Guys who do not watch porn do not exist
August 31, 2012 5:51 AM   Subscribe

The Great Porn Experiment. A Tedx Talk (in response to Phil Zimbrado's The Demise of Guys), in which Gary Wilson, creator of YourBrainOnPorn.com and founder of The Good Men project, asks whether our brains evolved to handle the hyperstimulation of today's Internet enticements, or whether it is priming human males for addiction and dysfunction.
posted by Potomac Avenue (144 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

 
TEDx?

More like TEDxxx.
posted by inturnaround at 5:55 AM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


I watch basically zero commercial pornography (I do have a soft spot for the most inept and homemade attempts, though) because it's boring, but I find these kinds of criticisms overwrought. There are absolutely people who use porn in addictive ways, just like some people use video games or online shopping. Anything with the right cycle of stimuli can be addictive, and there are a lot of people out there who are really searching for something to self-medicate with.
posted by Forktine at 6:10 AM on August 31, 2012 [13 favorites]


That 10 things About Porn Article...I knew that stuff in grade school. It really doesn't take an exhaustive examination of the topic to reach those same conclusions (even for a horny 13 year old).

Porn aside I've often thought about this same thing. Blasting "Walking Dead" into my brain with an iPad might be my preferred method of getting to sleep, but I am pretty sure massive amounts of light and stimulus aren't exactly good for sleep hygiene.

I dismiss some of this guy's premises. Sure, porn can interfere with your sex life, but so can baseball. In reasonable dose neither will unless you get caught.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:13 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Watching baseball.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:13 AM on August 31, 2012


Watching baseball.

And actual baseball; it's way more awkward, too.
posted by mhoye at 6:16 AM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


This type of compulsions not as widely recognized and accepted as cigarette, alcohol, drug(s) addiction and for that reason I believe it is worth these types of examinations and conversations.
posted by dogbusonline at 6:19 AM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


From the first hominids our brains were wired to explode at the sight of any nudity...
Lest our evolution be tainted by moral incertitude.
posted by SounderCoo at 6:25 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


8. In the context of a relationship, sex starts hours, days, weeks before penetration

I don't know, in the context of my relationship, sex starts when my wife say "hey, you wanna, you know, do it?" which is really a lot like very lazy porn.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:31 AM on August 31, 2012 [26 favorites]


Metafilter: not as widely recognized and accepted as cigarette, alcohol, drug(s) addiction.
posted by mr. digits at 6:37 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sex negative piffle, and heterocentric at that.
posted by PinkMoose at 6:41 AM on August 31, 2012 [12 favorites]


I will say, as an anecdote, that men my age typically range from somewhat fucked up when it comes to sex, to really fucked up when it comes to sex. I think it's a combination of things, but them having been introduced to sexuality via internet porn is definitely one of them.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:46 AM on August 31, 2012 [16 favorites]


Also, porn is not sex. Porn negative /= sex negative. Huge difference.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:47 AM on August 31, 2012 [39 favorites]


this Gary Johnson guy ain't seem to have any too much in the way of credentials, plus this whole deal has a kind of media-push feel to it. I wonder where it's all coming from.

I guess there is also the whole lol TED/TED spinoff factor.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:49 AM on August 31, 2012


Also, porn is not sex. Porn negative /= sex negative. Huge difference.

Yeah, describing that as sex negative makes me question whether or not you watched the whole thing; he explicitly says that sex is healthy, but that pornography addiction isn't sex. Honestly, I think it's not to the credit of the "sex positive" community if they refuse to see pornography addiction as at least a possibility. I'm generally alcohol positive, but I acknowledge that alcoholism is a real thing. I actually think it might be useful if we just acknowledged that basically everything in modern life is addictive, porn, food, television, basically everything. Honestly, I'm boderline addicted to everything I just listed.

(None of this should be taken as a endorsement of /r/nofap. Those dudes are crazy.)
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:58 AM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm not addicted to porn I'm addicted to masturbating. If I was dropping LSD every day and listening to Dark Side of the Moon over and over again it wouldn't be because I'm addicted to Pink Floyd.
posted by Sexy, Sexy Anonymity at 7:07 AM on August 31, 2012 [13 favorites]


Porn addiction is one of the ways that morality has creeped back into our national discourse--instead of evil, it's sick and if you are really lucky, you get to have both.
posted by PinkMoose at 7:07 AM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


I think it was Gore Vidal who said, "The only danger with watching pornography is that it makes you want to watch more pornography." (Can't find an exact quote.) It's never been easier to substitute porn for sex, and I can see why some men would choose to do so, even at the expense of a fuller relationship. But, speaking for myself at least, you kind of need to let go of porn, or at least put it to the back burner, if you want to have good sex in your relationship. Note that I'm just talking about watching porn alone; sometimes watching it with your partner can be... stimulating.
posted by Cash4Lead at 7:12 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


the young rope-rider: "that men my age typically range from somewhat fucked up when it comes to sex, to really fucked up when it comes to sex."

Out of curiosity, how do you define "fucked up?"
posted by zarq at 7:15 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I for one am surprised to find that my 'Multiple tabs' habit is a function of my primeaval brain somehow. There is a reason that this talk is at TEDx and not TED, or anywhere genuinely respectable, the dude is a hack. A pile of just so stories, misapplied animal models, and headline grabbing topics to not make science.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:19 AM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


I've followed some of this guy's stuff before. My take on it is that he is making the same point as the fast food excuse: Until relatively recently, people had a tough time finding sugar, fat, salt, protein. When they did, their body would reward them with a hit of reward signals from the brain. Some people find that eating, say, a Sausage McMuffin triggers a nearly reptillian response in the brain, and some of those people simply cannot stop eating, unable to follow healthy nutrition patterns because never before in human evolution were such life sustaining food rewards so readily available.

Sure there's a point to be made about normity, and how, like, square, the author must be to suggest that you might not want to look at porn. But I encourage you to look at NoFap, for stories about people who's lives have been improved by addressing and limiting their porn consumption because of the very real impacts on their situations.
posted by dobie at 7:20 AM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


I will say, as an anecdote, that men my age typically range from somewhat fucked up when it comes to sex, to really fucked up when it comes to sex. I think it's a combination of things, but them having been introduced to sexuality via internet porn is definitely one of them.

In order for that to be the case :

A. People would have to not have developed fucked up ideas about sex on their own.
and
B. These fucked up ideas about sex wouldn't have existed prior to widespread internet porn.

And neither of those are particularly true about this point in human history.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:21 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


And actual baseball; it's way more awkward, too.

And tough on the balls.
posted by yoink at 7:27 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Out of curiosity, how do you define "fucked up?"

I don't want to get into too much detail, but not understanding consent, not understanding female anatomy, having no idea what is likely to be pleasurable for women vs painful or uncomfortable, genuinely seeming mystified by the idea that a woman might want to orgasm, an inability to have PIV intercourse, or any combination of these things.

Like I said, I don't think it's entirely porn's fault, but I do think porn has a lot to do with it.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:31 AM on August 31, 2012 [15 favorites]


If internet porn is affecting our real-life sense of sexuality then violent video games are messing up our real-life sense of morality. I'd love to hear the argument that one is true but not the other.
Personally, I think neither is true.
posted by rocket88 at 7:35 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


B. These fucked up ideas about sex wouldn't have existed prior to widespread internet porn.

Ignorance when it comes to sex isn't a new problem, at all, but that's not the entire problem. A lot of men (and women) get all or almost all of their education about sex from a misogynistic and fantasy-based industry. Conversely, the internet has made a huge amount of genuinely good information available to everyone, which is awesome, especially for sexual minorities, but a lot of people don't seek it out.

Lack of sex ed is a HUGE factor in this as well; without any good information it's hard for inexperienced people to distinguish fantasy from reality. There's just this gigantic empty space where sensible attitudes and information about sex should be, and porn tends to fill it. Letting people who make money off of porn educate our kids about one of the most basic elements of our humanity is pretty fucked up, and it leads to fucked up results.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:43 AM on August 31, 2012 [14 favorites]


I think there probably is an argument to be made that "internet porn is affecting our real-life sense of sexuality then violent video games are messing up our real-life sense of morality".
Violence is bad and taboo and people know it's really bad.

Holding down your new gal and choking/gagging her during sex is taboo but not bad because it is
commonplace in porn and anecdotally it has become quite popular among young folk, often with the male partner expecting his young thing is naturally into it.

I do not think comparing pron and video games is comparing like with like.
posted by Mezentian at 7:44 AM on August 31, 2012


You can have my porn when you take it from my cold dead.... wait.
posted by delfin at 7:45 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I don't want to get into too much detail, but not understanding consent, not understanding female anatomy, having no idea what is likely to be pleasurable for women vs painful or uncomfortable, genuinely seeming mystified by the idea that a woman might want to orgasm, an inability to have PIV intercourse, or any combination of these things."

I'd imagine that men having an understanding of, or at the very least a visual familiarity with, female anatomy would be one of the advantages of a porn viewing population. I imagine that the average man's understanding of female anatomy today is at least on par with the average doctor's just 60 years ago, much less 100 years ago.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:48 AM on August 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


One thing that consistently bugs me about conversations about porn is how, when discussing the violence and domination that is inherent to so much of it, submissive women remain invisible to even the most feminist speakers. Concern about how some men might appreciate violent or dominating porn seems a lot more absurd when you consider that almost everywhere there is a shortage of dom men in relation to sub women.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:57 AM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


If internet porn is affecting our real-life sense of sexuality then violent video games are messing up our real-life sense of morality. I'd love to hear the argument that one is true but not the other.
Personally, I think neither is true.


You're right. Media consumption has no effect on people's beliefs or behavior. This is why all the fuss about Fox News and Citizens United is a waste of time. Campaign ads and cable news can't affect people's voting behavior.
posted by straight at 7:59 AM on August 31, 2012 [10 favorites]


Honestly, I'm just surprised that anyone WOULDN'T realize how serious and real of an issue the accessiblty of free Internet pornography is when it comes to rewiring the dopaminergic reward pathways.

I've encountered this issue twice in my personal relationships. I masturbate often but only watch porn perhaps once a month, or less. Two of my exes watched it almost 7 days a week, masturbating to it anywhere from 2-5 times a day, and required cycling through 5-15 videos in a sitting. Pictures were sometimes the ~appetizers~ and they'd download zipped bundles of images they might click through 50-75 at a time.

They were unable to attain or maintain an erect from the sight of me alone, or my contact, and disliked any form of foreplay. One flat out refused to try and orgasm from intercourse or oral, stating that he "just doesn't do it like that" and the other took upwards of an hour of continuous rotations of position, room, and outfits to orgasm. However, if either of them were able to touch themselves while I bent over and grab my ankles (yes this was specifically asked for by both) or to touch myself in front of them (while one had a porn video on in the background as well) they could cum in minutes.

Both had patterns of rejecting me sexually while waiting until I left to watch porn while I was at work, at my mother's, or with friends. I'm a beautiful woman who spends a ton on lingerie, works out, and is very "sex positive," but what those two exes did when I left wasn't "sex" and it seriously fucked them up...probably for life unless they commit themselves to some serious changes.

When I first learned about how prevalent this issue has become, and that it wasn't my inability or other partners' abilities to be "sexy enough" but that it was a dysfunctional rewiring of their cognitive pathways I was not at all surprised considering HOW sexually fucked up they were. When your porn viewing has prevented your physiology from allowing you to procreate like a human being and release your semen in a partner, 9/10, through every position and hole combination imaginable...that's a serious issue. And it ain't just my exes who suffer from it.
posted by orumi at 7:59 AM on August 31, 2012 [55 favorites]


From the first hominids our brains were wired to explode at the sight of any nudity...

Did the first hominids have clothes? Because otherwise this would have been awkward.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:59 AM on August 31, 2012 [10 favorites]


I can't watch the video at work. But it really seems like the scary consequences of widespread free endless porn on the internet is something that most men don't want to address because they have a vested interest in how awesome porn is (myself included).

I will say this, and it's kind of sad stuff but I think it holds true for at least some dudes: finding dateworthy people (online of off) and charming the hell out of them and going on dates and being on your best behavior and making sure you're stylish and can afford decent clothes and can pay for decent restaurants/cocktails and are genenerally an impressive engaging funny person can be HARD. For most guys online dating in particular is a confusing minefield with very little results for all of your daily personalized messaging and agonizing over your profile.

Porn is easy, free, painless and rarely leads to disappointment (or like, just switch to a different site if it does).

Combine this with no longer having the raging libido of a teenager and trying to find real life sex partners and/or relationships can fall by the wayside.
posted by naju at 8:01 AM on August 31, 2012 [16 favorites]


Ok so there are several links here. Do any of them have any evidence from peer-reviewed, quantitative approaches? Or is this all the standard lazy pop science anecdote stuff?
posted by kavasa at 8:02 AM on August 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


If only there was some way to find out what the links contained!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:04 AM on August 31, 2012 [21 favorites]


Lack of sex ed is a HUGE factor in this as well; without any good information it's hard for inexperienced people to distinguish fantasy from reality

It seems like the Internet in general is probably the best sex ed delivery system possible. When I was a kid I looked up sex terms in the dictionary and still didn't really understand what the hell they were talking about, being able to search Wikipedia and all sorts of other resources would have made discovering sexuality much less confusing and frustrating.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:05 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


This older Ted Talk is an interesting companion piece from a female perspective.
posted by fuse theorem at 8:14 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


the young rope-rider: " I don't want to get into too much detail, but not understanding consent, not understanding female anatomy, having no idea what is likely to be pleasurable for women vs painful or uncomfortable, genuinely seeming mystified by the idea that a woman might want to orgasm, an inability to have PIV intercourse, or any combination of these things. "

I was going to say that except for an inability to have PIV intercourse, these could all plausibly be the fault of ignorance due to a lack of education, restrictive upbringing (or frankly, empathy.) But on preview, you addressed that here: :)

the young rope-rider: " lot of men (and women) get all or almost all of their education about sex from a misogynistic and fantasy-based industry."

Still? Ugh, that sucks.

I'm sort of barely familiar with porn in general and online, but men (and women) having issues from unrealistic fantasy-based expectations makes logical sense if they watch a lot of porn. Especially when it comes to body type, hair (or lack thereof) etc. But don't amateur videos help bridge that gap? Or are they just not all that popular?

Somehow I would have thought that misogynistic crap would eventually be phased out in favor of more realistic depictions.
posted by zarq at 8:14 AM on August 31, 2012


I have grown so weary of the "this is teh evil" because something in the world is found to be addictive. Take a look around, for whatever reason we humans like addictive things.

Historians are addicted to old stories.
Librarians are addicted to books.
Collectors are addicted to things.
Writers are addicted to words.
Rocket scientists are addicted to physics.
etc.

I can't think of a single person I know who doesn't have some addiction to something and most of them live pretty "normative" lives. There are always going to be extremes but that doesn't mean any given addiction is always going to be evil/bad.
posted by M Edward at 8:18 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


You can be anti-censorship, anti-morality police, and pro-sex as all get-out, and still think that some men (and more and more younger men) have taught themselves some really fucked up behavior through the stimulation and constant access to internet porn.

I used to work at a store where we sold porn (you know, the old fashioned kind in magazines and VCR tapes). There were "addicts" then. Men who would come in and buy stacks and stacks of magazines every other day. I used to try to imagine what their apartments/houses looked like. They were porn hoarders, and I thought of them a lot. It seemed to me that it was all about a constant search for the "right image" that would get them off. Something constantly new. Their "addiction" made me sad for them. It was obviously an obsessive-compulsive sort of behavior.

So, I guess it comes down to the idea that I think that porn addiction, like shopping addiction or hoarding, is just an expression of a type of OCD.
posted by RedEmma at 8:19 AM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


I can't think of a single person I know who doesn't have some addiction to something and most of them live pretty "normative" lives. There are always going to be extremes but that doesn't mean any given addiction is always going to be evil/bad.

Yes, but the claim of the linked video is that some men are experience health problems (erectile dysfunction) because of their addiction to pornography. I'd need more data to agree or disagree with that premise, but if a significant number of men are experiencing health problems (mental or physical) that is attributable to pornography use, then I think that's worth talking about. As I say, I'd need data to know if that really is a problem, but anecdotally, it seems worth studying.

If you showed that a significant number of librarians were experiencing health problems because of their addiction to books, I'd say we should look into that too.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:24 AM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


So, I guess it comes down to the idea that I think that porn addiction, like shopping addiction or hoarding, is just an expression of a type of OCD.

Hopefully involving plenty of hand-washing.
posted by Forktine at 8:29 AM on August 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


But don't amateur videos help bridge that gap? Or are they just not all that popular?

For the most part "amateur" is a marketing term. It's shot & edited by the same people, and it's still the same people making money off of it.
posted by cdward at 8:30 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


One thing that consistently bugs me about conversations about porn is how, when discussing the violence and domination that is inherent to so much of it, submissive women remain invisible to even the most feminist speakers. Concern about how some men might appreciate violent or dominating porn seems a lot more absurd when you consider that almost everywhere there is a shortage of dom men in relation to sub women.

I can't speak for other feminists, and there are definitely feminists who do not see BDSM as a valid form of sexual expression. For me the primary issue with violent/dominating pornography is that women as a class are being portrayed as into [activity x] because we're women and therefore inherently submissive/masochistic. Men being dominated? It's own category, niche, notable. Women being dominated? Totally normal! Of course they like it!

If anything, dominant and non-submissive/masochistic women are being erased.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:30 AM on August 31, 2012 [10 favorites]


I hate to sound like an aficionado but I think that's a blanket statement TYRR. Some porn depicts submissive women that way but some (even non-fetish, mainstream stuff) depicts aggressive women or women acting submissive enthusiastically (submissively participating I guess I mean?).

Certainly there are degrading scenes too, the effect of which is up for debate. What is interesting to me about the argument in the Ted Talk is simply the fact that the endless variety is more damaging than any specific theme. It could all be lesbian-feminist produced body-positive organic yoga humping and it would still hurt addiction-prone viewers because of the unlimited supply.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:46 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


For me the primary issue with violent/dominating pornography is that women as a class are being portrayed as into [activity x] because we're women and therefore inherently submissive/masochistic. Men being dominated? It's own category, niche, notable. Women being dominated? Totally normal! Of course they like it!

I agree. Again, I see very little mainstream porn, just clips here and there when it's linked on a blog or something, so I might be missing how much variation there really is. But although I guess it would probably be a commercial flop, I do think it would be more interesting if there it was a bit more fluid in terms of who is being made to gag or whatever.
posted by Forktine at 8:48 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


For the most part "amateur" is a marketing term. It's shot & edited by the same people, and it's still the same people making money off of it.

I would say that's not really true anymore. The mainstream porn industry is losing out to "tube sites" that are basically YouTube for porn, to the extent that some people say the mainstream porn industry is dying out. A lot of the most popular tube sites do DMCA takedowns, so like YouTube there is more user-generated content and a lack of high profile mainstream content that will get deleted almost instantly if it's ever uploaded. Add in the fact that video camera phones and webcams are ubiquitous these days and there's a ton of user-uploaded sexual content by actual amateurs who aren't making any money off of it. That opens up a whole different can of worms though, because it's not always obvious that the people in the video (especially women) actually consented to having the video posted online.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:50 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Historians are addicted to old stories.
Librarians are addicted to books.
Collectors are addicted to things.
Writers are addicted to words.
Rocket scientists are addicted to physics.
etc.

I can't think of a single person I know who doesn't have some addiction to something and most of them live pretty "normative" lives. There are always going to be extremes but that doesn't mean any given addiction is always going to be evil/bad.
Addition and "being really into something to an unusual extent" are not equivalent. Addiction is a pathological, involuntary fascination usually with a chemical dependence that impairs the addict's ability to function and/or damages their health. Unless you can't help yourself from buying books and you bankrupt yourself in the process, you aren't addicted to books – you like them. Sure, we may say that we're "addicted" to some TV show when we spend a weekend watching three seasons on Netflix, but this is hyperbole. Either you are being intellectually dishonest or you've never known an addict. It's the difference between the people who really like beer and go out of their way to attend beer conventions and visit breweries, and then people who wake up every morning with a hangover and immediately start drinking before they go to work.

To the author's point, I don't think know that I've ever met anybody who could not stop looking at internet porn in the way an alcoholic cannot stop drinking, but I've definitely experienced the impulse to sit around watching porn instead of socializing/partaking of hobbies/reading/doing anything that will actually make me happy instead of manually triggering the release of dopamine.
posted by deathpanels at 8:51 AM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


having been introduced to sexuality via internet porn is definitely one of them

definitely.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:05 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's perfectly OK for people to prefer to express their sexuality through porn rather than with other humans, especially if they're OK with it. (It's not what I want, but so what?) The problem with orumi's former partners was surely that they didn't understand that they were more interested in porn than in actual people, or they hadn't figured out a way of integrating the two in a way that made everyone happy. Recognizing that what those guys wanted wasn't compatible with what you wanted was a good idea, but dehumanizing them by saying that they don't "procreate like a human being" is an ugly attempt to police their sexuality; just because someone doesn't want to procreate like you do doesn't make them inhuman, FFS.
posted by Casuistry at 9:07 AM on August 31, 2012 [21 favorites]


"Guys who do not watch porn do not exist".

That is not true. I am not even sure if it's true that college age guys who do not watch porn [for more than five minutes every day] do not exist.

Looking at some of the presumably female comments in this thread I wonder if it would be a plus or a minus to put on my okcupid profile that my computer is pornography free and I will allow you to ^H my browser to see for yourself that I have more worthwhile things to do with my time than wank to fsck'ing internet porno. (Although I do plenty of other embarrassing shit like watch that Shatner Saturday Night Live video about "Get A Life").
posted by bukvich at 9:11 AM on August 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's perfectly OK for people to prefer to express their sexuality through porn rather than with other humans, especially if they're OK with it.

Well I think it's OK if they're OK with it, but many many guys feel like they have no other choice. The situation where someone is perfectly happy being alone with their computer is comparatively rare.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:23 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


But, speaking for myself at least, you kind of need to let go of porn, or at least put it to the back burner, if you want to have good sex in your relationship.

On the flip side, if you need to have a good relationship, sometimes you need porn. My partner and I have notably different libido levels (I want lots, she wants less), and sometimes she just does not want me on her, and sometimes she just does not need me distracted.

There are times where we are having sex and she wants me to cum and I say I don't want to yet, and she says "I need you to now, OK. We have X, and X, and X to do today, and I don't need you all over me."

So sometimes, solo porn usage/masturbating can be good for a relationship. (And the flip side advantages of being sexually sated are obvious for the porno consumer.)

"Real" sex? ... =

* touching - √
* being touched - √
* smells - √
* pheromones - √
* emotional connection - √
* interaction with a person - √

even when I'm watching porn alone, masturbating, all those things are there. I mean, I am "a person" too even if I'm just interacting with myself ...

courtship? well, see my first paragraphs.

Really, how problematic is porn? Say compared to sperm decline?

What are the practical problems of pornography? I quit the video at the ED part. Hasn't a clear correlation been shown between rise in porn usage and decline in sexual assault? Should not our freaky desires involving lack of consent be expressed virtually as opposed to in reality? etc. etc.

"Symptoms of arousal addiction"

* ADHD
* social anxiety
* depression
* performance anxiety
* OCD

come the fuck on. I spent my 12-17 years with a constant hard-on. No Internet porn was needed. Hell, the girls were barely needed. Just a scent of one was enough.

Those symptoms describe almost EVERY teenage boy since the beginnings of human history. If porn-induced ED were such a huge problem, I can't believe we don't have Junior Viagra yet.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:24 AM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


"For the most part "amateur" is a marketing term."

I think one of the problems that many of us have with the anti-porn crusaders is that by making it more difficult (legally and socially) for small producers to exist, they drive out the niche markets for the stuff that could be, in my horrendously judging personal opinion, socially positive.

I think Peter Acworth's Kink.com empire is doing an amazing job of bringing social awareness and a wide variety of tastes and visions to porn, but, as the name suggests, that material is largely kink driven. Sure, there's their "Real Fucking Couples" brand, and probably a few others, but without the economies of scale to support the legal structures necessary to make and sell porn, it's a risky business.

Which means that when we get the "OMG porn is bad" and "porn leads to hairy palms and dementia" hysteria (sorry) crazed whining (generally in the face of actual data), we're just driving the production harder into the existing genres and making it more difficult for real sex with real emotion to make it into the marketplace.
posted by straw at 9:26 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


For the most part "amateur" is a marketing term. It's shot & edited by the same people, and it's still the same people making money off of it.

To be sure, the content you are describing exists, but stuff shot by actual amateurs at home for their own fun also exists. The two are incredibly easy to tell apart. The secret is simple: lighting. Real amateurs have no idea how to light a scene.
posted by agentofselection at 9:27 AM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


Recognizing that what those guys wanted wasn't compatible with what you wanted was a good idea, but dehumanizing them by saying that they don't "procreate like a human being" is an ugly attempt to police their sexuality; just because someone doesn't want to procreate like you do doesn't make them inhuman, FFS.

If we're discussing this on a biological level, which appeared to be the basis of much of the research in the above materials, then acknowledging the way that human beings evolved to procreate is absolutely relevant and appropriate to the discussion and not at all "ugly." The researcher's point is that the way humans have changed in only this past century alone is at such odds with the way we evolved to develop sexual relationships with others that it is creating a major chasm between us--resulting in degradation of healthy physiological behavior with the evolutionary ends of procreation. When a stimulus prevents ANY ANIMAL from creating life through natural means via its successful manipulation and rewiring of that animal's neuropsychology then this is the definition of dysfunction.

And, please, stop trying to make this somehow about sex shaming. You're enabling destructive behaviors. Both partners in my examples wanted children and wanted to create these children outside of laboratories--they just refused to acknowledge that their pathological obsession with pornography could be in any way connected with their physiological inability to do so. These weren't two guys who acknowledged how their bodies functioned, were happy or content with the way their bodies functioned, and just wanted "different things" from me. These were two guys who just. didn't. get it. They, like many humans who have unhealthy obsessions to the point of dysfunction, lived in denial and consistently shifted around blame and lived in a detached version of reality where they believed it was normal to not be able to orgasm inside of any of a partner's holes. Guess what, it isn't! It's called "sexual dysfunction" for a reason. Similarly, an alcoholic who can't control his bladder when he drinks too much and habitually pisses his pants in public will address his cognitive dissonance by stating it "happens to everyone," that it was "just that one time," or that everyone else is "just making a big deal out of nothing." He doesn't like that he pisses his pants, he doesn't just have "incompatible" pissing preferences to everyone else, he'd just rather coddle his addiction than address its toxic symptoms in his life.

This discussion is beyond morality--it's about helping people control an increasingly pervasive obsession with stimuli that are dramatically negatively changing the way our species functions. Addiction isn't sexy or fun, period.
posted by orumi at 9:34 AM on August 31, 2012 [21 favorites]


@PinkMoose

This is totally different than all the other times people have tried to police this kind of thing! We call it "unhealthy" instead of "evil", for example, which is one way it's different. There you go! Or wait, actually Kellogg said that, so never mind. There are other ways it's different, but you'll have to take my word for it.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:35 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


If internet porn is affecting our real-life sense of sexuality then violent video games are messing up our real-life sense of morality.

I'm pretty sure they are. We may not be driven to go out and commit any murders, but I think as a society we're pretty desensitized to it. Of course, other forms of violent media, the sensationalist coverage of violence by the media, and the casual committing of violence by nation-states all factor into this.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:38 AM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


This is totally different than all the other times people have tried to police this kind of thing!

Uh, who brought up the subject of policing? Why is the fear of censorship the kneejerk reaction?
posted by Apocryphon at 9:41 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


5088 fapstronauts! is up to 27742 as of the time of this post.

God I love the internet.
posted by bukvich at 9:45 AM on August 31, 2012


To be sure, the content you are describing exists

It's the vast majority of what you'll see if you go to a random porn site and click "Amateur". Yes, real amateur porn also exists, and maybe some day the industry will be replaced by people doing it for the sheer joy of it, but here and now we're stuck with something very different.

There's lots of great, positive material out there, but it's treated as a niche, and it doesn't excuse the rest of this multi-billion dollar industry.
posted by cdward at 9:48 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I wonder how porn compares with violent RPGs. We are talking about endorphine production and an associative feedback loop. Too wierd and frightening, to think of a generation of young folks who think sex is a knotted rope and a drive in the country reguires exploding bodies.

My experience with internet porn is pretty limited--sort like topping a rise and noticing that you can see for miles and miles and miles. Anyhow, I only view it for the articles. No question that it's boring--it takes only a little thought to realize that the pictures are there only to stimulate some kernal in the mind of the viewer, not at all to get him to think about something. Just the opposite. This is like watching someone play golf. You can observe a few strokes, and if you are a duffer you might take away an idea or two that enhances your game, but then you want to get back to your Road Runner cartoons. The guys who need to watch the whole game--Saturday after Saturday--well, make sure you wash your hands before you go back to work.

Anecdotal evidence in this thread supports my notion that young men are not necessarily able to manifest in the flesh what is generated by both their hormones and their expectations. Well, that's how I remember it anyhow. If I remember this right, young men are good lovers if they are in the proper setting, with an experienced partner, and they are willing to listen. Later on they may understand the topography well enough to ask directions. After that they may have enough of a grip on the journey to plan a decent trip. Well, like I said, that's how I remember it.

Primary instruction from porn needs to be considured contextually: define the porn. If you are thinking of batshit fetishes and dangerously wierd dominations, bondage and so on, then yes, this is a bad paradigm. In this vein, I would distinguish porn from erotic films, images, and literature. Compare Fanny Hill to Debbie Does the Budwieser Clydesdales.

I won't go so far as to say that all sex games are bad--that's not my issue. I'm talking about what young folks think sex is about, and how primary instruction can set patterns of thought. The nightmare version of this is a nerdy kid without many friends and a good internet connection. He doesn't interact much with his parents. It's all on the net. He travels grim roads without context, and gets lead where the links take him. The part about how he gets his endocrine system wired to specific images is just the toxic icing on this cake.
posted by mule98J at 9:51 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why is everybody with an opinion about porn either somebody who never indulges in it, or keen to create that impression?
posted by MartinWisse at 9:57 AM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


the young rope-rider writes "I will say, as an anecdote, that men my age typically range from somewhat fucked up when it comes to sex, to really fucked up when it comes to sex. I think it's a combination of things, but them having been introduced to sexuality via internet porn is definitely one of them."

I have no idea what your age range is (I'm guessing under 30 from the rest of your comment) but I been observing that sweeping generalizations like this are often a matter of selection bias. In this case maybe the ways you are meeting men or the men whom you are attracted to enough to get to the sex stage are in some way selecting for the behaviour you find objectionable.

I've been reflecting on cognitive bias like this a lot lately because of the deep dichotomy between the friends I've had since college (non smokers, little if any alcohol consumption, recreation tends to be cerebral (board games, movies, debate), mostly long term relationships, few are divorced and generally relationship drama is minimal) and the friends I'm acquiring through work (moderate to heavy drinkers, significant percentage are smokers, many divorces often multiple times, significant relationship drama, recreation activities tend to the athletic or outdoor activities). It's bizarre to say the least to go out for a couple hours of drinks after work and then meet up for a game of D&D or Settlers,

I can make sweeping generalizations about either group (hey look I just did) but those generalizations often don't apply to the other group. And if it was for my unconventional career path I'd never be exposed to the second group and would tend to think that the sweeping generalizations of the first group would apply generally rather than to the selection that they do.

At any rate take even this thread as an example; many have stated they consume little if any porn. Surely all those commentators aren't gget off my lawn types. Obviously internet porn isn't the reason their interactions would be fucked up if they are fucked up.

cdward writes "It's the vast majority of what you'll see if you go to a random porn site and click 'Amateur'. Yes, real amateur porn also exists, and maybe some day the industry will be replaced by people doing it for the sheer joy of it, but here and now we're stuck with something very different."

Searches for home made rather than amateur would be more fruitful for this sort of material. It seems amateur is more of an aesthetic where home made is, well, home made.
posted by Mitheral at 10:03 AM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


When a stimulus prevents ANY ANIMAL from creating life through natural means via its successful manipulation and rewiring of that animal's neuropsychology then this is the definition of dysfunction.

No, absolutely not. Functionality isn't (or shouldn't be) measured against biological norms.

If I want to be able to procreate and have children with my partner, but I can't because we are both men, that's a dysfunction -- a perfectly normal dysfunction, and not one that we can do much about right now, but it's a dysfunction that hampers my life.

If these guys wanted to have a relatively normal relationship with a woman and raise kids with her and so forth, and were prevented from doing that because of an internet porn addiction that altered their neurochemistry, then that is a dysfunction, and happily there is something they can try to do about it to make their lives functional for them again.

But it is possible to be addicted to internet porn -- because of altered neurchemistry or whatever -- and find this to be a perfectly functional way to live. It is not somehow inhuman. There are people who find their lives improved through behaviors that, were they not functional for them, would certainly be considered addictions (and, really, often are). They may be rare, but can we at least give them the dignity of still counting as humans?

This isn't about sex shaming, it's about nonnormativity shaming.
posted by Casuistry at 10:03 AM on August 31, 2012 [11 favorites]


A short google search brings up zero (0) bona fides on Gary Wilson. Psychology Today has a page on him describing him as an "Expert" "who has taught anatomy and physiology for many years". Does anybody know if he has a C.V. posted someplace with a number of peer-reviewed studies where he was a principle investigator?

I would be surprised if he is anything other than some guy with very few credentials who is marketing dot com products.
posted by bukvich at 10:07 AM on August 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


When a stimulus prevents ANY ANIMAL from creating life through natural means via its successful manipulation and rewiring of that animal's neuropsychology then this is the definition of dysfunction.

You do realize that this is the exact same line of reasoning that homophobes use to say that being gay is inherently unnatural and dysfunctional, right?

If we're discussing this on a biological level, which appeared to be the basis of much of the research in the above materials, then acknowledging the way that human beings evolved to procreate is absolutely relevant and appropriate to the discussion and not at all "ugly." The researcher's point is that the way humans have changed in only this past century alone is at such odds with the way we evolved to develop sexual relationships with others that it is creating a major chasm between us--resulting in degradation of healthy physiological behavior with the evolutionary ends of procreation.

This is hardly a new concept, people have been warning against the biological dangers of "self-abuse" for centuries. It's why the graham cracker was invented. It's always been a bunch of pseudo-scientific quackery and it still is now.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:09 AM on August 31, 2012 [11 favorites]


The total dismissiveness of some of the "nothing to see here" comments are odd to me. I don't think the ubiquity of internet porn is necessarily a sign of the end times or anything, but it seems weird to acknowledge a dramatic cultural shift in the ability of the average person to access sexual imagery of any and all sorts and then essentially do the equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears in regards to any claims that this might have some effect on behavior, attitudes towards sex and women, the ability to perform when an actual other person is present, being able to separate fantasy from reality, etc.

I'm not even that old (late 30s) and just in my lifetime the change in how simple and easy it is to access porn has been so incredibly dramatic as to almost be like living on another planet from the one I grew up on.

When I was in high school, if one wanted to see porn, you sort of had to hope that one of your friends had discovered his dad's secret stash of Playboys. I was as sexually curious as the next teenager, but could probably count on one hand (and have several fingers left over) the number of actual porn movies I saw by the time I graduated (all of which were incredibly vanilla by today's standards), due almost exclusively to limited ability to access.

When I was college-age and just beyond, porn was maybe a little bit easier to get, but it still required that you either go to a physical adult bookstore (and pray that nobody you knew happened to be driving by that area of town) or suffer through the humiliation of making the walk of shame to the "Adult" section of a regular video rental place and avoiding eye contact (especially if the clerk was female) when checking out. So watching porn remained a very rare occurrence, with the ability to engage in real-life, consensual sex with a woman actually being a somewhat less complicated and fraught process than obtaining porn.

The early days of the Internet (dial-up) made it a little bit easier in the sense that one could order porn videos online and not have to deal with the effort or embarrassment of obtaining in person, but this could be fairly cost prohibitive.

Today, if I want to watch a video, at no charge, of a schoolgirl with hairy armpits being spanked by an angry headmaster and then, I don't know, taking a shit on him or something, basically all I need to do is turn on my PC. To acknowledge this major shift in how amazingly easy it is for the average person to view porn, of any imaginable fetish, and then simultaneously suggest that there is no way that this fairly major societal change could possibly be having any effect on sexual behavior, attitudes towards sexuality, etc. seems strange. One need not be histrionic about porn to acknowledge that its ubiquity might have *some* effect in these areas.
posted by The Gooch at 10:09 AM on August 31, 2012 [36 favorites]


i'm at work, so i can't watch the video. i'll say this, though; anyone who helps the least normal and the weakest deal with the fact that they can't or won't have normal relationships with other human beings is doing a great thing. even if that's a video of their tits. even if you don't approve. if it helps some awkward person, that person is a saint. they are the best of us.
posted by gorestainedrunes at 10:09 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why is everybody with an opinion about porn either somebody who never indulges in it, or keen to create that impression?

I think it engages the same neural circuits as "I never inhaled." Their neuroplasticity has rewired their dopamine reward circuits in a way that chemical experimentation in hunter-gatherer evolutionary past never prepared for. Here's some clip art and unsourced graphs.

One of the thoughts I had in no particular order was to reflect that there's good opportunity for someone to whip up some Pop Neuroscience Bingo cards.


Certainly there are degrading scenes too, the effect of which is up for debate. What is interesting to me about the argument in the Ted Talk is simply the fact that the endless variety is more damaging than any specific theme. It could all be lesbian-feminist produced body-positive organic yoga humping and it would still hurt addiction-prone viewers because of the unlimited supply.


The Bad Porn Tropes overshadowing alleged Classy Erotica Tropes is pretty much a tangent to things, yeah. Also, Body Positive Organic Yoga Humping is going to be the name of my techno dance band.
posted by Drastic at 10:11 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Similarly, an alcoholic who can't control his bladder when he drinks too much and habitually pisses his pants in public will address his cognitive dissonance by stating it "happens to everyone," that it was "just that one time," or that everyone else is "just making a big deal out of nothing." He doesn't like that he pisses his pants, he doesn't just have "incompatible" pissing preferences to everyone else, he'd just rather coddle his addiction than address its toxic symptoms in his life.

Not disagreeing with your argument in general. But alcoholics can have any number of a range of possible public behaviors caused by or infleunced by their alcoholism, including saying really inappropriate things, acting the fool, and beyond, that don't involve pissing their pants. These behaviors can more germanely fit the category of behavior that they think they can justify by saying "everyone else does it" or "just making a big deal out of nothing."

Going automatically to the extreme pissing-the-pants example is unnecessary and kind of off-putting, not to mention inaccurate. Unless I don't know something about new developments in alcohol potency, alcoholics who are otherwise functional members of society do not usually lose control of their bladders and piss their pants in public. And I'm assuming that the analogy you were trying to make was to men who are porn-addicted but who are otherwise functional members of society.
posted by blucevalo at 10:15 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Both had patterns of rejecting me sexually while waiting until I left to watch porn while I was at work, at my mother's, or with friends. I'm a beautiful woman who spends a ton on lingerie, works out, and is very "sex positive," but what those two exes did when I left wasn't "sex" and it seriously fucked them up...probably for life unless they commit themselves to some serious changes."

So these men you dated apparently had a sexuality that was incompatible with yours, I can see how this would be problematic for you. However, this does not mean that there was anything inherently wrong with them, their expression of THEIR sexuality, or their unwillingness to provide you with the sex you wanted from them. Your partners had no obligation natural, legal, moral or otherwise to provide you with sex they had no interest in, period.

"When a stimulus prevents ANY ANIMAL from creating life through natural means via its successful manipulation and rewiring of that animal's neuropsychology then this is the definition of dysfunction."

What a biggoted thing to say.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:16 AM on August 31, 2012 [18 favorites]


Porn, I feel, isn't even the central issue here. The central issue is the extreme changes to our attention spans and our drive to quick gratification and stimulation due to the Net. Porn's simply the sexual facet of this phenomenon.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:17 AM on August 31, 2012 [18 favorites]


Yeah, I think painting this in terms of "addiction" puts a lot of people on the defensive and doesn't really help the conversation. It's possible to acknowledge that widespread use of free internet porn is probably affecting our socialization and interpersonal expectations without using the language of substance abuse and mental illness.
posted by almostmanda at 10:19 AM on August 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


Functionality isn't (or shouldn't be) measured against biological norms.

It is when we're talking about the physiology of organisms that are unable to complete desired biological tasks. This isn't society telling these men that they are somehow failing, these are two men who are failing to complete tasks they wish they otherwise could--tasks that are not prohibited by any separate ailments--a hallmark symptom of any addiction. It is the SAME as alcoholic males who suffer from ED due to perpetually being either at some level of intoxication or going through withdrawal. It isn't "shaming" them for not following cultural norms to point out this symptom that, an overwhelming majority of the time, is a self-reported problem in the addict's life.

If I want to be able to procreate and have children with my partner, but I can't because we are both men, that's a dysfunction -- a perfectly normal dysfunction, and not one that we can do much about right now, but it's a dysfunction that hampers my life.

These men are not gay, and unless either you or your gay partner cannot orgasm through intercourse or stimulation by a partner, it's completely irrelevant.

But it is possible to be addicted to internet porn -- because of altered neurchemistry or whatever -- and find this to be a perfectly functional way to live.

Living with untreated addiction, by definition, is never a "perfectly functional way to live." Your argument is just as absurd as calling AA or NA "nonnormativity shaming" because they want people to learn to take control of their own lives without living under the shadow of compulsive, obsessive behaviors they--like both of my exes--wished they could slow or stop but don't know how.

I've laid in bed next to a boyfriend of 9 months who I was deeply in love with, who was deeply in love with me, and held his hand while he cried out of frustration and confusion because we've tried for 3 consecutive weeks to help him have an orgasm without a video playing, without the sole use of his one hand, and he couldn't do it despite wanting to--knowing that he watched porn just that morning even though he promised himself he wouldn't because he was "bored" and "I don't know I just felt like it." The next night we had friends over for a movie and I looked over and discovered that he was sitting right next to two of his buddies in his own little world, unbeknownst to them, looking at nude pictures and watching a video on his cell phone on silent. That is a serious problem. People like him need help, and love and support, and not support through coddling and enabling.

It's an addiction like any other. Until we separate it from casual use, and treat it like the problem it is instead of a "difference in pleasures," it will not improve. If you do more research and read case studies you will find that my exes' stories are not unique--neither are attitudes like yours that enable them.
posted by orumi at 10:26 AM on August 31, 2012 [16 favorites]


To acknowledge this major shift in how amazingly easy it is for the average person to view porn, of any imaginable fetish, and then simultaneously suggest that there is no way that this fairly major societal change could possibly be having any effect on sexual behavior, attitudes towards sexuality, etc. seems strange. One need not be histrionic about porn to acknowledge that its ubiquity might have *some* effect in these areas.

I think the issue is that nearly everyone makes negative assumptions and predictions about greater accessibility and variety of sexual content than they do about pretty much any other type of content. Today you can easily go on YouTube and listen to pretty much any mainstream song that has ever been released. People generally think this is a positive outcome and that greater access to this kind of content is if anything good and enriches everyone culturally. Someone who listens to music for hours every day and possibly even spends time recording their own songs is not seen as some sort of weird deviant who is ruining their life with their unnatural addiction. And nobody is making the argument that people will no longer be able to understand the joy of seeing an orchestra play in real life because they have spent so much time listening to music on the Internet. In some ways it's similar to the usual "new technology is different and therefore bad" backlash that we've seen with television or films or books or whatever but there's an even more hostile sort of cultural negativity surrounding sexual content.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:28 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Someone who listens to music for hours every day and possibly even spends time recording their own songs is not seen as some sort of weird deviant who is ruining their life with their unnatural addiction.

That's because they're doing something productive. If they spent all day passively listening to music or watching videos they'd be seen as someone with an internet addiction, but we'd laugh it off and joke that we've all been there and start swapping favorite channels. Which sort of shows how insidious all of this is.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:31 AM on August 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


Saying that something is unnatural is definitely loaded and problematic. That said, there is something really sad about someone who wants to have enjoyable sex with a partner and has a very difficult time doing so. If it were a choice, that would be one thing, but literally being unable to do something that one desperately wants to do and having it negatively affect relationships is definitely a problem.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:43 AM on August 31, 2012 [11 favorites]


> Your partners had no obligation natural, legal, moral or otherwise to provide you with sex they had no interest in, period.

In fact, why even bother to preserve this antiquated notion of "partner"? They owe you nothing, nothing! No matter what sweet-talkin' promises they may have made to get into your pants in the first instance.

PS pr0n pooh, just wait until love robots.
posted by jfuller at 10:46 AM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


The whole porn issue is interesting for me as a woman who watches way more porn than my boyfriend. I discovered internet porn as an adolescent, via the gateway drug of written erotica. My boyfriend reports that he watched much less porn than me growing up, and now that he's in a relationship he never watches any porn at all. I tend to supplement with a couple sessions of porn every week if I have the time. I'm always rather torn by the whole situation -- on the one hand I do agree with a lot of theoretical arguments about the woman-hating nature of much of porn; on the other hand my turned-on brain doesn't give a fuck about theoretical arguments. I'm not sure what negative effects, if any, it's had on me. I do find it extremely difficult to climax with anything other than my own hand, but I think that's pretty common situation for women, so am reluctant to attribute that to my porn habit. My boyfriend is a good poster-child for the non-watching-porn guy demographic though -- very generous, always looking out for my pleasure, willing to try stuff but not pushy. But that just might be because he's a pretty awesome guy in general and nothing to do with porn or lack thereof.
posted by peacheater at 10:49 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Why is everybody with an opinion about porn either somebody who never indulges in it, or keen to create that impression?

Dude. I have seen more porn than probably any woman I know. I don't have anything against its existence, or its wide variety, or even its darkest corners (as long as everyone involved is consenting, and whether or not you can tell if what you're consuming is that is another kettle of fish). I sat at a counter overlooking the porn section of a store for nearly ten years, and I also had to organize it and price it. I sometimes brought interesting stuff home with me. I have worked as a phone ho, and I have perused porn all across the internet in answer to my own curiosity and titillation. I'm pretty sure I look at porn way more regularly for getting-off purposes than my male partner does. (He claims--and I believe him since I'm totally non-judgmental--to not be interested in it.)

I also have the opinion that porn use with some men (especially young men) has become debilitating, physically and emotionally. Just as I saw some men at the bookstore who were obsessed with collecting porn, and were obviously living obsessive, debilitated lives.

Now, I do think this Gary Wilson guy needs some scientific backup, and I scoffed at some of what he said too. I also think that scientist who said he couldn't find any college aged men who don't use porn wasn't trying very hard. There's always a subset of men who don't do something "everyone else" does. But to discount utterly the possibility that compulsive porn viewing is a thing is to be a bit obtuse. IMO
posted by RedEmma at 10:50 AM on August 31, 2012 [12 favorites]


Btw, do people seriously think the title is true? That guys who do not watch porn do not exist? I know several guys who watch negligible amounts of porn, including my boyfriend. And don't tell me that they're just watching it in secret.
posted by peacheater at 10:53 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would also just want to address this notion:

What a biggoted thing to say.

...that it is somehow an argument that "unnatural = wrong" or that somehow homosexuality (?) got tied up into this "dysfunctional = unnatural = gay is wrong" ridiculous straw man. I want to clarify them for anyone who may in any way (erroneously) believe that I think anyone who doesn't stick a p in a v and make a b is a disturbed monster who needs help.

The human body is designed to procreate through ejaculation into holes--this isn't bigoted, that's literally one of the most ridiculous and petty things I think I've ever seen written on the internet. Homosexuality isn't "successful manipulation and rewiring" of physiology, which is how I defined dysfunction, and I certainly don't consider it to be unnatural or dysfunctional. Two gay men who are attracted to each other and stick things in holes and no baby grows? Sounds pretty functional to me. If two gay men stuck things inside of each other and a baby formed, well, that would be pretty unusual. Straight guy wants to make have a kid but can't get his shaft hard enough to insert into the vagina or release semen once it's in there? Similarly unusual, for a different reason.

Regardless, the issue isn't just about baby making--human life isn't all about procreation--in MY relationship with MY most recent ex, specifically, he wanted a child and was unable to create one without medical assistance and that is when I first realized the profound impact the issue can have on a relationship between a man and a woman. Because I was a woman in a relationship with a man. I apologize for appearing as though I brush my hetero experiences over the entire spectrum of functional, happy, healthy human sexuality.
posted by orumi at 10:54 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


This reeks of a moral panic, or the attempt to cash in on one. I suppose it'll be even stronger when people realise that it's not just the young boys who consume pornography, it's also the "virginal" girls.

You can have too much of anything, and that includes porn. That also includes the romance novels and movies that we use to gauge the success of our love life and relationships or the crime shows and novels we use to learn about how to fear strangers and our neighbours. But usually men and women who watch porn or men and women who read crime novels aren't living in a vacuum, and they are well aware that what they watch and read aren't documentaries. They realise that you run out of ammo in a fire-fight much quicker in real life, so to speak, and that the heroes and heroines doesn't look like themselves or most anybody the know.

It isn't a new thing to have ideals about how to look, or to have ideals about how to act, and if you're mad and read too many stories about knights and damsels in distress, you'll end up fighting windmills on the plains of La Mancha. But the real problem isn't the stories, it's being mad in the first place that's the problem. Today, kids of both genders watch porn and create tonnes of homemade porn for their own amusement with their phones and webcams, but they aren't necessarily being stupid about it, and with some proper education and places to ask for advice and help without the risk of being shamed, I have no fear that the kids today will grow up to have healthy sex-lives.

And let's not also forget that porn isn't altogether bad or pulp entertainment. While it may superficially seem like it's all the same with plastic-y Barbie and Kenn dolls being banged together with some sort of ridiculous overdub of groaning, the Internet has made all sorts of variations regarding body shapes and practices available and kids today have a much easier access to affirmation that they're not alone in how they look or what they find sexy than before. I think that's basically a good thing, and much better than the experience those kids would have had a few generations back which was being preached that sex was for procreation only and a utterly shameful and sinful subject where any deviation was a perversion and was sure to cause ostracising and eventual damnation.
posted by cx at 11:08 AM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


"In fact, why even bother to preserve this antiquated notion of "partner"? They owe you nothing, nothing! No matter what sweet-talkin' promises they may have made to get into your pants in the first instance."

As opposed to sex by your self, sex as an obligation (absent consensual pre-arrangement or some kind of consensual wink) is something that really is fundamentally not ok, period, ever. Men are not machines one inputs sexy lingerie, conditional sex-positivity, and interest into in order to extract sex - no matter what the media might tell you. This might come as a shock but men, just like women, are people with a right to their own diverse interests and orientations that may or may not involve providing you with the sex you want. This is ok. Women with an interest in p in v sex might be better advised to date men who share an interest in p in v sex rather than dating men who don't anyway and shaming them as well as other men who don't for it.

Regardless, men, just like women, ALWAYS have an absolute right to rescind consent for any reason, and that is indeed no matter what sweet-talkin' promises they may have made to get into your pants in the first instance.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:18 AM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


From: "Regardless, the issue isn't just about baby making--human life isn't all about procreation--in MY relationship with MY most recent ex, specifically, he wanted a child and was unable to create one without medical assistance"

To this: "and that is when I first realized the profound impact the issue can have on a relationship between a man and a woman."

Is the problem. You seem to take the step from your anecdotal person's issue to "the issue" very lightly. Put another way, just because alcohol consumption causes "dysfunction" for your anecdotal person doesn't make my alcohol consumption any of your business.
posted by cheburashka at 11:22 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


My husband doesn't watch porn. To quote: "Why do I want to look at pictures of strangers fucking?"

He also doesn't like to watch Food Network shows, even though he loves to cook himself.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:39 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Concern about how some men might appreciate violent or dominating porn seems a lot more absurd when you consider that almost everywhere there is a shortage of dom men in relation to sub women.

And a shortage of dom men in relationship to sub men who want to be dommed by men. And a shortage of dommes in relationship to sub men who want to be dommed by women. And a shortage of dommes in relationship to sub women who want to be dommed by women.

Apparently, there are just more subs than doms of any gender. I think the closest-to-parity group is dom man on sub man, but even there there's a dom shortage.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:44 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I keep thinking about last year's Steve McQueen movie Shame. Haunting stuff that does a good job of addressing this stuff (within the broader topic of sex addiction.)
posted by naju at 11:51 AM on August 31, 2012


And stuff
posted by naju at 11:51 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


@Apocryphon

There are many easy, humane, and sane ways of dealing with this very real problem that don't involve what amounts to censorship, and they are the ones we'll use. And even if some, I mean, a lot of them do kinda sorta amount to censorship and silencing of men and womens' voices, what's wrong with that? You some kinda freedumb of speach Ron Paul libertard?

But, yeah, this is a real problem. Porn is negatively affecting mens' (I dunno about women and porn, I don't think they watch it) anecdotal ability to get turned on when they need to, not the fact that we are in a fucking recession with no end in sight, during an era where various global catastrophes-in-waiting threaten our continued survival, in a culture that treats most of its people like shit. I mean... to draw any connections between that and peoples' sexual behavior, or hell, their consumption to excess of pornography is way more pseudoscientific than these evolutionary psychology theories.

Also, I resent the implication that a person or group of peoples' attitudes toward porn are basically a shibboleth that will let you know whether they are creepy authoritarian norm cops. It's not like "porn" and "art" are intimately connected- it's not just any attack on one that opens avenues for attacks on the other. They've got separate, concrete definitions with different meanings. Plus, I mean, doesn't "art" get a free pass way too much of the time? We've been too permissive with applying that label to things, I think.

But never mind this derail. This is just about porn and the public safety. It is 100% apolitical and even if it weren't, its politics would probably be what I would accept as leftist. I mean, which presidential candidate is most likely to do something about this problem?
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 11:56 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is 100% apolitical and even if it weren't, its politics would probably be what I would accept as leftist.

So in 1992 the Canadian Supreme Court decided that anti-pornography laws based on the concept of obscenity would violate free speech rights, but could be justified, within limits, if looked in the context of gender equality, as porn could encourage degrading views of women and promote violence".

Not too long after, the Little Sister's Book and Art Emporium once again got its shipments of gay and lesbian books impunded at the border as obscene material. They took the case to court, the supreme court decided that, hey, customs was in its rights to do so using the argument of that earlier decision.

See the problem there?

There may be a leftist or feminist motivation behind an anti-porn law, but it is very very likely that the people executing these laws won't be leftists and won't share your priorities.

Being anti-porn in general is neither feminist nor leftist, which of course should not stop people from criticising the exploitative nature of actually existing commercial porn.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:23 PM on August 31, 2012 [10 favorites]


Being anti-porn in general is neither feminist nor leftist, which of course should not stop people from criticising the exploitative nature of actually existing commercial porn.

There's a huge difference between being anti-porn and outlawing porn. There are a lot of anti-porn feminists and it's a bit bizarre to state that to be a feminist someone to be okay with porn.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:28 PM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


@martinwisse

thanks for the tip
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 12:31 PM on August 31, 2012


My husband doesn't watch porn. To quote: "Why do I want to look at pictures of strangers fucking?"

Well, why would one want to look at pictures of strangers doing anything I suppose?

But I like strangers. Some of my best friends were strangers.
posted by amorphatist at 12:36 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


"And nobody is making the argument that people will no longer be able to understand the joy of seeing an orchestra play in real life because they have spent so much time listening to music on the Internet."

You've never spent time around people getting classical music performance degrees. Although honestly, most of the time the issue is COMPRESSION of music creating an unrealistic bias towards louder music, with less dynamics. In other words, the problem isn't that all that music is available, it's that people learn about the music from compressed recordings and so to them, that's the dynamic range they expect, not what they get from a the live performance by a symphony orchestra.

Which is actually a great analogue to what The Young Rope Rider was saying earlier " A lot of men (and women) get all or almost all of their education about sex from a misogynistic and fantasy-based industry." It's not that porn is out there that's the problem, it's that people learn about sex from porn that creates a different set of expectations than learning about sex from other things.

Which to me is an argument for more live performances, and non-porn related sex ed, than an argument for less recordings.
posted by Gygesringtone at 12:41 PM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is an awful lot of detailed discussion based on a talk, as others have noted, essentially made up out of whole cloth with anecdotes and such. Sure, it could be true. Lots of things could be. But without actual evidence why should we just accept it?

My own feeling, since that's all we've got to go on I guess, is that guys who are addicted to porn today would be addicted to something else in its absence. WoW, possibly. Collecting stamps or model trains in the past. I'm also not at all convinced this is a widespread rather than small problem.
posted by Justinian at 12:54 PM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


@Justinian

but evo psych and anecdotes though

those are surely valid
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 12:58 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't understand how using porn manages to condition some men (I couldn't say about women) into only being able to be aroused and reach orgasm through the use of porn, though I am convinced it often does.

This seems not to happen as much at any level in sex with a partner; men are apparently typically able to have sex with other partners and alone without significant impairment no matter how taken they are with a particular partner, and to continue to have sex with a given partner.

But it may be one of the ways using porn looks most like an addiction, because with cocaine and alcohol and nicotine and opiates, for a few examples, using the same amount over and over again soon no longer gets you high, but only allows function similar to the prior unaddicted state, and progressively larger doses are required for a rush-- though the regular dose is required for normal function.

With porn, failure to be aroused by the same old kind of porn sets in, and arousal comes to depend on more and more extreme and unusual varieties in some cases.

With drugs, the development of the dependent state, in which everything is basically normal despite the ingestion of a drug, looks like a strategem employed by the body to avoid having its systems messed up by exogenous substances that are unavoidable.

Perhaps, then, this particular addictive quality of porn could be seen as pointing to an intrinsic resistance to having our sexuality hijacked by things which are not in fact sex, but only sex-like, and don't lead to reproduction.
posted by jamjam at 1:00 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


It disturbs me to see so much dismissal of the complexity of male sexuality here. I know a number of men who have had problems with sexual performance that could be directly traced to their feelings. Male sexuality is often more complicated than insert someplace warm and wet and shake.

If I came in here telling you that my female partner was unable to orgasm and told you it was because she spent too much time reading romance novels and that she was creating some higher threshold for romance that a normal partner can't match you would say I was full of crap. You would be right.
posted by The Violet Cypher at 1:01 PM on August 31, 2012 [17 favorites]


@This, of course, alludes to you

Wait, I don't think we're on difference sides of this issue. I interpreted your message as a sarcastic one, implying those who were suggesting that porn causes problems were suggesting censorship. I thought you were having a kneejerk response in defense of porn by subtly insinuating that people who have issues with porn were advocating 'policing', and doing so by using the label "unhealthy" instead of "evil." Because I'd think detractors of Wilson's thesis would accuse him of simply using unhealthy to attack porn from a different direction.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:10 PM on August 31, 2012


people who have issues with porn were advocating 'policing', and doing so by using the label "unhealthy" instead of "evil."

i don't know, has that ever happened in the history of media, like several times

also "kneejerk reaction" is insensitive to people who don't have knees and also to people who resent that their objections to kind of shoddy just-so conjecture by a sketchy guy who seems to have no real named credentials or degree or backing can be easily dismissed for their tone or whatever

(Incidentally, someone just sent me a thing asking if the "BodyWisdom massage" Gary Wilson and this guy are the same dude. I have no clue on that.)
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:31 PM on August 31, 2012


What I hate about internet porn is how fast it is. When I was a kid you waited whole minutes to see that grainy gif.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:41 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


With porn, failure to be aroused by the same old kind of porn sets in, and arousal comes to depend on more and more extreme and unusual varieties in some cases.

I've watched a lot of porn for a long long time and I've never been at all convinced that this isn't complete and utter hogwash. I mean, at my age and my rate of porn consumption I should be long past the 'leather-clad midgets having sex with mules' stuff that the alarmists like to claim the path must inevitably lead to; but here I am, and I like watching attractive women who look like they're really having fun having sex with the dudes and/or other attractive women they're having sex with, which is the same thing I liked 15 years ago (if anything, my standards for attractiveness are less absurdly high than they were back when I was an idiot teenager). Heck I still enjoy some of the exact same videos I've liked for years.

I think porn gets a bad rap for a lot of the same reasons violent video games get a bad rap; when angry, alienated young men who play violent video games then also lash out with violence in the real world, it's a lot easier to decide that correlation must indicate some causation and blame the video games, rather than looking at why the young men were alienated and angry in the first place. And yet millions upon millions of folks play violent video games and are fine. So too, with porn; it's a lot easier to blame porn for sexual dysfunction than to consider that heavy porn use may be commonly connected to sexual dysfunction without being the root cause.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:47 PM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


If I came in here telling you that my female partner was unable to orgasm and told you it was because she spent too much time reading romance novels and that she was creating some higher threshold for romance that a normal partner can't match you would say I was full of crap. You would be right.

I don't know that this really works as an accurate comparison. It's not the simple watching of porn that can effect male sexual performance, it's the accompanying jerking off and getting used to (and possibly starting to prefer?) a different physical sensation than what occurs in traditional two-person sex. Porn simply gives a person more menu options to peruse while engaged in the act, perhaps causing them to do so more frequently than they would otherwise.

To create what I think is a more direct analogy, if you were to come in here telling us that your female partner was unable to orgasm and you suspected it might be because she spent too much time reading romance novels while masturbating with a vibrator, I don't think anyone would tell you that you were full of crap.
posted by The Gooch at 1:48 PM on August 31, 2012


Err, that top line should be in italics, I was quoting jamjam there.

And yes, this Gary Wilson does appear to be the "BodyWisdom massage" Gary Wilson. I dunno what, if anything, to make of that.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:49 PM on August 31, 2012


because she spent too much time reading romance novels while masturbating with a vibrator, I don't think anyone would tell you that you were full of crap.

i would


@mstokes650 i guess "he has taught anatomy and psychology for many years"
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:54 PM on August 31, 2012


> I dunno what, if anything, to make of that.

The man is a charlatan. Even if he were correct with the nofap stuff (I doubt very much that he is) he would still be a charlatan.
posted by bukvich at 2:03 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Broken clocks etc
posted by Apocryphon at 2:12 PM on August 31, 2012


@bukvich

come on, just because a guy was involved in a kind of hucksterish deal in the past and is now involved with some pretty shaky stuff that is phrased in the language of moral panic, that is also being promoted through essentially a viral internet campaign, and he doesn't really say where he went to school or what his degree is or anything, ain't no reason to bandy about terms like "charlatan" or "opportunist"

i mean, he could be right, and his stuff really resonates with me on a gut level
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:15 PM on August 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


Of course, you know who else's stuff resonated with a lot of people on a gut level.

Or was that what you meant, sort of? It's difficult to keep track of what's ironic and what's not these days.
posted by Grangousier at 2:27 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


By the time someone is 18 -- the arbitrarily designated age by which our culture accepts sexual activity in youngsters -- they have had maybe five years of furtive access to pornography, and possibly zero other sexual contact with other human beings.

The idea that this wouldn't have a dramatic effect on the sexual relationships they form as young adults is pretty ridiculous. I know I still occasionally struggle with attitudes and misconceptions about sex I picked up when I was too young and impressionable to know better.
posted by hermitosis at 2:40 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Maybe the solution, then, is to make sure their access to porn doesn't have to be furtive.
posted by Justinian at 2:56 PM on August 31, 2012


note: not completely serious. I'm not advocating handing out porno to teenagers. If furtively passing around playboys in the schoolyard was good enough for my contemporaries then, goddamit, it's good enough for kids today.
posted by Justinian at 2:57 PM on August 31, 2012


I arrived at this from r/nofap a while ago (and I hope you don't mind my talking about that for some anecdotal musings), and while people there -are- crazy, I think that in itself suggests the whole issue has at least some validity. If they felt nothing at all from engaging in said abstinence, they wouldn't be so crazy about it. When you consider placebo effects, this doesn't necessarily mean much (I recall something about Scientology auditing, where the apparent "high" from it was really just the second wind you get after exhaustion).

I have a dog in this fight, admittedly; I feel I've had some pornography issues in the past (looking at such things for hours has never felt particularly healthy to me) and claims that it's only a moral panic seem ridiculous to me. If the reason we don't allow minors to drink before 18 is because it'll affect their brain development, wouldn't consistent porn use do something to their sexuality?

Anecdotally (which is the worst kind of data), while I'm all for healthy depictions of sexuality (which it can provide) and a moderate usage, a seven-day-a-week masturbation schedule does tend to kill desire and the possibility of boners stone dead. That is an issue of addiction and pleasure to me, not an issue necessarily about the pornography itself; free easy access is an enabler, sure, which might give the whole thing more presence now, but pornography fundamentally hasn't changed. If you really tried you could get that much in the past.
Modifying this, I think it depends on libido as well. Somebody I know found twice a day still wasn't enough to stop it from being distracting. If we all did some sort of scientific study every day for two weeks then I imagine we'd get wildly varying results, which is where I take contention with people who might say "Oh, I've done that, I never had any problems." Good for you! But you're being anecdotal too. You may not self-stimulate for six hour stretches.
posted by solarion at 4:08 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm also wondering how reliable self-reporting of impotence could possibly be. Men are unlikely to be forthright and rational about having trouble getting an erection, and internet porn seems an easy scapegoat for confused men trying to explain themselves to their partners.

I'm also surprised at the amount of misunderstanding about E.D. The shock of the porn problem according to the "porn causes impotence" story is that erectile dysfunction is a bizarre anomaly only effected men who are either a) middle-age or past middle-age, or b) psychologically scarred. E.D. is a very common experience among men. This isn't to discount the lived experience of those chiming in in this thread to report their own or their partners' E.D., but I think it's worth being critical of the idea that exposure to pornography is a frequent cause of male impotence.
posted by deathpanels at 5:23 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Philip Zimbardo's name is spelled Philip Zimbardo. He's maybe best known for conducting the Stanford prison study early in his career, and also just being an all-around cool guy.
(IANPZ)
posted by dsdw at 5:31 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Didn't see it linked here yet, but here is a recent askme by a woman whose bf was viewing porn on his phone while having sex with her. Without telling her. For a year or so.

Surely that level of porn addiction could be considered bad?

I find it kind of amusing / sad / weird how defensive people get about their porn usage. As though the very idea that too much porn can ever be problematic is just unthinkable. Or even that there is such a thing as "too much" porn.

As the mother of a daughter I worry what effects the porn my daughter's future sex partner(s) will have on what they expect things to be like with her, and how much they will actually care about her desires (and dislikes, and fears). Or pressure her to go along with things they have masturbated to a hundred thousand times while watching porn, regardless of any opinion she may have on the matter.

It makes me sad.

And even saying this I'm sure some people will scream at me inside their heads: PRUUUUUUUUUDE!!!!! SEX-HATER!!!!!!!!!!!! CENSOR!!!!!!!!!!! That's the level of defensiveness I see.

Note: I have watched porn, my boyfriend views it sometimes and I have no problem with that. But I sure as hell wouldn't want my daughter appearing in any.
posted by marble at 5:54 PM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


If you want to stop using something and find you cannot, that thing is a problem - for you. It is not helpful for those who do not have the problem to say it does not exist, and it is not helpful for those who do have the problem to attempt to contol others' use of the offending thing.

Human nature, mind you, but not helpful.
posted by Mooski at 6:05 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


One thing that consistently bugs me about conversations about porn is how, when discussing the violence and domination that is inherent to so much of it, submissive women remain invisible to even the most feminist speakers.

You know, I hear this a lot on these kinds of discussions, and I just don't know that it's true. I am a submissive woman (well, a switch) and a feminist and I don't take time out of every argument to establish that blah blah submissive women exist, because it's obvious, and wanting to be a submissive woman does almost absolutely nothing to shake the status quo, therefore who cares. I get a lot of pleasure out of being dominant too, and it is nearly impossible to find someone to meet those needs. Actually, for all I know, it actually is impossible. In my opinion, women (including myself) are conditioned from a very young age to get used to the idea of "receiving" the brunt of sex, and it's no wonder that there are so many submissive women. (Submission is erotic, I wish that more men were in tune with that.)

Anyway, I don't know what to think exactly about porn. There's no doubt for me that the guys I've dated who were into moderate/heavy porn use had very obvious triggers and desires (obviously influenced by the mores of current pornography). On the other hand, an older guy I dated who was never into porn had probably the most bizarre "kink" of all-- but he also didn't assume I would shave, make specific kinds of noises, and want to do anal before PIV. (Which, as a woman who enjoys that kind of thing, what the fuck?)

I prefer having sex with men who aren't that into porn, because I feel like the dominant ideas in porn force me even further away from identifying my own desires and needs, when I realize that as ever, being a desirable woman means more acting, more acting, more acting. Honestly though, I think the problem is less porn than it is just an entitled view of the female body. Porn might encourage that, but it has always existed.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:06 PM on August 31, 2012 [13 favorites]


(Oh, I should add that yeah there are plenty of sub men out there who are dying for a dom woman, but so many of them are fucking assholes that it leaves me in the same pickle. Again, sexual entitlement.)
posted by stoneandstar at 6:09 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


for the vast majority of the time that "people" have been "people", in the sense that someone from 100,000 years ago would be indistinguishable from someone today, people roamed in groups of about 20 to 30 people. i'm sure there was tons of fucking. non-monogamous fucking. unless someone has a time machine ... i'd argue the current state of porn availability is more similar to the availability of sex in the way people evolved. there was probably a lot more sex going on in pre-history days.i remember hear from the book "sex at dawn" about how some indigenous tribes think a baby is made by men depositing enough sperm into a woman to make a baby.
posted by cupcake1337 at 10:48 PM on August 31, 2012


*sigh*
posted by homunculus at 12:22 AM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I dunno, I think I got plenty of horrible ideas about sex and the opposite sex from a religious upbringing. When i think about all the time I ve spent making and dealing with some large life mistakes that hurt people because of religion, and all the effort unlearning the Things that Women Should Be Doing; well, the deceptions of porn do not compare.
posted by eustatic at 3:24 AM on September 1, 2012


Essentially unlimited and instantaneous access to pornography is a big huge deal. It's a pretty new phenomenon and it's poorly understood. This does not mean it's a bad thing, it's a radically improved version of something that has existed for a long time. It makes unwanted abstinence much more tolerable. It's a lot of fun and it relieves stress. I'm sure it also has some downsides too, and for some people I'm sure the downsides are pretty huge. I've examined my use of online pornography and I've decided that it's in my own best interest to scale it back, 2-3 times a day is likely just too much and it was crowding out other more important things in my life. I've found it difficult to climax from intercourse with a partner. I suspect that it lowered my drive to pursue real relationships. I also think that maybe the variety offered has allowed me to get a little bit too specific with what I'm into and I've sensitized myself to a very particular form of stimulation.

I've tried to scale it back and I've found it very difficult. It's just always there and it really isn't that harmful. But it doesn't need to be harmful to create big differences in how people and societies behave. I think for a lot of people, particularly people who grow up with ubiquitous pornography there will be important sociological and psychological consequences that will probably be filed as 'bad' but could more accurately be described as different.
posted by I Foody at 6:34 AM on September 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


see also that bastion of science integrity and journalism standards, Cracked dot com

or not
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:59 AM on September 1, 2012


IMO, if you're going to porn because you enjoy it and it stimulates you, more power to you. If you're going to porn even when it doesn't bring enjoyment, if it's just an ingrained habit, if you're helpless and in thrall to it, if you're substituting porn for real interaction with real people or being in the real world, it might not be a bad idea to stop a minute and think about it. As cx said above, "You can have too much of anything, and that includes porn."
posted by blucevalo at 10:16 AM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


This week on "What's Wrong With Men".

Men don't want the sex others want them to want.
posted by yonega at 5:14 PM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just came across this essay, which made an astute comparison:
In many ways, a lot of porn is comparable to junk food. It’s a highly distilled and concentrated formulation that is engineered to tap into some of our most basic urges. As a culture, we’re really good at taking something that’s good for us or fun and distilling it to the point of toxicity. In the case of food, it’s salt, sugar, and fat. In the case of porn, it’s formulaic, unrealistic sex that follows predictable conventions and neglects genuine pleasure. In both cases, real diversity and variety is removed and instead, superficial differences are promoted as innovations.
I think the comparison is imperfect, but the general point that this is a societal issue that extends far beyond the narrow question of pornography seems very apt to me.
posted by Forktine at 10:29 PM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Men don't want the sex others want them to want.

Did you watch the video? It was about a self selecting new control group who are opting out. Because they feel that their use is ruining them.
posted by ead at 12:21 AM on September 2, 2012


More like TEDxxx.
More like TED-Xtra-stupid.

Come on, seriously, this sounds incredibly ridiculous to me - yet inline with the quality of "TEDx" in general.
posted by delmoi at 4:52 AM on September 2, 2012


"Did you watch the video?"

The video was of a hack using science terms he didn't understand, telling just so stories like they mean something, performing an illusion of a science lecture that happens to press the buttons that his audience wants to hear, and who does it to sell snake oil. As someone who clicked the link, I'm pretty down with the consensus that the video is not worth watching. There are however people in this thread saying some pretty fucked up shit.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:55 AM on September 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is there a huge fraction of our culture that does not consider masturbation to be a completely private activity? After reading this brouhaha of a thread I am left with this uneasy feeling that I am completely ignorant of a really huge movement in mainstream society. I have lived with a total of 15-20 roommates over the course of my life and we never masturbated in front of each other. Until I got my own room which was not until age 22 it would have been impossible for any of us to spend hours watching porn. Does everybody have their own room now? Do they take their laptop into a toilet stall and run the battery down? Do they wank where their roommates can see it? Is the assertion "guys who do not watch porn don't exist" a hyperbole?

It ain't obvious how all these guys obey the Laws of Conservation of Mass and Energy.
posted by bukvich at 8:42 AM on September 2, 2012


The video was of a hack using science terms he didn't understand, telling just so stories like they mean something, performing an illusion of a science lecture that happens to press the buttons that his audience wants to hear, and who does it to sell snake oil

Oh I agree his "science" is utter nonsense, made up evo psych hand waving. I'm quite curious if it's true that a new voluntary, non-guilt-motivated control group is constructing itself out of thin air. The real-sexologist and real-addiction-researcher position has, for some time now, been that no such control group can even be found.

There are however people in this thread saying some pretty fucked up shit

I'm not sure what you consider most-fucked-up in this thread. It seems pretty average in terms of "anecdotal responses to increases in porn use among men" conversations. IME, real-life conversations on the topic tend to produce men-defending-porn-as-harmless and women-relating-stories-of-relationships-that-porn-ruined. Take from that what you will as anecdata; I too would like to know what real studies turn up.

But: if we believe neuroplasticity to be a thing, and we believe addiction to be a thing, I think it's a bit irresponsible to try (as some in this thread are doing) to conflate any conversation about those matters with gender-essentialist or personal-autonomy arguments about "men wanting different things". Alcoholics don't exactly want to be drunk; they've taught themselves to use alcohol as an addiction vehicle, a form of self-medication, and found their mind becoming dependent on it. They're often quite anxious to stop.
posted by ead at 9:47 AM on September 2, 2012


Republicans call for crackdown on pornography

The Republican Party has committed to "vigorously" enforcing obscenity laws. A look at what that could mean
posted by homunculus at 4:00 PM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


The "cambria list" is certainly interesting, notably:

* No male/male penetration
* No transsexuals

WTF, bigots?
posted by mrgrimm at 11:42 AM on September 5, 2012


"I'm not sure what you consider most-fucked-up in this thread. It seems pretty average in terms of "anecdotal responses to increases in porn use among men" conversations. IME, real-life conversations on the topic tend to produce men-defending-porn-as-harmless and women-relating-stories-of-relationships-that-porn-ruined. Take from that what you will as anecdata; I too would like to know what real studies turn up."

The real life conversations I've had have been a bit more diverse, including men but largely women most concerned with reinforcing cultural structures that shame women for choosing to be not only sexual but openly and even accessibly so, men who just don't see the appeal of watching strangers fuck, women who enjoy porn, both men and women who see expression of male sexuality as somehow inherently shameful in a way women's sexuality not always is anymore, all sorts of genders of people concerned with not supporting the sex trafficking and exploitation integrated into the international porn industry, evangelical male 'no-fap'pers, and all sorts of genders of people happy with the central backbone of support that the American porn industry provides to free speech protection as well as honest sex education efforts and the advancement of production technology. Looking through the literature, I'm not really finding data that could be said to be both reproducible and representative, I would also be curious if anyone can find a good review or large study that has escaped me.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:41 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bladselb, I for one am glad you're on that wall, perusing all the porn research I cannot.

Guys who do not watch porn do not exist

C'mon. You guys. The lady doth protest and all that. It's *OK* if you look at a lot of porn, but not everyone is that into it!

I don't watch or make any porn. I'm strictly into erotica.
posted by mrgrimm at 7:54 AM on September 6, 2012


Erotic experience is a human good. Mature, consenting adults should be able to explore the erotic realm freely, without outside interference. Pornography is illicit and destructive. But what is the real difference between the erotic and the pornographic? Is there a bright line? In our attempts to regulate pornography do we run the risk of infringing upon the erotic freedoms of consenting adults?

- "The Erotic vs. The Pornographic" - Philosophy Talk
posted by mrgrimm at 7:57 AM on September 6, 2012


I have stupidly awesome library access, MeMail me with enough reference information, as well as an email address to send it to, and I'd be happy to grab any PDFs you need.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:51 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


NYT:
ABOUT a decade ago, Cindy Gallop, a pixie-like businesswoman, said she began dating and sleeping with men about half her age. While their stamina and her experience made a good combination, Ms. Gallop said, she also discerned a disturbing trend: the boudoir moves of many of her young lovers seemed drawn entirely from pornography.

So Ms. Gallop, now 52, an advertising executive turned Web entrepreneur, took her findings to a TED conference in 2009. Easy access to Web sex sites, she told them, is teaching younger generations “that what you see in hard-core pornography is the way that you have sex.”

“As a mature, experienced, confident, older woman,” she added, “I have no problem realizing that a certain amount of re-education, rehabilitation and reorientation has to take place. ” As laughter rippled through the discomfited and rapt audience, Ms. Gallop unveiled a Web site, MakeLoveNotPorn.com, that compares what it calls the “porn world” with the “real world” of sex.

As graphic and funny as some of the language was, the site was mostly text. Now, Ms. Gallop is taking it up a notch with MakeLoveNotPorn.tv, a kind of YouTube for the erotically unabashed. The site, just a few weeks old and still in beta, consists entirely of videos uploaded by real people having what might be called nonperformance-like sex.

Payment is simple: contributors pay $5 to post a video, users pay $5 to watch, and 50 percent of the proceeds go to the contributors. Each submission is vetted by Ms. Gallop and her team. There are now 13 videos. Compared with the harsh lens of mainstream pornography, the videos come across as sweet, earnest, languid, playful and deeply human.

posted by zarq at 2:24 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is one issue way more important than how these moralists view pornography, namely frequent masturbation reduces the risk of prostate cancer.

You should therefore not reduce your masturbation frequency whatever some moralist who gets a TEDx talk says. If you need a girlfriend, then try meeting more women, speaking with women more frankly and honestly, and listening, but reducing your masturbation sounds dangerous.

It's technically that risk factors for prostate cancer cause frequent masturbation, but said masturbation itself reduce the risks.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:16 PM on September 10, 2012


R Kelly Wants Deaf People to Stop Masturbating
posted by homunculus at 1:29 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Donna
posted by homunculus at 5:11 PM on September 21, 2012


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