize…thanks for the insight.

149 Scott May 13, 2009 at 1:20 pm

Laura– No apology necessary. Obviously, there’s a lot of complexity to the issue(s) being discussed and — no surprise — a lot of strong feelings when it comes to frank discussions of almost anything related to sex and sexuality. I appreciate the give and take and thank you for the civil exchange.

This topic hits close to home for me, both personally and professionally. I make my living producing TV shows, some of which have some fairly salacious content — e.g. “The Girls Next Door” — and at the same time, I’ve found my relationship with my wife vastly improved by avoiding porn in my own life. Throw in the fact that I have a young son AND a young daughter… Ay, caramba, it’s enough to make me hope there’s no such thing as karma!

Thanks to all for the thoughtful insights.

150 Dave Kerwin May 13, 2009 at 1:27 pm

number 6, it is immoral.

151 Wm. E. May 13, 2009 at 2:48 pm

I pretty much agree with this article. Number 1 is a little too general. People are complex, and I’m sure plenty of people love performing in porn.

Everything else fits in with my own experience. I unsubscribed to some sites because I didn’t feel right giving them my money. There is a lot of good erotica out there, but some of the things I come across (pun unintended) are just disgusting. Maybe I’m getting old.

I am a big fan of SuicideGirls because it features a wide range of different types of women (I mean other than the tattoos and piercings). The site certainly gets me excited, but I don’t consider it part of my ‘spank bank’.

152 Kaity May 13, 2009 at 4:07 pm

I liked this article, but I was disappointed that the feelings of the women on the other side of the computer screen weren’t mentioned. How do you think the man’s wife/girlfriend/fiancee feels about it? I know from experience that it makes a majority not all but most) feel like crap. We feel like we have to compete with these women who have the perfect bodies and can do things we never even dreamed of doing to our men. it lowers our self-esteem so much and makes us feel worthless and useless since he would rather watch fake women than be with you.

153 Ted May 13, 2009 at 6:09 pm

I disagree with almost every point. I’m sure some of them apply to those who can’t watch in moderation, but not with most of us. With 150+ comments already, I won’t type out any lengthy argument for why porn is simply another form of entertainment, but that’s how I feel about it.

The one point I do agree with is number 4 and I think I’ve felt that effect to a certain degree.

On a positive note, this article has helped me to take that extra step from contemplation to actually deciding to stop looking at porn.

Thanks for the great blog, AOM.

154 hi May 13, 2009 at 6:16 pm

Why not make a porn with your wife, to watch on your own or together? Seems like porn would then suddenly be A-OK: you won’t have crazy expectations, you won’t objectify women, and it won’t support a filthy industry.

155 Meow May 13, 2009 at 6:32 pm

I almost agree with this entire post. The truth is, those are all the reasons that make bad porn and make it truely hard to find a good one. (Yes there are a few that are realistic and actually make a lesson out of all these points.)

1. It objectifies women.

A real man sees a woman for who she is. He respects her and her individuality. He sees her as his equal and as a person that deserves respect. It takes a lot of work and effort to interact with women, but a real man has the cajones to do it.

Couldn’t have been said better.

Porn creates unrealistic expectations in the minds of men about love and sex. In porn, the women are always hot and ready to go and have perfect airbrushed bodies.

This is totally true. Also it forces women to become more insecure about their self-image. Makes you disappointed too.

Honestly, the only porn with watching is the “real” kind with a good storyline that’s realistic (or fantasy) that’s within reason. It seems to get to extremes nowadays.

People have just made more and more excuses just to turn it into almost abuse.

I’m just saying that not all porn is bad, but it’s easy for it to turn so. “Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hand-”

They should really make more of those “real porn” in the industry. Heck, even animated is good if you can do it right. The ones that teach a real good lesson that only porn can. I saw one once about a couple and the girl got upset because she thought she wasn’t as good as the porn in the adult store. Stuff happens, and then her man tells her that he likes her just the way she is and porn is fake and so forth. Romantic sex and some comedy. That is porn worth watching.

(Yes, I am a woman.)

156 Jinky Williams May 14, 2009 at 1:22 am

I think a lot of acceptance of porn stems from lowered expectations.

Bristol Palin was recently quoted as saying that abstinence is “not realistic at all” [http://beltwayblips.dailyradar.com/story/bristol_palin_says_abstinence_not_realistic_at_all/]. I don’t feel that she is alone in her thoughts, either; I think they are shared by millions of similarly-aged young men and women around the world.

So we have a society that is (and has been) convinced that abstinence is “not realistic”, and because of that, it has rationalized its decision.

So now, expectations have been lowered, and it’s “try not to sleep with too many people before you get married”. But that begins a slippery slope, because who’s to say what is too much or too little?

I think there needs to be a better understanding of the reasoning behind abstinence; that it’s not just because a book said that it should be done. That it’s about respect and consideration for one’s future spouse. It’s not about doing it because it’s some kind of law: Law was made for man, not man for the law.

Our minds are like memory cards, with different slots for different things. How many slots do you want to keep completely empty for your spouse? The more times a slot is overwritten, the more that “ghost images”–instances that you haven’t been able to erase–will rise to the forefront. So it becomes less and less of a “I do it because I was told to do it; I have to.” and more “I do it because I want to; it makes sense for me to.”

Tell me that you want images of another girl in your head when you’re making love to your wife. I don’t know of anybody who wants that. It’s just that the goal has been made out to be so unattainable by society (and pressure–an unbelievable amount of pressure), and it seems like there’s no lifestyle out there to emulate that is successful in that endeavor, so we just settle for lowered expectations. We have dreams from an early age of being “the only one”; heck, there are countless songs about it. But we’ve shoved back those dreams, calling them unrealistic. We just assume that we’re going to marry second-hand goods, so to speak. And so if we think that that is who our spouse is going to be, why bother holding myself to a higher standard?

I say fight it. Stand up for your future wife or husband. And just because you’ve already slept with someone doesn’t mean you can’t choose to stop doing it. Abstinence isn’t just a quaint old ideal; it’s a powerful statement of respect, and one that will not be lost on your future spouse, especially in this day and age. But it takes great desire, fortitude and a solid network of support to do it.

157 Steve May 14, 2009 at 7:45 am

Agreed, on all counts. I stopped using porn over 15 years ago. It was actually a lot like quitting smoking, which I also did about 20 years ago.

158 Santa May 14, 2009 at 10:30 am

But it’s so much fun!

159 SomeGuy May 14, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Articles like this are lacking in objectivity, and also expressing the usual puritanical views on sex and gender. The reality is that the female actors in the adult industry get paid at least 3 times better than males if not more. Females as a whole tend to dominate the porn industry and the most sucessful production companies are run by women (such as Vivid). Saying that it objectifies females is something that’s coming from the individual not necessarily the act itself. Somebody made a real good point that objectifying women and violence doesn’t come from porn, they were there before it. Making a cause/effect correlation there is ridiculous. It isn’t porn that make men like this, but I would say the parenting. Sometimes people are just messed up, and try as we might to point to an outside force to blame, it comes from people, not an esoteric idea that is completely subjective. You can have a healthy relationship and still look at porn. A great many couples I know do so together. It’s the male form of a vibrator. So if you’re going to say porn is bad, the blade cuts both ways. It would sound just as strange if someone were to put this kind of a tirade at vibrators. Some men can get intimidated or “it makes them feel like crap.” That’s “your” (meaning whomever would feel like this not me personally) insecurity, it’s also irrational. See the similarity?
Pointing to the few instances where it is abused isn’t enough to villify it because you’re uncomfortable with it. This all seems to come from relationship issues with “ownership.” Men aren’t with the women in videos they watch, and if somebody has an addiction or an compulsion then I agree that it could be negative. But that goes for all addictions and compulsions. You know what’s really manly? Making your own choices and living with the consequences. If you’ve decided to be with somebody that you don’t click with sexually, no amount of “changing” will help it. That only results in resentment. (Harmful or illegal activites are out of course) You should be with someone whom you share the same views regarding it, because, franky, if you’re a couple it’s kinda a big deal.

160 opinionated May 14, 2009 at 7:00 pm

There seems to be alot of arguments that porn is educational…

A real man doesn’t need to watch other people have sex to figure out how to make love to a woman.. What about communicating and personal exploration. If your looking to porn as education on the mechanics you are deceiving yourself if you then say that it doesn’t effect your personal sex life. Also being ‘good mechanically’ will not translate to fulfilling connection with another person.

Real love will fill you up. Hollow sex will leave you with an empty void after you get your ‘fix’. The problem is society keeps feeding everyone the message that sex will satisfy the connection we yearn for but it never will if we deny ourselves true intimacy.

161 King Leonidas May 14, 2009 at 7:02 pm

“The reality is that women don’t want to have sex all the time, not all women have cantaloupe-sized tatas, and women like to talk. Sometimes a lot.”

WHAT IS THIS MADNESS??

162 Captain Lager May 14, 2009 at 8:46 pm

I’m going to give an apolitical, real-life take on this hotly contested subject. Porn is definitely ruining aspects of sex – especially amongst Generation Y. I’m single and in my mid 30s and have had a few flings and one night stands with women in their early and mid-20s. It appears Porn ‘aesthetics’ have filtered through to some women’s behaviour in the bedroom, to whit 1. I don’t want women to slavishly shave to a prickly baldness – I’m quite happy with good, old fashioned bush 2. I don’t want ridiculous theatrical style moaning and bucking – you can tell when a women is genuine and when she’s not and some of the porn inspired moves I’ve encountered in the sack are a lame caricature of sex. Maybe the ‘shaven haven’ and the cheesy apeing of ‘pornstar moves’ is a hangover from ex-boyfriends reared on porn. When comparing sex between Gen Y women and Gen X women I’d say Gen X girls are much more naturalistic and comfortable in bed because they haven’t been ruined by the weird obsession with acting as though the whole thing is being filmed.

Bring back the bush

163 Padre May 14, 2009 at 9:06 pm

Interesting to see the number of anti-Christian comments in posts like this. Very manly, that! If you are so secure in your atheism, or agnosticism, or whatever it is, then why do you choose to attack those who hold Christian views? Maybe a post about why being religious is manly is in order…

In any event, what I notice in a lot of these comments is the basic idea that one must always scratch an itch. I have sexual desires, therefore I must give in to them, one way or another. So, if my wife is not in the mood, then I can just fire up the computer and have some me-time.

What no one has mentioned — as far as I can tell — is the issue whether there is any meaning to our body parts and our sexuality. Is it just a matter of pleasure? Or does it not also reflect something profoundly interior — a self-gift, perhaps? Sure, desiring to give pleasure to one’s spouse and to experience pleasure in return would be described by many as an act of love, but then, what do we mean by “love”, and does it admit of degrees? Is not a complete self-gift the highest act of love that we know? If that is the case, then are not things like masturbation, or sex while fantasizing about people seen in porn, or — well I won’t mention the other things because I might be labeled as religious by some — …. are not these things cheap imitations of the “real thing”?

Another idea, or we might say, another approach to the matter. If I cannot (or do not often) say “no” to myself, then does my “yes” have any real meaning? It is a question of self-control, or “self-possession”, which is a manly thing to be sure. A man has control over himself. Someone in the comments mentioned that. A man can say “no” to himself and mean it, and be able to keep his word. The Latin word for “man” — “vir” — is at the root of the word “virtue”, after all.

I could go on, but I simply wanted to inject some new ideas into the discussion.

164 Name (required) May 14, 2009 at 9:41 pm

I realized too late the negative effects porn has had on my life. My first and only long term relationship was largely ruined by porn. When I discovered torrent porn sites, I downloaded huge amounts of porn. I would have less and less sex with my partner and download more and more porn. I would leave it on my computer all night downloading porn, to the point where the computer eventually broke down. So I bought a new computer with a bigger hard drive. I copied my important documents, and all of my porn. After the relationship was over a few months later, I went to my new computer to delete the old photos I had of us. After searching without avail, I realized I never copied any of the photos of me and my former partner. I just copied the porn instead. I would rather preserve the porn than preserve the memories. That was a sad and eye opening revelation for me, which sadly came too late.

165 Opinionated May 15, 2009 at 4:41 am

I really appreciate ‘names’ honesty… This is the true nature of the power of porn.

I have seen case after case not to mention my soon to be ex… Of where men would rather RUN AWAY and get off watching porn than being in bed with a BEAUTIFUL woman in the other room. The truth is it is an escape from their own sorry reality.

I don’t even buy the argument that their woman doesn’t want to have sex…

True intimacy takes more time… And I am not talking about foreplay, roses & candles…

I am so grateful to see this topic discussed in reference to being a real man! I am grateful to see that there are men who believe some of the same things I do. As a woman who has spent most of my life being effected by being objectified by men, I know the emotional devistation this can cause.

166 opinionated May 15, 2009 at 5:02 am

ok something more…

As I said the objectification of women hits close to home for me. I am no porn star… But I feel men looking at me every day as if I were…

The argument that if you can’t handle it don’t watch it is mute. whether you watch it or not you are going to be effected by it… It is like second hand smoke. You might not smoke but your life can still be destroyed and damaged by those you are in contact with who do…

167 opinionated May 15, 2009 at 5:11 am

ok… this is it for now…

Religion doesn’t make a difference…

I thought I was safe marrying a man who went to church and professed to believe the same things I did but often I have found especially since the disintegration of our family… that some men who go to church hide their addiction to pornography even more and it becomes even more insideous. I would much rather someone be open and honest about their use of the stuff and let them make their choice and live their life as they choose … over there… than have them lying in bed with me acting as if we are on the same page…

But being a real man does make a difference… after all that is the point of this site? to discuss being a real man. A real man doesn’t lie and deceive and hide behind a cloak of niceness that many christian men do… Christian or not integrity is the key.

168 bozo77 May 15, 2009 at 5:12 am

I have to say — I have tears in my eyes after reading this. Every word of this is SO TRUE.

About a week ago I decided I am going to stop using porn completely. It’s not who I want to be.

This article is incredible. This whole blog is so inspiring — you are doing an immense service.

Thank you very much.

169 opinionated May 15, 2009 at 6:18 am

I posted a comment but I don’t see it…

important points I wanted to make…

I appreciate ‘Names’ honesty… this is the true nature of the cancer that porn is.

I know many men not even counting my soon to be ex husband that would rather RUN AWAY with their porn than be in bed in with a BEAUTIFUL woman in the other room.

I do not buy the excuse or argument that their woman doesn’t want sex… They just don’t want that kind of sex…

True intimacy takes too much effort for them… and I am not talking about foreplay, roses and candles…

170 K May 15, 2009 at 2:28 pm

I agree with all of your reasons, but I don’t think any of them are strong enough to have an impact.

Your reasons didn’t focus enough on faithfulness to a marriage, or to one woman (even if you don’t have one yet). You lightly touched on the “sister” thought, but there needs to be a better reason for not peeping on someone else’s sister, daughter, or girlfriend.

There has to be a value placed on real, heterosexual, 1 on 1, vaginal, lovemaking, rather than treating it like a food compulsion.

Unless you have the balls to call something wrong–in the objective, moral sense, you will only make a floundering “well, this is the right choice for me” kind of argument–which is not manly.

Sorry to be so critical. I hold your work in high regard, sir.

171 Bruthaman May 15, 2009 at 2:47 pm

I’m sorry but there is nothing good about porn… just because people enjoy it (and I have in the past) does not make it okay.

Saying porn empowers women is like saying sweatshops empower workers in 3rd world countries…

This is a free full length preview of this video called the “Price of Pleasure”. You should check it out if you thing thereis anything redeeming about porn.

http://www.mediaed.org/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?preadd=action&key=235

172 fithri May 15, 2009 at 4:03 pm

i agree, plus porn makes you a crack head which will effect your intelligent

173 Kevin May 16, 2009 at 4:39 am

Bravo and Amen.

174 Joe Citizen May 17, 2009 at 5:09 pm

So much for this website. Its just another lost cause in the world trashy wannabe writers. See ya freakazoids on the other side….

175 shark_vs_zombie May 18, 2009 at 10:10 am

I agree with this article almost 100%- I’ve come to similar conclusions in recent months and really noticed a positive impact on my sex life in general. I don’t think the porn industry is inherently evil, certainly no more than the vibrator/sex toy industry, but I do think that porn has a subtle and somewhat insidious effect on one’s perception of women, sex, and intimacy.

A simple metaphor sums it up nicely: Porn is the sexual equivalent of junk food. It’s quick and easy and tastes great at the time, but you’ll be happier and healthier and more satisfied if you make something at home.

176 Mark May 18, 2009 at 11:24 am

Thanks for your article. I think it talks frankly about a subject that easily gets laughs with the buddies, but often brings tears in a man’s relationship with a woman. I don’t agree with some commentators that take you to task because of a prudish or tired stance of being negative on porn. You stated what you think, and stated some reasons why you believe that. What do they want, except to tell them THEIR thoughts and attitudes about it? Keep up the thoughtful articles.

177 messerole May 19, 2009 at 11:51 am

Ugh.

Quite frankly, I am disgusted by the small mindedness of the OP and many of the posters here. It is very much like going to an anti-gun, anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-religion, anti-(Name Your Subject) site, and reading about people whining about how they have been victimized by some kind of ruthless and insidious industry that has destroyed their lives.

Many of the people here are victims that use their personal tragedies as an agenda to gain an element of control over others that they have no business doing so.

You may be fine in holding that your opinion that pornography has no value for you, but you shouldn’t expect people to sit idly by as you decry an entire population for the weaknesses of a few.

You readily ADMIT there are scientific sources disproving your reasonings, yet you refuse to see that, maybe, perhaps there might be some people, no, many people who do have their lives unaffected, no, enhanced by the fact they have regular access to pornographic materials? That is not objective reasoning, you have already made your opinion out of uninformed speculation and are simply trawling the internet for people who agree with you.

Insistence on uninformed blather in the face of proper evidence is a MUCH worse, and much more insidious threat to ‘manliness’ than pornography ever was.

Should we lambast all Christians because a great many of them shun and kill those they deem unbelievers, heretics, homosexuals, and yes, witches? Do we attack all Muslims because of a few fundamentalist pigs? Do we exterminate all the Jews because a small sect in the distant past killed Jesus Christ? How about African-Americans and Hispanics? So many of them are involved in drug trafficking and narcotics. Obviously they have a problem and must be stopped.

And my god, those poor people just cause all sorts of problems. There is nothing worse and less manly in the world than the poor and underemployed.

I am not disgusted by the sentiment against pornography, that is your own opinion to hold. What I am disgusted by is the lack of regard for objective scientific studies and insistence on following anecdotal evidence to reach conclusions that quite frankly, are based primarily on hearsay and stereotyping.

Pornography, like prostitution, is very old and very widespread. It is most likely that every adult that has access to ART has viewed some form of pornography or another. Even masterpieces such as the Venus Demilo and the like were for all practical purposes, exercises in pornography. Some of the most ancient pieces of human art, depicting large females with exaggerated sexual characteristics, were exercises in…pornography.

The writer of this blog states the pornography is unmanly. Many of you have villified those who do make use of pornography. But the fundamental right of the adult is to CHOOSE his own fate, despite that you may not agree with it.

When it comes down to it, pornography is a harmless recreational activity. Any such activity, when taken to extremes, becomes ‘dangerous’. People who like to play cards fall into gambling. Collectors fall into obsession. The religious and the political fall to zealotry and bigotry. Businesses can become corrupt. All things have their darker sides.

Do not assume because you fell on the wrong side of the fence that something has no place in society, and no merit to others.

178 Phil May 19, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Very good. It definitely takes guts to defend women as a whole in this regard.

I alway find it strange when guys defend porn. I don’t judge them, I just wish I could tape record what they are saying and play it back to them. What if your wife said that about her sex life, imagining herself with other guys to fulfill what you cannot? Yikes and ouch. I’ve been porn free for a year or so now, and it really is freedom.

179 KB May 20, 2009 at 3:35 am

Great article..as a couple ( female here) posting this comment – I can honestly say my man thought it would spice up life and give him a little thrill..Instead it has pushed a huge wedge between our relationship and has dimiinshed my respect and feelings toward him. He in turn has lost his resoning skills on what is acceptable and respectable in a marriage. He choose to hurt, hide, decieve, lie to, and disrespect me as a woman in the core area I deemed sacred and holy in our union. He no longer is the man I wish to spend the rest of my life with. The problem of porn is this: It sends the message to your mate that you no longer desire them or find them good enough or sexually stimulating..YOu are using antoher person or image of another to to get your gratification from and are taking the focus of your sexual energy off of your partner and are two timing them with someone elses moves or image. You are bringing another person inot your bedroom experience that your wife did not ask to be sexual with. If you woman disapproves of such an industry then you should have the restraint to not partake in the practive of self gratification with paper dolls. It’s a sick industry that uses humans for a cash cow and doesn’t give a hoot about your sexual health in anyway. It will cause false initimacy issues and teaches you to use women and men like parts and not people. I guarantee your sexual life will be desensatized and shallow like the people of porn and the jerks who think they can use it for causual entertainment or fun. It’s not keeping to your wedding vows or spitituality beliefs as promised before God, family, or friends…to forsake all others ( even visual sex gentelmen) . It is hurtful and demeaning to your spouse and you should think about the emotional trauma you will cause by using it. Most women only tollerate it because society pushes it as the norm..It’s a horrible product that belongs in the garbage.. I am not a prude, am not body shy, have no problem pleasing my man or expressing my sexual side. I just believe that it should be a private and exclusive experience with the person you love..not a digital image or doctored porn queen on the screen while you use my body for friction and a sperm vessel for your pleasure..Who are you getting off with ??????? YOur wife or you digital paid for fun?? It’s cheap and easy and very sleazy..Give it up guys – most women hate it and don’t like you viewing other T and A for sporrt or fun. Get a life and grow up..it’s juvinile.

180 Christian May 20, 2009 at 8:00 am

When I got married I made a covenant with my eyes not to look at another woman in a “sexual way”. More people should do that.

Great Article. I think porn is horrible.

181 Boris Bashley May 20, 2009 at 9:42 am

It has always seemed to me that those who complain that pornography objectifies women have either a squeamish or dramatically unrealistic view of sex.

In general, objectification of people is not wrong–its necessary. As human beings, we objectify all strangers according to the context in which we encounter them. I don’t care that the waiter who brings me my dinner is an individual with hopes and dreams of writing the great American novel–I care that my ribeye is medium/rare and that my bourbon is on the rocks. I don’t care that the catcher behind home plate gets all weepy listening to Bach’s cello suites–I care that he can make the throw from home to second. Does this mean that I objectify waiters and baseball players? Yes, it does. Does it make me an insensitive jerk? No, it makes me human (I’m an insensitive jerk for entirely different reasons!). Society would be unable to function without humans’ ability to categorize others according to context.

It appears that objectification only becomes a problem if you add in a sexual context. It is acceptable to objectify a woman as a waitress if I’m hungry but unacceptable to objectify a woman as a sexual being if I’m horny. Why are my biological urges for food more or less important than my biological urges for sex? There are those who insist that sex must be treated differently than all other human activity. That is psychologically unhealthy.

A real man recognizes that sexuality is an integral component of his identity. He approaches it with mature acceptance–not as a slave to it and certainly not as a skittish, blushing schoolboy.

The real problem with porn is that it gets boring after about five minutes and the plot is always the same…

182 Dave Tindell May 20, 2009 at 6:23 pm

I read the article and agree with its points. Many of the posters disagree with some or all; their opinions are expressed, as posts usually are, in a wide range of clarity and reasoning, some of it flawed and sophomoric, others well thought out and stated.
When I was in high school and college I thought Hugh Hefner was the ultimate man. Hey, the guy was rich, he lived in a mansion, he had beautiful women all over him, he had it made. I subscribed to his magazine and put his pinups on my dorm wall—and if girls were uncomfortable with that, well, they weren’t with it.
Now it’s 30 years later and I have a different view of things. I have a grown daughter and would not care to see her pose in Playboy, and I most certainly wouldn’t want to see her in a porn film. Every woman in a porn film or picture is someone’s daughter, perhaps someone’s sister as well. As the writer says, if it’s not okay for my daughter, why is it okay for another man’s? If your best friend had a daughter who was very attractive, would you ask him if it would be okay for you to photograph her in the nude?
I’ve been told a lot of internet porn now is about wives. Supposedly these are women who are married and are encouraged by their husbands to pose nude or “act” in porn films. I’ve read that some “swingers” attend parties where men are hired to come in and have sex with their wives while the husbands watch. I don’t know about you, but if a guy came up to me and said he wanted to have sex with my wife, or even see her naked, it would be a very short coversation. I would never allow it. Why, then, should I think it’s okay to look at some other guy’s wife?
The worst thing about porn is that it takes time away from other things you could be doing. You could be spending that time writing a letter to a friend, watching a classic (non-porn) movie, learning a foreign language, reading the Bible or a biography of a famous person, even a good novel. Of course you could be spending that time with your wife and kids or friends, too. People who say porn is a harmless form of entertainment equate it to playing cards or watching “Seinfeld”. Just like wife-swappers treat sex as just another type of recreation. Well, having sex is not like playing a round of golf or a hand of bridge. It’s something much more than that, or at least it should be.

183 messerole May 21, 2009 at 8:31 am

Things are what you make of them. Some speak of sex as sacred, some see it as recreational. Works all sorts of ways.

Some people read the Bible as a history book with outdated viewpoints and a vaguely interesting insight into Hebrew and western history/philosophy, and others regard it as a holy book.

The same thing is said of the Koran, the Upanishads, and the writings of Confucious.

The idea of pornography as immoral, is frankly, a tired Western religious-social construct. Take God and Jesus out of the equation, and suddenly sex isn’t as ‘special’ as what it was supposed to be. Even the Kings and Queens of old Europe regarded sex and marriage as a purely political tool; not something to be foolishly squandered on ‘love’ or emotions.

There are a lot of ideas out there, just because you disagree with some of them doesn’t make others immoral. Teachers, doctors, politicians, and pastors look at pornography and do just fine, living healthy normal lives. It is those that see it as some kind of demon or opponent that truly suffer for it. Sometimes a rose is just a rose.

184 mythago May 21, 2009 at 10:32 pm

Well, I’m not anti-porn by any stretch of the imagination, but a few folks here need a reality check.

No, most actors and models do not work in the sex industry because it is “empowering”. They do it for money. Do you also believe that the barista at Starbucks just loves making coffee and that’s why she took the job? No, she works at Starbucks because it is a job and she gets paid. Porn, same thing.

If you are looking at porn (other than a handful of educationally-oriented videos) for technique, UR DOIN IT RONG. Porn is not staged to be realistic; it’s staged to allow the camera to work. It is not real people spontaneously having sex in one continuously-filmed shot.

Porn actors, strippers and models do not have perfect bodies, either. If you’ve ever seen one of those ‘candid shots’ of a celebrity on the cover of a tabloid, you know that a lot of time and effort goes into creating Hollywood glamor. Similarly, that Playboy centerfold did not look like that just by getting up in the morning.

185 Kris May 22, 2009 at 5:29 pm

While dealing with problems with porn in my own marriage I have come to two conclusions. One is that our problems aren’t about porn at all and it’s just a symptom of a larger problem and that viewing porn too young does have a negative impact.

To those that say most know how to separate reality from fantasy, what do you think an 11 year old boy thinks when he picks up a girlie mag? Especially if it’s his dad’s stash! While when we get older I’m sure most men learn the difference on an intellectual level but the association has been made early on. Don’t tell me it’s not a blow the day you realize real sex isn’t like a porno. It’s like the day a girl realizes theres no such thing as a white knight. The trick is learning how to accept that and be happy with what you have.

When a woman has a concern and she opens her heart to her man about it and he snaps back with “it’s normal and I’m doing nothing wrong” the problem isn’t porn anymore, it’s a problem with addressing her fears and feelings. It’s a problem with communication. Imagine if she said to you that she was molested and you said “grow up, you’re an adult now and it shouldn’t affect you anymore”. When someone opens themselves up, man or woman, it hurts a lot to have their fears rationalized away and told to knock it off.

Also the fact that many men feel the need to lie and hide it really makes us think it’s wrong and you know it. Actions speak a lot more to women. There is something for us to worry about or you wouldn’t lie about it. If porn isn’t a big deal like men say it is then it shouldn’t be a big deal to have an open and frank discussion about it.

The marriages I’ve seen porn work in is marriages where there is open and honest discussion. There’s exploration into why she feels bad about it. Compromises are made. There is no ambiguity why he looks at it and there is sensitivity to her sense of self worth.

-Kris

186 Jim May 22, 2009 at 6:10 pm

There is porn and then there is porn. There is a beautiful work of art. The female form unhindered by clothing. Or even a man and woman together in a way that would make most people who regularly view internet porn yawn. Then there is a woman strapped down to the bed, dripping with any and all bodily fluids.

Porn has helped in some instances in my life. After kids, career, the lawn, etc I go to bed. Sometimes I come across a naked girl and think “Oh yeah! My wife and I used to do that!” and go throw her on the bed. Sure I’m aroused by the woman but I’m more aroused by the memories that it brings up. It helps to remind me that sex is an important part of our relationship.

Porn has hurt in some instances in my life. Like Kris mentioned, porn fights stop being about porn after a while and become a screaming match about why I can’t understand her feelings. When I finally pulled my head out of my ass and talked to my wife I realized the naked girls weren’t the problem at all. It was her self esteem, our communication problems, etc.

When I was in my teens I fell into that trap of trying to find more and more hardcore stuff. Thankfully I got a job and a life to distract me eventually but I can only imagine what could’ve happened.

Men and women are never going to see eye to eye on this. There will be some men sympathetic and some women understanding but on the whole, no. In my own personal life we agreed that she wouldn’t hunt for it and I would be respectful to her and not save it to the computer. If I come across a picture I’m not going to close the window in fear but I no longer “collect” women on my computer.

187 Jim May 22, 2009 at 6:26 pm

“When I was in my teens I fell into that trap of trying to find more and more hardcore stuff. Thankfully I got a job and a life to distract me eventually but I can only imagine what could’ve happened.”

I meant to go on to say that it’s like a lot of my classmates attitudes to alcohol when I was in school. We all learned that alcohol was to get drunk on, not something to enjoy. Because we didn’t learn the proper context of where drinking belongs many of my classmates went on to a career as an alcoholic. None of them learned the joy of a frosty beer on a hot day. When young boys don’t have a context for where porn belongs (or doesn’t belong) in their lives then it can develop in very unhealthy ways.

Some of you give the scenario of a loving accepting relationship where porn is welcomed with open arms and if the woman doesn’t accept it she’s immature. The problem is often times there isn’t a loving accepting relationship. Women often need a lot of discussion, especially about sex, so they know where they stand. Many men aren’t willing to put that effort into it or often times don’t know how to have a discussion like that. Women want to talk but often times can’t express them without expressing frustration which hinders discussion. If after talking it to death (talking! not fighting) doesn’t solve the problem and you’re still at odds then it’s time to part ways. The comments posted prove there are women who accept it and men who don’t. There is someone out there that holds your ideals and making unreasonable demands on a man who won’t change or lying to your woman isn’t worth the effort or the fights.

188 Anthony May 26, 2009 at 7:11 am

Men are supposed to be ones who make sacrifices with their lives for the good of others. Men are givers not takers. To protect and provider for society, the weak and the dignity of others is the role of men. Porn filps this completely upside down and makes men users and takers. Nothing is more unmanly than a selfish user and taker.

189 russ smith May 29, 2009 at 6:30 am

Great article, i completely agree. I would love to see an article on how to keep our boys from growing into porn, and staying away. My son is 1 year old, and I can’t imagine the quickness and ease that will be available to him when he’s 15, considering the explosiveness of the web and technology. Thanks!

190 Denise June 3, 2009 at 10:58 am

Porn has broken up 3 of my marriages. My husbands were all into it and it made me feel inadequate sexually. It damaged me to no end. I am in no way unattractive and that is a given, attractiveness doesn’t matter. If a man is going to do it, he will no matter what his wife looks like. It has left me feeling as if I can’t measure up to any of the “things” they looked at. It has destroyed ME sexually forever. Men do not realize what it does to wives, or girlfriends. It just makes us feel totally undesirable. Whether they have sex with us or not, we always think they’re thinking about their porn images, and they probably are. No, they definately are. Men who do porn don’t have a clue as to what it means to be a man.

191 Denise June 3, 2009 at 11:02 am

Let me also add, that men who do porn are selfish. They are self gratifying period. Lazy as well to use porn and masterbation as a way of self fulfillment, neglecting their wives needs. My third husband totally turned from me sexually when he got heavily into porn. As if porn and masterbation were more important than a sexual relationship with his wife. He is sick.

192 Matthew June 5, 2009 at 11:12 am

I just wanted to write and let you know that this article has been a very enlightening read. While it is one thing to hear diatribe about the negative effects of porn (as one rather negatively rated poster responded), it is entirely different to have this logically and systematically looked at by a writer that I respect.

Let me comment on your use of the word “addiction”, if I may.

There are several kinds of addiction, the most difficult of these to overcome (arguably) being “chemical” addiction. We see this sort of addiction in narcotics, alcohol, and tobacco. These addictive substances cause physiological effects in the user when the addiction is not “fed”, and this leads to a great deal of pain and misery.

However, there is another type of addiction. I have heard it called many things, from “emotional” addiction to “personality” addiction. Much as you have described, it takes on the same attributes as compulsive behaviors. When these compulsive behaviors reach a certain level of reinforcement (which varies by individual), there are adverse effects to ending this addiction as well.

“Quitting Porn” is certainly not so easy as just turning off a television or computer monitor. I can attest to that personally.

I am divorced, and looking back on my marriage I can easily see how pornography had a negative effect on our relationship. Early on, my ex-wife saw my pornography habit as a part of me. Being the loving woman she was at the time, she attempted to accept me for that. She even went so far as to join with me, and to try and understand why I enjoyed it.

While I do not wish to blame the divorce on pornography, I can see now that it was a contributing factor. There was a point that I reached where pornography held little interest for me, and our love making had become routine (even if it was out of some of the movies we had seen). In an effort to reach me as I retreated into self-doubt, she escalated what she was willing to do. This ended in arguments, physical violence, and constant screaming matches.

Could this be the effect of something else? Most certainly, yes. Do I feel that pornography had a role to play in that? Yes, I do.

However, I have been unable to give it up. Not for lack of trying, mind you, but simply because I always had some excuse to keep going. “Its only for pleasure,”
or “But I have nobody in my life,” or “looking for ideas.”

Now that I look at my current relationship with a very sweet woman, I realized that my perception of women HAS been objectified by pornography. You struck a chord with me when you talked about men retreating into fantasy, even when with their significant other. This is true in my case, and now that you bring it to light, it terrifies me.

Thank you for opening my eyes to this, and sharing with me the wisdom (one of my five core values from the 30DBM challenge!) to find the strength to overcome this habit. Be it addiction, compulsion, or habit alone, it is something that has become controlling and unhealthy in my life.

So, thank you again. I now know I have something I need to take a more critical eye to. I really enjoy the AoM site overall, and find that coming back here every day gives me something new to think about. You do an excellent job, and your advice could help almost any man.

Regards,
~Matthew

193 Bea June 13, 2009 at 2:05 pm

I found this blog post today after doing a search for “the problem with porn”, wondering if anyone out there had begun to write about the effects porn can have on men and relationships. As a woman who has had a very fulfilling sex life, and a very open-minded and accepting attitude about all the ways sexuality manifests for people, I have never had a problem with porn as a concept or even the use of it as a expansive tool in my relationships. I think there are *a lot* of people (not just men) out there who have truly learned some things from porn that they probably couldn’t have learned elsewhere. For many us, our parents maybe didn’t do such a great job on educating us about what to actually *do* with each other sexually because it just wasn’t talked about. I have certainly watched porn with some of my boyfriends, but not all of them. It really had more to do with whether that was the dynamic between me and that partner than anything else, and when it felt right to put in a video to enhance what we were doing, we did. In that sense, I still don’t have a problem with porn. I have no problem using it myself again in the future if that’s what I want to do for my own experience of pleasure. I can’t honestly say this is ok for me but hold a different standard for men, can I?

However, I did the search today for anyone writing about this topic because as of the last few weeks, I’ve had to come to terms with the reality that my current relationship is ending largely because of the effects that watching porn has had on my boyfriend. I can sit here and type rational thoughts about all this, but the truth is that it is, and has been for the last year and a half, heartbreaking. I loved this man and so wanted a long-term, deep, meaningful relationship with him (that hopefully included a good sex life) and what I have ended up with instead is the experience of watching that potential slip away because he can’t connect with me sexually. Sure, he can have sex with me, but there’s no heart component to it, there’s no depth of connection in the experience. Early on in our relationship he confessed to me a problem with watching porn and calling 800 numbers in his past relationship. We had many open and honest discussions about the role of porn in his life and his opinions of it in society today. We were mostly on the same page there, although he often took the stance of many on this blog about the concept of “objectifying” people (in that we all objectify each other all the time). Intellectually, we agreed on many things in this area. But what we couldn’t bridge was the fact that this long-term use of porn as a way to manage his anxiety about women/life/the world, etc., had severely impacted his ability to emotionally connect during sex with a partner. As a justification, he would often get in a snit about how men used porn because women didn’t do enough to keep sex interesting and that it was always assumed men automatically wanted to have sex all the time no matter, yadda yadda. I listened. I really did. I tried everything I had in my tool kit. I dressed up, bought toys, tried all kinds of new things and was willing to try others. I was not closed-minded and have never been, but without any kind of emotional connection as part of our sex life, it started to make me feel like crap (as other women on here have said so excellently). I started to feel like I had to be something I wasn’t, to do more than even I was comfortable in order to keep his interest, my self-esteem got shaky, I wondered how much he was actually continuing to use porn regularly as a release for his sexual desire and found my trust in what he was telling me start to slip. We went to a sex therapist, and a couple’s counselor, and I sent him to a workshop on “how to please a woman”, hoping any one of these things would bring about the sense on connectedness I so wanted for us in our sex life. The end result was we had sex less and less often because it just seemed like it was too much effort for him, and I started to run out of energy to make it happen (and ideas, frankly). Without the connection, I started to drift away from him. I wasn’t angry, rather, I found myself depressed, partially blaming myself and wondering if there was something else I could/should do, but also realizing this was this man’s lifelong struggle, and he clearly wasn’t done with it. The problem was there with him from the start, and he made many comments about how he knew he needed to make changes, but it never happened. I hoped for a year and a half that we could find a way past it together, but ultimately I found myself more and more resentful, less and less attractive (I have never felt this way, ever, in past relationships, and have been complimented a lot in my life for physical attributes), and watched my feelings for him start to disintegrate.

There was a lot of love and respect and affection and warmth and friendship that we shared. It was when the conversation turned not long ago to us having a “sexless relationship” that I knew my hope for a meaningful sex life with the man I loved was beyond reach. He had, in fact, chosen the ease of porn and masturbation over the challenge of sexual intimacy.

In my opinion, like others have said on here…it’s much like alcohol…lots of people can go out and have a drink and have no problem result from it. But for others, it can ruin lives…not just the person who is “drinking”, but for the fallout on those all around them who their behavior also impacts. The damage to feelings of trust, intimacy, respect, etc., can take a hard hit that is difficult for a relationship to recover from.

For the men who are staunch defenders of porn and its use, perhaps you have never been in such a spot and have no problem from your exposure or use of it and can separate fantasy from reality. Lots of others cannot. Whether this makes porn on the whole terrible isn’t any more the question than whether alcohol is terrible. If porn isn’t causing problems in your life and/or your relationships, then great, have at it. But, any person out there who uses porn as a replacement or escape from the difficulty of intimacy with your partner has a serious problem to contend with. If you can continue to use porn and not have it affect your relationship and ability to relate to your partner in a meaningful way, then you may not see the dangerous side of this, but please respect that this is not how it is for everyone. For those of us that have lost long-term marriages and the hope of a future with someone we loved, it is a devastating problem. We not only lose the love of our life, but we may even be picking up the scraps of what remains of our self-esteem and ability to trust in men again in the future. It is a deeply painful and damaging problem.

I commend the author of this blog for putting his viewpoint out there, because it is not one often heard coming from a man. For today, I have found comfort in his perspective.

194 Jim Barnes June 14, 2009 at 6:33 am

A very interesting and thought-provoking article by the McKays. I’m very inclined to believe that their views are correct.

195 Famuyiwa Olukayode June 24, 2009 at 2:53 am

My name is Famuyiwa olukayode and I really want to commend the Mckays for a wonderful site like this that is directed to saving the manhood .
I’m an African (Nigerian) and we really have a problem with porn being sold on our major streets and highways.

Due to this excessive viewage of porn, a lot of our celebrities (and we youth) are now becoming perverted . There was this case of an actress called Cossy Orjiokafor who shot a “private “bestial(sex with dogs) film with some Lebanese businessmen for $10,000.00.
unfortunately (or fortunately), she was shortchanged and the film shots were exposed by some journalists.
The beginning of the solution to this is to appeal to the conscience of google.com and other search engines to please remove adult directories from their searches(like they do for China).

Interestingly, from history, the 18th and 19th century forebears of the Europeans were progressive due to their restraints: sexually and otherwise. Unfortunately, it seems their offspprings want to ruin it all due to sexual incontinence. Also more worrisome is the
refusal of African societies to imbibe the fine points of European and American character by alternatively engaging in sexual unrestrains bordeering on madness.

I just want to say , thanks to the authors.Anyone is free to exchange intellectual discourses with me through SMS or a phone call. My number is +234 803 444 22 34 and e-mail is eerokan24@yahoo.com

196 Wally July 2, 2009 at 8:10 am

The biggest problem with this article is that it only focuses on the problem, not a solution. If you aren’t in a situation where sex is available, like heaven forbid, you’re single, or you haven’t progressed far enough in a relationship, what is a guy supposed to do? Just wait for nocturnal emissions? Buy a blow up doll?

197 Andy July 15, 2009 at 5:15 pm

1) Advertising objectifies women. Movies objectify women (and men, for that matter). If you say porn is bad b/c it objectifies women, then so are movies and advertising.
2) Maybe you’re not asking the wrong men.. heck, some marriages are almost prostitution. Any beautiful woman who marries a rich man is basically a prostitute, if you want to talk about a “few steps removed.” I wouldn’t want my sister (or brother) to be a used car salesman – so what’s your point??
3) Movies and novels mess up your expectations of love – so there should be no more romantic novels and movies made. This is ridiculous – the vast majority of men don’t have a problem with porn messing up their sex lives. This is a stupid argument.
4) Not for me, or any guy I know. I’d rather have real sex than porn any day. What sane guy wouldn’t?? Again, you must be talking to the wrong guys.
5) No it doesn’t.

This article is moronic.

198 Bruno Afonso July 17, 2009 at 10:32 am

*START HERE*
“Another *boy* who admits he watches porn, and further justifies his demeaning behavior. And has 4 others who give him props for his words.

(I say *boy*, because a REAL man wouldn’t treat women like a piece of meat, as you seem happy to do.)

Brett – if this isn’t proof enough that our society is in pathetic shape, and that your site is absolutely necessary… I don’t know what is”
*END HERE*

Aaron, where did you get the idea that I treat women like a piece of meat? =/
Was it just because I am ok with watching them “sell” their body for millions to watch? If that was the reason, then I’ll accept it. However, I shall add that, in that case, you should be careful not to numbly watch the “piece of meat” that cashes your groceries next time you check out the supermarket, or the “piece of meat” that has to take care of your domestic trash, or all the hundreds of “pieces of meat” that have clean up the crap (yes, the actual crap) we send down the drain everyday.
Isn’t professional sports filled with “pieces of meat”? Take the “manly” sport of boxing. People will pay sh*t-loads of money to watch a man try to beat the crap out of another man. I’m sure you all know the damages it causes to their brain. You basically get two pieces of meat trying to bruise the other, and yet I will bet you a great deal of people here who find porn degrading enjoy watching boxing.

Am I taking things out of proportion? I might. But not any more than you guys are with this broad generalisation that porn is evil and should be banned.
There is great quality-women/men respecting-romantic porn and then there is all the other more hardcore types you probably have in mind.

I sincerely hope that all of you who are against porn because it may be degrading and it may destroy moral values, are all 100% against legal possession of weapons. Why? Because if you are able to defend that it’s not the possession of weapons that causes trouble but the human nature that does, not using the same reasoning for porn would be a bit hypocritical (and that ain’t manly at all, is it?)

I think we all men (and women, of course) should understand something, since we are all part of this website and, therefore, take pride in some manlyness. There are all kinds of vicious things out there in the world – alcohol, drugs, tobacco, porn, literature, politics, religion, gambling, music, sports… – all of these have their darkest side, some darker than others. But we are ADULTS, and if we are as manly as we’d like to think we are, then we are responsible for our own decisions and actions. Smoking is allowed and it’s everywhere, yet I have never tried it even once. Drinking is legal and advertised and I never got drunk.

Avoid porn if you want, ban it from your life if you think that it might be bad for you, but don’t blame it on its existence. YOU have the hability to choose what’s best for you. YOU have the hability to distinguish between right and wrong. YOU have what it takes to make sensible decisions. You are only as vulnerable as you allow yourself to be. That, for me, is being manly.

P.S: Aaron, no offense taken, ok? I just quite didn’t get where you drew your conclusion from. Peace.

199 Dissonant July 22, 2009 at 3:58 am

Hmmm.

I am a man (though some here might disagree, I know I am) who was sexually abused (in a rather unusual manner, not going into details) as a child. Growing up I learned to hate my own sexuality, and male sexuality in general, and although I couldn’t get rid of it, I certainly can’t justify exposing others to it. This has made relationships impossible, and so I turned to porn (for a while, and secondary to books on sex) IN MODERATION to learn about these things and to serve as an outlet for the thing I couldn’t quite destroy. I still firmly believe that a man who expresses attraction to a woman is a piece of filth, especially men who show that vomitous thing called “confidence”, and nothing seems to have the power to make me feel differently.

Lots of people somehow tell me that showing attraction to women is “not disrespectful”, but that wouldn’t be true for me because of my feelings about how awful it is. It would be like doing to a woman what was done to me, in a very real sense (again, I’m not going to go into details).

Yeah, I have been in therapy for 10 years, and have talked to many, many people about this before, but I still see no reason to view my feelings of attraction to women with anything other than contempt.

Given this, is it still wrong for me to pursue (softcore) porn as an outlet? Because if no matter what I do I have to be accused of hating women of “objectifying” them (a term I still don’t understand, how is looking at women’s bodies “reducing” them to anything?), I don’t see any reason to go on living. I think it’s in fact an indication of my respect for women that I don’t share this horrible part of myself with them. I was not strong enough to kill my psychological need for a sexual outlet completely. If (softcore) porn is my only psychological outlet (I can’t fantasize for obvious reasons), and it is bad, then I am the enemy of women as long as I live. And I couldn’t bear that.

Just trying to bring another perspective here.

200 Ryan September 22, 2009 at 7:03 pm

So many of the statements you make (on either side of the argument) are completely sensationalist, not backed by any solid research or both.
How writers like yourself feel fine publishing regurgitated B.S. assumptions on the porn issue is something I don’t understand. Especially this website which features some of my favorite on the web.
If someone likes ejaculating on a woman’s face let him try. There may be some unwanted consequences from the unhappy girl, but that’s life, roll the dice. Because it’s in Porn and has stayed in porn due to at least some porn consumers liking it. If that guy rolls the dice and finds a woman who likes it….let the fireworks fly.

Settle down on the policing of individuals sexual desires and freedom, the only rules are the ones laid out by the two (or more) people involved in that specific act of sex.

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