April 27, 2007

A Quick Word on Porn's Effect On Your Penis

A reader commented that I was minimizing porn's negative effect on women, that ubiquitous internet porn has damaged womens' psyches irreparably.  That it makes women have to conform to some impossible standard.


Porn is not the problem.  I'm not saying it's a tremendous boon to society, but you can't blame porn for failing relationships, the pressure on women to attain impossible standards of appearance and performance; and male disinterest in normal sexual relationships.

Certainly porn puts pressure on women, but the effect is not directly from porn, or even from men.  Here's an example that the reader offered: porn forces the women to shave.  Not exactly-- they want to shave.  Why they want to is a cultural discussion, but it isn't because men are explicitly commanding them to do so.

Certainly, porn has affected men.  Ok, women want to shave; why do men suddenly want to, also?  And, I'd expect that a frequent porn user (whatever that exactly is) might have some difficulty with arousal in normal (or repeat) circumstances.

But there's a greater problem that can't be blamed on porn.   Every comic since Marx (Groucho, not the other nut) has joked about how men want sex and women don't.  But in the past three or four years, I've heard comics make the opposite jokes: women want it, men could just as easily pass it up.  Men are disinterested in sex with their established partners.  As comic Mark Maron put it, "[I prefer masturbation because sex] takes up too much energy and it involves other people."  Men always are ready for new women,  but what happens to sex with your partner over time?  Sure, ordinarily it may decline a little, but this is different: this is male disinterest, "lack of energy," lack of motivation to keep a connection with one's partner alive.  The penis may still go up-- but everything else is gone.

Let's face it, porn may make women feel inadequate, but how the hell adequate can a woman feel if  her boyfriend/husband would rather watch TV than have sex? "But I'm tired."  How tired could you possibly be?

So there are two parts to the problem.  The easy, and smaller, part is media/porn objectification of women, and its effects on women and men.  But the second, more crucial part is male "impotence" (metaphorical) and apathy.   Let me be clear about this: porn might magnify this effect; but it doesn't cause it. 

I know no girl in the world is going to believe this, but it's true: if you ask the average guy over 30 if they'd rather be with a girl they have been with many times before or masturbate, they'll pick masturbate.  You know why?  Because their soul bailed out when they were 15-- because they are  narcissists.  What in life is worth aspiring to?   You don't feel a part of anything bigger, everything seems distant, unreal.  Everyone is waiting for something to happen, for their life to "start"-- they're 40 and they're still waiting.  (As Mike Birbiglia joked, "I'm not going to get married until I'm absolutely certain nothing else good can happen in my life.")  Concepts like loyalty don't even get a token nod, because today they seem outright preposterous. 

And men have a distorted view of what it means to be loved.  They want to be loved not for who they are, but who they think they are.  "I'm an actor."  "I'm a major force in WoW."  "I'm a fiscal conservative but a social liberal."  What he wants is his girlfriend to say, "I love him because he is such an intellectual, he knows so much about politics."  What he doesn't want is her to say, "I love him because he's good to me."

"Sure it'd be better to be with a girl, but when are you actually ever with a girl?  They don't want you, they want what you represent-- a good job, security, to be taken care of, a big penis."  It doesn't occur to them that the woman who doesn't want these things in her man might be the one to avoid?

I suspect-- I haven't been able to do the survey-- that even sex is a form of masturbation for these guys. That they see you, but they don't see you.  The arm, the breast, the hip, all these become fetishized and transport him to another world.

Our birth rate is 2.1; France 1.7; Spain 1.3; Russia 1.3.  In two generations, there will be 1/2 as many Spaniards, excluding immigration.  We can't even get it up long enough to procreate.   That's not porn's fault.  It doesn't help, sure, having the internet's tubes tied isn't going to fix that problem.  Men are becoming less interested in establishing meaningful relationships with other people as an ultimate goal than in inventing identities for themselves.


i love when people blame "t... (Below threshold)

April 27, 2007 5:17 PM | Posted by mercurial scribe: | Reply

i love when people blame "the media" or "the porn industry" as if they have no say in the matter. 1) Those industries are simply run by PEOPLE. 2) Any person has a choice to "unplug" from the mass feeding of bullshit and think for oneself.

i'm glad at least one mental health care professional may still believe in personal responsibility.

i do think you raise an interesting point about how porn affects men so drastically. The subjugation and objectification of women, i have always thought, affects the male psyche even more than the female psyche, leading to a vast amount of psychological pain that will pour out in violence and abuse. It always angered me that my father would terrify me with horror stories of rape and helplessness, forcing me to almost become Amazonian in my outlook while he continued to encourage my little brother's interest in "Girls Gone Wild" and other such shit. The hypocrisy is mind-boggling, giving a new meaning to "burning the candle at both ends of the stick" for me.

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Dude I am totally having pr... (Below threshold)

April 29, 2007 8:21 PM | Posted by Common Reader: | Reply

Dude I am totally having procreative sex tonight because of this post.

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That may all be true, but I... (Below threshold)

May 4, 2007 1:16 PM | Posted by PENIX: | Reply

That may all be true, but I still want my girlfriend to act like a porn star in the bedroom.

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Honestly, I'm not exactly s... (Below threshold)

May 4, 2007 3:11 PM | Posted by Natalie: | Reply

Honestly, I'm not exactly sure the point you are trying to make (work on those thesis statements), but I will try to respond.

I think your outlook is too simplistic; you may be basing your generalizations on your own experience. That's fine, but limiting.

Here are my two cents:

1. I have realized that sex is usually the best when neither of us have been watching porn or masturbating. It is a much more intense experience.

2. Porn is like anything else: the more you watch it, the more 'action' it takes to excite you. After watching a lot of porn, though, I've found that the only thing that excites me is the thing most rare in porn: honest fun. Both the girl and the guy have to be enjoying themselves, and not pretending. Even when I watch seemingly innocuous porn like 'Girls Gone Wild,' all I can think of is what a complete asshole Joe Francis is. So: I avoid it; and if watching that kind of porn is making you impotent, you should as well.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that with maturity comes empathy. Most fourteen year old boys (or fifty year old boys) who like watching a girl who looks like she's fourteen doing whatever probably lacks both.

And as for shaving: in the end, I hardly think it even matters.

Admin's response: let's leave my experience out of it ;-)
But as clarification, I'm not talking about all men, I'm talking about narcissists.

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.As a man in his thirties, ... (Below threshold)

May 4, 2007 3:15 PM | Posted by Marc Savoy: | Reply

.As a man in his thirties, I want to say upfront that I am in no way a defender of women's rights and enjoy
indulging in internet porn as much as anyone. Nevertheless, there's no doubting that porn as a social phenomena
has started a process that is absolutely damaging to women's psyches that will be exponentially exacerbated by technological innovation as dramatically demonstrated by the internet.

Anything that lessens a person's value to others or diminishes their power and control will emphatically have a negative effect on a person's psyche. For better or worse, porn, lessens the reliance men have on women.

The fact of the matter is that technology is the driving force that has made pornography so pervasive.
The porn industry has been the driving force behind the success of the video recorder,VHS format, the internet
itself are all indebted to porn in being the first to embrace the cutting edge technology that is today mainstream.

Just think of a future with technology like the Star Trek Holodeck or androids that are indistinguishable from their human counterparts to realize the extent
in which technology for better or worse will eventually marginalize women

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Actually, declining birth r... (Below threshold)

May 4, 2007 3:23 PM | Posted by alec: | Reply

Actually, declining birth rates are associated with access to education, specifically to females, not an abundance of porn.

(Admin's response: I recognize that I suck at writing. But you have my conclusions exactly backwards! I'm not blaming porn, I'm saying porn has nothing to do with the problem at all, it's the scapegoat.

And BTW, education also has little to do with the declining birth rate. Are Spanish women better educated than American women? The birth rate has much more to do with men's (lack of) motivation for kids than women's.

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""Men are becoming less int... (Below threshold)

May 4, 2007 10:04 PM | Posted by Javier Marti: | Reply

""Men are becoming less interested in establishing meaningful relationships with other people as an ultimate goal than in inventing identities for themselves.""

This is totally right! But the way I see it, there is an angle in it all that you fail to address and is extremely important.

Men are pushed by society to be a winner, yet very few of us can be a winner, or the kind of winner society appreciates.

Thus, your self esteem pays the price, and you take refuge in other things that are not so uncertain (computers, shared activities with male buddies, cars, whatever...)unstable and demanding as a girl by your side can be.

I am not so sure that the problem is porn. The problem is that society is succeeding in making men feel innadequate, not good enough, not needed, etc.

Besides, the "models" we are supposed to reach are so high...who can reach them? Who can be a Beckham or a di Caprio and move around that kind of money?

It seems that anything below that is just not good enough. And we've all heard the jokes about our girlfriends leaving us for ...

Sometimes it feels as if girls will run away with one like that as soon as they have the chance if they meet him.
(And many of them won't even deny it when really pushed to talk. However, nobody can blame them, they're psychologically wired to look for security in a man)

Moreover, when you are older (I am 32 success rate ok++ with girls but single and not looking)
and you learn about the law, you also realize that you could lose all what you have work so hard for, if you even co-habit with a woman for a period of time and break up. The law favours them in most cases in the developed countries.

In case that you have children, it is even worse, they may not only take most of your net worth with them, but can also legally force you to stay away from your children, or see them very little. So you are broke, lack the affection of the woman that most probably you loved, and can't see your children often.

Would you look forward to be with a girl if you were in a man's place today?

Porn is quick, easy and clean. The other option is complicated, uncertain, requires time, energy and has absolutely no guarantee of long term success whatsoever. What would you choose? What level of commitment would you offer to a woman? Wouldn't you use porn if your hormones are still pushing hard? And what is most worrying for society...would you look for a woman in the first place?!

And, most importantly, even if you want to, how could you get the courage to get into all this when society makes you feel like the biggest loser in the world even when you are trying your best? There is pressure to succeed on women, yes, but there is more in men. It is as if society says "if you can't bear children, and you can't succeed, what the hell are you here for?" And you have no answer.

Maybe in that moment you turn your computer on and get it all off your mind in a few minutes...

Nobody is to be blamed, but society in general.
It is easy to accuse men of "not being adequate anymore" with a giggle of sarcasm (turning the knife in the wound of young men's insecurities and making the problem worse) without going in depth into the reasons for it.

I see men not being understood, supported, cared for, everwhere, all the time.
I see more men spending time with computers, videogames, work...you name it. Is it because we love it so much? No. In many cases, it is because this is the least hostile escape valve we have. It is because there we find a sense of achievement that is denied to us in other fields of our lives.
In order for an articulated, sensitive man to give good sex to a woman, he has to feel valued. Take that out of the equation and the end result of the operation will logically change.

It is ok to think and talk about women's need for support, there are even organizations that cater for and defend women's rights in all kinds of areas. But none defend men's. I am not saying that this is good or bad or that men have not had a position of power before. Probably.
I am just saying that what happens is logical, and has little to do with porn or no porn. The problem is men's feeling of inadequacy. If there wasn't porn, men would be hunting, playing football, or doing anything else.

Porn is just a side symptom of the problem. It has little to do with its root.


Javier Marti
(more than a comment this looks like a book!)

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I feel sorry for you.... (Below threshold)

May 6, 2007 9:23 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I feel sorry for you.

(Admin's response: it's alright. The Depakote helps.)

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I'm not sure what/where the... (Below threshold)

May 8, 2007 3:59 PM | Posted by Amber: | Reply

I'm not sure what/where the idea that men are generally narcissistic comes from? That men have a distorted view of what it means to be loved? Are those ideas commonly agreed upon? I've not heard much discussion on that.

I am, also, not sure what he means in suggesting that a woman who does not want "a good job, security, to be taken care of, a big penis" -- is a woman to avoid.

Lastly, I am also not sure that I think men are less interested in establishing meaningful relationships. I actually think that the drive to have sex with people little known to oneself is, in part, due to a desire to forge human contact...and a lack of interest in existing relationships more than likely indicates that such relationships have becoming overwhelming, emotionally and mentally taxing.

I submit the following idea: Probably women are not more prone than ever to trying to get their men to meet their emotional needs--on an individual basis. I don't find any "struggle" in that regard to necessarily be a problem--part of the potential for a perpetually interesting relationship relies on that dynamic--that people can continue to try to get certain things from each other and it can still be completely healthy, even violently fun.

Even on a collective basis is it a rather age-old argument that woman-kind is generally disrespected by man-kind. The competing genders have been having that argument (and it's counter-argument) on that for generations. I think these statements can be said to be true--both genders have been disrespecting each other in various arenas for ages. Also fun.

The problem--as I see it--is that men have started to submit to whatever collective guilt remains from the Feminist Movement. Certainly women have been nagging their men throughout history -- but the men of my generation have grown in the shadow of men who have been fairly dutiful to treat their wives as equals. Guilt as a motivator for collective behavior, I'm sure, leads to collective isolation, disillusion and detachment. There are various outlets for providing stress-free attachment and I'm sure that porn is one of them.

Admin's response: Interesting comment. I think guilt doesn't explain it, however. If narcissism is the problem, then guilt isn't the explanation because narcissists can't feel guilt, only shame. Also, the problem isn't that women ask for too much, the problem here is that (these kind of) men aren't much motivated to do much more than coast. Hence my comment about "avoiding that kind" of woman. Why shouldn't a woman want a guy with those attributes, and why should a guy feel threatened by this?

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hmmm... gosh.... so much to... (Below threshold)

May 11, 2007 8:09 AM | Posted by Thank you: | Reply

hmmm... gosh.... so much to say on this one

apathy... the fear of not being good enough... so why bother...

That seems to sum up the comment by Javier Marti. Interesting self-revelation. Or, not just being "not-good-enough" but also 'not know how to': give women what they want, get what you (a man) wants and not wanting to put so much effort into what it may take to "have a relationship" with a woman.

I mean, "momma just took care of me and required nothing of me. i just asked for what i wanted and she gave it to me". We also know that "momma" didn't give unconditionally. that's another topic and i think a REAL SOURCE of the issue of male apathy to long term sexual relations.....

BTW, this is the coolest blog i've seen in a while. Powerful topics soooo relevant. Glad to see it so well traversed. I'm sure how i came upon it tonight but i'm glad i found it.


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It worked, I'm pregnant! O... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2007 10:08 PM | Posted by Common Reader: | Reply

It worked, I'm pregnant! Oh no the child is going to google this someday. Sorry honey, you were inspired by a blogpost.

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Javier has hit the nail on ... (Below threshold)

March 26, 2008 9:19 PM | Posted, in reply to Javier Marti's comment, by Stevo: | Reply

Javier has hit the nail on the head with this article. Porn isn't the problem, it's a symptom. A very big symptom. In the effort to give equal rights to women and improve their lot in life, we've started denigrating and devaluing men, and removed any meaningful role for them in society beyond being walking wallets or slaves.

We can lay a large part of the blame for the problem at the feet of radical feminists and the politicians and governments who have so assiduously supported them over the last four decades or so.

Is it any wonder, then, why the male suicide rate is so high? And does anyone really care? I submit to you that the answer is a loud 'NO'. If the answer were otherwise, the suicide rate for men would be a lot lower, mens' self-esteem would be higher, and men like Javier and myself would not have cause to make posts like these. Men are seen as expendable, period.

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"Just think of a future wit... (Below threshold)

June 7, 2008 7:13 AM | Posted, in reply to Marc Savoy's comment, by co: | Reply

"Just think of a future with technology [...] that [...] will eventually marginalize women"
- thats only true if you think of women only as sex objects.

Ok, if someday androids (or whatever) will be the better, more interesting humans, capable of real feelings etc, then maybe women will be marginalized. But so will be men!

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I consider myself a feminis... (Below threshold)

June 19, 2008 5:53 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I consider myself a feminist. However, my personal vision of what feminism is has changed. I used to believe that it meant that as a woman one needed to secure one's education and find satisfying, quality and adequately remunerated employment.

I now realize that it is about choice. A woman who decides to forgo college and to stay home with her babies and husband is just fine. It is not my place to denigrate her choices as much as it wouldn't be her place to denigrate mine. For the record, those choices include; not having children, pursuing a degree and yes, I PUT MY HUSBAND THROUGH LAW SCHOOL! When I divorced him, I left and left him the house and furniture. My dream to pursue a PhD has died since he was supposed to help me after I helped him, but I left him.

I have reflected that perhaps I was not "feminine" enough for him. I don't mean physically, I mean in the nebulous, individually formed way that is created during chidhood and adolescence. I recall that in the early years of our marriage, he told me I was "emasculating", but couldn't tell me how. I guess I had too high of a sex drive for him. He called me a "nymphomaniac." He's the only man I've ever had sex with so I don't know what's what when it comes to me and sex...but anyway...I am digressing.

Here is my question. Do men find porn as satisfying as the "real" thing? Are all male orgasms created equal? I mean, I masturbate (going on 12 years of celibacy, divorced 2 years), but it is just a stopgap. I yearn for the body of a man, the smell of his skin, his clothes,, hair, face, lips....men don't feel like that?

I'm going to catch hell for saying this, but, finally, at the age of 38, I realize that men and women are different. The sexes can be equal AND different! I think there is an emphasis on saying we're all the same, and that is a mistake. Unfortunately, saying we are different seems to lead to sexism.

After what I've been through I find myself wishing that I had done things differently. I spent almost 20 years married to a man who wouldn't fuck me. I tried EVERYTHING. I married for love, not money. My ex was from a poor family, I from an upper middle class family.

I can't believe I'm going to say this but I wish I'd chosen better. I see women who are living cushy lives and I wish that I had given my pussy to the highest bidder.

Hey guys, you want those hot high-maintenance blondes? Don't complain when they screw you over. It is my contention you'll never see a non-hot woman in a Beemer.

Lily; A Bitter Ex-Wife

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You think falling birthrate... (Below threshold)

July 3, 2008 3:37 AM | Posted by What: | Reply

You think falling birthrates in the west are all the fault of narcissistic men who can't form meaningful relationships and who would rather masturbate than have sex? You're a nut. Really, that's all I can come up with to say to you.

Falling birthrates have a lot more to do with people having access to the necessary tools - such as abortions and contraceptives - to carry out family planning than they do with masturbation and narcissism. Birthrates in the poor areas of the world where those tools aren't available are quite high. Maybe you should move there and see if your bizarre idea that men's 'narcissism' has anything to do with birthrates has any connection to reality. Here's a tip - it doesn't.

The birthrates in most of the developed world are low because men and - gasp - women are CHOOSING to have fewer children. Your nonsense rant blaming narcissistic men for this is completely divorced from reality and reason. Do a little research on the subject and you'll discover that people are CHOOSING to delay marriage, CHOOSING to delay parenthood, CHOOSING to limit family size, etc. These are choices that people are making that have nothing to do - at least in a sane mind - with men's supposed narcissism or masturbatory habits.

I've noticed that in several of your blog entries you've made allusions to men being narcissistic and obsessed with masturbation. It seems almost too convenient to me that so many of the worlds problems can - according to you - be explained by the alleged narcissism of men. You almost seem obsessed with this concept - to the point of using it to try and explain things that no rational mind could find it to have any relationship with. I'm also beginning to think that you're more obsessed with men's masturbation than they are. What the hell is wrong with you?

Alone's response: why are they choosing to delay parenthood and limit family size?

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If y'all haven't read it, c... (Below threshold)

August 11, 2008 9:26 AM | Posted by D.M. Cook: | Reply

If y'all haven't read it, check out a book called "Fire in the Belly" (Amazon link) by Sam Keen. An exhaustive treatment of what it is to be a man in a modern, "liberated" society that no longer respects or needs him-- really, really important writing. I'm sure at least the author would really enjoy it.

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Women don´t get it ! men li... (Below threshold)

September 18, 2008 10:57 AM | Posted, in reply to alec's comment, by Smartduck: | Reply

Women don´t get it ! men like shaved pussies because you can see the labia, and this is more exciting than seeing bush. Groomed bush also looks more clean and well kept. That´s all. It is not Playboy´s fault. I´m from Brazil, and the reason women shave here is that they go a lot to the beaches and tons of hair sticking out of the bikini is really disgusting.

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Least important first:<br /... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2008 1:45 PM | Posted by La BellaDonna: | Reply

Least important first:
Well, SmartDuck, women aren't the only mammals with fur. Women don't necessarily want to feel that they're trying to gnaw through the back forty when they're making love. There aren't nearly as many men getting Brazilian waxes (thanks, Brazil!) as there are women, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't, or that they don't need to. If you guys don't want to wax, feel free to shave, or use a depilatory. Your hair's every bit as disgusting as women's hair is - and I'll bet there's more of it.

Lily, I could have written most of your post myself. I don't have any answers, either, just most of the same questions. I'm sorry you married a selfish, loveless asshole; I'm sorry that I did, too.

I don't think that the falling birthrate is necessarily a bad thing; I prefer to think it means that people who aren't equipped to be good parents have chosen not to be bad ones. That's the choice we want people to make!

I do agree with Javier; I think porn is a symptom, although it frequently manifests as a problem. I am a feminist, and I do agree that the fear for a lot of men is that they will find themselves preyed upon by unscrupulous women, and lose everything they worked for ... the way that Lily and I did. I'm trying to find the positive in the threatened replacement of women by holodeck versions of pornography; if that technology exists functionally for men, it will exist functionally for women, too. I don't think it's ideal; I think a healthy, functioning relationship is better - but there's no guarantee that one will get that with an actual human being either. Yeah, I'm bitter, too. Maybe Lily and I can form a club. I was also a good wife - beautiful, supportive (financially and emotionally), and loved him. Whatever he wanted, it apparently wasn't that.

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What a great piece! Finally... (Below threshold)

December 13, 2008 10:53 PM | Posted by JimmyC: | Reply

What a great piece! Finally someone who has the guts to tell it like it is. In all honesty it is the pursuit of a sexual goal that drives a man. Once that goal is reached the thrill is gone. And it is so true that women want what a man represents to them, not who he truly is.

In a long term relationship porn and masturbation still satisfies the urge to pursue (if only in fantasy) and be appreciated for who you are, (again perhaps only in fantasy) rather than having to deal with the song and dance of dealing with another's wants and needs and worrying about whether you are really doing want they expect and want. The sexual varity it provides allows men to escape the world of mundane sex and enjoy, if only for a short time, sex the way he really wants it to be...hot and non demanding.

Porn is a multi billion dollar business because it seeks to satisfy these male wants and needs.

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In response to Lily.... (Below threshold)

February 15, 2009 9:48 PM | Posted by Scott: | Reply

In response to Lily.
I agree completely with your view on feminism resulting in an inclusive view of all women's life decisions. The option of choice for women has been a tremendous gain for society in the last 40 years. As for your question regarding men's desire for authenticity, passion, closeness, scent, touch, taste...I can confirm for you we have it...deeply as a matter of fact. Porn imagery is certainly no replacement for the genuine touch of a woman. I am a 42 year old professional married to a 39 year old professional. We are both busy and dedicated to our careers. We live in a one bedroom apartment in manhattan with our first child who is now a year old. We always had a healthy sexual relationship which went on hiatus during my wife's pregnancy which was certainly understandable for both of us. Since then, we have lived the life of young busy parents lacking sleep and raising a child in the close and un-private quarters of a manhattan apartment with no family close by for support. Hardly conducive to healthy sexual activity. We have gone 2 years with extremely limited sex. The sex we have had has been forced into tiny pockets of unexpected alone time, often without any actual desire...simply a sense of it being now or never. I have certainly seen my share of late night internet porn over this period of which I'm relatively sure my wife is aware. It has helped keep my purely physical needs (pent up sexual tension and semen) in check. Last week my wife and I had a brief moment of passion while our nanny had our little boy out for a couple of hours. I ravished her like I hadn't been with her for, well, two years. Men are passionate sexual beings too. Never doubt it for a second.

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re: Lily.N... (Below threshold)

February 26, 2009 6:46 PM | Posted by e pluribus unum: | Reply

re: Lily.

News flash for feminists:

If women didn't have pussies, there'd be a bounty on them.
They'd be shot in the streets.

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i like how it was said that... (Below threshold)

March 25, 2009 11:52 PM | Posted by james: | Reply

i like how it was said that men are now semingly more interested in pursuing identities for themselves than pursuing meaningfull releationships, which to me, i would have to say is hilariously true. in a high stress society where parents go to work every day, come home to do taxes and gripe over all of the problems with running a family and are so preoccupied with fighting the other individual over every little thing that the children suffer, why woud the child want to grow up and live such a seemingly miserable manner?

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in all honesty the family m... (Below threshold)

March 26, 2009 12:12 AM | Posted by james: | Reply

in all honesty the family man is on his way out, simply due to the deterioraion of family values and the sacredness of marriage; do you know how easy it is to get divorced and lose half of everything you have ever owned because of any number of small problems? my parents recently got divorced, why? because my mother got a job and decided she wanted to live the life she never got to lead before. so now its not only just a problem between man and woman, its a growing problem between man, woman and society! by entering into such a constitution, its like signing a waver to "a." allow both parties to be thrown into a state of lackadaisical aloofness and "b" putting the sword of damacles over your head for to give even more uneeded urgency to "make it work". if you ask me, (which i know nobody actually did) building a relationship without any legal papers, and being together with another human being by choice for a lifetime, rather then by contract creates an environment where two people are constantly working on the actual bond between each other, or there was never actualy a bond to begin with at all.

therefore this article should be entitled, "society's pressures on the intimate nature between man and wife" because the problem isnt the fact that he is choosing porn over you because of what it represents, but he is choosing porn over you because it is a matter of convenience, because in a society like our own i think we are really are all too tired, and need to take a little bit of time to cherish and respect the other people for their wishes.

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I laughed when I saw that G... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2009 7:46 PM | Posted by jeff: | Reply

I laughed when I saw that Google had selected an ad for mailorder brides for this page. "Looking for a beautiful Asian bride? Click here." :-)

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Your blog is highly informa... (Below threshold)

November 16, 2009 11:29 AM | Posted by Iron: | Reply

Your blog is highly informative.
Some may not have grapsed what you are trying to say, and a random opinion on the internet does not amount to much, but I find your observations to be highly accurate specially regarding narcissist women.
However, some may not see your point due to personal agendas/sacred cows ( feminist; die-hard porn user), but in the end they want not to see anyway, just seek confirmation.
Anyway, good job!

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News flash for e pluribus:<... (Below threshold)

January 14, 2010 4:07 PM | Posted by La BellaDonna: | Reply

News flash for e pluribus:

Women DO have pussies and they ARE being shot in the streets.

You moron.

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It's an interesting article... (Below threshold)

February 19, 2010 12:23 PM | Posted by novaseeker: | Reply

It's an interesting article.

My sense has also been that porn is not the core problem, but a symptom. The underlying problem which you identify as narcissism could also be restated in a more neutral way as simply this: the relative costs and benefits of being in a long-term intimate relationship are not conducive for quite a few men being really engaged in them.

What I mean is that men are, of course, still entering into LTRs and marriages, but the social support network for them to be engaged in these institutions isn't there in the least. Instead, many of these relationships are constant negotiations, which result in constant compromises and limitations -- and require a tremendous amount of effort to maintain. That is responsible for the high "cost" side of the equation.

On the "benefit" side, the benefits have also substantially decreased, for men, due to not only alternatives like porn and ashley madison and so on, but also due to the very transient nature of LTRs and marriages in our society. There simply isn't as much "there" there, when it comes to LTRs and marriages, in terms justifying a heavy male investment in them. And when a guy is holding back from heavily investing, he isn't going to be interested in sex as much.

In response to some of the other comments -- Lily, belladona in particular -- I can say as a divorced guy who put my ex-wife through law school and ended up with her getting the house and furniture (and kid) and so on, all I can say is that from the guys point of view this can be experienced differently. We also had a low sex marriage, mostly because I was not terribly interested in having sex with her. Why? She was emasculating, that's why. When that kind of thing is admitted by a guy, the typical response is to repeat some standard shaming language aimed at an oversensitive ego or untrammeled insecurity and so on, but the reality for me, and for quite a few other men, is that emasculating behavior by women is not an aphrodisiac in the least and, by contrast, is downright off-putting sexually. Just is so -- not for all men, but for quite a few of us. Luckily for us we ended up divorcing relatively quickly (7 years in) and I was the one who initiated it because it was bad for both of us. But the lack of male libido in marriages, at least in my experience, was due to a lack of attraction sexually to my ex-wife, which had nothing at all to do with appearance or grooming or any such thing and everything to do with simply being emasculating. Sex became a chore, which was not fun.

As for the question of masturbation vs. sex, raised by Lily, clearly these are two different things. Sex communicates intimacy and emotional as well as physical bonding, if it takes place between lovers or, hopefully at least, spouses. The orgasm is the height of it, but not it's raison d'etre -- people can be sexual with each other without orgasming, for example. Masturbation is about achieving purely sexual pleasure and orgasm. On *that* level, masturbation can indeed be more pleasurable from the purely sexual pleasure point of view. Why is this? Because the masturbator knows his/her body better, and has complete control over the pace and manner of the stimulation -- much more than with a partner who even knows your body very well. In a way what I'm saying is that asking whether it is comparable to sex is really the wrong question. Masturbation is not comparable to sex, but is quite satisfying in its own right and *can*, if there are other reasons for a partner to be unattracted to, or otherwise lack desire for, their partner, stave off the sexual desire that could cause sex to take place in those circumstances anyway.

In closing, I'd say that as a divorced guy in my 40s, relationships seem like a lot of work for not enough benefit to justify it. The benefits are there, without doubt. But they don't seem to justify the amount of effort required to sustain them. I suspect that there are quite a few men out there who more or less agree, and are using porn and other avenues as a way to stave off purely sexual needs and tensions. The porn itself is not the core reason why we're less interested in sexual intimacy -- the cost/benefit analysis as it pertains to the effort required to sustain a relationship featuring sexual intimacy, is. Heck, even sex itself has a poor cost/benefit analysis if you are not terribly attracted to the person you are having sex with -- for whatever reason.

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I'm not sure this hasn't be... (Below threshold)

March 30, 2010 3:49 PM | Posted by Rob: | Reply

I'm not sure this hasn't been asked before - I've read 99.9 percent of your posts on the site but there's a lot of comments to trawl through, so I apologise if this is a repeat - : where does it all come from? Where does this "epidemic" of Narcissism actually come from? You say that recent generation is the most Narcissistic - I assume there was a time where Narcissism wasn't such a problem? Was it advertising? Pervasive media? Brad Pitt?

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Javier, you make a lot of s... (Below threshold)

March 30, 2010 4:52 PM | Posted, in reply to Javier Marti's comment, by Harman: | Reply

Javier, you make a lot of sense.

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Bitter ex-wife, you might w... (Below threshold)

March 30, 2010 4:57 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Harman: | Reply

Bitter ex-wife, you might want to read the chapter 8 on sex from "The Culture of Narcissism" (by Chris Lasch). It may explain why he found you emasculating and sex-crazed. He may have been right.

Narcissism is not just a male malady. We all, males as well as females, are unwitting victims of it.

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Rob: Where does this "epide... (Below threshold)

March 30, 2010 5:32 PM | Posted, in reply to Rob's comment, by Harman: | Reply

Rob: Where does this "epidemic" of Narcissism actually come from?

With the industrial revolution, large families broke down. With the information revolution and a service economy, the communities broke down (this can be a thesis long thing, but think about it: if the police comes to help a domestic violence situation instead of neighbors, if you have old age homes, if you can work from anywhere and the best career necessitates frequent job changes, if you can invent virtual identities for online friends, and so on and so forth).

With the withering of these traditional structures, there is a breakdown of communal conformity and a total rejection of authority, morality, whatever takes away my "space", social bonds, and in essence, the superego.

Narcissism is the result: unfettered ego (a created identity) without the morality, without the taboos, and without the superego. Once superego is no more, "I" am. "Who the fuck are you?"

Earlier, due to the tension between the desires and the repressive and regulatory morality, there used to be hypocrisy. Today, you don't find hypocrites, you find narcissists who say, once again: "Who the fuck are you to tell me not to try double entry fisting, I feel good about it, after all."

There were a hundred things wrong with traditional morality, in that it sometimes repressed individuals, it crucified heretics rather than assimilating new ideas, it violated those from other moralities and belief systems, and so on. But, what do we have now? A total lack of morality. Is it a good thing? That is a complex question. Individuals have more choice than ever before, but societies are being torn apart.

Have you thought that maybe hypocrisy (immorality) is not all that bad a thing when compared to amorality, insofar as at least it acknowledges a moral universe?

Narcissism is the result of a breakdown of anything morally bigger than oneself. Be it religious morality, "higher ideals" (nationalism and all that), community, tradition, ...

The breakdown of this traditional morality is aided by economic forces (advertising is the front of economy, and so you're right) and the general increase in competition, but we can't go back to our cocoons. Traditional morality cannot survive in this age. It is too damn hard to be a man who can live well without being competitive, ruthless and self-centered. The rewards and temptations offered for being self-centered are just too enticing for anyone to remain altruistic and moral and good.

Care about your wife and kids. And then cry too hard when they, victims themselves of the cultural milieu, leave with all your money, house, car. The alternative is to be a self-centered husband and father who screws around.

What's the way out? Beats me.

Where will you go? Where self-centeredness is not a rewarding thing? Which region is immune to west's enticing influence of hedonism/selfishness?

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It's amazing sharing.... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2011 7:13 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

It's amazing sharing.
She was emasculating, that's why. When that kind of thing is admitted by a guy, the typical response is to repeat some standard shaming language aimed at an oversensitive ego or untrammeled insecurity and so on, but the reality for me, and for quite a few other men, is that emasculating behavior by women is not an aphrodisiac in the least and, by contrast, is downright off-putting sexually.
Sex Chat

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"Men are becoming less inte... (Below threshold)

June 12, 2011 8:07 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"Men are becoming less interested in establishing meaningful relationships with other people as an ultimate goal than in inventing identities for themselves."

Thats wrong on so many levels...
Women are not interested in establishing meaningful relationships. They simply don´t want to, because they don´t have to.

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<a href="http://www.ted.com... (Below threshold)

September 14, 2011 2:16 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply



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A lot of men, especially me... (Below threshold)

September 29, 2012 11:48 AM | Posted by Eklco: | Reply

A lot of men, especially men in long term relationships simply prefer porn to partner sex. It is very simple, like preferring chicken to steak.

Partner sex can be a lot of work, especially for a single guy. He just wants to get off and is made to find a woman who wants to date him, spend money, tell women what they want top hear and jump through all sorts of hoops just for a 10 second orgasm. It is so much easier just to watch porn and masturbate.

Married men get bored of sex with the same person over and over and like porn for it's infinite variety and sexual intensity. For many men porn and masturbation is simply better and more enjoyable than partner sex. It's not complicated.

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You're fucking stupid, plea... (Below threshold)

September 29, 2012 2:28 PM | Posted, in reply to Eklco's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

You're fucking stupid, please die and never marry.

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Somebody above said porn le... (Below threshold)

September 29, 2012 3:42 PM | Posted by JamesC: | Reply

Somebody above said porn lessens men's reliance on women and it is THIS fact that is really what is upsetting women. Without any longer playing the part of the sexual gatekeeper in which men pay (in various ways) to be able to satisfy their sexual needs, women lose a big chunk of whatever power over men they have. For many men this is a welcome revelation in which all the fear of rejection, fear of performance, wondering what the REAL reason the woman has decided to "let him in" All the money and time spent, all the saying the right things, all the hoop jumping is suddenly done away with and porn has thrown the gates wide open....no actually... porn has gotten rid of the gates altogether! Always there, always willing, always guaranteed an intense orgasm and when it's finished the guy can jump up, clean himself up and get on doing whatever he wants. It is this male sexual freedom that women fear when it comes to porn.

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You're so right. I bet it w... (Below threshold)

December 23, 2012 11:08 AM | Posted, in reply to La BellaDonna's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

You're so right. I bet it was you being beautiful and supportive that he hated

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2. The vast majority of men... (Below threshold)

June 25, 2013 11:35 AM | Posted by Tripp Hanning: | Reply

2. The vast majority of men, for the vast majority of history, have done nothing good for the evolution of sexuality by being misogynistic, using sex for power, and all that dross.

Many of the initial manifestations of feminism didn't help the evolution of sexuality any either.

1. Porn has NOT lessened my reliance on women one bit. The only porn I can possibly enjoy, is all about HER enjoyment.
Face it - SHE is the star! The original reason for porn's existence is HER! And she deserves star treatment!

Don't care if she objectifies him, or truly connects with him, or they are just having a blast together (ha!).
The more she enjoys herself, the more I enjoy it.
The less she is enjoying herself, the less I enjoy it.
If he denigrates, objectifies, or misogynizes her in any way, it's worthless.
The more he enjoys the fact that she IS NOT enjoying it, the more I HATE IT.
Actually prefer when he is mute, faceless, and care not a whit for his orgasm, only hers.

(The glorification of the male orgasm is also worthless. I don't have sex for my orgasm, I orgasm because the sex drives me to build ecstasy I eventually can't contain, no matter how many kegels I do. It would be a dream come true to be able to not have to worry about the 'defense', so I could focus on the 'offense'.)

Of course I want to think I said that for 'whoever she is'. Of course I said it for myself. Doesn't make it any less true.
If he's enjoying himself more than she, it won't stay on my screen long enough for me to get angry at its existence.
If I accidentally click on something where it's vividly clear that the only joy is his, and her joy appears to have any negative value whatsoever, that 'session' is ruined, and I have to go do something 'else', because that jerk ruined it for both her and I.

She doesn't have to be proficient at 'reverse cowgirl' (though it'd be a plus, hells yea), or anything like that.
If she wants me to do all the work in bed, that's fine too - although I'd love for her to feel free to use my penis while I watch passively now and again - even if I may not be able to completely remain uninvolved, I'll try my damn best if that's what she wants from me.

If porn has made me want anything in a woman, she has to not only enjoy sex with me because of our deepening connection, she has to enjoy sex itself because it's just one of the best things two people can do together with and for each other.
There are so many things I want to do for her, and so many things I want her to want to do to me, that have definitely been informed by porn. I'll own that. I don't live in a cave.
If she doesn't demand and enjoy those things, I have no interest in making her pretend to enjoy them for my sake, and I'm frankly turned off by a woman who thinks it's her responsibility to 'withstand' or 'suffer' his drives and urges.

0. I get that sexuality can include several forms of masoschism, but ultimately:
If you don't enjoy sex, that's too bad; perhaps you can still enjoy love? I don't know, I'm not wired that way.
Those who only enjoy sex BECAUSE their power overcame someone else's (there are many different subtle forms of rape and sexual violence), should be chlorinated from the gene pool; they are hindering the collective evolution of the human race [and obviously porn].

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I salute you sir. You put a... (Below threshold)

July 6, 2013 2:36 PM | Posted, in reply to Javier Marti's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I salute you sir. You put all my thoughts into a coherent argument. It's about time someone spoke about this. It really is.

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"A reader commented that I ... (Below threshold)

July 6, 2013 6:40 PM | Posted by American Yogi: | Reply

"A reader commented that I was minimizing porn's negative effect on women, that ubiquitous internet porn has damaged womens' psyches irreparably. That it makes women have to conform to some impossible standard."

- If she never watched porn then she'd have no idea what "porn standards" are and thus not feel the pressure to "conform" to them.

"Certainly porn puts pressure on women"

- It does? How so? It never puts pressure on me. I don't watch it. Even for people who do watch it the only way they could feel "pressured" by it is if they accept porn's standards as their own.

Why the hell would anyone do that?

"Not exactly-- they want to shave."

- Shave what?

"Why they want to is a cultural discussion, but it isn't because men are explicitly commanding them to do so."

- I don't know what you are referring to when you write "shave" but outside of porn shaving the legs and armpits is the mainstream norm for women in the US. They don't have to do it, I certainly don't, but I don't accept mainstream cultural standards as my own.

Now for sure, you might get some looks from people time to time in public, who cares?

If getting looks is something you as a woman are uncomfortable with and fitting into mainstream American culture and accepting its standards as your own, then go ahead and shave your pits and legs.

However know this - there are plenty of men out there who don't care if you shave your legs/pits or not, so you don't need to worry about lacking in dates and romance or a long term relationship and marriage.

I wouldn't recommened ANY woman to take on mainstream American values as her personal internal value system, what to speak of porns values and standards.

Basically what this piece says is that the standards of porn have become the standards of mainstream American.

I always knew this country was sick, now I know exactly how much.

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Obviously highspeed Interne... (Below threshold)

July 8, 2013 3:34 PM | Posted by Chris Lyte: | Reply

Obviously highspeed Internet porn isn't the only factor at work. That said, many men (and now women) remove this single factor...and notice profound changes in their enjoyment of sex, orgasm and partners. So it's good not to downplay it as an issue. Today's porn has a different effect on the brain than static porn did.
For more: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201202/guys-who-gave-porn-sex-and-romance

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Alone, I'm from India and m... (Below threshold)

March 13, 2014 10:32 PM | Posted by Anshuman: | Reply

Alone, I'm from India and men in India are just as narcissistic as men in the US but the birth rates in the two countries are vastly different. Why does the male narcissism not have similar impact there as well ?

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Hi, I find this very helpfu... (Below threshold)

November 3, 2014 1:16 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Bella: | Reply

Hi, I find this very helpful. Thank you all. I been with my boyfriend for about 6 years. He plays video games most of the time. We don't really go out. Is like he's done with having fun together. And I say together because sometimes when I'm working he does go out with friends (guys he says). Any ways that's not the problem I like when he has fun.
Our sexual life has gone from bad to worse. Lately we do it once a month. I'm 26 and he is 28. I am very good looking. I go to the gym constantly to keep my body in very good shape. He is good looking too. I cook very good. I always keep a clean house. I try to always be good to him. I know he loves me. Is just that he never initiates sexual encounters between us. I like for a guy to kiss me, and show me how much he wants me. He never does that. He always watches porn. I know for a fact. When I'm naked in front of him, he doesn't even look. What's going on?

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Javier I share your sentime... (Below threshold)

November 9, 2014 5:43 PM | Posted, in reply to Javier Marti's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Javier I share your sentiments, and I'm a female. I feel empathetic towards men on account of the sort of things you mentioned. Also consider how women can wear anything they please now (generally, in society, of course with specific exceptions pertaining to one's circumstance, but generally), yet menswear is limited (I mean I guess the Scots still can wear kilts -- and the Greco-Romans did wear togas...). Not that men want to wear dresses (I don't even), but why not? Exactly because they're conditioned not to want to. The Romans must have been comfortable enough.

But the lack of men's support groups/organizations or whatever the equivalent would be for what there is in place for women is not a problem (not suggesting you think it is either, don't know), it's the institutionalization in the first place, but that's born out of necessity I suppose given the vastness of our working society that is supposed to be maintained as a whole; it's entirely impersonal. That's all that's wrong with everything. Anything anyone stands for most often is just a representation, a model, fed to them, like TLP says whose soundbites appeal to them sort of thing... it encourages polarity, dualism, and therefore opposition. Women are waging a war, and some are justified in doing so, surely, but only against certain people who legitimately have harmed them. Those are particular cases. The idea society has is to render it a blanket case which is misleading. Some ladies are bat shit crazy too, harmful, violent, inconsiderate, ruthless, unethical and bad just like a bad man is. Yet a woman can hit a man and the man can't hit back, of course -- because he's stronger, and has an advantage, so it's not a fair fight.

But it's never a fair fight.

With regard to gender differences, interaction and morality, I do think that the most ethically practical approach is somewhere along the lines of striving for something like androgyny... in a behavioral and compassionate sense. Forgive me because I'm really not skilled at articulating myself and have virtually no practice in doing so in recent years as I'm just a dumb hermit. So my statements are stupidly vague and my thoughts underdeveloped and airy. But of course, society tries to depict men in a strictly manly fashion, with all the traits that go along with that traditional molding, and women as exceedingly feminine... submissive and slutty and other things... whole slews of things for either gender... I don't have to list them, we're all extremely aware, of course. The point is to separate everyone from each other. The men from the women and the manly men from the womanly ones and the masculine women from the feminine ones, along with any other shallow differences that take away from the real questions, and that might propagate individuals' feelings of either superiority or inferiority based on simple superficial shit with little examination. Behaving or at least perceiving yourself as more gender-characteristic-neutral isn't so conducive to the ego which is selfish and not conducive to the sustenance of humanity.

Semi-related reading see also Plato's Phaedrus.. (I'll guess TLP has probably read this already but for anyone who hasn't.)

-- The Idiot

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Phaedrus isn't about gender... (Below threshold)

November 9, 2014 6:01 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Phaedrus isn't about gender differences (this is the last commenter commenting again) but it is about platonic vs. romantic relationships which I think is relevant.

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That was well-articulated, ... (Below threshold)

November 9, 2014 6:58 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by johnnycoconut: | Reply

That was well-articulated, the last commenter! I enjoyed it. For the purposes of not being narcissistic, I think androgyny is not necessary/on its own sufficient but it can reduce a common risk factor for narcissism.

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