I’ll admit I’ve indulged in porn (magazines/videos/Internet) ever since I reached puberty and discovered where Dad hid his stash. I’d sneak a look at my father’s magazines and VCR tapes (which sadly enough, were all straight porn). Then again, what would you really expect from your Dad? It was watching that first porn that I discovered how to masturbate, and when I came, it freaked me out. I had not idea what had happened, but I knew I liked it. I remember my penis seeming to be puffy afterwards. Do you remember your first experience masturbating?
This post is not about my first time masturbating, but about the pros and cons of pornography. I began to think more about this as I have written this week’s posts, but especially because of Adon’s comment on my Sunday post:
I hear a lot from many sources of what a “problem” porn is. Is it a problem? Personally I see no harm in it except the guilt and shame that many people of faith connect to it.
So I decide to write about my experience with porn and a bit about its pros and cons. I’d check out the guys in magazines and videos and imagine what it’d be like for me to be with these guys. More importantly, what it would be like to snuggle up next to them at the end of the day, to fall gently off to sleep with my arms wrapped around one or resting safely and peacefully in the guy’s own arms. I’ve always wanted a strong man to wrap me up in his arms and make me the comfort that comes with that. Such was my “release from my real life”; one that just didn’t fit in with the dreams and hopes I had for myself. It was the only thing I felt I could do to create some version of the future I wanted; it wasn’t real but it was at least more in line with what I was feeling as a post-pubescent teenager and later on, as a young man, even though I did not yet understand that I was gay.
I grew up in a small rural town. I didn’t know any gay people, and nothing was ever said nicely about the ones they mentioned. It was a scary feeling. I remember looking at International Male and Undergear catalogs, not to mention the underwear section of the Sears Wishbook, my true wish had nothing to do with all of the other goodies in the catalog. When my mother questioned me, three or four times between ages 18 and 22, I denied that I was gay. Finally, when I was about 23, she confronted me about it again, and I admitted to her that I was gay. The aftermath was not pretty, but again, I’m off subject.
With regards to porn, I began my journey along that road somewhere along about 12-to-14 years of age. It was likely to have been when my testosterone kicked in and I began masturbating every chance I got. I couldn’t steal my dad’s porn, but I do remember having the movie “Bachelor Party” on VHS and really enjoying the scenes when the women went to see the male strippers.
But, what effect did watching porn have on me, as a teen and as an adult? For instance, I sometimes wonder if there’s an upside to looking at or watching porn and likewise, I wonder if there’s a downside (a real danger to indulging in the practice). For me it was a question of getting caught and feeling guilt of a religious nature. It isn’t about going to Heaven or Hell, yet more of was certain bad things that were happening in my life were because I indulged in porn. Was God punishing me? Through a lot of prayer and meditation, the same technique I used to come to terms with my homosexuality, I came to the decision to believe what my preacher had always preached: God does not punish us for sins in this life, but in the next. Read my post from Sunday to understand my full stance on the issue of the porn and sin.
I can say that when I first began looking at porn it was all about escaping the “traditional” reality that was expected of me in the face of the very “non-traditional” existence I believed/believe I was meant to live. Though I also understood that porn was a fantasy. Men that good-looking and well-endowed rarely existed in the real world. The real question, I suppose is just how much are someone chooses to FOCUS on pornography? Are those fantasies (while indulging in porn) preventing you from keeping your feet firmly planted in the real world? Are you spending so much time “living a fantasy life, through porn” that your own REAL life is passing by, unnoticed and unappreciated?
So I turned to porn when I became horny, or sometimes stressed, and I would watch a video or look at pictures, masturbate and then I felt better. However, it never ruled my life. I never allowed it to do so.
Most of us know that porn is a cheap imitation of the real thing. Real sex can be wonderful, and is most of the time, though sex is not always good. Sometimes we need the fantasy of porn, where the sex always looks perfect. The reality of porn is that the actors work very hard (no pun intended) and have long days. Porn actors constantly discuss in interviews that it is never as easy as it looks. However, some do porn because they want to give others pleasure; most do porn for the money. We usually don’t know what particularly the need the money for: college, a car, debts, drugs, etc. I tend to dislike the studios who are known to prey on drug addicts. When there is a vinous drug abuse, it’s a major turn off to me.
So what effect does watching porn have on your life?
Porn is a controversial subject. Some people feel that pornography damages society or is unhealthy, others believe it may actually be beneficial. Many studies have been done on the effects of porn, for example, whether it causes increased violence against women (it doesn’t) or leads to unrealistic expectations (it can in certain people). This is a discussion about the ways porn is good or bad, and the situations in which it can be beneficial or harmful.
The easy access afforded by the massive boom in online porn led many of us to our first experiences with it at a young and curious age. It showed us what a naked body looks like up close and what sex actually is. It introduced us to a world of sex acts, kinks, and fetishes, some of it beyond our imaginations. As we moved beyond curiosity, it provided us a tool to help with arousal and masturbation. Visual stimulation can be very sexually arousing of itself, and it saves you from having to do the fantasizing on your own.
For the majority of people, there is nothing wrong with porn. With experience, most of us learn that sex isn’t always or even usually like it’s portrayed in porn. Every naked body looks different, we don’t all react and respond in the same ways, we choose which sexual acts we enjoy taking part in, and we learn that each interaction and partner differs from the last.
It is important to realize that porn is not reality. It uses actors and it follows a script. Yes, some porn is more realistic than others, and amateur porn or videos shot by good quality production companies can seem very realistic, but most pornography depicts something very different from the sex you would have with a partner. If most of your exposure to sexuality has been from from the scenes you’ve seen in porn, it may be a letdown when you finally get a chance to have sex with someone if you’ve let that shape your expectations.
For this reason, experts in the field are stressing how important it is for parents to talk to their kids about porn, especially if they know their child is watching it. There is a drive for it to be part of high school sex-education curriculum, but anti-porn activists are fighting to prevent this from being discussed in classrooms. As long as we understand the realities of porn, I don’t see a problem with it as long as it has it’s proper place in our sexual explorations.
Some people, especially those with a history of problems with addiction, can become addicted to porn. If your porn watching negatively affects your life, you may have a problem. If you cancel or miss plans with others, fall behind in work because of porn, or anything else like that, it’s a problem. If your porn habit prevents you from being sexually intimate with your partner, that’s a problem too.
Masturbation, with or without porn, is a normal and healthy activity even when you’re in a relationship, but if you’d rather watch porn than be sexual with a partner, you should evaluate the situation. Have you lost your attraction for your partner, or do you have a pornography addiction problem?
If the porn you watch makes you uncomfortable (due to its subject matter) or if it’s leading you to act differently with your partner(s), it may be a good idea to switch up the porn you’re watching or even take a short break from porn altogether.
Porn should be a positive and healthy experience that provides an escape from reality, gets you aroused and ready for sexual stimulation, and can give you ideas to incorporate into your personal sex life. If you remember that it isn’t reality and that your partner still likes you, there should be no negative effects of watching porn.
PS. THE GUY IN THE PHOTO LOOKS AMAZINGLY LIKE THE GUY I HAD A CRUSH ON IN HIGH SCHOOL WHO WAS MY MOST OFTEN MASTURBATORY FANTASY IN MY TEEN YEARS.