Why Boys and Grown Men Surf Porn

If you’re honest with yourself and you’re a dude, you’ve surfed porn at some point in your life. I know I have.

Maybe it was a phase, maybe you’re still doing it. Do you pay for sites? Just browse the free ones and leave, deleting your cookies and any trace of your porn tracks so no one knows your little secret?

If you ever meet a man who denies surfing porn, I’d call BS on him right then and there. I’ve never met a man who hasn’t surfed porn at least once. What’s the problem with a guy who wants to surf a little porn now and again anyway? Initially, nothing.

In my opinion, nothing is fundamentally wrong with masturbation and your own sexuality, despite what strict religious organizations may tell you. The issue is not masturbation or even surfing porn, although many women might disagree.  And for good reason.  (The porn industry itself condones the abuse of power men have over women, many porn sites have  aggressive imagery, and what the industry teaches or trains us about our sexuality are all important issues that need to be addressed).

I write this post for four reasons:

1.  Few men talk honestly about it, so let’s go there. Bring on your comments.
2.  To help you understand why you hide your porn use and why you feel bad about it.
3.  To raise your awareness and help you understand what drives men to porn
4.  To take some action in relationship to your porn use

Before we go any further, let’s look at some important, but not surprising porn stats from Tech Crunch in 2007:

  • Every second, there are 28,258 people surfing porn
  • Every second, $89 is spent on porn
  • 266 new porn sites are put on the web daily
  • “Sex” is the most searched word on the web
  • $2.84 billion in revenue was generated from U.S. porn sites in 2006
  • 72% of porn viewers are men  (A 2001 Forrester Research Report had a slightly different number:  77% of online visitors to adult content sites are male. Their average age is 41 and they have an annual income of $60,000. 46% are married.)

To see other fascinating porn stats, click here: http://www.blazinggrace.org/cms/bg/pornstats

The numbers are clear. Even with the statistics, many men deny surfing porn. For the brave men that admit to surfing porn, there is little understanding and awareness around their use. So, why are the numbers so high?

According to a Kinsey Institute survey which asked “Why do you use porn?” respondents had this to say:

  • 72% said they used porn to masturbate/for physical release.
  • 69% – to sexually arouse themselves and/or others.
  • 54% – out of curiosity.
  • 43% – “because I can fantasize about things I would not necessarily want in real life.”
  • 38% – to distract myself.

From my perspective, we have to ask two important questions:

  1. Why does a man hide his porn use and then feel bad about it?
  2. Why is he surfing porn in the first place?

To answer the first question we have to look at our culture. With so many messages from religion and conservative groups telling us that sex is bad and wrong, many people in our culture end up repressing their sexual aliveness. At the same time, the media and pop culture oversexualize everything. Watch any beer commercial or MTV video. It’s no wonder we are so confused about sex and sexuality.

Repression + oversexualized imagery & messages = confused, disconnected shameful relationship to one’s own sexuality.

For example, in my work with men, at some point a man typically owns up to his porn use with me.  And, almost without fail, he feels shame and guilt about it. Often he’s married or has a girlfriend and surfs porn quite a bit without ever owning up to it with his partner. Understandably, this sets up a difficult dynamic with himself and with his partner.  Shame begets shame.

Think about it. What guy wants to admit that he doesn’t know how to manage the sexual life force raging through his body?  Men get mixed messages about sex, and with all the conflicting information, and nowhere to go to sort it out, it can end up coming out sideways in the form of strip clubs, constantly objectifying women, porn use, hookers and much more.

To answer question number 2, we have to investigate two of the responses in the Kinsey report: ”for physical release” and “to distract myself.” What is a man “distracting himself” from and what is it that he is “releasing” aside from the obvious?

In my professional opinion, this is the number 1 reason so many boys and men surf porn:

Guys surf porn to “check out” or to “distract themselves” from certain uncomfortable feelings they are experiencing, period. Said another way, surfing porn is a symptom of some underlying discomfort a man is experiencing. It’s this simple.

This comic points to a deeper reason men might surf porn….

Guys report feeling “off” inside and surfing porn becomes a way to “get rid of” (another way of saying “physical release”) the discomfort. It is very much like a quick high, a jolt of energy that feels great for a microsecond during orgasm. It works like a drug. It is a dopamine surge. If you have ever taken drugs or even use them in moderation, you know that getting high or having a drink can seem to “take the edge off” and for those fleeting moments, you feel better. Masturbation is no different.

But much like getting high or even taking a nap, reality has a way of creeping back in and, almost without fail, seconds after ejaculation shame and guilt set in as a guy attempts to hide his tracks and close his computer’s browser.

One client recently told me when he feels anxious, he goes to porn, gets the job done and feels less anxious for a little while.

Since most guys surf porn between the 9-5 hours, one would think they are just “bored” at their desk job. However if you investigate further, it turns out most of these men are just not happy with themselves, their job, or their life. They have an uncomfortable feeling inside that they are unwilling to feel or relate to.

So, what should a guy do?

Tell someone

This is a hotly debated subject with men who are willing to have this conversation. One option is to come out of the closet with your porn behavior. You kept it a secret for a reason, now break the ice by telling a close, trusting male friend that won’t judge you. A good man will probably empathize.

Next, determine how your partner might react to your porn use if you told her/him. For some folks, it helps, others it hurts.

For example, a client of mine recently got “busted” surfing porn by his partner. They had been struggling sexually for months. After fighting about it for several days, they worked through it and had the best sex they had had in a long time. There’s more to the story, but this was a major component clogging up their intimacy.

If you do share this with your partner, you have to be honest and let your partner have her reaction. Of course your lover will be upset. You have hidden something from them or “leaked” energy outside of your relationship. So don’t be surprised when your partner gets angry and/or sad.

Start paying attention to when you surf

If porn is a symptom of being “off” in your life, the “off” feeling is what you need to address. If you surf porn occasionally, start taking note of when these times occur. Did you just get in a fight with your wife recently? Do you have a lot of free time and this helps you pass the time? Why is it so hard to just be with yourself? What is going on in your life right now that feels so off? What time of day do you surf?

Next, try a porn fast. Take a break from porn altogether

No more porn. Commit to no porn for at least 3 months and then observe yourself and your behavior. Of course, if you’ve never done any self-inquiry, this is going to be challenging for you.  What you may find is by removing porn from the equation, you start to notice that you used porn to deal with some discomfort in your life. What do you replace it with? How do you cope?

See if you can notice right now what’s going on. If you surf porn, what about this article resonates? What does not?

The main purpose of this post is to free up the shame. Enough shame already. So many guys carry around endless amounts of shame. What would it be like to not run from your shame? Or what would your life be like if you didn’t run from the discomfort below the surface that is causing you to surf porn? I’d like to challenge you to engage with this aspect of your life so as to learn something important about yourself and your porn behavior.

Remember, the more you do self-inquiry and understand yourself, the more mastery you will have in your life and in this case, the more deeply you can come to know your own sexuality.

Got comments? Leave them here. Consider forwarding this post to a friend.

Oh, and here’s another important discussion about men and porn. Click here.

And, check out these super helpful mp3’s if you want a different relationship to porn. 

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porn, porn stats, Sex, why men surf porn

Comments

comments

86 Comments

  1. You are spot-on to openly discuss this taboo topic impacting men.

    I hope I can contribute to discussion by recommending a post I wrote recently that will also lead you to a very helpful & Free E-Book called “Porn Again Christian” written by very progressive and culturally relevant Seattle Pastor Marc Driscoll.

    Here is link at http://site.lifesworkgroup.com/blog/2008/12/26/are-you-afraid-of-excluding-people-when-you-define-your-idea.html

    Thanks for great post.

    Reply
  2. Great topic Revolutionary Man!

    Looks like I’m starting the comments so I’ll keep it simple: porn is no different than any other addiction. In my opinion there is no such thing as ‘casual porn’ – you either do it and do it like an obsession or you don’t do it. No grey area.

    I totally agree with your suggestion to obstain.

    For your readers – you might want to check out Sex & Love Addiction Annonymous – not many people know about sex addiction. Porn is at the heart of the BEHAVIOR. But as you point out – what’s the root cause behind this behavior? Especially the shame and secrecy about it. I am a married man who lived 15 years of my marriage lieing and not revealing my sex addiction.

    As cliched and potentially triggering as this statement is for some “the truth shall set you free” is a 100% truth.

    Ask yourself if you are being truthful to yourself about this topic and then make a decision one way or the other. For those who don’t take up the challenge of no porn for 3 months – consider tracking how yor are feeling, what feelings you are repressing and journal that experience for the same 3 months you continue to do porn. I’d LOVE to hear a compare/contrast between men who try both paths this 3 months.

    Finally, no shame or blame or regret from this man. Just sharing what I’ve experienced. The other side (porn free) has been AWESOME for me. My wife and I have an amazingly thriving partnership, and yes, sex!

    Reply
  3. Congrats for addressing this challenging topic. I’m grateful for men
    who have the courage to address the use of porn (and other sexual
    outlets that are energy contracting). What I offer here is my opinion
    and I don’t ask anyone to believe as I do. I suggest men find their
    own truth through a process of self-inquiry or with the cooperation in
    working with a professional who has done his or her work.

    We continue to live in the most sexually repressed society of the modern
    world. The cost of that repression on both individuals and as a culture
    is huge. It impacts us spiritually, emotionally, relationally,
    financially and more. The problem is not ‘sex’ or even mens’ acting
    out; the difficulty is in the drain of our energy, sucking life from
    our purpose and
    congruency as a man. As a therapist/coach, I’ve worked with men (and
    women and relationships) who have found that when there is this type
    of acting out, men have less energy to express to their partners (and their partners suffer)’ get triggered into shame which is the cancer
    for a mans’ soul and lose their focus and purpose.

    For men who choose the method of 12 step to address this issue, Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, SA and others…it may be the program that saves their lives and relationships. It can
    work. The danger can be that men are doing a dangerous thing…repressing their sexuality…which is a repression of a core and essential energy that is vital to our life.

    The ‘middle path’ of honoring the energy without acting on the compulsions is a very powerful way that works for many. It is a
    journey of self discover and can create a dynamic and balanced relationship with an intimate.

    I honor the men (and women) who seek recovery. It’s not recovery ‘from’ sexual acting out…it’s recover ‘to’ a full and meaningful life of total joy.

    I speak from experience as a being who has been challenged by this issue; and as a being who has found the ‘middle path’. My spirituality and sexualty are married within my soul and I enjoy the most satisfying and ‘juicy’ relationship of my life. My LIFE PURPOSE is about helping our world to reclaim sexuality as a rightful place in their spiritual life. NO MORE SHAME, PAIN OR BLAME. It’s time for us to embrace the
    magnificence of our gender. It is a glorious thing to be a man…especially if we live in the integrity of who we are meant to be.
    blessings to all,
    Ed Fell

    Reply
  4. Great article. This is perhaps one of the most important things that men need to discuss. I’d like to encourage anyone reading this to really take up the challenge of dealing with what is underneath your use of porn. As a woman, I’d like to encourage you and tell you haw brave and wonderful you are for facing this. Real women want real men who are able to face their pain and really deal with their issues. It’s hot!

    I am not sure, however, that 3 months of abstention is a reasonable initial goal for many men who are in a lot of pain around this. Maybe 3 weeks would be a more realistic goal. Maybe 3 days… I’m not joking about this, there’s a reason that 12-step programs go “one day at a time.” If you really want to change, and fail at 3 months, that’s not much of an incentive to continue. And the cycle continues.

    You might be interested in deep discussions we’ve had on a forum I help moderate. The men there are top-notch.

    I’ll also be posting a link to this website there.

    This is such an important issue. Bravo to those of you who take it on. Bless you all.

    Reply
  5. Thanks Ed for very thoughtful perspectives. I couldn’t agree more. The challenge with 12-step programs is when a person ONLY does their step work and nothing else. I have found it’s the integration of all my work, a community of men that support me in being accountable, in integrity and love on me for who I am that makes the difference. It makes my recovery that much stronger and gives me the confidence to step into and embrace ALL of me – my shadow and my gold.

    Sadly what this discussion also brings up is that not only are we among the most sexually repressed cultures in the world, it’s magnified even more for guys. A lot more is “taboo” for a man than it is for a woman. The “labels” are stronger for guys. I am all done with that and am confident we are entering an age of more and more men stepping into their wholeness – connected with their spiritual essence that is the connection with my soul. That’s the man I want to be.

    Reply
  6. The blog entry is well balanced and raises important questions. However, the assumption by several of the commenters that porn use = porn addiction = harm is nonsense.

    To claim that there is “no such thing as ‘casual porn’ – you either do it and do it like an obsession or you don’t do it” is to create a false dichotomy. It’s like pretending there’s no middle ground between alcoholism and being a teetotaler.

    Reply
  7. Ed,
    Excellent point about the “middle way.” Quitting cold turkey and doing a 12-step program might really work for some men. For others, it’s not that helpful and can add to more shame and blame.

    SC, you too have an important point. This is just not a black and white issue. There is tons of gray and each man has to find his way.

    My purpose here is to raise the awareness bar. Until a man is aware of something, he doesn’t feel a lot of “choice” in anything. With awareness comes choice.

    I know men that consciously masturbate and feel great about it. It’s because they are willing to engage their own sexual energy and explore the natural life force that is ripping through us all the time (Per Ed’s point).

    This post has brought up another huge shadow which is the porn industry and how they prey upon both men and women. Perhaps another post coming on that.

    Thanks people for engaging this important topic for men

    Reply
  8. Great article, bro. Glad you went for what has guys “checking out” vs making porn “wrong”. Enough with the shame indeed.

    Reply
  9. I think you are right on the money with the equation. Repression + oversexualized content = weirdness. I also agree completely with bringing it out in the open. I think is is that Repression for guys is a capital “R.” A lot is repressed. Having someone to talk to about it is not likely going to be something that a typical guy will have at his disposal. Trust is the word, judgment the other word.

    Thanks

    Reply
  10. Jayson,

    Thanks for this article. It is such a huge issue for men, and speaking out on it is a great step towards making a change. I really appreciate your perspective and advice on the issue.

    I’d also like to add, although you mention it indirectly in your article, that another reason is to avoid intimacy. You mention it in relation to the self, to distract from uncomfortable feelings, which is a way of avoiding intimacy with oneself. It is also a way to avoid intimacy with a partner, as it’s much easier to relate to a fantasy than to another human. Many men are so used to relating to the fantasy that they have difficulty connecting sexually or intimately with a partner, whether it’s on a subtle or gross level. Of course, I’m oversimplifying, but I think that men beginning to take a look at ways they are afraid to be intimate with their partner (or future partner if they are single) and what they are avoiding in their relationships is another powerful action to take.

    Again, thanks for speaking out on this. It’s time for us to come out of the closet (probably literally in some cases) and really deal with this.

    Reply
  11. SC et al. I’ve been following the thoughts of you all and thanks, many thanks for your wisdom. And yes, SC, I agree, not all who use porn are addicts. As my mentor Don Jones once said, the problem with unconscious sex is not the sex, it’s the unconscious part. Porn can be a great adjunct to conscious sex. I’d love to hear more personal stories of men who have found the sacredness of their sexuality; who have defeated that shame dragon. I’ve often thought that a man who has not embraced the beauty and magnificence of his sexual being is a man who is split against himself. I judge it is time for us to reclaim our wholeness around our sexualty and our sacredness.

    Reply
  12. I love looking at women through life in the real time or porn I don’t get looking at men as well so girls only. I really love the feamale form I do not like fat and obese bodies but healthy shaply bodies are great. I feel no guilt doing so I think its natural for both men and women to enjoy looking at healthy fit bodies that poss why there are soo many people on this planet.

    Reply
  13. Jayson,

    Great conversation, great topic, love the stats. Stunning…

    It’s all about presence and what are you willing to feel. Whether it’s reaching for something to alter state or avoiding something to manage state.

    Enjoying the depth…

    In Strength,
    Shawn

    Reply
  14. Not everyone is raised with the “shame dragon” regarding sex (great term… I may borrow that) or has to overcome it. When I became sexually active in college I was baffled when people I was dating actually apologized for enjoying their own orgasm. Seemed odd to me.

    As for porn, I was about 20 before I had access it to any significant degree and by them I already had a pretty well-formed idea of what I wanted in a relationship, and had been raised to treat a partner with respect and depth of affection.

    In hindsight, I think it would have messed up my expectations and attitudes if I’d had regular access to porn in junior high or the early years of high school (as people do now with the Internet).

    The main reason I don’t enjoy porn videos is I feel bad for the people acting in them. I’d rather read erotic stories or see “solo” photos, which seems less abusive. And I wouldn’t want it to take the place of a loving relationship.

    Reply
  15. I am confused by so much moral/value-based discussion on porn. My deal is, “do you do porn, or does porn do you?” While I am an infrequent
    porn consumer (~1-2 hours per week…sometimes…depends), I am massively into expressing myself sexually in ways that are genuine, feel good, achieve a level of connection with my partner or partners, and fold into exploration and adventure…and sometimes Porn is part of the mix…

    Judgmental notions like ‘addict’, ‘bad boy’ etc. do not seem to to help the debate. Now each of us must decide where we lie on the spectrum of users vs. abusers…to what extent Porn/visual sexual cues add to our lives, harm our lives etc…

    I do not have the answers…but this I know. I have met many interesting women who engage in reasonably wild sex with strangers…for many reasons…and I suspect they may be driven by some of the same reasons that some guys put Porn into a center position in their lives. I have a lot more learning/exploring to do….off to do that now!

    Reply
  16. So porn huh?

    There seems to be a fine line between porn and nude art. Basically I think if you are in a relationship you need to be open and honest. Both professionally and recreationally I look at ‘art’ which often borders on out right porn. I’m honest with my girlfriend and she feels free to say when something bothers her. I value her over any painting/picture and if something is a no go with her, I respect her feelings. If porn is something you feel you need to hide or becomes before your relationships, then you have a problem that should be fixed. If you can guilt free let your significant others look at your internet history and pleasantly talk about any issues that come up, then it seems to me you are just fine.

    Reply
  17. Great insight… I always found this seclusion and fear of discovery odd, but only up to a point. Coming from a group of friends who all discovered their dad’s porn magazines at an early age, we never felt the stigma attached to it.. just seemed natural to have a porn collection.

    Now we’re all in our late 20s and we have no shame about having porn kicking around on the computer.. hell we frequently share it amongst ourselves. But admit to using it as some sort of release (or god forbid, the M-word), never in a million years. Now that’s as funny as it is tragic.

    In the end it all comes down to another form of drug, I guess. The kind we all admit to having, but we must never say we enjoy using it, or why.

    Reply
  18. Man, this was actually sane.

    I have been mystified at the “porn addiction” or “internet addiction” labels. Men supposedly think about sex once every 3 seconds. If that’s true, what could possibly constitute addiction.

    My own porn viewing has varied depending on my age, relationship status, and how well my life was going. It’s escape. But I know people who watch 40 hours of tv a week. That’s less pleasure, but the same behavior – avoiding whatever is going wrong with you life, procrastination, lack of motivation, whatever.

    Instead of “why am I looking at porn” the question should be simply “why aren’t I doing something productive?” Addiction: bs.

    Reply
  19. Great discussion. Thanks for pulling the curtain back. I’ve been wrestling w/ “the porn thing” for many years. My ultimate verdict(s) are still out. I still sit with the question of what constitutes “the clean surf”. When is porn not based on some kind of avoidance of inter/intrapsychic experience? When is it actually a healthy endeavor? At this point, for myself, I can confidently say that my surfing is NOT “clean” (wow, i just caught the unfortunate pun. sorry.) At one level, I am acutely aware of how porn serves as very distinct release of anxious energy for me. I would elaborat on another level. The psychological level. Thru time well spent paying close attention to my thoughts, emotions, physical sensations while surfing, I have also gained incredible insights into my own personal psychology being played out. This is particularly revealed by the kind of porn I seek out. Exploring the underpinnings of my porn surfing have allowed me to understand many repressed aspects of my entire psyche not merely its sexual dimension. I’ve been able to integrate these abandoned “parts” of myself further into my my life, bringing them out of the darkness of shame. Having a partner with whom I can share my experiences has been invaluable to this process and my personal growth, not to mention the profound deepening of our intimacy and relationship.

    Be curious, explore what is happening for you when you surf. It’s likely a huge doorway to your own personal growth.

    Thanks again for blowing the door wide open, bro!

    Reply
  20. Friends. Since this post which has had over 4500 people read it, I have been doing a bit more research. A woman’s blog (http://www.alphawomen.com) asked me to write a post there for them and here’s the link.

    http://bit.ly/GLLuL

    I go into more detail about the hidden harm of the porn industry and how we men play a role in that.

    Check it out and thanks so much for all your thoughtful and insightful comments.

    Jayson

    Reply
  21. Good article.
    The straw man is saying that religious and conservative organizations tab sex as bad and wrong. It’s much like the same groups getting the hit for other people misquoting scriptures, such as the ‘the love of money is the root of all evil’. People will leave out ‘love of’ and simply say “Pastor Sheets told us that money is the root of all evil”.

    I don’t know one church going husband who thinks sex stinks, is bad or wrong. It’s all about context. Sex is great inside the confines God established. Sex outside of marriage leads to the same things you talk about here; shame, guilt, loss of trust, bonds broken, etc.

    All in all, thanks for tackling the subject.

    Reply
  22. This is such a great conversation! I’m a woman who was married to a man with a porn addiction so great that he couldn’t even have sex with me. It took making myself look and act like the women he saw for hours everyday online to finally get him to pay any attention to me. It was so hurtful to me because even though we were now having sex, it wasn’t real. It was all fake. He wasn’t having sex with me, he was having sex with an actress (fun sometimes but not all the time). I totally agree with the idea that men often look at porn because they are afraid of intimacy. Often, I fear, that is partly the fault of women who don’t lift and support their partners, but rather berate them. In this case, of course a man would rather participate in sex with a mute, seemingly accepting “partner” rather than one he can’t be vulnerable with. I appreciate that Jayson and the other commenters are openly discussing how this could be a challenge remedied not only by the man exploring the core of his life, but also a loving partner. Still, as supportive as I was of my husband (I even bought him a camera and supported him in his desire to take artistic pictures of naked women) in the long run it only ended up being a relationship where I gave everything and he took most of it. Again, there were underlying reasons for his porn addictions. I don’t think it had much to do with sex.

    I don’t have the answers, but I do agree that the path of wholeness is up to each individual and that this open dialogue and discussion is a great way to exploring possible answers and healing.

    Reply
  23. Perhaps you could define ‘Hooker’ for me. What makes a person a ‘Hooker’? In your professional opinion, of course. Since you seem to know so goddamn much.
    Her’s what you should do, go out grow up a little, do whatever comes into your little professional head, and come back when you’ve been married for twenty years.
    When you do that, you might have something to say to me. For now, you are a babbling idiot.

    Reply
  24. Porn can be great for intimacy! The key is to watch it proudly with 100% openness. In fact, my girlfriend highly encourage I watch porn before we have sex together. Instead of a lame casual sex lasting 10 minutes, with PORN, we fuck with vigor that lasted for hours. I’m hornier, more expressive, and more passionate in our love making with porn than without. Porn has actually gotten us closer with more satisfying intimacy.

    Porn works for us because neither me nor my girlfriend are sexually repressed. We use it to enhanced “our” sex life instead of using it as a substitute fo each other. In summary, porn is good when it is share between partners. Porn is bad if it is used to replaced partners.

    Reply
  25. @melissa
    Melissa it’s great that you tried to deal with it.
    I found out my husband was surfing porn on my very first business trip for a new job. I was devastated.
    It made me feel as though I weren’t meeting all his needs and desires, even though our sex life was, well I thought, great at the time.
    I also felt as though I could never ‘be’ what those woman were, perfect bodies etc. which resulted in my pushing him away for weeks.
    We had a really rough time, and any trust I had was broken, and still hasn’t returned. He made me feel as though I were to blame, in saying after months, when I still didn’t trust him, that I needed to get over it.
    Now just two days ago, when I felt something wasn’t quite right, had a look at his registry and sure enough he was at it again when I was away for 5 days…
    I’ve tried, but I view this as infidelity and I’ve had enough of it. Enough of promises of never doing it again and enough of feeling as though I’m not good enough.
    There’s no excuse for it, if men want more in bed, more fantasy then just say! That’s all you have to do! Most wives and partners would make sure your needs were met, and that includes myself (if I’d been afforded the opportunity).
    As to women surfing porn, I myself don’t do it….but if other’s are and they’re in a relationship, then they’re no better than the men who are doing it….

    Reply
  26. I identified with your saying – we do it when there is some discomfort inside. Masturbation seems to be the quick way out and any stimulus that excites sexually works for a while.

    I was procrastinating my discomfort-masturbation-free trial. Thank you for prodding.

    Reply
  27. This post really bothered me, for several reasons

    1) It is based on the entirely untrue assumption that men are the only one with any interest or who derive any pleasure from porn.
    2) It makes the assumption that enjoying porn is the same as using it as an aversion. Sometimes it can be a celebration of sex, sometimes it can be used as ‘temporary substitute intimacy’ when someone doesn’t have a regular partner (which, in moderation, can be healthier than repressing the feelings). It doesn’t necessarily become a samsara-related activity at all.

    The whole thing strikes me as coming from a very puritan angle.

    Reply
    • Jeremy,

      1. I do not assume women do not surf porn, but the stats are clear, very few women surf porn.
      2. I don’t see porn as enjoyable. The porn culture is rife with abuse, misogyny, and imbalanced power dynamics between men and women. Sure, certain types of adult content, be it porn or otherwise, can be a great celebration of life, sex and intimacy. Porn trains boys and men to be turned on by certain images. It is a very narrow and limited view of sex. If young boys think by watching porn that that is how to treat women and how to get pleasure, we rob them of what sex is really about.

      Rather than puritanical, I come from a feminist view on porn. I suggest you do some homework, interview women on this subject, and read “Getting Off, Pornography and the End of Masculinity.” By Robert Jensen.

      Reply
  28. My someday husband didn’t hide his porn surfing very well, and then when I found a link to someone’s website looking for a “date” I confronted him. In the nicest way possible I asked him what I was lacking and why he would look at porn when I was right there all the time for him. He didn’t have an answer. He has never been able to tell me WHY he does it, just that he does. I told him it makes me feel inadequate and he said that it shouldn’t. But it does. We had a good long talk about it and then I just figured what the hell, we’re still having sex, he’s not on the computer 24 hours a day looking at it, and he still has sex with me without having to watch it so, why not. I’m glad to have a little more insight into it now. I just might make him read this article.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Your husband’s porn use has nothing to do with you, even if he said it did. A lot of men will claim their partner doesn’t attract them anymore as a way to justify going to porn. BS. The more a married man uses porn however, the more he trains his mind to be “turned on” by certain imagery which, in porn, is all the same—Man is the aggressor, woman is passively “taking it.”

      Continue to work on cultivating your connection over and over. Also work with your own inadequacy feelings. The more you feel self-confident, the more attractive you are to yourself and others.

      Reply
  29. Jayson,
    Dude this is exactly it as far as I am aware. Whenever life gets tough, I use porn. When it goes great, I don’t. For me it has always been about finding a way to FEEL something anything rather than the numbness I have in my body. Not feeling empowered in making decisions that fundamentally effect how I am dealing with my life is the trigger, which is why I so believe in what you do. I decided to do Landmark Education and have felt more empowered than I ever did…so, less to have to avoid. It all fits! For me, I dont have a pull toward it when I am able to fully express to a woman how I feel. I am willing to be vulnerable and share and open my heart. When my heart is open, I really “get” there is a real person on that screen

    @Jeremy
    I wanted to address both your points…
    1) He never said it was only men, just that it was mostly men. The stats are up there. But this post was directed at men, which I guess is what Jay knows more about
    2) Saying that watching porn is a celebration of sex is like saying a bacon sandwich is a celebration of animal life. Take part in sex, and celebrate it from within. And, if we are single, why should it be only when we have a woman in our life that we are only able to express our sexuality? Why need to repress it being single? I do really believe that we are just avoiding being responsible for our sexuality by using it as a “temporary” measure. Besides, is that all woman are for us? Masturbation cardboard cutouts? There’s a real person on that screen. Not a shot of sexual tranquillizer to stop us from getting too randy. If thats why you feel it is justified in between relationships, I would really ask you to look at how you are with them when there is a woman around…can’t see her liking that reality of who she would be to you too much!

    Reply
  30. @marc –

    1) the article was written solely addressing men, making it seem like this is a ‘male problem’ that women have to ‘suffer through’. I’d say the lack of even acknowledging that many women watch and enjoy porn causes a more shameful effect on many women’s already misunderstood and misvalued sexuality than anything I said in my comment.

    2) you dont have to kill someone to make porn. I don’t agree with your analogy. Also, i’m not sure why you think having visual representations of sex while self-pleasuring is a ‘repression when single’

    I do not believe that women are ‘cardbord cutouts’. Far from it. I think the overall assumption that women (and men) in porn are not wholly in control of what they’re doing (though certainly there are some examples of those who are in bad situations) is an assumption that is not true. Having met a few folks who are in the industry, they are not ashamed of what they do, and many are proud to be inspirations for arousal. Do you think the men in porn are cardboard cutouts too, or is it only the women who you claim are ‘victims’? What about female porn directors? Are they being duped into being ‘sexual tranquilizers’?

    When people are acting, be it oscar winners or x-rated movies, they channel themselves through their performance. So, no I dont claim to know everything about an adult movie star, nor would i claim to know everything about Matt Damon, but i can appreciate their performance and the affect it has on me and be grateful that they are committing it to film. And isn’t that the point?

    Reply
  31. I’ve been a porn addict for over a decade now and have never really discussed it with anyone. It’s a filthy little habit I’ve been hiding from the world. Glad to see in the article that I’m not alone out there. Well after I read the article on September 22nd, I decided to quit porn cold turkey. And its been a difficult few days so far. Hopefully I can keep it up. My goal is to get to three months without porn. Which would be this Christmas. Cheer my on, guys!

    Reply
  32. It’s been one week porn free. VERY DIFFICULT!!! But very rewarding. Noticing how much more free time I have, and I’m starting feel a lot more self-esteem. It feels good to be in control of myself and my habits. Thanks, Jayson!

    Reply
    • Congrats! Stay with it!

      Reply
  33. Overall, I agree with everything you said. I’d like, however, to address one point.

    I’m not claiming to be an expert, and I don’t intend to make any blanket statements. Please, spare me the flames, it’s just a potential topic for consideration…

    It seems to be almost universally accepted that porn is bad for the participants. Every mention of the subject doesn’t seem complete without an aside to how demeaning and misogynistic the whole industry is. I have to wonder at the HUGE popularity of “amateur” porn. Now, I realize there are faked amateur scenes, but there are lots of very real amateur scenes, filmed with the sole intent of sharing sex between genuinely, and equally, turned-on adults.

    I must admit, my own quests for internet porn consist of my sorting through all the fake tits and fake pleasure, in search of a couple ACTUALLY ENJOYING the experience.

    Is it the “middle path” to throw out the baby with the bath water? In our quest to reclaim our masculine identities, we must tread carefully the line between sincere, considered opinion and parroting the party line from women.

    Certainly, it helps to take a stance supporting the women’s POV, if for no other reason than it gets us interviewed on women’s sites and journals. Without the disclaimer at the top, you probably wouldn’t have gotten a woman to read further.

    Jayson, I’m not saying you don’t, but I’d like to humbly point out one of your other titles, “Have The Balls To Tell The Truth”.

    Reply
  34. I am going to be one of your detractors on this article. I strongly disagree with your entire premise.

    I’m a frequent (almost daily) porn viewer, and would not say it’s to “check out-” it’s actually a way of “checking in” to sexual feelings and the natural human magnetism we all exert on each other. Nor has been a detriment to my relationships with women. On the contrary, it’s been a source of rich and rewarding talks about sexuality, and something to share in our relationships. When we’re separated by distance, we’ll often send porn we like to each other to express our sexual bond, or better yet, make our own for each other. It’s true, not all women enjoy it. Many of them do.

    You speak of it as if it is necessarily harmful. While I’ve certainly seen porn I object to, much of it strikes me as a very empowered celebration of sexuality, and a confrontation of the things about it that make us uncomfortable, rather than an escape from them.

    To describe regular porn watching as “an addiction” is to buy into a puritanical idea of what it’s about, and is as ridiculous as describing someone’s frequent enjoyment of, say, Moroccan food, as “an addiction.” Addictions are described as such because they interfere with our lives, hopes and dreams, and cripple us in some way. Porn is simply a normal part of my otherwise greatly fulfilling life, a life blessed with many rich, honest, and intimate relationships- both romantic and platonic ones with women, friendly ones with men, professional ones…

    In a day when movies like “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” are mainstream theater releases, it’s a little odd to talk about it as if men are “ashamed,” or “hide it.” I certainly don’t. While I don’t go out of my way to bring it up, for the same reasons we hold many personal things within our private space, nor do I consider it at all shameful.

    And as reflected in “Zack and Miri,” I find it startlingly pessimistic to think the usual lack of intimacy in porn translates to a crippled capacity for intimacy in our everyday & sexual lives. To me, that human bond is so strong, so deeply hard-wired within us, that it’s not easily broken.

    And sometimes, sex that is more bold than intimate, more transgressive than loving is a tremendously vital and empowering experience. I know many women for whom those kinds of adventures have been treasured peak moments of life. They are experiences that only highlight the rewards of loving & intimate sex. It’s just nice to have different flavors sometimes, you know?

    Power relationships are another whole topic unto themselves, and while I recognize that in the making of porn they often are misogynistic and unhealthy, I challenge how broadly this is so, or that it necessarily is at all. Women embracing their roles as performers and producers of porn is a common situation, and a very empowering one for them. Not to recognize this is actually quite paternalistic.

    I could go on for quite awhile longer on this topic, but it’s lunchtime and I’m in the mood for Moroccan food.

    Reply
    • Chris,

      Remember where you speak from–privilege and power. You are a man and it is likely you have not experienced the constant barrage of sexual intrusion, objectification, and rape that women face every day all over the world.

      Good for you bro. I’m glad you have found a way to use porn that serves you and others whom you are with. But that doesn’t mean other men or women share your experience.

      If a man thinks he has a porn addiction, that is his truth and his experience. To question him or make him wrong for his experience is naive. Just b/c it does not affect you in the same way it affects others is arrogant and quite judgmental. Some men feel quite ashamed. Again, good for you that you don’t, but it is critical for some men to experience shame fully before they can “get over it.”

      Paternalistic? Wow bro. Once again, you speak from a place of privileged and power having no direct experience what it is like to be taken advantage of, as many women are in the porn industry. I strongly recommend you do you homework before you make such bold generalizations about how many women are “embracing” their roles as porn performers. Try reading any solid read by Robert Jensen, Andrea Dworkin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrea_Dworkin) and interviewing folks directly impacted by the porn industry and aggression and violence toward women.

      Of course some people touch into their pleasure using porn and I celebrate “conscious” sexuality in all it’s forms. Sex, shared in an open way, is a vehicle for waking up.

      Your comments, without considering deeply a woman’s experience are naive. I suggest you invite 10 really conscious, feminist-type women over and just listen for an hour or two without talking. Then let’s talk.

      Reply
  35. Hey all….excellent topic

    A few things come to mind after reading the post and comments:

    I happenned to be learning to play this song the night before I read this post, and found new meaning in this line:

    KOL – Use Somebody:
    “Painted faces fill the places I can’t reach”

    – For me, I have used porn to fill the places I can’t reach for sure…but I’ve used other things 2…drugs,alcohol, or even TV. Sometimes though it’s just fun, I love women…nothing so serious.

    – From what I see, porn in and of itself is niether good or bad, unhealthy or healthy, that depends on the perspective of person and whether they are conscious about what they are doing.

    -For the women out there, please understand that when a guy uses porn it has to do with what’s going on inside him, NOT YOU. The same goes for your reaction if you find out..try and understand why you feel the way you feel deeper than the porn itself, and if the issue is about trust and openness, then make it about that not porn…porn is just a trigger.

    I hope this helps somebody out there

    John

    Reply
  36. Jayson – great topic.

    I thought porn and masturbation were fine…. till I found myself lying to my lady, and feeling shame. When I got conscious of that, and still found myself surfing & JO’ing, it was time to come to the realization that this was – without question – an addiction.

    So I spent some time with Sexaholics Anonymous – 12 step program. Lo and behold in the first couple weeks I found out that porn & masturbation were effects. LUST was the cause. And when I started getting a line on lust, it was pretty scary how it’d kind of driven my life…. and my relationships with women during my entire adult life.

    SA says that lust is more than just an attitude or a feeling. Lust is a spiritual dis-ease. It causes us to objectify women… rationalize our behavior… withdraw from presence…and it eats away at the spirit. Wow, that was a huge realization for me.

    Have you ever been in a restaurant with a woman you love and kept getting distracted by the waitress with the short skirt and low-cut top? Guess how your woman feels about that. Lust.

    You’re a pretty upright guy – very authentic, self-aware. Until you’re around a beautiful, sexy woman. Then you get a little nervous… or cocky… or slip into a seductive line of discussion. That woman is a no more than a sex object to you. Lust.

    You’re happily married. But you found a little niche online – maybe Facebook, or some dating site, or a chat site – where you occasionally have some lusty “but harmless” dialog with one or several women. Or you’re surfing for porn. You’re expending your sexual energy outside your relationship. Lust.

    I’ve been active in men’s groups for years. I can probably count on one hand the number of times a man has done some work around porn or masturbation. In my experience, SA is a better vehicle for learning to manage lust.

    Reply
  37. Jayson, I think you’re denying my experience and the experience of many *feminist* women I’ve been fortunate enough to have intimate relationships with in the past and present. I challenge you to ask yourself if you’re not being rigid and closed yourself, assuming that I haven’t listened to “feminist-type” women about this. Surely you understand that the mantle of feminism is taken up by women of many different points of view. And frankly, take a look in the mirror to see arrogant and judgmental.

    “Then let’s talk?” Patronizing much?

    Yes, much porn is made in a way that’s predatory to women. Many office & factory jobs are constructed in ways that are predatory to the people who work them, too. The problem is not inherent to porn, it is a human problem. Overcoming our delusional shame over our fondness for sexually explicit material is the best way we can fight the terrible conditions and nurture the positive ones.

    You are right that women all over the world experience a barrage of sexual intrusion. I would argue that this is a result of men not understanding how to express their sexuality in a healthy way, a problem that is worse the more repression there is. Women want to be seen as sexy. They want to be appreciated as sexual beings. When we own our sexual desire and bring with it full appreciation and presence (to use AMP’s great conceptual framework), it becomes one of the best things about life.

    No, not all porn is healthy. But done right (even done wrong and then discussed openly) it is an important and valid part of our shared sexuality. Where are women more respected and equal? In the US, where porn is freely available, or in Saudi Arabia, China, or under the Taliban, where it is outlawed? Worldwide, there is a strong inverse correlation between the availability of porn and violence against women.

    I’m familiar with Andrea Dworkin, and surprised to see you endorsing such a radically sex-negative “feminist.” I disagree with her powerfully. I know many strong, independent, fabulous women who do as well. I know you are sincere and trying to do your best, but your condescending response and hidebound ideology have lost you quite a bit of credibility with me as a “men’s coach.”

    Reply
    • Chris,

      Great points. Between you and Emily below, I feel more open to a conversation about all feminist views on porn. True, i was patronizing. Thanks for calling me on that. And thanks for bringing your truth here. It’s comments like yours that make me a better blogger and keep me sharpening my sword.

      As a man, I need to hear from all women, including the Andrea Dworkin’s of the world who have been beaten, raped, and humiliated. They need my ear. And I feel called to listen. And, as you point out, to listen to all perspectives and open the door further to my own limiting views and perspectives.

      Thanks

      Reply
  38. Oh, Jayson-

    Please know that I very much appreciated your article about the paradox of inner game, that was referred to me by AMP. I’m disappointed in your tone here, but that was good.

    While we are sharing favorite feminists, I hope you will check out the life and work of feminist & porn star Nina Hartley. She is just one outstanding example of a woman embracing her role in porn as a way to empower people with their sexualities, and has been a tireless advocate for the rights and dignity of sex workers. I think she and Annie Sprinkle both make valuable contributions to our national conversation about sexuality.

    There is a wonderful documentary about her at http://www.nina.eroto.com/ – the page isn’t loading for me right now, but I hope it will work for you.

    I find the approach that she, Annie Sprinkle, and others take to be much more positive and empowering to women than people like Andrea Dworkin’s insistence on victim status.

    Reply
  39. Hi, Jayson.

    I’m a doctoral student in sociology doing research on feminist pornography, and I am very interested in how men use and think about porn. I appreciate you tackling this topic, but I have quite a few comments and questions about this post. (I apologize in advance for the tome this is certain to become!)

    Generally, it seems like you’re taking a very problem-centered approach to the topic. After reading your qualifications I realized that your experience involves treatment and counseling, not research. I would imagine you mostly hear from men who are having negative experiences with porn and/or intimacy, and come talk to you about how to overcome these problems. They mention their porn use to you as a therapy topic, and so it is no wonder issues of shame and trouble with partners are mentioned. I definitely applaud this effort, as I know people of all genders can have difficulties related to sexuality that should be addressed with therapy.

    However, you should consider that this does not give you an accurate depiction of “most” men or even the “average” man. This is a self-selected group of men who have come to you with problems, and so it makes sense that you would start to see porn use as generally problematic for men. Without including data from random-sample surveys or qualitative studies including men who do not feel that porn is a problem for them, I question the validity of your conclusions and would ask you to consider re-framing your professional experience as that which primarily deals with self-identified “troubled” men. How might your conclusions change if you talk to men and women who lead active, healthy sex lives that involve pornography?

    I would also challenge your premise that no one talks about porn and sexuality. People may not always discuss sex in a productive way, but as your blog and hundreds of others illustrate, people are definitely talking. You might read Foucault’s History of Sexuality vol. 1 in which he discusses the repressive hypothesis; he argues that our culture actually proliferates discourse on sexuality, and if you look at virtually any modern medium (internet, TV, movies, magazines, books, journals, etc.) you will see that this is true– porn has been a very hot topic of the last few decades, and has largely consumed feminist discourse with its ubiquity. You may be interested to know that there is actually a field of research dedicated to the scholarship of pornography. What do you think is lacking in the discourse about porn?

    You state, “The porn industry itself condones the abuse of power men have over women…”

    I believe this statement does something very dangerous: it homogenizes the porn industry under the blanket charge of patriarchy. I will not argue that historically the industry has been dominated by this power dynamic, but I think it’s important to contextualize this statement and provide specific examples. I would also encourage you to explore parts of the industry that directly challenge this dynamic, such as the Feminist Porn Awards (http://www.goodforher.com/Feminist_Porn_Awards.html).

    As Chris mentioned above, women like Annie Sprinkle and Nina Hartley are feminist sex performers who encourage the use of porn as part of healthy sexual exploration for both men and women. Add to this list Tristan Taormino, Audacia Ray, Candida Royalle, Betty Dodson, Shine Louise Houston, and many many others. Also, check out Peggy and Tony Comstock’s production company, which features real-life couples having sex in a documentary-style. The porn industry is complex and diverse, and it does a disservice to subsume these powerful, innovative, brilliant women (and men) who produce quality pornography under the umbrella of patriarchy. Perhaps the men who come to you with problems don’t need to stop watching porn, they need to watch DIFFERENT porn.

    You say further, “many porn sites have aggressive imagery…”

    This is true, and there are many porn producers such as Rob Black & Lizzie Borden who have been sanctioned for showing aggressive imagery that goes too far, especially since consent was not transparent and reasonably established. However, I am wary of sweeping statements about “aggressive imagery,” because many men and women find aggression in sexuality very erotic and empowering, and I believe this can be done in a safe, sane way that enriches sexual experience. For examples, please see kink.com, as well as Tristan Taormino’s Rough Sex series and Penny Flame’s Guide to Rough Sex.

    Last, “…and what the industry teaches or trains us about our sexuality are all important issues that need to be addressed.”

    I completely agree with this statement! There are important issues that need to be addressed. I am just not sure that we share a clear picture about what the issues actually are or how to address them.

    Thanks for bearing with me– I welcome your response.

    Reply
    • Emily.

      Excellent comments! You and Chris are helping me see a wider lens. True, my stance is a problem centered as many men I deal with it is labled and treated as a problem. The men are not “troubled” nor would I label them as such. However, they “feel” troubled and ashamed, scared, angry, etc.

      And yes, I am generalizing a great deal. Here’s another sweeping generalization—most people are very locked up when it comes to sex and their sexuality, which is the real issue here.

      Lastly, you mention the larger context of sexuality here which is the deeper issue. When sex or porn is done in a “conscious” or open hearted way, and when two lovers can express themselves openly (with an open heart), sex and porn become a service to open others, a vehicle to touch the ultimate, to experience God, to become one, all through the healing power of love. I believe too often porn is in the “animal” realm of human consciousness. Tantra on the other hand sees sexuality as the route to enlightenment and freedom. When sex becomes a spiritual practice perhaps anything goes.

      Thanks for your wisdom and factual notes to support your view. Very helpful and I’m learning a lot from your comments. Keep ‘em coming!

      Reply
      • Liz, Great comment. Thanks! what’s the link? I’ll put it in there

        Jayson

        Reply
  40. Thank you for discussing this with me! Sometimes I wonder why I do the work I do, and it’s great to have a reminder about why this topic is so important.

    I definitely did not intend to use a stigmatizing label of “troubled” for men who seek counseling about sexual issues! If any person is feeling troubled, ashamed, etc. about a behavior then it is indeed a problem for him/her, and not something to be trivialized or disparaged. I was just inquiring if this sample has shaped your perceptions about porn and the role it plays in men’s lives. I think it would be valuable to preface posts like this with something like, “IF you experience porn as a problem, THEN here are some solutions you should think about.”

    I am not blindly pro-porn regardless of the consequences; I feel like porn is a bit like alcohol in that way. It can be a healthy, relaxing, enjoyable addition to your life, but it could also be a destructive force in one’s life if used improperly (which is subjective). I object to implications some people make that porn will necessarily lead to addiction, misogyny, shame, or any other negative experience. That is subjectively and empirically untrue.

    You mentioned this experience: “One client recently told me when he feels anxious, he goes to porn, gets the job done and feels less anxious for a little while.” I wonder… is that such a bad thing? Obviously I haven’t talked with this client, but just based on that statement I wouldn’t identify porn as the problem. People have all kinds of anxieties and frustrations in life– why not use porn (or a glass of wine, or a good movie) to distract yourself for a little while? These things won’t solve any deeper conflicts, but I don’t believe they would (necessarily) contribute to them, either.

    I think using porn as part of a spiritual sexual experience the way you describe is a great thing, but not the only kind of experience that is valid and enriching. Sometimes I simply watch porn to get aroused, have a fantastic orgasm or three, and go to sleep naked and satisfied. I do experience that as a form of loving myself, but experiencing God really isn’t a part of it– and I think that’s okay.

    My point is just that Tantric sex with a partner is fantastic, but in my view it is not the only fulfilling way to experience porn or sexuality.

    Something also occurred to me while reading this and looking around the site a bit more: this is a very hetero-centric discussion. I’m not sure if that’s deliberate or not, but I wonder if you have thought about the way gay men relate to porn by themselves or with a partner? This mostly takes any misogynist element out of the equation (I believe some gay men may watch porn involving women but I imagine that’s more rare), though gay porn has its issues, too. Do you work with queer men or women at all?

    Reply
    • Emily. I so dig your comments here. You continue to inform me of new, critical perspectives. Thanks! Have you seen this? MakeLoveNotPorn.com?

      check it out: watch the 4 min video and let me know what you think! http://blog.ted.com/2009/12/cindy_gallop_ma.php

      Reply
  41. Thank you Jayson. Your ability to take responsibility for your words allowed the conversation to really open up. (imho). Emily, right on and thank you. Chris – I have a tough time with your opinions and it gives me a very good place to look at some of my own power and fear of power dynamics.

    What I keep noticing in myself is the importance of consciousness – am I being conscious about my use of porn? Have I slipped into a place of being zoned out or out of touch with my own values or commitments? In Jungian parlance, am I shoving my use of porn (or my relationship to power, or connection to women, or ability to feel fully) into shadow? When the pendulum swings that way – my use of porn has been hugely destructive to my relationships and my own self esteem.

    When I am conscious not only of how I am engaged, but also wide awake about the content that I am engaging with [the porn itself] it’s a very different story. In the last 6 years I have moved to a much healthier emotional place and I am in a relationship in which I feel seen and valued and respected for who I am … and consequently my use of porn is infrequent. When I notice myself being attracted to porn, there is usually a lack of connection to my driving force or sense of purpose in the world. Little crises of confidence.

    As for the feminist framing … my experience with the experts is that they are brilliant thinkers and powerful analysts, and subject to the same unconscious denials as the rest of us. I believe that they dismiss or deny the more slippery emotional states, interpersonal histories or gender dynamics in favor of an argument that makes too much of the institutions [the blanketing that Emily was referring to]. They are, as I might say to a guy in my circle, ‘in their heads’. Getting in touch with their bodies and the subtle energies might be helpful.

    Reply
  42. Other motivations that I haven’t seen mentioned much:
    1) Sometimes, sexuality needs to be expressed alone. Masturbation is a healthy part of a sexual identity and doesn’t reflect at all upon the quality of the sex that exists in a relationship. “Porn” (here including pictures, movies, and apparently even erotic stories) is a commonly used tool for masturbation. Think of it like a man’s mental vibrator.

    2) Sometimes, one partner in a relationship is simply not as interested in sex as the other, and porn is a tool to take up the slack. Sure, “talk it out” is fine, but some people fundamentally require less sex, and their partner either needs to work out some unequal “service agreement”, or just takes care of the problem alone.

    Reply
  43. This article feels really incomplete to me. On one hand you advocate giving up porn, therefore implying that there's something wrong with looking at porn. But then you suggest getting over the shame and guilt. But, you've just made it feel wrong! So of course people will feel shameful about it. It's like the “just abstain from sex” argument. People aren't programmed to abstain from sex. And the statistics are quickly showing that abstinence only education doesn't work in schools. Lots and lots of men who seek an outlet for their sexual energy find that porn is a quick-release. “Just abstain” + “but let your shame go” + “even though it's wrong” isn't enough to change the behavior.

    So… what's wrong with porn? Why is it bad to look at it? How does it hurt the relationship? And I don't mean, how does it hurt women… because as a woman, I already know that side of it. How does it hurt a man to look at porn if he still loves and cares for his partner and gives her attention?

    If you suggest that someone let go of their shame, to me, that implies that it's time to accept porn for what it is… and not vilify the activity.

    I'm not entirely convinced that porn is bad. That said, I've been in situations where I found my partner's porn use to be pretty distasteful. But there were also mitigating circumstances… I'd found out that he was actively engaging in flirtation and various forms of cheating. The porn use just seemed and extension of that. Before the cheating, I wasn't bothered by his porn use. After the cheating, everything in my mind became an extension of his desire to cheat, including his desire for porn imagery. But, that's my own baggage to work out.

    For me, porn content is important. If a man is just attracted to imagery of the female body, that seems pretty darn reasonable. That's how men are wired! But, if a man's porn is about forceful blow-jobs, or rape scenarios, or involves a lot of degrading behavior, my attraction to that man disappears.

    My point is, it's not a black and white issue. And until you leverage a good argument to men about WHY it's harmful… emotionally, psychologically, or otherwise… and I mean, an argument backed up by science, not backed up by some vague morality, even I won't buy the argument.

    -RR

    Reply
  44. Hey Jason,

    When I searched why men surf porn this was exactly the type of discussion I was
    looking for.

    I have also felt some guilt and shame due to porn surfing and a friend suggested to me that I should spend some time trying to figure out why I surf porn in order to better understand myself…so here I am.

    I work in an all male enviroment, so the topic comes up from time to time and there is always the cross section of opinions from the ” I do a little ” with a smirk, ” my wife caught me so I can't anymore ” with a laugh, ” it doesn't so anything for me ” , ” it's just wrong ” seriously judgemental and the ” my friends the cop says the whole industry is corrupt and the illegal content is rampant “.

    The possibility of illegal content wasn't appealing and I'd never seen anything that looked illegal but I thought I better educate myself on this matter.

    Here's where it gets weird IMO. Some of the sights that do proper record keeping and are linked to the ASACP seem to have content that doesn't look appropriate, ie the
    barely legal / 18 & 19 year olds that look too young to be in this business.

    I'm in my 40's and don't like to judge others by what feels right for me, however, I'm not sure 18 year old girls really have the capacity to fully understand the decision to be involved in making pornography. I think that's where some of the guilt and shame comes from as I don't want to support anyone who is exploiting or taking advantage of someone who is vunerable and so I tend to stay with the more mature stuff, but still I sometimes feel uneasy about the whole thing.

    Perhaps, as it's been suggested some of our feelings are due to the fact that we're searching the wrong kind of porn & just need to find the right forum to explore our sexuality.

    Thanks to everyone for sharing so we can all learn more about ourselves.

    Reply
  45. Grow up mr. Scott. It's his opinion.

    Reply
  46. I just want to say, “Thank you Chris and Emily for opening my eyes up.”

    What I ultimately learned out of this is that, even “gurus,” “mentors,” and people I look up to, while having advice that serves me, can certainly be challenged.

    So much possibility in life :)

    Dan

    Reply
  47. G'day Jason,
    Just a quick note in agreement with EmilyC. You have generalised a lot….when was the last time you came to church or a church men's group? I'm an elder of one that puts sex on the agenda a fair bit…why, just as you have pointed out, it is a hot topic. Song of Songs is a book that explores this in great detail. Great for counciling couples having issues that quite often relate to personal inhabitions or those who have distorted views of sex and intamacy due to porn addiction of one or both partners. It gets my goat that some think just because we believe in God we don't want or enjoy sex….personally if scripture was understood men should be lining up at the door each week with the wife in tow to see what happens next.

    God invented the stuff, we just enjoy it.

    God bless

    Reply
  48. Excellent observation. Porn use is most definitely mood altering…a temporary way to disengage from discontent. It is harmful to everyone and a stain on society. May we all be healed from this most wicked and distorted way of depicting our sacred sexuality.

    Reply
  49. Indeed. Porn is mood altering poison. It is nothing more than a way to disengage from our discontent. May all beings awaken out of the depraved depiction of our sacred sexualtiy.

    Reply
  50. If you scratch lust you will find utter loneliness, if you scratch utter loneliness you will find emptiness, if you sit with emptiness, it fades into fullness or the timeless wisdom of the Self, then the urge to “use” porn or anything/any body else disappears. Until a man deals with sleep, sex and food issues, he isn't even near the ball park of what you refer to as evolving manhood. And I agree web-based porn is just a popular way, unconscious humans avoid feeling and facing their fear… It was strip clubs in my youth…and many others things but that shifts with proper training of mind and heart. Hope to meet you some day Jason. A fellow part-time wild man and men's leader.

    Reply
    • Sean,

      Your comments intrigue me.

      How did you train your mind to deal with the underlying issues? What technique/program did you use? Can you summarize it (or offer a link). I don't have the money to buy another self-help book.

      Reply
  51. I enjoy it occasionally but I feel that I have to be careful and take at least 4 day breaks between views because otherwise it is easy to get addicted. There are plenty of practices to help manage your sexual energy out there without porn or even masturbation.

    Reply
  52. Depending on the survery – 30-40% of porn surfers are women.

    It's not a big deal, and the scare tactics of the new Puritans don't jibe with reality.

    Get over it.

    Reply
    • Girl here. I’ll watch porn 4 – 7 times a month. I’ve definitely noticed doing it for a distraction and mood change. I don’t think it’s healthy for my sexuality. I see things I know would hurt or humiliate me; things that disgust me; the lack of intimacy between the actors (responding to direction, faking enjoyment, wincing in pain but acting like it’s ok); editing that miseducates how to best arouse a real woman… but still get off on it. I don’t want to watch it any more – would rather put effort into finding someone I can talk about my feelings with – but it’s really difficult to shake the addiction.

      Reply
  53. Thanks for articulating some of the facets of this past time. I'm in the midst of a divorce and have been a porn addict for sometime. I need to understand this reflex and this is the first time I've read anything of practical use in assessing the condition; more therapy needs to address this.

    Reply
    • You could try http://www.yourbrainonporn.com which explains porn addiction from a neurological perspective, plus offers practical advice to free yourself from the habit.
      Hope that helps.

      Reply
  54. This is a great post and your work is so beautiful, so needed.

    I am wondering if you've looked at the universal US male experience of circumcision. As a primal, attachment therapist, I know that circumcision is deep, deep wounding for the man and it is so embedded, so covered over with compensations that it is often not considered a source of any issues. I believe it is the main source of that inner feeling you speak of. Circumcision interferes with the mother-baby relationship in profound ways. The baby was powerless and often women were the ones to tie him down and now it is even women doctors who do the procedure to an non-consenting, uninformed baby. For the baby it is torture in the moment. It defines him. The foreskin was the nerve rich tissue meant to communicate with his brain about sex, pleasure, ecstasy. His brain knows this is possible but he can never achieve what his brain tells him … unless he addresses the circumcision trauma and the loss. In my experience as a woman, I can't not even image what it was like for the male boy, for the majority of adult men in our culture right now. I think it is reflected in the images of anger and bondage in porn. Many times the baby's penis is manipulated to be erect to facilitate the circumcision .. so this is his first sexual experience. Circumcised men have to have much more visual and physical stimulation .. often to the degree of “forgetting” about his partner. He has to be rougher and it is often too fast, too rough, to void of emotions for the female partner. I think porn is the way he can be in control to get what he needs without the disruption of a partner's needs and emotions … disappointment, failure, and the opposite of what they hoped their sexual encounter would bring.. connection.

    I used to do a radio show where we discussed circumcision indepth. Podcasts are available on the blog, http://www.thoughtcrimeradio.blogspot.com. I am doing a birth film that is about and for men. The site is http://www.TheOtherSideoftheGlass.blogspot.com.

    Sending you much love for your upcoming conference ….

    Reply
    • If that's true, then we should see better mother/son relationships and less use of porn/other addictions among uncircumcised males. Can you share any statistics to back up your assertion?

      Reply
      • Uncircumcised males and a healthier relationship with their mothers? What does your question even mean? Wow.

        Reply
    • This is fascinating! I'm continually
      moved by my deepening understanding of the mind~body relationship. I loved
      this. It made me wonder what unconscious cultural beliefs about men are behind
      the cultural obsession with circumcision. . .

      Reply
  55. I like your approach, that you deal with the underlying cause of why men are attracted to porn in the first place. Usually we hear about the damaging effects of pornography on women, society, the family, and so on– all of which are true, but they are simply *external* motivators not to be involved in porn. But unless you change the *inside* ,the heart, of a man, he will not be able to stop doing something he already knows is not quite right, not quite real. I hope many men read your article and begin the difficult but wonderful journey of facing oneself.

    Reply
  56. What about the guy who has a partner who has no sex drive other than monthly or quarterly? Is it fair to him to completely kill his to honor his partner? This is why many people cheat.

    Reply
    • great question. having no sex drive is probably a symptom of something else going on. no, to kill his sex drive to collude with hers would be to abandon oneself. but perhaps there is a deeper element missing in your relationship. my guess is that it's not just about the sex

      Reply
  57. I am so enlightened by your comments. I am very concerned about my boyfriend. I think he uses porn to “not deal” with his feelings, etc… I love him dearly and he does not even know that I know about it. I am not ugly. And we are both 50. Kids gone, lots of time for sex…. I could choose to be upset as many of these girls are young, but in some ways I do understand. Its not about that. We do have fabulous sex together 2-3 times a week. I know it could be better or more frequent, even but I do not want to upset him or make him feel ashamed, and I don't want to look at porn. I just have no need for this. He is certainly man enough for me. So what do I do – I know he gets easily stressed and I think he is using it to “check out”. My fondest wish would be just for him to get in touch with why he is doing this so much and so often and share his feelings with me or a friend like you said.

    Reply
    • time to tell the truth and get even more real in your relationship. sounds like you are withholding some, my guess he is too. things sound complacently good. you can choose that, or choose to risk more.

      Reply
  58. This is fascinating! I'm continually
    moved by my deepening understanding of the mind~body relationship. I loved
    this. It made me wonder what unconscious cultural beliefs about men are behind
    the cultural obsession with circumcision. . .

    Reply
  59. I always thought guys surfed porn bc they were confusing sex for intimacy & were looking for intimacy & of course, release.

    Reply
  60. I only hide my very minimal porn use because everytime i have been open about it my partner judges and demonises what for me is a curious exploration of my own sexuality. I find the damning attitude towards self responsible non addictive use of porn to be an expression of the female painbody – which would be fine if it was treated that way rather than an ignorant righteous crusade of judgements in which there is ZERO space for insight or genuine communication. Pure righteous rage parading as integrity. And yes i feel very frustrated.

    Reply
    • Guy, I hear your frustration for sure. Might be true that some of the damning attitude stuff is from the female painbody, but then the other half of the equation would be from the male pain-body. I also wonder if hiding is serving you or your partner. sounds like you might be scared to feel some discomfort in your own body/experience if you are more fully you. thanks for your honest expression here.

      Reply
  61. My feeling is that porn use is so rife because we are going through a shift in the way that men relate to women, and women to men. Men and women have both grown up with judgement about their sex drives (and desire for intimacy), judgement that separates us from it as much as porn does.

    Accepting the desire for porn within us is an important step of accepting what is, rather than bullshitting. On my journey I have met a lot of judgemental men and women who are shameful of their own sex drives, so finding people who are real about their shame and on the quest for healing is refreshing.

    I have found it useful to connect with the type of porn and to connect with that within myself. What I found is that by looking at the archetypes at work in the imbalance of intimacy, I became more aware of the part within me that I was subconsciously trying to be more intimate with, but felt fearful of.

    The fear of connecting to that part was how I was programmed by both my mother and my father, as well as by society, and it is in my experience a very broadly held program, which is now coming to light so we can choose more authentic intimacy with ourselves and others. Judging as ‘perverse’ the childlike exploration of our shamed selves is the same abusive relationship as that propounded in porn.

    Thanks for bringing this to the table

    Reply
  62. Hi Jason,

    I appreciate your work. Can you please include non-heterosexual people in your examples?

    Reply
    • yes. in this post or in general?

      Reply
  63. After 6 years of being married, my wife just found out that I have been watching porn… I dont spend money on it and I told her that I’d quit “and really meant it”. She still felt hurt and cheated. So she left me. And the bad thing is I really dont need porn, like the reasonings above I was just killing time. She always told me if I was gonna watch it then she didnt want to know about it, And without thinking about it I got up from the computer and forgot to clear the history. I never felt guilty about porn, in-fact alot of it is really funny… But in the end porn and my forgetfulness ruined my marrige.

    Reply
  64. Here’s one for you, my fiance and I have argued about the sex/ porn topic. we were in a long distance relationship for almost 2 years, he used to watch porn everyday for a number of reasons, wake up, get tired, when he was bored, or he just really enjoyed it. now that we live together, the only way he can get in the mood is if he watches porn first or if i take the initiative and physically touch his member. he said he only gets in the mood without help every 3 or so days. is that true, or do you think there is something deeper. he doesn’t ask me to “help” him out, he always wants me to start it…its not fair and very frustrating. he’s not your “typical” guy and i don’t know what to do anymore.

    Reply
    • Depends what “in the mood” means. I like sex, a lot. I’m horny, a lot. I’m rarely “in the mood” for sex with my wife anymore. I rarely initiate it with her.

      In our marriage, I’ve felt like my advances and suggestions have been rejected for a long time. I’m left with little faith in her with respect to her sexuality. I don’t expect it to be particularly satisfying for me. Especially if I get the sense that she’s humoring my needs or just going along with it or wants me to hurry up so she can get to sleep.

      So, if I’m horny enough to not think about her, I can have sex. If she’s horny enough to initiate and seem really into it, that works too. Otherwise, at this point, porn is preferable. If she’s not going to be present and really involved in it, I’d prefer not to be either.

      I don’t know what your situation is. In mine, porn and my problem go together in a sense, but I don’t see it as a cause and effect thing.

      Reply
  65. Hello there! Quick question that’s totally off topic.
    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?

    My site looks weird when browsing from my iphone4. I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to correct this issue.

    If you have any recommendations, please share.
    Thanks!

    Reply
  66. When Janel mentioned in her post that “Many times the baby’s penis is manipulated to be erect to facilitate the circumcision .. so this is his first sexual experience..” and so followed right after by the act of circumcision, that’s got to be an unconscious traumatic experience, that men may carry around with them, not even realizing? Might this affect one’s (often times, unconscious) fear of intimacy, sex? Who knows, I might be way off here but this does make me wonder, though?

    Reply
  67. Women seem to have a universal intuition about the danger of pornography. Of course, for some women, shame about sex is why they’re judgemental about pornography, but a lot of us know that it’s a dangerous drug (like alcohol or tablets or smoking). We know that you guys can so easily become addicted to the lie at the core of porn and we know we’ll loose you if you do. You’d be fine with the woman who found her husband’s cocaine at home and freaked-out – pornography is no different. We know that the delicate, special connection we have with you is smothered to death by porn and that we’ll probably loose you forever. Please see the danger and resist it. You are at danger too; I’ve met guys who, because pornography is ‘sex-performed’, came to see sex as a performance and developed performance anxiety as a result. This is crazy! Sex is natural, like eating; you don’t worry about your stomach’s capacity to digest food and your penis is just great and will look after your needs just fine, Pornography promises power and happiness if you perform in a very particular way – the stakes are high and so is the anxiety. If you really cared about your penis and your mental health you’d avoid porn like the plague!

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Art of Manliness Weekly Roundup: I Love You, Man Edition | The Art of Manliness - [...] The Number 1 Reason Why So Many Boys and Grown Men Surf Porn (and What to Do About It)(@ …
  2. Guys & Porn : EPIC GENERATION - [...] is that most men would deny surfing porn websites, including non-Christian guys. Here’s an interesting article from the Revolutionary …
  3. The Problem With Porn | The Art of Manliness - [...] Further reading: The Number 1 Reason Why So Many Boys and Grown Men Surf Porn (and What to Do …
  4. Why Men (And New Dads Like Tiger Woods) Have Affairs | Radical Personal Development for Smart, Evolving Men - [...] even use the internet to leak out your sexual energy by cruising someone’s facebook profile or surfing porn.  An …
  5. Persona Prime » Blog Archive » happiness, the now and narrative circuitry - [...] this link also talks about reprogramming… http://revolutionaryman.com/2009/03/why-men-surf-porn/ Guess I am not alone in needing reprogramming in this area.  Hey …
  6. Beating off to Porn is NOT a Strategy for Long Term Success? (Guest Post) | JaysonGaddis.com - [...] is solid, vulnerable guest post from my bro Marc Quinn in the UK. I am not surprised by how …
  7. Sexual Polarity: David Deida vs Adult Entertainment « Make A Girl Love You! - [...] If you are a guy and you enjoyed this post, please also check out Jayson Gaddis’ post on Why …

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