Note: a shorter version of this blog was recently featured on “The Good Men Project.” It’s been reposted/shared over 50,000 times in just a few days. It’s proving controversial. To be clear, I do not promote sexual shame or banning pornography. This article is intended to invite men into a deeper conversation around how we express and experience our sexuality, particularly in regards to online pornography.
In my boyhood teenage days of yore, using pornography required patience, even imagination.
One of my early adventures with porn occurred on weekday afternoons when I got home from middle school. Before anyone else arrived, I would sneak into my parents’ bedroom closet with a small foot stool. I have no idea how I first found it, but resting atop the center ceiling panel, just inches from my horny little brain, was my step-father’s erotic treasure trove of betamax video tapes with titles like “The Oriental Babysitter” and “Taxi Girls.” I’d pop one into the black betamax box, hit play, and kick back on the lounger as sounds and images of ecstasy flooded my lusty synapses while I enjoyed myself a dozen or so times (oh, to be a teenager again).
A few years later, during high school, my tastes grew more sophisticated when mom started getting Victoria Secret catalogs in the mail. Although I kinda already knew what the big secret was, these glossy mags made my imagination work harder at unlocking it each time, and I delighted in that. But a new catalog once every few weeks was far too infrequent for my insatiable teenage libido, and I could barely wait for the spring issues when lithe Victorias would return to wearing sexy sundresses and seductive short skirts.
Those days of porn patience and teasing my imagination are gone.
At this very moment, I – and most every other man in Western Civilization – have in my hands a little device loaded with the entire known universe of pornographic material ready to stir my lust and blow my loins wide open. I never have to wait till Spring again.
“Enough is Enough” and “CovenantEyes,” two internet safety organizations, offer these sobering statistics (note: CovEyes is Catholic-based; I am not):
• Every second, 28,258 Internet users are viewing pornography.
• American children begin viewing pornography at an average age of 11.
• The pornography industry is a $97 billion industry worldwide.
• Men are 543% more likely to look at porn than are women.
• More than 1 in 5 searches are for pornography on mobile devices.
“If you have the Internet, you have pornography in your home.”
— Jill Manning, Ph.D., Marriage and Family Therapist
Porn is ubiquitous. You might be surprised who uses online porn.
I have amazing male friends, attractive and dynamic, who’ve spent countless hours over many years caught in the sticky pornographic web. You would never imagine these men using online porn. But they have. And do. I have also used it.
As a single man for the last 4 years, great sexual encounters with women have been a rare luxury. My iPhone, on the other hand, is all too willing to dance for me, undress for me, tease me, lick me, suck me, screw me and all around indulge me, whatever I want, any time I want.
I do not generally have an addictive personality, yet I have at times gone weeks using internet pornography every night to quickly arouse and then satiate myself. There were times I seemed to need it just to fall asleep.
I would watch up to an hour or more in bed before exhausting myself enough to fall asleep, which ironically carved into an already sleep-deprived entrepreneurial lifestyle. At one point using porn actually gave me repetitive stress injury, messing up my otherwise formidable basketball game. I experienced other disconcerting side-effects of porn, too, some of which I’ll detail below.
There’s nothing wrong with masturbation. I also don’t believe in sexual shame. But modern pornography can be a serious detriment to everyone, not just to men, but to the women we love, too.
Here’s 6 reasons why I believe men must give up consistent use of pornography for personal stimulation:
1) Porn ruins our erections with actual women.
After I had been using porn moderately for about a year, I began to notice that I couldn’t sustain erections with women as long as I once could. I was horny as ever, but without the constantly changing visual erotic stimulation that watching video after video offered, one woman’s body couldn’t hold my erotic focus as effectively as it used to. To my frustrated surprise, real sex had become somewhat under-stimulating. Tragic. Since I gave up porn, even morning wood has made its return like an exotic tree rescued from the brink of extinction.
2) Porn tunes our bodies to premature ejaculation.
I never had a problem with quick climax before I consistently used porn. I could always match, if not outlast, my female sexual partners, with or without a condom, with solid erections.
With porn, I could watch a short video and within minutes have myself rocketing towards climax. But I’d stop myself before I went too far, because I always wanted to see what different erotic adventure awaited me in the next video, just a click away. I would do this for an hour, rapidly rising in mindless bliss with every new short video, stopping myself at the edge each time. Eventually, I’d realize how much time had gone by, so I’d choose the best video I’d seen and let it throw me over the edge.
I was tuning my body to quickly rise and climax. I can immediately stop moving my own hand when I masturbate. A real woman’s aroused body doesn’t stop moving so fast. It’s like trying to slam on the brakes of a speed boat in deep water. I just couldn’t often handle her enthusiasm, and I started getting really concerned.
Thankfully, quitting porn has allowed my body’s nervous system to retune itself to a less hurried sexual pace and rhythm.
3) It’s a cop out from interacting powerfully with actual women.
Most men in our western culture generally do not know how to interact powerfully with women in the everyday world, certainly not as mature healthy masculine men. We routinely fail to proactively step up to women we’re attracted to in effective and honorable, respectful ways. So many of us routinely let our silent crushes slip away forever into the dark painful cave of our regrets. Masturbation can take the edge off all the resulting frustration, so much so that we don’t then have to do anything useful about it, like learn how to be more powerful (and still respectful) in our interactions with actual women.
4) It’s such a waste of time.
Watching porn alone and a lot is a stupid use of our precious time on Planet Earth.
5) It creates unrealistic expectations of women.
Porn just makes us think women should be easier to get into bed. It makes us think we might get laid more if we were more bold or clever, or simply more aggressive. Which is actually probably true. In fact, there is surely room for western men to be bolder with women, but not at the cost of genuine care for women.
Women in porn videos are always willing to let a man (or men) aggressively open them up and do whatever they want. They’ll take the money shot right in the face, on their knees beneath a cock and a camera, as if to fully underscore their willingness to be conquered and owned by a man, and for all the world to see.
In my experience, actual women don’t react to calculating male aggression by opening their legs. Even if they do – and sometimes they probably do – that doesn’t create an authentic intimate relationship. It just creates two bodies slapping into each other.
Women are lusty, sexual creatures, for sure. Just like men. But when men are ready to relate to women in deeper ways, ways that include sexuality and also transcend it, porn is an awful study. The wondrous feminine mystique of a woman, the mystique us men so desperately crave to experience, is only made available to the men who learn how to cherish a woman in her fullness. That doesn’t happen anywhere in porn.
6) When we watch porn, we support human trafficking, slavery, rape, and blackmail of women all over the world.
Despite my tame taste in porn and the fact that I never paid for online porn, I still unwittingly saw videos on the average free porn site that disturbed me.
I am horrified that I almost surely watched men manipulate, even outright blackmail, women into otherwise unwanted sex in fake taxi cabs, fake doctors offices, fake casting sets, and more. The camera never showed the man’s face; always the woman’s.
Since I started researching this, I’ve discovered countless examples of criminal cases worldwide where people, mostly men, have been arrested and prosecuted for creating pornography with women they trafficked from other countries; women who were enslaved in buildings they could’t leave; women kept in place by physical violence; women threatened with exposure to their families; and more. I know now that I must have watched videos where women did sex acts they were forced to do. And my tastes in porn were tame.
I’m not implying a direct link between porn and criminality. I am simply saying I couldn’t easily avoid watching videos of questionable, disturbing origin.
I’m still tempted to watch porn sometimes. Even as I write this, my iPhone sits quietly beside me, able in a matter of seconds to unleash a marauding army of sexy oriental babysitters straight into my lizard brain. But clearly nothing good ever comes from that, so to speak.
Men, we’ve got to stop using porn. I know it’s a quick fix. I know some couples even use it to spice up an otherwise fading sex life.
Find other ways. Get creative. Porn is easy, low-hanging fruit. It’s beneath our brilliance. It’s not just hurting us; it’s also hurting our women.