The Pros and Cons of Porn

I’m going to approach the topic of porn from a neutral position, even though it’s a loaded topic, and some may think that there are no ‘pros’ to the topic. I think the whole issue of porn had changed and infiltrated men’s lives in a way that pales to how it used to in the past.

First off, it’s amazing that smart phones can offer a wide variety of things, including porn, and are accessible at a moment’s notice in unlimited variety. I’m sure we’ll be looking at smart phone porn and online videos in the future in the same way we look at “brown bagged” porno magazines of the past when the era of robotic sex surrogates and VR porn sees it’s heyday in the near future.

I’ve talked with some guys that use porn casually, and others that abuse it. Most men that I work with say that porn has become abusive, and some spend hours on end clicking through and watching videos, much like flitting away hours on the Internet or on video games. It’s funny to me how we’ve digitized the hell out of sex and death to the point that we – as a society – have in many ways anesthetized ourselves even more against those two power life experiences.

I think porn becomes an issue when the relationship or marriage has an issue with it. I don’t think porn is an automatic relationship-ender, nor do I think that it can’t have it’s place in a sexually-healthy relationship or marriage. It’s when it starts to get hidden from sight or not communicated that it has the potential to damage the relationship or marriage. It’s when it becomes fully illicit and starts provoking shame, concern or trust issues that damage starts to be inflicted.

It’s a double edged-sword: guys want the illicit quality that porn brings, which heightens the sexual excitement value, but it also can harm the primary relationship if not discussed. It wasn’t a big deal hiding porn magazines from your Mom growing up, but it’s a different ballgame with your wife or girlfriend, especially when they have certain sensitivities against this, or have sexual wounds that you may be unknowingly triggering with your porn use.

The main problem, as I see it, with porn, is when men use it to hide and escape into a fantasy world – not unlike alcohol, gambling, sports, video games, you name it. Often times, porn becomes a surrogate for sexual contact with a real woman, and what drives it can be multiple factors.

Porn won’t reject you, it won’t make you feel like a sexual failure, it doesn’t require that you communicate and it probably won’t elicit your unconscious and unresolved issues around sex. Those are the benefits. It’s a escape with a million varieties of pleasure, and it’s not reality. Young men who grew up on online porn, think that trying to mimic the sexual positions and mistreatment of women in porn videos, become stunted in their sexuality and don’t know how to engage sexually, emotionally or otherwise with real women. They have a hard time understanding that being sexual with a woman is a difficult thing, and not represented by the porn images immediately impressionable and accessible to them.

Porn can also help distract from sexual performance issues occurring in the bedroom, which may or may not involve erectile dysfunction issues. Often times, when I hear guys escaping to porn continually, they are avoiding dealing with sexual performance issues which can manifest in a number of ways, like fear of having sex, lack of initiation of sex, inability to talk about sex, erectile issues, or generally other sexual apprehension.

Endless variety is also another pro of porn. It comes in all shapes and sizes, and caters to every taste and preference. It can be instructional for a guy if he doesn’t know what he’s doing in the bedroom, and can be used as a guide if he understands that a lot of porn is fake and not what a lot of real sex entails. Sure, there are ways to experiment, but ultimately, if a guy isn’t trying to mimic or recreate scene by scene a porn video he’s seen, it can have benefits of some “sexual guidance” in the bedroom for real sex.

Knowing that porn is not real, and it’s an escape, can help to prioritize real sex with real women who are infinitely more complex than the fantasy woman on the porn screen. There are real feelings, thoughts, desires, inhibitions, fears, etc. when you deal with having sex or making love to a real woman, not to mention all of those things within yourself.

The main problem with porn is that it detracts from men having healthy sexual relationships, or healthy relationships in general. It gives men wrong ideas about sex and relationships, and helps them avoid dealing with the very complex, intricate and sensitive details of having a sex life with someone, and carrying on a relationship with them outside of the bedroom, as the latter affects the former. I believe it also “flatlines” or numbs a man’s brain when it comes to sex, and detracts from his ability to be “into” the woman who is is having sex with.

We have so many inhibitions linked so sex, from the messages that we learned growing up from our parents and friends, that ultimately affect the way we relate to sex. If we don’t work through those issues themselves, we’re limiting our ability to have healthy and open sexual lives with our partners.

Dealing with those issues sometimes means getting therapy to work through blocks within yourself, or doing it as a couple. It doesn’t mean you’re less of a man if you have sexual fears, inadequacies and inhibitions. Our culture is distorted when it comes to giving men healthy models of sexuality, and for a lot of guys, they lack the resources growing up to know what they’re doing. Many fathers of men also don’t have the knowledge or courage to talk with their boys about sex, so boys are left to their own devices, and come up with their own versions of sexuality, which are often very different from healthy models.

Sex is complex, and I think porn can often times complicate it more so. Learning what your relationship is to porn, and considering it’s role in your sexuality is important, whether or not you’re in a relationship or marriage at this point in your life. If you are partnered, communication can help you figure out the role porn plays, or help you to deal with some of the sexual issues that will inevitably materialize if you’re with your partner for an extended period of time.

 

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About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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