Getting Off

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About Tom Matlack

Tom Matlack is the co-founder of The Good Men Project. He has a 18-year-old daughter and 16- and 7-year-old sons. His wife, Elena, is the love of his life. Follow him on Twitter @TMatlack.


  1. Lovekraft says:

    Considering how shrilly, entitled and generally vacuous Western women have become (think Real Housewives of … as an example of the standard being presented), why does it surprise anyone that men would opt out of the dating/marriage game? What, do feminists and their white knight manginas actually think that banning/regulating porn would somehow make us ignore the institutional bias and media-controlled anti-male agenda?

    Go back to your cats and lattes, flakes.

    • Days of Broken Arrows says:

      Wait a minute. Why are men being shamed for masturbation, when women’s use of vibrators is celebrated everywhere from “Sex in the City” (see the Rabbit episode) to those business like Passion Parties where women have sex toy Tupperware-type parties.

      Doesn’t anyone see a double standard here?

      Jesse Kornbluth, the former editor of AOL, said “Millions and millions of sick men out there. ” Why does this not go for women.

      Finally, for years we’ve read the problem with men is they’re too sexually aggressive towards women. Now, they’re chastising men for turning AWAY from actual sex and turning to porn.


  2. Anonymous says:

    One thing that amazes me about the wrangling over pornography is the big dirty elephant in the room that so many people avoid mentioning. Blog comment after blog comment, shots from the left and right of the political spectrum, tons of ink spilled on all the issues related to pornography, and yet virtually no mention of (oh my God, no!) masturbation. Isn’t a lot of the discussion about porn deep down really just a discussion about masturbation without mentioning it directly? That’s like having a huge debate about illegal drug use and never mentioning that drugs can feel good.

    It seems to me that we can tlalk about the ‘effects of images’ for all eternity but we will never really have a realistic discussion about pornography without looking at how real people actually use it. I’m guessing that how one feels about sexual self-gratification (especially what one thinks about male masturbation) is one of the biggest determinants in how one thinks about pornography. (Yes, I know there are people who use porn with others as a part of in-the-flesh sex, but I’m guessing they are a tiny, tiny fraction of the whole.) I’m going to go out on a limb and guess there are very few people who think masturbation is perfectly beautiful but pornography is completely repulsive.

    I haven’t read every single response yet, so if someone already mentioned this I apologize, but allow me to open one of the other big cans of worms when porn is under indictment: can someone work out for me a decent, stands-up-in-court definition of pornography that doesn’t sound ridiculously arbitrary? I know there’s the old line, “I know it when I see it,” but that hardly seems useful. I’m guessing that for many of those worried about the effects of pornography, they are less worried about “erotica” or artistic expressions that just happen to be “sexually explicit” in nature. I’m guessing that most of the critics of pornography are not total prudes out to cover up all forms of nudity or all references to sexuality.

    I also have the impression that video-and-audio pornography is the main focus here. Has anyone read a steamy romance novel recently? My public library has quite a few juicy choices listed under “erotic fiction,” and these are not shrouded in euphemisms (‘heaving bosoms’ and ‘urgent manhood’) like they used to be. I seriously doubt there will be any massive campaign from the left or the right to get those off the shelf. It’s textual and there’s a lot of foreplay and it’s mostly consumed by women, so it couldn’t possibly count as porn, right?

  3. I see a lot of stuff about men who prefer masturbation to sex with their partners. I jumped to this article from another here at GMPM, about legitimizing male sexuality in its many forms, as long as its consensual. And I think maybe that’s a real point in this pornography debate. We often have a situation in which men, either doing it to themselves or due to their partner’s hangups, are not able to explore scenarios and situations that are pleasurable to them. They get frustrated feeling unable to experience their desires, but watching porn can give them some exploration. Legitimizing male sexuality, outside of the classic “I conquer in a very vaginally/fellatio oriented method”, i wonder how many men would shun their porn/masturbation for sex with their partner if they were free to explore some of their fantasies.

  4. My oh my! Look at that lineup of …. what does it look like… sex bait??? Well it’s either that or it’s sexual harrassment, depanding on whether it’s for real or to flaunt and harrass. Tut, tut – cut those double standards against men and for women… If a man had his sex part displayed like that, he’ be carted off to jail… And not one word about that from all these decent good men???

  5. Elaine Sheehan says:

    I don’t agree with Cherie Welch. Porn is not about kissing and carressing and tenderness in a loving relationship. It’s about a kind of service for frustrated men (usually but not exclusively). I have dressed up for my husband and worn heels to bed. On the other hand i have also been to bed with him when i have a cold and look awful, or when i first had my children and sex was the furthest thing from both our minds due to lack of sleep. A relationship is one thing and sex is another. Sex in a good relationship can be just as ‘hot’ as porn sex or as tender and loving and natural as the couple choose. Intimate sex in a relationship is whatever the choice of the consenting adults is, porn is a viewing experience which is pretty far removed from the actual act. (Probably quite unfortunately for the viewer on most occasions)! Some couples watch porn movies to get them in the mood with the understanding that this is not a couple (or group of people) who love each other. It is entertainment specifically to induce erotic feelings which are not attached to emothions but to a basic human urge to release frustration and feel good.

  6. At some point in my life, porn guys stopped cumming on the girl’s boobs and started cumming on her face.

  7. Anonymous Male says:

    I think a lot of this debate is trapped in semantics. The word “porn” has so many negative connotations, and so many people define it as inherently degrading and misogynistic, that for a lot of people the word itself just means something bad. For them, saying “porn is wrong” is like saying “evil is bad.” It’s so circular that it seems self-evident. Of course porn is wrong, because porn is bad, so how could anyone defend something that’s bad, because porn is bad because it’s porn.

    The trickier question is really what counts as porn? No doubt a lot of people horrified by pornography are perfectly content with “erotica” or other sexually explicit forms of media, or at least find them not as dangerous somehow. Asking whether porn is a problem or not is really not very helpful considering how amorphous the word is. A better question is what’s the problem with things that are often branded as porn? Who’s defining it and what are they defining it as?

    Does everything sexually explicit that violates obscenity laws count as porn?

    • I don’t think it’s as hard to define porn as people make it out to be. In all things, there is usually a scale of sorts where some things clearly are outright porn, and other things have shades of gray. Alot of our mainstream media could be described as porn if you ask me. Regardless, we all know porn exists. We all know that most porn out there is about demeaning women in some kind of way. That it supports negative and unflattering stereotypes about the way women should look and act. We all know this.

      Maybe the real question isn’t “what is porn” but why do we HAVE the porn we have today in our culture? What does that porn say about the way men feel about women? And for those that will fall back on porn being a “side affect” of how much women have *repressed* men, lets for a minute leave that part off because ultimately it doesn’t matter. What is important is that porn reflects a major attitude men have about women. And that message is debasing and often abusive in the way current porn is today. And many young boys that grow up to be adult men are taking in that message a rate no other generations has. This is a fact that most men like to ignore because their own relatoinship with porn started when they were young.

      • Thanks for the autistic feminist hand flapping.

        “We all know that most porn out there is about demeaning women in some kind of way. That it supports negative and unflattering stereotypes about the way women should look and act. We all know this”

        I don’t, why don’t you explain it to me. Or are we all agreeing based on your personal consensus. Can you give a real world example of what you refer to as “debasing and often abusive”? Do you have a partner that demands implants and anorexia. Or is this just neurotic femininity. Are you really victimized by “mens” sexuality or just an individual you share an experience with. Is it just graphic porn your against and do you think it’s OK to fantasize about strong smooth muscular heroes depicted in Harlequin? Are you just flashing us with your fetish ethics, trying to arouse?

      • wellokaythen says:

        What I hear you saying is that the definition is not impossible, or not so difficult that we can’t see the problems in porn. Or, that we don’t need a perfect definition to understand that it’s demeaning to women. I think there’s a valid point there.

        What I hear suggested here is that one characteristic of porn, maybe part of its definition, is that it portrays women in demeaning terms or reproduces negative stereotypes about female sexuality. That is a now-classic definition from 1980’s era Dworkin/McKinnon forms of feminism. These are not necessarily universal aspects of porn, but there’s surely lots of examples out there that most people would agree are inherently negative. But, defining porn that way tends to make a circular argument – porn is demeaning to women, and you can tell something is porn because it’s demeaning to women.

        By that logic, something that is not demeaning to women would not be porn. The problem there is that almost anything showing women in a sexually explicit way could be considered demeaning to women or presenting women as sexual objects. Women shown in ANY sexual way could be branded as porn, if we define “sexual objectification” as a form of “demeaning” portrayal. In that case, there would be no distinction between porn and any other explicit sexual material.

        Ultimately, one would have to make a highly subjective distinction that would boil down to separating what one person thinks of as “natural” and another as “abnormal.” Gloria Steinem once suggested that in “porn” women are not equal sexual partners to men but in “erotica” they are. I kind of like that as a distinction, but it falls apart quite easily.

  8. There is a correlation between the increased viewing of available graphic porn and the decline of rape!

    Graphic porn as with textual porn is a vehicle of arousal, both mediums objectify the participant by removing them from human exchange.

    Anyone, man or woman that places expectations on sex that go beyond a resulting orgasm has monetized the act and turned it into trade. They become merchants of sex and objectify their partner with unstated expectations.

    People that use romance novels or graphic porn for arousal are simply illiterate in the language of lust and require a map to search for the destination of satisfaction.

    In a world where men have no reproductive or sexual rights, you have the affordability of porn.

    We have breached the confines of traditional relationship, marriage and family, with no boundaries and an open landscape, safety is the best destination.

    Demanding a wife pole dance in the bedroom is no different than demanding a husband pole dance as a provider at his job.Except that 99% of men are willing and 99% of women are not.

    Porn is cheap, affordable and gets the job done, which in this day and age is a good definition of our sexuality, getting the job done. Once virtual sex arrives on the scene which it has for women with available machine sex the genders will withdraw even further from each other.

    What we fail to see is that even with machine sex available to women, they still engage in relationships with men. Obviously men still have something to offer, if nothing more than gifting and protection. When virtual sex arrives for men, what will women still have to offer. More gender vilification?

    I’ll take the hybrid silicone model please, give me the submissive speech recorded play back with the swearing. Do you provide downloads for fetish talk and can I order fetish attachments by mail. Artificial intelligence anyone, wait a minute we already have that.

    The fact that men withdraw from relationships and use porn and masturbation for satisfaction speaks volumes to what women really have to offer men. This may be the canary in the coal mine. Is it any wonder that male birth control doesn’t exist. The condom is only a relic of female birth control.

    Many young men start out with porn and many older men finish with porn. It’s a product that will be available for as long as there is a consumer.

    Of course we can always spend our time with political porn………..and ethical masturbation.

    • I’m sorry I didn’t catch this comment earlier as I wonder what you mean by sexual “rights.” A right to have sex doesn’t exist, sorry. Nor does a right to a relationship. You have to build these things. They aren’t handed to you.

      Your view of relationships between men and women sounds sad and lonely. I hope the virtual world will satisfy you. Fortunately most people still like being with other people, despite the challenges and frustrations.

  9. matlack is obsessed with porn. He’s obsessed with it the same way women tend to be. He wants to talk about it. Make a huge deal out of it. Discuss people who have a problem with it. Why? I don’t know, but I’m not gonna worry about it. You shouldn’t either.

  10. As a guy who have a girlfriend who loves watching porn ( she like to watch it ALONE, not with me ), sometimes I want to know the views of women who love porn on media. I know many women do , but it seems to me that those women never talk out in media. My girlfriend told me she always keeps to herself about her loving for porn, and only me, her boyfriend know she likes watching hot dudes on gay porn and straight porn. I think its because in society we always believe stereotypical views that women aren’t visual so they wont like porn. But many young woman nowadays do look at porn. How about them? If we want to talk about a honest truth about porn, without prejudice to anyone , we must hear from all people, including women who are visual and like to watch porn. And its maybe hard to believe, but many women do watch porn for just visual reason, aka hot dudes. That’s why many women likes to watch gay porn and complaining about lacks of hot dudes in straight porn.

    I challenge Goodmenproject to publish an article from woman who loves porn. Believe me, its not that hard to find those women. I always read a porn article from men who loves porn, men who hates porn, and women who hates porn. We need to hear from fourth people, women who loves porn, to have a honest conversation about porn.

  11. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    For my money, Twitter is worse for people than porn.

    • Michelle says:

      I’m on Twitter, and. I. AGREE. In some ways, Twitter might be a part of a larger conversation about modern emotional prophylactics. On Twitter, one gets the feeling that one is interacting; sharing; getting to know others. But, that’s not completely true. I suppose that porn also has an emotional side. The excitement, the desire, the search, the wait….it all sort of approximates some parts of real life relationships.

      We’re always teaching teens and pre-teens to manage their time more effectively; get more done in less time; succeed; be focused on success. When I was teaching 7th grade, I certainly gave that pep talk (or something very similar). But, relationships are messy and take time and aren’t always successful–and we don’t teach that to our boys and girls. So, Twitter, Facebook, Porn, chat rooms, etc. all become places where one can go to experience the emotional outlet that humans crave from relationships but don’t necessarily have the time to construct in modern life.

      As a tweeter, I have to confess that sometimes I think, “I need to get this off my chest…I’ll just tweet it.” I know that’s not a healthy way to deal with issues, but (and here’s the punchline) I think to myself HEY, IT’S BETTER THAN NOTHING.

  12. wellokaythen says:

    Much of what the discussion about porn is really an indirect discussion about masturbation, which is still a more taboo topic than pornography. The way people feel about porn tends to correlate to how they feel about masturbation. Are there people out there who think wanking is perfectly wonderful but porn is horrible? I suspect that looking down on one tends to go with looking down on the other.

    Is there a fundamental, real moral difference between masturbating with your imagination alone and masturbating to porn? I would say there’s very little difference, but others may disagree. If you think masturbation is just fine but porn is evil, then I’m curious what you see as the difference between “assisted” and “unassisted” wanking.

  13. It’s possible, even desirable, to have a complex, nuanced view of pornography, even if porn itself is not necessarily nuanced or complex. Don’t be lulled into having a simplistic view of porn just because porn itself tends to be simplistic. People feel comfortable making huge sweeping generalizations about porn because the genre appears to be really simplistic – all you need is to watch it once, and you know all you need to know, right?

    Too many people in the debate about porn are basically stuck at age 19. They have stuck to their understanding of porn which they acquired their first couple years out of high school, or early in their undergraduate career, and see no reason to reconsider their earlier position. On the one hand, there are men who seem stuck at the age they first openly revel in porn use: “Porn is awesome! Cum shots rule! If you don’t like porn you hate sex!” On the other hand are women who learned from 100-level feminism that “Porn oppresses women! Porn creates rapists! Down with porn, up with erotica!” Both sets of people need to grow up a little and revisit their preconceived notions, instead of taking everything as articles of faith.

    I know exactly how people will react to this last paragraph. Both sides will say, “Why are you telling US to grow up? Why don’t you tell THEM to grow up first? They started it!” Now, does that sound mature or immature?

  14. FlyingKal says:

    If the problem is people disconnecting with reality and tuning into worlds of fantasy and make-believe, then what about facebook and twitter?

  15. FlyingKal says:

    As a young man with rather a high libido, a pretty good job, being passionate about my interests and a good circle of friends, but still bland, invisible, unattractive, ignored by women.
    What are (were) my options?

  16. anonymous says:

    I want to point out that there is no space in our culture for a boy to not know what he is doing when it comes to sex. To be a virgin past the age of 14-15 is considered pathetic, and to be bad in bed is one of the worst accusations that can be leveled against him. Is it really any surprise, then, that young boys turn to pornography to learn sex? Here is a teacher that won’t judge, that expects him to get aroused any way he wants to, that simply lets him explore his sexuality without goals or expectations. It’s not just the fantasy of sex with a hot girl, it’s the fantasy of sex with a hot girl that won’t laugh at you when you don’t know what the clitoris is; the fantasy of a girl that will explicitly show you where it is and what to do with it. If she has an orgasm, great. If not, you’re not a failure. Yes, some of it is exaggerated or specific to certain women (esp. spanking, wayyy more spanking in porn than women that are actually into it), but porn as sex teacher is not going away until 1) being good in bed stops being part of masculinity, 2) someone steps up to teach boys how to have sex – in graphic detail, or 3) sex is seen as something that takes practice with each new partner to get good at it. I don’t hold out hope for any of those. Taking advantage of boys and young men for their ignorance is quite lucrative (see any Axe commercial ever), and there’s pretty much no perceived benefit to helping them in their sex lives (we already think boys that age are too horny and would have sex with anything that moved, why should we teach them how to be better at it?)

  17. As someone who has looked at plenty of porn in my youth, who was fascinated with the magazines at my neighbours house (and was looking at them several years before I ever masturbated)… who had a compulsive habit during university to dash upstairs for a wank to online porn (with a dial up modem! having to wait for minutes with limp penis in hand until whatever I was looking at loaded) often, sometimes several times a day…. yes instead of studying.

    I’ve done my time with porn and I can say in my own experience that porn in the way it is presented and used is damaging to the individual and society.
    A porn habit is an addiction and as an addiction it becomes a compulsive behaviour stealing energy and time from our lives. Destroying our ability to be in touch with our own natural sensuality and compressing sexuality into a set of images (or the porn fantasy us men will use when we can’t access our favourite porn – which is unlikely to even happen these days what with internet virtually everywhere) and a tiny amount of sensation concentrated in the cock with a completely dissatisfying and often guilt-inducing ejaculation that is… as the French say, a little death.
    Plus it adds to an unhealthy fixation on sex itself, reducing women to an object for sexual desire… life becomes about sex and loses all sensuality. It’s about sex and lacking in sexuality.

    The possibility that exists is to cultivate a positive relationship to our own sexuality as men. To discover that sensual sensation is present in our entire body, not just the shaft and head of our penises.
    To find that touch, without fantasy, can in and of itself be arousing and enjoyable (like it was when we were children and, as Lois C.K. talks about, we rubbed ourselves on everything!) that pleasure can exist without that final moment of ejaculation.
    That real intimacy, vulnerability and exploration with a woman is infinitely more satisfying than any amount of heaving, sweaty, ferocious pumping as portrayed by the porn movies (not to say that this may not occur from time to time in a healthy sex-life).

    The only real use I could see for porn is to make it heart-centred, loving and for use in sex education which is sorely lacking for our youths…. no wonder they turn to porn, no-one is telling or showing them what this incredibly fascinating and irresistible thing called sex is!

  18. Don Draper says:

    Porn (at least in the American culture) is addictive. Not too dissimilar from any other object of obsession, it skews your reality. It causes a withdrawal from the “real” world and the good relationships that can be had. It violates the intimacy that is available to consenting adults. It destroys the “healthy mystery” that a man should experience perpetually, with his beloved. It causes one to push sensual boundaries further and further to an undefinable and unrealistic limit. It is divisive between spouses and other family members. It destroys homes and lives. So, in a word…it is “bad.” I acknowledge, it is legal for those of a certain age, but really…do you desire your life to be stolen from you, one episode at a time?

  19. David May says:

    There is a common confusion in our Puritan culture between pleasure and addiction. Enjoying porn does not make one an addict (which is a misnomer) anymore than enjoying wine with dinner makes one an alcoholic, yet there is a far too eager jump from porn to (the grossly misapplied word) addiction in the American consciousness. There is also a tendency to react to porn with a pre-authorized response that smacks of orthodoxy. It is no more possible to determine what porn does to people as a whole than it is to apply any question to an entire population as a single entitiy. How individuals act to porn covers a wide range; how people use or enjoy porn will also have a wide range. Insisting that all porn is bad is like insisting that all bakeries be closed because there are compulsive over eaters in the world that can’t resist sweets. It is not a One Size Fits All issue. No single theory can be applied to all porn, all porn users, or all porn workers. One can only determine one’s own boundaries, not those of others.


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