Porn Is Intrinsically Toxic For Men (And Women Too)

Updated: May 1

But is porn the problem, or *mainstream* porn? What does ‘better’ porn look like?


Photo by Jens Karlsson on Flickr CC0 2.0 (and some graphic material altered out)



When I was six or seven my mother took my brother and me to an annual Orlando fair. The main attractions were kiddie rides and of course the usual fright houses.


This particular year, either the layout of the park changed or I was now old enough to notice attractions featuring torture and abuse of women, intermingled with the children’s attractions.


You see the palest imitations of such fair bait today: The garish pastel paintings remain, but over the decades they’ve become light-years less misogynist. Not exactly feminist, but Alpine lasses busting out of their corsets like the old Heineken girl are a far cry from what I still remember seeing fifty years ago: Scenes of women in a medieval torture chamber — One on the rack; one in an iron cage over a fire; a buzz saw slashing open a lovely belly (everyone’s wearing bikinis). Who knew they had buzz saws in 1495? Or bikinis?


I remember a woman guillotined. I remember another coiled by a giant angry fanged snake. I remember a recorded voice saying, “Watch a beautiful woman tortured to death.”


What kind of sicko would want to see that?

 

It took a few hours to process, but later that evening I got really upset and cried to my mother. She got really angry herself — “It’s always the women!” she raged, and wrote a letter of complaint to the owners of the fair. Undoubtedly other parents did too. The next year, the misogynist poison was moved to the back, far away from the kiddies. Feminists put an eventual end to it. Thank your grandmothers, Florida Millennials!


That’s what we need to do with today’s violent porn aficionados: Move them to the back of polite society. Relegate them to forums like r/UndateableLosers. Where they complain to their fellow incels about ‘feminazis’ who won’t have sex with them.


In my futuristic fantasy, women have learned to not allow violent men into their lives. They’re poison ivy, no matter what they look like.


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay



Mainstream porn’s toxic effects on — everybody


I’ve written two previous articles about Nancy Jo Sales’s recent book Nothing Personal: My Secret Life in the Dating App Inferno. It’s made a helluvan impression on me.


How Can Women Choke The Life Out Of Dating App Misogyny?

No More Allowing Angry Misogynists To Set The Rules

This article explores the most interesting insight Sales made about male dating app swipers, to which she gave only a passing mention, quoting a 2012 Psychology Today article.

…Porn hurts men as well. Research suggests that young men who consume porn have lower sexual satisfaction and are more like to be ‘depressed, unable to enjoy intimacy, and suffer from desensitization of feelings, dissatisfaction, loneliness, isolation and compulsion’.

The article notes nine out ten children ages 8 to 16 get their sex education from porn. By the time they’re dating, they’ve viewed hundreds of strangers having sex on porn sites, and some of them (no one can seem to agree on the percentage) feature physical violence or verbal/psychological abuse against women. One estimate of 88.2% has been widely-critiqued as having been cherry-picked by the researcher, but more realistic percentages put violence against women at 20–40%. It’s important to note a fair chunk of women visit porn sites. YouPorn reports 23% are females and PornHub’s female visitors are 32%.


Sales’s book — and some of her previous work — documents the rise of physical violence in whatever passes for ‘dating’ in a Tinder world serving up women to men exactly as The Patriarchy always envisioned it. I kept wondering: Why the hell do these girls put up with it? Part of the answer came a few weeks later from a CNN article, Sex ed conversations you need to have with your tween or teen.


Parents are still not talking about sex to their children early enough, and even find the subject embarrassing.


I’m a little unclear why they’re still mired in Victorian vexation when the ’60s counterculture dragged sex out of the bedroom and into the Woodstock mud pits. ‘Raunch’ culture, pole dancing, Internet porn, the rising acceptability of polyamory, ‘safe sex’ and the near-extinction of marital virgins (estimated at less than 5%) suggests humans @#$% like bunnies, and have engaged in way broader sexual exploration than many previous generations, but blush like maiden aunties of yore in front of the children.


Parents miss teaching all-important lessons like “Daddy and Father McFeeley aren’t allowed to touch you there either.” Or that a man who hits you is a man you should NEVER tolerate in your life. Or how to recognize a good wo/man when you meet one.


That’s just the tip of the iceberg.


Lack of proper sex education, in the context of values, consent, and considering the needs, desires, and feelings of others, sets up unrealistic expectations for girls and boys about what sex is ‘supposed’ to be like. Since porn is created by men, for men, to please men, it’s no surprise it teaches young women their job is to be submissive and go along with whatever the man wants, however degrading. They need to look beautiful because pleasing men sexually is of primary importance. It teaches them to sexualize themselves which in turn encourages men to objectify women.


The Sexualization/Objectification Vicious Circle: It’s always a joint effort.


Since men are the primary consumers of porn, let’s ask: If mainstream porn is leaving them depressed, isolated, desensitized, and unable to achieve intimacy, how good would sex be for them without porn’s toxic, self-centered, violent, emotionally extinct influence? What if sex for men with feelings and consideration for one’s partner turns out to be better than sex without?

What if their lives were overall happier and more peaceful if they weren’t watching porn actresses pretending to enjoy a gang rape?


What if their sex was way better?


Does this mean they have to give up porn?



What is ethical porn?


Who knew there was such a thing?


Ethical porn seeks to represent sex as it really is for us mortals without giant fake boobs or a Tom of Finland penis.


Ethical porn features a far greater diversity than you’ll find in mainstream porn. The actors and actresses look more like us — some pretty and handsome, some out of shape, some older, some younger, some less white or cis-heteronormative. One might add, less plastic ‘factory’ style bodies. A male friend told me years ago he preferred vintage porn to modern porn because, in the ’70s and early ’80s, porn actresses had different bodies and looks; they lacked plastic surgery ‘enhancement’. Now they all looked alike.


In ethical porn, there’s more touch, more genuine sexual pleasure, more giggling and more emotional connection. Most importantly, the sex is clearly consensual, which one article notes the lack of which is the reason why mainstream porn seems so ‘icky’.


No one’s agreeing to a gang bang because they’re getting paid and the kids need to eat.


The biggest selling point for ethical porn is its creation. The performers and production people get paid fairly and everything is done with the input of all involved. No one is forced or pressured to do something they don’t want to do. There’s no sex trafficking. Many more of the orgasms are real.


Ethical porn portrays the female sexual pleasure perspective, not only men’s. It understands women can enjoy porn too when it includes their needs and desires. Especially since we need more to get us wet ’n’ ready than a freakish big dick popping out of someone’s pants.


Foreplay: It’s the other F-word.


Image by Capsula Nudes from Pixabay




What can women do to resist increasingly misogynist mainstream porn?


I’ve never had a man suddenly whack me around in bed, but I had one close encounter in a van several years ago I now wonder may have been birthed by misogynist porn. I didn’t get hurt, but I came close.


I don’t engage in hookup culture; I think it’s a monumentally bad idea to go to a stranger’s house for sex. I did it a few times in its early days, and nothing bad happened, but now I look back and want to bitch-slap my younger self. What the hell was I thinking?


A few ideas for Just Say No To Sexual Violence:


Set and reset your boundaries. Always.


The biggest misogynist/victim feminist lie is that men make all the rules. It’s still a man’s world for sure, but not as much as advertised and The Patriarchy’s power grows weaker every day. That’s why there’s such a Trumpian backlash, and why some guys want to beat the shit out of you in bed.


Grow some labia and seize your power! It’s YOUR body, and YOU decide what gets done with it, and to it. Make sure he knows what’s not okay, especially if you’ve only known him for fifteen minutes.


The first time he hits you should be the LAST!


Period. End of discussion. ‘Nuff said. Delete and block.


Be clear in your profile about what’s not okay


Be upfront on who should swipe left: NO VIOLENCE!


Knowing what I do now about dating apps, and particularly Tinder, whether I engaged in hookup culture or not I would clearly state what is NOT acceptable: No slapping, hitting, choking, punching, or kicking. No ‘faking’ rape.


For those women who claim in their profiles they ‘want’ to be pseudo-raped, ask yourself: Is it what you really want, or do you say it to get more right swipes? Because consensual rough sex play comes with BDSM rules. Don’t leave home without them!


No misogynists allowed. Period!


Listen to your friends and family. If they express concern about the level of control a man has over you, or how he treats you, and especially if they warn you they think he might become abusive, or he already is, listen to them! We aren’t very good at listening to ourselves, even less to others who don’t ‘understand’ him, when our hormones are bubbling or, Darwin help us, we think we’re ‘in love’.


Preventing a violent relationship is much easier than leaving one.


Stop consuming sick porn yourself


It doesn’t mean you have to give up porn, but you may have to pay for it.


Ethical porn costs money to make since it’s, you know, ethically-produced. No one is trafficked; so everyone gets paid. Stop consuming porn that hates you and thinks you’re a slutty cunt who deserves to be slapped and punched because ‘it’s what women want and deserve’.


Where can I find ethical porn?


I can’t make any personal recommendations as I don’t consume porn, but I only learned about ethical porn while writing this so never say never. Here are a few sources:


The 7 best ethical porn sites that aren’t Pornhub: your definitive guide


Premium and free ethical porn for the sexually conscious


Here’s Why Ethical Porn Is the Best Porn You Can Watch (includes 10 ethical porn sites)


Himeros TV — For gay ethical porn



In conclusion


I’m not anti-porn, and now I’m curious about ethical porn. A while back a porn-loving male friend shared with me a Pornhub video he expected I’d like based on what I’d told him I didn’t like about male-centric porn. He was right; it was pretty hot! The scenario was an older rock groupie having sex with a younger musician. They were simply two people pleasuring each other with a certain level of appreciation for the other. It considered the woman’s pleasure as well as the man’s. His pleasure didn’t include tormenting or hurting her.


I float this idea for everyone, but especially for men who enjoy mainstream porn: What would sex be like if you didn’t want/require female degradation or lack of consideration to be part of the process? Secret pornboy, are you unhappier, more depressed because of the porn you watch? What would sex be like if you knew the woman was enjoying it too? What if it was better? What are you missing out on?


I won’t call for an end to violent porn production, but for making sure the women in it aren’t trafficked. People want what they want and censorship would merely drive it underground.


We women can’t force porn consumers to not want or watch it, but where we hold power is here: We don’t have to watch it ourselves, or allow these men into our lives.


Trump supporters are finding it increasingly harder to get a date. Hooray! We need to marginalize violent, misogynist men the way we’ve begun to marginalize MAGAts and abusers. Let someone else fuck them.


What if every woman decided to stop fucking violent men? What would the world look like? What would sex be like?


Think about it.


We Have The Power, ladies. The Power to Just Say No To Violent, Misogynist Men.


And the porn influencing them.



This originally appeared on Medium in September 2021.



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