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"He's just not that into anyone"
February 5, 2011 6:47 AM   Subscribe


 
Oh, porn is making dudes less sex-crazed.

Cool.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:51 AM on February 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Full title with all subtitles:

PORN and Junior-High culture, the disappearing male libido and the Google of smut"

I wonder what conclusions they'll draw!
posted by paisley henosis at 6:53 AM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


“There’s a failure to distinguish between porn reality and reality reality,” says Monika, 27. “One guy kept shouting at me, ‘Ride the cock, ride the cock!’ I was laughing so hard we had to stop.”

Or he just liked to talk dirty, and you killed the moment. Not everything is about porn.

Like any thorough researcher, I decided to investigate a theory.

But not with any science, or statistics, or anything bu anecdotes. This is a crap article.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:55 AM on February 5, 2011 [90 favorites]


Yes, we must do something about this new dangerous thing, pornography they are calling it?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:56 AM on February 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think the author of the article is going through the typical decline of the sex drive as one enters into the mid 30s. Porn had nothing to do with it. Soon he'll discover that he can't party like he used to as his metabolism will slow down and keeping the beer gut at bay will require serious discipline.
posted by humanfont at 7:00 AM on February 5, 2011 [27 favorites]


scientists speculate that a dopamine-oxytocin combo is released in the brain during orgasm, acting as a “biochemical love potion,” as behavioral therapist Andrea Kuszewski calls it. It’s the reason after having sex with someone, you’re probably more inclined to form an emotional attachment. But you don’t have to actually have sex in order to get those neurotransmitters firing. When you watch porn, “you’re bonding with it,” Kuszewski says. “And those chemicals make you want to keep coming back to have that feeling.” Which allows men not only to get off on porn but to potentially develop a neurological attachment to it. They can, in essence, date porn.

This is so wrong I may have to write about it more fully elsewhere. In short, if this were true, men would need only one or two porn videos (or maybe one star's oeuvre)—and sex would make everyone instantly monogamous with their first partner. This would also mean women would fall in love with their vibrators. The problem here is *not* attachment and neurobabble won't change that.
posted by Maias at 7:00 AM on February 5, 2011 [75 favorites]


"Ya got trouble, folks, right here in River City
With a capital 'T' and that rhymes with 'P'
And that stands for 'porn!'"
posted by ericb at 7:01 AM on February 5, 2011 [20 favorites]


"One [man] was trapped online for a whole night and, according to a psychiatric report, came away with the jaded listless sexual appetite of a 60-year-old colonel."
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:01 AM on February 5, 2011 [15 favorites]


Or he just liked to talk dirty, and you killed the moment. Not everything is about porn.

Exactly. And sometimes women are genuinely loud, as well -- they're not necessarily trying to "copy porn" either.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:04 AM on February 5, 2011 [10 favorites]


People who just came to snark: the article is totally worth reading. It's a level of flat-out ridiculous hand-wringing that is just fantastic, and the cherry-picked horror stories that are supposedly completely normal had me cracking up.

I mean, doesn't every guy spend an hour+ a day wanking, with a daily rotation of specific porn people through the week, and a girlfriend who aspires to have any kind of sex in any kind of way no matter how she actually feels about it, but he is too busy falling in love with porn and believing that he is actually porking some porn-person in the butt while she talks freaky to him to bother to put it in his girlfriend's butt while she talks freaky to him which is totally gross anyway.

I mean, that sure sounds like my life and everyone I know.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:06 AM on February 5, 2011 [37 favorites]


Yeah, this study could have used more science and it's not the research isn't there. Apparently neuroscientists love to show people porn
posted by fuq at 7:09 AM on February 5, 2011


"I've been masturbating to a lot of pornography lately... Could there be some way to pitch this to my editor, so I actually get paid for it?"
posted by Greg Nog at 7:09 AM on February 5, 2011 [109 favorites]


In related news:
Forget the Super Bowl: It's National Porn Sunday! -- "At more than 300 churches across the country, it won't just be Super Bowl Sunday this weekend, it will be Porn Sunday."

300 Pastors Promote "Porn Sunday".

The Church Of Porn And Football.

Porn Sunday -- February 6, 2011.
posted by ericb at 7:10 AM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


ericb: Forget the Super Bowl: It's National Porn Sunday! -- "At more than 300 churches across the country, it won't just be Super Bowl Sunday this weekend, it will be Porn Sunday."

Boy, XXXChurch is not what it sounds like!
posted by paisley henosis at 7:12 AM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


If male arousal and attention is the prize that is being fought for, then there will always be a competitor. Nobody maintains that sort of focused and monogamous attention. It could be porn, it could be someone he flirts with at work, but you can only own the desires and the attention of any human being (male or female) in its entirety and for all time.
posted by idiopath at 7:12 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


as Ron analogizes: “Remember Ghostbusters? How in love Bill Murray was with Dana, the Sigourney Weaver character? He feels lucky to even get her to agree to a date with him, but then when he shows up at her door, she’s possessed by demons, floating four feet above her bed, begging him to fuck her brains out. And he’s completely rattled by it and can’t get out of there fast enough.

NEW YORK MAGAZINE ASKS THE TOUGH QUESTIONS: IS GHOSTBUSTERS DESTROYING THE LIBIDO OF THE AMERICAN MALE?
GHOSTBUSTRER THIS IS WHY WE HAV NAMED YOU OUR PERSON OF THE YEAR
posted by Greg Nog at 7:14 AM on February 5, 2011 [51 favorites]


"can only own" should have been "can't own"
posted by idiopath at 7:14 AM on February 5, 2011


Flaccidating post. Thanks!
posted by gman at 7:14 AM on February 5, 2011 [11 favorites]


This isn't a great article at all, but I do think it's interesting that...you know, how many articles have we had lately about how the internet is making us miserable/unable to connect with people? I'm thinking of the Facebook thing from earlier in the week, but I know there have been others. Is this a real thing, or is this a thing that freelancers have figured out is a perennial sell to their editor?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:15 AM on February 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


If this were true, it would be EASY to demonstrate scientifically. So why are we reading an anecdotal piece instead of a scientific paper?

300 Pastors Promote "Porn Sunday".

Ah.
posted by callmejay at 7:15 AM on February 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


I have been emailing back and forth with an evangelical pastor I k, for the last couple of weeks, and he is convinced about the horribleness of porn. But the reading is really heterosexist. For queer men, porn and the easily avaibility of porn, suggests that there is a wide variety of sexualities and expereinces that are pleasurable and not shameful.

I assume that it is the same for men who have sex with women, but the culture for a long time excluded any queer sex at all from the agora. I think porn allows us to sort out who we are as sexual beings, and sometimes who we are is sweet and soft and loving, and sometimes who we are is someone who likes to yell Ride My Cock Cowboy.

The two main problems with porn, and I don't think the article addresses this, as far as I can see it, are

a) porn is often too serious and lacks delight in disorder
b) porn workers are often genuinely exploited, but which American workers are not. If we treat sex work like work, the second will go away.
posted by PinkMoose at 7:16 AM on February 5, 2011 [12 favorites]


60-year-old colonel.

That's not a problem though, because the Colonel in question is Colonel Ingus.
posted by drezdn at 7:18 AM on February 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Just as we have sexual urges, and porn creates a convenient outlet for those urges, when the need to masturbate meets a shaming culture, hand wringing articles like this one provide an easy outlet for that shame.
posted by idiopath at 7:23 AM on February 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


I will say this for the theory - it's a 180 of the older argument that porn leads to increased sexual aggressiveness in men.

Which I'm not sure I bought either; just as I don't buy this. Whether you're blaming porn for making you want random hookups in bars, or you're blaming porn for making you "not be into" your girlfriend, I suspect that porn is more of a scapegoat or a symptom than a root cause.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:27 AM on February 5, 2011 [28 favorites]


Condom puts chokehold on male orgasm. Damn condoms.
posted by buzzman at 7:29 AM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


300 Pastors Promote "Porn Sunday".

This would make a lot of churches' annual meeting a lot more entertaining.
posted by Stynxno at 7:29 AM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


"I went without porn for a day. Then I tried it for two. Then three. On the fourth day, I had the fortune of having sex with a woman. And nothing was faked, although I can only speak for myself."

Yes, well. Not masturbating for four days will have that effect on men, won't it.

Likewise, I'm not sure it's an entirely horrible thing for that some men are now taking longer to orgasm. Some would say that represents an opportunity for making one's partner happier.

If your experience of sex is that it's essentially masturbation with another person involved, I suppose it's possible that watching lots of porn will take away from that. But I think that's a limited view of the potential of sex.
posted by jscalzi at 7:32 AM on February 5, 2011 [21 favorites]


This article has the pretense of being based on some sort of research or science. Except it's not. It's a bunch of anecdotes from his 30-something straight guy friends. And, of course, some choice descriptions of the author's own fucking.
posted by Nelson at 7:36 AM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is less about porn and more about guys that use a death grip while jerking off.

Then they try to have vanilla sex with a condom (which reduces sensitivity a smidge) after having a few beers, and wonder why Big Jim and the Twins aren't as into it.

Dude. Ease up.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:37 AM on February 5, 2011 [14 favorites]


And sometimes women are genuinely loud, as well -- they're not necessarily trying to "copy porn" either.

It can go either way. I've been with loud, and I've been with someone who was obviously mimicking porn sounds. Loud is ok; porn sounds are way more funny than exciting.

Condom puts chokehold on male orgasm. Damn condoms.

I kept waiting for the article to discuss this -- condoms seemed way more central to most of the anecdotes than porn, but it was left out of the discussion. I think it's important to remember how much many men dislike condoms. (I mean, men will pay extra in order to have unsafe, high-risk sex with a sex worker, which you would think is the opposite of their self-interest.)

Of course guys sometimes fake orgasm. I certainly have, and when it's come up in conversation my friends have been open about admitting that they have done it, too. It's always in the kind of situation mentioned in the article -- sex with someone new, using a condom, maybe a bit of whiskey dick going on, and faking it lets you end it without tears and uncomfortable conversations. Again, porn just isn't the central part.
posted by Forktine at 7:40 AM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Frankly the overreaction against the article in this thread dwarfs any perceived sensationalism in the article. Is it even vaguely surprising that Count Jackula is a little sexually desensitized and less attracted to his partner IRL? No, it is not.

I mean, this is not intended as peer reviewed scientific literature. It's a middlingly thoughtful piece of popular magazine writing. And it's making me question the role porn plays in my own life and relationship. I think I understand better now why women perceive porn as cheating. If you were banging some other broad a few times a week you'd also tend to be distanced and less interested in her.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:40 AM on February 5, 2011 [12 favorites]


From the Porn Sunday link:

“Matt Hasselbeck, who led the Seattle Seahawks to the Super Bowl in 2006, is one of the video’s stars.”

“Although he said he has never had a pornography addiction, Hasselbeck signed up for the free XXXchurch tracking software called X3watch.”

“ ‘If I go to a site that’s questionable, a teammate gets an email and my wife gets an email,” Hasselbeck told CNN. “I thought about adding my mom too but decided against that,’ ”


Are you fucking kidding me? Seriously, this is a fucking joke, right?

I've never totally lost respect for a person that fast.

Signed ... The newest Charlie Whitehurst fan.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:41 AM on February 5, 2011 [29 favorites]


Not that *I* know anything about this, but unless you happen to be in a marriage/relationship where you and your partner happen to have the exact same sex drive with desire for sex hitting at the exact same time all the time, porn can be a wonderful thing for all involved.

And my guess is that tales of Internet porn leading to the large-scale destruction of the sex lives of the average couple is grossly exaggerated. There is a reason, I think, why men need to watch porn or fantasize while masturbating. Meanwhile, I've never needed to fantasize about masturbating while having sex.
posted by The Gooch at 7:42 AM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Reading this article again, I will admit it's slightly refreshing that a bunch of dudes have now moved on to "It must be porn!" as the reason they can't maintain healthy adult relationships, rather than, "She was just a bitch is all"
posted by Greg Nog at 7:42 AM on February 5, 2011 [39 favorites]


This article is a weird choice for Davy Rothbart, who most of you probably know from his appearances on This American Life and his magazine Found. And by weird, I mean dumb. But while I think it's his particular journalistic style to start from the personal anecdote and go from there, in this case he just doesn't manage to escape the orbit of the personal.
posted by orville sash at 7:44 AM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


condoms seemed way more central to most of the anecdotes than porn, but it was left out of the discussion. I think it's important to remember how much many men dislike condoms. (I mean, men will pay extra in order to have unsafe, high-risk sex with a sex worker, which you would think is the opposite of their self-interest.)

I don't understand that at all. Men really need to use condoms. What are they getting out of sex education? They need to see what happens to penises when they get an STD and what they'll look like really early on if they don't use protection.
posted by anniecat at 7:52 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it's important to remember how much many men dislike condoms.

a. Buy better condoms. Seriously. Shop around. Some are better than others, or better for you than others.
ii. Put a drop of lube inside the tip of the condom before rolling it on, helps with the whole reduced sensation thing.
posted by device55 at 8:00 AM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Condom puts chokehold on male orgasm. Damn condoms.

While not the answer for casual sex, I can't recommend lambskin condoms enough. They don't provide the same protection against STDs and infectious diseases as polyurethane but if you are in a monogamous relationship they're a great form of birth control. Expensive, but a lot of health care companies will let you apply it towards your FLEX acct.
posted by Macphisto at 8:02 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wham! Bam!, Thank you, hand!
posted by ~Sushma~ at 8:05 AM on February 5, 2011


Reading this article again, I will admit it's slightly refreshing that a bunch of dudes have now moved on to "It must be porn!" as the reason they can't maintain healthy adult relationships, rather than, "She was just a bitch is all"

Remember folks, there's only one constant in all your failed relationships...
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:05 AM on February 5, 2011 [12 favorites]


At the start I really enjoyed this thread. I'm just not into it now though. I finished it it was great, really.
posted by pianomover at 8:08 AM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


This isn't a great article at all, but I do think it's interesting that...you know, how many articles have we had lately about how the internet is making us miserable/unable to connect with people? I'm thinking of the Facebook thing from earlier in the week, but I know there have been others. Is this a real thing, or is this a thing that freelancers have figured out is a perennial sell to their editor?

I think it's basically just the inherent value of "new thing" as the focus of a news piece, coupled with already-in-place anxiety. The potential life-destroying qualities of either the cheap availability of porn or the cheap availability of pseudopersonal connections on Facebook seem, to me, to be fairly close to the "DOES YOUR WATER BOTTLE GIVING YOU CANCER?" articles that come out as soon as enough people start buying Camelbaks and Siggs. Here, I'll try one.

It started innocently enough. I was trying out an exercise video at my wife's suggestion. She'd dropped hints that I might find it fun, and to be honest, when I looked into the mirror, I could see the few pounds I needed to lose. So when I slid the DVD into the tray, I certainly didn't foresee p90x having a negative effect on my marriage. Fast forward three months, and suddenly I realized that my wife was sitting on the couch, weeping, while Tony Horton was exhorting me to finish up the last couple of reps.

Apparently, I'm not alone. Social psychologist Marianne Brees describes it this way: "p90x sounds like a fine program, full of both cardio and bodyweight workouts. But many men find that after a few weeks of it, they simply cannot achieve erections for anyone other than p90x instructor Tony Horton."

"Jessup," a computer programmer, agrees: "I was pretty psyched to finally lose the ol' spare tire, but eventually I found that I was no longer exercising to benefit myself. I was exercising because I loved hearing Tony Horton shout at me. I would run straight home after work, turn on the TV, and listen to his melodious voice as he referred to his assistant Pam as 'Blam'. Heh. 'Blam'. That always made me laugh."

For the last two years, sales of p90x have gone up as much as 70 percent, and scientists say that the male sex drive has decreased by at least that much. It seems that in their rush to "Do their best and forget the rest," American males have forgotten the one 'rest' they never thought they would -- their own erections.

"Tomford", another computer programmer, bought p90x last March. He stuck with it for the requisite ninety days, but quickly moved on to "p90x Doubles", the advanced program. "Cardio X totally kicked my ass," Tomford chuckles. "What I didn't realize was that it would also kick my penis -- kick my penis into a state of non-erectile dysfunctionality. Every time Tony Horton told me to move my arms around like I was stirring soup, I got a little less interested in making love sex to my wife, Crochessa. Soon, I found that the only way Crochessa could stimulate me at all was if she moved her hips in a circle, like they were a pot of soup, shouting that her hips were tomato basil soup, a good soup, not too fatty." Crochessa declined to be interviewed for this article.

Marianne Brees, a social psychologist we know, describes Tomford's problem thusly: "Tomford was engaging in a classic case of what we call 'p90x-dick'. In its most extreme cases, you can't even get a semi without maintaining a mental image of Tony Horton explaining that you're shooting the cover of Downward Dog magazine. And this is happening to literally every American male, to some degree."

Ultimately, I decided that I'd had enough. I threw my p90x DVDs in the trash, and tried not to think about Tony Horton. I kissed my wife on the lips. She asked, "Do you want to have sex with me?"

I thought about it long and hard, and then I said "Yes." At least in this case, p90x had failed to make me less of a man who could fuck his wife until they both have orgasms.

posted by Greg Nog at 8:10 AM on February 5, 2011 [77 favorites]


You wake up in the morning, open a thumbnail page, and it leads to a Pandora’s box of visuals,” he continued. “There have probably been days when I saw 300 vaginas before I got out of bed.

Really? I can't think of anything more boring or tedious than looking at hundreds of context-free closeup images of genitalia. Is this really what gets normal people off? I want to pick up the monitor and shake it and shout "three hundred vaginas doing what?

This sort of thing fills me with an urge to go back to church so I can properly thank God that I'm a pervert. I'm as ready to download an image that looks hot to me as any other guy, but very little of what's out there really properly pushes all my buttons in the right order. For that I have to rely on my imagination. And when playing with a partner, the very fact that she has her own desires and needs that are not quite parallel to mine requires a layer of negotiation and interaction that makes it more solid and real than any fantasy, even if the scene also isn't my exact optimal fantasy situation. But then, my exact optimal fantasy situation is a little harder to arrange than 300 pix of vaginas before breakfast.
posted by localroger at 8:15 AM on February 5, 2011 [10 favorites]


I like porn and this article sounds stupid, but really don't understand how it's possible for people to just dismiss the idea that the hours and hours that people spend all alone with sexual images constructed by other people, starting perhaps years before they ever get to fuck anybody, in a culture where this could be the only explicit communication they ever get about what sex is actually like could possibly affect them in any way. Somehow, we can talk about how CSI and the procedural drama industry might be giving juries unrealistic expectations about what evidence should look like, or how CNN and the 24-hour news industry can shape people's perception of the world and what's important in it, or how words like "bitch" can contribute to a whole culture of female subjugation. Somehow those things matter. It's just porn and violent video games and rap lyrics that magically have no effect on people whatsoever. And I find that completely dishonest. I think that people's experiences, including the watching of porn, affect them. That doesn't mean we can say how for sure, and it obviously doesn't make porn evil in itself. But if we're fucked if we can't talk about how it works, and perhaps not in the way we'd like to be.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 8:19 AM on February 5, 2011 [131 favorites]


300 Vaginas Before Breakfast is the name of my new band.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:20 AM on February 5, 2011 [37 favorites]


Seems like as good a place as any to post this link:

"Which innocent childhood fantasies could best morph into adult sexual fantasies?"

The answers may suprise you!
posted by Artw at 8:20 AM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


The article was more anecdote than science but it wasn't telling me anything I hadn't heard before, so I find it both obnoxious and amusing to read the torrent of comments loudly denying the article could have any merit whatsoever. What is all this protesting trying to drown out?

What this article depicts is sad enough but the one about the middle/highschool kids and what they learn (anecdotally, again) learn from their access to porn is even sadder to me. Especially because with abstinence education, where are they going to learn any more nuanced depiction of sex and love, between these two extremes?
posted by flex at 8:21 AM on February 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


So, wait, this guy thinks that 25 minutes of sex is a long enough time to go through 3 condoms and make his partner bored and impatient?

This leads me to suspect that he is, in fact, a virgin.
posted by kyrademon at 8:22 AM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


.......so then if we follow this logic, gay men should have no libido at all due to the pornographic onslaught at most queerer bars and clubs?

This has not been my experience.
posted by The Whelk at 8:22 AM on February 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Re: Porn Sunday. The control of shame surrounding sex is the foundation the church is built on. Masturbation = shame = need for forgiveness. Please pay the man with the wicker basket...
posted by any major dude at 8:24 AM on February 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


I fully support Sex Sundays and now let us sing a song of praise
posted by The Whelk at 8:26 AM on February 5, 2011


From Artw's link:
Star Wars did top the list of movies guys consider the “best date movie to watch before having sex,” followed by American Pie and the movie adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300.
what
posted by Flunkie at 8:27 AM on February 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


Seems like a lot of these "negative outcomes" are judged on the basis that sexuality is something to be embarrassed about. Obviously the stories in the article are over-wrought, but what's wrong with a little dirty talk in bed? A little vocalization as long as you're not traumatizing your flatmates?

There's a lot of people who'd have you believe that any deviation from quiet, missionary position sex is bad. That's sad.
posted by explosion at 8:28 AM on February 5, 2011


While not the answer for casual sex, I can't recommend lambskin condoms enough.

From experience, a lambskin condom really is the closest thing you can have to the experience of having sex with the rear end of a sheep.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:30 AM on February 5, 2011 [27 favorites]


Star Wars did top the list of movies guys consider the “best date movie to watch before having sex,” followed by American Pie and the movie adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300.

Was this list compiled by gay nerds?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:30 AM on February 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


So, porn's destroying the libidos of young men, but it's still safe for ladies, right? Excellent.
posted by sonika at 8:32 AM on February 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


You know where this is all going, right? This is where it's going.
posted by Artw at 8:32 AM on February 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Star Wars did top the list of movies guys consider the “best date movie to watch before having sex,” followed by American Pie and the movie adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300.

Was this list compiled by gay nerds?


Young conservatives who need a little mental prep work before doing the deed.
posted by The Whelk at 8:33 AM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


“ ‘If I go to a site that’s questionable, a teammate gets an email and my wife gets an email,” Hasselbeck told CNN. “I thought about adding my mom too but decided against that,’ ”

Whew, Usenet and torrents ... still a-okay!
posted by geoff. at 8:33 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't understand that at all. Men really need to use condoms. What are they getting out of sex education? They need to see what happens to penises when they get an STD and what they'll look like really early on if they don't use protection.

We've now had what, 25 or more years of graphic HIV/AIDS education, and many more decades of often quite graphic STD education. I'm not saying that that education has had no impact, but in every country that I am aware of, men will pay more for bareback (ie high-risk) sex than they will for condomed sex.

I'm not being judgmental, any more than I'm going to be judgmental about some person who has to spend an hour looking at porn before getting out of bed in the morning. We know that there is a huge demand for porn from how much time and money is spent on it. For all the article seems pretty bogus to me, it's hard to see how porn, any more than weekend cartoons or a good novel or any other media form, doesn't have an impact (perhaps positive, perhaps negative, perhaps mixed) on the people who consume it. I just doubt that it has the impacts that the author of this piece describes, which sound more like unhealthy compulsive issues rather than porn issues.
posted by Forktine at 8:34 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Star Wars did top the list of movies guys consider the “best date movie to watch before having sex,” followed by American Pie and the movie adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300.

That's not even the most bizarre thing in there.
posted by Artw at 8:34 AM on February 5, 2011


Really? I can't think of anything more boring or tedious than looking at hundreds of context-free closeup images of genitalia. Is this really what gets normal people off? I want to pick up the monitor and shake it and shout "three hundred vaginas doing what?

This is not something that normally gets me off but one night of frustration in trying to find context free pictures of genitalia led me to make this tumblr *NSFW NSFW*. It's not really about pornography but for some reason context-less pictures of dicks taken with crappy cameras is just really bizarrely hilarious (to me, at least).
posted by girih knot at 8:34 AM on February 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


this tumblr *NSFW NSFW*

I like the one with quarters on it. Reminds me of how people line up their quarters on the edge of the pool table in bars.
posted by Forktine at 8:36 AM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Remember folks, there's only one constant in all your failed relationships...

THAT CONSTANT? A WORLD THAT DOESN'T UNDERSTAND ME
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:40 AM on February 5, 2011 [25 favorites]


Big Jim and the Twins

I'll never think about Mr. Thome's continuing stint with Minnesota the same way again, I promise you that.
posted by norm at 8:42 AM on February 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


Marge: Homer, let's make love.
Homer: Uh, okay. Uh, you're thinking about me, right?
Marge: Of course, Homey. Aren't you thinking about me?
Homer: I will now!
posted by 445supermag at 8:47 AM on February 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


That's not even the most bizarre thing in there.

It's a bit like when someone casually mentions something that they assume is a shared experience when in fact it is utterly bizarre and uncommon.

"I hate it when the kids mope around the house."

"I know, it's like they don't even obey the Rule Stick!"

"Rule ...stick?"

"Yeah the little man with the big hair who sets all the rules in the house. You have to feed him apples or he screams all night."
posted by The Whelk at 8:51 AM on February 5, 2011 [36 favorites]


The article is terrible, hand-wringing (heh) nonsense.

This thread is completely awesome.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:52 AM on February 5, 2011


I guess we're all different, but I don't buy this at all.
posted by kenaldo at 8:55 AM on February 5, 2011


Really? So nobody thinks there's any truth to this? Or is a case of they doth protest too much? Well whatever, I thought the article was good, if obvious, and I agree with the gist of it. It seems silly to pretend that the supersaturated overabundance and instant accessability of porn in the internet era has had no effect on libido. Take a break, you'd be surprised.
posted by jcruelty at 8:56 AM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, article a bit weak (he dresses up for porn star X every Monday, porn star Y every Tuesday... wtf?) but the subject seems worthy. I notice sometimes that guys who are more into porn are also less into monogamy... and vice versa. So if there is an association between being easily bored with monogamy and watching a lot of porn, the porn might be a symptom rather than a cause.
posted by kevinsp8 at 8:57 AM on February 5, 2011


So, porn's destroying the libidos of young men, but it's still safe for ladies, right? Excellent.

That was my thought. Plenty of women like porn; apparently our libidos aren't negatively affected at all. Hooray for us!
posted by Lobster Garden at 8:58 AM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Really? I can't think of anything more boring or tedious than looking at hundreds of context-free closeup images of genitalia. Is this really what gets normal people off?

The part you were quoting there was the singer John Mayer speaking, Mr. "My dick is sort of like a white supremacist."
posted by XMLicious at 9:02 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seems silly to pretend that the supersaturated overabundance and instant accessability of porn in the internet era has had no effect on libido.

Well jerkin' it too often can have an effect (see the many many sex advice questions about death grips) but I don't think it's related to ubiquity of porn cause that implies men can't control themselves, which is lame, and everyone on earth has instant and immediate access to the most depraved, impossible, inexhaustible pornography wonderland on the other side of their eyelids.
posted by The Whelk at 9:03 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


JESUS, PEOPLE, IT'S NEW YORK MAGAZINE! You might as well get worked up over a News Of The World report on porn.
posted by spicynuts at 9:07 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


New York magazine does have the monopoly on completely self-involved yet utterly un-self aware articles.
posted by The Whelk at 9:09 AM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, that read like three pages of hot air surrounding a hidden sentence of Dan Savage telling you not to masturbate with the "death grip" or you will be dissatisfied by your future partners, something he repeats several times a week in his column to people that report similar "I can't get off to my girlfriend anymore" problems.
posted by mathowie at 9:13 AM on February 5, 2011


It seems silly to pretend that the supersaturated overabundance and instant accessability of porn in the internet era has had no effect on libido.

And how is masturbation not libidinal? Yeah if I jerk off three times a day I am not going to want to fuck three times a day, but masturbation is not reducing my libido, it is an outlet for it (that said, learning how to get off alone without porn is definitely something I reccomend).
posted by idiopath at 9:15 AM on February 5, 2011


I ranted about this horrible article on Facebook yesterday. I also noted the carefully photoshopped pictures of "guys looking at porn" used for illustrations.

(am I the only guy who doesn't change his facial expression when looking at porn? If my webcam was on someone would say "wow he looks bored")
posted by mrbill at 9:19 AM on February 5, 2011


idiopath: learning how to get off alone without porn is definitely something I reccomend

I know all of those words, but that sentence makes no sense.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:21 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


so if this stunts male libido, will we see a reduction in sexual aggression towards women? My guess is no (and also no to the initial assumption, really).
posted by LMGM at 9:22 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I gotta tell you guys, when I first read the article, I was a little freaked out. I'm a young, single, straight woman and my knee-jerk reaction was "OH MY GOD I AM NEVER GOING TO HAVE A SEXUALLY SATISFYING RELATIONSHIP BECAUSE EVERY MAN IS ADDICTED TO PORN!!"

The collective "Psssssshhhh" from MetaFilter has made me feel 110% better. Thanks!
posted by girih knot at 9:26 AM on February 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


This post seems like a hit-and-run purpose pitch. I'm surprised it isn't deleted as not so great. The discussion seems reasonable and well thought out, though.
posted by stubby phillips at 9:27 AM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Disclaimer: I'm not a consumer of porn, so I have no dog in this fight.

Is it me or does this article have a strange undercurrent of fear, as if the dissolution of the male sex-leash will cause no end of havoc? That bit about Ghostbusters and feeling "lucky" to get a date or the end where he has the "fortune" to have sex with a woman suggest that the author is worried that he, and by extension most men, simply will be cast adrift if we weren't being led about by our dicks.

I wonder just how bizarre the protests would be if there were anti-libidinals available for men, with side effects at the level of The Pill (which is to say, not great, but not at the "your testicles shrivel up like raisins and you will need a training bra" scenarios of the current chemical castration), cheaply available. If there is a collective dread of men without the fawning appreciation of sex bestowed upon them by Lady Luck similar to what the author has, I don't think such a medical advance will go over well.
posted by adipocere at 9:29 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, this is a fairly shallow and poorly-evidenced article. But I will never understand the immediate, visceral indignation that seems to be evoked by anyone's claiming that watching porn regularly-- gasp!-- might not be good for you.

It's such a standard, intuitive, generally-accepted principle when it comes to the way we view other biological drives. Everybody understands that Coke and McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts feel good, but are bad for you. Everybody agrees that Farmville is stimulating, but unwholesome. It would never be considered prudish or judgmental or not "food-positive" to suggest that soda and donuts and trashy games should be enjoyed only in extreme moderation, or possibly not at all. In most other areas, we can agree that our body and mind want things (usually for good evolutionary reasons) that are, in our current state of civilization, not healthy or ultimately beneficial to have, at least to the utmost degree that modern culture offers them.

And yet sex is the one drive, of all our other psycho-biological pleasure systems, that's the exception to this? By all means watch your diet, your budget and your couch time-- that's just good hygiene-- but should you ever attempt sexual continence to any degree, you're a bore and a prude and repressed and doubtless bound for the therapist's couch in short order? Bizarre.
posted by yersinia at 9:30 AM on February 5, 2011 [45 favorites]


It's interesting that this story appears in the "youth culture" issue cause I gotta say, I love the kids today. They finally got to grow up in the hyper-technical neon colored hedonistic End Times we could only just read about.
posted by The Whelk at 9:31 AM on February 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is less about porn and more about guys that use a death grip while jerking off.

This is less about porn and more about decreasing advertising revenues on "pick-up artist" blogs.
posted by rhizome at 9:31 AM on February 5, 2011


Star Wars did top the list of movies guys consider the “best date movie to watch before having sex,” followed by American Pie and the movie adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300.

Well, I can see that. Think back to the end of the film with the assault on the Death Star when Luke flies his fighter along that narrow trench on the way to the maintenance hatch and then, at the film's exciting climax, fires his shots all the way down the shaft. Then there's an exciting explosion, followed by cheers.

Then everyone gets a medal.
posted by Servo5678 at 9:31 AM on February 5, 2011 [30 favorites]


Re: Porn Sunday. The control of shame surrounding sex is the foundation the church is built on. Masturbation = shame = need for forgiveness.

OR maybe it's a suggestion for more satisfying sex along with a satisfying relationship with one's spouse.


Some of us have had experience with both sides, you know.


I have to admit I posted it because, altho I am not a fan of porn at all, I was totally horrified at the article's premise. I am somewhat relieved to hear that many of you aren't having this experience. I don't wish a bad love life on anyone.

(And I forgot it was "porn Sunday" coming up. Really. I am more concerned with the reports of female trafficing surrounding Super Bowls. I think all of us probably agree that's not a good thing.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:32 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Everybody understands that Coke and McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts feel good, but are bad for you."

Well, not everybody believes this. It's just become a very popular story lately.
posted by stubby phillips at 9:33 AM on February 5, 2011


And yet sex is the one drive, of all our other psycho-biological pleasure systems, that's the exception to this? By all means watch your diet, your budget and your couch time-- that's just good hygiene-- but should you ever attempt sexual continence to any degree, you're a bore and a prude and repressed and doubtless bound for the therapist's couch in short order? Bizarre.

Sexual compulsion does exist, and different people have different sex drives that can change over time. If someone is calling you a prude for that I'm sure there are other factors involved.
posted by The Whelk at 9:34 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


but should you ever attempt sexual continence to any degree, you're a bore and a prude and repressed and doubtless bound for the therapist's couch in short order? Bizarre.

No one in this thread has taken anything remotely close to this position.
posted by enn at 9:36 AM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yersinia: kitsch (defined by Kant as art that appeals directly to the instincts) is absolutely in fasion these days, to be sure. But this is about more than porn. Pop music, weepy movies, horror movies, video games, so many examples. Everything shoots straight for the most animal or visceral level. And yeah we miss out on something when the sublime falls out of fashion.

But to some degree for many men porn is what a vibrator is for many women - a convenient way to get biology out of the way with minimal fuss so you can think about more interesting things.
posted by idiopath at 9:42 AM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


OK. Is there anyone in this thread who wants to seriously make the claim that porn addiction isn't actually a real thing that can actually happen and have actual negative consequences?

Anyone?

Anyone at all?

No?

Good. The people on the thread who are on their high horse about that particular strawman can come down now, if they like. A discussion of porn addiction is probably not off-topic for this thread, but all the arguing against stuff no one said is a little weird.

Most of us are making fun of a ridiculous article with an overblown premise, obviously made-up stories and fake quotes, pseudoscientific twaddle, wildly out-of-proportion yet still vague statistics, and misconceptions about sex most of us got past post-junior high school. Not arguing that porn has never been a problem for anybody in the history of ever.
posted by kyrademon at 9:48 AM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Anecdotes show that disturbing thing we made up is quickly becoming the norm, leading to weasel words and increased pageviews."
posted by Afroblanco at 9:49 AM on February 5, 2011 [22 favorites]


kitsch (defined by Kant as art that appeals directly to the instincts) is absolutely in fasion these days, to be sure. But this is about more than porn. Pop music, weepy movies, horror movies, video games, so many examples. Everything shoots straight for the most animal or visceral level.

Derail: interesting. I was sort of under the impression that too much of what comes out today is both kitsch and mildly self-aware kitsch - kitsch that winks at the viewer to let him or her know that this is not to be taken seriously. I look back at, say, thoroughly un-ironic 90s action movies and I get a bit nostalgic.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:51 AM on February 5, 2011


The dried-out condom had a full-bodied choke hold on me, but I’d already stopped twice to put on a fresh one, and I knew, as I kept earnestly pumping away, that one more condom wouldn’t make the necessary difference.

Um. Lube? Am I missing something here?
posted by NoraReed at 9:52 AM on February 5, 2011



"Anecdotes show that disturbing thing we made up is quickly becoming the norm, leading to weasel words and increased pageviews."


It just occurred to me that you could put all or most of the past "Things that will ruin society and morality forever" on a retiree cruise.

Tango. Yoga. Vegetarianism. Living past 60. Women wearing pants.
posted by The Whelk at 9:55 AM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


... and waltzing , short hair, chiropractors and polka bands.
posted by The Whelk at 9:56 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder if people weren't as self-conscious about their cooking before the Food Network.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:56 AM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Good. The people on the thread who are on their high horse about that particular strawman can come down now, if they like. A discussion of porn addiction is probably not off-topic for this thread, but all the arguing against stuff no one said is a little weird.

In all fairness, this is itself a little bit straw-manning of the original point. Nobody here has denied the existence of porn addiction, fine. But to continue with my original analogy, that seems a little like saying, Well, nobody denies that there are people out there who compulsively overeat until they weigh 500 pounds-- doesn't mean there's anything wrong with daily McDonald's for the rest of us healthy folk! The point that I was trying to make is that there seems to be a reluctance to acknowledge that sexual boundaries or continence could be a healthy thing for almost everyone, even people who're not wildly unhealthy-- even though we readily accept that virtually everyone should be trying to eat healthily, exercise, limit screen time, etc., in defiance of our moment-to-moment urges.

All I meant to say was that it's weird to me how quickly discussions like this get taken out of the realm of biology and health and shoved into a standard argument about puritanism and values. In comments like these:

Seems like a lot of these "negative outcomes" are judged on the basis that sexuality is something to be embarrassed about.

Re: Porn Sunday. The control of shame surrounding sex is the foundation the church is built on. Masturbation = shame = need for forgiveness. Please pay the man with the wicker basket...

it seems like transition that happened pretty fast.
posted by yersinia at 9:57 AM on February 5, 2011


I have to say that I agree wholly with the article that there is a problem here. It's true that the medium of the Internet, which is private in an unprecedented way, is conducive to the building up of huge amounts of shame; and furthermore the porn industry directly profits off of that shame, in much the same way that the illegal drug industry directly profits off of the fact that certain drugs are still illegal.

However, this article misses the point entirely by aiming squarely at the wrong target. The problem in all of this isn't pictures of people having sex. When the (frankly somewhat shallow and perhaps wholly invented) men interviewed in this article talk about their experiences, the axis on which their pain turns is not the actual images of sexual acts that they view. It's the churning, pumping, well-oiled piston in their carefully constructed machines of shame that is pounding their hearts and making them miserable.

On the occasion of Porn Sunday, I'd like to share a few cures for this dire situation that I've discovered. I offer these cures to any pastor; you may, without my permission, disseminate them freely and broadly amongst the members of your congregation.

First of all, I think it would help these men to watch pornography together in groups. One of the chief components of shame is the impulse to hide one's acts from others. This mechanism by which teammates and wives are notified of porn use unfortunately only serves to hone this impulse, not least because the program is easily circumventable by anyone who's remotely experienced with computers. Watching porn with other men, perhaps even masturbating together, allows a man some solidarity which can stand as a bulwark against shame; he can remember all the while that what he's doing is perfectly normal, and that he is not heinous or extreme in his habits or his appetites. Look - Joe over there like anal scenes; and Bob likes close-up shots of large breasts. Suddenly it isn't so horrifying if I like watching blowjobs, is it? And anyway, apparently so does Luke; he was jerking it mightily too during that last one.

Second, if all else fails, there is a sure-fire way to cure a porn habit that has not, as far as I know, ever failed. And while can understand pastors not wanting to discuss my first recommendation, this second one is so foolproof that I think there isn't any doubt that they should mention it in tomorrow's sermon. In fact, it seems strange to me that in all the talk in the "porn Sunday" links about trying to cure porn addiction, this surefire method isn't given even once. In any case, here it is:

If you want to make a man stop using porn, turn off his Internet connection and fuck him four times a day.
posted by koeselitz at 9:58 AM on February 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


'Would to Heaven that by rubbing my stomach in the same fashion, I could satisfy my hunger!'
- Diogenes, mid-fwap
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 10:00 AM on February 5, 2011 [20 favorites]


Meanwhile, I've never needed to fantasize about masturbating while having sex.
Perhaps you haven't been married long enough.
posted by Peach at 10:01 AM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


"...taken out of the realm of biology..."

I'm not sure where the "biology" fits into the article or the discussion. Using that term makes it seem like some sort of science was applied. I didn't notice any of that in the article.
posted by stubby phillips at 10:02 AM on February 5, 2011


All I meant to say was that it's weird to me how quickly discussions like this get taken out of the realm of biology and health and shoved into a standard argument about puritanism and values.

OK, I'll bite. What reason—involving only "biology and health," not "puritanism and values"—do you have for thinking that frequent porn consumption is unhealthy? What biological outcome which has been linked to porn consumption by peer-reviewed science is analogous with obesity and heart disease in your McDonalds example? You keep asking these ominous questions without actually saying what you think the answers are.
posted by enn at 10:03 AM on February 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Sticherbeast: to rerail a bit, much porn is quite self aware in its kitsch nowadays. But the self awareness is worthless, except maybe reassuring the viewer "yeah we know you are more sophisticated than this tripe we made for you to watch".

This makes me think winking irony is a bit of sleight of hand so we can indulge in crap without feeling like crap. So the way out of the disease that is hipsterism may be to bring back more art (including erotic art), that can challenge us, that doesn't need winking and cheap tricks in order to be liked.
posted by idiopath at 10:04 AM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


the self awareness is worthless

One of my very favorite Onion headlines: Ironic Porn Purchase Leads To Unironic Ejaculation.
posted by enn at 10:06 AM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


“ ‘If I go to a site that’s questionable, a teammate gets an email and my wife gets an email,” Hasselbeck told CNN. “I thought about adding my mom too but decided against that,’ ”

What a great idea! In an effort to make myself more accountable to all of you here, I've written a perl script that should make a brief announcement every time I've visited a questionable website. I'm not sure if this will have any effect on my behavior, but let's see how it goes...
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:07 AM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


l33tpolicywonk has visited www.thebonezone.com
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:07 AM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


l33tpolicywonk has visited www.everythingontrampolines.com
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:08 AM on February 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


l33tpolicywonk has visited www.whambamthankyoumaam.net
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:08 AM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


This makes me think winking irony is a bit of sleight of hand so we can indulge in crap without feeling like crap.

Or by not ascribing morality to media consumption. Nasty little puritan trick that.
posted by The Whelk at 10:08 AM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


l33tpolicywonk has visited www.supercunnilingus.info
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:09 AM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think there is a difference between Shame in the ethical/moral/religious context: "I feel so ashamed that I _______" and "shame" in the way that it means social discretion: "you told your grandmother you like trans-gender interracial gang bang ass-gape porn? have you no shame?!"

Maybe I'm drawing a line that doesn't exist, but I feel no Shame about whatever things I may look at online and whatever I may do while I watch them. I do, however, have "shame" stopping me from sharing those specifics.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:09 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shit, this is embarrassing. Turning that off now...
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:09 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


St. Alia of the Bunnies: I have to admit I posted it because, altho I am not a fan of porn at all, I was totally horrified at the article's premise. I am somewhat relieved to hear that many of you aren't having this experience. I don't wish a bad love life on anyone.

If it's a help to you: porn has had zero affect on the married people sex my wife and I have, when we have it, how, et cetera et cetera.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:12 AM on February 5, 2011


l33tpolicywonk has visited the Home Page of the Republican National Convention.
l33tpolicywonk has visited FurriesForPalin.com
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:13 AM on February 5, 2011 [10 favorites]


l33tpolicywonk: l33tpolicywonk has visited www.thebonezone.com

I couldn't tell if you were making these up or not, so I checked. This is, apparently, a family weblog for the Bone family.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:14 AM on February 5, 2011 [24 favorites]


The Whelk: yeah if we could be unashamed we could drop the irony. The irony helps maintain the shame.
posted by idiopath at 10:15 AM on February 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Men really need to use condoms.

Or have sex with a regular partner. Or not have sex. Or use hands. Or do whatever the fuck they want to do - alone, or with a consenting partner.

It varies.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 10:17 AM on February 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


1) "Well, nobody denies that there are people out there who compulsively overeat until they weigh 500 pounds-- doesn't mean there's anything wrong with daily McDonald's for the rest of us healthy folk!"

Perhaps we do not think that analogy remotely holds. What is the health consequence here? What is the social consequence, assuming no addictive behavior that interferes with day-to-day functioning or healthy human relationships? Why isn't it more like saying, "There are compulsive eaters, yes, but the rest of us still have to eat."

2) "... there seems to be a reluctance to acknowledge that sexual boundaries or continence could be a healthy thing for almost everyone ..."

Really? No one is advocating for unrestrained pedophilia here. Everyone would agree that some boundaries and continence are good things. It's a trivial truth, which is why it hasn't been brought up. Mainly because in this case, the "problem" the article is discussing doesn't even actually ping on the problem-radar that would call for serious intervention, barring addiction. Leading to ...

3) "All I meant to say was that it's weird to me how quickly discussions like this get taken out of the realm of biology and health"

When was it ever *in* the realm of biology and health? What are the biology and health consquences here?

4) "... and shoved into a standard argument about puritanism and values."

I think many people have no idea what the argument against porn consumption would be, assuming non-addictive behavior and a victimless creation process, other than these arguments.
posted by kyrademon at 10:17 AM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


paisley henosis: "This is, apparently, a family weblog for the Bone family."

A couple things about this website: 1) Plays music. 2) Says "The Bone Zone rules!" at the bottom of the page. 3) Has a link section whose top entry is seepagecontrol.com.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:19 AM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


So yersinia... are you talking about situations where people who are into Tantric Buddhism propose sexual sangyama and are told that they're "a bore and a prude and repressed and doubtless bound for the therapist's couch in short order", or are you actually talking about refraining from sexual acts for reasons completely unrelated to health and trying to cloak it in health terminology?
posted by XMLicious at 10:21 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hate this particular species of journalism--the "we" article, twenty or so grafs which are supposed to sum up what "we" or some large subset of "we" are doing. Generally, as in this case, it turns out to be the "me" of the author.

Here, a guy had to fake an orgasm and now he decided the problem is universal and then forced his own perspective on the rest of the world.

There are 310,000,000 people in the United States. Their experience of pornography and sexuality constitutes 310,000,000 separate experiences. The idea that there is some easily-defined common experience is about as preposterous as the idea that it is important to know how others are living their lives so we can compare ours to theirs.

Best to live one's own life.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:21 AM on February 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh - when I mentioned...

"..a consenting partner..."

...I was looking at you Astro Zombie
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 10:23 AM on February 5, 2011


Just to reassure a few no doubt bewildered peoples: posters on prostitution review boards will blacklist a sex worker faster than you can say STD if word emerges that they offer FSWC (full service without condom) or BBFS (bareback full service). It is basically considered the realm of hardcore drug addicts or suicidal pros.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:23 AM on February 5, 2011


kyrademon: “OK. Is there anyone in this thread who wants to seriously make the claim that porn addiction isn't actually a real thing that can actually happen and have actual negative consequences? Anyone? Anyone at all? No? Good. The people on the thread who are on their high horse about that particular strawman can come down now, if they like. A discussion of porn addiction is probably not off-topic for this thread, but all the arguing against stuff no one said is a little weird. Most of us are making fun of a ridiculous article with an overblown premise, obviously made-up stories and fake quotes, pseudoscientific twaddle, wildly out-of-proportion yet still vague statistics, and misconceptions about sex most of us got past post-junior high school. Not arguing that porn has never been a problem for anybody in the history of ever.”

I find this an interesting subject, so I'll bite. Listing and labeling "addictions" is unfortunately a narrow way to talk about the problems people have, because it uses a blanket clinical categorization to make all of these things seem similar. 'Pornography addiction,' such as it is, is nothing like addiction to, say, alcohol. It could be said to be a chemical or biological addiction, but only insofar as the chemicals to which one is addicted are produced by one's own body.

Most of all, I think it's worthwhile to note that 'porn addiction' is really almost nothing but an addiction to the mechanism of shame. It's a building of the cycle of shame, and a honing of that cycle until people feel that shame daily, in many contexts, hiding it even from the people closest to them but participating in it even more and more.

Knowing that, it's worthwhile to note that all this jeering at the "shameful" aspect of all this is, I think, actually helpful. People who are constantly ashamed of themselves need to know that their actions are normal. The ideal, as I said (only partially tongue-in-cheek above) would be for them to share these appetites with others to dispel their shame. But I think it helps to be told that pornography and masturbation are somewhat normal, and not anything to feel terrible about.
posted by koeselitz at 10:23 AM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is, apparently, a family weblog for the Bone family.

I literally laughed out loud when I clicked on that, then immediately realized that Pa Bone is going to be all, "Well, now! Quite an uptick in our visitor count on February 5th! Someone must be spreading the word about how great our family is! Let's see what link these folks were following..."
posted by Greg Nog at 10:24 AM on February 5, 2011 [18 favorites]


OR maybe it's a suggestion for more satisfying sex along with a satisfying relationship with one's spouse.

If that is the argument behind Porn Sunday, then that argument is a giant pile of bullshit, and fairly typical, IMO, of how religious intolerance is steeped in irrationality and concrete thinking.

Sex is not a pie, where if you take two slices, the wife doesn't get any. Sex is not a zero-sum game, where someone loses if someone else wins. One session of masturbation does not mean one session of loving, monogamous sex doesn't happen. Some (many) would say quite the opposite, in fact.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:24 AM on February 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


When the arguments are as weak and specious as these, people will naturally assume a hidden agenda. Seems to me most of the people in this thread are pro-porn or porn-neutral, and the reasonable arguments (exploitation, objectification) have already been made.

The silly arguments lead us to doubt your motives. Given posting history and context, we assume puritanism. If we're wrong, show us: untangle the reasoning behind what you're saying.
posted by stubby phillips at 10:25 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't find his premise that 24/7 access to porn has an effect on men and women's views of sex all that surprising.

Just as a personal example, last night I was on a date with a beautiful woman, and as the night progressed, we found ourselves in the bedroom, and, um, things started getting hot and heavy when suddenly she looked back at me and screamed, "Hey, not in the ass!" So I said, "Look lady, it's my thumb, and my ass, and if you don't like it you can leave."
posted by puny human at 10:26 AM on February 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


Big Jim and the Twins

Or as I call it, "Heavy D and the Boys".
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 10:26 AM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


“ ‘If I go to a site that’s questionable, a teammate gets an email and my wife gets an email,” Hasselbeck told CNN. “I thought about adding my mom too but decided against that,’ ”

I want Elizabeth Hasselbeck to get an email every time I visit a porn site or jerk it. Hell, I want Elizabeth Hasselbeck to get an email anytime ANYONE jerks it. In fact, can we just make the notifier a brain implant, so she's constantly shuddering with the certain knowledge people are spilling their respective seed at every waking moment?
posted by supercres at 10:28 AM on February 5, 2011 [12 favorites]


l33tpolicywonk has visited www.justastillphotoofl33tpolicywonk'sownleeringface.com
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:29 AM on February 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


In my late teens and early twenties, I lived with a boyfriend for a period of years. Our internet was dial up, and could barely load pictures, and I never found anything remotely sexual anywhere on our computer. He never brought so much as a Playboy home.

Dude jerked off all.the.time. 2-3x per day was normal. As you might guess, our lack of a sex life was a cancer that ate into every other corner of our relationship. When it finally ended, and I scraped some of my self esteem back together, I got a little perspective and realized that he was just incredibly selfish. Movies, video games, and jerking off were his favorite pastimes because he could do them entirely alone, and live in his head, not have to deal with anyone or anything else.

So the guys in this article? Especially that particularly pathetic specimen who had weekly dates with his favorite porn stars? I don't know that this is about porn so much as it's about being a manchild.
posted by Leta at 10:29 AM on February 5, 2011 [14 favorites]


l33tpolicywonk: A couple things about this website: 1) Plays music.

It didn't for me.

koeselitz: 'Pornography addiction,' such as it is, is nothing like addiction to, say, alcohol. It could be said to be a chemical or biological addiction, but only insofar as the chemicals to which one is addicted are produced by one's own body.

Most of all, I think it's worthwhile to note that 'porn addiction' is really almost nothing but an addiction to the mechanism of shame. It's a building of the cycle of shame, and a honing of that cycle until people feel that shame daily, in many contexts, hiding it even from the people closest to them but participating in it even more and more.


I agree; I saw the comment about "surely no one will argue with this" but decided I would wait for someone to field it better than I would.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:29 AM on February 5, 2011


Cool Papa Bell: “Big Jim and the Twins”

Mr. Bad Example: “Or as I call it, ‘Heavy D and the Boys’.”

In a sly reference to Woody Allen (get it? Woody?) I've always preferred "Hannah and her Sisters," but sadly that's never seemed to catch on with any of my partners.
posted by koeselitz at 10:30 AM on February 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


I want Elizabeth Hasselbeck to get an email every time I visit a porn site or jerk it.

Oh, goddammit, she's married to his brother. Whatever; my point, and my idea, stands.
posted by supercres at 10:31 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


SUMTIN BROKE

funny post, thanks for the laugh and warning.
posted by clavdivs at 10:31 AM on February 5, 2011




I want Elizabeth Hasselbeck to get an email every time I visit a porn site or jerk it.

Unfortunately, Elizabeth is Matt's sister-in-law, not his wife.

But now that you mention it, I wonder if this application can be hacked...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:31 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's OK, koeselitz ... I know how you feel. "Crime and Misdemeanors" never took off for me, either.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:33 AM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sex is not a pie...


Of course, this brings up the question of whether a pie can be said to provide meaningful consent...


Sorry.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 10:35 AM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


(... serves me right for assuming that there's *anything* no one is ready to argue about on the internet ...)
posted by kyrademon at 10:35 AM on February 5, 2011


Better than "Sleeper", I guess.
posted by stubby phillips at 10:36 AM on February 5, 2011


.... but not nearly as good as "Deconstructing Hairy."
posted by koeselitz at 10:37 AM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not sure what all the fuss is about. The birthrate seems about right here in the US, for a developed nation. People, fucking is about having babies, at bottom (sic). It just so happens that we're designed to enjoy fucking, a lot. We've just got too much time on our hands these days (sic). Go get outside yourself and do something for someone else. Why don'tcha? There's a cure for ya! For lots of troubles.

Oh, and btw, everything is moving so fast in the virtual world these days that we mostly fail to notice that we're all in rapid adaptive phase. It's hard to know where we're going - or what we're becoming with all this. Hang on! I'm looking for some backlash to the virtual scene - virtual sex, virtual friendship, virtual work - one of these days. That will be interesting.
posted by Vibrissae at 10:38 AM on February 5, 2011


'The Purple Rose of Cairo'?
posted by koeselitz at 10:39 AM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Vibrissae: People, fucking is about having babies, at bottom

I hate to be the one to break this to you, but if you're doing it at the bottom, you definitely won't be having any babies.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:40 AM on February 5, 2011 [11 favorites]


"Take the Money and Run" was a good nom de Johnson back in college, though. Times were tight and tuition was high.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:41 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah yes, lots of noming the Johnson back in college.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:43 AM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I submit, from The League Of Gentlemen, madam palm and her 5 daughters.
posted by The Whelk at 10:45 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd probably consider sleeping with a guy who named theirs "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion".
posted by kyrademon at 10:45 AM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


or The Purple Rose Of Cairo.
posted by The Whelk at 10:46 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


But not "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex but were Afraid to Ask".
posted by kyrademon at 10:48 AM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


or "Love and Death"
posted by The Whelk at 10:49 AM on February 5, 2011


or "Cassandra's Dream."
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:51 AM on February 5, 2011


"Sweet and Lowdown."
posted by The Whelk at 10:53 AM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Sweet and Lowdown" has options, I think, Whelk.

"Oedipus Wrecks" does not.
posted by kyrademon at 10:54 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


You wouldn't think "Stardust Memories" would work but then again
posted by The Whelk at 10:55 AM on February 5, 2011


Mighty Aphrodite?
posted by koeselitz at 10:56 AM on February 5, 2011


*strains mightily for "Zelig" joke, fails*
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:57 AM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also, I can't help but say that I would probably find adorable a man who referred to his penis as "Everyone Says I Love You."
posted by koeselitz at 10:57 AM on February 5, 2011


Hollywood Ending.
posted by The Whelk at 10:57 AM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I
Sex is not a pie, where if you take two slices, the wife doesn't get any.



I beg to differ. If a man is expending his sexual energy on fantasy women, that is energy that is not directed at his wife. Instead of spending effort on building his relationship with her, he has a effortless wankfest where the only orgasm he has to worry about is his own. Where all the women are perfect and wrinkle free and smooth and creamy and unreal. Unlike his wife who has to juggle job and kids and her mother in law and who expects him to pick up his socks.

I fully believe that one reason my husband is so attracted to my round middleaged slightly gray self is he isn't exposing his eyeballs to pornography. He has made the effort to make me the focus of his sexuality and love. His efforts have been...rewarded.


As to porn itself, doesn't the law of diminishing returns apply anyway? What turns a man on one day is slightly boring the next, and so on?

The makers of Viagra must be rubbing their hands in glee thinking of all the profits ahead....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:58 AM on February 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


What's up Tiger Lily FTW
posted by stinkycheese at 10:59 AM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


“ ‘If I go to a site that’s questionable, a teammate gets an email...”

Can I send an email to a random teammate of his, too?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:59 AM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


This isn't a great article at all, but I do think it's interesting that...you know, how many articles have we had lately about how the internet is making us miserable/unable to connect with people? I'm thinking of the Facebook thing from earlier in the week, but I know there have been others. Is this a real thing, or is this a thing that freelancers have figured out is a perennial sell to their editor?

It's not new. People have been saying this kind of thing since at least 1940, when Charlie Chaplin said this in The Great Dictator:
We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in: machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little: More than machinery we need humanity; More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.
It's also a built-in bias in the mainstream media. They want to their articles to get a lot of pageviews or sell a lot of magazines.

So, what's going to spark the interest of large numbers of readers? An article that says porn is mostly harmless fun that benefits men and women by providing an outlet for excess sexual tension? (As porn has become more prevalent and hardcore, there has been less and less rape. This may be just a correlation, but the causation is quite plausible, and the correlation has been consistently shown not just in the US but also in many European and Asian countries.)

Or, an article that points out that social networking sites are mostly pretty fun and useful for helping you stay in touch with people?

Nope. Those are big yawns. They're uninteresting because they're true.

So, you need a startling (preferably apocalyptic) thesis. "Porn is ruining relationships!" "Social networking sites are causing everyone to be profoundly alone and disconnected from reality! (Or, it's preventing us from being as alone as we should be!)" "Google is making you stupid!"

(Of course, the predictions will always be made with enough vagueness and qualifiers that the authors can never be held them accountable for being wrong.)

You don't get a huge readership by telling people that the status quo is fine, that the market has actually worked efficiently to give people stuff that will improve their lives and even society as a whole. You get readers by telling people that what seems to be technological progress is actually insidiously evil and just might lead to the downfall of civilization.

This very thread is an example. An article with the thesis that porn is mostly fun and harmless, that it's good for women and men on the whole, probably wouldn't have gotten a Metafilter FPP. Fortunately, in this case, the Metafilter comments make up for the mediocre article.
posted by John Cohen at 11:00 AM on February 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


OK, this is a fairly shallow and poorly-evidenced article. But I will never understand the immediate, visceral indignation that seems to be evoked by anyone's claiming that watching porn regularly-- gasp!-- might not be good for you.

Why does that notion make you gasp? Almost every male born in the US since 1980 has probably had something like near-unlimited access to porn, and it is probably not unfair to imagine that many men might watch it regularly. The article's treatment of this fairly mundane reality with a bunch of extraordinary tales of porn-inflicted woe stinks of moral panic, and I find it unsurprising that many people would react to that sort of hysteria with indignation. Most dudes watch porn, some dudes watch a lot, and the sky is not falling.

A serious article on the subject would have been welcome, if a little redundant. There are people who watch porn compulsively, and consequently create problems for themselves. I once worked with a man who got sacked for watching pornography on a work computer (he was warned several times). But outside of the odd exceptional person who cannot control himself, it seems far-fetched that watching pornography regularly should present a serious problem. A man can watch until he is spent, and then life goes on; he cannot continue without making things rather uncomfortable for himself.

I guess the subject of men who prefer watching pornography to actual sex with their partners merits some discussion, only not exactly as presented. How about within the larger context of people who seem to prefer ersatz to the real thing: romance novels vs. real life romance, texting vs. conversation, facebook vs. socializing, wii fit vs. yoga class, video games vs. games, etc. I know we get a lot of these virtual reality vs. reality stories, but the sex angle seems worth investigating.

Of course, I suspect one might find enough analysis on the subject right here in this thread, and I believe the people who have suggested this is more about stunted maturity than the availability of pornography to be exactly right.
posted by millions at 11:01 AM on February 5, 2011


he has a effortless wankfest where the only orgasm he has to worry about is his own.

False dichotomy. If masturbation provided a tenth of the experience of actual, real-life, good sex with other people, no one would leave the house except to hydrate and buy hand lotion.
posted by The Whelk at 11:04 AM on February 5, 2011 [11 favorites]


Now I can't think of a Woody Allen film without thinking of genitalia names.

"Bananas."

"Melinda and Melinda."

"Celebrity."

"Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask)."

Even "Interiors" kinda works.
posted by Tin Man at 11:07 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


no one would leave the house except to hydrate and buy hand lotion.

Actually that's unfair. If there is a trope I hate it's that easy access to pleasure will ruin society and we all become whimpering Eloi. Humans are too curious and easily-bored for that.
posted by The Whelk at 11:07 AM on February 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Whelk, if that is so (and I would hope it was) then why pornography to begin with?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:08 AM on February 5, 2011


St. Alia of the Bunnies: “I beg to differ. If a man is expending his sexual energy on fantasy women, that is energy that is not directed at his wife. Instead of spending effort on building his relationship with her, he has a effortless wankfest where the only orgasm he has to worry about is his own. Where all the women are perfect and wrinkle free and smooth and creamy and unreal. Unlike his wife who has to juggle job and kids and her mother in law and who expects him to pick up his socks.”

Hrm. That's fair enough. However, my perception is that there seem to be a disproportionate number of women who would rather not have sex, anyway. For them, isn't pornography a fine thing?

In any case, while I may agree that porn distracting males from their filial duties is not a good thing, I think the only thing to solve this problem is probably actually talking about it with the partner. If a woman is left sexually unsatisfied by her partner, the only thing for her to do is to say so. This isn't some society-wide epidemic that can't be cured, is it? I mean, how many actively-masturbating men really get annoyed when their partners say: "look, we need to have much more sex"? I don't believe this happens.

So in the end, this is one of those things that are common to long-term relationships: a problematic point that remains a problematic point because nobody seems willing to talk about it. If a man's partner just up and said "I want more sex," and kept saying it, and made it clear that this is a necessary thing, this would change.

Likewise, I still feel that the main problem with porn is that men feel encouraged on all sides to feel ashamed about what they've done, rather than sharing their predicaments and talking about it with others. I should mention that this is one of the many situations which I think would be greatly aided by the reinstitution of old-style confession in churches.
posted by koeselitz at 11:09 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Referring to your first comment, not the second, whelk.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:09 AM on February 5, 2011


Because the two experiences are totally different. I think the minority of people who prefer pornography over interacting with real people have issues unrelated to libido.
posted by The Whelk at 11:10 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm going to have to agree with the folks upthread who think the problem is the guys mentioned in the article are jerks. I was reading the article with my mouth hanging open about the behavior these guys are reporting as normal: hundreds of pictures of vaginas before breakfast? regular porn dates with porn stars, and looking for a new girl for the day off? This is not normal behavior, but it's the kind of not-normal that suggests that if these guys didn't have porn to be weird about, they'd be weird about something else. Without getting into "addictive personality" discussions, sometimes the focus of a person's strange behavior isn't the point, and that seems like the case with these men.
posted by immlass at 11:11 AM on February 5, 2011


Koeselitz, maybe I missed something-but I don't recall the article addressing shame at all. Rather it was indicating that all the porn and solo activity was affecting a man's ability to have real sex with a real partner. If the premise is true, a lack of shame wouldn't seem to have an effect either way, no?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:11 AM on February 5, 2011


I don't think that St. Alia was trolling, but I could be wrong.

St. Alia, if you're saying that the only reason your husband is interested in you is that he doesn't look at porn, that actually does not make it sound like a really strong relationship. But since I'm not usually very interested in porn anyways when I'm in a relationship, maybe I'm unusual.
posted by XMLicious at 11:14 AM on February 5, 2011


I don't know about you, but I like myself so much I have sex with myself sometimes.
posted by fuq at 11:14 AM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


l33tpolicywonk has visited www.penisland.net
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:15 AM on February 5, 2011


he was just looking for some pens! Honestly!
posted by The Whelk at 11:17 AM on February 5, 2011 [10 favorites]


Hand-wringing? Well there's your problem.
posted by zippy at 11:18 AM on February 5, 2011


Why would I, a healthy guy in his thirties, need to fake an orgasm? It was mystifying. I wasn’t on antidepressants, which I’d heard could decrease sensation. I got plenty of exercise. It didn’t seem to matter which woman I was with, or what kind of condom we used, or whether I’d downed one glass of whiskey or ten, or if we listened to Neil Young or Al Green, as I learned through trial and error (mostly error).

This guy's problem isn't porn. He's a got a 65 year old mind in a 35 year old's body.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:22 AM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


St. Alia of the Bunnies: “Koeselitz, maybe I missed something-but I don't recall the article addressing shame at all. Rather it was indicating that all the porn and solo activity was affecting a man's ability to have real sex with a real partner. If the premise is true, a lack of shame wouldn't seem to have an effect either way, no?”

It's pretty simple. These men are focused on the fact that they perceive that pornography makes them less able to satisfy others. This is a ridiculous conclusion, not least because (as I said above) if others find their needs aren't satisfied all they have to do is ask. That's how sexual needs are supposed to work. Seriously, think about it; are we seeing articles about how, say, not sleeping enough is preventing men from satisfying their partners? Are we seeing articles about how eating the wrong things, or not getting exercise, or anything else, are preventing men from satisfying their partners? Clearly, the satisfaction of partners is not the issue here; it's certainly not something men need to wring their hands over, as they do consistently throughout this article.

That is shame. The hand-wringing over the perception that these men aren't doing their duty. And you repeat that hand-wringing a bit above:

“Instead of spending effort on building his relationship with her, he has a effortless wankfest where the only orgasm he has to worry about is his own.”

... yes, shame is subtle, but it's very, very powerful, Alia. And I don't think you realize the power it has when you say things like this. I guess you have no reason to know this, but every young male who masturbates has the temptation to feel these powerful feelings of shame afterwards: "I am not a good person. I'm only concerned with my own pleasure. I'm not being good to the people around me. I'm dirty." This is extremely common. And it's remarkably destructive. The difficulties men talk about when they discuss "pornography addiction" are precisely these feelings: the feelings that they can't prevent themselves from doing this thing wrong, that they are incredibly selfish, that they are terrible people because of this desire for their own pleasure. It seems counter-intuitive, I know, but this is what causes pornography addiction – the fear of pleasure, and the fear that revealing one's own desire for pleasure would be utterly destructive.

The more I read that statement of yours there, in fact, the more I get the feeling that you have no idea how much this experience with pornography tortures men. And I guess I don't blame you for that. But this is how all of the men feel, particularly the religious, church-going men who hide their habits in deep, dark shame. They feel constantly as though they've let everyone else down, as they they are filthy and utterly unworthy to be husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons. It's an epic and frightful shame, this shame upon them. And it isn't helped by the claim that they're letting down their partners.

Please understand that this is much more a problem that tortures men. If the partners men have are left unsatisfied, then that's a problem that needs to be worked out; but it's not a reason for anybody to feel ashamed or guilty. It's just something that needs to be dealt with, probably by simply having more sex.
posted by koeselitz at 11:25 AM on February 5, 2011 [13 favorites]


If a man is expending his sexual energy on fantasy women, that is energy that is not directed at his wife.

So, you've just bought that hook, line and sinker, then. Oh well.

People don't have a gas tank of sexual energy that can run dry. On the contrary, exposure to sex can make people more sexual, not less.

Otherwise, churches would be showing porn to young, unmarried men in an effort to keep young unmarried women chaste. Because, after all, if they're expending sexual energy on fantasy women...

Oh wait, is that a religious hypocrisy I just pointed out there? No way!

Life is not a zero-sum game. It is possible for everyone, everywhere to win at life every day all at the same time.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:27 AM on February 5, 2011 [17 favorites]


If porn really was destroying libidos, it would make sense to distribute free porn to sexual offenders who just got out of prison.

But its not...and this story is lame.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:35 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


My husband wrote his PhD dissertation based on work with a search engine he built for his masters degree. When he's asked about his research, he says "I helped teenagers find porn on the Internet."

Given that this was in the late '90s, the guys in this article might have been some of those teenagers. I am SO telling my husband that he's responsible for the sexual disfunction of a generation. I'm sure he'll be very proud.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 11:38 AM on February 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


Leave out for the moment whether or not Live Human Partner is satisfied. If porn has no effect (for the sake of argument let's just consider the anectdotal men in the article) then why is it they can't orgasm with a real partner when they obviously can with the porn?

I personally don't care what single guys do when they are by themselves, it's none of my business. But I am curious re the effect of porn on men who actually have a real partner.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:39 AM on February 5, 2011


Here is a question that always has boggled me: why do men accept relationships where they get so much less sex than they want? Is there something super special about the woman that makes up for it? Do you guys really feel like you can't find a woman with those qualities AND a sex drive?

I'm really more worried about women's libidos than men's. Seems like there is an ocean of men who are fine marrying/dating women with low sex drives from the outset (I understand declining sex drive with age/pregnancy whatnot). This boggles my mind.

Is having sex when you aren't that into it that bad? Once you start you'll have fun!
posted by melissam at 11:39 AM on February 5, 2011


I beg to differ. If a man is expending his sexual energy on fantasy women, that is energy that is not directed at his wife. Instead of spending effort on building his relationship with her, he has a effortless wankfest where the only orgasm he has to worry about is his own. Where all the women are perfect and wrinkle free and smooth and creamy and unreal. Unlike his wife who has to juggle job and kids and her mother in law and who expects him to pick up his socks.

This wankfest theory you refer to...do you also apply it to women who masturbate? Are vibrators destroying relationships?

Is this more of a personal issue at home, i wonder?
posted by hal_c_on at 11:40 AM on February 5, 2011


jcruelty: "I thought the article was good, if obvious, and I agree with the gist of it."

heh heh -- you said 'gis' -- that was cool
posted by dancestoblue at 11:41 AM on February 5, 2011


Is this more of a personal issue at home, i wonder?

This thread is a circle jerk group therapy?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:42 AM on February 5, 2011


People don't have a gas tank of sexual energy that can run dry.
Women might not, but men certainly (and literally) do, at least in a given day. And as Leta's partner showed, if the guy's expending it all alone, there's probably not going to be enough left for other people.

So, sure, the article was crappily written, but can't we find something there that can be discussed and use it a flawed starting point, rather than just sneering at it as if there was nothing interesting in this topic whatsoever?

The nature and availability of porn has shifted dramatically in the past few years (as this piece, also from NYMag, shows); isn't it worth considering any potential consequences of that?
posted by bonaldi at 11:43 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


St. Alia of the Bunnies: If a man is expending his sexual energy on fantasy women, that is energy that is not directed at his wife. Instead of spending effort on building his relationship with her, he has a effortless wankfest where the only orgasm he has to worry about is his own. Where all the women are perfect and wrinkle free and smooth and creamy and unreal. Unlike his wife who has to juggle job and kids and her mother in law and who expects him to pick up his socks.

Some people spend too much time on one thing and neglect other things that they should be doing. This is never a good thing, obviously, but it is a behavior problem, not a problem of access to fun things.

Lots of people of either gender use porn in the manner someone described up thread: to take care of certain necessary functions so that they can stop being distracted by those functions. You worry that if a man has a wank while his wife is at the store that when she returns he will be distant and unloving towards her. I suggest that if he is very horny and wanks while she is away then he will be relieved and focus on helping her put away the meat and veg rater than trying to get in her pants when she just spent the last two hours getting slammed into by aggressive assholes with carts and screaming children. I'm not going to say "wanking makes men more loving," but freeing oneself from sexual tension can allow one to focus on more important things, like being a loving partner instead of a horny housemate.

St. Alia of the Bunnies: As to porn itself, doesn't the law of diminishing returns apply anyway? What turns a man on one day is slightly boring the next, and so on?

That's going to vary from person to person, isn't it? Some people enjoy a single delicious drink every night, but other people start with a single delicious drink and wind up drinking more and more each night to chase the same intoxicated sensation. Again, the problem isn't alcoholic beverages any more than it is pornography, the problem is people failing to find healthy limits for their activities.

XMLicious: I don't think that St. Alia was trolling, but I could be wrong.

I don't see any reason to think she was.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:45 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


St. Alia of the Bunnies: Leave out for the moment whether or not Live Human Partner is satisfied. If porn has no effect (for the sake of argument let's just consider the anectdotal men in the article) then why is it they can't orgasm with a real partner when they obviously can with the porn?

I personally don't care what single guys do when they are by themselves, it's none of my business. But I am curious re the effect of porn on men who actually have a real partner


I would flip it the other way: let's say I spend all of my time wanking up a huge wank storm. And let's say that later on that same day I have sex with my wife. If she is satisfied and her sexual needs are met at that time, then does it matter if I fail to ejaculate, or even if I wind up having less fun in that experience than I did during my wankfest?
posted by paisley henosis at 11:49 AM on February 5, 2011


Porn doesn't kill libidos, people kill libidos.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:49 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


This wankfest theory you refer to...do you also apply it to women who masturbate? Are vibrators destroying relationships?

Well, now that you bring it up-I think so. Of course, physically, a woman can participate in sex whether or not she is revved up for it, but as to the question you raise, yes, I most certainly do believe that it goes both ways.

As to vibrators, I really cannot imagine why on earth anyone would waste money on them. First, wouldn't they ruin one's sensitivity to a male partner? And second-do you really have to spend money on an appliance to achieve the goal?

Yes, if your only goal is a really good orgasm, period, I would imagine a vibrator would be perfect. But that is selling the total experience of sex so short.....sex is way way way more than an orgasm, at least I would hope.

and thanks for the concern but things are excellent at home.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:51 AM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Women might not, but men certainly (and literally) do

The fact that two people may not always be sexually accessible at the same time is not an indictment of porn, necessarily.

Sometimes one partner isn't interested in sex at the same time as the other. Porn can provide a good release for that energy, which helps keep the relationship stable and free of resentment.

If one partner has to rely on porn too much, then that speaks to a problem with the relationship, communication skills and the sexual compatibility of both parties, not the porn, per se.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:51 AM on February 5, 2011


isn't it worth considering any potential consequences of that?

The consequences seem to be that people who are more inclined to be antisocial in the first place have an easy outlet for sexual gratification and might not feel the need to seek a sexual partner or fulfill a sexual partner. I think it's a problem outside of the availability of pornography, and an article like this can't tell us how big of a problem it really is.

If she is satisfied and her sexual needs are met at that time, then does it matter if I fail to ejaculate, or even if I wind up having less fun in that experience than I did during my wankfest?

Well, depends on how much less fun you're having. If sex felt more like a chore or an obligation than a fun time, it'd make sense that people would want to avoid it.
posted by girih knot at 11:52 AM on February 5, 2011


But that is selling the total experience of sex so short.....sex is way way way more than an orgasm, at least I would hope.

Masturbation is not sex and does not reduce desire for sex by itself.
posted by girih knot at 11:53 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would flip it the other way: let's say I spend all of my time wanking up a huge wank storm. And let's say that later on that same day I have sex with my wife. If she is satisfied and her sexual needs are met at that time, then does it matter if I fail to ejaculate, or even if I wind up having less fun in that experience than I did during my wankfest?

Well, first, I would hope it would matter to YOU that that was the case. And second, I cannot imagine your wife would be thrilled to have your 'sloppy seconds.' Perhaps you think in her shoes it wouldn't matter. But for many women I think it very much does. Just like how for many men, their enjoyment of sex with their partner hinges quite a lot on whether or not their woman is enjoying it as well. No one wants a partner who is "thinking of England."
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:54 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


As to vibrators, I really cannot imagine why on earth anyone would waste money on them. First, wouldn't they ruin one's sensitivity to a male partner? And second-do you really have to spend money on an appliance to achieve the goal?

Unfortunately, many many women struggle with orgasm even with skilled partners. Studies show that properly used they don't ruin sensitivity. However, I think some women are addicted to them to the point where they don't even try to orgasm with their partner.

I don't like the way both porn and vibrators can compartmentalize and decontextualize a sexual relationship. They can prevent couples from making the huge effort required to have a satisfying long-term sex life.
posted by melissam at 11:55 AM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


If one partner has to rely on porn too much, then that speaks to a problem with the relationship, communication skills and the sexual compatibility of both parties, not the porn, per se.

Totally agree. But to bring the food analogy back, the dietary balance could have shifted somewhat now that there's an endless supply of free cheeseburgers in the kitchen. Whereas before you might have had to make the effort to cook a healthy meal or go out and find food, now you just get some base-level needs satisfied, for free.

It strikes me that this could change the dynamic in a lot of relationships, exposing tensions or weaknesses that would previously have been papered over simply because there wasn't a sexual alternative on anything like this scale.
posted by bonaldi at 11:55 AM on February 5, 2011


Leave out for the moment whether or not Live Human Partner is satisfied. If porn has no effect (for the sake of argument let's just consider the anectdotal men in the article) then why is it they can't orgasm with a real partner when they obviously can with the porn?

Any number of reasons. There's nothing like enough information in that article to be able to draw a conclusion about that, even if we assume that the article is being 100% honest with us. Maybe they're using a death grip or a pillow when they masturbate, and are causing themselves damage through their lack of education. Maybe they're trying to have sex too soon after masturbation, and their glands haven't had the chance to recover. Maybe because they're not as healthy as they are telling themselves they are, because sex is a lot more strenuous and demanding a process than masturbation. Could be anything.

A couple anecdotes in a sloppy article say that they've narrowed it down to being porn, as though their disconnect is a single magical binary switch and not a combination of one or probably more of all kinds of possible things? Tells us nothing.
posted by kafziel at 11:56 AM on February 5, 2011


why is it they can't orgasm with a real partner when they obviously can with the porn?

Most people don't try masturbating after drinking a few glasses of wine and putting on a condom. People only masturbate when they're already in the mood -- it's not dependent on the partner's mood. But anyway just because orgasm is easier masturbating doesn't mean it's nearly as satisfying. That's why I can't believe there's some epidemic of guys suddenly finding masturbation a lot more pleasurable than sex. There might, however, be an epidemic of guys turning forty, finding themselves in a stale relationship, and avoiding intimacy with their estranged spouses. There might also be an epidemic of single guys turning forty and suddenly finding that they can't necessarily drink five beers and then have sex with a stranger. But I don't think porn causes of these two phenomena.
posted by creasy boy at 11:57 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I fully believe that one reason my husband is so attracted to my round middleaged slightly gray self is he isn't exposing his eyeballs to pornography.

That's pretty a pretty depressing view of both your husband and yourself.

If a man is disposed towards jerking off, he doesn't need porn. A copy of one of his wife's magazines or 5 minutes of MTV will probably provide him with adequate stimuli. Back in Victorian times, men would probably make do with the outline of the maid's calf beneath her skirt.

It might just be possible that your husband is attracted to you because he actually likes you?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:58 AM on February 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


But that is selling the total experience of sex so short.....sex is way way way more than an orgasm, at least I would hope.


Which was my point, and it's made by others above.


Totally agree. But to bring the food analogy back, the dietary balance could have shifted somewhat now that there's an endless supply of free cheeseburgers in the kitchen. Whereas before you might have had to make the effort to cook a healthy meal or go out and find food, now you just get some base-level needs satisfied, for free.

This is a very mechanical view of human nature and I don't like the implication that sexual access is the ONLY reason people get together. Again, we all have the ability to create massive pornographic vistas in our head without the need for outside stimulus. Relying solely on porn at the expense of human interaction is seen as unusual and rare and a symptom of something bigger going on. The fact that it's porn is immaterial.
posted by The Whelk at 12:00 PM on February 5, 2011


That's pretty a pretty depressing view of both your husband and yourself

Well, now, I didn't say it was the ONLY reason.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:02 PM on February 5, 2011


Also, does your husband expose his eyeballs to any sort of mass media? Any movies, television, magazines, magazine covers, ads, billboards, anything? It's not as though pornography is some magical unrealistic wonderland "where all the women are perfect and wrinkle free and smooth and creamy and unreal" in the middle of an ocean of absolute mundanity and realism in all other media.
posted by kafziel at 12:05 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do you REALLY need porn for solo activity?

Absolutely not! However, I also don't need salt on my french fries.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:05 PM on February 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


The turn this thread has taken kind of reminds me of this.
posted by Flunkie at 12:06 PM on February 5, 2011


Do you REALLY need porn for solo activity?

No, that's what makes the premise of this article even weirder. Why would increased availability of porn reduce libidos? Wouldn't we have seen the decrease in libidos when society stopped trying to prohibit masturbation? It seems like it's been the opposite.

Well, now, I didn't say it was the ONLY reason.

Oops, I misread. I thought you'd said "the one reason..."
posted by XMLicious at 12:06 PM on February 5, 2011


Only one of the commentators above mentioned the sex-workers. But IMHO, they are what make this discussion difficult. Sex, masturbation, porn are all good and healthy stuff. I'd recommend my children to indulge if they wouldn't hate me for it.

That said, I've met some of those guys who confuse sex and porn. Not good. But not normal either.

But: the people exposing themselves on the internets and in pornographic media are real humans.
Once I spent a lot of time with sex-workers, for reasons irrelevant to this thread. And not one single one of them were happy with their jobs. Each of them suffered from childhood trauma.
I believe there is a small group out there who are into exhibitionism, and who get a kick out of sex in public. But the only person I have met who was truly like that performed only with a mask on, and in situations that could be described as "fine art", not even close to the real sex industry.
For me, that is a turn off. Sex workers aren't just "faking it", they are suffering and most often can not see a way out. Obviously, they tell the media that they love sex and are in it for pleasure. Which gets them even deeper into the grind. It's not easy to get a job as a receptionist if you are known as a porn star.
posted by mumimor at 12:08 PM on February 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


enn, fwiw:
What biological outcome which has been linked to porn consumption by peer-reviewed science is analogous with obesity and heart disease in your McDonalds example?
There is some hard evidence out there linking emotional or social issues to pornography use. From what I've seen (which is the first two pages of the PubMed search), there are also studies that find no such associations. So jury's still out, and without knowing more about the ideological leanings and professional statures of the investigators, and the statistical bases of the studies themselves, I wouldn't want to make a judgment either way. I do think it's safe to say that the possibility of adverse side-effects does exist, and that it's not inappropriate or irrelevant to be curious about possible neurological or behavioral changes with varying degrees of pornography use. I found the mechanism described in the original article to be interesting, but I'd need to hear more, obviously.

But just for the sake of preciseness, can I clarify that I was trying to make a point about pornography attitudes and health or hygiene, not pornography and science? There's a pretty big difference, since many health effects are going to be too subtle or multifactorial to result consistently in pathology or register properly on a large-scale study. Most of our assumptions about health aren't rigorously evidenced, are they? To my knowledge, there's no well-regarded long-term study conclusively associating a single daily Big Mac with substantial adverse effects in otherwise-healthy adults, or showing multiple benefits of exclusively organic diets over regular supermarket ones, or proving definitively that two hours of daily Farmville cause relationship difficulties or impede professional success. Even the health effects of obesity aren't well understood, and more conflicting information keeps emerging. Of course, we all want to feel like we're keeping healthy, so we instead cobble together a clumsy working view of "good hygiene" from the little we know about biological mechanisms (different from outcomes!), plus a sprinkling of science journalism, plus a lot of value-based thinking about purity and naturalness and whatnot. Thus, it's still fairly acceptable and value-neutral to tell someone else they really shouldn't eat at McD's every day, or to brag about feeding one's kids organic food, because those things just fit into our model of healthiness. It's not that you think you'd die otherwise; it's just that it's assumed to be better for you in general, and thus worth a little sacrifice and self-control.

And that's what I think I was originally trying to get at (probably pretty clumsily). From what I can see, the prevailing idea of healthfulness among contemporary urban college-educated middle-class Americans is that things we consume should be:
-- not artificial (so, stevia, not aspartame; organic, not GMO; oil cleansing method, not sodium lauryl sulfate)
-- moderate (so, over-stimulation is bad)
-- cruelty-free (good karma! buy free-range eggs!)
-- evolutionarily appropriate, i.e. consistent with the kind of experiences we presumably evolved fitness for (thus, the endless debates about whether humans were "originally" vegetarian or not, which exercise positions fit the "natural" motion of muscles, etc.)

And internet pornography at the level guys use it today clearly fails all four of those tests-- it's (a)completely artificial, (b)generally immoderate (300 vaginas? Foursomes and fivesomes?), (c)fairly cruel to some very vulnerable participants, and (d)provides stimulation orders-of-magnitude in excess of what any male would have experienced throughout evolutionary history. So I guess I was just expressing perplexity that so many people who spend up for organic apples and carefully eschew those delicious, delicious McFries nonetheless feel the need to reject with some fervor even a question about wholesomeness and innocuousness of daily porn use. And still more, that a discussion of the psychological and social pros and cons of limiting porn so quickly gets sidetracked into moral outrage about shame and puritanism and trollery when I really doubt one about limiting fast food or TV would do the same. Not that I'm so very anti-porn myself, but the inconsistency is puzzling.

(and apologies to everybody else who's no longer even remotely interested in this side-conversation from waaay upthread)
posted by yersinia at 12:09 PM on February 5, 2011 [19 favorites]


It strikes me that this could change the dynamic in a lot of relationships, exposing tensions or weaknesses that would previously have been papered over simply because there wasn't a sexual alternative on anything like this scale.

If there's a narcissist or addict in the relationship, then relationship problems would likely evolve downstream of that, whether porn is involved or not. It could be a drug fixation, one partner focused on his or her career to the exclusion of the other, or whatever fantasy life he or she can't share with the partner.

This has always been a problem for relationships since time immemorial, but if porn can expose one partner's inability to connect with the other, I think that's probably a good thing on the whole. People should be attached only if they really love each other and are mature enough to put in the effort to make it work.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:11 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


First -- The few people who are doing so, please stop asking if St. Alia has some problem of her own or is unintentionally revealing difficulties in her own relationship by asking the questions she is. You are being ridiculous and obnoxious.


Next, St. Alia, bonaldi, et al -- One of the things that's going on is that (I-will-be-more-careful-this-time-and-say:) most of the people on this thread, including those who are, who are with, or who have been with heavy users of pornography or mastubatory aids, are simply not experiencing the problems you posit might happen, and that the article claims are a common experience. That is why the article is being dismissed, and your questions are in general being answered in the negative.

A lot of people here are a little loathe to argue from anecdote, with good reason, but I'm not sure data is avaiable so I'll go with it for now. My own experience with the "problems" caused by heavy pornography use have been along the lines of this:

*During foreplay, once every few MONTHS or so, male has more problem than usual maintaining erection*

"Is something wrong?"
"Oh, well, I ..." (Somewhat sheepishly:) "I didn't know we were going to be doing this tonight, and I masturbated a little while ago ..."
"Oh! Well, don't worry about it. It'll happen or it won't tonight."
"OK."

That's it. No big deal, no major problem.

Problems I have *never* experienced, on either side, as a direct result of pornography or masturbation: Loss of interest in sex. Loss of ability to orgasm. Lack of attention to partner. Disappointment that partner is not porn star. Lack of healthy sexual and loving relationship with partner.

So I just ... don't see it as a problem. And if any of those things became an issue, I wouldn't blame *pornography*, per se, because in my experience pornography doesn't cause those problems. If massive, massive overuse of pornography to the detriment of a healthy relationship became an issue, I would *look* for causes, because that seems like an *effect*.


"Do you REALLY need porn for solo activity?"

Well, er, of course not. But I enjoy it, and as far as I've evern been able to tell it's harmless.
posted by kyrademon at 12:12 PM on February 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well, yersinia, if you read books like Sex At Dawn, it seems like there is evidence that our ancestral environment provided more than enough sexual stimulation. I know Bonobos are not our ancestors and only somewhat closely related, but they seem to be highly sexed up, as are most other apes.

I still think porn is an evolutionary mismatch, but caused by other mismatches like our abnormally long working hours.
posted by melissam at 12:13 PM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


yersinia's comment really highlights the problems I DO have with pornography. I think the concept of pornography is a healthy one. However, while I understand there is a lot of porn out there, I find the most obvious examples sort of disgusting and degrading. As a result, I haven't really found any porn I can even enjoy (not that I've looked extensively) and it's frustrating.
posted by girih knot at 12:20 PM on February 5, 2011


St. Alia, bonaldi, et al
That links together three or more people who are all saying different things. St Alia at least is pretty porn-negative. I'm not in the slightest.

I do find it plausible, though, that the change in porn's sheer availability and variety could cause changes in relationships (good and bad) and don't think the potential bad can be dismissed by weight of "we use porn and we are fine!"

That's what we're criticising the original article for, after all.
posted by bonaldi at 12:21 PM on February 5, 2011


Also, does your husband expose his eyeballs to any sort of mass media?

I was just thinking that my personal objections to mainstream porn are pretty similar to a lot of my objections to mainstream pop culture (and the ways that people interact with them intellectually). Maybe it all comes down to matters of taste, and the ways that personal values intersect with aesthetics.

For example, I take art seriously, so I would feel weird about dating someone whose idea of "art" was Nickelback and Thomas Kinkade or something like that (unless he could make a thoughtful argument for them, in which case I'd probably fall in love with him). Similarly, I take sexuality seriously, so I would feel weird about dating someone whose ideas of "good sex" or "good masturbation" were overtly entangled with the (to me) unpleasant social and aesthetic conventions of mainstream pornography, which seem (to me) to encourage a particularly thoughtless approach to sexuality and sexual interaction.

I suspect most people reading this thread will think that this is crazy snobbery, and they might be right.
posted by bubukaba at 12:21 PM on February 5, 2011 [11 favorites]


Where all the women are perfect and wrinkle free and smooth and creamy and unreal.

This is not an accurate depiction of the majority of video pornography.
posted by shen1138 at 12:25 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


So I guess I was just expressing perplexity that so many people who spend up for organic apples and carefully eschew those delicious, delicious McFries nonetheless feel the need to reject with some fervor even a question about wholesomeness and innocuousness of daily porn use. And still more, that a discussion of the psychological and social pros and cons of limiting porn so quickly gets sidetracked into moral outrage about shame and puritanism and trollery when I really doubt one about limiting fast food or TV would do the same.

Why is that a mystery? Most people don't like to be told what to eat, or what to watch in the privacy of their own homes. I'd wager that even fewer people like to be told what to do or what not to do with their sexual organs.

And, yes, language about "wholesomeness" and "continence" falls into the category of being told what to do ..... even if what you're being told is putatively healthy for you, and the question of "wholesomeness" seems like a harmless enough one. It's kind of a visceral response, to be sure. But I don't think that it should be surprising or perplexing that the response occurs.

I think you're making a lot of categorical assumptions about "people" who buy organic apples and eschew McDonald's and "people" who watch porn. Your "tests" that you use to judge whether porn is something that should be consumed are also more than somewhat couched in moralizing language, however much you try to dress them up in concepts like "evolutionarily appropriate." I mean, just an example: how is a foursome or a fivesome "immoderate," exactly? Unless you have moral qualms about it?
posted by blucevalo at 12:26 PM on February 5, 2011


bonaldi -- your points are fair, and why I was hesitant to argue from anecdote. I still am.

But ... I dunno. This thread has gone on for a while, with a lot of people reading it, and we don't seem to have gotten a lot of response along the lines of, "Yes! This sounds familiar and rings many bells! Allow me to anonymously relate the problems I have experienced or my partner has!"

We've gotten a lot of people saying they *haven't* experienced these effects in relation to porn.

We've got some people saying they don't use porn, but posit that people who do *might* experience these effects in relation to porn.

I'm not saying it can't ever ever happen, and I obviously have no data, but if it were actually a common problem, don't you think it would be more, well, common?
posted by kyrademon at 12:27 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


tl;dfap
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:28 PM on February 5, 2011


yersinia, you make it sound as though you don't consume a very wide variety of porn, or at least don't venture into AskMes that discuss porn recommendations much. I think that you also may have odd ideas about the sorts of people you're talking to here. I for one do not buy organic apples, or anything organic for that matter unless it's on sale, or avoid McDonald's french fries.
posted by XMLicious at 12:29 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


But just for the sake of preciseness, can I clarify that I was trying to make a point about pornography attitudes and health or hygiene, not pornography and science? There's a pretty big difference, since many health effects are going to be too subtle or multifactorial to result consistently in pathology or register properly on a large-scale study. Most of our assumptions about health aren't rigorously evidenced, are they?

Well, we're obviously starting with assumptions too divergent to really have a conversation, because I don't pay any attention to alleged "health effects" that have consistently failed to show up in large studies, would never consider bragging about buying organic food, and neither eschew nor find especially delicious McDonalds french fries. And I'm neither college-educated nor middle-class. If you are assuming that you are exclusively among such people in this conversation I think you're going to have a hard time understanding where people are actually coming from.
posted by enn at 12:31 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think a lot of guys are opting out of dating nowadays to scratch their sexual urges with a free wank to their favourite porn star instead of the anxiety, cost, and uncertainty of seeing actual flesh-and-blood women (with the attendant need for conversation and everything else that goes with dating). That's a very depressing presumption, and I'd be happy to be proven wrong, but that's what I see going on in the last ten years or so.

It's almost as if the sexes have agreed to disagree, and increasingly find they can get on just fine with their Magic Wand or Fleshlight, without interacting as has always been normal. I don't know that they're happy doing that exactly, but I suspect they figure it's better than the alternative.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:33 PM on February 5, 2011


yersinia -- I'm sorry, and I mean this sincerely, but I do not understand the parellel you are trying to make. I don't.

I mean, I understand about the victim thing, and in fact I do my best to use only cruelty-free porn, as it were. That makes sense.

But as for the rest ... I'm, er ... when I say I "consume porn", I'm not actually EATING it.

I know that's not what you meant, but I don't understand what you *do* mean. Artificial? Huh? How is that relevant? Moderate means overstimulating is bad? It does? I thought it meant immoderate consumption of food was physically unhealthy, why would I care about whether it's overstimulating? ... Evolution? I don't even ...

I'm sorry, I'm just not sure where you're coming from on this.
posted by kyrademon at 12:35 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not saying it can't ever ever happen, and I obviously have no data, but if it were actually a common problem, don't you think it would be more, well, common?

I think it's maybe something people don't want to think too deeply about. They don't want to think about where it's sourced or what goes into making it (yersinia's and blucevalo's comments, above), and they don't want to think about how it might be affecting them or their partners.

I can say for sure that the general idea presented by the article that young women think they need to compete with the porn men consume (by acting more like women in porn do - being up for "kinkier" things, waxing bald, making more noise) doesn't strike me as a far leap to make - the porn aesthetic is mainstream now and this isn't much further than what you'd find presented to you in magazines and advertising. And the general idea that some men might find this unsettling or a turn-off because real women shouldn't act like their fantasy women also isn't a big leap to make - that sounds pretty "good girl/whore" to me which is a well-known issue and has been for a long time.

So the idea that more accessible porn that can be consumed as often as one likes might change how people present themselves or how they treat their partners based on what they expect a partner to behave like? I think we are fooling ourselves if we don't think this might, maybe, be a fairly common issue these days simply because porn is so ubiquitous. And as I said in my first comment, it's disturbing to think that teenagers now are growing up with this as their first and primary information on how men and women behave and treat each other in bed and in relationships. I think it's worth thinking about and discussing because any effects now can only get worse - at least older people have a more realistic frame of reference for this stuff.
posted by flex at 12:41 PM on February 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Your evident assumption that I don't think about "where porn is sourced or what goes into making it" is inaccurate and totally off-base.
posted by blucevalo at 12:44 PM on February 5, 2011


I WILL NEVER PLEASE A WOMAN BECAUSE MY PENIS DOESN'T VIBRATE! AHHH!!!
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:45 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


You said "Why is that a mystery? Most people don't like to be told what to eat, or what to watch in the privacy of their own homes. I'd wager that even fewer people like to be told what to do or what not to do with their sexual organs.

You're saying people don't like to think about it, is what I read there. Am I wrong? I'm saying your comment is right, people don't like to think about it.
posted by flex at 12:46 PM on February 5, 2011


The way I read it, I thought yersinia was talking about the outrageous scenarios depicted in some porn, like gang-bangs or an overemphasis on anal sex, or tiny girls with huge boob jobs. It seems like those sort of things have the potential to screw up someone's expectations with real life partners.

Really, though, I think that the solution is just to remove the shame from sex and sexual desires so that no one has to associate shame or taboo with what gets them off. Sexuality is something we should be able to freely communicate about.

On preview: Lutoslawski, I can tell you from firsthand experience that the depiction of women in pornography and media in general can lead to really fucked up expectations of what someone is supposed to be to be desirable. Your equivocation isn't very fair.
posted by girih knot at 12:47 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


flex: My apologies. I misread your comment as saying something totally different.
posted by blucevalo at 12:48 PM on February 5, 2011


St. Alia of the Bunnies: I cannot imagine your wife would be thrilled to have your 'sloppy seconds.' Perhaps you think in her shoes it wouldn't matter. But for many women I think it very much does. Just like how for many men, their enjoyment of sex with their partner hinges quite a lot on whether or not their woman is enjoying it as well. No one wants a partner who is "thinking of England."

That's a pretty good point.

I don't think that wanking is really necessarily co-related to disappointing your partner or being disappointed by your partner, but you're right: nobody wants to be in bed with someone who is checked out.
posted by paisley henosis at 12:49 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seems silly to pretend that the supersaturated overabundance and instant accessability of porn in the internet era has had no effect on libido.

There's nothing silly about it. Provide me with some sort of evidence one way or the other, I'm all ears. Provide me with a John Mayer quote and a half-sentence of psuedoscience, and I'm all eye rolls.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:57 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Counter-anecdote: I only made it halfway through this thread before some of the comments (e.g., "I want to pick up the monitor and shake it and shout 'three hundred vaginas doing what?'" "You have to feed him apples or he screams all night.") made me giggle so loudly that I woke up my husband, who then made me put aside the laptop so he could climb aboard for our customary Lazy Weekend Morning Fuck. This is a man who has certainly seen 300 vaginas before breakfast (NSFW) many times before but his libido seems just fine.

"Condom puts chokehold on male orgasm. Damn condoms."

Monogamy + IUD FTW!
posted by Jacqueline at 12:59 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you and your partner aren't having sex every single day, jerking it isn't just something to pass the time, it is Doctor Recommended! It could save your life.

You don't want your partners to die of ball or prostate cancer do you?
posted by Justinian at 1:03 PM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


As with everything, this is a nuanced issue. I have used porn by myself and with other people and it's been great. But I've also been in bed by myself, wringing my hands and on the verge of crying, because I feel a million miles away from partner and he's actually just 50 feet away on the couch looking at porn (and I'm not getting any). The porn didn't cause us to be in that situation, but it sure didn't help.
posted by analog at 1:06 PM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Your evident assumption that I don't think about "where porn is sourced or what goes into making it" is inaccurate and totally off-base.

For every one person consuming indie "fair trade" porn, there are millions who just Google "pussy."
posted by melissam at 1:13 PM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


"...I feel a million miles away from partner and he's actually just 50 feet away on the couch looking at porn (and I'm not getting any)."

Could be worse, he could be playing World of Warcraft!
posted by Jacqueline at 1:16 PM on February 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


So when do we get to read the article about women in the forties, who are paying mortgages on perfectly nice, large homes, who spend their weekends touring around their local communities, taking open house tours of houses larger and more elaborate than the ones they live in? The ones who can't pry themselves away from the Home & Gardens cable channel, soaking in the real-estate porn, never satisfied with the cavernous houses that are mostly empty, cheap art-mill paintings on the walls, dining room sets that are rarely used, lawns that are attended by Latino migrant workers, but almost never enjoyed by the home's occupants? Porn can take many forms, is all I'm saying...
posted by dbiedny at 1:23 PM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


analog: "The porn didn't cause us to be in that situation, but it sure didn't help."

I am wary of the presumption of a right to sexual access. People can feel sexually estranged from a partner, and still have the right to their own sexuality.

(I am not presuming to know or judge your own past relationship, but I have felt objectified by similar complaints from past partners).
posted by idiopath at 1:24 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


St. Alia: "Where all the women are perfect and wrinkle free and smooth and creamy and unreal."

shen1138: "This is not an accurate depiction of the majority of video pornography."

Yes, this. When I've watched porn with my husband* I've often been distracted by noticing OMG THAT ZIT ON HER BUTT IS HUGE HOW DID SHE NOT HAVE SOMEONE POP THAT MONSTER BEFORE GOING ON CAMERA. (Then I fantasize about squeezing it, but I don't think that was the sort of fantasy the filmmakers were trying to evoke.)

[*Personally I prefer my erotica in written form (i.e., naughty fanfic) over video]
posted by Jacqueline at 1:28 PM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Reading through the first 50 posts or so, I'm amazed at how many people dismiss this article/discussion as hand-wringing, bullshit porn-shaming

I DONT WANT TO WAKE UP AND LOOK AT PORN IN THE MORNING FOR HOURS INSTEAD OF DOING HOMEWORK OR OTHER THINGS I NEED TO BE DOING

I DONT WANT TO STAY UP TILL 3 OR 4 AM SUCKED INTO MY COMPUTER WHEN I HAVE TO GET UP EARLY.

BUT I DO ANYWAY. AND IT HURTS ME AND MY LIFE.

porn is a BIG FUCKING PROBLEM. more people our age need to talk about this. there are enough people defending porn. do not dismiss me as some conservative shaming douche. i'm a normal 22 year old male and i may just be more open minded than you for saying that porn is a big problem.

it may be easier for people in their late 20's / 30's to say this article is exaggerating, but i'm of the first generation of kazaa and necessary bandwidth where porn videos were something we grew up with since puberty. get ready, it's going to get worse.
posted by victory_laser at 1:29 PM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


It may also be worth pointing out that porn sometimes provides men (and women!) with access to kinks that their partner, however well-matched, may not share or be able to fulfill, or, for one reason or another, it may not be healthy for a partner to act on. Porn can be a safety valve that keeps one partner from heading out to look for an actual partner to fulfill that kink, which might have much larger risks, as with me, who once in a while goes pie-eyed for women who look like they can't leave their apartment without getting into a fight with broken bottles.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:31 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


VL: Dude, nobody is saying that porn can't be a problem for people. They are saying that it isn't inherently true. Lots of people are addicted to World of Warcraft, too.

Also: You should talk to a doctor. Wanting to stop doing something which is hurting your life and being unable to do so is pretty much the definition of psychological addiction.
posted by Justinian at 1:32 PM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


victory_laser, I'm sorry about your problems with self-control, but I'm afraid the answer is never going to be the elimination of the thing you can't control yourself around. We have access to far too many pleasurable things for the solution to ever be banning them when they cause addictive behavior.
posted by girih knot at 1:34 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


i may just be more open minded than you for saying that porn is a big problem.

I'm willing to entertain the discusions, but not just because you declare it universally to be a fact. If porn is as big a problem as you say, there must be some real science to back up the claim. After all, Internet porn didn't magically appear in the past year or so. We've had it for a decade or more. Somebody must have noticed the epidemic of people ruined by porn and done actual research on the subject.

Without evidence, you should not flatter yourself that you are open-minded. You may simply be more susceptible to moral panic.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:35 PM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Evidence of it being a mass problem, I should say. Obviously, it affects you, and it would be a good idea for you to talk to a professional about it. A lot of people have self-destructive, obsessive habits, and there are programs to help break them.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:38 PM on February 5, 2011


@victory_laser: I frequently waste just as much time looking at lolcats and other non-sexual image macros on Reddit. Before the widespread availability of the internet, lots of people stayed up all night playing Nintendo. Before that, just watching TV. As a kid I used to sneak a flashlight to bed and stay up way too late reading trash Piers Anthony and Anne McCaffrey novels and then be completely useless in school the next day (or convince my mom that I was sick and needed to stay home).

I don't think your issue is porn per se. Porn is just another outlet for the common human weakness of preferring activities that are easy and fun and the inertia of continuing to do them far longer than we should. The root cause is lack of self-discipline, not some special power of compulsion held by porn.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:40 PM on February 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


"why is it they can't orgasm with a real partner when they obviously can with the porn?"

The author of the article interpreted the problem as being a porn vs. real partner issue, but it seems reasonable that it could just as easily be a masturbation-with-a-"death-grip" vs. vaginal-sex-with-a-condom issue. As others have pointed out in this thread, the latter is a less intense sensation than the former, and can be harder to get off to if a man has "trained" himself to get off to a much more intense sensation.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:01 PM on February 5, 2011


You all make really good points, I agree with pretty much everything you guys are saying. Thank you for your suggestions to seek help. Your compassion comes across in your posts.

I see what you're trying to say about wasting time, Jacqueline. We differ a little, though, because I do think the internet is the biggest and best distraction device that has ever existed. There is something special about porn because there is something special about sex.

I just wish that porn addiction was more like alcoholism or even other "psychological" addictions like gambling. When people say that alcohol can be addicting and that we should control people's access to it, you're not going to see the same careless dismissal that is present in some people's posts here. Porn and porn addiction is weird to talk about in public. I don't know what I'm really saying, I just wish it was easier to talk about and that it had more of an identity in our culture. I wish my parents knew how to deal with it.

Honestly, when I was 14 or 15 and really started to watch a lot of porn, I never knew it could be this big of a problem. I deffffinitely knew you drug addiction was a thing and was a real possibility when I first smoked pot. I knew alcoholism was a "thing." Porn addiction needs to be a "thing." Internet/video game addiction needs to be a "thing." Some of the shame needs to disappear from it so if people start to have problems it's easier for them to decide to get help.
posted by victory_laser at 2:07 PM on February 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Is there anyone in this thread who wants to seriously make the claim that porn addiction isn't actually a real thing that can actually happen and have actual negative consequences? Anyone? Anyone at all? No? Good.

I don't think anyone is making the claim that "porn addiction doesn't exist." However, I would gladly make the claim that "I don't think that porn addiction is quite what this article is describing." There are a couple cases that come close, maybe, but...I think the situation is much more complicated in many of these cases than to just point to porn and say "it's all your fault!"

As to vibrators, I really cannot imagine why on earth anyone would waste money on them. First, wouldn't they ruin one's sensitivity to a male partner?

Mine hasn't had that effect for me. In fact, it's helped me figure out what "works" when I actually get a partner.

And second-do you really have to spend money on an appliance to achieve the goal?

....I'm single. I'd much rather spend money on an appliance to achieve the goal than spend money on an escort.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:08 PM on February 5, 2011


And I have just realized that you all know much more about my current love life than some of you had before. Hi!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:09 PM on February 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


I DONT WANT TO WAKE UP AND LOOK AT PORN IN THE MORNING FOR HOURS INSTEAD OF DOING HOMEWORK OR OTHER THINGS I NEED TO BE DOING

I DONT WANT TO STAY UP TILL 3 OR 4 AM SUCKED INTO MY COMPUTER WHEN I HAVE TO GET UP EARLY.

BUT I DO ANYWAY. AND IT HURTS ME AND MY LIFE.


I hope that writing this here is your first step in getting the help you need. There are therapists and doctors who specialize in exactly these kinds of issues.

But that said, what you describe sounds to me like an addiction/compulsion/obsession kind of problem, not a porn problem. Most people consume porn in non-problematic ways, just like most people consume gambling or online gaming in non-problematic ways. Back in the 1950s, it took real effort and resources to feed an addiction to porn, because it just wasn't as available and it cost a lot (those mafia distribution networks aren't cheap, you know). Now, it's free and available 24/7; for people predisposed to that kind of problem, it's a lot easier now to cross the line into harmful behaviors.

So it's good that we are talking about these things, and like any change in a society it will take time to find ways of putting boundaries and social controls around it to minimize the harm. But equally, it's important to remember that while some people really struggle with porn, most people don't.
posted by Forktine at 2:10 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


St. Alia of the Bunnies:

And second-do you really have to spend money on an appliance to achieve the goal?


which was followed by:

Do you REALLY need porn for solo activity?

Just woke up from a nap, and I gotta say, these are not questions I ever expected to read with your name attached to them. I think I need to go take a shower.
posted by gman at 2:19 PM on February 5, 2011


I'm single. I'd much rather spend money on an appliance to achieve the goal than spend money on an escort.

Why would you have to do that?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:21 PM on February 5, 2011


idiopath - Fair enough, we all have the right to our own individual sexual needs and preferences, and no one should feel obligated to have sex. However, I think that unless there is an arrangement between partners, it's usually important to make one's SO feel sexually significant as well as exercise one's own separate, perhaps more solitary, needs at other times.
posted by analog at 2:21 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why would you have to do that?

I'm not clear about your line of questioning. Are you asking more from a place of "why use a tool as opposed to just using your hands"? If so, then -- well, why do some people get electric mixers rather than using their arm and a spoon?

If you're asking from a place of "why not just do without until you do have a partner?" Then my answer is "HELL no."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:25 PM on February 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm not clear about your line of questioning

The former is what I meant.

Interesting analogy, btw.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:28 PM on February 5, 2011


I use an electric mixer because then I get my cookies faster.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:31 PM on February 5, 2011 [32 favorites]


Hands aren't enough for some women, either.
posted by flex at 2:31 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why would you have to do that?

Are you seriously suggesting that people should only have any sexual gratification when they're in a relationship? Single people also enjoy orgasms. Biological urges and all that.

Forgive me if you were really asking about why EmpressCallipygos enjoys vibrators over manual stimulation, but I kind of doubt that's what you were asking.

The ability to orgasm through masturbation does not diminish the sexual gratification received with a partner and this continuing suggestion that it does stems from long-held societal views of sexual repression that I take a lot of exception with. There is nothing shameful about masturbation.
posted by girih knot at 2:40 PM on February 5, 2011


Whoops, should have previewed. Sorry.
posted by girih knot at 2:40 PM on February 5, 2011


Sex is not a zero-sum game

No but for some people the sex they see in porn seems to increase their expectations--sometimes to extremely unrealistic levels--of what constitutes a "winning score".

I think the pendulum, as it were, will begin to swing the other way with regards to porn addiction once more people realize (the people who need to realize it, that is) that porn does not represent anything approaching real life or real people and is not an effective emotional anesthetic over the long term. Even "home-made" porn is pretty much just amateur performance art, and some of the "performers" probably have their own addictions to exhibitionism or sex itself. The internet just provides an easier and safer source or outlet for everybody.
posted by fuse theorem at 2:48 PM on February 5, 2011


As for people who have problems orgasming with a partner that they don't have when they watch porn, I think we risk missing other, real issues if we explain it all away by the "death grip" or other issues involving the sensation of touch. I'm sure I don't need to say this, but masturbating to porn is really very different from having sex. For just one thing, it provides focused, intense, uninterrupted visual stimulation, from angles that you can't always, if ever, expect to get with actual sex. Anyone who comes to depend on that, or any of the various presences and absences of things associated with porn and not sex, is going to have problems when it comes to having sex with real people.

And just because a problem is a consequence of the way a person has chosen to use porn doesn't mean they're just an idiot and it can be dismissed. We don't talk about healthy and unhealthy ways to use porn; apparently we don't even acknowledge they exist, except in the most extreme cases. But you don't have to be a straight up porn addict, jerking your way out of a job or whatever, to be negatively affected by the way you approach this stuff. If people really have problems because of porn, I just want us to be able to acknowledge and talk about them, rather than pretending they don't exist just to keep conservative tsk-tsk-ers off our backs.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 3:04 PM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


[few comments removed - this thread needs to not become one person holding a salon on this topic with a post as an excuse. Find ways to make that so, thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 3:09 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


One time, back in the early nineties when we had the internet but it didn't have pictures (ASCII art porn! No, I'm just kidding, we weren't that desperate), in the middle of the night when I should have been doing homework, I found myself walking for an hour¹ to find the one open convenience store to buy a magazine. I'm not sure that things have changed so much.

1. Up hill both ways! But seriously, a trip totaling two hours.
posted by XMLicious at 3:10 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


One time, back in the early nineties when we had the internet but it didn't have pictures

What? The internet was soaked in nekkid pics in the early 90s. I would be shocked if the fraction of traffic which is porn wasn't significantly higher in the early 90s, though obviously the bandwidth in absolute terms is much higher now. It's just that these days people are streaming or downloading a ton of pics and videos that aren't porn as well, while in the 90s probably 98% of media downloads were warez or porn.
posted by Justinian at 3:13 PM on February 5, 2011


I mean, alt.binaries.pictures.erotica?
posted by Justinian at 3:13 PM on February 5, 2011


that's what my friend says anyway, I have no idea what that alt.whatever means.
posted by Justinian at 3:14 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


There was plenty of porn on file-sharing BBSes too.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:14 PM on February 5, 2011


As to vibrators, I really cannot imagine why on earth anyone would waste money on them. First, wouldn't they ruin one's sensitivity to a male partner? And second-do you really have to spend money on an appliance to achieve the goal?

St. Alia, I think a number of other posters have tried to explain that excitement that comes with a variety of sensations and images and thoughts and sounds and sights and scents, that those are infinite in a way. A vibrator is not a replacement for one's own hand or partner; it's a different thing. To try and diminish it with your judgments -- "Why on earth ..." "Do you really have to ..."
"...an appliance" -- well, it seems so obvious to say, but ... Your way of sexuality is not THE way. It's just your way.

Also, I'm single on a Saturday night in freezing February, damn it, and you best not be disrespecting my vibrator.
posted by thinkpiece at 3:16 PM on February 5, 2011 [12 favorites]


Yeah, but all of that stuff didn't help if you were at a university that only had VAX terminals.
posted by XMLicious at 3:17 PM on February 5, 2011


Usenet and BBSes, not vibrators.
posted by XMLicious at 3:19 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


You poor, poor soul. We had 10base-t ethernet in every dorm room. Even so you would be surprised at the sorts of things people got up to in the shared computer labs. I mean, dudes, we can SEE your screen.
posted by Justinian at 3:21 PM on February 5, 2011


Also, I'm single on a Saturday night in freezing February, damn it, and you best not be disrespecting my vibrator.

/ me pops collar

"So, hey, I've got a four-wheel drive vehicle and a couple of Woody Allen DVDs..."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:21 PM on February 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


According to England's National Health Service, "An orgasm a day keeps the doctor away."

According to H.L. Mencken, "Puritanism is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."

Addiction to anything at the expense of your own joy and humanity can be debilitating, whether it is pornography, poker, or frisbee golf. The mystery behind human reproduction and fear of the female body has inspired religious holy men to shame our human sexuality since the beginning of knowledge. Adam and Eve were shamed by their nakedness after eating from the "Tree" - and if freethinkers were really, truly honest with themselves they'd have no problem going naked in the sun.
The fear of our own bodies strikes deep into the collective unconscious. Hatred of pornography - especially hatred of access to pornography can often be attributed to these old religious hobgoblins bubbling up in the societal soup. Interestingly, St. Alia's assertion that her husband should save his libido for her smacks of this same intense, sexuality-controlling behavior. Her husband's libido is his to do with as he sees fit. As should be all persons. We have liberty and so we have porn. It's here to stay.
The question, I feel, isn't, "What is porn stealing from of relationships?" but rather, "How much more is there to our relationships than what we see in porn?"
Sadly, I believe we have gotten ourselves to a point where sex has lost its romance and can be reduced to "friction, baby."
What if making love was a universe where the literal sex act was only one, small element? Porn would lose its magic. What if making love included making dinner, watching a play, playing music together, taking a walk, singing a song, writing a poem, smelling the ocean, telling jokes? What about the holistic approach? Porn would pale in comparison - it would be a tiny thing, insignificant compared to the joy of actually making love.
But that's hard work, takes patience, resilience, much easier to just put a penis in a vagina.

What if making love was a ritual that combined dozens of elements of mutual attraction, focus, shared interests, dialogue, vulnerability, and, of course, eating great food? That's how we defeat porn addiction, people: Lovemaking as Liturgy.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:22 PM on February 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


According to England's National Health Service, "An orgasm a day keeps the doctor away."

That's what I said! If your partner isn't happy but won't join in, hey, tell 'em you have a doctor's note giving you permission.
posted by Justinian at 3:23 PM on February 5, 2011


l33tpolicywonk has visited the 300 Vaginas Before Breakfast Fan Club Home Page.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:25 PM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


However, my perception is that there seem to be a disproportionate number of women who would rather not have sex, anyway.

This is absolutely not true. You're joking right? I hope you're joking. This simply isn't true. It's crazy talk. You must be joking.
posted by anniecat at 3:28 PM on February 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's not that a disproportionate women would rather not have sex, it's just that the husbands/boyfriends of these women post a disproportionate amount of bitching on the internet.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:31 PM on February 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


And I think the husbands/boyfriends of these mythological sex-averse women are bitching on the internet to cover for their weak libidos.
posted by thinkpiece at 3:37 PM on February 5, 2011


Or everything they learned about women the learned from a CBS sitcom.
posted by Mick at 3:44 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh hey, sorry I missed this post, I've been in my bunk.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:57 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, wait. So… this "porn." It… vibrates?
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:04 PM on February 5, 2011


anniecat: “This is absolutely not true. You're joking right? I hope you're joking. This simply isn't true. It's crazy talk. You must be joking.”

Jacqueline: “It's not that a disproportionate women would rather not have sex, it's just that the husbands/boyfriends of these women post a disproportionate amount of bitching on the internet.”

thinkpiece: “And I think the husbands/boyfriends of these mythological sex-averse women are bitching on the internet to cover for their weak libidos.”

So you're saying that one hundred percent of women have had orgasms, and are sex-positive? That's an interesting piece of news.
posted by koeselitz at 4:10 PM on February 5, 2011


@koeselitz: The operative word we're all arguing against is "disproportionate."
posted by Jacqueline at 4:15 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


>>However, my perception is that there seem to be a disproportionate number of women who would rather not have sex, anyway.

>This is absolutely not true. You're joking right? I hope you're joking. This simply isn't true. It's crazy talk. You must be joking.


Whether the low libidos are coming from men, from women, or both, I think it's important to remember that most people just aren't having very much sex, and what sex they are having is pretty restrained in terms of variety. I know I've mentioned these numbers here before, but the statistic that always blows me away (ha ha) is that only "27% of men and 19% of women have had oral sex in the past year" (citation). And if you look at the frequency chart for men, you'll notice that less than a quarter of married men in their 40s are having intercourse more than once a week; even guys in their 30s are barely doing better.

So it's great that here on MeFi we are all sex positive and chant rah rah vibrators! and will fight to the death for oral sex as a basic human right. Those things are wonderful, and I'm totally on board. But it just isn't reflective of how most people are living their sexualities.

In other words, I think there is a context for heavy porn consumption, and part of that context is, for many people, not having an incredible amount of sex -- and even less so, varied sex -- going on in their lives.
posted by Forktine at 4:16 PM on February 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


It seems my husband and I are wrecking the curve as usual... :D
posted by Jacqueline at 4:19 PM on February 5, 2011


When I read this crap I can't help but think I and my wife are the luckiest couple in the world in that neither of us have a problem with eroticism. Or maybe we're just normal?
posted by jet_manifesto at 4:21 PM on February 5, 2011


Jacqueline: “The operative word we're all arguing against is ‘disproportionate.’”

So you're really saying that just as many women have, for example, had orgasms as men? Seriously?

Look, I would love to believe that that's true. But the fact is that, in the world, many women see sex as a chore, and use it as a punishment or reward for good or bad behavior. That's just how things work for many relationships. This probably has something to do with the fact that we live in a distinctly sexist society. But I have a hard time believing that women and men in general are as sex-positive and enlightened as we seem to be here.
posted by koeselitz at 4:22 PM on February 5, 2011


Lies, damn lies and overgeneralization.

- Having a gun will not make all gun owners shoot people;
- Being religious will not make every religious person strap a bomb around their chest and kill a dozen bystanders;
- Watching porn will not make every man/women libido decrease/increase;

Then again:

- If for any motive you want to harm somebody, being a gunowner makes you more likely to use a gun to do so;
- If you blame somebody (society) for porn, being a religious person makes you more likely to further remove responsability and say that god made you do that, or that's god will;
- If you get much pleasure from fantasizing about having sex, being a person who has access to porn makes you more likely to indulge so obsessively into a fantasy world (WoW addiction anyone?) that you start unconsciously anticipating the "real" thing can't be as immediately gratifying as your fantasy.
posted by elpapacito at 4:32 PM on February 5, 2011


Also, please note that a disproportionate number doesn't mean a tiny number. It means fewer. And I can't believe I have to argue this here, and with women, who I would have thought would know this dynamic exists.
posted by koeselitz at 4:41 PM on February 5, 2011


Maybe the women of MetaFilter are just disproportionately horny.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:44 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Forktine, I look at those charts and I mostly see that the majority (at least 50%, and usually much higher) of married people are having sex on what I would consider a regular basis from the ages of 18 all the way up to 59, and for "partnered" people there's not even a drop-off below the majority mark for the "60-69" and "70+" categories.

I mean, sure, daily sex is great when it happens, but once-weekly is somehow insufficient now? Did I miss a memo or something?
posted by kyrademon at 4:48 PM on February 5, 2011


It seems my husband and I are wrecking the curve as usual... :D

Homewreckers! Thats right, Jaq...I said it!
posted by hal_c_on at 4:50 PM on February 5, 2011


I was hoping for boobies.
posted by jonmc at 4:51 PM on February 5, 2011


Maybe the women of MetaFilter are just disproportionately horny.

I'm not. I understand where koeselitz is coming from. Women's libido != men's libido. Obviously there are exceptions, but in general, women do not have the same level of libido as men, nor do they have the same type. More here, with cites at end.

If a man wants sex about five times as often as his partner, I think it's totally fair to fulfill those urges with masturbation. It only becomes problematic when he never wants to have sex with his partner in favor of masturbating.
posted by girih knot at 4:52 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe the women of MetaFilter are just disproportionately horny.

I kind of hope not, as that would seem to say something sad about the men of MetaFilter.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:53 PM on February 5, 2011


As to vibrators, I really cannot imagine why on earth anyone would waste money on them. First, wouldn't they ruin one's sensitivity to a male partner? And second-do you really have to spend money on an appliance to achieve the goal?

Yes, if your only goal is a really good orgasm, period, I would imagine a vibrator would be perfect. But that is selling the total experience of sex so short.....sex is way way way more than an orgasm, at least I would hope.


Your folksy wisdom with regard to sex is hilariously wrong as the inexperienced and unread often are, and who cares, really? But when you say things like this, you are making people feel ashamed who have no reason to be.

There are women in the world who are unable to orgasm without the aid of a vibrator. The invention and usage of vibrators is a miracle that has brought happiness to a percentage of the population, and you are dismissing it with a wave of your hand. Besides that, to suggest that if people can't orgasm with a vibrator, they are somehow broken is heaping shame on a population that is already deluged with wildly ridiculous expectations. Expectations, by the way, which are exacerbated by porn, giving the one reason I can think of to be wary of porn.
posted by TypographicalError at 4:54 PM on February 5, 2011 [17 favorites]


White on blue turns me on.
posted by kyrademon at 4:57 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't understand while lower libido / fewer orgasms is being taken as automatically meaning "would rather not have sex." Sex is still fun even when your desire for it isn't strong enough to compel you to initiate it and/or you don't always have an orgasm. As I've said before, it's "like snuggling, but slimier!"
posted by Jacqueline at 4:58 PM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Your folksy wisdom with regard to sex is hilariously wrong as the inexperienced and unread often are, and who cares, really? But when you say things like this, you are making people feel ashamed who have no reason to be.

If I was Michael Scott, I'd say "Boom-Roasted".
posted by hal_c_on at 4:59 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The way I read it, I thought yersinia was talking about the outrageous scenarios depicted in some porn, like gang-bangs or an overemphasis on anal sex, or tiny girls with huge boob jobs. It seems like those sort of things have the potential to screw up someone's expectations with real life partners.

It sounds like the real problem here is believing what you see on television — or on the internet, or on your damn phone, or whatever.

I mean, okay, so porn tells you that all women enjoy anal sex all the time, and your flesh-and-blood girlfriend who you know and trust and love tells you "actually, it's kind of painful and I'm not sure I'll ever really enjoy it." Who do you believe?

If the answer is "porn," then you're already fucked — not because of the porn in particular, but because you're listening to broadcast media first and people second, and dismissing the honest experience of a person you allegedly trust when the two disagree. You probably also believe that straight men never talk about their feelings, that getting richer always makes people happier, and that the credit card industry loves you and wants you to be happy.

And the thing is, for other types of media, we all recognize that it's possible to be an intelligent consumer if you're willing to work at it. We know you can watch ads and call bullshit on them. We know you can watch a romantic comedy, say "Hey, wait a minute, this is nothing like any relationship I've ever had," and react by watching fewer romantic comedies — or watching them with a healthy sense of skepticism — rather than just deciding that all your relationships have been inadequate. So I think it's worth recognizing that it's also possible to be an intelligent porn consumer — and that when some guys refuse to reflect intelligently on what they see in porn, that's not just an inevitable consequence of showing them porn, it's a symptom of the fact that they're already alienated from their own experience of everyday life in ways that we need to address.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:01 PM on February 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


I don't understand while lower libido / fewer orgasms is being taken as automatically meaning "would rather not have sex." Sex is still fun even when your desire for it isn't strong enough to compel you to initiate it and/or you don't always have an orgasm. As I've said before, it's "like snuggling, but slimier!"

So true. Sexual activity doesn't always have to be perfect/result in orgasms for all involved. Just do it.
posted by melissam at 5:02 PM on February 5, 2011


We know you can watch a romantic comedy, say "Hey, wait a minute, this is nothing like any relationship I've ever had," and react by watching fewer romantic comedies — or watching them with a healthy sense of skepticism — rather than just deciding that all your relationships have been inadequate.

Bingo, neither television nor the intertubes necessarily define what is "normal". Yet for some reason, if the heads in the box or intertubes says so, some people flip.
posted by elpapacito at 5:05 PM on February 5, 2011


nebulawindphone: I agree that this isn't a problem that's exclusive to porn, and I think the bigger problem these sorts of unrealistic/sometimes degrading porn scenarios cause are on young people who don't have any other sort of frame of reference. That's why I think eliminating the shame surrounding sexuality is so important -- if everyone can freely talk about this stuff, it's a lot easier to dispel fantastic myths about sex.

Also I can easily imagine scenarios where if this one girl doesn't behave the way that the girls in the 100 pornos you've watched do, you can assume the problem is with her. It's based on immaturity and a poor frame of reference, and it is kind of useless to say "Hey, porn shouldn't BE like that," because trying to censor it isn't really going to work. But it still bothers me that there is such a market for porn that routinely degrades women.
posted by girih knot at 5:13 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Your folksy wisdom with regard to sex is hilariously wrong as the inexperienced and unread often are, and who cares, really? But when you say things like this, you are making people feel ashamed who have no reason to be

Well, you are quite mistaken about me being inexperienced and unread, but whatever.

When I posted that it was strictly from practicality, and from information I'd garnered in the past that warned that the appliance could cause difficulties in regular relations. Note that I clearly did NOT say don't masturbate. I couldn't care less if you do or don't, and for that matter it's one of the few sexual activities the Bible never even mentions.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:13 PM on February 5, 2011



I mean, sure, daily sex is great when it happens, but once-weekly is somehow insufficient now? Did I miss a memo or something?


Once a year isn't insufficient, as long as you are happy. Nor is almost never having oral sex in any way insufficient, overly limited, or anything like that. My point is just that most people don't have very much sex, and the sex they do have fits within a very limited range of activities; my guess is that those realities are not disconnected from the quite heavy consumption of pornography by men (and probably equally so the heavy consumption of romance novels, slash fiction, and other sexualized media by women).

As to who controls the throttle of sex in a relationship, my guess is that it is complicated and hard to generalize. The woman turning the tap on and off is a constant motif in books and movies, but dudes refusing to turn off WoW while their girlfriends are dancing around in lingerie is equally constant in AskMe questions, advice columns, and online discussion forums. And in real life (certainly in the relationships of many of my friends who have been open in discussing these things), people often like to complain about the lack of sex but seem quite happy to not do anything to change the situation.
posted by Forktine at 5:13 PM on February 5, 2011


When I posted that it was strictly from practicality, and from information I'd garnered in the past that warned that the appliance could cause difficulties in regular relations.

That "information" has been disproven for the most part. I wouldn't go so far as to say that there may be some very rare cases when this is so, but for the most part, this is largely false.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:23 PM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, I concede I may not be up on the latest research....last time I really read up on it was the early 80's.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:27 PM on February 5, 2011


St. Alia, have you read the book Real Sex by Lauren Winner? I recommend it. I would assume you are already married, but it is an interesting look at what young Christians struggle with.
posted by melissam at 5:27 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, all I can say is I wish The Hitchhiker (what I call it, as it follows me around on my trip through life, and has a mind of it's own, although it has yet to shoot me and steal my car - waiting for it to happen) and I had a partner so we could perform a proper doubleblind test.

I do remember when a woman I was dating but not living with asked me to give up porn for her. I looked at her and honestly asked "So, sweety, what do I do on those late nights when you're not available? I would always prefer it with you, but that doesn't always work out..."
posted by Samizdata at 5:32 PM on February 5, 2011


St. Alia, have you read the book Real Sex by Lauren Winner? I recommend it. I would assume you are already married, but it is an interesting look at what young Christians struggle with.

No, I haven't but it looks interesting.

I do wish that the Christian world would get over its (perceived or not) shyness when discussing sexual matters. Young people in particular would benefit.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:34 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


and I think the bigger problem these sorts of unrealistic/sometimes degrading porn scenarios cause are on young people who don't have any other sort of frame of reference. That's why I think eliminating the shame surrounding sexuality is so important -- if everyone can freely talk about this stuff, it's a lot easier to dispel fantastic myths about sex.

True. Sex ed is part of what we need — but I think part of it too is we need to be raising kids who are information-literate in general and know well enough to be like "Hey, cool, me and my girlfriend found another way that those goddamn advertisers are fucking with us" and not "Oh shit, me and my girlfriend don't live up to the ads."
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:34 PM on February 5, 2011


Forktine:

"... most people don't have very much sex ... my guess is that those realities are not disconnected from the quite heavy consumption of pornography by men (and probably equally so the heavy consumption of ... other sexualized media by women) ..."

But, what I'm saying is, (1) I don't agree with your premise (that most people don't have very much sex -- despite what you say, you and I seem to have very different ideas of how much sex consititutes "not very much") based on the statistics you cite, and --

(2) Even if your premise were correct, I think the conclusion you come to (that it is connected to usage of pornography and other sexualized media) is quite a leap. I don't see why that would follow at all, and I have never seen any research which supports it.


St. Alia:

"... [mastubation is] one of the few sexual activities the Bible never even mentions ..."

Interesting -- so you consider the sin of Onan to have been referring to withdrawal rather than masturbation, then? I agree, if so, but was under the impression that it is not a widely held view within many branches of Christianity.
posted by kyrademon at 5:42 PM on February 5, 2011


Interesting -- so you consider the sin of Onan to have been referring to withdrawal rather than masturbation, then? I agree, if so, but was under the impression that it is not a widely held view within many branches of Christianity.

Yes, that is what I think, and honestly that is how the passage reads as well.

The Bible does condemn lust and also fantasizing about partners other than one's spouse, (i.e. Jesus saying that looking at a woman lustfully was just as the sin of adultery) but despite the Bible covering incest, bestiality (!) and various other combinations and permutations of human sexual behavior the one thing I have never seen (and mind you I have read this book cover to cover more than once) is a reference to masturbation.

I realize that many churches teach against it, to include my own. I have personally decided that it is a matter of personal conviction and am content to leave it at that.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:54 PM on February 5, 2011


But, what I'm saying is, (1) I don't agree with your premise (that most people don't have very much sex -- despite what you say, you and I seem to have very different ideas of how much sex consititutes "not very much") based on the statistics you cite, and --

(2) Even if your premise were correct, I think the conclusion you come to (that it is connected to usage of pornography and other sexualized media) is quite a leap. I don't see why that would follow at all, and I have never seen any research which supports it.


For the first, about 3/4 of married couples in their forties (and similar at other ages) are having sex 50 times a year or less, most of them a lot less. And for single guys in that same age bracket, it's about 90 percent who have sex once a week or less, with almost 50 percent not having sex at all in the past year. I'm sorry, but that isn't very much sex, quantitatively. Qualitatively, it might feel like too much, be more than satisfying, etc -- I'm not speculating about that. Just that having sex a few times a month or less, perhaps not at all, isn't a lot of sex.

And, looking at even very crude numbers on oral sex, what stands out is how few people are doing it, given how prominent it figures in our discussions of what a full and satisfying sex life entails.

So I'll stand by my observation that people on the whole aren't having a lot of sex, and will reemphasize that I'm not at all being negative about that. If you want to screw ten times a day, more power to you. Want to screw once a decade? Ditto. If it makes you happy and no one is harmed, I don't give a rat's ass one way or the other.

As to any link between that and porn, who knows? The author of the article in this FPP thinks that porn causes people to have less sex. My purely speculative (and 100% not based on research) guess was that it might be the reverse -- that having very little sex, and very little sexual variety, might cause someone to be more interested in porn. Either way, it's a guess, and the real answer might well be neither.
posted by Forktine at 6:03 PM on February 5, 2011


Some things that kinda irked me:

The article seems to assume that ladies do not, themselves, watch porn, and only relate to it through men. The two ("very open-minded") women interviewed for personal anecdotes simply agree with the author's premise—no dissenting views are presented. Women not consulted as to whether they intentionally imitate porn in the bedroom, as part of some kind of "arms race."

The author assumes that "male" means hetero, and from the sample provided, adult but middle-aged at most. That's a target demographic, not a gender.

And I'm not buying the article's premise. So, yeah.

My favorite thing about the piece? That for just a second, it made me feel like way more of a sex-positive, queer, feminist type than I actually am.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 6:06 PM on February 5, 2011


Interesting -- so you consider the sin of Onan to have been referring to withdrawal rather than masturbation, then? I agree, if so, but was under the impression that it is not a widely held view within many branches of Christianity.

According to my priest that story illustrates that if your brother dies and you have the responsibility to impregnate his wife, you should do it. Doesn't really apply to modern Christians any more than the Red Tent does. Lauren Winner also talks about it in her book.

My favorite story of the idea that thinking of sex with someone is as bad as doing it is when St John Chrysostom invites a bunch of zealots over for a delicious feast that smelled wonderful. After a long prayer he told them to leave and they were aghast since they hadn't eaten. He said "Oh, well obviously you thought about eating it, so it was as if you ate it!"

Of course controlling lust is part of general spiritual discipline. Christian men who aren't open about sex are the worst because they often have secret shameful porn habit and their sexuality is completely compartmentalized and messed up.
posted by melissam at 6:07 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Er, "women ^were not consulted"
posted by evidenceofabsence at 6:09 PM on February 5, 2011


Except, Forktine, about 3/4 of married couples in their forties (and similar at other ages) are also having sex 50 times a year or *more*. You see what I'm saying?

I'm having trouble understanding how you can define 50 times a year as "quantitatively low" when ... when there's no defined target quantity. You basically admit there's no defined quantity. If the quantity is "as much sex as someone wants" then you yourself say it can even be a lot lower than that. Are you simply assuming that most people want more sex than that and are for some reason not having it, even if they have a partner? Why? If not, what are you assuming?

What is this mysterious number which is "quantitatively" a "not low" amount of sex?
posted by kyrademon at 6:28 PM on February 5, 2011


melissam: Is having sex when you aren't that into it that bad? Once you start you'll have fun!

OR it's uncomfortable and irritating and the next time you think 'hey maybe I'll give it a go' you remember the meh of the previous round and figure something else might be more fun. Or you're still a bit sore because lube is not the cure-all people think it is. Orgasming doesn't mean it's good.

That's why I only have sex when I want to. If I'm not into it, sex is meh-to-bad and that has a disproportionately negative effect on both my libido and my deicsions to have sex (all complicated by survivor issues as well). Learning when 'giving it a go' will work is an ongoing process not helped in the slightest by well-meaning if inaccurate advice like 'once you start it'll be fun'.

fuse theorem: No but for some people the sex they see in porn seems to increase their expectations--sometimes to extremely unrealistic levels--of what constitutes a "winning score".

I think there is probably a few of us speaking from experience with pornhounds. One of my previous partners was WELL into porn and he was an idiot. He always genuinely thought the women in porn were orgasming, were having fun, were into it. According to him, oral sex after anal was enjoyable for women, as long as they were clean. During actual fun sex times it was distracting because his internal image of sex was so affected by the hours upon hours of pornography that 'having sex enjoyably positioned' came second to 'having sex in such a way that cameras can see' even though there were no cameras. Every position was lifted from porn and none of those positions were actually as good for real sex as porn made them look. But he just couldn't seem to adjust - every single time we had sex we'd have to have the same stupid back and forth and positioning issues. It was ridiculous and boring and unsatisfying. And all my fault because pornstars could come with no clitoral stimulation! I should work on that!

A girlfriend of mine also had the same sort of encounter. We were talking about her weekend booty call and she was irritated about it. He'd done the porn-fed 'change places!' thing to the point that none of it felt fun or sexy or anything, just a dreary set of actions to be completed to get to the money shot.

I think that's why a lot of people may not be anti-porn, but don't think it's super healthy for a relationship. Even with super-green-organic=fairtrade porn, there are limits to the visual nature of it when people LEARN from it.
posted by geek anachronism at 6:38 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


St. Alia of the Bunnies: I do wish that the Christian world would get over its (perceived or not) shyness when discussing sexual matters. Young people in particular would benefit.

Seriously!

And when that happens: please teach the kids about birth control and protection! Even if you don't want them having pre-marital sex, please please make sure that they know how to do it as safely as possible if they do do that thing that they shouldn't do (but statistically will do.)
posted by paisley henosis at 6:51 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


So true. Sexual activity doesn't always have to be perfect/result in orgasms for all involved. Just do it.

You know, there have been people in thread talking about the shame of men needing porn. Well, let me talk about the shame of women who don't want sex at any given moment.

Because, you see, when you've worked all day and then you get home and you have to cook dinner and clean the house while your husband sits on his ass, you are tired.

And then he comes up to you after having been looking at porn for hours and expects you to just magically be in the mood right then, after a long day of work and cleaning up after him and not having had him touch you until the second he's done gearing up with poverty-stricken young women from Eastern Europe doing what they have to do to survive.

And no, you're not horny right at that moment, because you're exhausted and pissed off and feel creepy that you're basically just a goddamn sex toy that can clean.

But that part of it doesn't come up in these kinds of threads. It's just 'ladies, you should just go with it!' and you feel like shit because that is a line you've heard before.
posted by winna at 7:14 PM on February 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think that dude should perhaps just admit that he's usually too self-absorbed to enjoy partnered sex. The porn is immaterial.
posted by desuetude at 7:26 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


And then he comes up to you after having been looking at porn for hours and expects you to just magically be in the mood right then, after a long day of work and cleaning up after him and not having had him touch you until the second he's done gearing up with poverty-stricken young women from Eastern Europe doing what they have to do to survive.

That's depressing. I'd hope that's not your own personal situation. What I was talking about was in a marriage putting aside time for sex even if you don't really feel like it. Not because your exhausted or unhappy with your spouse, but maybe you just feel blah.
posted by melissam at 7:26 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


winna, your probem isn't sex, it's your relationship. As in, it's one you should probably get out of. And I say that as a practicing sadist. If I think your partner isn't treating you right, well work it out.
posted by localroger at 7:33 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's deja vu all over again. They said the same thing about youth from my generation and National Geographic magazines.
posted by digsrus at 7:40 PM on February 5, 2011


> It's true that the medium of the Internet, which is private in an unprecedented way,

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posted by jfuller at 8:02 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because, you see, when you've worked all day and then you get home and you have to cook dinner and clean the house while your husband sits on his ass, you are tired.

I'd be tired because divorces are so exhausting. Who is this bum? Don Draper?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:10 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


@Astro: Don Draper's wife is a housewife, she doesn't work all day and come home tired.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:16 PM on February 5, 2011


More interesting to me than this article was a link in an appended comment to a video about porn addiction. Also interesting was a sidebar listing of an article about pornography and the junior high school culture and another about the explosion of porn online.

The pornography industry requires artifice, an intrusion into the sexual and emotional nature of human beings; to at least some degree it violates the actors and arguably the audience, as well. It is philosophically questionable in the same way causing animals or people to fight with and hurt one another for the entertainment value, for profit, is. And, since it seems the shock and awe must escalate, that becomes a problem in itself. How far is too far? Not having an easy answer does not exempt thinking people from examining the question. It isn't a question of hating or loving pornography. It is a question more like, "Do we know what we are doing?"

We are all affected by the speed with which our world is changed by our technology and in ways we cannot actually predict. Camera phones are just the tip of the iceberg for parents whose children are probably more technologically advanced than they are. That the unprecedented level of readily accessible pornography might be affecting the development of healthy sexuality in young people is certainly of legitimate interest to parents, therapists and educators.

Why aren't we talking about this? I think we should be having intelligent conversation about pornography, conversation that is not cluttered and derailed by religion or politics.
posted by Anitanola at 8:21 PM on February 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Because, you see, when you've worked all day and then you get home and you have to cook dinner and clean the house while your husband sits on his ass, you are tired.

Unfortunatley this is not an atypical experience. You are right to be upset. The thing is he's got to find an alternate evening routine that includes you and develops the interest that leads to more good sex later. You have to have a very direct but non-confrontational conversation about this. State that the current sexual intercourse is unsatisfactory. Tell him that the evening routine needs to be more balanced if he wants you to have a good sexual experience. See how that works. Also let him know that you need foreplay and that's not going to involve watching porn.
posted by humanfont at 8:28 PM on February 5, 2011


I'd be tired because divorces are so exhausting.

Oh, no, divorce isn't exhausting at all! Divorce is the easy part. The truly sad part is how long it takes, sometimes, for women to realize that they deserve more, even if deserving more is being single.

And humanfont is right, it's not atypical. But I doubt many people have the energy to fight the pattern, especially when their partner has what feels like the entire world bolstering the notion that it's not him, it's you. Women should be GGG - which translates, in a lot of people's minds, to women should just do whatever the man wants for fear of being called or feeling frigid.

I'm sure people will tell me I'm arguing a strawman, but it is not.
posted by winna at 8:53 PM on February 5, 2011


It is philosophically questionable in the same way causing animals or people to fight with and hurt one another for the entertainment value, for profit, is.

This is a hell of a leap. Boxers and porn stars are not Michael Vick's dogs, and I choose not to infantilize them by presuming they have no capacity for consent.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:55 PM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


It is philosophically questionable in the same way causing animals or people to fight with and hurt one another for the entertainment value, for profit, is.

You've just reduced the agency of people who choose to perform in pornography to that of animals. Can you really justify that? You've provided no reason for calling it philosophically questionable, you've just begged the question.
posted by Justinian at 8:55 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


"This is a hell of a leap"

Not really. I was the only boy in a family full of women, and I certainly wouldn't want my sisters involved with porn, or my Mom, or my nieces. There are many critical positions that one could take against pornography -- marxist/political, sociological, feminist, psychological, religious/philosophical. A few have been brought up in the thread, only to be drowned out by accusations of being anti-sex, repressed or puritanical. The lack of critical thinking is rather sad.

And Woody Allen reference fail. The correct answer was "Shadows and Fog."
posted by puny human at 9:14 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


The pornography industry requires artifice, an intrusion into the sexual and emotional nature of human beings; to at least some degree it violates the actors and arguably the audience, as well.

Which is to say, exhibitionists are not people? Or, there is no way a human being could be emotionally compartmentalized with respect to sex, so that they could be perfectly healthy and still not mind showing their sexual acts?

Besides which, arguably any sexual expression can be reductively viewed as an objectification of the performer and the viewer. What is a sexy striptease between a husband and a wife besides her displaying her plumage as if she were some sort of animal that must perform for his amusement, after all?

To me, any argument along these lines, including yours, is indicative of something deeply sex-negative.
posted by TypographicalError at 9:15 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well bunnies, I hope this has been a good learning experience for you.

Like my freshman year roommate would say "I won because you had to think and I didn't".
posted by hal_c_on at 9:22 PM on February 5, 2011


puny human: There are many critical positions that one could take against pornography -- marxist/political, sociological, feminist, psychological, religious/philosophical.

And many have taken those positions, and very eloquently. But was this thread supposed to become the Tractatus Antipornicus?

A few have been brought up in the thread, only to be drowned out by accusations of being anti-sex, repressed or puritanical. The lack of critical thinking is rather sad.

Drowned out? Lack of critical thinking? If that's what's going on in this thread, I don't see it. I see a thoughtful discussion going on.

Anitanola: I think we should be having intelligent conversation about pornography, conversation that is not cluttered and derailed by religion or politics.

If you think a conversation about pornography, or sex for that matter, can be had without being cluttered by religion or politics, think again.
posted by blucevalo at 9:40 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


melissam: What I was talking about was in a marriage putting aside time for sex even if you don't really feel like it. Not because your exhausted or unhappy with your spouse, but maybe you just feel blah.

Then say that. Be precise. Don't act as though 'ride that thing!' is actually a decent solution for MOST sexual dysfunction. Because there are a hell of a lot more women saying "I'm fucking exhausted and you want me to stay up later to get your end away when you can't even stick your socks in the laundry" than there are saying "nah, couldn't really be bothered right now". I mean, even my "couldn't be bothered right now" is predicated on a basis where the result of 'just do it' has been really meh and ineffective.

I'd rather have less frequent AWESOMESAUCE sex than more frequent meh sex. And a LOT of the articles from women having sex because they're going with the 'just do it' mention things like reading (Ayelet whatever-her-name-is) or watching TV, or something else I think is pretty damn incompatible with good sex. And pretty well along the trade scale of 'you get sex, so you have to do X/I did X, you should give me sex' like it's some sort of commodity within the relationship. Or even more ick, the "I cleaned up after myself, where's my sexual favour?" style of communication.

And how about putting aside time for fun and being together? Because if the time is for sex, you'll end up with a lot more resentment because sex stops being fun and enjoyable and is this expected chore. Pretty much every woman I have ever spoken to who has done that has hated it. Not just not enjoyed it, but hated it and come to resent her partner because sex stops being about the relationship and starts being an expectation. It becomes masturbating with your partner, and not in the fun way. I cop a fair amount of flack for my perpetual sex advice of "stop for a while" but I've had more success with it, and so have a lot of women I've spoken to, because it means the physical connection stops just being about ORGASM NAO and transforms the expectation into anticipation. And it lets you develop your own libido in a space without the continual press and pawing that seems to pass for sexual openness.
posted by geek anachronism at 9:43 PM on February 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


What I was talking about was in a marriage putting aside time for sex even if you don't really feel like it.

But, that should go both ways and, often times it rarely does. I used to chase my ex about the apartment like a sex crazed nympho and, would get turned down more often than not with lame excuses. Then, he started having problems with ED and, said one day "can I wake you up in the middle of the night?" I agreed, but when the time came it didn't play out like it had in the past with him (I had fond memories of early in the relationship when we'd have sleepy sex in the wee hours) this time he shook me awake and, made no time for foreplay at all after he had more than likely worked himself up with his porn stash. Once he was finished he left the room saying, "you must think all men are pigs."

Unfortunatley this is not an atypical experience.

I wish it was. If more men realized how god damn sexy dish pan hands were they'd roll up their sleeves more often.

Winna, I don't.
posted by squeak at 9:45 PM on February 5, 2011


There are many critical positions that one could take against pornography -- marxist/political, sociological, feminist, psychological, religious/philosophical.

Perhaps. But it's an awfully massive derail from the actual discussion here. And I'd point out that there are critical positions in all of these movements for pornography.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:49 PM on February 5, 2011


It's just 'ladies, you should just go with it!' and you feel like shit because that is a line you've heard before.

I do hope, winna, that this slacker husband you describe is not yours. But even if he isn't, it's true that this is a relatively common scenario. It's true that many women are tired; they still pick up a disproportionate amount of housework and childcare. This much IS statistically verifiable. It's also true that women, at various stages of their lives, give more demanding physical care than men do... from breastfeeding to (for some women) having youngsters hanging on or around their legs all day.

Add to this that the stakes are higher for women (potential pregnancy--and if you've had one scare, it's going to stick with you), and sure, many women are going to more wary or self-protective about sex. Saying a disproportionate number of women "would rather not have sex" is a simplistic way to put it, but I can understand the statement.

I'm basing my comments on personal experience and anecdata from friends. And for some of my friends, what winna describes is pretty much on-target. Not the absentee partner part so much, but the idea that some women are very offended by the idea of being asked to put out (yet more) because a SO happens to be hopped up on porn.

(Which is not to say I'm personally offended by porn in all forms, because I'm not.)
posted by torticat at 9:59 PM on February 5, 2011


winna: “Oh, no, divorce isn't exhausting at all! Divorce is the easy part. The truly sad part is how long it takes, sometimes, for women to realize that they deserve more, even if deserving more is being single.”

Have you ever been divorced?
posted by koeselitz at 10:13 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Although this article was weak, it is unfortunate (yet predictable) that on the internet so many people get their hackles raised and their knees jerked at the mere suggestion that porn might be creating some bad effects in society.

Personally I think it would be really interesting to see whether there's a correlation between different kinds of use of porn (frequency, type of porn, age when started to use, etc.) and how bad someone's sexual partners think they are in bed. Because if there's anything in that article I keep hearing over and over and over, it's not libido issues, it's this:

‘There is no glory in trying to make love to men who only know how to fuck—man after man after man after man raised on porn.’ There have been times in the past,” Sadie continues, “when I would be with someone and thinking, Jesus fucking Christ, what the fuck kind of stupid porn have you been watching?
posted by Ashley801 at 10:18 PM on February 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is the sort of thread where Smedleyman used to drop in and write like eight paragraphs about how much he liked to bonk his wife. Remember that? I like him a lot but there's something about the username 'Smedleyman' in that context that really grossed me out. I picture that 'Smedleyman' as this sort of Ned Flanders deal, banging away while wearing a grinning rictus and taking precise notes for the church wife-fuck breakfast. I'm sure he's not anything like that. Anyway. Hope he shows up and does a classic.
posted by Kwine at 10:27 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you like, I could write more about how much I like to bonk my husband to make up the deficit. :D
posted by Jacqueline at 10:33 PM on February 5, 2011


This also reminds me of the recent study in which the wealthier subjects had less of an ability to recognize the emotions of people around them than poorer subjects did -- the idea being that poorer people are more interdependent with those around them than wealthier people are, so wealthier people can afford not to notice as much how others feel.

I would be completely unsurprised if a similar idea were at play making people who consume porn in certain ways awful in bed. I often cringe when I see mainstream porn because it's obvious that the women are uncomfortable/in pain/trying to withstand it/high/ashamed/&etc. And I cringe when I see people who are able to get off to it despite this, or don't notice or care.

They don't have to care - when you're watching porn, you can afford not to notice if others are enjoying the sex.
posted by Ashley801 at 10:37 PM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


three hundred vaginas doing what?

Defending the pass at Thermopylae, apparently.
posted by Ritchie at 11:08 PM on February 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


it is unfortunate (yet predictable) that on the internet so many people get their hackles raised and their knees jerked at the mere suggestion that porn might be creating some bad effects in society.

Well, one of the problems is the "might be." And a second is the "why aren't we talking about this?" perspective mentioned earlier. That's the only opening we need for another cascading societal scare based on nothing more than poor anecdotal information, echoing Puritanical mores, and general uneasiness.

You see, history is absolutely slam-full of this. At one point, Elvis was destroying our youth and before that, radio was killing off local entertainment. Then movies killed theater. We can trace the "look at the depraved kids these days" all the way back to Rome. The youth have been getting systematically corrupted each and every generation. There's always someone out there willing to imply that whatever is new is probably going to be bad for society at large.

Of course, there's room for thinking and talking about such things. But the truth is, even if porn consumption does turn out to be some huge problem with massive effects going forward, we have no current way of knowing what the problems or effects will be. Any concrete action that comes out of these vague, anecdotal fears may just as easily do harm as good. As previously stated, I don't think anyone would argue that porn--just like anything else--can be abused. The capacity for abuse almost seems like a necessary part of the definition of a human being in its natural environment. Also:

"‘There is no glory in trying to make love to men who only know how to fuck—man after man after man after man raised on porn.’ There have been times in the past,” Sadie continues, “when I would be with someone and thinking, Jesus fucking Christ, what the fuck kind of stupid porn have you been watching?"

This does sound like a modern problem, but again--what are its predecessors? A culture that never, ever shares sexual experiences and shames sexuality at every turn save for procreation? A culture where women aren't even considered a volitional being during sex? A culture where two virgins marry who may have only the dimmest of ideas of what sex even is or how it's supposed to work, poisoned by myth and superstition? Really, young virgin males are idiots in the absence of sex ed. Porn may be dysfunctional but it's clearly human sex.

Internet culture, and free-porn culture, are both still new. They are becoming a part of society, and in doing so, will without question disrupt and change for better and worse. That's a bus it won't do any good to try and fumble out in front of, because we don't even know where it's going and there isn't a steering wheel. I suppose it's easy to see such a thing and be fearful, but all fear ever seems to drive is conservatism.

So yes, I hope that it is predictable, and becomes more predictable, that so many people get their hackles raised and knees jerked at the suggestion that {insert new freely available thing here} might be creating some bad effects in society--without any concrete evidence, clear qualifications for what the bad effects might be, general idea (and agreement!) of what constitutes a bad effect in the larger social-development scheme, and so on.

As it stands, yes--I will assert with no doubt that some people, wherever they may be, were miseducated or misnormalized by pornography. I will also assert with no doubt that some people absolutely take porn too far and may even be ignoring a significant other as an apparent result, or going about sex in not-altogether-productive ways because of a digital love life. However, I can also say roughly the same thing concerning every human form of expression ever. And there's very little possible positive outcome. At best, those who are abusing porn and don't realize it (a subset's subset) might catch word. At worst, we might try to crack down on internet porn and kill off all sorts of freedom and anonymity in the name of protecting our youth from corrupting themselves. Or start pushing porn further down the road of incremental marginalization that cigarettes are already on, and who knows what other problematic forms of expression with it. I'd love to say that such a thing sounds like the slipperiest of slopes, but I also never thought we'd accuse an underage girl of propagating child porn for sexting. I'd say I'm justifiably wary of the real, concrete ways that our culture overreacts to all things sexual.
posted by Phyltre at 11:28 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not really. I was the only boy in a family full of women, and I certainly wouldn't want my sisters involved with porn, or my Mom, or my nieces.

I wouldn't want my male family members to play football but that doesn't make it morally reprehensible.
posted by Justinian at 11:31 PM on February 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


I suppose it's easy to see such a thing and be fearful, but all fear ever seems to drive is conservatism.

Just want to point out, Phyltre, that most of your post is about your fears as to what will happen if we start looking at the effects of porn.

It's irrational to say that we shouldn't fear the effects of porn, because fear drives conservatism --- and to make that argument with examples of all the things you fear will happen if we do so! (Cascading societal scares! Puritan mores! Freedom will die!, etc.)

Any concrete action that comes out of these vague, anecdotal fears may just as easily do harm as good.

No offense intended, seriously, but I think the concrete action that comes out of your vague, anecdotal fears of that censorship and the death of freedom if we start really taking a critical look at porn, could do a lot of real harm to people too.

Honestly, being afraid to look at things critically can never be the way to have a really free society.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:45 PM on February 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


if internet porn enhances lazy dorkface's stroke-time and reduces the amount of time that he spends being bored while tediously and mechanically banging his date hoping that she turns into a Fleshlight, then it's a net plus for everyone.

For me...yay internet porn! Because the more opportunities for stimulation I get, the more I'm ready to go like yes, now, anytime, please, absolutely. Yay internet porn for anyone who likes a little inspiration for jerking off. Yay, sex. Yay, masturbation. Yay, enjoying it.

Look, sex with another person is hot in awesomely complicated ways that masturbation (while great) can't provide. Solo and partner sex are not at all exclusive, at all at all at all.
posted by desuetude at 11:51 PM on February 5, 2011


Just saw this on Reddit: Scientists: All men look at porn
posted by Jacqueline at 12:06 AM on February 6, 2011


I don't watch porn, because I find it kind of boring due to poor plot/poor characterisation (make porn with compelling plot and characterisation, and I'll watch it) - but I'm feeling a bit alarmed by all the anti-porn sentiment happening here.

Porn can be wonderful!

Things that porn is wonderful for:

Single men;

Single women;

Couples watching porn together as a shared activity - perhaps looking for inspiration for new positions or kinks;

Relationships where one partner desires sex more frequently than the other partner - say one partner wants sex three times a week, and the other partner wants sex every day;

When one partner is unwell, injured, or tired;

Where one partner has a kink not shared by the other partner...
posted by Sockpuppets 'R' Us at 12:17 AM on February 6, 2011


I often cringe when I see mainstream porn because it's obvious that the women are uncomfortable/in pain/trying to withstand it/high/ashamed/&etc.

In fairness, on the rare occasions when you see the guy's face (which is almost never in the contemporary "POV" style, and fairly rare in the older style stuff which is still totally focused on the women), the dudes don't often look like they are having a total blast. There are better companies that tend to have happier actors, and crappier companies that tend to have miserable looking actors, definitely.

But characterizing it just as unhappy women I think misses how gender plays out in the performances, at least in the somewhat limited amount of porn I have seen.
posted by Forktine at 1:09 AM on February 6, 2011


TypographicalError: Which is to say, exhibitionists are not people? Or, there is no way a human being could be emotionally compartmentalized with respect to sex, so that they could be perfectly healthy and still not mind showing their sexual acts?

The false equivalency of 'but exhibitionism!' and 'healthy sexual appetites include visual sexual expression!' doesn't help either. Do you really honestly think all porn actors are exhibitionists? That they're all having fun? Or even good sex? That it isn't inextricably entwined with a culture that simultaneously despises, reviles and sells sex?

Accusations of sex-negativity shit me to tears. How is sex so goddamn precious that we can't even criticise the negative aspects of it? Particularly since it's less about sex, and more about the consumerist nature of pornography?
posted by geek anachronism at 2:01 AM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


So you're really saying that just as many women have, for example, had orgasms as men? Seriously?</em

Amazed no one's jumped on this. Female orgasms and male orgasms are biologically very different and the inability to achieve one isn't necessarily, for a woman, an indication she is not interested in sex. You've really got the wrong end of the stick in a major way here, no pun intended.

posted by Summer at 2:01 AM on February 6, 2011


Oops. Damn formatting. Apologies.
posted by Summer at 2:02 AM on February 6, 2011


Do you really honestly think all porn actors are exhibitionists? That they're all having fun? Or even good sex?

I might be wrong about this, but my impression is that everyone working in the American porn industry genuinely wants to be in pornography, otherwise they wouldn't be there. So, yes, they might all be exhibitionists. I haven't seen any evidence to the contrary.
posted by creasy boy at 2:24 AM on February 6, 2011


When you watch porn, “you’re bonding with it,” Kuszewski says. “And those chemicals make you want to keep coming back to have that feeling.”

I know. *blush* I have the same problem with listening to music. Promise not to tell!
posted by Twang at 2:26 AM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Eh, I don't think you have to overstate the case like that creasy boy. Some or a lot of the people working inthe American porn industry are probably not exhibitionists and are doing it for money, much like most Americans in other industries are doing it for the money. I mean, I don't pretend the guy serving me the burger at In-N-Out is pursuing a career in fast food service because it has always been his secret joy.
posted by Justinian at 3:23 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]



I know. *blush* I have the same problem with listening to music. Promise not to tell!


Music has been considered harmful for this very reason since Plato's Republic.
posted by acb at 3:57 AM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some or a lot of the people working in the American porn industry are probably not exhibitionists and are doing it for money, much like most Americans in other industries are doing it for the money. I mean, I don't pretend the guy serving me the burger at In-N-Out is pursuing a career in fast food service because it has always been his secret joy.

Yes but the guy serving you the burger at In-N-Out isn't pursuing a career in fast food service at all. It was just the nearest job he could get. It's my understanding that people have to make an effort to get a porn career going, and that you can't really succeed at it if it's not suited to your inclinations and abilities. That's why you can assume that professional actors have some passion for acting, professional musicians have some passion for music, etc. whereas you shouldn't assume that the garbageman has a passion for garbage.
posted by creasy boy at 4:23 AM on February 6, 2011


Typographicalerror: "To me, any argument along these lines, including yours, is indicative of something deeply sex-negative."

Wanting to discover whether something valuable to human experience (such as the incentive or the ability to bond with a future partner sufficiently to provide adequately for the socialization of offspring) might be diminished or destroyed entirely when pre-teens and teens use pornography before they are mature enough or educated enough to make informed choices about the use of pornography is not a sex-negative position. It is a responsible position for adults, parents and social scientists to take.

The assertion that exhibitionists do work in the pornography industry does not in any way disprove the likelihood that other people are working there because they are trapped by a need to earn money when they have no better way to earn it, by addiction or by factors they had no control over including the effect of their own childhood abuse. Any of these motives can be true of an actor in pornography. Agency is not as easy to correctly assume as one might think.

You ask, "What is a sexy striptease between a husband and a wife besides her displaying her plumage as if she were some sort of animal that must perform for his amusement, after all?"

It is part of their relationship. It is play. It is not a commodity for public consumption. It is a matter of consent and mutual choice. That is an example of agency. However, it also might well be influenced and shaped by pornography and therefore might not be quite as unequivocally free agency; it might also be less mutually exciting and satisfying than a game they devised for themselves without the instruction of pornography, unless you think commercial pornographers are more imaginative and intelligent than you are as a couple and provide better ideas for your relationship than you can.
posted by Anitanola at 4:28 AM on February 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


However, it also might well be influenced and shaped by pornography and therefore might not be quite as unequivocally free agency

Why is there less free agency in a strip-tease if it's influenced by pornography? Can't people be freely influenced by pornography? Isn't everything we do influenced by some sort of cultural model?
posted by creasy boy at 5:15 AM on February 6, 2011


Astro Zombie: "This is a hell of a leap. Boxers and porn stars are not Michael Vick's dogs, and I choose not to infantilize them by presuming they have no capacity for consent."

Justinian: "You've just reduced the agency of people who choose to perform in pornography to that of animals."

Not the point. I am saying the porn industry is philosophically questionable in the same way that dog fighting and prize fighting are philosophically questionable. The dogs might love it, the fighters might love it and there might be porn actors who love it but the decision to produce and sell the viewing of these entertainments does present an ethical question. Is this a good thing for people to do? Does it improve the quality of life and do no damage? There is much attention to animal abuse, to many kinds of environmentally irresponsible business practices and it is fairly within the scope of human concern to determine whether a business one either conducts or patronizes is an ethical one. It is also inconsistent to assert that sexual practices alone of all human behavior must not be questioned. In the past technology has provided what seemed to be a very easy and harmless solution to certain problems that were later recognized as doing more harm than good. Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" comes to mind as well as the problems all over the world caused by the introduction of invasive species of plants and animals.

If internet pornography has only been widely available for approximately ten years, people whose sexuality might have been informed by it are just now young adults, so there has not been enough time to produce studies to answer this question definitively. Therefore, there is all the more reason to discuss possible dangers as well as what many immediately feel are obvious benefits.
posted by Anitanola at 5:58 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you like, I could write more about how much I like to bonk my husband to make up the deficit. :D

Go on...

Is this a good thing for people to do? Does it improve the quality of life and do no damage?

I presume you are also asking the same questions about people who are financially forces to work minimum wage jobs.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:06 AM on February 6, 2011


creasy boy: I might be wrong about this, but my impression is that everyone working in the American porn industry genuinely wants to be in pornography, otherwise they wouldn't be there.

You're right. The lucrativeness of porn has nothing to do with it. They're just working in porn because they want to be there.

It's my understanding that people have to make an effort to get a porn career going, and that you can't really succeed at it if it's not suited to your inclinations and abilities.

What about if it's something you can and do make yourself succeed at because you need or want the money? I think you underestimate people's ability to compartmentalize. Success at being a porn actor has nothing necessarily to do with "inclination" or "ability," whatever that means. It's possible to make yourself succeed at something that you dislike doing if you have to.

Anitanola: Wanting to discover whether something valuable to human experience (such as the incentive or the ability to bond with a future partner sufficiently to provide adequately for the socialization of offspring) might be diminished or destroyed entirely when pre-teens and teens use pornography before they are mature enough or educated enough to make informed choices about the use of pornography is not a sex-negative position. It is a responsible position for adults, parents and social scientists to take.

If that's your argument, then we also need to take a much more stringent look at magazines, TV, film, advertisements, and other media that represent women in a degrading way and that bias kids and adolescents towards interacting with others in dehumanizing ways. It's not just porn that's got people treating each other in dehumanizing ways. 70% of American TV shows have at least some form of sexual content. It's hard to imagine that a lot of that content is conducive to what you say is a propensity to bond sufficiently with a future partner to produce well-socialized offspring. And it's reasonable to assume that kids (in the US, anyway) have far more access to TV from an early age than they do to porn.
posted by blucevalo at 6:17 AM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


"It's my understanding that people have to make an effort to get a porn career going..."

Not here in Las Vegas! There are several billboards around town offering women the opportunity to "Make $500 tonight!" by "auditioning" with a local porn company.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:27 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this a good thing for people to do? Does it improve the quality of life and do no damage?

Astro Zombie:
I presume you are also asking the same questions about people who are financially forces to work minimum wage jobs.

Just wondering, AZ ... in threads where people talk about the issues surrounding minimum wage, or the rights of workers, or the social effects of capitalism, where people do ask those questions about people who are financially forced to work minimum wage jobs ... do you say so those people, "Well! If you're going to ask about that, I presume you're also asking the same questions about Other Social Issue X, Y, Z?" In other words, do you imply that those posters are being hypocritical by asking those particular questions about that particular social issue in those threads? Do you look for ways that what they say isn't valid if they haven't discussed/don't necessarily think the same things about other forms of potential exploitation? I enjoy a lot of your comments, and I don't see this elsewhere.
posted by Ashley801 at 7:57 AM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Allright, let's look at some concrete examples. The article mentioned Gia Jordan and Sasha Grey, so I looked them up. Sasha Grey seems to have worked as a waitress to save up enough to move to LA and work in porn. She represents herself through her own agency and on the side she does modeling and plays in a band. Gia Jordan dropped out of college and now works as a photographer as well as porn actress. I'm sure they do porn for money, but there's nothing to indicate that they are "trapped", that they have no other way to make a living for themselves, that they are drug-addicts or that they were molested as children. To all appearances they are grown women fully in control of their own lives. Why shouldn't we believe that they have exactly the careers they want to have?
posted by creasy boy at 8:08 AM on February 6, 2011


Be cause not everyone is wise. Our society idealizes freedom, telling us that whatever we choose must necessarily be good for us, but that's often not the case.

I guess this is a good place to mention one of my favorite comic songs: Sarah Silverman's "The Porn Song." I think it rings true.
posted by koeselitz at 8:23 AM on February 6, 2011


in threads where people talk about the issues surrounding minimum wage, or the rights of workers, or the social effects of capitalism, where people do ask those questions about people who are financially forced to work minimum wage jobs ... do you say so those people, "Well! If you're going to ask about that, I presume you're also asking the same questions about Other Social Issue X, Y, Z?"

I don't know. I haven't participated in a thread like that. I suppose I would if I thought it was part of a larger or related system that wasn't being explored. But my response here is predicated on the assumption that sex workers are somehow uniquely exploited. And, as I said, the question of the exploitation of sex workers seems a bit of a side-discussion to the question of whether easy access to pornography is ruining sex for American men. And it's such a vast, fraught side-discussion that it is likely to overwhelm the actual subject of the thread.

So, I guess, my question for you is are you taking issue with me for derailing a derail?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:30 AM on February 6, 2011


No offense intended, seriously, but I think the concrete action that comes out of your vague, anecdotal fears of that censorship and the death of freedom if we start really taking a critical look at porn, could do a lot of real harm to people too.

I'm not sure what exactly separates me from this mindset, but you're absolutely right that I'm not willing to starting trying to "do something" if we don't know what that something's going to do. Even if it means something potentially worse might happen otherwise. At no point does my conscience prompt me to take action without really clear information. You're absolutely right that I'd much rather harm people through inaction than poorly informed action. Because I freely admit that I don't know better than everyone else in this case. It all seems a bit too reactionary.

I ran into the same thing during the worst part of the economic downturn. Everybody was agitating to "do something", on the vague premise that not "doing something" would be bad even though what we actually did seemed to benefit the wrong people. That's certainly not an argument for this space, but I'm curious why my concerns here are being interpreted as fear.

I'm all for the discussion, but only once we have the data and know the discussion is worth having. Until then, we're just speculating and all we have is poor anecdotal assertions on both sides. And yes, having the discussion before we have the data is almost certain to be worse than no data at all, because our culture is full of "think of the children" figures in power and they never cease to amaze. To be clear, my earlier comments on smoking weren't meant to be a bad example. I hate smoking and the negative effects are writ large all across the data for years now. I was merely giving that as an example of how our current culture marginalizes things now, for better and worse.

And something else that I might not be expressing--I wonder what the desired outcome of the discussion would be. Assuming porn consumption gets tied to societal wrongs, should we have a porn pyramid with the healthy stuff at the bottom? I guess I'm saying that anybody who's abusing porn and doesn't know it will probably need something more than someone telling them so to figure it out, since they're already denying the signs in their own life.

Certainly I'm weary of vaguely similar discussions that don't seem to have any end in sight. For decades we've all been fretting over whether violent video games increase violence. So far, there's been no increase in violent crime at large in the US even though first person shooters are being played by tens of millions of people in America. Must be a very specific sort of violence not to show up in the numbers--and yes, that feels like fearmongering a lot more than my "fears" of reactionary, ill-informed policies and initiatives springing from a poor understanding of the dynamics at work in modern porn consumption's effects on people.
posted by Phyltre at 8:37 AM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry AZ, I posted my comment then went to bed. Much like porn, I was just trying to stimulate the mass debate.

Look, there are a lot of people happily rationalizing their consumption of porn in this thread, but there is not much depth to the arguments, other than all sex is good, puritanism bad.

Look at the Thailand sex thread posted today. Almost everyone is disgusted in that thread. But what would we say about watching videos of the exact same activity from Thailand? I'm sure they are just a google away.

Or remember when everyone on Mefi grouped together and "saved" those two Russian girls from becoming involved with the sex trade in Manhattan? Remember how proud everyone was?

What about the wildly different levels of porn available. Would you want your daughter filmed working the donkey show in Tijuana?


Anyway, I know this is lame, but I'm packing for a trip to South America and have to bow out now. I'll leave it to ashley, anitanola and the others to fight the good fight ;)
posted by puny human at 8:45 AM on February 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Isn't Sasha Grey like one of the most ridiculously famous porn stars around? I wouldn't be surprised if my mother knew who she was. She's had a recurring role on Entourage and starred in a Steven Soderbergh movie. I'm not making any claims about what the average porn star in the street's life is like, but I'm pretty sure she's not living it.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 8:46 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Would you want your daughter filmed working the donkey show in Tijuana?

These may be useful discussions, in a thread where its the primary question, but can I ask that you stop framing them as "men should be uncomfortable about women's participating in sexual businesses that we find morally reprehensible."

You've done it a few times, and its a dubious rhetorical device. There are all sorts of things that people don't want their daughters doing that their daughters have every right to do if they choose. The sexual morality or exploitation of women is not dictated by the comfort or discomfort of their male relatives.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:51 AM on February 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


That being said, your thumb in the ass joke was quite funny.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:51 AM on February 6, 2011


I recommended this in the deleted thread, so I'm posting it again here: this book is one of my absolute favorites when it comes to discussing sex work.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:53 AM on February 6, 2011


Look, there are a lot of people happily rationalizing their consumption of porn in this thread, but there is not much depth to the arguments, other than all sex is good, puritanism bad.

Look at the Thailand sex thread posted today. Almost everyone is disgusted in that thread. But what would we say about watching videos of the exact same activity from Thailand? I'm sure they are just a google away.

Or remember when everyone on Mefi grouped together and "saved" those two Russian girls from becoming involved with the sex trade in Manhattan? Remember how proud everyone was?

What about the wildly different levels of porn available. Would you want your daughter filmed working the donkey show in Tijuana?


I think lots of the "justifiers" aren't seeing any of that as part of the argument. The initial article didn't mention it at all. It was a discussion about whether porn consumption is affecting men's relationships with their partners. A discussion of the vagaries of the porn trade almost seems to belong somewhere else, since that's a completely different issue.
posted by Phyltre at 8:56 AM on February 6, 2011


make porn with compelling plot and characterisation -- and you have romance novels, I'm pretty sure. Help yourself!

The thing I'm most upset about is only learning last night that today is Porn Sunday. We'll never be able to get a sitter on such short notice!
posted by fartknocker at 9:08 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


So you're saying that one hundred percent of women have had orgasms, and are sex-positive?

Uhhhh, sex for women isn't all about achieving orgasm. It does feel very good regardless. Orgasm feels incredible, but the rest of it feels good too. Women who aren't sex positive probably have partners who they don't want to really be with sexually or aren't very skilled at making them feel good.

I also think that loving and being in love with the person you're having sex with makes a woman want it. But that's my personal belief. Some women argue that they can have sex with lots of guys and judge their technique, and it doesn't have to do with having a connection with them. I don't know anything about that. I don't think I could ever do that. I adore and love my husband. We've been together for many years now. I could never love anyone the way I love him. Without going into the details of our private activities, I could never want another man the way I want him in real life, and maybe that makes all the difference.

I feel so bad for you for not knowing that most women do not hate sex. From reading previous posts, I assume you're not a young, inexperienced man, and yet you think orgasm is the sole thing that makes a sexual experience positive for a woman?

Side question: Do a lot of men not know this?
posted by anniecat at 9:17 AM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


you think orgasm is the sole thing that makes a sexual experience positive for a woman?

To be fair, I have known women for whom this both is and is not the case. There's definitely a continuum there. I agree with your larger point, though.
posted by Phyltre at 9:19 AM on February 6, 2011


"Leave out for the moment whether or not Live Human Partner is satisfied. If porn has no effect (for the sake of argument let's just consider the anectdotal men in the article) then why is it they can't orgasm with a real partner when they obviously can with the porn? "

When masterbating one has direct control informed by unfiltered positive feedback of what is working. Even the best partners can't give one that. If you're having trouble that unfiltered feedback can be the difference between success and failure.

yersinia writes "And internet pornography at the level guys use it today clearly fails all four of those tests-- it's [...] (d)provides stimulation orders-of-magnitude in excess of what any male would have experienced throughout evolutionary history. "

I wonder about the orders of magnitude. Before privacy was practical were early humans likely to slip off some where they couldn't be observed to did they copulate like bonobos.

stinkycheese writes "I think a lot of guys are opting out of dating nowadays to scratch their sexual urges with a free wank to their favourite porn star instead of the anxiety, cost, and uncertainty of seeing actual flesh-and-blood women (with the attendant need for conversation and everything else that goes with dating). That's a very depressing presumption, and I'd be happy to be proven wrong, but that's what I see going on in the last ten years or so. "

Guys (and women for that matter) who can replace a relationship with regular wanking are probably better off not in a relationship.
posted by Mitheral at 9:40 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, this thread has kind of taken a turn for the surreal.

Phyltre basically already made the point I am going to make, but I think it merits my chiming in with my support.

puny human: "... there are a lot of people happily rationalizing their consumption of porn in this thread ... Look at the Thailand sex thread posted today. Almost everyone is disgusted in that thread. But what would we say about watching videos of the exact same activity[?]"

Well, in fact, many of the people "happily rationalizing" their porn have said that they would not watch such porn because they acknowledge that some porn can be exploitative.

There is only one person on this thread who seems to be staking out the extreme view that no made-in-the-U.S. porn is exploitative. I do not agree with that argument.

There are also few to no people on this thread who have argued that extremely heavy porn consumption can never be damaging under any circumstances. I also do not agree with this argument, if it has even really been put forth by anyone.

There are at this point, however, several people who are putting those arguments in other people's mouths, and conflating the two different issues together.

Please recall that the original article had nothing to say about the exploitative nature of porn, and it is a completely different issue from the aspects of porn that most of the people here have been defending. It was, in fact, mostly about the idea that porn is *sapping the male libido.*

Stop for a moment. Look over the thread. How many of the people you accuse of defending porn in all ways under all circumstances have actually just said that they find the premise of the article ludicrous?

Is this article -- this one, with its nonscience and nonsense, its hearsay reports and wild exaggerations -- really the hill you want to defend?

If it is not, you are welcome to defend a different hill, of course. There is certainly a real debate that exists between, say porn-positive feminism and porn-negative feminism. Just stop accusing people of attacking your hill and dismissing your arguments when they were talking about something completely different.

My own point of view on these issues: Exploitation of sex workers is a *serious* issue that should be acknowledged and dealt with. Porn addiction can most likely be, in my opinion, as real a problem as gambling addiction or hoarding, and people with such a problem should seek help. However, I have seen neither credible scientific evidence nor had personal experiences that lead me to believe that porn consumption is in and of itself a massive social problem. I am a frequent user of (nonexploitative) porn, and see no reason why I should stop.
posted by kyrademon at 10:05 AM on February 6, 2011


OK, I'll bite.
40 years ago, when porn began to be liberalized, the sex shown in magazines and movies was fairly similar to sex as in real life. Including all sorts of special interests. So the average boy or girl bought a product and got exactly what the label said. People having sex, in various ways. It was inspiring and educating. Many young people got ideas for more fun in bed. Many of the "porn" stars went on to have careers and a happy life.
Before that, everything sex was forbidden and bad. Also, it was immensely popular. As far as I can tell from older friends and family members, Mad Men isn't entirely off the mark. So for many elder people like my parents, the liberation of sex and porn is A Good Thing.
Fast forward to now. Internet porn is a weird and fascinating combination of amateur exhibitionism and gross exploitation. Some of it, but not much, like everyday sex. Often exciting and inspiring, but seldom educating. Each and every one of the porn stars, not least Ms. Grey are caught in a rut where their entire existence is porn.
Could this maybe, just maybe, have an effect on young(ish) people which is different from the effect porn had in the -70's or even -80's? Like the effect described in the article, where men and women are disappointed that their dates don't act like porn actors. Or the contrary effect, where young people distance themselves so much from porn, they end up not liking sex.
What I am trying to write, with difficulty, is that the argument today is not the same as it was in the sixties and seventies, and many people here, and in the wider public discourse, are still arguing points from back then.
posted by mumimor at 10:46 AM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: I kept earnestly pumping away
posted by ostranenie at 10:59 AM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, in fact, many of the people "happily rationalizing" their porn have said that they would not watch such porn because they acknowledge that some porn can be exploitative.

How many of the porn users on this threat are paying for their porn? I hope I'm wrong, but I expect many arean't. How are these women making a living? Are they making a living?
posted by melissam at 11:11 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I feel like there will never be any article published on the web that could stand up to the high and mighty expert-metafilter-review. Nothing is ever good enough to even spark discussion for you people. You dismiss EVERYTHING outright.

To me the article clearly had some truth to it and at least opens the door to a thoughtful discussion. I'm sure some people on metafilter are open-minded enough to approach the topic sincerely, but I can't wade through all the negativity.
posted by Wayman Tisdale at 11:13 AM on February 6, 2011


How many of the porn users on this threat are paying for their porn? I hope I'm wrong, but I expect many arean't. How are these women making a living? Are they making a living?

I couldn't tell you how much the women are or are not being paid, but porn is a $13B industry in America alone. A lot of people are clearly paying a lot of people for something.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:14 AM on February 6, 2011


What I am trying to write, with difficulty, is that the argument today is not the same as it was in the sixties and seventies, and many people here, and in the wider public discourse, are still arguing points from back then.

I think this might speak to regionality as much as anything else. In the American south and other traditionally conservative areas, porn is still occupying some of the same roles it did in the sixties and seventies--existing alongside a stridently prudish culture. (Even if much of that culture is hypocritical and rings hollow.) I'm not a resident of one of the Great Cities, but I imagine that if I were I would have a completely different view.

And on the rest--the change in available pornography itself--I think that speaks more to a competitive marketplace than anything else. There's been some discussion on this parallel to the phenomenon of the jewel beetle's attraction to shiny bottles (there was a good article about this, can't find it now) and how they're attracted to a large shiny thing more than females of their own species. One of the points of the article was that niche porn must increasingly address not the basics of sex but the peaks of unconscious concepts that we are looking for in sexuality. Be it statistically-improbable large breasts, unfathomably large penises, machinelike stamina, unicorn polyamory, excessive vocalization...these are all triggers that any given porn must play to in order to differentiate itself in the marketplace.

Which reminds me, this concept has already been explored! Even though I didn't realize it at the time...remember Demolition Man? I think they were trying to make their heavy-handed point about a sterile, harmless future, but in retrospect it also doesn't seem too far away from current discussion. Will the orgasm headset for two trump real sex?
posted by Phyltre at 11:14 AM on February 6, 2011


To me the article clearly had some truth to it

that article was based nearly entirely on anecdotes of people who may have been fictitious. i don't recall any citing of any research study in it.
posted by anniecat at 11:17 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sure some people on metafilter are open-minded enough to approach the topic sincerely, but I can't wade through all the negativity.


Ironically, it was the negativity of the leading questions of the leading article that made me wary of the discussion. It felt a lot like a mainstream scare piece that asks lots of questions, finds a few anecdotes that agree with the premise, and editorializes the rest. Clearly the discussion is occurring here and now anyway, but when it's framed so negatively from the start there's going to be lots of contrarianism.
posted by Phyltre at 11:17 AM on February 6, 2011


I think it would be interesting to see what happened if porn ever turned up on the internet. Wow, that would be something.
posted by ciderwoman at 11:43 AM on February 6, 2011


Statistical data isn't the only kind of truth. I'm a little bewildered by that response, and by Phyltre's "I'm all for the discussion, but only once we have the data and know the discussion is worth having" earlier in the thread. There are a lot of experiences in life that haven't been documented by science. Why are anecdotes about, for instance, being told to smile by strange men in the street worth so much concern and attention, while people are all [citation needed] when it come to ones about fucking men who keep trying to point your crotch at imaginary cameras? I'm not aware of research into either phenomenon. I don't know what is going to move any researcher to look into things like this anyway, if people don't first establish, through discussion, that they might be an issue. I'm not saying let's swallow everything we hear whole, or let's all make up a lot of nonsense and blithely proceed as if it were god's own truth. But this is life, we're all living it. We can talk about it, if not with scientific authority, then surely with authority of some kind?
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 11:50 AM on February 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


TFA read to me very much as if the author went out looking for examples to support his prefabricated conclusion, a conclusion which homed in with dreary predictability on the idea that too much sexual activity of the particular type which squicks the author must be bad for you.
posted by localroger at 11:57 AM on February 6, 2011


Could this maybe, just maybe, have an effect on young(ish) people which is different from the effect porn had in the -70's or even -80's? Like the effect described in the article, where men and women are disappointed that their dates don't act like porn actors. Or the contrary effect, where young people distance themselves so much from porn, they end up not liking sex.

And the effect on young(ish) people of seeing those same images in mainstream media -- on magazines, on TV, in the movies -- has absolutely zero impact on the feelings they have toward their partners? Because their partners don't look like Katy Perry or Gerard Butler? The images in mainstream media are by many orders of magnitude more perfection-obsessed now than they were in the 1970s and 1980s too.
posted by blucevalo at 12:01 PM on February 6, 2011


I'm not saying let's swallow everything we hear whole, or let's all make up a lot of nonsense and blithely proceed as if it were god's own truth. But this is life, we're all living it. We can talk about it, if not with scientific authority, then surely with authority of some kind?

Point taken, and it behooves me to apologize for not being less obtuse. I'm not meaning to address the kind of discussion that happens here. I was intending to address the kind of media "discussion" highlighted in the opening article that is all questions and carefully selected anecdotes. Looking back, those two ongoing discussions might have been conflated in some of my responses and and I'd certainly like to make it clear that I didn't mean for that to happen. I certainly don't mean to marginalize anyone's viewpoint.

I'm simply very wary of how our culture sensationalizes scary questions in waves. For instance, during slow news summers we start hearing about the dangers of shark attacks. And of course the absolute number of shark attacks is rising! We've got more people in the US now! But to hear the coverage it sounds like the sharks are growing legs and biting off limbs at night in people's homes.

Our culture just has a way of affirming a sensational viewpoint that is a further result of our ratings-based consumption. If I'm afraid of anything in this sphere, it's that. And the opening article seemed to be dripping with the seeds of that.
posted by Phyltre at 12:11 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm sure some people on metafilter are open-minded enough to approach the topic sincerely, but I can't wade through all the negativity.

Nobody's holding a gun to your head forcing you to wade through all the negativity that "you people" are spouting.
posted by blucevalo at 12:34 PM on February 6, 2011



The world is a jungle, and certainly our young people have a lot of information to deal with. Also, I think they have very good reasons to not listen to us. But I do wish they could start from a happier and more free starting point that we had regarding sex
posted by mumimor at 1:10 PM on February 6, 2011


It felt a lot like a mainstream scare piece that asks lots of questions,

I agree with this. Also, I'm a little skeptical of these culture/trend pieces because I used to take it for the truth. Like how everyone is doing doggy yoga or drinking that kambucha tea, or how all teenagers are (as someone on Metafilter joked in a separate thread) bouncing on trampolines while simultaneously having or giving oral sex.
posted by anniecat at 1:10 PM on February 6, 2011


It felt a lot like a mainstream scare piece that asks lots of questions, finds a few anecdotes that agree with the premise, and editorializes the rest.

But, I agree with Wayne (and others) who saw some truth in all the editorializing, not just in my partners and, how I felt cheated out of a chance at intimacy with them because they took matters into their own hands, but because I've done the same too. I'm not sure where I stand on porn in a relationship and, wonder if I'd feel the same about my advances being turned down if they were using their imagination like I do ... maybe its just visible evidence to glom onto? I don't know. *shrug*

It's a shame that every time this comes up though that the discussions winds up being framed in the same tired old trope where if you're against the porn industry (never mind we have all have our own ideas of what were rallying for, or against eg: gonzo, or something far more tame that isn't trying to push the boundaries of the Miller Test) your an anti-sex prude. If I criticized the chocolate industry for using child labour I wouldn't be called an anti-foodist, but this? Eek.
posted by squeak at 1:22 PM on February 6, 2011


The word "prude" has not once been directed by one poster at another in this entire thread.
posted by kyrademon at 1:27 PM on February 6, 2011


And you were actually the first person to mention porn addiction (seriously, outside of a quote) when you accused people of using the idea that it doesn't exist as a strawman. There's a wider context for this discussion, and perhaps people are responding to undertones they're picking up or, less fairly, ideas they already associate with certain positions. No doubt we can all stand to be more careful about what we say and how we listen.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:40 PM on February 6, 2011


I wish I could be more explicit. But my friends have lives to deal with.
Please, I live one of the most liberal corners of the world, and what I see is that prostitution and porn is bad for humans
posted by mumimor at 1:45 PM on February 6, 2011


BTW, thanks for the clarification, Phyltre. I would certainly like to see a more thoughtful and well-supported article about this stuff, and I hope if one were written more people would take it seriously.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:47 PM on February 6, 2011


Being poor, hungry, or homeless is bad for humans. Being forced to do something you'd rather not do to survive is bad for humans. Having everything you need given to you with no effort on your part and no appreciation of the cost is also bad for humans.

When I was an adolescent I learned, more despite than because of the adults around me, that a certain kind of activity filled me with pure, seemingly infinite joy. I quickly learned not to say very much about this source of pleasure, though, because a lot of people didn't understand it and even thought it was unhealthy. Eventually I fell out with my parents and out in the world I had to fall on the thing that gave me joy to pay the rent. Fortunately, I was able to do this. So for years I did the thing I loved for money. I still do. Of course I don't do it just the way I'd like; I have to use tools I don't like, and I have to do it in a way that looks good to other people, not the way that feels right to me. People take the result of my passion and profane it in various ways, not appreciating the effort that went into it or the way I felt when making it. It's all very tiring, and that's why I don't very often program computers for fun any more.

So obviously we need to look at this whole computer programming thing and make sure we only introduce kids to it in a wholesome manner that can't be exploited. And if someone claims that they enjoy programming computers even though they've been doing it for decades so that others can exploit them, we mustn't take them seriously because they're still being exploited.
posted by localroger at 2:29 PM on February 6, 2011 [9 favorites]


mumimor: 40 years ago, when porn began to be liberalized, the sex shown in magazines and movies was fairly similar to sex as in real life. Including all sorts of special interests. So the average boy or girl bought a product and got exactly what the label said. People having sex, in various ways. It was inspiring and educating. Many young people got ideas for more fun in bed. Many of the "porn" stars went on to have careers and a happy life.

Some porn may have been as you describe it. Some may not have been. Nevertheless, some of the same arguments that are being made against porn now are exactly the same arguments that were made against it 40 years ago. What has changed? The technology to allow the availability and easy access to more instant porn than has ever been available to anyone in history, along with the vanishing of the inhibitions that once accompanied having to drive to an adult bookstore or adult theater in a scary part of town to seek it out; the steady and subtle pornification of mass culture, with movies like "Boogie Nights" and TV shows like "The Girls Next Door" giving the obligatory wink-wink nudge-nudge finger-waggings about porn while at the same time clearly glamorizing it; the mass acceptance of porn as just another piece of flotsam in the cultural stream; the intensity of the attachment that some people may have to porn because of all of the factors above.

But whether porn has become more mainstreamed or not, I have a hard time believing that there was a magical time in the past when porn made everyone happy that has 40 years later transformed into a time when it makes everyone feel like shit. I would be interested to know to whom porn 40 years ago was "inspiring" and "educating," but was not simultaneously accompanied by the same sense of nagging shame, furtiveness, and embarrassment that accompanies it now. I would also be interested in knowing how it is that somehow the porn of 40 years ago was more authentic to people's real-life sex experiences and how it is now utterly inauthentic, because I have the feeling that the authenticity now is there to find if you seek it out, and that the authenticity that was supposedly everywhere 40 years ago was not really as omnipresent as you imply.
posted by blucevalo at 2:31 PM on February 6, 2011


In the American south and other traditionally conservative areas, porn is still occupying some of the same roles it did in the sixties and seventies--existing alongside a stridently prudish culture.

It's not only porn that is of concern in certain areas of the country.
Conservative Group Claim Glee Magazine Cover ("Gay Teens in TV) Is Propaganda.

Gay Parents Elton John and David Furnish on Magazine Cover Shielded from Children at Arkansas Grocery Store | CNN.
posted by ericb at 2:35 PM on February 6, 2011


Ted Haggard:
“You know, that’s really the core issue here,’ he continues, lowering his voice. ‘I bought the drugs to enhance masturbation. Because what crystal meth does—Mike taught me this—crystal meth makes it so you don’t ejaculate soon. So you can watch porn and masturbate for a long time.’ ‘And it would be gay porn?’ I ask. ‘It would be both. I enjoyed both then.’ ‘Do you watch porn anymore?’ ‘Now we’re getting into what should happen between me, my wife, and my therapist.’”
Recent FPP: He's been through troubles, but haggard he ain't.
posted by ericb at 2:40 PM on February 6, 2011


anniecat: “I feel so bad for you for not knowing that most women do not hate sex.”

That's the reason I used the word "disproportionate."
posted by koeselitz at 2:56 PM on February 6, 2011


I'm a woman. I love porn. Love, love, love it. My boyfriend loves porn, too--different stuff--but I really couldn't care less. I'm glad he's having fun with private time when I'm not around and, I'm sure, vice-versa. Porn has never diminished my lust, love or affection for any of my sexual partners. I've never felt it diminished anyone's lust, love or affection for me, either, as far as I can tell. It's just porn. Discussed it with my boyfriend, and we both agree that neither of us have any emotional connection to porn at all. It's just a bit of fun, luv.
posted by apis mellifera at 2:59 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


How many of the porn users on this threat [sic] are paying for their porn?
Portfolio.com | October 2007: Obscene Losses.

MSNBC | January 2009: Even porn industry hit by slumping economy.

L.A. Times | August 2009: Tough times in the porn industry.

USA Today | March 2010: Free porn on 'tube sites' puts a big dent in industry.
posted by ericb at 3:01 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I didn't say it wasn't part of the social pressure of a sexist society. Hell, I explicitly stated that it is part of the social pressure of a sexist society. Let's please face facts: in our society, women aren't supposed to like sex, men are always supposed to like sex. Am I insane when I point that out? That's not a good thing, and it's not natural. But it's the way things are, isn't it? And, as a result, more women than men come to the conclusion (often mistaken) that they're not interested in sex, that it's perfectly normal for them not to be interested in sex, and that sex is a chore that they're required to do.

I mean, first of all: do you agree that society tries to teach us that? Second, do you agree that some women naturally fall prey to this misconception? Are you really going to tell me that the sexism in society has no impact on the lives of women? Seriously?

Please note that I'm not pointing fingers at anybody, or making any kind of statement about biological necessity. I think if men and women were put in sterilized vats and allowed to live as they choose, they're both enjoy sex just exactly as much as each other. That makes sense to me. But society has an impact, social roles change the way we see sexuality, and yes – there are more women than men who are convinced (again, probably incorrectly) that they simply aren't interested in sex.
posted by koeselitz at 3:02 PM on February 6, 2011


koeselitz, you seem to be talking about a world 20 or 30 years ago. These days women are told by magazines, by TV, by the internet, by their peers etc that they should be demanding orgasms and fulfilment from their partners. If any women are treating sex like a chore I'd imagine they feel that's because their relationship has run out of sexual steam, not because they're not into sex per se.
posted by Summer at 3:39 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Let's please face facts: in our society, women aren't supposed to like sex, men are always supposed to like sex.

I think it is way, way more complicated than that. Hugely popular mass media portrayals like Sex in the City present a normative vision of women as horndogs. Gazillions of college students every year act in and watch performances of the Vagina Monologues, which, while not at all pornalicious, is certainly sex- and orgasm-friendly. The cover of Cosmo magazine has like sixteen headlines about spicing up your sex life every month. There are even hardcore evangelical women speakers who are pounding the "sex within a marriage is awesome" drum.

I'm not sure that our overall culture is all that sex-friendly, in the sense of promoting awesome sex lives for everyone including the gays, the kinksters, and so on. But certainly, women have been told about enjoying sex for at least four or five decades now, and there are a lot fewer films warning of dire consequences for premarital sex than there used to be.
posted by Forktine at 3:45 PM on February 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


The word "prude" has not once been directed by one poster at another in this entire thread.

I wasn't trying to suggest it was, but of the discussions I've read and, conversations I've had on this issue its come up enough times so I took some artistic license to make a point.

/not joyless ;)
posted by squeak at 3:47 PM on February 6, 2011


Have any of you seen this Your Brain on Porn? Or Intoxicating Behaviors: 300 Vaginas = A Lot of Dopamine.

Having a family full of addicts to various things, I've read a lot about addiction. Unfortunately, I've also read a lot of pornography since I had a relationship with someone who was definitely addicted. Thinking about the evolutionary milieu stuff that was discussed before, I'd say pornography might fit into the hyper-palatability idea, which is mostly applied to food. Foods that are "hyper-palatable" exhibit traits we are evolved to desire in ratios/amounts that we would never have encountered before modernity, which can cause our brains to go haywire. Notice I say "can cause." Plenty of people drink wine, eat chocolate, and perhaps watch porn in ways that don't disrupt their lives. But there are alcoholics, binge eaters, and porn addicts who for one reason or another are unable to do that.
posted by melissam at 4:24 PM on February 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


It took us 425 comments, but we finally learned what the 300 vaginas are doing.
posted by girih knot at 4:48 PM on February 6, 2011


It took us 425 comments, but we finally learned what the 300 vaginas are doing

PLaying for Pittsburgh by the look of things.
posted by ciderwoman at 5:24 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Exploitation of sexany workers is a *serious* issue that should be acknowledged and dealt with.

I fixedgeneralized that for you.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:52 PM on February 6, 2011


Um ... yes? And?
posted by kyrademon at 5:59 PM on February 6, 2011


Let's please face facts: in our society, women aren't supposed to like sex, men are always supposed to like sex. Am I insane when I point that out? That's not a good thing, and it's not natural. But it's the way things are, isn't it? And, as a result, more women than men come to the conclusion (often mistaken) that they're not interested in sex, that it's perfectly normal for them not to be interested in sex, and that sex is a chore that they're required to do.

Respectfully, I think you are using an old and worn out playbook, I really do; and even in the olden days, that's one of those hackneyed caricatures perpetuated by bad sitcoms. That's not to say that men and women don't differ -- including what triggers desire, what keeps us turned on, and how often we want sex -- but that does not translate to "women aren't supposed to like sex, men are always supposed to like sex." I certainly wasn't brought up to believe that, I don't feel it, and I although I do know a couple of women who, many years into their marriages, can take it or leave it, I know quite a few more who are actively enjoying it, reinventing it, lightening up about it. Believe me -- we talk about it a lot.
posted by thinkpiece at 6:06 PM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Apparently asking for one shred of evidence beyond sensationalized anecdotes is establishing an unbearably high standard.

Well, it's not for me. The article linked to had a lot of the characteristics of a moral panic. And we avoid that by asking people to actually back of their charges with verifiable documentation. I won't be chastized for asking for a little bit a fact with my mush of hand-wringing, how-dare-you-ing, and oh-my-god-look-at-this0ing.

Was there some truth to the charge that little girls were having rainbow parties? Was there some truth to gay men converting children into homosexuals? Was there some truth to satanic child abuse?

The subject of sex is particularly rife with false charges. A few years ago, porn was supposed to turn men into rampaging sex addicts who could not control their impulses. Now it makes them disinterested in sex with a real woman. And maybe it does, maybe it does. But it's not my job to track down the proof of it, and I don't have to believe it until somebody does.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:07 PM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Let's please face facts: in our society, women aren't supposed to like sex, men are always supposed to like sex.

I don't know where you're getting your information (from the fifties?) but things have really changed. Overwhelmingly, women today are encouraged to believe that if they don't like sex, there's something wrong with them or their partners' technique.

If you want to make a man stop using porn, turn off his Internet connection and fuck him four times a day.


koeselitz, you're just getting insulting (oh, men are using porn because their wives/girlfriends/partners won't fuck them enough), and stuff you're saying is extremely weird, especially when you won't listen to what women are saying about their experiences.

Obviously you're choosing to believe your own weird perspective on the world, but I'm pretty sure we're all better off without your bizarre relationship advice.
posted by anniecat at 6:10 PM on February 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I don't know how long your lovemaking session go, but if I were to do it four times a day, it would be like taking on a second, part-time job.

That's right. I'm a 60-minute man.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:12 PM on February 6, 2011


Men's sex lives would improve dramatically if they did one or both of these two things:

1. Made sure their wives got enough sleep.
2. Made sure she doesn't carry the lion's share of the household/childcare burden, especially if she is employed outside the home.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:14 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


And, of course,

3. Ball gags.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:15 PM on February 6, 2011


4. hard peanis
posted by Greg Nog at 7:22 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


OMG I can not believe I actually read all of this thread. Wow, I was going to write something REALLY awesome because this topic is really interesting to me and I wound up writing a page of notes on what I was going to say so I'll try to shorten because I'm brain fried:

--------"but every young male who masturbates has the temptation to feel these powerful feelings of shame afterwards: "I am not a good person. I'm only concerned with my own pleasure. I'm not being good to the people around me. I'm dirty." -- I think that would be humans, right? I mean we get taught not to do that and so we're all a bit embarrased until we learn others do also, right? I have had SO MANY girlfriends that are like, "OMG I can't believe you're talking about that, I never told anyone I used to masturbate all the time and play naughty stuff with my little friends!"

Like everyone. Ok not everyone, exactly half, the other half is like, "Uh you and all those other friends of yours are like, messed up!"

But it does seem like so many of us are embarrased to talk about it when we're all more normal than we realize (except those of us who aren't lol). and that's the scary thing, you don't want to be that one person who ISN'T normal, so you don't want to be the one to say, "I'm in to this" because what if you'rea freak? I mean WHAT IF?


--------- someone said 'hard evidence' *giggle*

----------"Once I spent a lot of time with sex-workers, for reasons irrelevant to this thread. And not one single one of them were happy with their jobs. Each of them suffered from childhood trauma."
This makes me sad and I hope it comes up again here where it would more on topic and we could go further in depth with it. It also makes me sad that there are people who are in there 30's, 40's, 50's working in food service and minimum wage jobs. They are both issues that merrit our compasison and critical thinking. I've spent time with sex workers and with older adults working minimum wage jobs. (Insert personal narrative that would make you cry here and we'll just skip the tedious details)

-----------Of more relation to the topic of the article,

I do wonder if watching the more hurtful exploitive porn affects over all empathy. I mean I have seen some porn that just makes me sob because I can see that these women are clearly so miserable. Even if they are ACTING like they are miserable on purpose it still makes me sob--- (Like have you seen Xiu Xiu? Does that not make you sob even though it's acting?)

------------"Please recall that the original article had nothing to say about the exploitative nature of porn, and it is a completely different issue from the aspects of porn that most of the people here have been defending. It was, in fact, mostly about the idea that porn is *sapping the male libido.*"
Again, but how does watching really hurtful things happen to women enhance a relationship? And how does watching something that could be damaging someone while wacking it enhance a relationship? I'm NOT saying that all porn damages the female actresses--- however considering that I've spent a considerable amount of time looking for research on this and can't turn up anything other than collections of anedotes from sex workers saying they like their jobs and sex workers talking about how they were abused--- it seems like WE DON'T KNOW if porn acting hurts the actors. (ANYONE?? RESEARCH??)

This worries me a lot. I worry the same things about other professions that could harm people and no I don't like to support industries where the workers could sustain severe psychological damage. It seems like the point of a large portion of porn that I've seen IS to see someone be genuinely damaged. And how can orgasming while watching someone sobbing while they're throat fucked really enhance a relationship with someone else?

And I don't ask this in a judgemental sense, I'm a kinky person myself--- I just have a hard time with the idea of using real people for my kink. And I worry that it might make watchers of pornography less empathetic toward a human being that's right in front of them, and might be in real pain and not want to be there. A lot of sex workers do not feel trapped and a lot do. I have a hard time believing you could really know.

I have a hard time imagining dating a man that didn't think this was a serious issue and it makes me wonder if I could ever trust men. I just imagine that every bad experience I've ever had with men is something that people who all whack off to if they had it on video.

It all makes me very sad. And it's unfortunate because I'm also very horny and I could use some porn LOL

-----Last point, I was ruined by pool jets. Real sex will never be the same. I think this in an important social issue and we should discuss it's implication for society.
posted by xarnop at 7:56 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


(wow I totally didn't shorten it at all LOL sorry that was so long!)
posted by xarnop at 7:58 PM on February 6, 2011


... and we took it ALLLLLLLLLLLLL!
posted by kneecapped at 8:03 PM on February 6, 2011


--------'but every young male who masturbates has the temptation to feel these powerful feelings of shame afterwards: 'I am not a good person. I'm only concerned with my own pleasure. I'm not being good to the people around me. I'm dirty.'' -- I think that would be humans, right? I mean we get taught not to do that and so we're all a bit embarrased until we learn others do also, right?

I'd just like to point out that as a person who was a young male and who masturbated, and who masturbates still, I have never felt shame over it or even the temptation to feel shame over it. I intellectually understand that some people feel like this, but the notion is so alien and bizarre to me that it seems like an idea that ought to be relegated to museums with the other absolutely insane legacy ideas concerning sexuality you would see.

(Like, have you ever read a Victorian or Edwardian medical text about sexuality on Google Books, written by actual medical doctors? It's annoying because they will skittishly drop into full sentences and paragraphs of Latin whenever they hit a topic they consider too taboo, even in a book that is ostensibly written in English and strictly for the consumption of medical professionals, but it's an enlightening read.)

So, it might be because my parents weren't particularly religious or dysfunctional people and because I had some good public school health teachers here in the U.S., who hadn't been muzzled by conservative "culture war" crusaders yet, but it is by no means whatsoever "just human" to feel shame in these contexts.

Any shame is the result of people who don't understand their own sexuality and don't understand that at least some of their own attitudes are pathological intentionally trying to poison the well of our culture and make sure that others feel shame in these situations whether or not there is any "natural" or rational reason to. That behavior is pretty obviously harmful to society, whether or not porn or some specific kinds or usages of porn are too, so I think that's why people in this thread are reacting so sharply to any apparent promotion of pathological attitudes about sexuality.

P.S. Another thing that it occurs to me might be of interest to people reading this is that even though my parents aren't very religious or conservative, they are actually what would probably be considered prudish when it comes to manners and etiquette. I would not normally discuss or mention anything sexual in a casual context or outside of a conversation specifically about it and because of their influence I genuinely don't find most fart jokes or scatalogical jokes funny. It just would never occur to me to find any biological functions or biological drives inherently shameful, either.
posted by XMLicious at 8:39 PM on February 6, 2011


"so I think that's why people in this thread are reacting so sharply to any apparent promotion of pathological attitudes about sexuality."

Yes I totally understand that. I do think though that as porn does involve other people than yourself, it should be ok to ask if there are ethical questions about how pornstars are affected by their experiences, and also how viewing porn may affect a partner.

I don't think there is anything wrong with asking those questions. I wish we had more research to go on.

A guy I was dating had signed up for a dating website where you meet for hook-ups. He told me it was "just porn" and I "wouldn't understand".

the fact that some people can think of sex with real people as "just porn" makes me wonder if too much porn watching does desensitize you to the fact that there are real people actually experiencing those things, and that it really might be (and probably is)
affecting their lives.

And it does seem like this would affect a "real life" partner.
posted by xarnop at 8:53 PM on February 6, 2011


One other note, reading a Victorian or Edwardian medical text about sexuality isn't necessarily interesting because they're all quacks (though many of them obviously were and were letting their internal craziness bleed out onto paper mixed with medical terminology) but because even for the ones who were actually objective scientists or doctors doing real research or theoretical work, you can see the kinds of things they were defending against or anticipating defending against by the almost tortured way their prose had to avoid speaking plainly about it.

xarnop, you're definitely correct that it would be good if we had more research about various things under discussion here.

I do also think that it is unfortunate that hair-trigger reflexive reactions against anyone promoting pathological attitudes about sexuality can interfere with more serious discussions about sexuality and things like potential problems that might arise from porn or some kinds of porn or some usages of porn, which are topics well worth discussing.

But at the same time the reactions against this stuff are well-founded and not entirely unreasonable because it's by no means a purely historical phenomenon; people with pathological attitudes towards sex really are constantly trying to promote them. If you look at yersinia's initial comment in this thread, he or she (somewhat clumsily) tries to make it look as though the topic being introduced is something about the potential health benefits of sexual continence, when to anyone who is familiar with cases of sexual continence really being proposed as a health issue, that is not what yersinia was trying to bring up. (I'm pretty sure that you agree with what I'm saying in this paragraph, xarnop, I just want to keep it as a caveat.)
posted by XMLicious at 9:25 PM on February 6, 2011


Yeah, when I re-read, my comment above was really directed at things like blucevalo said by talking about a "sense of nagging shame, furtiveness, and embarrassment that accompanies [porn] now" - something that I just don't see, nor do I see any basic reason for there to be.

I mean, I can understand why, if for example you are a district attorney who is prosecuting sex work (and who has to prosecute sex work if you want to hold such a position, due to basic political realities), there are practical reasons why you should avoid getting caught with a sex worker.

Or if you want to be a politician some day there are practical reasons why you would want to avoid doing something like being on record emailing around beastiality pornography. Both because in practicality, you're going to have to castigate and denounce things like beastiality pornography as immoral or something, and for the reason that because of the preceding practicality, if you get caught in this way you're going to appear as lacking the sort of tact necessary for any important and prominent position, even to voters who have no objection to beastiality pornography itself.

Of course another factor is that there is some embarrassment when some part of one's private life or inner mental life are revealed to the world at large; but embarrassment and shame are not the same thing. At a job I had when I was a teenager, one day one of my co-workers who was in his eighties and at a point where he was having trouble with manual dexterity stood up from the lunch table in the break room and his pants fell down. He was quite embarrassed, and I understand why and I think it was an indignity related to age that I think ideally no one would experience, but there was no reason for him to experience shame or guilt in that situation - what, like, because everyone knows that he wears underwear now? Or because people were reminded that he has genitalia, which need to be covered with underwear? (I should probably have explicitly said something like this to my co-worker there, but I just tried to smile politely and act dismissively in a way to indicate he shouldn't feel embarrassed or bad.)

Similarly, sometimes on MeFi or elsewhere I'll make a spelling mistake. This embarrasses me, and doubly or trebly so when my spelling mistake looks like, or actually is, a Freudian slip. But it's nothing to be ashamed of and nothing I would shame someone else for. (Except maybe in the very specific case where someone makes their own spelling mistake while in the very process of making fun of or castigating another's spelling mistake, and even then we aren't really talking about shame per se.)

Another thought that comes to me on the subject of politicians is that even if indisputable evidence came to light that a very conservative male political figure masturbated alot or voraciously consumed porn in his teenage years or young adult years,¹ it would probably be laughed off and dismissed as youthful indiscretion and no real shame would actually be felt except maybe by the most die-hard, honestly pious politicians, who are probably few and far between. Note that laughing off and dismissing things as mere youthful indiscretion, even genuinely shameful things, is common amongst all political stripes; I'm just saying that I think that even within a politically conservative culture this would be little remarked upon or remembered as a genuinely shameful thing. Also, I hope that we're moving towards a point in society where even a very conservative female political figure would get the above kind of treatment. With a woman I think it would be more remarked-upon and remembered but not for any reason actually having to do with masturbation or porn itself being shameful.

tl;dr - I don't believe that there really is any shame related to porn nowadays for the majority of the population in the U.S. at least, nor should there be.



Responding to things more in the general realm of what xarnop was saying (but still pretty tangential to what she was saying):

I think that we can basically be certain that some individuals are drawn to sex work and work in pornography because of trauma or other health problems they've experienced, remain in those lines of work for unhealthy reasons, or are a type of person for whom (maybe due to previous trauma) any activity in the pornography or sex work fields will be unhealthy.

I think that an appropriate response (speaking from the perspective of someone in the U.S.) would be to call for more regulation of the pornography industry (whether self-regulation by the industry itself, which they don't appear to be entirely bad at, or wise and actually-effective government regulation, which would be something to craft with caution and restraint) and legalization and regulation of sex work.

I'm just pretty convinced that there are lots of porn stars and sex workers who are healthy in their attitudes towards sex and responsible to themselves and healthy in how they deal with their jobs, because male fans of porn stars who are intelligent and genuinely interested, journalists, and people who are interested in the scientific or public and personal health aspects of these things - as well as, nowadays, the porn stars and sex workers themselves blogging about themselves and their experiences, for example - actually produce a great deal of material that appears to candidly and honestly depict what it's like to be a porn star or sex worker.

Many actual problems and dangers in pornography and sex work appear to be mostly related to society pushing it into the shady margins no matter what, even when society as a whole makes a great deal of cold, hard cash off of it and probably has euphemistically-named "entertainment" and "media" companies in their portfolios or own things like internet infrastructure companies that could be demonstrated to make lots of revenue off of the consumption of porn.

I would welcome and support honest investigations into potential negative effects from consuming porn, certain kinds of porn, or consuming porn in certain ways too. The instance you mention, xarnop, of someone you dated not appearing to consciously distinguish between pornography and casual sex as forms of recreation seems weird and a potential concern depending upon what causes that viewpoint and if it's widespread.

As a sort of parallel to Rule 34 you could probably say something like, "If it has something to do with sex, someone will probably find a way to do it in an unhealthy fashion." You just have to be careful in how you label things and in being specific, objective, and verifiable in saying exactly what the confirmed risks and consequences are.

Something I'd also welcome is more thorough and clear documentation of who profits from porn. Let's not forget that the prevalence of porn in the internet era isn't just due to wishy-washy, morally loose liberal ideology, it's also because there is an obscene shitload of money to be made off of pornography.

In my own profession, software and systems engineering related to the internet, it often is not acknowledged how many of the cutting-edge technologies related to things like payment systems or transmission of media over computer networks were developed for or driven by the pornography industry from the very beginning of the internet. It would be interesting if you could more easily look up whether someone speaking out on pornography or other conservative issues related to sexuality (or, heck, conservative issues in general) directly or indirectly owns or owns stock in a company that draws a large percentage of profits from pornography in some way. It would be rhetorically useful for liberals arguing against them and would be useful even for conservative activists on anti-pornography and sexuality issues to make sure they aren't personally supporting it.

(But I think they would probably also find that many people they think are on the same side with them only really are on their side when there isn't too much money at stake... which is probably a salient reason why, no matter how opposed to pornography political conservatism is as a whole, you aren't going to see any resources making this information easy to find coming out of the conservative end of the political activism spectrum.)



1. We might be seeing evidence like this come out in future years. It occurs to me that it's probably smart, if unethical, to try to log 100% of the traffic that happens on a college campus nowadays if you can also get and save the information that maps IP addresses to dorm rooms and dorm rooms to individual names. Think what a gold mine you'd have if a few decades down the line you found yourself in possession of a log of the complete online activities of a major political figure from their college years. People who actually work in college IT departments and are doing this will be far beyond the reach of repercussions like losing their jobs at that point, not to mention fellow students, for whom I can imagine a number of face-saving excuses to do something like this anyways. If only one such log like this were to appear anything in it would be easy to deny as manufactured, and still probably easy to deny if corroborated in the logs of several different people doing this, but at the very least I can imagine this happening at some point because someone thought they were going to be able to make money this way.

What a story that could be, anyways, even if just done for revenge instead of money. Imagine some nerdy, vindictive college student getting revenge on a huge political figure decades later this way. Someone write a screenplay, nerds would go see it - Julian Assange definitely would. ;^)
posted by XMLicious at 12:58 AM on February 7, 2011


LOL I'm glad you wrote a whole lot too XMLicious, I feel better, lol. I think in general more women I talk to tend to be more worried about how porn stars feel regardless of what they say, because a lot of us, (myself and women I've talked to) have agreed to participate in stuff that we thought would be ok and turned out to be really damaging.

I know women on line who sound very confidant in the porn/sex work they do but since I haven't known anyone like this IRL I wouldn't say I either believe or disbelieve it if that makes sense. I believe that that is how they are experiencing it now (which is good!) but I have to wonder what sort of psychological affects there are anyway because I worry about people.

Of note: Worry does not mean wanting to make porn illegal, just to make clear.

All the sex workers I know are really traumatized people who were treated so bad by men they just got used to it and figured they could do whatever men want and feel like crap, or they could get paid for it and buy drugs to cover what their feeling. Or they're just buying drugs to cover what they're feeling and will let people do whatever. I've had a number of stripper friends who would get drunk and tell me how they love the people they serve and they stay sober when they perform so that they can give themselves and it's a meaningful thing to them and they're falling over sidways drunk as telling me this and they don't really look happy with themselves at all.

It makes me wonder if people don't sometimes say what the WANT to be true (about anything in their lives) when there are deeper emotions going on. Talking with ex sex workers I have heard a number say that they claimed they liked it while they were doing it and that as they processed their feelings the sense that they liked what they were doing diminished and there were deeper feelings.

I know most guys I talk to are like, "Ok so some were abused and traumatized and have accepted being treated like that, but why is that my problem?"

And that is where I just wonder if in general that attitude of , "If someone else is in pain and struggling--- I not only don't have to care but I orgasm watching them suffer and be violated" would decrease human empathy---- or if it requires a certain lack of empathy to begin with.

(I'm going to look for some research again but I have tried so many times it's exhasperating! What are the percentage here? 80% really want to be there and aren't damaged? 10% 60%??)

I've had family memers who have been prostitutes and was exposed to what that world looks like in my city when I was really young and it's a very sad world. Maybe legalizing it would help, but I can remember standing in the room with this rich "client" of my cousin and my god I hated him. He seemed like a regular doctor guy, and yet he knew he was proffiting off my cousins horribly fucked up life.
I declined the offer of being invited, but if I had wanted to I have been given offers to work in the sex industry and I know what kind of circumstances would lead me to it and for me it would be tolerating really bad experiences with guys and just not caring anymore what they do to you combined with being poor.

The fact that I know a lot of guys who assume "porn is fine for sex workers-- if she films it she must want to be there and I can jerk off to it" just makes me sad and makes me wonder if there is anyone outside of "religious people" who would wonder how this affects the women involved.
posted by xarnop at 5:33 AM on February 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


The fact that I know a lot of guys who assume "porn is fine for sex workers-- if she films it she must want to be there and I can jerk off to it" just makes me sad and makes me wonder if there is anyone outside of "religious people" who would wonder how this affects the women involved.

I think a lot of people wonder that. But something that is really important to remember is that as a society, we give people (adults, anyway) a lot of freedom to make bad and self-harmful decisions. You can join the army, knowing that there is a substantial risk of being sent to Afghanistan and blown up by an IED. You can take your kayak over a waterfall and post the video on YouTube. You can take any of a dozen highly dangerous manual labor jobs and risk not just the trauma of injury but also of PTSD if something really bad happens.

I mean, hell, we allow kids to aspire to be NFL linebackers, even now that we know that the average playing lifespan is just a few years and the player is almost guaranteed lifelong physical and mental ailments. Given a choice between the risks and traumas of a porn star and those of the NFL, my guess is that the porn stars come out ahead -- at least you don't need to dissect their brains later to look at the induced damages from all the collisions.

So while no one is diminishing the not-fun parts of the legitimate and legal porn world, I think that some of the nay-sayers are exaggerating them both in comparison with the rest of the working world, and also in respect to the extent to which the people involved are making self-aware choices.
posted by Forktine at 6:30 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


But wouldn't orgasming to someone being violated without knowing how it's affecting them, dimishing how much you care about how your partner is affected by their experiences? If someone thinks, "Oh this could be harming a woman for real but it's really hot" and they are ok with that, I wonder about their ability to have compassion for others and care what their life experieneces are like for them.

I mean does one think about " what will the rest of her life be like? Does she feel loved? Does she care about herself? Does she have issues with abuse? Is she hurting somewhere within this experience? Does she go home and cry after having ten guys gizz all over her face and tell her she's a cunt? Is she ok?"

Those kinds of things would be good things to feel for a partner, right? And it seems like porn gives the freedom to not care, you pay money, so you don't have to care about the human being in front of you or how the rest of her life is affected.

But how does that translate to how you treat your partner? If ultimately you can disconnect from how a human being is feeling for the sake of getting off, couldn't that affect your intimacy with other human beings in your real life?
posted by xarnop at 6:43 AM on February 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Bah, I wrote some anecdata regarding sex workers there (at least partly agreeing with what xarnop said) and then erased it because I realized that there's no way to say it without causing potential privacy problems for others if my MeFi account were ever associated with my real name, mostly because I haven't known a great many past sex workers.

All of the things that you say there, xarnop, make lots of sense to me. I'd like to have better numbers on how many want to be there, too, and if I really knew for certain that an actress felt bad I don't think I'd want to watch. It also seems like a good argument for amateur porn, in which it at least seems more certain that the person is having sex with someone she wants to have sex with anyways. Or anime, or narrative alt.sex.stories stuff. Hmmm, people were kidding about "indie 'fair trade' porn" above but it doesn't seem like an entirely bad concept...

Damn shame that there are such inhibitions about good sex education. I'd expect that sex ed teachers can't really get away with saying much of anything truthful about pornography, but if they could I would be in favor of formally teaching about ethical porn-finding habits.
posted by XMLicious at 7:33 AM on February 7, 2011


Great post, St. Alia of the Bunnies.

As the father of a young girl, the fact that she will someday be pursued by men (like those in your article) who have been consumed by porn culture is something that keeps me awake at night.
posted by BurntHombre at 9:15 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]




This is one of the most profound pieces I've read about it. To me it's not an issue of legal/illegal, but an issue of remembering the humanity of someone in front you. It scares me how easily many people can turn that off. The remembering that there is real human being in this.

http://www.politicsandculture.org/2009/10/02/robert-jensen-just-a-prude-feminism-pornography-and-men%E2%80%99s-responsibility/

"After she has performed oral sex on six men, after six men have thrust their penises into her throat to the point of gagging, after six men have ejaculated onto her, the camera is turned off. Think not about the sex acts but about the moment when the camera shuts off. The men walk away. Someone throws her a towel. She has to clean the semen of six strangers off her face and body and from her hair. This woman, who is a person, who is one of us, who has hopes and dreams and desires of her own, cleans herself off. "
posted by xarnop at 10:48 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]




"It also seems like a good argument for amateur porn, in which it at least seems more certain that the person is having sex with someone she wants to have sex with anyways. Or anime, or narrative alt.sex.stories stuff."

Totally agree with that. There have to be ways to help people have fun kinkiness that doesn't exploit vulnerable people right? (I mean the thing that scares me about a lot of porn is that it seems like that IS the turn on... look what she's letting us do! This will totally fuck her up, she's such a fucking idiot cunt for letting this happen, let's make it REALLY fucked up for her and that will be even hotter!)

That mentality can't be good for anyone, although I understand the natural human drive for that to be hot. No one needs to be embarrased for thinking it's hot when people are violated, quite honestly I think this is normal (for men AND women)---

However my experiences *may* be skewed toward the negative end of the spectrum. ( I don't think so, but I can acknowledge it's possible and even likely) lol
posted by xarnop at 10:57 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Think not about the sex acts but about the moment when the camera shuts off. The men walk away. Someone throws her a towel. She has to clean the semen of six strangers off her face and body and from her hair. This woman, who is a person, who is one of us, who has hopes and dreams and desires of her own, cleans herself off.

Or, possibly, she goes home with one of those men. Maybe she has a polyamorous relationship with several of the other workers. Maybe one or more of those men kneels down and lovingly wipes her off. Or, hell, maybe she is a dominatrix in her spare time and sleeps with a teddy bear named Fred.

I mean, we could project any of these situations onto this woman--why does the perception immediately become, "There's a lonely woman sitting all by herself, and eww yuck she has OMG strangers' semen on her"?!

I'm sorry if that sounds like I am making light of women who are genuinely coerced into the sex trade industry, because that's not at all where I am coming from. I just think that the writer of the blog you linked to may be projecting his own morality onto the scene he just described.
posted by misha at 4:03 PM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't know if it's an issue of morality--- I mean it could be for the person who wrote that piece; but for me it's just a concern about fellow human beings. It totally IS possible that some large portion of women in these scenes are having fun and have no negative affects. The fact that I have talked to a number of sex workers who did feel horrible during and afterwards, and some who signed contracts and then wanted out and were legally obligated to continue having this kind of sex on film means that at least some people do feel really bad after this stuff.

Some might mean 2% or it might mean 70%.....

I really wish I had a research lab. For me, I totally don't think anyone should be ashamed for being horny or liking kinky "alternative" sex. There is so no moral code that should give a damn what people want to do for fun. The question of how people are affected though is legitimate and I do know that *some portion* are negatively affected. Shouldn't we care?

My problem with the statistics is that they don't seem to differentiate legal/illegal-- prostition vs porn etc. I don't know why it's so hard to find stats on ages of entry, past issues of abuse, psychological health, post sex work health. It's frustrating to me.

I'm not anti-porn and the link I gave was I think intended to be "anti-porn". I've seen these debates and honestly I see both sides and I find it strange that it seems like people want to pick one or the other--- either we should assume porn stars are fine, or we should assume porn stars are traumatized. Isn't the fact that we don't know a problem in and of itself? Shouldn't we want to know?
posted by xarnop at 5:38 PM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


and some who signed contracts and then wanted out and were legally obligated to continue having this kind of sex on film

Bullpuckey. Nobody can legally be forced to engage in sexual activity in the United States. I don't care what kind of contract they signed. I guess it's possible they signed a contract which stipulated they would be paid $X dollars after filming and thus had to finish the contract in order to get paid, but that's not at all the same thing and is no different than me taking a job flipping burgers and not getting paid unless I flip burgers.
posted by Justinian at 5:51 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is such a difficult complicated issue because when you deny people the ability to consent, you also deny them a lot of their humanity. Once you say someone is incapable of consent, ironically, you can do all manner of horrific sadistic things (some of which can be seen in porn films) to them "for their own good."

I've written about programs for teenagers—mainstream, recently operating programs for which parents and taxpayers pay thousands of dollars, as well as those from earlier times— where part of the "treatment" is having boys call girls "slut" and "whore" and even making them do lap dances.

I would certainly argue that teenagers can't legally consent to that— and we have laws against doing it to them on film. But, again ironically, we have no federal regulation to prevent this being done as "therapy."

Sadly, many of the girls who have gone through this wind up as strippers, prostitutes, and I have no doubt, in the porn business. I think the answer is not to say that performers can't consent to appear in porn. It is to prevent the sexual abuse, therapy abuse and child abuse that could potentially interfere with their ability to consent in future.
posted by Maias at 6:15 PM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Looking at some of the more extreme porn from the perspective of someone who has been asked IRL to whip harder, please, it's clear that there are three distinct types of actresses out there (and perhaps actors, but I'm I'm afraid my tastes are pretty fixed).

First there really are girls who like doing things that look degrading or worse. If they weren't being paid $1,000+ / day for doing it they'd be seeking out opportunities to do similar things anyway. Some sites (led off by the infamous Insex) have started even filming the exit interview, so we can see what happens "after the camera goes off." Often what happens is the actress rides off on a wave of endorphins. Cool.

Then there are girls who may not be perverts in that specific way, but they see it as a challenge. They aren't enjoying it directly but they do get a kind of triumph out of surviving it, oh and did I mention the $1,000+ / day? That doesn't hurt. They probably wouldn't seek it out if the industry didn't exist but they are obviously deriving satisfaction from their participation. There are also some secondary effects; some of them say in interviews that they are thinking of all the guys jerking off to their image. That's a kind of power some of us never will experience.

Then there are the girls who are very obviously doing it for the money and don't like it at all. Usually the sites that do exit interviews don't bother exit interviewing these models. And there are undoubtably people who get off on that most of all, the cruelty of it and the fact that the girl may not have any choice if she's going to pay her tuition or her drug dealer. I personally find these unappealing and avoid them but it's clear, especially in the wake of the Graphic Sexual Horror movie, that Insex founder PD is himself the kind of asshole who likes this sort of thing.

Personally, I am really turned off by the idea that someone who isn't kinky is being tortured and barely enduring it to create an image for me. There are enough people who find that kind of thrilling that it should never be necessary for someone who hates it to go through something like that for me to whack off. (And, having done plenty of play with a real partner who is averse to safe words, I am really sensitive to whether there is enjoyment behind the grimace.)

On the other hand it's hard for me to get too worked up about the awful fate of the poor girl who is only getting paid, did I mention, over a thousand bucks a day to do something she can feel pretty confident she will in fact survive. In the end almost all work is shit we're doing when we'd rather be doing something else because we have to pay the rent, and if you really want to solve the problem I'd say a better solution would be to find these girls something that pays them well that they can do instead.

Putting a clamp on the whole affair because of the group 3 girls doesn't just deny certain perverts masturbation material; it also denies the existence and desires of the group 1 girls who feel it's a dream job where they're paid to live their own fantasies. Make no mistake, these girls (and guys) exist; and not just in S&M. There are girls who have the bukkakke fantasy too. People are in general more perverse than most of us are ready to believe. In a world where there was universal affluence, there would still be people willing to go under for the camera.
posted by localroger at 6:23 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


So in general, I have this idea that all the guys will just decide to date porn and all the womens who want attention from men will become porn stars and eventually there will be no relationships. LOL

I mean before that article above! This is just from personal experience. My ex would prefer porn and ahem... "porn sex" if you will to ever having a real relationship and I'm stuck having to hang out on occasion eternally with him for very unfortunate reasons.

So I think the whole wanting to pay so you don't have to love phenomenon might be skewed in my experience. Do people even like relationships anymore? I've been running away from males for four years and my ex's notions of what men are, are pretty stuck in my head. It's always made me sad when guys watch a lot of porn. It makes me think what guys really want is to be polyarmoruos and to hurt women and so why have a monogamous relationship at all? And if what guys want is to have sex with streams of women and it's essential that it be degrading and all then I guess if I want to interact with them and have meaningles serieses of sex then I might as well be a porn star and get paid for it LOL!

Unfortunately I'm like hopelessly bent on this idea of falling in love with one person which is unfortunate. I don't know, I would bet that porn does affect relationships and quite honestly, I get that this article was an opinion piece but really it pisses me off because dammit I would like some damn reseach in order to make a solid opinion on all this.
posted by xarnop at 6:58 PM on February 7, 2011


Do people even like relationships anymore?

Well I think there is a real problem of people forgetting or not being taught how to have a relationship. People think that a relationship is going to be all sunlight and song and Disney animated dancing. And it's not, because even if you're selective you're going to find out that your partner's paraphilias are not quite congruent with yours. There will be times when one of you is in the mood and the other isn't. There will be things one of you wants to do that the other really finds, at best, uninteresting.

Relationships are work, but they are also very worthwhile work. I've been with my partner for over 25 years. But it's not all orgasms in sun-drenched meadows. If you think it will be your relationship will drown in a sea of disappointment.
posted by localroger at 7:14 PM on February 7, 2011


It's not that easy to just "find something that pays you well". I have learning disabilities and a really dyscuntional brain and it's hard for me to not get in trouble at any job for staring out in space or forgetting what I'm doing .....

(dysCUNTional? WAHAHa I'm so leaving that)

what was I talking about ?

Um... oh yes any ways when you're really messed up and have sexual abuse issues it's really easy to feel like all you are worth is being used for sex. So I know what I see in porn is really different than what other people see and maybe what porn actresses experience. But I have heard there is a high rate of sexually abused people who go into porn and it like breaks me to think about it. I know when I was having lot's of sex because I thought I was worth nothing it felt so empty.

I get that people think, "well who cares"

I care. I care if people are doing this stuff and it breaks them inside. I care if they were abused when they were kids and they feel like they are so broken and messed up it doesn't matter what else happens. I care that they know the only they have to offer is an opportunity for someone else to have fun with how broken and fucked up they are inside because they are too messed up for anyone else to even want to be around them.

And if that's a very few people in porn, I still care. I can't tolerate not knowing why the person is there.
posted by xarnop at 7:35 PM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I can't tolerate not knowing why the person is there.

This. I am a pervert, a very bad person by many ordinary standards. But I agree with this, that I'd rather know the person entertaining me is being entertained too. I know from personal experience it can look very much like that's not the case and it is; but that's to the uneducated eye. If I want to enjoy my wife's favors again it's best to understand her desire, and she does not favor safe words; she's just not the kind of person who can hold it back if such an out exists, and she doesn't want such an out. So her safe word is my understanding of her response. It's what I see in her eyes when she is bound and gagged.

I don't like seeing stuff in porn that would trigger the "that should be a safe word response" if I see it in my wife's eyes.

But on the other hand, some people do, and they have money too. I don't know what, if anything, can or should be done about that.
posted by localroger at 8:08 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The article is crap, but the premise is interesting. I don't know why it's so hard for some people to believe that porn can affect neural pathways when we accept that other behaviors change the brain - for example, meditation increases gray matter density.
posted by desjardins at 9:51 AM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]



On the other hand it's hard for me to get too worked up about the awful fate of the poor girl who is only getting paid, did I mention, over a thousand bucks a day


Yeah, but it's like the NFL. You make a lot of money but expire before 40 and the industry leaves you to take care of the damage to your body and mind.

I think porn should be legal, and prostitution. But holy hell should there be more stringent regulation.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:02 PM on February 8, 2011


I think porn should be legal, and prostitution. But holy hell should there be more stringent regulation.

I like this version better:
I think porn should be legal, and prostitution. But holy hell should, so there can be more stringent regulation.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:18 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think you need to work holy hell back in to it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:21 PM on February 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Like this?
Holy hell, I think porn should be legal, and prostitution. But holy hell should, so there can be more stringent regulation.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:24 PM on February 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well done.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:45 PM on February 8, 2011


A similarly themed article with slightly more science, and a rebuttal to said article. (via)
posted by desjardins at 5:12 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


desjardins: "A similarly themed article"

The evolutionary biology slant of that article got me thinking - in social animals a big part of hierarchy negotiation is about the stronger members of the group denying the access of weaker members to sex (ensuring more resources are available for the presumably more viable offspring of the stronger members of the group).

It could be that the inclination to shame others about sexuality is tied to this instinctive dominance strategy.

Also we should be careful in taking "natural" or "evolutionarily successful" to mean right: murdering stepchildren to insure that one's own offspring are more likely to survive is quite prevalent in nature, for example.
posted by idiopath at 8:40 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thinking about it further (and admittedly in fully speculative "I have no proof for this" mode) - both the creation, consumption, and marketing of pornography, and much of the activism against pornography could both be seen as barely sublimated instances of this "don't let the inferiors breed" instinct.

In social animals the weaker members of the group will often engage in self-stimulating behaviors, or courtship like behavior with no partner, while the socially dominant actually engage in intercourse. Depending on species either the low status males, or even low status females as well, are interrupted and prevented from copulating by a more dominant individual.

This seems oddly similar both to the cliche of the social reject jerking it to porn that depicts the more popular / successful who actually get to have sex, and to the moral indignation at the idea that somewhere someone may be having fun.

I am not trying to imply that voyeurs or people who enjoy porn are losers who can't get any action, or that people who criticize porn are busybodies that can't stand the thought of someone having pleasure. Rather I am speculating that there may be a evolutionary / instinctual facet to the prevalence of those stereotypes.
posted by idiopath at 10:42 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


A similarly themed article with slightly more science, and a rebuttal to said article. (via)

Interesting. Reminds me of the fact that people prone to addiction can be addicted to nearly anything. Apparently my addiction prone brain is addicted to Javascript lately. That first article could be a "find and replace" paean to my plight:
Today’s javascript can dampen your sex­ual respon­sive­ness to your part­ner by over-activating three brain mech­a­nisms. First, an ancient bio­log­i­cal pro­gram in the brain over­rides nat­ural sati­ety when there is lots of javascript begging to be coded. Your brain per­ceives each new line of code on your screen as a valu­able programming oppor­tu­nity. Sec­ond, too much stim­u­la­tion can numb the plea­sure response of the brain for a time, pump­ing up crav­ings for more novel stim­uli. There­fore, a famil­iar mate—your spouse—appears less and less entic­ing. And finally, too much stim­u­la­tion of the brain’s mathematical and logic cir­cuitry obstructs the mam­malian instinct toward monogamy.

The result? Indifference.
posted by melissam at 10:52 PM on February 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Btw, as promised, I did write about this for TIME.com

The article is crap, but the premise is interesting. I don't know why it's so hard for some people to believe that porn can affect neural pathways when we accept that other behaviors change the brain - for example, meditation increases gray matter density.


Um, this is silly. *Everything* that is remembered or perceived de facto affects neural pathways otherwise it couldn't be remembered or perceived. "X changes the brain," says nothing. "X changes the brain in ways that are different from the way ordinary learning changes the brain," is slightly more interesting, which is the case in the meditation data. But there's no such porn data—and if we get any, it will be hard to come up with adequate control tasks because the real one you'd want to see is actual sex and there are few scanners that can take that and funding is hard to get for any sex research.
posted by Maias at 3:02 PM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was just watching Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore for the first time and it brought to mind this thread. I was watching the elided sex scene and thinking about how effectively the lurid extramarital naughtiness was portrayed, despite / because of the Godless Communist liberal Hollywood people who made it being straight-jacketed by prudish 1974 social mores in the general public and MPAA censors.

(Just kidding about the straight-jacketing and censorship stuff, of course, it was rated PG.)

So thinking about that, I was realizing that there is a little bit of substance to the point that some will try to make about sex being better (for some specific people who aren't totally emotionally crippled and whose lives aren't so screwed up by pathologies that they never get to enjoy sex, plus a host of other caveats besides) in a more anti-sex cultural environment: it actually is kind of hot when any obstacle at all that gets in the way of sex, even crazy pathological cultural inhibition and suppression, gets swept away by the heat of passion and tossed aside.

It makes the romance romancier too. The heightened romance plus heightened sexuality is why Montagues-and-Capulets forbidden love stories have been such smashing box office hits down through the millenia, from Indian and Chinese epics to Greek plays to A Thousand Nights And One Night to Shakespeare and everything and everywhere before and after and between. Even back when prudes insisted that Romeo and Juliet be cast as acters in their twenties instead of young teenagers.

(Also, before anyone says it, I do know that the scene in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore probably wouldn't have shown up in any American movies a decade or two earlier. Instead, the love scenes were more like the couple out for a walk attacked by mutant turkeys in the Starvin' Marvin episode of South Park, which I couldn't find a clip of because Youtube has been scoured of South Park content, but here's a link to the full episode to make my search not-entirely-in-vain, it's about 6 mins in. Just in case anyone is reading this thread in 2050 and Viacom is still around, that video is NSFW. But you probably speak Chinese and the translator software has no idea what NSFW means.)
posted by XMLicious at 4:34 AM on February 27, 2011


Google is working on auto-magically translating poetry and having it come out as poetry so NSFW should be no problem. Unless you mean the whole concept of NSFW being considered so old fashioned that readers can't grok the meaning behind the words. I don't think we'll ever get that far; there is always going to be something that is considered obscene even if it's not what we consider obscene. I refused to try and imagine a society where two girls, one cup would be suitable for public display at a workplace
posted by Mitheral at 7:46 AM on February 27, 2011


Mitherial: while I take your refusal under consideration, think about this: people got paid to make that video, including both the taping and theoretically some amount of editing. The places where those events occurred could be called "workplaces" (of course the "safety" of the events could still be debated I guess!).
posted by idiopath at 9:40 AM on February 27, 2011


I would agree that hopefully a still-anti-evil Google will still be around in 2050 and hopefully everything that is free now will still be free then, with equal or greater quality. Hopefully the majority of the world's population won't be speaking Chinese but not English at that point either, of course; not that I have anything against Chinese (actually, the miniscule conversational experience I had with it made it seem easier to pick up than European languages, strictly in terms of speaking as opposed to reading) but that such an outcome had occurred by 2050 would bode ill, geopolitically, for us native English speakers.

(I was kidding about any likelihood of the average reader from 2050 probably speaking Chinese but not English, anyways. But please, please, fingers crossed, may Google not go any more evil in the future, and not merge and become FaceGoogle or something.)
posted by XMLicious at 12:23 PM on February 27, 2011


Actually, y'know, the more I think about it the less certain I am of whether or not free translation mechanisms that will grok "NSFW" will abound in 2050. Google's free translation service is probably a side effect of two major things: the fact that Google is able to make so obscenely much money off of its (also free) search, analytics, and advertising-centric services that it spends lots of its time and money just coming up with nifty free stuff to give away to keep everyone interested and keep ahead of competitors, and the fact that Google is interested in and able to dominate cross-language searching. Neither of those seem like things that would necessarily persist very far into the future.

But Google's coverage of even the English web for general search has seemed to erode in the past few years, it has brought out specialized search engines (Google Code Search, Google Scholar, Google News search, Google Books, etc.), and it has effectively completely surrendered the by-far largest Chinese language search market where it never had more than a foothold anyways. Will the specialized search engines always be free? If they aren't and you have to subscribe or make micropayments to use them at some point like it is with journalism content today, will that actually be an incentive for the general, free web search to get crappier? Which might then reduce the margins on the free search / advertising end of things, diminish Google's importance and coverage, and increase the importance of search engines focusing on languages other than English and non-Google specialized search engines... could the web become Balkanized and handled by multiple search engines, with quality integrated metasearch something you have to pay for along with paying for quality automated translation tuned to the material you're reading? It doesn't seem entirely unfeasible...

I don't trust my ability to see very far into the future in any case; even if some potential problems I can imagine did arise, maybe solutions to them would also... but maybe other additional problems would arise unrelated to anything I've said.

I think that if you'd told most people in the world in 1989 that within 12 or 18 months the Soviet Union wouldn't exist and the Cold War would be over (let along that a little less than two decades later Russia would invade a neighboring country and the Cold War "victor", headed by a jingoistic conservative President who was the high priest of a cult of Reagan-worshipers, would basically just sit and watch and politely ask them to not do that) I don't think that they would have believed you. The institutions and the facts, as it were, about how the world works in 2011 seem far more mercurial and temporary than the institutions and facts of 1989 did, though granted I was looking at them from a little kid's perspective.
posted by XMLicious at 1:50 PM on February 27, 2011


idiopath writes "people got paid to make that video, including both the taping and theoretically some amount of editing. The places where those events occurred could be called 'workplaces' (of course the 'safety' of the events could still be debated I guess!)."

NSFW isn't NSF(All)W. Obviously the bars will be at different heights for the staff of 4Chan or Hustler and the employees of say the DMV or elementary school librarians. At the extreme permissive end are people who work at home for themselves who can whip it out and wank it on company time if they want. Conservative workplaces are going to be around for a long time going forward if only because of church offices.
posted by Mitheral at 5:38 PM on February 27, 2011


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