Getting Off

Tom Matlack talked to men and women all across the country about pornography. Are you ready for what they said?

I was at a dinner party recently with the CEO of a company involved in the video infrastructure of Verizon’s FiOS service. He told me (in gory detail) how the capacity constraint on the system is quite literally being driven by $14.99 pay-per-view pornography.

He was understandably amused by the stupidity of guys across the country, who eagerly consume porn movies—only to turn them off after an average of eighteen minutes. A porn purchase lasts 15 percent as long as a two-hour movie and still drives the capacity requirements of the entire system.

It is difficult to overstate the role that pornography plays in American life (especially, one could argue, in Utah, the nation’s most prolific downloader of online porn), or the hysteria that surrounds it.

Is Internet pornography really turning us all into sex addicts? Will boys who grow up on degrading porn be unable to form healthy sexual relationships as adults? Is repetitive porn viewing really changing our brains?

And, most importantly in my mind, are we—as guys—talking honestly about any of this? Are we ready to have a frank discussion about the role that online pornography plays in our lives? Are we ready to man up and tell the truth?

I recently set out to speak with readers and thought leaders about pornography in modern America. The response, which you can read below, was overwhelming. I invite you to continue the conversation in the comments area.

“What is going on to create such an accelerating and insatiable appetite for porn among men in our country? You clearly have no idea how much of 1985-1989 I spent looking at the same three 1978 Penthouses.”
Joel Stein, Time

“The inherent problem with porn, from a female perspective, is there is minimal kissing or tenderness, much less sensuality. How many women want to wear high heels to bed? I would like to view what transpired between Rhett and Scarlett after he carried her up those stairs.”
Cherie Welch, Atlanta, Georgia

“If you have to ask whether porn is good or bad, then you already have the answer. The question is how bad?”
Todd Dagres, Spark Capital and owner of Twitter

“A couple of years ago, this tall, very fun, smart, and pretty 22-year-old woman told me she’d been with men her age at least twice who couldn’t have sex with her because she did not look like, or do in bed, what they’d seen in pornography. How depressing is that?”
Margery Eagan, Boston Herald columnist and talk radio host
“An older gentleman friend told me that all that his 19-year-old grandson (who is a university student and lives with him) did with his time was visit porn websites online and that he, the grandfather, was convinced that it was why the grandson was failing at the university. In fact, the grandson had viewed so many of the sites that the computer became unusable; it had become infested with sexually explicit spam. He said he couldn’t decide whether to throw the computer or his grandson out.”
Antwone Fisher, author of Finding Fish: A Memoir and How to Tie a Tie

Porn just is. It’s not inherently good or bad. You can’t legislate desire. As soon as photography was invented, the French immediately began taking dirty pictures. As soon as the Internet was invented, Americans (and everyone else) immediately began sending dirty pictures. I think anything that is consensual, respectful, and above the age of 18 is okay. The problem comes when women are objectified and degraded. I think it’s a huge problem that encourages and leads to violence. Unfortunately, that’s where a lot of porn has gone. And the porn involving children is horrific. Does this mean that porn is inherently bad? I’m not sure.”
Michael Kamber, New York Times photojournalist

“Personally, I think there’s cause for concern, but I don’t think porn is the problem. The concern I have is with the lack I see of rational vocabulary about sex among young men and men in general. It’s easy enough to find porn of somebody having sex with themselves, or with lawn furniture, or whatever, and always has been. But if that’s all it is, sheer titillation and masturbation, then everybody involved is ultimately harmed in some way; consumers, distributors, and producers alike. My observation is that there’s precious little context for young men trying to figure this all out. And a lot of times, that precious little context is being provided by men who are still trying to figure it out themselves, or worse yet, by people who are profiting by exploiting the confusion.”
Todd Mauldin, Bluesman, Reno, Nevada

“The hysteria around pornography is just not useful. A good bit about it is an ugly side-effect of the negative part of modern feminism; unattractive women who can’t get what they want, and instead of doing the logical thing, doing the best with what they have, they demonize male sexuality.

We live in what are ‘evolutionarily novel’ times. Men evolved to be visual—it was part of continuing the human race. Women evolved to be more circumscribed about who they have sex with—they have a far greater cost per sex act (potentially being pregnant for nine months and then having a child to raise). Male sexuality isn’t wrong or nefarious—we just live in times where there are forces playing on our evolved preferences.

Similar to the hysteria about porn consumption, people are beside themselves about young people ‘hooking up.’ Well, at a certain point, many or most will tire of that and want something more. And then they will go look for that. You can become addicted to lots of things—food, porn, shopping, collecting action figures. If it’s disrupting your life, keeping you from what you want, it’s a problem. Maybe not all men will want to connect or to develop themselves to a point where they can connect. This is their choice. Some will. And it’s up to parents to do the actual work of parenting to see that their kids turn out in a way where they have values, and can make choices that enhance their lives.”
Amy Alkon, syndicated advice columnist, advicegoddess.com; author, I SEE RUDE PEOPLE: One woman’s battle to beat some manners into impolite society

“The scale of porn is huge. What causes the acceleration? It’s not abundant supply. It’s demand. Porn and teenaged boys have been inseparable since the beginning of time. The Internet offers more extreme porn than the airbrushed Playboy images I grew up on, but that’s not a reason to get unduly riled. I’m much more concerned about porn and adult males, many of whom seem to use it as a substitute for real relationships. Substitution quickly becomes distance, and distance becomes an unbridgeable chasm—and the porn-obsessed masturbator develops an unhealthy view of sex and women. Millions and millions of sick men out there. If I were an American woman, I’d be very cautious.”
Jesse Kornbluth, former AOL editor-in-chief

“I don’t know how we put the genie back in the bottle on this one. I mean, it’s nice that the courts are taking a look at teen sexting, but what really has to be faced is the way we’re seeing a pornification of the culture—where young men are taught that the objectification of the self, the marketing of the sexual persona to others in slick media formats, is normal.

If you stand in a CVS and look at the magazine rack, you’ll see guy after guy who could be an Ultimate Fighter or porn star, and it feels like the message coming off the culture is that to succeed, or just to live, we all need to turn into killer porn stars; with tattoo sleeves and no privacy. If you look at the blog (NSFW) Guys With iPhones, I feel like what you see are picture after picture of guys looking to see if they fit that mold yet.  And I don’t think that blog is hot—those guys all look lonely. I’m actually very pro-porn and erotica, but what I wonder is, where is all this loneliness coming from in the booming age of so-called social media? I think that loneliness is more of a problem than the porn which, to my mind, is just a symptom.”
Alexander Chee, novelist

“Sex sex sex; America’s favorite neurosis. While I always support relative, appropriate boundaries and a parent’s right to determine those for their family, we too often jump to the presumption that we all agree that porn is at its moral core a negative. Whether it’s ‘wrong’ or ‘detrimental’ or ‘anti-progressive’ (a catch-all for feminist, gender sturdy, marxist, etc. critique), I cannot help but be aware of Foucault. The archeology of attitudes on porn in America begins in Puritanism.

If you think that is reductionist, I listen, but refer you to psychotherapy; sometimes a core issue is just that simple, despite the layers of complexity it engenders. We are ‘not supposed to have sex’ or, certainly, ‘wrong sex’ as defined by any number of social codes stemming from a 1,500-year history of cultural repression.

Consider this: in this code, we are ‘not supposed to be gay.’ Period. We all know that has hung in our emotional philosophies since they burned us fags out of the culture by the millions. Thankfully, the social progeny of the Enlightenment/American philosophy of liberty and equality is changing this slowly.

My short answer to why porn proliferates is that it’s about time we expressed our sexuality in its natural fullness again. Porn is the toe in the water made possible by new technology.

Regarding teens and porn… every family must set their guidelines. I myself have no problem with the natural sexuality of children, provided it is guided and channeled and not abused. Porn provides fantasy images, and I do not find that the majority of people, young or old, mistake it for either reality or the same expectations from the visual fantasy to the real relationship, other than wanting to try a technique discovered.

The problem with addiction and unrealistic sexuality comes from the absence of fathers in the post-industrial revolutionary world, and the narcissistic abdication of parents and elders from their traditional jobs as trainers and mentors. Fill that ancient and human need in children and teens and watch additions recede. Teach people how to be a full human being and watch the freedom of their exploits in reality.”
Bennett Schneider, Los Angeles

Not only is most of it deeply misogynist, but it provides both men and women an incredibly unrealistic sense of what sexuality is. Porn has nothing to do with actual, real-life sex, which is—above all—a deeply emotional experience, charged with shame and desire and anger and sadness and ecstasy. Porn is more like an infomercial for Sex: the Rowing Machine! I’d hate to be a teenage boy inundated by porn—it just makes them feel inadequate and angry and dismissive of women and their desires.”
Steve Almond, author of Candy Freak

“Porn addiction will one day be recognized as a major public health crisis on the scale of alcohol and tobacco abuse. My primary concern is the use of porn for sex education. For many people, the first exposure to the intimate realm of sexual behavior is these selfish male fantasies which use female bodies with no reciprocity. We who advocate an enlightened sexual ethic find the messages in porn contradict true intimacy between couples. My second concern hurts fewer people, but far more deeply. The exploitation of young women and men who work in the porn industry is a sickness fed by high demand and all porn users bear some responsibility.”
Haji Shearer, Fatherhood Advocate

“Clearly, there is a lot to say about how insidious and deleterious porn can be for women. But then there’s the whole argument that I even hear from my friends and peers about consensual porn use etc., everyone wants to say it doesn’t hurt them, just others. Anyway, I tend to go with the idea that sexual health is good for men (for themselves and their relationshipsstraight or gay) and the flood of pornography isn’t helping the sexual health of boys. All that being said, I think there’s another question for you about how you lead into this and whether you discuss the idea that we’ve known for a long time; that pervasive pornography has hurt women and girls but we haven’t stepped up for that, and now we step up because it isn’t good for boys… I think you can find a way to say something about both. This is what I think you are referring to overall (and you are not alone) for every time you discuss manhood, you will get the ‘what about women?’ question. It’s legit because of the context in which we live.”
Lonna Davis, Family Violence Prevention Fund

“Porn is a core economic driver in Southern California, and a huge driver of hardware and software innovation on the internet. The press focuses on the ‘victims’ in the industry, which is undoubtedly true, but Jenna Jameson and Jenny McCarthy have used it as a starting point for more mainstream careers. The empowerment of women has been pushed real hard. In my view, one of the unintended consequences of that empowerment is that porn, strip clubs, etc., have become socially acceptable career paths. I could handle most anything, but the thought of one of my children in that business may be more than I could take.”
Andy Oleszczuk, former Senior Vice President responsible for cable channel development, Tribune Company

“My concern about the rise of pornography—or the rise in its ease of access, especially online—is that it desensitizes both boys and girls, it makes serious activities casual and thereby serious relationships casual, and it rushes kids into matters that need maturity, if not adulthood. In different terms, it simply raises the pressure by raising the exposure. Does it cause more sex? More babies? I don’t know—and one needs to look empirically and not just react emotionally. But in a world where it is harder than ever for kids to be kids, I worry that the pressures only increase.”
Rick Melvoin, Headmaster, Belmont Hill School for boys

“I’m probably the wrong guy to ask about porn because I don’t see nearly enough of it. Truly, I’m abashed when I’m among men who clearly do see their share, because I haven’t kept up, and it can be borderline embarrassing: flashback to talking to upperclassmen in high school and not wanting to reveal that you’re still a virgin. No man wants to be seen as a prude…

Aside from the well-documented and galling exploitation of those who work in porn, my general complaint with it has always been that porn’s so damn artless, so crass. Fast food versus slow food.. .Now that I’m raising boys, I expect I’ll get more and more sensitive to how ubiquitous it is, because I guess I do believe that a steady diet of porn warps guys’ expectations about sex. Yeah, I get the argument that a little arousal, self-abuse might be cathartic, and fantasies are better than rape. But I think porn generally encourages objectification of women’s bodies and leaves boys obsessed with sex acts/techniques rather than getting to know the person they’re having sex with.

I can recall guys for whom porn got in the way of real discovery. They thought porn was showing them something/spilling secrets, but it left them kind of screwed up/unable to even approach women. I don’t suppose I’ll be able to keep my boys from it, but I will discourage it, although maybe at some point I’ll watch it with them so I can express what I don’t like about it: It’s that so much of it is crude, ultimately numbing, that it steals power from something that should be great in your life. Porn cheapens sex, and if we all want to boast of cheap sex once or twice, we want better than cheap sex for all-time.”
Brad Wieners, Executive Editor Men’s Journal

“Don’t forget the porn mongers at the S.E.C. While the country is crumbling and they’re supposed to fix it, these guys are spending eight hours a day surfing and downloading from porn sites.”
Kevin Williamson, Los Angeles, California

“Porn is the biggest business on the Internet. There is currently an epidemic of men across America who prefer masturbating to porn over sex with their partners. Adolescents and children are overexposed and overstimulated. While I see nothing wrong in erotic material per sethere are couples who enjoy porn togetherthere’s a difference between eroticism and inundation. You could land in any major city in the U.S. in the morning and have a willing sexual playmate that evening. The Internet has distilled the porn industry, strengthened its breadth and reach.”
Terry Real, author of I Don’t Want To Talk About It

“Just imagine the pressure inexperienced teens must feel, particularly those exposed to hardcore porn. They know it’s a fantasy, but how could they not be affected, consciously or otherwise, when their first time/first relationship finally arrives? As if there wasn’t enough pressure already (longer! stronger!), pornography simply adds one more layer of distortion (bite me! spank it!) and misinformation (hurts so good!) that impressionable teens don’t need. On the bright side, maybe porn has an intimidation factor that will frighten some youngsters into keeping their pants on a bit longer? Naw …”
Jeffrey Wallace, writer and father, Orange Country, California

“We’re asking the wrong questions about porn: How bad is it? Is it morally wrong? The discussion I’d like to see us having, especially as it relates to teenage boys, is about the emotional impact of porn…what do boys ‘get’ from viewing or using porn? What is the charge (not just physically, but emotionally as well)? Are they aware of any feelings of disconnection, either before, during, or after viewing/using porn? Do boys feel that porn impacts their actual relationships with girls and women? If so, how? Would boys look differently at porn if they were aware that many of the girls/women who are shown in the images/videos are likely not enjoying the experience? Would they experience porn differently if they knew some of the girls/women are coerced or forced into being objects for their desire?”
John Badalament, author of The Modern Dad’s Dilemna

“For me… I would rather approach from a pragmatic place rather than a values place. Approaching the subject from a good or bad place is engaging with parts of the psyche that are not (in my opinion) going to help someone face honestly what is going on in their relationship to porn.

In my life, it triggers the years that I discovered porn as a prepubescent born again Christian. Porn and sex were entirely entwined with guilt, shame, fear of my mother and God, and fear of becoming my father. It continues to be difficult to disentangle myself from early associations; dark and dirty, filled with cigarette smoke, the smell of body odor, and emotional paralysis.

Was it good? Bad? YES. Absolutely. Making a judgment call about porn creates a clear line in the sand that, in my experience, has been ineffective in helping men come to a healthy understanding of themselves and others.

Did it work? Yes and no. It provided an escape into fantasy out of a life that was often very dark and scary. And, at the same time, I developed a relationship with my own body and the bodies of women that was not tied very well to reality and definitely harmed my relationships… all the way to today.

Does porn work in the culture? For whom? When? How? It most definitely does not work well for a vast number of women who perform in the sex industry. In my opinion, it does not work well for boys trying to develop a realistic and functional way of creating intimacy with women.  It may work in some adult relationships where a consenting couple chooses to actively ‘spice’ up their bedroom life. It may work for some men as a stress relief and a way to engage the right brain in a way that they are not encouraged to do in our culture. It also easily becomes addictive and compulsive (the SEC workers are a great example).

It works well to help boys and men create a dual existence a kind of split personality which I believe strongly translates into a lack of emotional integrity or authenticity. Men lie about porn; to themselves, to each other, and to their partners. This lying becomes a habit… a way of interacting with the world. And I believe that any transition to a new masculinity is going to AT LEAST require that we get honest about it and ask ourselves… is this WORKING in our lives as men? And, what needs to change in order to make it work better?”
Boysen Hodgson, Mankind Project

♦ ♦ ♦

In September, 2009, Tom Matlack, together with James Houghton and Larry Bean, published an anthology of stories about defining moments in men’s lives — The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood. It was how the The Good Men Project first began. Want to buy the book? Click here. Want to learn more? Here you go.

 

 

About Tom Matlack

Thomas Matlack is a venture capitalist.

Comments

  1. Too much is made about the evils of porn.

    It all depends on the person. If you are addicted to porn that is bad. But really if you’re addicted to anything that’s likely not a good thing. But if you’re like the majority of men I know, you use porn as a temporary escape. Specifically, when you’re not getting any it’s a release. Plain and simple. End of story.

    And it’s too bad so many women get their granny panties in a bunch about porn, because porn is best shared. My wife watches it with me sometimes and it’s wonderful. And she’s secure enough in our relationship not to go batshit crazy when she knows (but never actually sees) me watching it alone. The women who consider that “cheating” are the real problem. You can’t cheat if you never actually make contact with the other person. And just because you get married or commit to a relationship it doesn’t mean we stop fantasizing from time to time.

    People love porn. And they love to hate porn. More importantly, they love to write about loving or hating porn because it guarantees reader interest. But in the end, it’s much ado about nothing.

    • “You can’t cheat if you never actually make contact with another person.”

      If a man went to a hotel room with another man and a woman, and paid the two people to have sex in front of him while he masturbated, would his wife have reason to be angry?

      Furthermore, if a married man and a woman simply masturbated in front of each other, would the man’s wife have reason to be angry? If the masturbating woman was married, would her husband have reason to be angry?

      For the most part I agree with what you’re saying, but I do think the issue of whether watching porn is cheating or not is a gray area. I personally don’t mind if my boyfriend watches porn, but I can’t fault another woman for not wanting her boyfriend to watch porn. It’s a strange problem.

  2. Tom, this is an extremely important subject to address. Men are going to be attracted to young, sexy looking women. Its built into our brains. The real issue, as a number have noted, is that is it right or wrong. The issue is whether it it good or bad for the men who use it and the women (and men) who make it. Clearly, it is big business, which has its own issues.

    I’ve been working with men and the women who love them as a psychotherapist for more than 45 years now. Pornography can become a problem and internet pornography is like a strong drug. Repeated use does impact the pleasure centers in the brain. I wrote an article recently about why men use porn, which as you’d expect generated a lot of interest. But women use porn as well. They call them “romance novels.” They feature men with big pecs, bulging biceps, and sweet talk.

    Most women have sampled male porn, but most men have never looked at or read a romance novel. How about a discussion of why men use the porn they use and why women use the porn they use?

  3. David Wise says:

    The fact that a “dry state” like Mormon Utah is the biggest downloader of porn tells me one thing: We are a nation of hypocrites. As Carl Jung once said, “what you resist, will persist.” I think this is the reason the Republicans have a credibility gap. They can’t accept their imperfect nature and spend their time crusading, instead of searching their own hearts and finding answers.

  4. David Wise says:

    You raise an excellent point, Jed, btw. We are so used to reading the same articles and making the same preachy, shame-based points.

  5. For me, it’s not about generic good/bad – it’s about what’s good/bad for me. Porn is lethal for me and I said good bye to it 5 years ago and haven’t looked back or had regret.

    What worries me about most of the discussion here is like many things in modern society we focus on the “effect” – the outcome, tangible vs. the intangible “cause” that lies beneath. In my experience the cause was a severe case of suppressing, hiding and denying emotions I didn’t know how to express. Those shadows I didn’t want to expose and take a hard look at. Once I started to understand the root cause (for me it was a lack of emotional connection with my father) then I started to awaken to the WHY I did it. Once I understood and my WHY changed – my choices changed.

    I am no longer a slave/a victim to porn. I am free of it. I am blessed with an amazing relationship with my wife and life partner of 20 years – and it doesn’t come from simply looking at the effect, it comes from both of us diving deep into the merkiness of the dark to emerge out in the light.

    My call to all those reading this – ask yourself, what are you hiding, suppressing or denying yourself? Porn is just one of many pills we take to escape.

  6. David Wise says:

    Those are thoughtful questions we all should ask ourselves, Bobby, and I congratulate you on finding the answers. Shanti

  7. Very interesting article. I like that all your quotes were not taken from a religious standpoint. I myself am a Christian and come to find that a lot of times, viewing pornograpy is seen as a religious issue when in fact that’s not always the case.

    I viewed pornography for a long time before I met my wife and after I met my wife… w/o her knowing about it. It created in me a insatiable appetitie for things my wife couldn’t give me and took my mind to places I couldn’t help but go. She could not fulfill me, because porn was creating a false idea in my head about what she should be doing. Although, it couldn’t be seen outwardly, I was withdrawing from her and picking every moment I could muster to get my kicks looking at other naked chicks.

    When she discovered my secret life, it created an incredible rift in our marriage and one that I took full responsibility for. She cried and cried and cried because she felt so “cheated”. Yes, she was mad that I “cheated” on her… but she was more upset that she wasn’t fulfilling me. She didn’t feel attractive or beautiful or loved knowing that I was getting my rocks off at some other chicks expense.

    The rift took a while to overcome. I don’t view porn now. I don’t. And let me tell you… my wife has never looked more beautiful. She is my sole source of insatiable love, lust, physical emotions and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Porn has a way of eroding all that.

  8. Eileen Sullivan says:

    I am very torn about this subject, having come from a strong anti-porn position to an Ah Ha moment when a young single male friend told me my dismissal of all porn made him feel shamed. He was in his 20s, single, chaste, not seeing anyone and magazines provided a healthy outlet, he said, for urges that are both natural and irrepressible. I thought maybe he was right. He is one of the most sensitive and respectful young men I know. His fantasies were based on him being an active participant in consensual erotic relations with an image of a woman in a magazine. Sure, she was airbrushed but he is smart enough to know what real women look like and I think his expectations of women are normal and healthy. I am forever grateful to him to pulling me up short of my narrow view.

    OTOH, I had been in a long tern relationship with a man who was emotionally distant and sexually dysfunctional at times. His anxiety turned him away from me, away from sex therapy and right into internet porn. He is such a good, sad and lonely man and I lost him, for a number of reasons, but with porn online as a ready outlet the impetus to connect with me n any level at all ceased almost entirely. Men, it was devastating to me. I’m not some granny panty ugly chick with her knickers in a knot, and I found that comment above deeply offensive. The man I loved was far from a perfect male model, but *I* found him sexy and loveable. He was short, excessively thin, balding and not at all muscular. But he had a good mind, a gentleness about him and a good heart. He struggled with intimacy issues in many areas of his life, and will probably always do so. But I loved him deeply, and and we went years at a time during our thirties and forties without sex. And without physical closeness of any sort. He was predisposed to be avoidant with intimacy, but when it started expressing itself in our sexual and then emotional lives it became intolerable. Promises to stop watching online porn were repeatedly broken. He became compulsive, sneaking in my daughter’s room to watch porn on her computer when she was not there so it would not be on his work computer. Catching him in the middle of the night while I slept alone, untouched. The lies, the bitterness. In a part of my mind that strives to be open-minded I can imagine that playful, respectful, non-abusive porn could even be an enhancement of a sexual relationship if shared together. But I admit that I prefer the vulnerability of that singular, intimate connection between myself and my partner. And ultimately I believe that mediated messages, even sexual one lose fidelity (pun intended). I HATE that now men are being affected by this ridiculous body image pressure. Guys, I don’t even LIKE those muscle-bound, steroid, no-neck cases. I like a man who looks, smells and behaves like a man. That means he will be as attractive naturally AND as flawed as I am. My partner was lost to me through emotional issues that made sexual and emotional intimacy hard for him, but porn sealed the deal. A man who weighed 130 lbs, was balding and had not a muscle on him (one I still found attractive) decided that I was “fat” (I am not very heavy) and simply not compliant enough because I had needs of my own, in and outside the bedroom. And these were normal, healthy need to make love and comfort and hold each other. I had no problems with any acts he wanted with me. He just stopped wanting them. I understand that young single friend of mine and I find no problem with him because he has NO problems loving and connecting and he would be repulsed by violent or degrading porn. But my partner began in his 30s pulling away and I never really got him back. He is as isolated as he can be and I mourn for the loss of a good man who struggled with many issues beyond porn but all to do with intimacy. Finally, I believe that the porn industry is abusive and it is abusive, and there are victims. I cannot support that. Men, you don’t think so but we love you as you are and porn hurts our relationships, our trust and out willingness =to work with a non-virtual partner who has needs of her own. Please come back to us. Protect your sons, your daughters, your partners, your lovers and engage in a mutually satisfying connection that you build together. If you are in a relationship and it is suffering, I think you do more harm by turning to porn. Do the hard work to reconnect with reality. We will make you very happy, but dealing with REAL people will be more complex than porn. It will be worth it. Porn did not create the emotional barrier here, but it made it easier for him to avoid me. The devastation to my psyche is inestimable, and I have a font of warmth, acceptance and for good, decent, respectful gentlemen. I just despair now of ever finding one, Porn is viral and I think it is contaminating relationships.

  9. David Wise says:

    I’m definitely not here to define the porn business and I’ve had too many attacks upon me when I don’t say things to denounce the industry. That said, I still believe God gave us each the freedom of choice, the right to decide our lives, whether for good or ill. There are many people lining up for porn jobs and if they want to be–as some view it–exploited, it is their right. We each have to accept responsibility for our actions. We reap what we sow. A porn actor must accept that he or she may become infected with a sexually transmitted disease. A viewer of porn must accept that his daily viewing habits may cause a loss of intimacy with his wife or partner. The freedom of choice is paramount in my mind. This is the beauty of the universe. Btw, I’m talking about consenting adults and not children here (regulations in this area are a different matter). Every adult should have the freedom to make their own choices and the obligation to accept the consequences of their actions without judgment. Whatever their reasons for viewing or producing porn, let it be their decision alone.

  10. Back in the caveman days only the barbaric rapists and murderers got a chance to reproduce. It’s so deep in us that only very advance and strict eugenics could relieve some of it. Everything gets worse before it gets better. Ladies just need to be upfront from the get-go about what their expectations are in a relationship. I used to act like I was cool with porn and doggy-style in the beginning of a relationship to seem like I was super hip and modern, but now I’m very honest with everything in life. It’s much easier to be honest believe it or not! Noone NEEDS an asshole in their life. We can do without them. And the future can do without their genes being passed on. Smile. It’s not that bad.

    • “Back in the caveman days only the barbaric rapists and murderers got a chance to reproduce.”

      This is just patently false. The urge to reproduce is part of human instincts, but it is not ‘rape’ and ‘murder’ that determine whether someone’s genes wind up passing on.

  11. Like anything else, if you become addicted to it, it’s a problem.
    If you like it, and don’t expect your lovers to get all Jenna Jameson on you, great.

    As I once wrote in Why’s everyone so torn about porn? “The problem, of course, isn’t porn itself. If something, anything, is done in secret, in excess, if it’s somehow compromising the relationship, well, then there’s a problem — just as if you were dealing with alcohol or drugs or gambling or even a golf addiction. ”

    I wish we had a better dialog about sexuality sensuality and pleasure; there are too many mixed messages out there and not enough understanding of our own sexuality.

  12. tom matlack says:

    Kate thanks for joining the conversation here and also for your thoughtful blog on this topic. What I found most interesting was just how many strong and opposing views I got when I started asking people about porn. As you can see some pretty famous people who had said they weren’t interested in talking to me about any number of other topics were more than happy to talk to me about porn. I found it interesting that, like you, I found a lot of women who were more accepting of it than I ever would have expected.

    In the end, of course, I agree with you that the issue is healthy sexuality which, like being a good man, is a purely subjective matter. I will say that having a 14 year old son and 16 year old daughter that it saddens me the way sex has been so cheapened in our society as a whole.

  13. Eileen:

    You are so sorely mistaken on so many fronts I don’t even know where to begin.

    You say: “Finally, I believe that the porn industry is abusive and it is abusive, and there are victims. I cannot support that.” How exactly is the porn industry abusive? And to who? The men and women who do porn are there willingly. They’re doing it for money. It is a job (and the oldest profession at that). So where you see victims, I see employees and — to a large extent — actors.

    Then you say to men: “Porn hurts our relationships, our trust and out willingness =to work with a non-virtual partner who has needs of her own. Please come back to us. Protect your sons, your daughters, your partners, your lovers and engage in a mutually satisfying connection that you build together.”

    I understand your relationship suffered because of porn. And for that I’m truly sorry. Like I said before, if it’s an addiction negatively impacting one’s life then it’s time to put a stop to it. No different than alcoholism or smoking or any other vice out there. But please don’t generalize. There are many men out there who are occasional or frequent viewers of porn who are not addicted. Who have perfectly healthy relationships with their wives. And who have wives who occasionally like to join in the porn watching. You can’t discount these people just because they don’t fit your argument. I’d say if you’re relationship has turned south and you’re blaming porn, it’s probably more beneficial to look for other, deeper root causes.

    Porn may contaminate some relationships, I don’t deny that. But definitely not all. And to imply otherwise is irresponsible.

  14. Randy Strauss says:

    I think too much is made of pornography being an evil vice. There are people that can drink responsibly and there are those who cannot. There are people who will play a few dollars on the lottery and there are those who will go to a casino or track and blow their entire paycheck in a few hours. There are people who can view pornography for the entertainment it is and there are those who become obsessed with it. In each case, I find it very doubtful that we are going to try prohibition again or perhaps ban gambling any time soon.

    The ancients decorated their pottery and buildings with erotic scenes. In the 11th century, a Japanese noblewoman wrote what is considered to be the world’s first novel, “The Tale of Geni.” It related a series of sexual exploits in fairly graphic detail. “The Plum in the Golden Vase”, penned in the 16th century, is considered one of four great classic novels of Chinese literature and told a story that was extremely explicit even by today’s standards. Even the Victorians and Edwardians, even though those generations were considered sexually repressed, enjoyed erotic photography. Remarkably, during the Victorian era, hysteria was considered a symptom of lack of female sexual fulfillment and was treated by manual stimulation of the patient’s genitalia by a doctor until she experienced “Hysterical Paroxysm”…more commonly known as an orgasm.

    Pornography can be a means of sexual release. Pornography can also be part of a healthy sexual relationship. Pornography is no more prolific in today’s society than it was a hundred or a thousand years ago; it is just more available.

    For those of you that do not enjoy hardcore extreme “porn”, there are alternatives such as Zalman Kings “Red Shoe Diaries.” There was also a company born of the idea that women enjoyed erotic scenes in movies but wanted more plot and substance, such as the entre nous between Rhett and Scarlett mentioned earlier. I don’t know the name of the company, but I’m sure you can find it.

    Lastly, being the father of a two month old daughter, I have to agree with Tom in that my opinons on sexuality are purely subjective and will likely change as my litle girl starts noticing the differences between men and women. For now, though, I will accept porn as entertainment and consider myelf a lucky man when my wife wears her “hooker shoes.”

  15. I’m with Randy.

    (PS: I have several sets of “hooker shoes” myself, but it’s OK; I only wear them when I’m dressed as a drag nun.)

  16. Eileen Sullivan says:

    Daddy Files: Me thinks you doth protest too much. Reread what I said about my young friend. He is a respectful good man seeking a safe, healthy and NON-DEGRADING outlet. I don’t believe I DID generalise at ALL if you really read what I said. am not persuaded my the fact that women use porn as a segue into mainstream. Few men have been obligated to go this path. You call these actions “choices,” but with no education, perhaps children to support alone and often drug addictions, young women elect to expose themselves to deadly diseases (read…it’s rampant) to feed families and habits. That a good man like my partner could drift away from healthy emotional and physical intimacy suggests a real problem, as noted by the psychotherapist above. Alone, he could do what he wants, But when you enter into a relationship you have a responsibility, and ethical obligation to nurture that, to be willing to do the work required to preserve the relationship. YOU are wrong on so many counts, the primary of which is NOT reading my comments closely. I gave no across the board condemnation and started by saying I was torn. But the porn I HAVE seen for men if too often degrading, my make friends admit addictions and relationship problems. Don’t you dare dismiss me as some prude. In a loving relationship the spectrum of sexual activity is broad. But I also believe some of the more fringe activities men seek are not really generated from genuine desire but created through porn they have seen, an industry that to stay competitive tries daily to push the edge of the envelope into the latest wrinkle or kink . Do they desire this of their own accord or is porn teaching them that to really get off they must expect what is often fake in videos of their partners>? You didn’t read my comments closely enough, Daddy (ugh…the name alone). The oldest profession?! If women were inclined to objectify men this this extent, if they had the power way back when to control society economically, politically and physically, if they controlled society and had the educations and the laws in their favour who know WHAT might be the oldest profession. I haven’t a clue where you are coming from, :”Daddy,” and I am definitely not interested in learning.

    Oh, and the construction is “to whom.”

    • “Alone, he could do what he wants, But when you enter into a relationship you have a responsibility, and ethical obligation to nurture that, to be willing to do the work required to preserve the relationship.”

      You make being in a relationship sound like so much… drudgery.

      There are times when some men don’t want to be weighed down with the baggage that comes with fulfilling their partner’s emotional needs to get an orgasm; times where we could take the energy that is normally used for empathy & respect for boundaries and dedicate that to just unfettered getting it on.

      Porn provides a fantasy world where women were so enthusiastically horny that they’d be aroused walking over proverbial hot coals to get the chance to play with our genitals because they liked f’ing that much.

      Now the fact that your previous partner choose permanent escape into a fantasy world over emotionally connecting with you is most likely his issue, but I suspect that the pressure to fulfill all of the responsibilities you excepted of him in a relationship probably played a part in driving him away because he was uncomfortable with the role that you forced him into.

  17. Randy Strauss says:

    @ Bennett: Pictures or it didn’t happen. And now for something completely different….

  18. I’m reminded of a saying that is attributed to Jello Biafra, “Don’t hate the media, become the media.” Where are the positive images and portrayals of sexuality? Who are the writers, artists, and filmmakers making constructive contributions to our ongoing cultural exploration of our sexuality? And not just oblique, soft-focused suggestion but real, lights-on, explicit honesty. I can think of two, the folks at Comstock Films whose on going series strives to show “real people, real lives, real sex” and Courtney Trouble whose work as a director of queer porn manages to capture a sense of fun and playfulness sadly lacking from so much of the porn out there.

  19. An excerpt on the topic of pornography from the book “If Men Have All the Power How Come Women Make the Rules”…

    When we men misuse our economic power over women, women legitimately react in ways we do not always like. One of those ways is to fantasize that they have achieved power over us. In the movie “9 to 5,” for instance, three women laugh merrily about how they’d like to take violent revenge against their chauvinistic male boss. In the end, the trio settles for humiliating and subduing him in a dog collar and chains.

    No one could reasonably say that “9 to 5” glorifies women’s domination of men in business. It is precisely because women don’t dominate men in business that the movie fantasy was popular with women who wish they did.

    Similarly, “pornography” does not glorify our sexual domination of women. It expresses our fantasies of overcoming women’s sexual domination of us. The fact that “9 to 5” and some of our erotica both involve people in dog collars and chains is not mere coincidence.

    What’s more, some of our most popular sexual fantasies aren’t about reversing sexual control at all, but are simply about equalizing it, about meeting women who participate enthusiastically in sex, who love male sexuality, and who don’t hold out for money, dinner or furs. Portrayals of such egalitarian sex don’t demean women any more than we are denigrated by stories of women and men working cooperatively in an office where men no longer think it is their right to have women fetch them coffee.

  20. Tom Matlack says:

    Bennett every since freshman year I just knew I was going to like you…thanks for your unique point of view articulated with humor and gusto as always!

  21. Jasmina says:

    Maybe the answer is simple: what about letting people do whatever they want. If Men are “changed” by porn… that’s their choice and women who don’t like that can simply chose not to be with them. I mostly have the feeling that in the past, there was no choice and having children and family was all that mattered so regardless of attraction, society pressure forced people together while the new technologies and the freedom in current society gives a lot of people the choice to just avoid this and porn, by providing alternatives to sex, offers relieve to some men. That is their choice their lives. A lot of people may regret it because it clashes with their vision of family or society but that is their choice and nobody should be able to influence that. It is strange that a lot of commentators on this subject are referring to some kind of Eden where there was no porn and men and women were able to “be truly theirs”… but let’s not forget that attraction between men and women has only began to be the reason for relationship and family for one centuries… we are speaking about things as natural as if it was interlinked with the psyche of humans. it’s not

  22. Eileen: You’re a joke.

    You say you don’t generalize but then, in the same breath, you’re assuming a majority of the women who engage in porn are drug-addicted single mothers doing it for their next eight-ball of crack or to give the baby new shoes. Nice job on not making sweeping generalizations.

    That a good man like your partner could drift away from you indicates there was a problem, but not necessarily with porn. Therefore using one example is more than a tad short-sighted.

    You mention “the porn you have seen for men.” I’m curious, what porn is that? I didn’t realize there was porn directed specifically toward men. To me, there’s just porn. Some hardcore, some softcore. But where is this male porn versus female porn? And what dangerous “fringe activities” are you talking about? Usually when one attempts to make an argument — as lame and ineffective as yours is — one provides specifics. So how about it?

    Lastly, way to showcase your inferiority complex by picking apart my grammar. I guess if I didn’t have a point I’d resort to the slew of errors in your post as well (“if they controlled society and had the educations and the laws in their favour who know WHAT might be the oldest profession.” It should be KNOWS). And yes, it’s clear you have no idea from where it is I’m coming. And for that, I’m eternally grateful. Because if I was anywhere even in the same zip code as you on this issue, I’d jump off the nearest bridge.

    • You’re quite ignorant of a lot of things. There is a specific genre of porn for women. Google it.

    • Dfiles, I’m curious… if porn is so harmless, would you advocate your daughters getting into it? When they turn 18 would you take them down to a studio and sign them up. Porn is a lot more lucrative than going to college in most cases. Pray tell…

      • Invoking daughters is very manipulative, since fathers have an instinct to not think of their daughters in a sexual manner.

  23. Eileen Sullivan says:

    Daddy, you are just a rude person. Your personal attacks show that you do not want any dissenting views on this. I have seen porn directed at men often, both porn for straight men and porn for gay men. If you are straight I might suspect you would not find gay porn as stimulating, or vice versa. So yes, there IS gender-specific porn. Now, why don’t you say something else hateful about me? It obviously makes YOU feel better and more powerful and I could not care less.

  24. What I have not read or seen reference to is a description of what healthy sexuality can look like that is attractive, titillating and deep enough to teach men and boys as an alternative.

  25. Oh ya, D.Files (I am not going to call ya daddy-lol) you are directing some pointed and abusive comments toward Eileen. Name calling is a sign of not only disrespect but also a way of dehumanizing someone so an attack will seem more justified.
    Pornography as an industry is a problem. There are labels or certain brands of pornography that are designed toward more romantic or female desires but probably 90%+ is designed exclusively for men. The willingness of participants is true because some individuals have different levels of agency to make such a decision but the question before us- is what are their choices? Do not be confused with choices, freewill and reality of people in the industry. A person who consumes porn is a “john.” A “john’ like any other person purchasing sex from a sex worker because that is what you are doing (what we have done!). No matter how many filters are between you and the pimp, we are still purchasing someone’s body for our satisfaction.
    I could tell you stories of sexual trafficking-through pornography, porn being used for conditioning by pedophiles, about partners being coerced to perform certain acts because this is the way the “actress” does it and yes wives, sons & daughters being forced to perform for films but we all should know about that pornography. The general heterosexual vanilla pornography that is shaping men’s sexuality and causing women to acquiesce to these limiting acts is the issue.
    I will just say that the majority of people in the industry do not last because of the reality of the business and just because people can purchase and watch it as a couple does not make the industry any better. People in this country and abroad have been purchasing people’s bodies and sanctioning abusive behavior, they would not want their children involved in, forever. If the standard was, I am okay with my daughter or mother doing this job, I think we would have a lot less people so excited about the business of porn.
    Open sexuality and freedom of sexual play and partners is something that a lot of us are looking for but the commodification of sex through most forms of pornography falls short and can limits sexual growth. We have to find better ways of sharing.
    -read: Getting Off by Robert Jensen

  26. @ Jasmina, I like a lot of what you said. Your perspective feels a little less than ideal (our best selves versus the selve we have) for a future but it is reflective and adds weight to the conversation.

    Thanks

  27. Hello all,

    Wish I’d have gotten on these comments sooner!

    For over 10 years I suffered with a devastating porn addiction that had me feel more and more disconnected each time I went online for my “Fix”. I started a web site called My Porn Addiction Story (http://mypornaddictionstory.com) to start a conversation with those suffering from this addiction and empower them with everything I learned to deal with it.

    The sad thing, the only people talking about it are the Christian churches around the US. I’m serious, type in Porn Addiction into google and you will find religious-focused articles in the MAJORITY. It is not that I am against the church talking about this addiction, but I am appalled that nobody else is! My own goal is to give this addiction more exposure and make talking about it a LOT less serious (and without the guilt of “sin”).

    I recently wrote an article I would love you all to check out. It is called “Stop Masturbating (Whacking off is NOT a Strategy for Long-Term Success)”.

    What we don’t realize is that by exposing young people (average age of first exposure = 10yrs) to pornography from so young, we are giving them information they should not be getting for many years to come, and so we find a lot of young boys retreating to the computer rather than to girls their own age, and lots of young men more dissociated from being truly intimate with a woman.

    I would love to hear from anyone else involved in fighting this addiction. Please do get in touch via my web site.

    Thanks,

    Marc Quinn

  28. What a great discussion. First, I just want to say that I believe in freedom of speech, and that porn should not be criminalized. But I also have the right to criticize it.
    My first and biggest criticism of porn is how unrealistic it is. The women are anorexic thin, airbrushed, and obviously surgically enhanced. This is not one particular “style” of porn, it is the mainstream of porn. And what people see repeatedly is what they expect. Now, thanks to unrealistic porn stars, women are getting their asses waxed and bleached, boob implants, and even labioplasty (having their lips reduced, so the genitals look more like a slit in a barbie doll than an actual vulva).
    And then there’s the act itself. As more than one poster has commented, the “sex” (I put it in quotes to show irony) portrayed is mechanical and selfish – it’s all about the in and out. Foreplay and female pleasure don’t even get considered. And this is what people (men & women both) are being sold as what sex is. I’m old enough (and outspoken enough) not to get involved with men who have been ruined by porn – I can tell them right away. But I have known many younger women – beautiful, smart women – who have been made to feel like dirt by selfish boys who demanded they conform to porn ideals. Can you imagine a woman looking over a naked man with that kind of critical eye? “I’m sorry, but your anus is way too brown. It looks dirty.” Or, “God, your balls are saggy. You know there’s a surgery that can tuck them back up so they look perkier?” Or even, “Ooooh, it’s so hairy. Yuck. Could you shave first?” Men, would you tolerate that kind of treatment? I would hope not.

  29. John David Galt says:

    Porn is needed for the same reason legalized prostitution is needed: it cuts down to size those people (mostly women) with inflated opinions of their own worth, by putting them side-by-side with their competition. The freer the trade, the better for every honest trader.

    Oh, and don’t try to tell me that sex “should not be commodified” or “is not a commodity”. That’s a rehash of Marx’s argument that labor is not a commodity — formally disproven by Mises in 1948.

  30. This is a shame filled article that appears to be castrated men telling women what they want to hear. Please don’t pretend that this website ‘speaks for men’, and certainly not your (female) selfish view of what constitutes a ‘good man’.

    Women object to porn because it offers men an alternative to ‘real relationships’. In fact, a couple of the women respondents quoted in the article were quite honest about that motive. The problem is, when male conservatives or religious leaders use this argument, they can claim to be making it on behalf of the continuation of society or civilisation. When women make the same argument, they are doing little more than committing attempted rape.

    Sorry, no woman has the right to force myself, or any other man, into a ‘real relationship’. That’s rape.
    Porn will continue to become more realistic until it becomes virtual reality porn. Women will either have to change their attitude to men and change the laws that destroy men in the courts through false rape accusations or crazy divorce settlements, or learn to be content with their romantic ‘literature’ and their cats.

    • Technology will soon change port from an escape from an unbearable life, into a way of life all its own.

      I think in 10 to 20 years dream state interactions with virtual companions will be a viable alternative lifestyle for men. The big advantage will be a safe environment where men can express affection, generosity, kindness, and sacrifice without these virtues being transformed into weapons that are used against the man.

      A few years after that, artificial wombs will bring an end to any kind of interaction between women and men. The two sexes will drift into separate species which seldom if ever communicate with each other.

      Why would I risk my life, my property, and my liberty in a relationship with a real woman, when I can love, cherish, and travel the world with a virtual woman who has neither the capacity nor the desire to destroy my life?

  31. 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.

      DID THEY EVER THINK THE FEMINIST SHAMING (and criminalizing) OF THE NATURAL MALE SEX DRIVE HELPED CREATE THE PORN MARKET TO BEGIN WITH??

  32. 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?

  33. 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.

  34. 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???

  35. 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.

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

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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?

  44. 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?

  45. 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?

  46. 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?)

  47. 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!

  48. 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?

  49. 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.

Trackbacks

  1. […] harming women, in part through creating unrealistic images of sex and bodies, but what about it making men feel inadequate? More » Sexuality – Politics of Sexuality – Sexual Addiction – […]

  2. […] original article as it appeared and much gratitude to Tom Matlack and the wonderful publisher of Good Men Project Lisa Hickey for […]

  3. […] the internet came and stole subscribers away. With it, other men’s magazines have produced better writing […]

  4. […] Tom Matlack at the Good Men Project recently posted a fairly in-depth article and discussion around the topic of pornography you can check out the link here http://goodmenproject.com/2010/07/01/getting-off/ […]

  5. […] thought provocative piece comes courtesy of Tom Matlack of Goodmenproject.com (whom we strongly advise you check out). Part wonder, part pathos and some degree of shock Tom Matlack raises the question of the nature […]

  6. […] written about it in the past. A lot of guys like porn, even good guys. But despite the ubiquity of the medium, an HIV scare in […]

  7. […] written frequently about the impact of porn on our boys and how it distorts their view of women and sex. I […]

  8. […] that the influence on all of us is huge, for better or worse. As I wrote in my original piece, “Getting Off”: I was at a dinner party recently with the CEO of a company involved in the video infrastructure […]

  9. Check These Out…

    […]check below, are some totally unrelated websites to ours, however, they are most trustworthy sources that we use[…]…

  10. […] about the most difficult parts of manhood—like race, rape, addiction, parenting, porn, divorce, depression, guns, prison, war and suicide—have a way of stirring up great waves of […]

Speak Your Mind

*