Is Porn Bad for You?

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I’m not pro-porn. I’m not anti-porn. Porn exists and many, many people consume it.

The real question is: what are the consequences of the copious amounts of free pornography on our society?

A recent New York Times op-ed piece – written by Lux Alptraum, an editor of the Fleshbot blog-   effectively states the anti-porn case:

“The arguments that show up in national publications today – and are often repeated by readers – are not so different from anti-porn screeds written decades before. A recent  New York Magazine feature  dubbed Pornhub, a top porn site, “the Kinsey Report of our time,” arguing that the breadth of perversity found on the site encourages increasingly exotic sexual exploration among its presumably vanilla viewers; other commentators, including Cindy Gallop, founder of the website MakeLoveNotPorn, have also expounded upon the power pornography holds over our sexual tastes and behaviors. Journalists still seem convinced that, first, if an extreme form of porn exists, it’s common and anyone who watches porn will eventually stumble on it; second, that viewing porn rewires our sexual preferences, often in damaging and terrifying ways; and, of course, that pornography gives children unhealthy ideas about sex.”

Sounds reasonable, right? But Alptraum says that such questions are based more on fear than reality. In fact, for the most part, modern porn sites are not creating more perverts, but rather, giving people exactly what they’re asking for:

For the most part, modern porn sites are not creating more perverts, but rather, giving people exactly what they’re asking for.

“Being exposed to the wonderfully diverse world of human sexuality didn’t seem to make readers more excited by unfamiliar kinks and sexual interests – if anything, it made my readers more interested in the various tags and filters that would allow them to quickly zoom in on the specific content that met their needs. Straight men who were accidentally exposed to gay porn didn’t suddenly turn gay; vanilla viewers who happened upon photo sets of extreme kink would complain that they should have been better shielded from, say, the sight of extreme bondage.”

Alptraum isn’t an ostrich, burying  her head in the sand (yes, Lux is a SHE). She acknowledges the impact of porn but doesn’t blame porn itself.

“There is some truth to the anti-porn claim that it negatively impacts the sexual imaginations and awareness of young people. But that’s largely due to the fact that pornography – which, though sometimes educational, is more frequently a wildly inaccurate fantasy – is consumed in a culture where sex education is minimal, fear-based and often inaccurate; where parents treat the sex talk as a shameful task to be gotten over with as quickly as possible; and where pop culture promotes a confusing virgin/whore dichotomy that encourages sexual exploration while demonizing “promiscuity.” Given all this, it’s unsurprising that porn might leave young viewers confused or even scarred, and that it might negatively impact their ability to relate to future partners. But that says less about the nature of pornography than about the dangers of a culture that delegates something as important and essential as sex education to an industry dedicated to crafting fantasy and entertainment.”

As a casual consumer of porn, starting with supermodel posters and scrambled Cinemax in the 80’s,  I couldn’t agree more. Maybe because I’m “vanilla,” but I’ve never sought out hardcore porn; if anything, I looked for videos that turned me on and got me off fast.

Maybe it’s pie-in-the-sky thinking, but I like Alptraum’s vision for the future of sex:

“If we create a culture where sexuality is accepted as a healthy, positive part of life, then we’ll be able to appreciate porn for the wild, unrealistic fantasy that it was always intended to be.”

Your thoughts, as always, are greatly appreciated, in the comments section below.

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Comments:

  1. 21
    SSJ4Gogeta

    “My gut feeling tells me that porn, overall, lowers my value.   Because it devalues something I offer in the marketplace by making it more abundant.   It’s a very primal feeling.   Those women on the screen are stealing male attention from real women.   Also, I’m insecure about my body, and porn doesn’t help that.”

    Pretty much summarises the whole thing in a nutshell. I don’t think much has changed from the past and the contradicting anecdotes prove my point further. With anything, including porn, too much of it can have severe consequences if abused. All this talk about porn consumption messing up men and their perception of women is nothing extravagent.

    If men become terrible partners in bed because of it, I think it’s the individual men to blame for letting their porn habits spin out of control. If a man can’t get laid and resorts to porn, then let him be because not every person in this world will have sex even without the existence of porn.

  2. 22
    Adrian

    Whoa! How did I miss an entire post on Porn!?

    Anyway Jeremy WOW! It is rare for this to happen to me (I honestly wish it would happen more) but you have literally altered my entire thinking and feelings on an issue I often argue is okay for men-the use of porn!

    In your hypothesis you stated: “porn is not just fantasy, but is actually the cheapest form of sex… men’s desire to achieve, excel, build <is all> to win female approval.   That as long as sex is expensive, as long as women hold male success as the price for sex, men pay that price.   When sex is cheap, when it does not require male energy or success, men lose the motivation for that success and we see men dropping out of school and failing to launch.   And when sex is dirt cheap, men lose all motivation — hence the adult male living in his parents’ basement playing video games and watching porn all day…  For all the discussion of how women want sex as much as men, they generally don’t because women don’t PAY for sex — and I’m not referring to prostitution.   Women don’t court men, don’t plan and pay for men, don’t generally agree to provisions for men in exchange for male sexuality.   Men do that for women because they want female sexuality and emotional receptivity (primarily among other things), and they pay for that with their commitment.   If sex is expensive, men pay the price that women set.   If sex is cheap, men have no motivation to pay the price.

    I mean wow! What a paradigm shift for me. Speaking strictly about sex-Why court and jump through hoops for a woman who is practically a stranger when  a man can just watch a woman who is 10-times better looking do and say things that the woman who he had to spend months trying to impress would make him feel embarrassed for even asking? And I am not talking about anything really depraved, I hear many guys saying their new girlfriends make them have to “earn” a blowjob.

    I am at the tail end of the millennials so I see both sides of the courting debate. But the not wanting to make sacrifices for college, or not wanting to be doctors and lawyers or whatever instead of carpenters now all makes sense. We men no longer need to work and become successful to get a hot woman we can just watch porn. I can’t remember what book it was but the author was saying how most research shows that our male brains can’t tell the difference between real women and the women we watch on porn.

    Jeremy I barely watch porn but now I think I will stop completely… and see how far I can go and achieve with the motivation of sex desiring (^_^).

    …     …     …

    Two quick questions:

    1) .Do you believe that this is only limited to porn or are there other “man-made” things and media that cause men to not put in the effort for their own success?

    I ask because I hear a lot about how the model face & body women in movies, tv, magazines, music video, etc also effect what men desire and therefore expect from women in dating/relationships… Though I don’t know of any modern man that would skip a movie showing a naked young porn model so he could instead masterbate to a still picture out of a magazine of his favorite celebrity.

    2). Why do you believe that porn use is unfair to women? If anything it seems that the men are harming themselves and their own futures not women.

    You say that “If sex is cheap, men have no motivation to pay the price.   That’s not good for women because in such a scenario, women have to accept less and less from a man if they want to keep him, whereas before women could set the rules.   In a society where men can get all they need sexually from their laptop, the marriage/commitment market skews terribly away from the interests of women.

    I see many attractive women that have so many guys trying to date them, porn has not stopped women from having legions of men still approaching them. Just go back and read some of the comments on post where Evan talks about online dating, many women routinely say they get at least 100 messages a day for months or that they don’t have time to even look at all the men contacting them. On campus I always see most women surrounded by at least 3 or more guys-regardless of her body type, shape, height, or race.

    Even putting all that aside most women want a man to court: approach first, do all the calling, all the planning, all the paying, etc, etc, etc. Then she evaluates he character. Irrespective of what the female commenters on this blog say, most women don’t start reciprocating until a few weeks of the man courting her. The caveat is that once they are in a committed egalitarian relationship the man “still” has to keep up his quality of character or she will dump him. And even if he leaves her, she still has guys lining up to replace him. He starts off giving to her and when she eventually starts giving back he still has to give to keep her.

    The point is… I am not seeing how porn is hurting women. Men yes because they lose motivation to invest in their own futures but not women. The higher her SMV rating the more she can demand and will receive. If a hot woman wants a brain surgeon she will have a brain surgeon; she does not have to lower her standards because she fears being replaced by porn. There are enough single high level men out there for women (yes I read date-onomics). Also her SMV doesn’t have to be high, just higher than his to get that doctor (yes I also read dataclysm), men are more lenient towards looks than women are so just because he is a surgeon or a CEO doesn’t mean she has to be a model for him to date; he will still put in effort to court non-models though he has porn. As Dan Ariely said with more choices of the opposite sex men keep their same standard they just see more options, but women get picker with more options… In other words she still has plenty of options she is just choosing to ignore most of them but a man will still put forth effort for the 5 just as he would the 9 though he could use porn and hold out only for the 9’s.

    In other words there are plenty of high quality men who won’t leave a woman or who would not make a woman have to accept less because of porn.

    … By the way I am just trying to prove my argument not attack women or turn this into a which gender gives more in dating debate-I want to make that clear…

     

    1. 22.1
      Jeremy

      Read “Cheap Sex” by Mark Regnerus.   He explains it better than I can in this limited space.   It is well-worth the 20 bucks and the 1-2 days it’ll take you to read it.

    2. 22.2
      ScottH

      Porn is a form of sex?   That’s news to me.   I thought it was simply a masturbation aid and I remember reading somewhere that the brain chemicals released during masturbation are nowhere near the chemicals released during real sex.   I would imagine the number of guys who would choose porn over an actual woman would be few and far between.   I know they’re out there but I don’t know any of them.

      IMO, this is waaay overstated:   “Women don’t court men, don’t plan and pay for men, don’t generally agree to provisions for men in exchange for male sexuality.   Men do that for women because they want female sexuality and emotional receptivity (primarily among other things), and they pay for that with their commitment.   If sex is expensive, men pay the price that women set.   If sex is cheap, men have no motivation to pay the price.

      The porn arguments are perpetual motion machines.   They can go forever without dying out and without resolution.

      1. 22.2.1
        Adrian

        Hi ScottH,

        I actually agree with Jeremy because most research I have read on the subject of porn does show that our male brains can’t distinguish between a real woman wanting us sexually and a porn woman wanting us sexually.

        I also agree with him about real men choosing porn over real women… though I think that has to do more with   a) variety of women (faces, hair color, etc) b)  no limits in the things she (the porn girl) is willing to do that his real life partner is not c) no judgement for him wanting such sexual acts-unlike real women  d)  (probably the most important) her projected enthusiasm to have sex with him or see him as a highly desirable sexually-unlike the real women whom he has to slowly court to bring out a sexual desire for him.

        Porn is the reward without the work or the beginning. The granted specific sexual request without rejection and moral condemnation

        So yes I think a lot of guys actually DO choose porn over real women-because a real woman can’t compete with the fantasy.  I think the difference is that most men in “relationships” only choose porn over their real women sporadically. But that makes it no less real to them… Porn is the utmost epitome of no strings attached sex-no emotion just lust. So these men always return to their partners or if he is single he still seeks out a real woman because porn only satisfies his physical desires not his emotional and intellectual desires.

        Anyway the point that I loved is that we men no longer have the potential energy created by a desire to obtain a beautiful wife, the desire to have lots of sex with said wife. The desire for such a wife is what we need to propel us into becoming successful and change that potential energy to kinetic energy but now we can just release that potential energy (desire) through masturbation for porn.

        1. ScottH

          Adrian- maybe so but I cannot relate to your arguments.   Porn is fantasy and that is much different from reality.   These studies might also suggest that watching The Hulk is bad for you lest you think you’re going to hulk out at anyone who does you wrong; or don’t watch Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous lest you think you’re actually living that lifestyle; of the Olympics lest you think you’re an Olympian; and on and on and on.   Who the hell wants to live without that stuff?

          Yes, I do believe that there is a part of your brain that thinks the fantasy is reality.   It’s probably the old-brain that thrives on this fantastic stuff.   But you have other mechanisms in your head that clearly let you know that this stuff isn’t real and to put it into proper perspective.   Fantasy has it’s place in our lives.   Just understand that it is not reality.

          These studies, IMO, are clearly biased and flawed.

          Caveat emptor.

        2. Jeremy

          I disagree, ScottH.   While both porn and The Hulk are fantasies, they are used by us in different ways.   My favourite distinction between porn and art is that art remains interesting after you ejaculate.

           

          We seek porn for the same reasons we seek sex; we don’t seek the Hulk for those reasons.    Porn might not be quite as good as the real thing, but for some men it’s not far off.   For other men who find the real thing too much work, porn is better.   Frankly, I get this.   I remember when my wife had low interest, I read an article about how to make a woman interested – it suggested making foreplay an all-day affair, starting with playful flirting in the morning, sexy texting all day, cooking her a meal, rubbing her shoulders, and slowly building to the actual event.   And I remember thinking – ok, once in a while this is fine, but if this is what is generally needed then, my God, I should just take care of my own needs.   It just isn’t worth all this effort.

           

          Men throughout history never said “it just isn’t worth it.”   They had no good alternative.   They, like all men, were born addicted to female sexuality and would pay any price for it.   It’s not that contemporary porn is as good as the real thing, but it’s the alternative when the real thing is too expensive.   And what is too expensive depends on our perceptions of how much something “should” cost.

        3. loubelle

          lets just cut to the chase lol…it is out of pure laziness if you have a partner. women have cheapened themselves for mens fantasies. men arent ungettable fgs, they arent ‘special’, they dont ‘deserve. they get what they put in like the rest of us, its up to the women out there not to take breadcrumbs and to put a high value on themselves (and i dont mean money).

  3. 23
    loubelle

    contd:

    then that will separate the wheat from the chaff men

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