One man’s pleasureland is another man’s nightmare. 

scary peroxide blonde with huge breasts prances around

with a leather belt attached to her neck like a leash

smiles as she invites men to whip her bare ass.

klansman in white hood + robes fucks

laughing black girl in cheap motel room

oriental woman bound + gagged chained to a wheel

spins around   little whips flick at her naked skin

skinny little effeminate man   he looks sick   suspended by

his arms from the ceiling

red plastic ball taped into his mouth

angry woman what a nazi

hits him   tells him he’s shit

later on two big guys rape him.

video tapes + magazines

organized by special interest

bisexuals  lesbians  she-males  frat boys

big tits  butt fucks  blow jobs  fat women

bondage rape + torture

it all looks like pain to me tonight.

every face in every picture says

love me  i’m bad  i hate myself

hurt me  let me hurt you

i need to feel something  i’m helpless  take me

i need to feel loved

if we hurt each other we will feel loved.

gay straight fat black white

men + women   bound + gagged

wounded + desperate

unloved children in grown-up bodies.

degradation      exploitation

domination       subjugation

soul abuse         arousal.

most of all the bondage

too much!

intense photos on video boxes

women strapped to boards

bound in leather + ropes

contorted + tied into pretzel shapes

gagged with large red rubber balls in their mouths

fear in their eyes

helpless …

hurt me  i like it  i like to be hurt

it’s ok to hurt other people

they want you to hurt them

they get off on it.



angry aroused curious outraged confused

I want to see this

no I don’t

just a little

I’ve seen enough

just once


this time I can’t do it

I can’t watch this or bring it into my home

without violating that little boy inside

hasn’t there been enough of that already?

a struggle

I’m drawn like a moth to a headlight

like a cat into a

warm engine spinning radiator fan

on a cold winter morning.

this stuff appeals to everything that’s

wounded + dysfunctional in me

prepackaged soul abuse

choose life!

does any of this turn you on

I used to think those people on the corner were nuts

pornography is child abuse

don’t take my word for it

see for yourself.

women + children don’t count for much in this culture

nobody does

life’s cheap

I’m not kidding check it out.

all this + still I have a need

I go home disgusted   go to bed

jack off thinking about an old girl friend

somebody else’s wife

not very satisfying at all.

I used to feel guilty + relieved after masturbation

now I just wish I’d done something else instead.

Excerpted from Iron Man Family Outing: Poems about Transition into a More Conscious Manhood by Rick Belden.  Copyright © 1990, 2008 by Rick Belden.  All rights reserved.

Read more by Rick Belden: safe sexx confession

Image credit: chokola/Flickr

About Rick Belden

Rick Belden is the author of Iron Man Family Outing: Poems about Transition into a More Conscious Manhood. His book is widely used in the United States and internationally by therapists, counselors, and men’s groups as an aid in the exploration of masculine psychology and men’s issues, and as a resource for men who grew up in dysfunctional, abusive, or neglectful family systems. His second book, Scapegoat’s Cross: Poems about Finding and Reclaiming the Lost Man Within, is currently awaiting publication. He lives in Austin, Texas.

More information, including excerpts from Rick’s books, is available at his website. His first book, "Iron Man Family Outing," is available here. You can follow Rick Belden on Facebook.


  1. I see so many women in therapy who have “lost” their husbands to porn. Please see the talk, “The Demise of Men” on Technology/Education/Design (TED) on HuLu (online). The male speaker lumps a growing cultural addiction to porn together with a tendency for modern adult males to seek comfort in each other, creating “frat” groups at forty, (such as seen in recent movies) instead of facing the challenging and sometimes disappointing work of relating to (real) women. It’s interesting to think where the broken relationships between men and women might be heading–hopefully, eventually, to more mutually supportive interactions in which sex is better integrated into everyday life while being simultaneously regarded in a more sacred context.

  2. Jeff Nepute says:

    I really appreciate the subtleties in this poem that tell the tale of men who get trapped using porn more than than they intend. I was particularly struck by the beautiful depiction of the different narratives in the poem that mirror the internal conflict of the mind; one side full of lust, seeking pleasure, novelty, and excitement. The other side struggling with feeling isolation, dissatisfaction, self-hatred, and just wanting whatever it takes to feel better for a brief moment. “I want this, no I don’t, just a little” but how a little is never enough, that the shame from doing it draws you back for more to feel better. The paradox of feeling more hungry from feeding the beast. Rick- I am continually impressed and humbled by your courage to share the raw emotions, to open the dialogue about sex that we so often like to keep hidden.

    • Thanks, Jeff. That conflict you so elegantly articulated is indeed central to the poem, as it was to the experience that motivated writing it. Even in the absence of options for healthy, soulful sexual expression (a state in which I’ve spent far too much of my adult life), the primal need remains, the drive is still strong, and the energy wants to move and express itself somehow. Knowing how to honor one’s sexual energy and be with it in productive ways when one doesn’t have a partner (or a partner who’s available) can be challenging. However, porn is easy and it’s always there, even if one doesn’t feel that great about using it.

      As men, sexuality tends to be the primary (often the only) outlet for expression and experience of sensuality in our lives. In his book “The Shaman in the Disco and Other Dreams of Masculinity: Men, Isolation, and Intimacy”, author James Thomas says, “It often happens for men that sensual deprivation leads to sexual obsession.” I think that, for many men, the hunger they attempt to feed with porn is not just sexual, but also sensual. The fundamental problem with using porn to feed that hunger is that the hunger remains even after the meal finished.

  3. Shelley Imholte says:

    Thank you Rick for offering your gift to the world. As a trained sexologist I find this poem, and others that you have composed, so helpful in my work with men and the relationship they have to their sexual self which is more often than not buried deeply within the psyche and largely silent. Pleasureland has opened the doors to greater fullness by turning toward discomfort, judgment, shame, and fear. Bravo GMP for publishing works that are so needed! Again, much gratitude for you and your gifts, Rick!

    • You’re welcome, Shelley. I’ve always hoped and intended that my work would give other men permission to go a little deeper into their own stories (to remember, to feel, and to express) and also provide a template or set of reference points they could use for doing so. I’m very grateful for folks like you who see the value in my writing and have taken the initiative to apply it in the work they’re doing with men (and women) to help them heal, grow, and better understand themselves. It’s a great honor to have the opportunity to contribute to that process.

  4. Tom Golden says:

    Great poem Rick. Captures the essence of the old psychotherapeutic rule that we tend to treat others as we have been treated. This is one of the ways that the cycle of abuse keeps going around and around. The poem helps us to watch it and hopefully, even for a second, to get off of that runaway train.

    • Thanks for your comment, Tom. This poem has a high discomfort factor for a lot of folks, including me, for a lot of reasons. There’s so much going on, and the theme and the language are so charged, that it’s bound to produce a wide range of responses, often contradictory and often in the same person.

      What I’ve written will resonate with some and offend, appall, provoke, trigger, or even enrage others. We are, certainly collectively and often individually, deeply wounded around sex. There’s a shadow side to sex we’ve yet to bring into full consciousness as a culture because it’s so primal, so frighteningly powerful, and so potentially destructive. If sharing my experience in the way I have moves others to reflect on their own history, beliefs, and motivations around sex, then I’ll feel like I’ve done my job.

  5. Thank you, Duncan. Really great to hear from someone like you who’s found this poem, and my book, useful in his work with men.

  6. I was lucky enough to get Belden’s pleasureland for the Porn Recovery UK website last year. As a psychotherapist who works with men and porn ‘addiction’ I think the poem captures something in the subject that essays, articles and comment work much harder to achieve. Rick Belden gives us a close-up view of those difficult thoughts and feelings pornography raises for users and society and his book sits on the coffee table in my office – many a man looking for expression has found something in his words.


  1. […] Men Project, addressing the question: Is Porn a Good  Thing? For GMP’s first two in the series, Pleasureland and O Hai […]

  2. […] Project, addressing the question: Is Porn a Good  Thing? For GMP’s first two in the series, Pleasureland and O Hai […]

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