Being a Good Man Has Nothing to Do with Your Sex Life

Whether you are hetero, gay, bisexual, monogamous, a swinger, polyamorous, or in a long-term menage, writes John Hedtke, you can always be a good man.

The recent article on James Deen got me thinking. Yes, there are plenty of good men in porn, just like there are anywhere else. The things that make a man a good man have nothing to do with the type or quantity of sex you have. Good men are responsible and honest in their dealings. Being a good man is also a function of how you treat yourself, your partner, your children, and others with respect and dignity. Your sexuality is not the specific measure of how good a man you are, any more than your choice of religion or your income level. I know men who are hetero, gay, bisexual, monogamous, swingers, polyamorous, and/or living in a very long-term menage who are all good men.


A couple quick definitions: Swingers have casual sex with other people, but that’s pretty much all it is: sex. It’s fun, it’s hot, it’s frequently anonymous, and it’s no-strings attached. Polyamorous people have additional relationships, known as “secondaries.” A secondary relationship can last for years and be as deep and intense as the primary relationship. The usual standard for a poly relationship is that the other primary partner needs to approve and they can veto a secondary if they’re not comfortable. Being a swinger and being poly is often a blurry line: you may meet someone at a swinger event and then develop a long-term, poly relationship with them. Life happens.

I’ve had a good friend for 20+ years now. He and his wife of over 30 years are swingers and somewhat poly. He’s been and done and seen and learned an awful lot about people and relationships over the years. I go to him for relationship advice and I look to him as a role model on how to be a man. He admits his faults, he’s willing to recognize where he’s not been the best guy he could be, and he’s generally ready to change the way he does things based on new information and experience. Most importantly, he cares about the people around him and tries not to be a jerk. He doesn’t tolerate other people being jerks, either. For my money, this is what being a good man is all about.


For those of you who aren’t familiar with the business, I should mention something about what being a male porn star is like . It’s not a bad job for those with the talent and the desire, but it’s not all beds and roses, either. Sure, sex with lots of pretty partners is fun, but it’s work, before, during, and after. You don’t always like the person you’re performing with. In fact, you sometimes loathe the person you’re working with but you have to make it look good for the cameras even so or you don’t get paid and you might not get hired again. Men don’t get paid nearly as much as women do and it’s a bit like being an opera singer: you’re only as good as your last performance.

Furthermore, the fact that you’re being filmed with lots of sex partners can make maintaining a personal relationship harder because you need to be really clear about the boundaries of the relationship and what makes the relationship special. Swingers and poly folks have this issue, too. For swingers, it usually boils down to emotional and personal involvement versus more casual sex. For poly folks, it’s a matter of how much trust you and your primary partner have in each other and how well you communicate. Successful swinging and poly relationships require a lot more communication and trust than average, which makes them fun but more work. The question of “Can you be a good man and be in porn/a swinger/poly/gay?” boils down to the idea of “Is your relationship defined exclusively by sex?” Any relationship that just has sex as its basis is going to be exceptionally shallow. Relationships are a lot more than just sex, which means that who you have sex with and under what circumstances then becomes something you negotiate in the relationship based on desires and interests.

Does being a porn star sound glamorous? Sure. The hours are good and there’s not much heavy lifting… but it’s not without its problems. It’s hard to find work outside the industry, too. Being a porn star carries as bad a rep as being a journalist and working for the Weekly World News: you’re tarred for life if you want to do something more mainstream. But trying to determine how good a man is by how well he fits an arbitrary standard of sexuality is as laughable a criterion as using his brand of beer or the kind of car he drives. To be a good man, you must be willing to communicate, listen, think about what you’re doing, act with integrity, treat your relationships fairly and appropriately, and take good care of children. If you do these things, then it doesn’t matter if you write books, cook, or get filmed having hot monkey sex eight hours a day: you’re already a good man. The rest is just putting food on the table.

photo by indi / flickr

About John Hedtke

John Hedtke ( is the author of 26 books and a couple hundred magazine articles. He does disaster recovery and business consulting for public and private companies. John has several blogs, notably "Hey, kids! Become an author at home in your spare time and earn big bucks!" ( for would-be authors. He lives in Eugene, OR, with his wife, their youngest daughter, and 4 cats. (Follow him: @johnhedtke).


  1. Great article!
    “Your sexuality is not the specific measure of how good a man you are, any more than your choice of religion or your income level. I know men who are hetero, gay, bisexual, monogamous, swingers, polyamorous, and/or living in a very long-term menage who are all good men.”

    Great quote (of course that also includes asexuals and celibate men)! It’s silly how we tend to define people and ‘morality’ by sexual practices.

  2. wellokaythen says:

    I’m sure many people think of Silvester Stallone as a good man. Some of his first acting jobs were in gay porn. (As he puts it, he was “pitching and not catching.”) So, it’s not impossible to break out into mainstream gigs, but it’s pretty rare, and it’s hard to be open about it without being typecast.

    • Wellokay,
      Out of curiousity I looked up that information.
      From what I found Sly was in ONE porno called “Party at Kitty and Studs” and it was str8 not gay.

      I was curious because Rocky came out in 1976 and won 3 oscars. I know that the 60’s and 70’s were wild times, but quite frankly I was skeptical that a man who had been in gay porn could move into the mainstream in such a way (not that I’m making a value judgement on this culture either way).

    • John Hedtke says:

      True, WellOkayThen. OTOH, S.S. was not a major player in this venue.

  3. “Seems to me nobody gives a damn about the victims, and you wander why either sex gets involved in prostitution and Porn. ”

    I am sorry if this appears to hijack this thread – but this comment can not go unchallenged. It can’t go unchallenged because of the survivors of child abuse – but because of the implied disrespect to the many people who do actively work with survivors and who give far more than a damn.

    Some are paid – and many are not. They do it as volunteers – free – no reward – other than helping to free a person from their experiences and the damage they have been obliged to endure. The reason there is so little media coverage of these people is to protect the survivors from Nosy people who love to gossip – shooting the breeze with ill judges comments and prejudice. !

    It is also highly misleading and frankly prejudicial to imply that Survivors will end up as prostitutes and in the Porn Industry! If that was the case The Porn Industry would be the biggest employer on a global basis!

    … and you wonder why survivors and those who work with them keep themselves quiet and private when ill judged opinion such as this are expressed so freely?

  4. martrevion says:

    Well said and I do agree 110 with ya. You know,’ for once, before it’s too late, can we Build a center(instead of an animal shelter) to help people with this issue of Child Molesting, those guys need help too.We spend so much time highlighting the perpetrators and Look down on the victims who need all the help they can muster up to deal with the aftermath(trauma). Seems to me nobody gives a damn about the victims, and you wander why either sex gets involved in prostitution and Porn. Ask a Vietnam Veteran why he finds himself constantly watching movies containing violence, you will hear the answer as to Why they do what they do.The response is the same, just different set of circumstances.

  5. Sex is ultimately selfish. No amount of money paid or consent given for the violence of perceived or real lust within fantasy, hardcore and bdsm porn could ever be mistaken for “goodness”. A man or woman lying in the aftermath of fake blood, semen and sweat may say it was fun, may quietly curse the feeling, may say nothing at all… however if they say they feel good, or that he or she feels like a good person working with other good people, that person is a hurting, confused slave to a business that will spit them out when the dimples turn to wrinkles.

    Sure, a man can say he is good, even in the midst of such an industry. But in the above context, who’s listening? Who cares?

    • John Hedtke says:

      Well, not you, Paul. I know people who enjoy doing this (of both sexes) who are *NOT* acting out deep abuse feelings or feeling like slaves. They like what they do and (frequently) who they do it with. I can introduce you to some of them if you like.

      If it makes you happy to believe that only sick or forced people get into the business, then that’s your belief, but it says a lot more about you than the reality.

      • Appreciate your comments, Mr. Hedtke. I’m responding to your viewpoint with a viewpoint, and this is neither personal, nor an attack on you as an individual. As this site appears to seek a veneer of professionalism, hopefully so also do the contributors. A healthy dialogue promotes thought and consideration for each other.

        I don’t doubt that there are those in the industry who like what they do. That wasn’t the premise of your article. The rationale was whether or not they believe themselves- ostensibly within the porn industry- to be “good” people. I suggest that the reality is a lot more complex and troubling. If there’s no problem, why is the desire be considered “good” such a sensitive issue?

        One last point. The Porn business may have an appeal of sorts, however the reality is plenty grim for the most part. I’d recommend “Not A Love Story” as a solid dose of Reality.

        • John Hedtke says:

          I don’t think they’re the ones who are worried about being “good.” They’re mostly worried about producing porn and making a living. This website is the one that is focusing on people being good or not. I wrote this article because Tom had asked me to based on a comment I made on the James Deen article and I liked the topic. I’m not worried about people in the porn business being good or not, either; people are people. But I did want to write something because there are still lots of people singing the same old song about porn and the sex trades who don’t sound like they know anyone in it.

          • Paul – someone made a wry observation to me on the combination of “Good” + “Male” + “Porn”.

            They noted that “Good” is second grade when it comes to beef, and not Choice. It’s fascinating how language has so any meanings, gets read different ways, and used so many different ways, by people.

    • John Hedtke says:

      I should add, Paul, that the only sex that I’m involved with that’s selfish is jerking off. Everything else tends to be a great deal of fun for everyone. If sex is *ONLY* selfish for you, you may need to get out more.

  6. superstarjackie says:

    Using a prostitute is also wrong its just paying to rape a woman ,so your sex sex life has alot to do with what type of man you are

    • Sorry – but if the John Is male and the Prostitute male – how does that constitute paying to rape a woman?

      Equally – if the Jane is female and the Prostitute male – how does that constitute paying to rape a woman?

      Confusing Prostitution and the role as only female is wrong – and highly misleading. It is a stereotype that damages all people by reiteration. It implies that all men are bad – even when prostitutes and clients are both male and female. Such mythology is easily learned, but hard to dispel.

      Men are not responsible for some peoples errors, and implying they are is discrimination.

      “…so your sex sex life has alot to do with what type of man you are.”!

      I agree – and it applies just as much to women who pay for male or even female prostitutes – and should not be a standard applied only to men.

      Equality is a two way street and even has a cross roads!

    • John Hedtke says:

      I don’t see how using a prostitute is raping a woman. I know several women who spent varying periods of time in the sex trade and they all enjoyed what they did. One of them’s now a Ph.D. and teaches, one of them bought a bookstore, and another opened a very successful pagan/magick store with her husband.

      Raping someone *is* raping someone. Hiring them is hardly raping them.

  7. black iris says:

    I don’t agree with the headline. Your sex life has as much to do with being good as anything else you do. You can’t really claim to be a good person if you force someone to have sex with you. Using people is bad. So is lying or breaking promises.

  8. What if you are celibate – either by choice or personal circumstances?

    Does that mean only men you are actively sexual can be judged a good man? P^)

  9. Amen to that, Brother!
    ~ Mom raising a good man.

  10. Nice to have a counter-point to the bumper sticker of the woman I drove behind during this morning’s commute (in yellow letters on purple background):

    “I believe in dragons, good men and other fantasy creatures.”

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