Why Shouldn’t Johnny Watch Porn If He Wants to?

Sexual brain training matters—especially during adolescence.

Editor’s Note: The comments quoted throughout this piece were taken from the comments sections of posts and message board conversations where men were talking about sex.

It’s normal for kids to want to learn all about sex, especially during puberty and adolescence when reproduction becomes the brain’s top priority. For this we can thank the specifics of teen-brain development.

Think of an adolescent jungle primate watching another band with such fascination that he (or she, in some species) leaves his companions, and endures the slings and arrows of being without allies at the bottom of another troup’s pecking order—all for a chance to get it on with exotic hotties in the future. The things our genes do to guarantee genetic diversity!

Now, fast-forward to a young guy discovering the mind-boggling novelty of Internet erotica:

I started looking at Internet porn when I was 11. I immediately became hooked, and spent hours daily viewing porn. Simply seeing a pair of exposed breasts was enough to get me off. But desensitization soon kicked in, and I began developing fetishes to get the same hit from porn. It started out with different ethnicities, then lesbians, then watersports, then scat/beastiality/BDSM/tranny, and then any combination of the above to create the sickest porn imaginable. I can remember sitting in school fantasizing about sick porn that I could search for that night.

What is it about the adolescent brain that makes this guy’s experience not unusual? Answer: During adolescence a temporary neurological imbalance develops. The “sex, drugs and rock & roll” part of the brain is in overdrive. The “let’s give this some thought” part is still under construction, and won’t reach maturity until adulthood.

This recipe for impulsive and risky behavior rearranges other adolescent-mammal brains too. It is evolution’s way of driving the brash independence many young mammals need as they seek mates and carve out territories. In the brain’s cost-benefit analysis, the scale is tipping heavily in the direction of possible rewards.

There’s a kicker though. The capacity of our teen to wire up new sexual associations mushrooms around 11 or 12 when billions of new neural connections (synapses) create endless possibilities. However, by adulthood, his brain must prune his neural circuitry to leave him with a manageable assortment of choices. By his twenties, he may not exactly be stuck with the sexual proclivities he falls into during adolescence, but they can be like deep ruts in his brain—not easy to ignore or reconfigure.

Sexual-cue exposure matters more during adolescence than at any other time in life. Now, add to this incendiary reality the lighter fluid of today’s off-the-wall erotica available at the tap of a finger. Is it any surprise that some teens wire semi-permanently to constant cyber novelty instead of potential mates? Or wire their sexual responsiveness to things that are unrelated to their sexual orientation? Or manage to desensitize their brains—and spiral into porn addiction?

Incidentally, are you a guy remembering your own adolescence—and how you could never climax enough during those years? Perhaps you’re supposing that Internet porn would have been a splendid innovation. If so, read these two articles: Porn, Novelty and the Coolidge Effect‏ and Porn Then and Now: Welcome to Brain Training. Porn, its content, the way it’s delivered, and its potential effects on the brain have changed radically. For today’s users, more orgasm can lead to less satisfaction.

Teen brains differ from adult brains

When we dug into the brain research on adolescents, we were astonished at how malleable teen brains are. Radical changes in the sexual environment hit them hardest. Here are four vulnerabilities unique to teen brains:

1. Much stronger “Go get it!” signals

The reward circuitry is the core of all drives (including libido), emotions, likes, dislikes, motivation…and addiction. In adolescence, sex hormones propel this ancient circuitry into a window of hyperactivity, which subsides by the early twenties. As journalist David Dobbs explains:

We all like new and exciting things, but we never value them more highly than we do during adolescence. Here we hit a high in what behavioral scientists call sensation seeking: the hunt for the neural buzz, the jolt of the unusual or unexpected. … This love of the thrill peaks at around age 15.

The brain’s sensitivity to dopamine, the “Gotta get it!” neurochemical crests, which spurs novelty seeking, overrides executive control, and helps consolidate learning and habits. In fact, teen brains respond to anything perceived as exciting with two-to-four times the reward-circuitry activation of adults, thanks to their extra dopamine sensitivity. Both novelty and searching/seeking spike dopamine in all human brains, but cyber erotica’s endless possibilities prove an irresistible lure for many teens.

The first time I looked at those hot pictures the feeling seemed to be out of this world, just ineffable. Suddenly I knew there was something worth living for, everything else was just boring, everyday life. I fled to this artificial drug: porn and masturbation. It was not unusual to watch porn for hours a day.

“Ineffable?” Yes. Teens are more likely to register sexual arousal, and other highs, as transcendental, memorable experiences. That is why you can still recall the shimmering details of that first centerfold. But there’s more evidence of hypersensitivity to thrills:

Alas, their heightened sensitivity to reward automatically renders teens more susceptible to addiction than if they encountered the same thrills later in life.

2. Decreased sensitivity to aversion

Having spent Friday night playing “World of Warcraft” until 4AM, while washing down eight slices of pizza and a bag of Doritos with a six-pack of Mountain Dew, our hero is ready to do it all again come Saturday night. Research shows that teens are less deterred by symptoms of excess. Aversion is a reward-circuitry function, and teens can handle more wattage before their circuits overload

Ever wonder why Slasher + Teens (sex) = Summer Box-Office Hit? It all comes down to the marvels of the brain. No wonder porn images that adults find shocking, “eeeew,” or violent, register as abnormally exciting to teens. Also keep in mind that teens are less able to take other people’s feelings into account (even bad actors).

When I was 14/15, I encountered she-male porn while surfing the Internet. I still remember the graphic nature of the advert. Something just snapped in my pubescent brain. All the straight and lesbian porn I had watched for several years seemed ordinary. My heart started racing. My head was thumping, and the fear of getting caught…not just watching porn, but watching what some could consider not exactly 100% straight porn…made it all the more memorable. I remember crying after I finished. I didn’t know what came over me. I was so terrified I wanted to curl up into a ball in my bedroom. But I didn’t stop watching it. I was still attracted to girls, but with the she-male porn, I could orgasm quicker.

3. Weaker “Stop!” signals

The sex hormones that initiate teen sensitivity to thrills unfortunately do nothing to speed up development of their brain’s self-control center. A teen brain is like a new car with a Ferrari engine and Ford Pinto brakes.

At puberty, an extremely reactive “accelerator” comes online: the brain’s emotion-motivation mechanism, or reward circuitry, located below the rational cortex. It overpowers the “brakes,” the brain’s “CEO” or prefrontal cortex in the forehead, which won’t fully mature for a decade. The latter assesses risk, thinks ahead, chooses priorities, allocates attention and controls impulses.

Meanwhile, teens often base their choices on their emotional impulses as opposed to reasoning or planning. Later, as the prefrontal cortex matures, there will be fewer “I can’t believe he did that” moments. Teens make sounder judgments and modulate mood, plan and remember more effectively.

In the meantime, teens have trouble perceiving the consequences of “going for it.” Again, this is no accident. Daredevil tendencies during adolescence serve species that must take risks then to strike out on their own or find mates. In the case of adolescent humans, evolution has simply not had time to adapt to the hazards of recreational drugs, fast cars, or excessive consumption of junk food, online gaming, or Internet porn. That’s why we have the Darwin Awards.

4. Extreme neuronal growth followed by pruning

Human brains go through two stages of dramatic neuronal growth: one in utero and throughout the first several months of life, the other between the ages of 10 and 13—just when most boys (and now, many girls) begin to look at Internet porn. Ideally, during this critical developmental period, we humans are exposed to age-appropriate sexual behavior. We learn how to flirt and connect with potential partners.

This second burst of neuronal activity entails first multiplication and then subtraction of neural connections. No wonder mood swings are a hallmark of adolescence! Together, genes and environment sculpt the clay of a teen’s frontal cortex. As use-it-or-lose-it proceeds, the brain reorganizes and fine-tunes itself:

The cortex prunes away little used circuits, while strengthening well worn neural pathways. Nerve cell axons in favored pathways become better insulated with myelin, increasing the speed of nerve impulses. Little branches that receive messages (called dendrites) grow like vines to better hear the incoming signal. The connections between axons and dendrite (synapses) multiply on strong circuits and vanish on weaker ones. In the end you have memories, skills, habits, preferences and ways of coping that stand the test of time. (ibid., Dobbs, emphasis added)

In less glowing terms, we restrict our options—without realizing how critical our choices were during our final, pubescent, neuronal growth spurt. According to researcher Jay Giedd:

If a teen is doing music or sports or academics, those are the cells and connections that will be hardwired. If they’re lying on the couch or playing video games or MTV [or Internet porn], those are the cells and connections that are going to survive.

This is one reason why polls asking teens how Internet porn use is affecting them are unlikely to reveal the extent of porn’s effects. Kids who have never masturbated without porn have no idea how it is affecting them. (It’s like asking them, “How has being male affected you?”) They have nothing to compare with.

Keep in mind that older porn users often do not connect their porn-related symptoms with heavy porn use—even when they develop porn-induced sexual dysfunction (PISD). Porn always seems like the “cure,” because even if they can’t get it up for sex, they can usually get it up if they watch enough extreme porn. Can we expect teens to figure it out?

Same problem with asking teens about porn’s effects on mood. Users always “feel better” when using, even if the more they use, the worse they feel overall. So why would porn be seen as the problem? Moreover, when users try to quit, they sometimes face weeks of severe withdrawal symptoms, so controlling use can be mistaken for the problem instead of the solution.

Fact is, most heavy users who are going to hit a wall from excess, don’t do so until their twenties—just about the time their reward circuitry has curtailed its hypersensitivity. For example, by adulthood, dopamine receptors in the reward circuitry gradually decrease by a third or a half. Now, thrills aren’t as thrilling, and the consequences of excess are more disconcerting. Once nature’s foot is off the reward accelerator, it’s time for a hunter-gatherer to settle down and raise some youngins.

No birds or bees, just pixels please

Meanwhile, the adolescent brain is ripe for a perfect storm as the genetically driven hunt for novelty and the unexpected collides with the endless erotica of the Internet. Hypnotic Web-surfing—requiring no effort but scrolling and fapping—replaces leaving one’s tribe to search the savannah for fertile mates.

When I was 18, I had sex for the first time. When she said she was “down all the way”, I ran to the nearest store to pick up condoms like I had the Reaper chasing me. After the deed, my thoughts were, “Hmm…it didn’t feel that much different from masturbation, and it required a hell of a lot more work! Meh, I’ll stick to porn and not bother with a girlfriend.”

Another guy responded:

My thoughts EXACTLY. Just back pain, muscle strain, breathlessness, sweatiness and performance anxiety. MUCH less stress to just crack one off, plus you got your own ‘Iron Fist’ that gets you off better than that real vagina. Not only that, you always get a ‘good visual’ with a ‘porn girlfriend.’ You can see all those beautiful body contours in perfect lighting, breasts n’ butts n’ thighs look glorious, and *always* visible. In real life that’s rarely the case. The first time I did it, I didn’t truly enjoy it (even though we both came a lot). My first time should’ve felt like a TRIUMPH, given how ‘successful’ it was, but it felt artificial. It was then I KNEW there was perhaps something a tad wrong. The sex in my *mind* always seemed sexy and enjoyable. The *real* sex I had was primarily industrial and unexciting. Not good.

Today’s teens sometimes wire their arousal to Internet porn’s unnaturally intense, synthetic stimuli for as long as a decade before they try to connect with real partners. (See pages of self-reports of adolescent porn use.) The situation is even more precarious if a teen’s innocent pursuit of jollies has led to more fundamental brain changes, i.e., addiction. Again, teens are more susceptible to addiction than adults, due to their hyperactive reward circuitry and immature executive control.

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About Gary Wilson & Marnia Robinson

Gary Wilson has taught anatomy, physiology, and pathology for many years. His wife Marnia is the author of Cupid's Poisoned Arrow: From Habit to Harmony in Sexual Relationships. Among other projects, they host the website Your Brain on Porn.

Comments

  1. This sounds all too familiar, unfortunately. I found porn at 10, and I have probably masturbated, on average, 4 to 5 times each and every day since. Always to porn and to some really freaky shit. I was awkward socially before and developed a very embarrassing physical condition that make me even more introverted. As a teenager, I basically spent my entire days sitting at home on the computer playing computer games and jerking off. For a long time, I tried to find a girlfriend, and was asking girls out, trying to flirt, etc, and things never went well for me. I kept feeling more ashamed and depressed about my lack of success that I finally gave up completely.

    I still want a girlfriend desperately, and not just for the sex but for the cuddling, kissing, and love that comes with it. Unfortunately, at 24, I doubt any woman would want to be with a total social failure. It is hard to get out there and try when you have no positive experiences to draw on and you already lack self confidence. I often think that I should probably just spend a few grand and have a long “girlfriend experience” with a hooker and then take my own life.

    • Brains are plastic, which means you can change your habits. It’s not easy, but guys often see (some) improvements very quickly: http://www.reuniting.info/download/pdf/0.BENEFITS.pdf. Visit http://www.yourbrainonporn.com Good luck with your recovery.

    • wet_suit_one says:

      Spend a few grand on several pros. Get on Plenty of Fish, make an awesome profile (they tell you how or at least they used to), go on dates with every woman that will go out with you. Learn everything you can from every experience.

      And after you’ve done all that, then decide if it’s time to die.

      I’m not saying don’t kill yourself, I’m saying don’t kill yourself without giving a honest to goodness good ole college try. Heck, you may even find it’s not worth the hassel and choose to check out. I wouldn’t blame you for it as I’ve oft considered it myself.

      But defintely don’t spend a few grand on one woman. A few grand should be about 10 experiences in my opinion. Of course, the local market will decide.

      The Wet One.

  2. Thanks for your wonderfully informative article, Marnia-
    Most significantly, your work has enabled so many of the men and women addicts I’ve worked with come to terms with/ heal from their sexual addictions because they finally come to understand the workings of their own brains. So many have put off getting help due to being crippled by shame and guilt, which enable negative feedback loops right back into the addiction. Your work helps defuse those stigmas tremendously and allows treatment plans to be implemented without the colossal self-recrimination attendant with the sexual addictions.

    An author who’s helped further my understanding is Dr. Norman Doidge, a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and researcher at Columbia University and University of Toronto whose book “The Brain That Changes Itself” is filled with empirically sound data. In particular, the chapter “Acquiring Tastes and Loves: What Neuroplasticity Teaches Us About Sexual Attraction and Love” explains how internet porn addiction (and fetishes) can develop and continue even when the porn user takes note of the consequences amassing in his life, and even when he is later repulsed by what he’s looked at.

    Another important book is “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts – Close Encounters with Addiction” by Gabor Mate, M.D. In this compassionate view of addiction, the author explores the scientific and psychological causes of addiction, from his work with addicts at Downtown Eastside Vancouver where he works as a physician.
    He locates the source of addictions in the trauma of an emotionally empty childhood, making it a relational rather than a medical problem. As such, his treatment approaches value human connection over the traditional treatments as a cure. Those of us who work with porn/ sexual compulsivity know it to be fundamentally an intimacy disorder so the relational approach to treatment is most helpful here.

    Thank you again for your efforts to help before porn addiction gains traction: in the younger teen years.

    • Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette says:

      It seems to me that it is increasingly the case in American culture that liberty, freedom and empowerment are cast as things which can only be obtained through a priori recognition of oneself as a victim. In this sense, addiction has become a very powerful cultural myth for speaking of a more general malaise created by the conditions of life and labor in the late 21st century.

      By casting the inability to successfully meet the almost unbearable pyschological pressures of late capitalist post-modern society as the product of a biological syndrome of addiction – itself defined, tautologically, as the inability to meet the productive demands of said society – psychological breakdowns are recast as discrete, individual events which have little if any relation to social life.

      By encouraging this shift towards individualization, victimization and the discourse of addiction, mental healthcare professionals protect their own socio-economic niche in a world where human productive labor increasingly has littlereal value, but in which humans are still ulitmately defined as worthy according to their ability to produce.

      We thus find that almost all of the definitions of addiction predicated here revolve around a priori notions of functionality, productive ability and individual dis-ease, which – through quasi-magical thinking interpretations of the poorly understood and bitterly contentious scientific field of neurochemistry – become naturalized into disease.

  3. Thaddeus Gregory Blanchette says:

    Can someone please tell me why I’m apparently being censured?

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      Thaddeus, you have repeatedly engaged in Ad hominem attacks**, which are against our commenting policy. A link to our commenting policy is on the front page of the site, and also here: http://goodmenproject.com/commenting-policy/

      **[“Ad hominem abuse involves insulting or belittling one’s opponent in order to invalidate his argument, but can also involve pointing out factual but ostensible character flaws or actions which are irrelevant to the opponent’s argument. This tactic is logically fallacious because insults and even true negative facts about the opponent’s personal character have nothing to do with the logical merits of the opponent’s arguments or assertions.”]

    • The Bad Man says:

      Because you disagree with the ideology of the GMPM.

      • I think that it’s about social etiquette Bad Man- Same as when someone at a huge dinner party talks with a bullhorn at the table, not allowing anyone a shared voice in the discussion because it differs from theirs. Seems GMP is promoting discussion and different voices to be heard in equal time and volume and they only discipline abusers of common courtesy. I read the rules and they seem ok to me, but that’s my opinion…These rules apply to most public blogs and GMP is not declaring there is One truth and obey or you’re out. I really like this forum and read a lot that differs from my interests and perspective, and that’s ok. I don’t need to denounce the entire topic because I think differently, that would be arrogant and disrespectful for others opinions and experiences.

  4. Bystander says:

    I heard that blogorrhea will be included in the next edition of the DSM. “A compulsive need to spend excessive amounts of time posting irate comments on blogs.” No, honey, I can’t come to bed, someone on the Internet is wrong!!! Becomes a disorder when it interferes with one’s work or social functioning.

  5. It’s true that many things can become an addiction and can make actual human contact less interesting, enjoyable, and desirable.  Porn can become one for men.  The use of sex toys can become one for women. Of course, the latter would never, ever be written about here because it doesn’t criticize men’s behavior.

    • Actually, we have also written about the latter, and we totally agree with you. See “Vibrators and Other Pleasures: When ‘Moderation’ Fails” http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201106/vibrators-and-other-pleasures-when-moderation-fails

      The power of superstimuli to dysregulate some people’s brains is not gender-specific. The reason more men are suffering is simply because more of them have been using Internet porn for longer. Women are catching up though. See “Porn Then And Now: Welcome to Brain Training” for more on why Internet porn is unusually stimulating. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201108/porn-then-and-now-welcome-brain-training

      • wet_suit_one says:

        Yeah, but like Eric said, that will never be written about here because it doesn’t criticize men. It’s not that you don’t raise it, it’s that it won’t be talked about here.

        The Wet One

    • Hey Eric M- I can see your point and I’m sure this is true for some women but I would not consider women’s abuse or preference for toys to be at all comparable to mens abuse or preference for porn, at least from my experience in relationships. My partners have only resorted to toys, reluctantly, when they were either not in a relationship or, reluctantly, when we were in a slump (sometimes due to my own porn use).
      In my opinion, males seem to be more willing and able to dissociate from emotional connection (the holding and foreplay aspect of lovemaking) which allows men to be more susceptible to becoming glued to porn, since that is safely isolated from real connection. And, again in my own opinion, women seem to desire the foreplay aspects more than men. Maybe this is deep DNA, socially cultivated bonding drivers or simply my own experiences. And, in reading Marnia’s link to her article above re: vibrators, she writes that both she and her friend noticed that vibrators interfered with making love with their partners and they limited their use of them, to restore sensitivity and the bonding in the relationship. I have not heard of many men who have done the same when noticing that they were more aroused by porn than their partners! In fact, it often seems to go the other way.

      • “I have not heard of many men who have done the same when noticing that they were more aroused by porn than their partners! In fact, it often seems to go the other way.”

        I have.

        But, can you imagine a man who could not orgasm without viewing porn, even having sex with his own wife? What do you think of that scenario? He’s got a serious problem. Agreed?

        That is the exact situation with many women. But, you don’t hear nearly as harsh criticism. Many women report that they can only orgasm with a vibrator, and use them both alone and even with their partners. If you think about it, it’s the very same thing, without the incredibly harsh and judgmental criticism.

        • Meant to say:

          “But, can you imagine a man who could not orgasm without viewing porn, even WHILE having sex with his wife? What do you think of that scenario? He’s got a serious problem. Agreed?

          • Hey Eric- Yeah, agreed. I know a guy who couldn’t have sex with his girlfriend (my friend) without setting up his laptop next to their bed to watch while he tried to have sex with her. That was from even the beginning of their romance. That wasn’t a lasting relationship… This isn’t harsh criticism of the guy but of the severity of problem, just as it would be for a woman in a similar scenario, not a criticism of the woman but of the problem. These ‘problems’ exist for many people in relationships and commenting on the problem isn’t meant to shame any people with them, male or female. Shame is a bigger problem for many people. It seems that what can get damaged in relationships is the overuse or abuse of toys/porn cause it can numb people to their partners. This doesn’t make me want to ban anything or make anyone ‘bad’. It’s just a comment on the social milieu, the sexual zeitgeist.
            What I believe is that often people prefer toys/porn over relationships or the old fashioned roll in the sack. But if there’s no relationship then it’s hard to see any potential problem, cause there’s no obvious conflict to make a problem evident. If that is even partially true, then maybe there’s a huge problem out there that lurks in the shadows? Like millions of people having a virus that hasn’t made them feel sick yet? Sounds like sci-fi.

            • All true. But, imagine if only the use of sex toys was mentioned in that vein but seldom if ever the use of porn. Women would very likely feel singled out for criticism, and argue that men are given a pass.

  6. wet_suit_one says:

    Hmmm…

    Guess this debate has been shut down.

    Oh well.

    It was good while it lasted. The humanity on display was invigorating. Carry on!

  7. The Bad Man says:

    Since these people are non-scientists, but rather bloggers relying on anecdotal evidence to support their opinions, just how much of the population is actually affected by this problem that it should be a concern?

    Quite frankly, I think this is all overblown.

    • I hope you are right that porn use is overblown, but the research cited in our above article says that 9 out of 10 college guys use Internet porn. Generation XXX: Pornography Acceptance and Use among Emerging Adults (2008) Be aware that the data was collected 4 years ago. I doubt that porn use and availability has since declined.

      This Canadian study with data from 5 years ago shows that one third of boys ages 13 – 14 were heavy porn users. I wonder what the percentages are now with increasing access to high speed connections and free porn.

      One In Three Boys Heavy Porn Users, Study Shows
      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070223142813.htm

      QUOTE: “ Ninety per cent of males and 70 per cent of females reported accessing sexually explicit media content at least once. More than one-third of the boys reported viewing pornographic DVDs or videos “too many times to count”, compared to eight per cent of the girls surveyed. “

    • What I think would be interesting is if there was some way to get a real survey (maybe from GMP readers) about how porn viewing affects themselves and their relationship. Seems only a handful of people comment (some louder than others) so it’s hard to judge without more input. I can only speak for myself and from my experiences and I know that this is a big problem, for me and 100’s of others that I know personally. If you frequently use porn and do not have a problem, assuming that you are in a relationship, and know 100’s of others, like you. then we cancel each other out. I know that I did not believe that I had a problem when I was single, and even when I was in a committed relationship, until I tried to stop. That eventually forced me to realize that I couldn’t stop. That is the subject of the brain science, and this is verifiable science by the way.

      • wet_suit_one says:

        Hasn’t really affected me. I’ve got other problems, but not the ones that Gary and Marnia are talking about. So far, it hasn’t really bothered the sweet love. She doesn’t seem to mind and finds my quirks endearing. She would rather some things are otherwise, but due to my openess about my issues and my past, she’s cool with it and we have a rollicking good time between the sheets.

        Yay me!

        And yes, she knows of my past and ongoing porn use.

  8. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    Odd, but I’ve spoken with a few men who said that having their female partners watch porn during their real sex as a couple really opened the female partner up. I’ve never tried this (and won’t.) If true, perhaps the porn acts as a permission giver. One thing SAD said that I do agree with is that women seem more conscious of context than men.

  9. All I can say is that the idea of a generation of men potentially not learning how to have sex properly, or severely setting back that learning process, is bloody terrifying to me.

    • wet_suit_one says:

      Did they ever know? Where did they ever learn? It’s just a new kink in the wonderous thread of life. Not much to see here in my view.

  10. If anyone wants to doubt that porn is addictive all you have to do is one thing: Follow the money.
    It isn’t a multi-billion dollar a year industry because it’s good for you.

    • wet_suit_one says:

      You say that and I think about the cosmetics industry. Hmmm….. One wonders doesn’t one?

  11. Yes, the cosmetic industry, plastic surgery and fashion industries are all bad. Why do you think feminists speak out about these things on a weekly basis and go hairy legged and granola? We know they’re bad. We’ve been saying it for years.

    • wet_suit_one says:

      How about romance novels? Harlequin does a pretty good business as I understand it…

    • Its nice to hear a feminist acknowledge that the “hairy feminist” is not a stereotype. Nothing wrong with being proud if who you are.

  12. Being hairy is nothing to be proud of or ashamed of. It’s like being ashamed that I have toes. That’s crazy.

    @Wet- The money that romance novels makes doesn’t even come close to comparing what the porn industry has made in the last 50 years. And that’s just the porn that people pay for. Ask any porn producer to go into romance novels because they could make more money and I swear you’ll be able to hear the laughter from two states away. It’s a joke.
    Also, people in romance novels don’t get diseases and then spread diseases to other people. They also don’t get drug and booze problems either, you see Wet, it’s because they’re not real.

    • The last stats I could find on global porn industry annual sale is from 2006 and that was over 97 billion. I’m sure it’s higher now. Can find any recent stats though. Do you think the big $ is linked to the others, like drugs, war, oil and banking? May explain the blinders. Maybe it helps keep the rioting down?

    • There also doesn’t seem to be any addiction problems related to romance novels, either. Then again, people probably haven’t explored that territory yet in relations to erotica addictions.

      • wet_suit_one says:

        Hmmm…. I suppose.

        So, going back to “Follow the money. It isn’t a multi-billion dollar a year industry because it’s good for you,” how about banking, the automobile industry, the pharmaceutical industry and the food business.

        How do those square with “It isn’t a multi-billion dollar a year industry because it’s good for you?”

        Also, let’s look at the medical industry. I understand it takes up almost 16% of the U.S. GDP, so it’s about 2 trillion dollars (more than the military!). How does that square with your logic?

        Do tell…

        • Wet One- The most obvious distinction that I can see between the porn billions and the medical industry billions (or trillions) is that the medical spending isn’t an option. The medical costs are extravagant largely due to the fact that there seems to be no choice. Whereas, the spending on porn is optional and for most spenders is considered harmless entertainment.
          I wonder how much of the porn’s income of 97 billion worldwide was taken away from the support of the spender’s families? I’ve heard of guys spending their children’s college education fund on strippers (etc). I see a big difference if you have to sell the farm to pay for your spouse’s cancer treatment, but to have to sell the farm cause you blew you and your wife’s retirement fund on lap dances is pretty dumb. This type of behavior is happening more often than people realize.

    • “Being hairy is nothing to be proud of or ashamed of. It’s like being ashamed that I have toes. That’s crazy. ”

      Perhaps, but many feminists are unwilling to acknowledge that the “hairy feminist” is not just a stereotype, as if they are ashamed of it. On the other hand, they never deny having toes.

  13. @Scott- You’re right, it helps to keep people apathetic as do a lot of industries, but mostly it’s the entertainment industry which porn is part of. I just find it sad that we’ve become a nation of watchers instead of doers. We watch sports, we don’t play them. That’s sad. And of course we’re all guilty. It’s much easier to watch a crime show than to go out and fight crime. This is why I don’t watch TV anymore. I’ve learned some great things by watching, but I find I learn just as much and more by doing.
    Ok, now I’m going to follow my own advice and get some stuff done.

  14. @Wet – If you want to watch porn, then do it. But please don’t pretend and defend it like it’s character building, it isn’t.
    The general rule of thumb is, if something is difficult, it’s probably good for you. If it’s easy, like fast food or pill popping or wanking in front of a computer, it’s not doing you any good in the long run. It’s not that hard to understand, is it?

    • Valerie – don’t leave out getting off in seconds using a vibrator. There is a reason that that too is a multi-billion dollar a year business.

    • Uh valerie, that doesn’t make any sense. Steve Jobs found making cool products easy for him. Usain Bolt found running came easy to him. Michael Jordan found dunking as being easy for him. Are all of those bad too?

      Watching porn is about the freedom to do what feels good to you. If I or other people watch porn, it’s my own expression of my sexuality. Not only that, but for men who DON’T get tons of sex, I fail to see why we should restrict THEIR ability for sexual excitement as well. Should we stop people from masturbating as well?

  15. This was a good article and the comment thread was really dynamic. Thank you Marnia and Gary. The subject around sexuality and especially the problematic aspect of modern pornography is right at the heart of how we all perceive and interact with each other, it measures the general health of us as a people, and it measures the distance that we need to close between us.
    I read here that there are strong groups expressing on this thread. One group seems to be supporting the rebuilding of intimacy and the emotional aspects of sex and relationships… not in policing the people and creating restrictions but in unplugging the big industrial complex that drives addictive behavior (similar to the huge nicotine addiction trial of the tobacco industry?) The other group seems to be supporters of legalizing everything about sex? I’m not sure. There actually isn’t much to go on about this side because they seem to be protesting the other side instead of explaining their position. At least a full third of this thread was spent on knocking down the article rather than discuss it. I am in the middle trying to just understand what’s going on. Can anyone please try to explain what the pro-sex side is about, or write an article about this? Seems that people are really fired up but their intentions are not understood.

    • It is also John Lennon’s birthday today. He’s famous for expressing some good qualities about people, like love and relationship. He’s also famous for rebelling against the corporate agenda. Seems a good day to dialog! Cheers.

    • “Pro-sex” is a little bit of a misnomer, but I’d argue that any restriction of porn, masturbation, and general fantasizing about sex is a restriction of personal freedom. Whether YOU choose to do any of the above is up to you. Saying that it’s about “rebuilding intimacy and emotional aspects of sex and marriage” is another way of restricting freedom for some abstract “good of the society”. The idea that the group that likes porn is “bad” because OTHER people (usually women) now want men to be far more sexual (when every message being told to young boys is that they should curtail their urges at all moments) is absurd and self-serving. What is smacks of to me, is the restriction of (primarily male) sexuality (via watching porn) because it now affects the sensibilities of other people (primarily feminists who want men to be sexual but only when at their beck and call).

      As an analogy, I’m a vegetarian, and I think that it’s a healthier lifestyle which has been backed by numerous studies. But should we outlaw the “pro-meat” crowd because it is both less healthy and makes MY life more difficult? Of course not. But somehow this same sort of logic applies to porn watchers?

      • Thanks, A says: That kinda helped. Maybe naming things in general doesn’t work anymore. If there is a group trying to outlaw masturbation and pornography I doubt they’d get very far. I also didn’t pick that up from reading what these people said. Seems they were talking about what happens in the brain when there’s really high-octane fuel put in the tank. I know that I get a turbo-charge if I eat a couple of snickers and coffee. I get a lot done in an hour and then I crash. So I’ve learned to eat oatmeal in the morning and a good lunch. That keeps me going strong all day.
        Things have changed a lot since I was a kid, and I’m not that old, just didn’t grow up with computers and high-speed. I didn’t know what a girls genitalia looked like until I had sex for the first time. Today it seems every 9 year old has been there because of internet porn. I know that would have screwed me up. I don’t know how but I know it would have. Probably in my aspirations.
        On another note, the last thing you wrote about re being vegetarian (good move) is maybe more of what Valerie was saying about doing what’s easy? The easy food would be junk and fast food. The hard food is organics and vegetarian, and you do that because it feels right for you. Maybe what she meant is that she feels that wanking to porn is like junk food? Would that mean that eating organic is like working on a relationship? One side is emotional and the other is mechanical. I don’t think that there’s any laws being proscribed here though. I have a son and I know that I would guide him into getting it together to date the girl he has the crush on rather than getting off from looking at porn. He’d maybe never start dating and spend all of his sexual energy on the computer. That’s a parenting call, and I would want him to eat really well too.

      • To clarify for the umpteenth time, we are all for free speech, do not want to ban porn, are not religious, and don’t want to curtail or control anyone. Search our articles, and you will find nothing written on the “politics” of porn, or gender issues, or the porn industry. We have one focus: the men who want to unhook from Internet porn. To that end we produce articles describing how Internet porn is qualitatively different from pre-Internet porn, and how some young men are suffering sexual dysfunction and addiction that generally reverse themselves after they quit.

        The irony is that we wanted nothing to do with recovering porn addicts or writing about the effects of excessive Internet porn use. History: My site, yourbrainonporn.com is new. After 5-6 years of listening to guys in our forum, we created YBOP to separate their stories and insights from our original website for tantra-like sexual traditions. Porn users started showing up on that forum some 5+ years ago trying to find answers for their unexplained ED, porn-addictions, and other porn-related problems. They found us through Google using “sex addiction” as we had several articles on the neurobiology of sex, evolutionary biology, and even a few on addictions, but absolutely nothing on porn.

        The recovering porn users stayed and the numbers grew and grew. They talked to each other and helped each other recover from porn addiction and porn-induced ED. It was amazing to hear about the changes. Since I’m a physiology teacher, we started writing articles on addiction that would help them view their problems from a physiological point of view, rather than a moral/religious view (which we despise).

        More men arrived with more recovery testimonials; erections and sensitivity regained; greater libido; stories of great sex; reduced anxiety; better moods; and improved thinking. Basically – men getting their mojo back. We then created http://www.yourbrainonporn.com 9 months ago to have a home for the porn and ED recovery material. In those 9 months, hundreds of forums and sites have linked to YBOP, and I have read thousands of threads where men discuss porn-induced sexual dysfunction.

        The vast majority of men we encounter decide to give up porn for one reason: porn-induced sexual dysfunction. Most were happily using porn for years with no moral or religious qualms. Their goals are rather simple: a working dick and satisfying sex with a real partner.

        Under the circumstances, I don’t think “pro-sex” is a label that necessarily applies to pro-porn advocates. For many porn use is unfortunately “sex negative.” Here’s a recovering guy’s report from yesterday. Not all recover this quickly, by the way:
        ———————
        Day 56 – “I’m a Playa”

        I have numbers and I talk to a lot of different girls. I went from 0 relationships to 3 relationships in 56 days. I had hankie-pankie with 2 girls this week.

        The first one I ejaculated like three times in one orgasm. Women love this for some reason lol. They are always surprised by it looolll. I did have a chaser effect.

        I felt DRUNK and super tired the next day. I noticed some grumpiness. The ‘sun’ in my chest went away again and I did see a decrease in my self-confidence but it came back the very next day (24 hours later).

        I also noticed that my voice was not as deep anymore. It seems the longer I hold my seed, the deeper my voice gets.

        She told me that my voice has her legs trembling and makes her excited “down there”. I’ve always had a deep voice but it sounds different. It sounds really good and I like hearing myself talk now.
        She says she likes me because I am so chilled (Thank you no PMO).

        The second rendezvous with another chick was pretty awesome too. She swears up and down I am a player. She tells me it a million times a day. I read somewhere when women tell you this is because they are really attracted to you and are trying to frame you into a box to logically explain why they like you. Oh well. It’s not stopping her from hooking up with me :)

        On both occasions where I had an O, I was worried I would become the terrible person I was before I started this process…but no. I am still here. I really can’t believe porn affects people that much. I really can’t believe it!

        Another thing I have noticed is that I can sense fear from men my age. It is the weirdest thing. Every time I get around, they FLINCH. This is especially true at my workplace. Seriously, it’s like they fear me. I see it in their eyes.

        At first I thought it was my imagination but it keeps happening over and over. It’s weird. They get nervous around me….maybe I am finally turning into an alpha male!! But when I get around older men, they respect me. They shake my hand and are genuinely nice to me.

        My mood has leveled out finally. I am either really chilled or just happy and enjoying life. This is a big improvement from where I was before: suicidal, extreme mood swings, schizo tendencies.
        I’ve been going out every weekend. It’s like I have too. If I don’t socialize and spend time with people I go crazy. Night time comes around and I turn into this beast!!!

        I’ve also been getting really cocky and self-assured lately. I have such a I don-t give a f%ck attitude. I just know life is only going to get better. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing….you know what???….f#ck that….it’s not a bad thing… For the first time in a very long time I feel good about myself. I have every right to walk with my chest out!

        http://yourbrainonporn.com/day-56-im-a-playa#comment-367

  16. Hi Michael- Yes, that’s exactly what I was saying but there seems to be a defensiveness around porn just like every other addiction. When a ‘want’ suddenly becomes a ‘need’, that’s a clear sign of addiction. The defensiveness is also another sign. Prohibition certainly didn’t work, but that doesn’t mean that alcoholism is a good thing either. That’s common sense but an addict can’t admit that, even to themselves. They feel as if their freedoms are being taken away if someone talks about liver problems that alcohol contributes to. I’ve grown up with addicts, not porn, but other things so I know of what I speak. I’m glad that people are getting help for it and there are places to go to talk about it.

    • How I recognize the voices within this article and the comment thread is that there is a voice of educated wisdom, which is like a parents voice that warns of side effects of these particular behaviors. Then there is a voice (which has yet to be explained clearly) that comes across as adults revolting against the parental figures of authority. This voice seems to not be interested in a real parent’s dilemma, those of us who have children.
      There should be a declarative position here that defines the differences of the social implications of porn saturation and righteous parenting aspects from the adults who are revolting to validate their own freedoms.
      I read this article because of the title, about little Johnny watching porn. I come away from reading this realizing that, as a parent, he shouldn’t because it highly interferes with the natural development of the brain. Whatever the child does after becoming an adult is their adult decision with the owning and acceptance of their consequences.
      I believe that these adults who have decided to use porn, to whatever extent, should simply accept their own decisions and let parents be parents. Some of these commentors are throwing typical tantrums, ignoring reason and getting into complicated tangents. There is an adolescent quality to their argument, and there shouldn’t even be an argument if we are all adults, making adult decisions.

  17. News today from the UK. Actually, it’s new users making one of 2 choices when they sign up – opt in, opt out.
    ——————————————–
    Users must opt in for web porn

    FOUR of the UK’s biggest internet service providers are to force customers to opt IN if they want to view porn.

    BT, Virgin Media, Sky and Talk Talk have agreed to the measure as part of a Government crackdown to protect children from filth.

    Customers signing up to the web giants will have to choose whether they want to be able to log on to explicit sites in a bid to limit what material kids can access.

    It is one of a number of moves being announced today to tackle the problem of the sexualisation of childhood following a Government-commissioned report by Reg Bailey — chief executive of the Mothers’ Union.

    PM David Cameron also unveiled a website called Parentport — where families can flag up offending media.

    The site will allow parents to raise complaints about internet content, TV programmes, adverts, videos, computer games and sexualised products such as clothes being marketed to children.

    It will also provide advice on how to contact the regulators responsible for clamping down on inappropriate media and marketing activities.

    And the PM will host a summit at No 10 today bringing together representatives of regulators, industry and parents to assess progress on the report’s recommendations.

    Also being discussed will be new guidelines, published last week by the Advertising Standards Authority, to restrict sexual images on billboards located where children are likely to see them, such as near schools.

    And there will be a clampdown on “peer-to-peer” advertising by under-15s, where children are recruited by companies to promote their products to their friends via social network sites like Facebook.

    Mr Bailey’s report, published in June, warned that modern life was putting children under pressure both to consume goods and services and to take part in a sexualised life before they are ready.

    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3865820/Users-must-opt-in-for-

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