Should Men Give Up on Pornography Entirely?

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I’ll admit, I’ve avoided putting this post up for a few weeks.

It’s gotten a lot of internet air play because it’s a juicy subject: man lays out, in a logical (and researched) manner, the six reasons why men must give up pornography.

I can already hear the collective “amen” from a lot of women, and I don’t entirely blame them. Pornography is a problem for men.

Many people drink socially without becoming alcoholics; for most, booze is a source of pleasure, not pain. So it goes with porn.

It can hurt men’s sexual desire and performance.
It can create an unrealistic set of expectations about real-life sex with a real live woman with real-life emotions.
It can become a serious addiction that cripples a man’s ability to be in a committed sexual relationship.

And if you’re a woman who has lost a partner to porn addiction, this isn’t just some abstract concept, but reality. You’ve seen upfront the devastation of the guy who spends lavishly on sex phone numbers, runs up credit card bills unbeknownst to you, stays late at work to feed his addiction to webcams, or to browse Craigslist for something exciting and new. You’ve had a loving partner who didn’t feel up to having sex but would go downstairs in the middle of the night to take care of himself and feed his fantasies.

That’s bad news and I’m highly sympathetic to anyone who has been through some version of that.

But that’s no reason for all men to put down their porn simultaneously. In that regard, it’s a vice like any other vice – fun in moderation, dangerous when addicted. Many people drink socially without becoming alcoholics; for most, booze is a source of pleasure, not pain. So it goes with porn. If a guy does it when he’s single and hasn’t had sex in awhile, it’s normal. If a guy does it when his girlfriend is out of town, it’s normal. If a guy does it within the context of a committed relationship because it’s exciting and kinky and gives him new ideas, it’s normal. If a guy does it during marriage because everyone has the right to maintain a little bit of a fantasy life without actually being unfaithful (that is viewing videos, not interacting with another person), it’s normal. Where it flips over, of course, is when it becomes an addiction that actually impacts his life or his partner’s life. Just like alcohol.

You may not like porn, but you can’t ban it. You just have to trust that your guy can handle it in moderation.

To me, the answer is not prohibition, but moderation and self-awareness. Who should put porn down entirely? Men who are prone to addiction to it. Who can consume it socially? In my opinion? Pretty much everybody else.

Remember, you may not like porn, but you can’t ban it. You just have to trust that your guy can handle it in moderation.

Have you had a relationship derailed by porn use? Do you assume that because of the addicted guy that no man can use it in healthy moderation? Please, share your thoughts below, for a respectful debate.

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Comments:

  1. 41
    Pat

    What if your boyfriend is looking at porn that you deem unhealthy (like incest, for example)?   Does that change how you should respond to his porn?   I don’t mind your run-of-the-mill ‘guy stuff’, but this taboo stuff seems dark and disturbing to me and I have no idea how to respond to it. 🙁 His behavior otherwise is great, but now this discovery makes me uneasy.   I don’t want to ruin a good thing with a good guy just because of some files I found on his computer, but I also don’t want to get serious and start a family with a guy who could be into this stuff in real life.   I’ve tried talking about it, he insists it’s nothing and gets embarrassed.

  2. 42
    Simone

    In defense of Jenn on this thread (as you all already know that I am), I know many guys who were virgins when they married or met the woman they married. Meaning, not all guys are into porn and pre-marital sex. That assertion might surprise many people, but that is exactly the point. We live in a diverse world, especially regarding sexual behavior. That historically the “norm” has been perceived as one way does not mean that the “norm” is actually what everyone does. There is a tremendous amount of pressure on men to be sexually ravenous and detached, to use and discard women as sexual things, on earth only for their passing pleasure. Many men reject this view of sex and women. I doubt they’d be drawn to a dating  website, given that dating  websites  usually perpetuate this pressure on men. Jenn seems to have found forums  where men get to express other POV. I respect that.   

    1. 42.1
      Jenn

      Thanks so much, Simone, that was very kind of you to say. I have found a wonderful resource in the site waitingtillmarriage.org. This site has over 4,000 members, though not all are active. It is simply a place for those who hold the view that sex is for marriage. It’s not a religious affiliation – there are believers and nonbelievers alike and all accept each other. I tend to use my religious beliefs as a standing point because that’s what has reinforced my belief that sex only within marriage is the best way to go. Porn use has been discussed often on the forum over there, and many of the guys there have said they no longer use porn for a lot of the reasons I’ve mentioned here. I realize that it is ubiquitous in this culture, but that doesn’t mean that every guy always uses it. There are some guys who never do. It doesn’t mean  that guys who use porn are bad people. Love the sinner, hate the sin is what I always say. I just wouldn’t want to  marry a guy who doesn’t understand why it’s wrong and isn’t interested in  changing his behavior  for both his benefit and the good of his relationship. And if  people are  interested, there are lots of other articles and stories you can read about happily married couples who waited (and not all were originally virgins). Just look it up right here on the web.

  3. 43
    Simone

    I really kind of like the porn posts. Always a lively discussion. 🙂

  4. 44
    Marie

    Jenn,
    While I have nothing against your ideal of waiting until marriage, I think you are going about it rather inefficiently and getting in your own way.   No this is not an attack, I was a virgin until 34 when I met my husband and we are still very happy.   I successfully online dated on Match.com and elsewhere as a virgin and it is not as difficult in retrospect as one might think, but if I had gone about it the way you seem to do from your blog comments, then I would never have met him and gotten married.  
    First of all, you are taking this virgin thing way too seriously.   If you are this way on dates, I can only imagine the terror and speed with which men will run away from you.   I can feel the judgment rolling off you from here, and I actually agree with some of your values!   Virginity is only one of many aspects of yourself and if you let that status get so big that it overtakes everything else, then you are going to find it very difficult to see the man who could make you happy if he dropped from the sky and landed in your lap.  
    Secondly, you’re taking this sex thing way too seriously.   You are either idealizing it as this soul-searing thing or repelling it like a destructive compulsion you need to fight.   I don’t think you have any idea how sex works in a relationship so all that you are conjecturing and then working yourself up to moralize is just that – conjecture.   Sex, like money, is not evil, it’s a tool.   If you use that tool correctly as part of a loving relationship (and that includes porn) then it produces results for the Good, and  it’s not up to you to tell people how to use it.   I have used porn many times with my husband and don’t mind if he watches it by himself, sometimes sitting right next to me when I’m asleep.   It’s a miniscule part of our lives, doesn’t interfere with anything and is just one of any number of sex toys that we use successfully.   You worry too much about all these connotations when in truth what you have to worry most about in a relationship is controlling your own insecurities. My husband thinks I’m the hottest girl in the world.   That is not going to change and is based on physical but also personality and character traits, so why would I ever feel hurt or insecure if he looks at a couple of naked videos? You lack self-confidence because you have never been a sex siren to any man.   Once you get there, nothing will ever threaten you, especially not porn.  
    Finally, please try to keep an open mind.   People on this blog, including Evan, are trying to help you.   Okay, there are the occasional snarks but even their perspectives can be helpful because keep in mind their reference point is going to be echoed on most dates.   Most of all, just because a guy does not share your exact same moral leanings does not mean he will not respect you or is a bad person.   If I thought that, I would never have dated my husband, who did not believe in marriage, organized religion or virginity until he met me, yet is the kindest most noble husband I could ever have.

    1. 44.1
      Jenn

      Porn is morally wrong. That is not a judgement, it is a fact. It does nothing to help a marriage and it is not a productive use of one’s time. I say this as a person who has used it in the past. I’m saving all of my desire for my future husband and I hope that through my example, he may learn to save all of his for me. You may be fine with porn but I’m not. Watching porn is participating in a form of legal prostitution. It is not a sex toy. There are real people behind that camera and real people in front of it who are harmed in the making of these videos. No man or woman is an island – porn has infiltrated our culture to such an extent that it is now considered normal, where a mere 20 years ago, it was taboo. Porn encourages people to objectify women, to seek to fulfill selfish fantasies instead of saving all of their sexual energy for their spouse, and to use sex as a tool for getting off rather than the mutually intimate experience it’s supposed to be (yes, even if you are having spank-me sex haha). To answer your question, no, I do not talk about sex on dates, nor am I Judgy McJudgerson. You guys don’t seem to realize that my following the tenets of my faith and espousing my beliefs does not make me judgemental. It is a fact: porn use is a sin. That is not a judgement and I’ll say this, too: if we’re so okay with it as a society and “everyone” always does it, then why, even if couples don’t have kids, is it almost always done secretly behind closed doors? Even for the couples who don’t care about porn – if it’s so on the up-and-up then why can’t you just shuck your pants right there in the living room? Your spouse doesn’t care, right? They know you use it so there should be no problem. My theory is that even in that kind of situation, people still feel an element of shame. It may be less stigmatized in society but people still feel a little weird about it, as they should. But go ahead and keep trying to justify it: “I only use it once in a while”, “My partner knows and doesn’t care”, “We like to look at it together”, “I’m not having sex right now because of blah blah blah”. No matter how many excuses people will try to make, it’s still wrong. That’s not a judgment, it’s reality.  

        

      1. 44.1.1
        Karl S

        I’m sorry, but there is no such thing as a moral fact. Anything that involves questions of morality is a judgement. Facts exist irrespective of morality. They are neutral. Even if you believe absolutely in the rightness/wrongness of something according to your faith, that does not change the semantics of the words and their definitions.

        1. Karl S

          I’m actually going to retract my previous comment as a blanket statement, because when I went to double check the semantics I got caught up in various competing philosophical arguments and found that my own statement was in fact just one of those philosophies. I wish I could edit/delete these bloody things after I post them.

        2. anon764

          Karl- I think you were right.   According to HER morals, porn is wrong.    But I don’t have the same morals that she does and by MY morals, porn isn’t wrong.   Jenn’s just so swept up in her opinion that she believes it to be an immutable fact of the universe and, for her, it is.  

      2. 44.1.2
        Evan Marc Katz

        Hey, Jenn, let’s end this thread, shall we? This was a post about whether men should give up on pornography entirely. It’s become a post about what Jenn thinks of porn. What you can’t see, unfortunately, is that your religious background seems to have trained you to be an uncritical thinker. Otherwise you would know the difference between a belief and a fact. God’s existence isn’t a fact, it’s a belief. Porn being bad isn’t a fact, it’s a belief. You can feel really, really strongly about something, but it doesn’t make it a fact – even if a lot of people agree with you. So, for the last time, instead of coming to my blog and telling me and most of my readers that we’re “wrong” and morally imperiled, perhaps you should invest your time on the “saving yourself for marriage” blogs. You may not learn much about dating or men, but at least you will have your beliefs confirmed, which is, after all, the main thing you’re looking for here. Put another way: I’d never go to a Christian blog and tell everyone that they were wasting their time; they’d likely resent me for being so judgmental. I will point out that you’re doing the exact same thing here.

        1. Jenn

          Whatever, Evan. You said yourself that you encourage respectful debate on here, but clearly you have little tolerance for opinions that are radically different from your own. You say you try to remain neutral and objective, and that you try to see the other side but every single comment I have made on your blogs, except for the courtship one, you have rebuffed. You’re own arrogance has blinded you to the point that you can’t see that I might actually be right about some things. You try to sell your opinion as “reality” to people, but you are just as guilty as you say I am of using your own worldview to put a negative slant on everything that you disagree with. And now you’ve decided that since I am the one person who can’t be convinced to see things your way, I don’t deserve to continue to contribute to this discussion. Well that’s fine with me, because I am done wasting any more time trying to get people to see that there is value in what I have to say. I get it: this is your blog and you have to get people to believe in you or your business is adversely affected. I’ll never bother you all again, but I’ll leave you with one parting thought which I hope you’ll heed: just because something is legal by human law, that doesn’t make it right. Upholding yourself to a higher standard of morals than that is important. What we do while we are here in this world matters. I honestly believe that and I am so sad that I could not get anyone here to understand why that is. I will pray that at least one person reads this and understands, and will maybe be influenced to change for the better. I will pray for you too, with the hope that you’ll use this public platform more responsibly, and instead of trying to discredit those with beliefs that are different from yours, you’ll actually listen to what they have to say and concede that they have good points. And perhaps you could even thank them for offering you a different perspective.  

          All that aside, I really have to say thank you. You may not have meant to, but you and your readers have helped me to really see why premarital sex and pornography are wrong. In a way, you’ve helped me to become more devout than I might otherwise have. See, even though I was raised Catholic, like you I never put much stock into my faith. I hated going to church, and as a matter of fact I still don’t love it. I hated my religious school when I was a kid and could not wait to start 6th grade at a public school. I never connected much with my faith beyond believing in God and the afterlife. I had many of the same points of view as you do.  

          All that changed for me a few years ago. 30 is one of those birthdays that really causes a person to take stock of their life. I realized that the reason I’m still a virgin is because God knew I would need a lot of time to figure out that waiting for marriage was the right choice. I had felt ashamed of myself because I thought there was something wrong with me. Each time I could have had sex in my early 20s, I balked. I instinctively knew it wasn’t right. When I realized that God had been watching over me all those years ago, and I knew He loved me for sure, my perspective began to change. Suddenly I realized that the reason I was so unhappy is because I was letting society tell me what was right, what was normal. But the answers I was getting from secular culture rang  hollow. So I started to question why. I’ve sought guidance from God through the Web and I found the answer in waitingtillmarriage.org. I’m so much happier now that I have rediscovered my faith and so much more content in the knowledge that I’ve gained. God has a plan for everyone. I don’t care that He’s not sending me dozens of secular nonbelievers, who don’t know how hurtful their porn habits are to themselves and to society. He knows what’s best for me and I’m confident that He will send me someone who’s right for me. I don’t know when or how it will happen but I will do my best to help Him make it happen for me. I wish everyone here well. You’ve all taught me so much and you’ve really helped me to define what it means to seek out a high moral standard in myself and in my future life partner. God Bless and I will keep you in my prayers.  

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          Jenn, this is a non-argument, as are most conversations with people who take their cues from religion. If you are starting from the place that you’re “right,” then anyone who disagrees with you is inherently wrong. If you are starting from the place that Jesus is the son of God, anyone who questions it is wrong. If you are starting from the place that premarital sex is a sin, anyone who questions it is wrong. So let’s not mistake for one second what’s happening here. You’re stating that you’re “right” because your religion told you so, and you are telling all the people here who have a different belief (because again, it is a BELIEF) that we’re wrong. So why should anyone listen to you and your religious arguments?

          You want me to concede your points? Read the original post – I concede the validity of all the points made by the guy who said men need to quit porn; I just came to a different conclusion, which is that, like most other pleasurable vices, porn can be consumed in moderation. It’s you who is unable to concede the possibility – nay, guarantee – that there are millions of men and women who consume porn who are great husbands and wives, and no less moral than you. Again, if you can’t see this, it’s because you’re starting from the place that you are moral because you don’t watch porn. Sorry, but you can’t begin an argument by stating that you are right because you’re right.

          Which is why, despite your many protests, I’m not ‘discrediting’ you. After all, you make a far better case as to why people should dismiss your point of view in your last paragraph. Evidently, this is all because God is watching over you, loves you, and is guiding you through the Web. Well I’m glad He sent you to my website, in His infinite wisdom. Because if He didn’t have a plan to send you on a search for your husband, you never would have realized what you already knew: that you were right, because He said you were right, because He’s never wrong about things (like sex, or, say, slavery).

          If anyone is praying here, it should be me, praying for you. You’re counting on God to give you dating and relationship advice for the 21st century. Good luck with that.

      3. 44.1.3
        Shaukat

        Jenn, virtually none of  the statements in your above reply can be tested; in other words, they cannot be subjected to the cornerstone of science which, as Karl Popper pointed out, is the property of testability. Since your assertions are an article of faith, it is impossible to falsify them based on observable implications or counter data. In fact, any such data would likely be explained away by you in an ad hoc fashion. But here’s a little thought experiment: replace the noun “God” with the word “elves” and maybe you can see how silly you sound. What would you say to someone who attempted to dismiss all serious and rational arguments by appealing to a grand plan of, say, the “elves” living in her sock drawer? It’s equally as ridiculous. As you can see from my previous comment above, I agree with many of your critiques of porn, but you hurt your case when you start preaching like a mentally unsound religious fanatic.

        1. Jenn

          The Catholic faith isn’t just based on thin air. There are hundreds of documents, physical places, and identical anecdotes of what people have seen here on this Earth that can attest to the validity of their existence. Do you always need to see something to believe it happened? Did gladiators exist? You didn’t see them. Did the Civil War really happen? You didn’t see it yourself. There are historical documents pertaining to those events, too. People wrote down what they saw and experienced. So why is it that religious documents and places are different? You can visit the Holy Land to see the places Jesus lived just as easily as you can visit the ruins of the Coliseum, which is where gladiators existed. Yet you’d doubt the existence of Jesus, because you’ve never seen Him before you, but not gladiators, whom you’ve also never seen before you.  

          But I digress, this discussion is about porn and the reasons people should reject it. It isn’t enough just to be a good person in society. Being a good spouse and parent is expected. Being an upstanding and productive member of society is expected. Those are things you are supposed to do. I am not better than anyone else, I have simply realized the importance of appealing to a higher moral standard. To use pornography is to demean sex and to demoralize other human beings. It reduces sex to a self-serving idol instead of the giving act of love within marriage that it’s supposed to be. If you reject that temptation then you will be much less likely to act on the impulses that indulging in pornography creates. Though there are many people who can use it without committing physical adultery, the reality is that if people don’t do the best they can to guard their heart against that temptation, it does increase the risk of it happening. But that’s difficult for people to see in a society where most people believe there are no moral absolutes.  

        2. Karl R

          Jenn said:
          “The Catholic faith isn’t just based on thin air. There are hundreds of documents, physical places, and identical anecdotes of what people have seen here on this Earth that can attest to the validity of their existence.”  

          Following that line of reasoning, why aren’t you a Mormon, or a Jehovah’s Witness, or a Baha’i? You can find census records which prove the validity of the existence of Joseph Smith Jr., Charles Taze Russell and Mirza Husayn Ali Nuri.  You can find photographs of them.

          You can read the documents these men personally wrote.  These teachings were written down by them personally, so they were in their own words. They were written down during their lifetimes, not decades or centuries later. They were published by printing press, not by scribes or oral tradition.

          Jenn asked:
          “So why is it that religious documents and places are different?”

          You tell me. Why don’t you believe the book of Mormon? Why don’t you believe the Baha’i scriptures?

          What makes these religious documents  different than the religious documents of the Catholic church?  

          The only difference that I can see is their importance to you.  

          Jenn said:
          “I have simply realized the importance of appealing to a higher moral standard.”  

          Once again, that’s important to you. Your standard is “higher” and “moral”  based on your own subjective measure.

          Jenn said:
          “To use pornography is to demean sex and to demoralize other human beings. It reduces sex to a self-serving idol instead of the giving act of love within marriage that it’s supposed to be.”  

          If two horses have sex, is it supposed to be a “giving act of love within a marriage”? What about when two weasels have sex? Two pigeons?

          Shaukat is right. You sound like a religious fanatic who is incapable of separating demonstrable fact from personal belief.  

          Definition – idol
          a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered.

          You believe sex has a higher meaning. You believe that it is supposed to be “a giving act of love within a marriage”, rather than an act of procreation which also provides physical pleasure.

          To me, it sounds like you have elevated sex (within marriage) into something you admire and revere.

          Doesn’t that make you guilty of idolizing sex?  

  5. 45
    starthrower68

    I think Jennifer’s heart is in the right place although there are “softer” ways to make the point.   My father is addicted to porn, but he’s been married to my mom for nearly 40 years and he would never be unfaithful to her.   I have never asked her how she felt about his use of porn.   That is between them, although my dad told me he views it because he thinks it’s funny.   I don’t really but that but I didn’t question it.   I should plant a seed with him, but I admit, it’s not a subject I’m comfortable discussing with him.  

  6. 46
    Karl S

    I have to agree with Evan in saying that if think your opinions are divinely sanctioned, it becomes a non-argument. There’s no possibility of your views being affected by the diverse experiences of others because you hold the sole claim to goodness, rightness, morality and truth. Your path is the higher path and all other paths lead to degradation and corruption – i.e,   sex *must* for one purpose under one context. You can’t do X, Y and Z if you want to be a good person in a healthy society. It’s impossible. God says so.

    Well there’s nothing for it except irreverent dismissal then. The great Oscar Wilde once said “I don’t want to go to heaven. None of my friends are there.” I place myself firmly in that camp.

    Also, you keep saying you’re done here and won’t be posting again (I’ve seen this in numerous threads), but you do. Make up your mind.

    1. 46.1
      starthrower68

      It is interesting though that people are willing to lay down their lives for that “lie”, even in this day and age when most of society rejects it.   I don’t know many willing to do that. But what do I know? I’ve just seen faith change lives. 😊

      1. 46.1.1
        Karmic Equation

        Starthrower,
        More atrocities have been done in the name of “God” than in the name of the devil.
        ISIS, Jihads, Salem Witch trials, the Inquisition, the Crusades. The list goes on.
        I believe in a higher being and while I call him “God” instead of say, “Steve”, out of reverence for his higher status. God/Steve is non-denominational 🙂 I thank him every night for all the good he’s done for me and shown me and I ask that he look over my friends and family.
        But I don’t believe in any religious rituals or any religions with a governing body. Those religions were built so that men can have “power”. IMO, religions were instituted by those who were poor but wanted power and they found a way to do that.
        I think people SHOULD believe in a higher being. But I counsel everyone I know not to to follow any one faith and simply believe in their own goodness, and, therefore, in their own ability to do the right thing whenever they can. You don’t need a priest, pastor, pope, vicar, what-have-you to tell you that.
        Religions are legitimized cults that have large followings. I don’t believe in cults. Nor should anyone else.

        1. starthrower68

          Again we will have to agree to disagree agreeably.   I hear what your saying but it’s antithetical to the message I hear from my pastors.   But Evan is right it’s non-argument here, as this is not the site for apologetics.

        2. starthrower68

          Saying no one should believe in cults is a moral absolute, btw.  

        3. Karmic Equation

          Not believing in any religion is not a moral thing, but an intellectual, maybe even an “emotional”, thing. I don’t think people are immoral for believing in religion. I think they’re misguided at best, stupid at worst. There are better ways to be a good person in the world than to obey legitimized cults run by religious organizations that exist to give men power, who otherwise would have none. Being baptized doesn’t make a person a better person. Doesn’t guarantee they won’t turn into a mass murderer someday. Confessing sins to a priest doesn’t stop the confessor from committing that sin again. Those rituals are there to give priests power and to absolve the sinner from their responsibility to do good and be good. I’m most familiar with the Catholic religion since I went to parochial school for a year. I’m sure that other religions have similar rituals.
          Just be a good person. Do good things. Pay it forward whenever you can. You don’t need anyone outside yourself to tell you to do that. It can–and should–come from within.

        4. Tom10

          @ Karmin Equation & Starthrower
          Re. religion/spirituality.

          I’ve always been fascinated by this topic.

          I was raised in a devoutly Catholic household and yet I have never believed in God/spirituality/having a “soul” etc., even as a child. I always assumed that it was simply because I was smart enough to make an intellectual decision for myself; rather than blindly accepting what I was taught.

          However, I’ve always been intrigued at how some really, really smart people have such a steadfast belief in God. One hypothesis – which makes a lot of sense to me – is that it comes down to genetics, i.e. some people have a spiritual “gene” (named VMAT2) whereas others don’t.

          So a person without the spiritual gene is just wasting their time arguing with someone who has it and vice-versa.

          Religious belief — as opposed to non-specific spiritual belief — is probably a more complex fusion of culture, upbringing etc. with an individual’s specific make-up; but one probably has to be spiritually genetically predisposed to fully believe in the tenets of their religion.

          That’s why I’ve been largely amused by much of the porn debate here between religious people and the non-religious; neither side will be convinced by the other as they are biologically unable to do so.

        5. Karmic Equation

          Aahh, Tom10.
            
          I’m not religious, but believe in souls and spirituality. That there is a higher being. That there is a reason for everything 🙂
            
          I just don’t believe in religious rituals such as baptism, batmitzvahs, confessions, things like that. Those are just ways of creating communal bonding or maybe a human way of inventing things to celebrate 🙂 They’re rituals to give religious entities power over others and a way to make a buck.
            
          One can be spiritual without attending church. Churches are just a place for communal bonding to take place. But the people who run them (almost 100% men in mainstream religions) are in it for the power.
            
          A friend of mine was interested in become a JW. Started reading Crisis of Conscience and thought better of it. Other religions are the same. Its about power for those at the top. And very little about the “little person”. We all have the innate ability to be good and do good. We don’t need to perform religious rituals to demonstrate our “goodness” or whatnot.
            
          I don’t think it’s a gene. I think some people need to belong to something so badly they’ll cling to religion to fill that hole in themselves. It’s emotional for those people and they delude themselves that emotional need is actual spiritual calling. No one wants to be called needy. I do believe that those who proselytize the most, are the neediest of all.
            
          We can all be spiritual without being religious. Having faith is one thing. Believing that going to church makes you better than someone who doesn’t; believing that (generic) your religious rituals are better than other religious rituals…that is about power, that is about being right making other people wrong. It’s not about faith or spirituality.

        6. Buck25

          Karmic,

          I could not agree more! To me, there is no crime against man and nature, worse than making moral judgements based solely on dogma and blind allegiance, all empirical evidence to the contrary be damned. You can’t argue with cults and the fanatics who populate them. Their attitude is “Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind is made up”, and is quite impervious to any form of reason or logic.I would go so far as to state, that organized religiosity of the sort we see in America today is one of the greatest abuses of the gift of spirituality in the history of humanity. All such organized cults, have but three goals: control of their people (within and without the cult), institutional power, and institutional survival at any cost. To those ends they will and do promote guilt, shame, and all manner of self righteous judgmentalism and hypocrisy. They prey on human misery and vulnerability, which they all the while shamelessly strive to promote (the better for proselytizing) . If there are not a sufficient number of weak, demoralized, emotionally wrecked and confused souls to fill their ranks and their coffers, they will gleefully do their best to create more, (all in the name of “uplifting” the tormented souls they create, of course). They have a long and sordid history of torture, atrocity and wholesale murder, all perpetrated on the excuse of “saving the souls” of their victims. In the case of a couple of well-know major “religions” they have done violence to and warped the gift of human sexuality beyond measure. A damning indictment? Yes indeed, and it needs to be uttered, in the name of nature, in the name of humanity, in the name of their victims, willing and unwilling alike…and yes, in the name of a just and merciful GOD!! I doubt any of these institutions, let alone those who are their willing dupes, could recognize the truth of the evil they have promulgated for centuries, if it jumped up and bit them squarely in the arse!

          “I like your Christ. I do not like your christians”. – Mohandas K. Gandhi

          I can well understand why he said that…

  7. 47
    Michael

    Porn has given me some perspective. I sometimes look at pictures of Miss Samantha Rice (if you do a web search, you can figure out whom I am writing about). And yet, I only think about her when I look at the pictures she has.
      
    The ladies whom I think about a lot are those who have pleasant personalities and are fun to hang out with. That sort of emotional connection and interest is more important than naked pictures.
      
    (This is not to write that Miss Samantha Rice does not have a pleasing personality nor would not be fun to hang out with; I never met her, so there is not much for me to think about regarding her.)

  8. 48
    Simone

    I’m with Jenn on this one and I very much appreciate her standing up.
    Replace the word “sin” with “destructive force” or the word “God” with “life-giving force” and you have the humanistic version of the same concept.  It is a concept that  pops up universally throughout the history of human thought. Even to say that you don’t believe in “God” is to acknowledge that something called God exists, even if only conceptually. Otherwise you wouldn’t  even be able to speak of it. (That’s an odd  thing about logic–you can’t deny something without first affirming it.)  
    So where does it come from, this notion of a benevolent force from which all life flows and that is  grounded in universal love? Why does this idea persist if it is such an outlandish notion? As Jenn points out, people have been talking about their experiences of what they  call God for thousands of years. If you have ever read translations of these ancient documents (I have), they are fascinating.
    To be fair, images of people  having sex have been around just as long. 🙂    
    On the science v. faith debate, scientific “facts” are also beliefs, because all of science is theoretical. There is little about anything that is provable; the closest we  humans get to “proof” are found, again,  in logic (e.g., A = B; B = C; therefore, A = C). When we say that something is “proved” we are really saying “yeah, that’s probably the way it is.”   
    The one thing that  science and faith have in common is an  effort to understand  mystery. We use different words to  talk about this pursuit; but words are not  empirical things, either, and  they are forever falling short.
    Jenn, I would hazard to guess,  finds profound mystery in sex. And that is why I am with her. This  mysterious thing brings new hearts and minds onto this planet. Why  anyone would want to reduce that  mystery to a poorly lit cum shot  on a seemingly brain-dead person is beyond me. Yet, the argument goes, “all men” like this, prefer this, whatever. If so, I am  so happy I am a woman.  Personally, I would hate to go through life thinking that  that cum shot is the best that I can hope for in life.

    1. 48.1
      starthrower68

      Simone, my sister from another mother. If only you lived close enough to share coffee. I could chat about that all day long! 😃

      1. 48.1.1
        Simone

        Thanks for the shout-out, starthrower68. Back atcha!!!

    2. 48.2
      JoeK

      “On the science v. faith debate, scientific “facts” are also beliefs,  ”

      Umm, no.

      Facts are supported/substantiated by evidence, beliefs are not.

      1. I BELIEVE in God.

      2. The sun rises in the east.

      I can support   #2 with evidence, repeatably, ad nauseam. I can only offer #1 as what *I* believe – it’s essentially unproveable (short of God walking up and saying “HI” to everyone).

      Faith is holding that belief in the face of all criticism. (Think of the parable of   Doubting Thomas).

      Please, don’t denigrate faith by making this nonsensical false equivalence to facts and evidence.   

    3. 48.3
      Shaukat

      @Simone,
        
      This attempt to equate science with faith is outlandish and betrays a fundamental misunderstanding about the meaning and significance of “theory” in a scientifc context. In the realm of science, something is said to be a theory if it has been repeatedly affirmed and corrborated through hypothesis testing, experiments, comparative analysis, historical analysis, etc. For example, the theory of gravity and the theory of evolution survive as theories precisely because their central tenets have not been falsified and because the observable implications of such theories have been specified and identified. This is completely different from an article of faith or a simple belief; something is not a theory just because people believe in it, i.e, the existence of a flat earth society does not render the absurd notion of the earth being flat a theory. Also, scientific theories are genrally tested through the gathering of empirical evidence, and not using philisophical logic as in your example above (though the latter does have it’s place, I’ll admit).

  9. 49
    Karl S

    This isn’t about proving/disproving God’s existence or talking about who commits more atrocities, etc, etc. Those are very easy tangents to get caught up in; ignoring the problem at hand. When someone goes from saying “This is my value system and I prefer it” to “This is The value system and all other values and experiences are wrong/deluded/dangerous/repugnant/unacceptable,” – that’s when you fall into moral absolutism, which can be just as harmful to society as any of the so called deviant behaviors that people often fear. Furthermore, when you sanction your value system in divinity it becomes unfalsifiable. How can one be open to counter-arguments or evidence if your views are supported by a force/entity/concept that by its very nature, cannot be wrong. The discussion loses all value. It becomes proselytizing.

    1. 49.1
      Simone

      Karl: But you and EMK would never, ever, ever proselytize or speak as if your POV is absolute, right? The only omission you make is the “moral” part. A serious one, if you ask me. 🙂

      1. 49.1.1
        Karl S

        I only ever talk about my own experiences, the experiences of people I’ve met or general trends I’ve observed that seem to lend themselves to conclusions in so far as I interpret them. I have to concede that I haven’t had the same experiences as others and I can’t pretend my values are passed down on high from an incorruptible authority who knows best and is never wrong.

        The definition of absolute in philosophy is – a value or principle which is regarded as universally valid or which may be viewed without relation to other things.

        I’m much more into moral relativism.

        1. Shaukat

          Karl, I’ve agreed with some of your statements but I think you are just wrong on this issue of moral relativism. If we accept the philosophical principle that certain rights are inherent (basic human rights, for example) then we certainly can, and should , speak in absolutes when warranted. Moreover, there is a great deal of evidence which suggests that there is a natural impulse in organisms to be free, and that certain environments which restrict this freedom cause detrimental effects to individual’s mental and emotional states.

        2. Karl S

            
          @Shaukat
          I’m not a Moral Nihilist. There are varying degrees of Moral Relativism that can be argued in terms of scale – from the cosmic to the conscious. For instance, the general universe and nature in the animal kingdom seem entirely indifferent to morality, but as you go up in cognitive processing you do get certain basic needs that need to be fulfilled to in order to prevent mental trauma. To that end, of course I’m a fan of Human rights and so on. I was trying to define myself in opposition to an all encompassing, universal morality that is arbitrary and doesn’t allow for context or nuance in its terms.  

    2. 49.2
      starthrower68

      Just a little bunny trail: that one can say there is any deviant behavior pre-supposes there are moral absolutes. So it’s not necessarily moral absolutes you have an issue with, per se. It’s that you are a naturalist or a humanist. I’m not trying to be difficult, point a finger, or anything of the sort.   I just find it interesting to have the discussion as it interests me what makes people tick. 😊

      1. 49.2.1
        Karl S

        I deliberately wrote it as “so called” deviant behavior to highlight that very point in relation to others who might judge certain practices to be indisputably wrong or, to go a step further, sinful.

  10. 50
    Simone

    Summation of Should Men Give Up On Porn?
    Argument 1: Yes. Porn is harmful to the man, his partner, and the world at large.   Porn harms the individual because it encourages selfishness in the man and blinds him to the larger issues of porn use. Those being that 1) his partner will most likely feel alienated and shunned; and 2) he is creating demand for materials that are produced via exploitation and criminal behavior, materials that condone or promote sexual exploitation and, in some cases, sexual violence. Additional commentary: Women should also give up porn for the same reasons.
    Argument 2: A man should only give up porn if he is addicted to it. Any addiction is harmful to the man because it interferes with his ability to function in the world. If he is not addicted, porn is simply a matter of personal choice that plays out differently depending on the  scenario: 1) many men don’t have partners and porn helps them achieve sexual release; 2) porn many not be an issue to some partners; 3) men who like porn have a right to use it even if it bothers their partners, especially if those partners have a different idea of what is moral or pleasurable; 4) porn is a  private matter  and  its use has no repercussions beyond one’s private consumption of it; 5) porn is legal in the US and any  related criminal  activity is the responsibility of law enforcement and not the end user. Additional commentary: Porn is a man’s game and a deeply entrenched cultural  reality in the US; no one can change that.
    Counterargument 1: If porn is a man’s game and men as a group cannot give it up, then men  as a group are, by definition, addicted to porn. Under argument 2, then, men should give it up.
    Counterargument 2:  “Porn addiction” is a  self-diagnosis because there are no clinical measures for it.  If the individual man does not think he has a problem, he doesn’t have a problem.        

    1. 50.1
      hubrisxxx

      I too was thinking about how to summarize this discussion and will add   some points from a guy’s perspective:
      Masturbation is something to which we are all entitled and porn is simply a masturbatory aid.   The vast majority of us are not addicted to porn but the small minority who are addicted to porn (or anything else) have a real problem which also affects other people.   We only hear about the addicts, not the casual users who have no effect on others, just like we only hear about car accidents and murders instead of accidents that were avoided and men bringing flowers home to their loving wives.
      As long as porn doesn’t adversely affect our love lives, our significant others shouldn’t have a problem with it.   If they do, it is likely because of insecurity or other emotional issues.
      If we are committed to not patronizing industries that exploit, then we need to boycott the clothing, food, pharmaceutical, electronics, and cosmetic industry (among many others).   (Think about all those cute little bunnies strapped down while the mean researchers inject cosmetics to see at what point they writhe in pain and die so you can be safe while you primp your face so you look cute on your next date.   Or the 10 year old kids working 70 hour weeks for not much more than a bowl of rice assembling your latest i-device so you can delight in taking selfies and posting to facebook.   Or the undocumented migrant children picking fruits and veggies for your next dinner party instead of getting educated.)
      Sorry, I really didn’t want to post this but some divine being planned for me to do this.   Actually, I just watched some porn and it made me aggressive….. (air slapping some hotties ass)

      1. 50.1.1
        Simone

        Hubrisxxx: Can you articulate the other side of the debate or just the one side? I think we covered what you are calling “the guy’s side.” Also, just want to point out that there are both men and women on both sides of the argument. Many women would agree with Argument 2.

  11. 51
    ScottH

    I started out by watching Evan’s Ted Talk presentation and came across this one on why the speaker stopped watching porn.    You might find it interesting.
    Why I stopped watching porn: Ran Gavrieli at TEDxJaffa 2013 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRJ_QfP2mhU
      

    1. 51.1
      simone

      ScottH: Wow! What a fantastic talk!! A very articulate expression of Argument 1.
        
      It is a fantastic thing that there are so many men out there speaking out against porn use, prostitution, human trafficking, etc. This is a relatively new phenomenon. There used to be this unspoken rule that you didn’t interfere with another guy’s deplorable behavior (rape, sexual coercion, hooker use, etc.). You just kept “your” women away from him. This has led to this myth out there that all men use porn, are into it, don’t have a problem with it, etc.

      1. 51.1.1
        JoeK

        First,   let’s stop with conflating porn use with trafficking and prostitution.

        Second, why do ANY men have to “speak out” against human trafficking?

        Do I need to speak out against murder?  

        Most men use porn – Evan has repeatedly posted research – factual evidence – that this is true.

        Perhaps if you’re going to make a claim about something (i.e. porn promotes human trafficking) then you should show us from where you got this information. Otherwise let’s just call it what it is –   Makin’ Stuff Up.
          

        1. starthrower68

          It isn’t even useful to do that anymore. Because one person will look at the source and say it, to liberal, too conservative, too this or too that, and dismiss it.  

        2. Chance

          Well, I wouldn’t,  Starthrower.   I just wish someone would provide us with  something.

        3. Simone

          JoeK: Read Jenn’s earlier posts and watch the video that ScottH posted. Then get back to us. We aren’t Makin’ Stuff Up. You are uninformed.

  12. 52
    Rose

    Wow, this is quite a thread.   I’m late to the party.
      
      
    I used to be very against porn when I was younger.   The thought of my boyfriend desiring another woman sent me into a jealous rage.   I didn’t hate porn for moral reasons, I just wanted all of my boyfriend’s attention and desire on me.   And instinctively I knew that his sexual attention was limited, it was a zero sum game.   The existence of porn cheapened what I could offer to him: sex with a real girl.   And porn made me feel less attractive.   When my bf watched, I thought that means he would think my boobs are too small, ass too small, not hairless enough, etc.
      
      
    While those things are not entirely wrong, notice how my previous paragraph was all about me?   It took me a long time to realize that I hated porn because of my insecurities and how I felt about myself.   My (subconscious) thought process was him watching porn -> he would desire me less -> I lose power in the relationship.   I didn’t want an equal partnership, I wanted to have the upper hand.   I created a lot of drama and lost a very good relationship because of my insecurities (I’m sorry, ex-bf!)
      
      
    Today I’m married and I feel secure.   This is partly because I’m much more emotionally mature and partly because the fact of the matter is that he desires me more than I desire him.   Someone said this in an earlier comment, but I feel like I’m the center of his world.   He watches porn and I can say for a fact that porn helps our relationship.   Because sometimes I’m tired and he wants sex.  
      
      
    Also I know for a fact that I’m not the most attractive woman to him, by far.   But I’m OK with it.   Why should I have to be the most attractive person to him?   Life is a lot less tiring this way.   And as a result of giving him some breathing space, he actually desires me more.
      
      
    This is my long-winded way of saying that when someone has a problem with their partner’s moderate porn use, it’s very likely to be their own insecurities, so look inside yourself instead of looking outside for reasons.   And also if you really are that insecure, accept it and find a partner who calms that insecurity.  

  13. 53
    MD

    Evan, I usually appreciate your insights, but you have dropped the ball here entirely.     
    There are two great reasons for any man who wants to have fabulous sex with his woman to give up porn; one has to do with the bonding process and the other has to do with perceptions of beauty.  

    First, the bonding process:   To make a very long story short, the hormone oxytocin is what bonds Human Beings together- Mothers release it upon giving birth and during breast-feeding for obvious reasons, and all people (men and women) release it upon orgasm.   When a woman’s system is flooded with oxytocin during childbirth/breastfeeding it ensures she will bond with her baby, and when people orgasm, it ensures they will bond with their partners.   If, however, a person is masturbating while engaging with images or videos, upon orgasm they will literally “bond” with the porn (the pornstar, the “type” of actors that they are drawn to and even their computers).   This always happens-it is Science, not opinion.    The problem for women is that we, in order to become fully aroused and open, require a certain level of bonding, and can sense the distancing that  necessarily  results if their man is doing this.   In other words, we know, on a subconscious level, when our man has been whoring around whether with another person or with an image of another person.    This is pure biology- of course it is a matter of degree, but the upshot is she will, even subconsciously, become less and less secure with the bond between her and her partner.   Most women are well aware of this, and it is this that they are pointing to when they object to porn, but it is tricky because it is difficult to articulate, and men are very apt to dismiss concerns based on “female intuition”.   However, it is a scientific fact and if you have not done the requisite research, I suggest you look to yourbrainonporn.org for the specifics.   So, for the intelligent man, the question becomes: How insecure to I want my woman to feel with our bond, more, or less?- the smart money is on,  not at all  and I guarantee it would result in a marked increase in overall sexual satisfaction for both if a man were to experiment with laying of the porn (pun intended) for 3 months minimum.   

    Second, the issue of perception, and what is known as “the contrast effect”.   Basically, it is like this: If a man is regularly   viewing images of the idealized female form via porn, he will necessarily find his real girlfriend less and less attractive even if he is not consciously drawing comparisons in his mind- it happens automatically.   Consider this analogy:   If I am snacking on super sweet chocolate here and there throughout the day, and then someone offers me the most delicious, organic apple, there is  no way  that it will ever taste as sweet as it would had I not indulged in the candy.   This is completely impersonal, and will happen as a matter of course…The same principle applies when a man indulges himself with what has been aptly nicknamed High-Fructose  Porn  Syrup.   Again, the contrast effect will come into play even if you are sure that in your conscious mind you are not comparing your woman to the make-upped, well-lit, and airbrushed 2-d images you have been consuming.   The entire phenomenon is compounded if the man is masturbating, but happens even if just passively viewing.   So, the upshot here is: if a man is interested in being  as turned on as possible  by the woman he loves, it is in his best interest to avoid undue exposure to idealized versions of the female form.

    1. 53.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Many, many words to ignore what I originally posted.

      a) Oxytocin barely stays in the male system at all – no more than 3 days. Plus it’s overstating things to suggest that men are “bonding” with porn stars. Have you ever actually talked with a man? For most of us, porn is a quick masturbatory tool that takes 5-10 minutes and we don’t even go back to the same site a second time.

      b) Your contrast effect was acknowledged in the original post. And I agreed that if porn is negatively impacting his relationships, he should cut down/cut out porn. You’re suggesting this austere world where a man needs to completely shield himself from all temptation. It’s not realistic – no more than it was realistic to ban alcohol when people want to get drunk. Everything in moderation; those who try to police others’ private desires and fantasies are only going to find themselves frustrated with reality. Says a guy who never even looks at porn but has a hard time with bad arguments…

      1. 53.1.1
        MD

        You are like the proverbial fish in water- you have no idea what you are dealing in.   Odd how you insist here that,   “you never look at porn”….In a previous post you comment that you hardly ever look at porn. Hmmmmmmmm?   Methinks the coach doth protest too much and too inconsistently.

          

        1. jeremy

          Interestingly, MD, studies that I’ve read on the subject actually state that men’s brains do NOT release substantial quantities of oxytocin upon masturbating (or, at least, release substantially less oxytocin than during sex).   This is one of the main differences, for men, between sex and masturbation.   It is also why many men feel depressed and lonely after masturbating whereas they do not feel that way after sex – they are left without their dopamine surge and without the usual oxytocin swell that is supposed to take its place after sex.
            
          Men do not bond with porn.   They do not bond with masturbatory aids.   They do not want to take their laptop and vibrator out for a nice dinner after a masturbation session.
            
          Masturbation does not replace sex in a healthy male.   However, occasionally release is necessary – release that has nothing to do with bonding and everything to do with testosterone (not oxytocin).   For single guys, that is masturbation.   For guys in relationships, ideally they would be totally satisfied by their wives.   But welcome to the real world….this does not always happen.   She is busy.   She has a headache.   They have conflicting schedules.   There is a libido mis-match between husbands and wives in a large percentage of marriages, and that mis-match most often has the man wanting more.
            
          In an ideal world, wives would make up the difference.   That is what most men hope for when they marry.   In the real world, this doesn’t often happen.   So men are left with a choice – find an outlet, or feel angry and frustrated.   Porn and masturbation are the lesser of the evils.
            
          And Rose (#52) – kudos to you for your introspection.   I agree with you that so many people who have issues with porn use do so out of insecurity and worry about loss of power.   If sex is an instrument of control in a relationship, doled out based on good behaviour, that relationship is toxic by definition.

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          Methinks you are a bit too literal and that you should find another blog to frequent which validates your worldview. This isn’t it. Best wishes.

    2. 53.2
      Karl S

      The contrast effect relies on the assumption that men are only watching professionally made porn featuring porn star physiques. There is a lot more out there. Some prefer home-made or amateur porn because the people involved seem more real might be less inclined to fake their enjoyment, or they might be genuine couples (or it’s another lie, but a more effective one). Some prefer porn featuring larger bodied men/women. Maybe the watcher is bi or bi-curious, but in a monogamous heterosexual relationship. Maybe the watcher is into BDSM, but has committed to a loving partner who only likes it vanilla. There are so many different contexts to motivate porn usage.
        

  14. 54
    MD

    Well, Evan, you clearly need to defend your right to objectify women and taint your relationship. Again, as I said, all of the negative effects of porn are largely subconscious.   And, from my extensive research on porn, I can tell you that there are only two groups of folks who will defend porn despite the overwhelming evidence regarding its detriment to Humanity and relationships:   The porn industry, and men who cannot stop using it.   Your desperate attempts to label my argument “bad” remind me of an alcoholic grasping at sophomoric defense.   I will end with this brilliant bit by CS Lewis on the topic:   
    “It (porn) takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back: sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides. And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman. For the harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no real woman can rival. Among those shadowy brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover: no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity. In the end, they become merely the medium through which he increasingly adores himself…. And it is not only the faculty of love which is thus sterilized, forced back on itself, but also the faculty of imagination.
    The true exercise of imagination, in my view, is (a) To help us to understand other people (b) To respond to, and, some of us, to produce, art. But it has also a bad use: to provide for us, in shadowy form, a substitute for virtues, successes, distinctions etc. which ought to be sought outside in the real world–e.g. picturing all I’d do if I were rich instead of earning and saving. Masturbation involves this abuse of imagination in erotic matters (which I think bad in itself) and thereby encourages a similar abuse of it in all spheres. After all, almost the main work of life is to come out of our selves, out of the little, dark prison we are all born in. Masturbation is to be avoided as all things are to be avoided which retard this process. The danger is that of coming to love the prison.”

      
      

    1. 54.1
      jeremy

      MD, regarding your post 54, you are making so many assumptions.   I respect your world-view, and your right to it.   But you are generalizing that your view should also be everyone else’s.
        
      Your quote from CS Lewis is particularly ironic, given that he was a fantasy writer.   His quote could refer to any aspect of fantasy, not just porn.   I could state that reading about Narnia (CS Lewis’ world) “leads the individual out of himself   to complete his personality in that of another (world) and sends a person into a prison in his own mind – a world of centaurs and fauns, of magic and sorcery.”   After all, many refer to the fantasy genre as “escapism.”  
        
      Of course, CS Lewis was also a devout Christian (and an anti-Semite, incidentally), so his views on the subject are not surprising, if contradictory to his own life’s work.
        
      Your views on the role of imagination to primarily help us understand other people and produce art – this is YOUR view, but not mine.
        
      Your view that masturbation involves the abuse of imagination – abuse (rather than just simply “use”) is predicated on a moral judgment.   Your particular brand of morality is simply yours.   It is not universal.
        
      That is what the individuals who argue against (moderate) porn use are missing.   This is why I have stated in other areas that the only person who can answer the question “should a man stop using porn” is THAT MAN.   He should answer it based on his OWN moral code, not that of others.
        
      So, MD, if your moral code prompts you to be against porn, it makes sense that you should not view it.   If you feel so strongly about the subject that you would denigrate your husband for viewing it, you should choose a man who either agrees with you about the subject, or (more likely) is a good enough liar that you will never find out about his use.   But to try to posit a universal truth about the subject is ridiculous IMHO.

      1. 54.1.1
        MD

        Those were CS Lewis’ words on masturbation; not mine, fyi. I do agree, however.   As for the parallel you are attempting to draw between fantasy stories and porn:   It is fundamentally flawed.   If folks are masturbating while reading fantasy fiction (though The Chronicles of Narnia never did it for me personally), then there might be some direct correlation.   However, since most men who watch porn are jerking off (funny we use that phrase right?) whilst engaging, they are literally flooding their dopamine response systems and throwing them out of whack (pun intended).   I am really sorry that the Billion-dollar porn industry has duped so many for so long.   It is having an affect on you as a lover, whether you know it or not.   To be clear: this is not a moral issue for me (nor was it for CS Lewis, by the way):   It is an issue of sexual energy and commitment.   Those who are addicted to the dopamine rush, however, will not see the issue clearly.   

        1. jeremy

          @ MD, you wrote: ” If folks are masturbating while reading fantasy fiction (though The Chronicles of Narnia never did it for me personally), then there might be some direct correlation.”
            
          Are you really not understanding what I wrote?   CS Lewis, as per your quote, was arguing against pornography because he believed it traps people in an illusory world and gives them unrealistic expectations.   I argued that any fantasy, when not kept in the realm of fantasy, has the potential to do that.   It is therefore ironic that CS Lewis made this argument (assuming your quote is accurate).
            
          You wrote: “However, since most men who watch porn are jerking off (funny we use that phrase right?) whilst engaging, they are literally flooding their dopamine response systems and throwing them out of whack (pun intended)”
            
          Yes, MD, they are flooding their brains with dopamine.   As happens when we gamble, engage in new and exciting behaviour, or fall in love.   Since when is an occasional hit of dopamine a reason NOT to do something (in moderation)?   Again, this becomes a problem if a person becomes addicted to a dopamine-releasing activity (as can happen in ANY dopamine-releasing activity), but addiction is the exception rather than the rule.
            
          You wrote: “To be clear: this is not a moral issue for me (nor was it for CS Lewis, by the way):   It is an issue of sexual energy and commitment.”
            
          Do you really not see the irony of your comment?   Of COURSE it is an issue of morality for you.   Words like “commitment” necessitate moral judgment.   Is a man who views porn while married violating his commitment to his wife?   That depends on your definition of commitment, doesn’t it?   It depends on your expectations.   Of who committed to what.   And that, of course, depends on your beliefs, as dictated by your personal code of…..wait for it…..MORALITY.
            
          I said it before and I’ll say it again – each of us has every right to live our lives as we please, as long as we live in the bounds of the law.   You have the rights to your beliefs…..but do not have the right to impose your beliefs on others.   Thus, if the question was “Should MD give up porn use?” the answer would be an obvious yes, as dictated by her beliefs.   But that wasn’t the question.

        2. Karmic Equation

          Porn is to men what Soap Operas or Romance Novels are to women. The only difference is that soap operas/romance novels often focus on the “romance” aspect of a relationship (what women “get off on”) whereas porn focuses on the sexual aspect (what men get off on).
            
          Romance novels destroy the true reality of romance between men and women. Real life RARELY if ever works out the way romance novels do. In a sense Cinderella and Snow White create a desire in women that men can never fulfill. So should Disney movies be banned because it creates an unattainable reality for men to achieve?
            
          Please, people who moralize on sex are inhibited people. People who understand and accept their sexuality don’t magnify porn to be more than it is. Porn is trivial to normal people. It’s only portentous to people who are ashamed of sex or of their own sexuality.

    2. 54.2
      Evan Marc Katz

      Um, yeah. I’ll let men know that the Christian jerk-off police have come to take their right hands away. Good luck with that.

      1. 54.2.1
        MD

        Way to miss the point.   Well, I won’t return.   The end-point is that there are heights to lovemaking that are beyond what the average person will get to experience.   We, as a culture, are very immature in our understanding and practice of sex, and porn has become one of the major obstacles to full sexual union between people.    It is so interesting how you guys keep wanting to interpret what I am saying and referencing as being moral objections, when they are clearly not.   It is understandable why you would prefer to misinterpret in this way, since moral judgements are so easy to dismiss.   Thank you for the forum.   Peace.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Peace to you. I appreciate that you – like other dissenters – don’t see any porn use as acceptable. I just think that you’re going to find yourself perpetually frustrated by reality. If your issue isn’t moral and it’s merely practical – please understand that porn is a very quick and practical way for men to get aroused to masturbate. And if you don’t believe in masturbation, well, once again, I think you’re going to find yourself perpetually frustrated by reality.

      2. 54.2.2
        Chance

        So, the southpaws are safe?   Whew.

    3. 54.3
      Joek

      “And, from my extensive research on porn, I can tell you that there are only two groups of folks who will defend porn despite the overwhelming evidence regarding its detriment to Humanity and relationships:   The porn industry, and men who cannot stop using it.  ”

      Evidence please, otherwise you’re just Makin’ Stuff Up (MSU).

      Two specifically falsifiable assumptions there:
      1. Two groups of people who defend porn
      2. “overwhelming” evidence of porn being detrimental to humanity

      If this evidence is so overwhelming, you should have that evidence handy, and links provided.

      Unsubstantiated claims of such scale should be automatically ignored and derided by everyone.

        

  15. 55
    jeremy

    I just wanted to add a couple of thoughts I had about this subject.   It might seem, from some of my posts above, that I am “pro-porn.”   And, while I am definitely not “anti-porn” I think that porn is not always good or even benign.   I think that the only way to answer the question of whether men should give up porn is for each individual man to ask himself what porn does for him.
      
    Does it make him happier or less happy (and, contrary to the opinions of some here, it has the potential to do either – depending on the man and the circumstances)?    
    Does it make his marriage better or worse (and, again, contrary to the opinions of some here, it has the potential to do either)?
      
    Does it affect him positively (or benignly), or negatively?
      
    And, depending on the honest answer of each individual man to those questions, the answer will be obvious.   There are men who have been harmed by their porn habit – those are the men on sites like “yourbrainonporn.com”.   There are other men who have seen a reduction in frustration and marital discord due to occasional porn use.   Thus, the answer to this question is not (and can not be) universal.
      
    But there is one thing I do know for sure.   The answer to this question is up to the individual, and NOT up to any form of externally-imposed value-system.   Not the values of his parents, not of his priest, minster, or rabbi…..and not the values of his wife, should they differ from his own.

  16. 56
    KM

    My ex-fiance and I broke up for a number of reasons but one of them was the lack of sex and how that affected everything else (communication and fun go out the window). The lack of sex was primarily due to how much porn he watched: he didn’t entirely lose interest but sex became really infrequent and the pressure (for me) to be more extreme increased.   

    I’d never been bothered about it because I watch it too so I never set a boundary. I don’t know what the answer would be in future. I continue to consume it so I don’t intend to turn it into an issue for the current guy.  

    I think the big problem for women is that there is so little advice – Google a dwindling sex life and you will get advice on how to turn away a husband who wants sex more than you do.   Old stereotypes abound and make the problem worse…   I think a check list of behaviours calling for an ‘intervention’ would be useful – knowing when it has become a problem. I suppose one red flag is that the ex-fiance was uncomfortable with the fact that I liked porn. Another was his angry reaction when I laughed at finding it on his phone – at the time I was bewildered (and a bit hurt) but maybe he felt guilty?   There’s a blog for you: when is it too much?

    1. 56.1
      anon764

      KM- just out of curiosity, why were you bewildered and hurt when you found porn on his phone if you too are a user of it and had never been bothered by it?
      Porn was a contributor to the demise of a relationship of mine.   Not because it reduced my drive, it didn’t, but simply because I watched it occasionally.   She just didn’t like the fact that I watched it and I did stop for a few months but resumed after we started having other problems.   That relationship was doomed anyway and porn sped up the breakup.  

      1. 56.1.1
        km

        Hi anon764 – I was unclear. Not bewildered at finding it, bewildered that he got angry. I was initially cool with it.  

  17. 57
    mandy

    My boyfriend is 62 now. He has been using porn, and, what I think is much worse, erotic art, to try to cure his sexual dysfunction all his life. His problem is the result of emotional abuse as a child. I am afraid that stuff is continuing the abuse. It is also ruining his aesthetic sensibilities which he needs for his own art. We love each other and enjoy sex together, but nothing can console him for not being able to “just fuck”. I believe we could heal together if he could give up the addiction. But I also believe that any happy sex life we may find will never be enough to fulfill his mental need or desire.

  18. 58
    Simone

    Questions to ask yourself about porn:
    1) Would you have a relationship or marry a porn star?  If no,  why not?
    2) Do you think that people should be able to watch porn at work?  Why do you think most employers forbid it?
    3) Do you think that child pornography should be legal? Would you watch it? If no, why not?
    4)  Is it OK to watch teenage girls having sex on film? If so, why? Would you urge a teenage  girl or young woman to go into the porn industry?  If no, why not?    
    4) Would you allow yourself to be filmed having sex? If no, why not?
    5) Do you believe that the people who participate in sex films are different from you? In what way?
    6) What do you think constitutes a porn addiction?

    1. 58.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Short answers to irrelevant questions:

      1) Would you have a relationship or marry a porn star? If no, why not? I don’t like my wife fucking other guys.
      2) Do you think that people should be able to watch porn at work? Why do you think most employers forbid it? No. Because it’s not productive or work-related. And because masturbating at one’s cubicle can be considered distracting by passersby.
      3) Do you think that child pornography should be legal? Would you watch it? If no, why not? No. Underage children are in no position to consent to such activities.
      4) Is it OK to watch teenage girls having sex on film? If so, why? Would you urge a teenage girl or young woman to go into the porn industry? If no, why not? If they are consenting adults who chose post high-school careers in porn, yes. Would I want my daughter to do porn? No. I’d like to think she’ll have other opportunities that will take her further in the world. I probably wouldn’t want her to be a coal miner either.
      4) Would you allow yourself to be filmed having sex? If no, why not? No. Why would I want others to watch me having sex?
      5) Do you believe that the people who participate in sex films are different from you? In what way? They are people who want others to watch them having sex – probably because they are physically attractive and don’t see other job opportunities that pay as well at a young age.
      6) What do you think constitutes a porn addiction? When porn use interferes with your day to day life and ability to function. Sort of like any other addiction.

      You don’t like porn, Simone? Don’t watch. You don’t want a boyfriend who watches? Choose a boyfriend who doesn’t watch. But porn is no more an evil than alcohol or drugs or gambling. In moderation, it’s fun and benign. In excess, it’s damaging. Your questions above have nothing to do with the original post about porn addiction, and are only attempting to goad people into being judgmental of those who choose careers in it. As I’ve already stated, just because I wouldn’t want to be a porn star, date a porn star or raise a porn star doesn’t mean that I (or any other man) should not have a visual aid for masturbation. I would ask if you disagreed, but I’m afraid I already know the answer, and really don’t want to continue this tiresome dialogue where you try extra-hard to exhibit the inherent immorality of pornography, only to be told by lots of normal, relationship oriented guys that we disagree with you.

      1. 58.1.1
        AllHeart81

        I am sorry but why “should”(your word) men have visual images of women to masturbate too? Men are not entitled to images of other women for masturbation. It’s nice (for men) to have them but men certainly aren’t owed them. You and other men are not owed visuals of women. I fear that men have developed a general sense of entitlement to women and their bodies when they believe they “should” have visuals of women on hand to masturbate too. You are certainly entitled to touch yourself all you want. But you are not owed visuals of women to achieve that. How did men survive before the internet?

        Drugs, alcohol and gambling don’t give specific messages about human behavior and interaction as porn does when it comes to sex and relationships. Porn has changed what people think sex should look like and be like and it gives off very specific psychological messages. Porn is not comparable to other substances in this case because porn tells specific stories about specific people, often stereotyping them and painting them in one-dimensional terms. Drugs are inanimate objects. Porn using real people to convey real messages about men and women and how they relate during sex.

  19. 59
    starthrower68

    Irregardless of what I as a believer think about porn, vice has always been in the world.   If you are ok with it in your home, then it’s not my concern.   I can only express why I do not favor it but obviously I’m not going on a door to door quest to remove it from your house. It just won’t be in mine.   I might miss out on otherwise great guys by holding firm to that but we all have our deal breakers.   Since my mother always ignored my father’s use of it, I am probably not as, I don’t know, shocked or surprised by it as some might be.   I’m not going to argue whether the cheesy L.A. porn leads to human trafficking.   But I will take a hard line stance against child porn.   Adults will do what they’re going to do right or wrong.   But leave the kids out of that world, please.

  20. 60
    JoeK

    @ Simone
    JoeK: Read Jenn’s earlier posts and watch the video that ScottH posted. Then get back to us. We aren’t Makin’ Stuff Up. You are uninformed.”
      
    I stopped reading Jenn’s posts when she made it clear she was wrinting form her moral highground of “only god knows best”. Once that trope comes out I stop listening.
      
    The video isn’t evidence it’s merely claims by one person. Evidence is links to real, valid research with real vlaid evidence, not just someones’ claim to know.
      
    His claim “porn brough anger and violence into my fantasies…anger and violence that were not there originally” is just BS excuses not taking responsibilitites for the emotions in his own mind. That opening statement alone negates any possible credibility.
      
    He starts with assumptions (the proverbial strawman) and then proceeds to shoot them down.
      
    That is not evidence.
      
    He also presents things as “it arouses men…” – that’s an assumption about perspective – also a strawman. As Karl S responded, there are plenty of women who like certain things, so let’s not get down the rabbit hole of “only men like X”.
      
    So I fall back to – you make a claim HERE, on this forum, then post your evidence for those claims, Not just someone saying something, but actually providing evidence, FACTS, research that supports a claim that is the basis of an argument.
      
    Why am I (and others) a pariah for requiring substantion of a claim?

    1. 60.1
      Shaukat

      @JoeK
        
      I agree with you and Chance on specific issues, such as the complete lack of evidence on trafficking in pornography (see my comment above, 32.1.1) but you are clearly misinformed in regards to your assertions above. For example, your claim that pornography does not at all influhttps://www.evanmarckatz.com/blog/sex/should-men-give-up-on-pornography-entirely/comment-page-2/#commentsence people’s perception and fantasies in a negative manner, as you seem to be implying when you state about a particular film, “that statement alone negates any possible credibility,” is contradicted by an abundance of scholarly studies. For example, psychologists Neil Malamuth and Joseph Centini (1984) conducted a number of laboratory experiments of male participants in which the subjects were randomly exposed to either violent pornography, non-violent pornography, or a control feature over a four week period. Their findings, which were presented at the American Psychological Association, showed that the subjects exposed to both forms of pornography showed increased levels of aggression against women, assessed through another experiment at the end of the exposure period. Similar findings were presented by Donnerstein, and Bridges, a psychologist at the University of Arkansas, provides a useful survey of scholarly studies which draw a link between repeated exposure to pornography and aggressive or negative sexual behaviors. (“Pornography’s Effects on Interpersonal Relationships”). Of course, as I noted above, such studies must be qualified because lab experiments do not (and cannot) take into account counteracting mechanisms and influences which operate in the real world. However, if you really believe that dominant images and messaging through advertisements do not influence behavior or shape perceptions in any way, then you are not familar with entire fields such as sociology, media and communication studies, which are deveoted to this very topic.
        
      Also, if you   

      1. 60.1.1
        jeremy

        @ Shaukat
          
        I recently read the book “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely.   He presents the results of many experiments he and his collaborators have done in the field of psychology and behavioral economics.   One of those experiments involved measuring changes in behavior due to increased emotional stimulation.   He found that when people were stimulated emotionally, their behavior was affected.   When men were sexually turned on, their decision making process was affected in ways that the men themselves were unable to predict prior to their stimulation.   The effects were short-lived, but significant.

        This was not unique to porn.   It is a result of any emotional stimulation – including love or sexual stimulation by a real-life partner, or anger, or sadness, or any intense emotion.   We often see this in young couples who fall in love and proceed to make a series of terrible choices, almost as if they were crack addicts.
          
        Thus, by your argument, Shaukat,it would be best if people were not exposed to any intense emotional stimulation, since any such stimulation can affect behavior – at least for as long as the effects of that emotion last.   Luckily, with porn at least once the man has an orgasm the desire to look at more porn dissipates and he can proceed with the rest of his day (barring addiction).   An individual who is sexually frustrated without an outlet for release will have increased emotional frustration for days/weeks/months/years.   Which do you think will affect behavior more?
          
           A person in love has their judgment affected for months/years.   Shall we ban love?   Shall we discourage it?   Or are the effects of emotional stimulation simply a part of life, to be dealt with by adults who are competent to make their own decisions?

        1. Shaukat

          @Jeremy,
            
          First, no where in my post did I state, or even insinuate, that porn should be banned, regulated, or limited, and that conclusion is not even implied by my argument. So your rhetorical flourish at the end of your response where you ask, “Shall we ban love?” is an irrelevant, and ridiculous, non-sequitur. In fact, when it comes to free speech and free expression I’m a libertarian.
            
          Second, your response deliberately collapses the distinction between the qualitative variations of different emotional and behavioral responses. Of course there are a wide range of emotional stimuli that can affect behavior in various ways. However, there is a difference between the vulnerability of falling in love and acting differently in the presence of someone we care about and the heartbreak that comes with failed relationships vs aggressive behavior induced by exposure to the products of a multi-billion dollar industry.
            
          Regarding your third paragraph, there are a couple of points to be made. First, your argument that a sexually frustrated individual without an outlet for release will continue to experience frustration assumes that the man cannot possibly masturbate without the visual aid of pornography, which is ludicrous. The industry didn’t even emerge in the US until the early 1950s, and I’m sure men were masturbating before that. However, your assertion that pornography can serve as an outlet for this type of frustration over the long run is again based on the catharsis argument which does not have any support in the literature (just like the assertion of trafficking, and porn directly causing rape/vioence doesn’t have any support).
            
            

        2. jeremy

          @Shaukat
          ” However, there is a difference between the vulnerability of falling in love and acting differently in the presence of someone we care about and the heartbreak that comes with failed relationships vs aggressive behavior induced by exposure to the products of a multi-billion dollar industry.”
            
          The research I cited did not deal with vulnerability, heartbreak, or acting differently in the presence of someone we care about.   It dealt specifically with increased aggressive and erratic behavior under the influence of heavy emotion.   The conclusion was not that “porn” makes men more aggressive, but rather that heavy emotion of any kind produces changes in behavior – including (but not limited to) increased aggression, changes in preferences, etc. when compared to the non-emotional baseline.   Thus, I don’t think we are talking about different things when you discuss the effects of porn and I discuss the effects of other heavy emotion (again, not just lust, but love, anger, sadness, frustration, etc.).   Hence my irrelevant, ridiculous (rhetorical) non-sequitur of “shall we ban love?”
            
          “your argument that a sexually frustrated individual without an outlet for release will continue to experience frustration assumes that the man cannot possibly masturbate without the visual aid of pornography, which is ludicrous. The industry didn’t even emerge in the US until the early 1950s, and I’m sure men were masturbating before that”

          Certainly men can masturbate without porn.   When they do so, their “porn” is usually produced by their imagination.   Granted, this usually produces less dopamine that modern porn does, but produce dopamine spikes it does.   However, men have been using visual aids to increase their dopamine (pleasure) for as long as they have existed, and drew their own long before photography existed.   I’m sure you have seen cave drawings of naked women?
            
          “your assertion that pornography can serve as an outlet for this type of frustration over the long run is again based on the catharsis argument which does not have any support in the literature”
            
          Correct.   I have not seen good evidence for the catharsis argument in any literature I’ve seen, though it would be a difficult study to design.   I have, however, read personal reports of men (myself included) who state that porn and masturbation do, in fact, act as an outlet for frustration for them.   Now, granted, this is the lowest level of evidence, and I would not extrapolate it to apply to everyone (or even a majority, necessarily).   However, I would not discount it nor deny the claims of those who state it works for them.

        3. Shaukat

          Hi Jeremy,
            
          First, let me apologize for the irritable tone in my last response. If your rhetorical flourish was employed to point to what could be an illogical inference from the evidence you were referring to and not to caricature my argument, then the tone was uncalled for. I appreciate your actual engagement with the evidence and scholarly literature.
            
          I haven’t read the book you cited above, but I’m unclear as to the sources of the emptional stimuli in the experiments. You allude to a number of different variables but I’d be very surprised if the findings conclude that the responses in the subjects from such stimuli (you mentioned anger, sadness, disappointment in a partner) were comparable to the very specific type of sexualized and eroticized aggression observed in subjects who were exposed to pornography over a certain period. Again, I’m not saying that such findings are conclusive, there are some limitations to the studies I cited, but my point is that the emotions triggered by industrial media products are incomparable to the normal human emotions triggered by sincere and genuine human interactions.
            
          I suppose my main problem with porn is seperate from the effects it might induce in individuals or the history of the performers. The issue I have with it is that the industry commodifies something that should not be treated as a commodity and has never resembled a commodity. The famous economist and sociologist Karl Polanyi referred to such things as “fictitious commodities.” Considering that sexuality can create such physical and emotional bonds and connections, it seems, at least to me, that it is deprived of its authenticity and allure when commercialized and plasticized. That’s just my view, and I’m not overly dogmatic about it.
            
          I agree that of course masturbation serves as an outlet for us, though I think I would disagree that it’s an outlet for frustration per se. If porn has helped you deal with frustration then I suppose that’s good. But as you point out, such stories are anecdotal, and thus far the type of longitudanal studies that would be needed to corroborate that claim in a convincing manner have yet to be undertaken. Cheers

      2. 60.1.2
        JoeK

        Shauk, when I said “that statement alone negates any possible credibility”, I was saying HE lacked credibility because he attributed HIS reaction as the ONLY reaction.
          
        Of course people have reactions to porn – and every other kind of media (books, tv, movies MUSIC). But he attributed his own internal responses solely to porn, and denies responsibility for those reactions being a result of HIMSELF.
          
        Porn no more “put” those reactions inside him than did anything else. They are HIS feelings, HIS emotions, for which only HE is responsible.
          
        He was looking for a scapegoat, and setup a strawman. That’s not research, in fact it’s reprehensible in my worldview. A real adult takes responsibility for what’s in their own head, and doesn’t blame it on others/externalities.

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