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.