Monday, March 30, 2015

Is Porn good for you?

Apparently, I am potentially addicted to porn. Mind you, I don't think I've actually watched a real porn movie in over 5 years...if not more... But by answering a few simple questions in a quiz on, I was labeled as, “bordering on being problematic.”

The mere fact that my healthy sex drive would cause me to answer yes to any of these questions shouldn't be a basis for determining whether or not I have a porn addiction. What it does say about our society in general, is that the overall consensus is, PORN IS BAD.

There is so much negative energy surrounding the word "Porn." People are incredibly offended by it, and many people won't admit to actually watching porn, when clearly the statistical data proves that we all do. Yep, men and women... both watch porn.

According to an article by The Huffington Post, 70% of men watch porn (some other sites rate that percentage much higher) along with 30% of women. In fact, 30% of data that is transferred across the internet is PORN. An article from cites that “people are viewing porn, more than Facebook, Twitter, and Hulu combined…” and we know how much y’all like Facebook. Their claims are pretty staggering… “At any second of the day worldwide, nearly 30 million unique visitors are viewing porn.” And yet we still deny we watch it… hmmm. “In 2001, there were around 70,000 adult websites. Today, just 13 years later, they are more than 4.2 million pornographic websites in the U.S. alone. It does not take a math major to figure out that increase is tremendous. Either people are lying about watching porn or people are lying about watching porn.”

So, why are we so afraid to admit that we watch and even “like” porn? We know that visual stimulation produces fantastic results. We know that men are more visually stimulated sexually. Many men say that they use porn as a way to kick-start the session, but usually finish thinking about a personal experience. Sex therapists have recommended porn with a vibrator as a great way to ensure she climaxes, as most women don’t achieve orgasm through straight up intercourse.

I posed the question on my social media, and interviewed people while attending Adultcon at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Here are a few sound bites from people who were more than happy to speak on the subject….

While people at the porn convention were open and communicative, my social media accounts proved how much of a negative stigma is still attached to the word. Women commented in response to my question: “What do you think of when you view porn?” But most men stayed far away from the topic. Men who would normally “like” or comment wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. They did however feel comfortable private messaging me or texting me their thoughts, but didn’t want to have their personal social media accounts show the “activity” that would confirm that they actually watch porn. One man messaged me by saying, “my wife would be horrified if I posted this, but I watch porn and think, ‘I want to do that with my wife.’” This sentiment is beautiful and heart-breaking. This man who, adores his wife, is inspired to find ways to give her pleasure and bring them together as a couple, is shamed by her lack of interest and most likely a negative outlook on sex with her own husband, as well as porn.

**Is porn bad? If this man didn’t have porn, where would he release the sexual energy that his wife won’t share with him? Have an affair perhaps…

If you made it all the way through the soundbites I posted above, you would’ve heard one woman’s opinion that watching porn is considered adultery to her and her husband. They feel that seeing images of other people creates feelings of lust and visual imagery that might be hard to suppress during their love-making. They want to be as “pure of heart” as they possibly can for each other. While she didn’t express an opposition to the existence of porn, she was strongly against porn in their relationship. Religion was the reason cited for their mutual decision to avoid porn, and I respect her choice to maintain her commitment to her faith and her relationship.

If religion is your reason for not supporting porn, this blog might not rub you the right way…. pun intended. How you should feel about porn, gay marriage, anal sex, BDSM lifestyles, and any other “un-natural” sex acts, may have already been decided. While I am lucky to have several religious friends who view sex as a healthy, adventurous, loving way to celebrate their relationships in all kinds of playful ways, I know there are more religious readers who are less open-minded about the topic. To those readers, I hope you continue reading….

It seems like porn is unavoidable these days. You can easily search a term that accidentally gives you pages of porn related materials and websites with an innocent and random word. But is all this access to porn, and the actual content itself good for us?

According to Dr. Judith Reisman, PII or Pornographically Induced Impotence is a growing epidemic. She shares opinions of several doctors and professors who attest that porn can be extremely damaging to libido and emasculating, “castrating men of all ages and races.” They also admit that the percentage of men who suffer from PII is unknown…. She is also, if you didn’t know, one of the prominent anti-Kinsey Institute protestors, who feels that his work has sexually sabotaged our society. I wasn’t able to find links from her article to scientific data supporting these opinions, but they are compelling nonetheless. If you fear that porn might cause you to become impotent, you may also want to worry that masturbation will cause you to go blind. Generally, limiting your exposure to these images will restore your body’s natural response to erotic stimulus. These “cases” of PII ares extreme examples of over-exposure to porn and porn addiction. Most of you, dear readers, will not fall into this category.

Next let’s discuss dopamine… the pleasure reward we receive in the brain. Porn doesn’t just give you warm fuzzy feelings in the genitals. It gives us a dopamine rush, which is why some people can become addicted to porn. Just as we can become addicted to our social media, porn provides endless hours of distractions and new visual experiences to keep the dopamine flowing. Some therapists recommend taking a break from your porn (and/or your social media) occasionally to reset the baseline for your dopamine tolerance. There are several studies being done on the long term effects of these constant dopamine dings. So far I haven’t seen any conclusive studies on long term effects, but the social media and smart phone age is still relatively new. it could take decades for us to actually see any type of biological evolution in correlation to the increase in dopamine for the average human.

Is porn bad for relationships? Couples who watch porn together say they experience a boost in their sex life. They like to “spice up” their intimate relations by adding visual stimulation, or use porn as an instructional video to try new things. Some woman express fears that their partners will be less attracted to them because they are masturbating to images of other women’s bodies. But they might be surprised to hear that men are more inclined to watch the female actresses facial expressions rather than her actual body. They are more turned on by the idea that this woman is enjoying her sexual encounter. It could be argued that social media is bad for relationships. In some of the same surveys that claim that “watching internet porn” ruined 58% of marriages, it also cites that 40% blame extra-marital relationships that began online. Does the internet or porn itself break up the marriage? Or do feelings of unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and lack of intimacy create the need for people to meet those needs in other places? Is McDonald’s responsible for making people fat? Or do we all have the capacity to make our own decisions about what we do with our bodies, and take responsibility for how our actions may affect our relationships? Yes, addiction is real… addiction to porn, alcohol, drugs, and a plethora of other things can negatively impact one’s life. They may withdraw from society, prioritize their addiction over family, work, and life itself. ADDICTION is bad, porn….?

There are surveys being done on how viewing porn effects our expectations about sexual partners, and whether or not it discourages interest and commitment to romantic relationships. Again, I haven’t found any links to actual scientific data. What they generally say is that people who watch porn are more likely to have intercourse at an earlier age, have multiple sex partners, be open to the idea of casual sex, have less interest in romantic partnering, and may experience dissatisfaction in long term monogamous relationships. In all my recreational research on sex, and how people have sex, I would say that all of those things apply to a person who isn’t overly exposed to pornography as well. People want sex, they want to feel desired, they want to be naked and copulate with other sexually attractive mates, they want love, they crave affection and attention, and they even want to get married and have kids. I assure you, the business of marriage is in full force. USA Today predicts that there will be 2.208 million weddings in 2015.

So then, is watching other people have sex bad for you? I believe that it's healthy. In other cultures listening to someone have sex, or possibly even seeing others have sex is a natural part of everyday life. Families live in small dwellings. Parents share rooms and sometimes even beds with their offspring. People live in small villages and communities where the hiding of their sex acts isn’t necessary or even plausible to be hidden. Does this make them sexual deviants? I think having a healthy attitude toward sex and sexuality is of tremendous importance. Whether you choose or even promote celibacy, we shouldn't be opposed to the idea of sexual awareness, open communication about sex, and overall sex positivity.

Embracing sex, in all forms, is the best form of sex education. Porn shows people having sex. It doesn’t show people necessarily being intimate, but it also doesn’t hide or romanticize the reality of the act of sex. It doesn’t make excuses for itself, it doesn’t limit the way people orgasm, it represents all types of sexual activity, and all types of sexual stimulus. Porn brings people together by validating desires. Desires that could be considered deviant, or abnormal. By allowing people to experience those desires in a way that is not harming other people, purely experienced by choice (one must click to view, and can opt-out by a simple click at any time), and produced legally with consensual adults (we are not talking about illegal porn in this post), there is fulfillment. Porn can also inspire creativity and teach people how to make love better. Couples can watch porn together and ask each other to do things they see portrayed in the videos. They may even be exposed to things they don't realize they like. Everything from the way a porn actor is kissed, touched, licked, and yes, fucked, can be a new experience for the viewer to discover pleasure within their own relationships. The point and the benefit is that they are communicating their sexual needs and desires.

Is porn good for you? You'll have to decide that on your own or together, but I say that if you aren't bordering addiction and withdrawing from society, a spoonful of porn a day might just keep the divorce away.

To listen to the full episode, "Is PORN good for you?" On Playboy Radio, click here