04 May 2009

The Challenge

Tricky asked me to write about porn consumption from the other angle. She asked if I could speak to the experience of people who frequently look to porn either as a supplement to or a foundation of their sex life.

That’s a sensitive topic for me. As I’ve discussed before, I’ve been in the unfortunate position of trying to sustain a relationship with someone who was/became more likely to look to porn for their sexual release than to me. Therefore, it’s hard to talk about the reasons why someone might feel entitled to watch porn without feeling a sense of outrage or shame. Outrage because of how he made me feel; shame because of how I feel I created that need.

Before I continue, I need to link to this article about porn in relationships. It popped up a couple of weeks ago and I meant to link to it then, but it feels more relevant now. In fact, when I read it, I’m kind of stunned that I didn’t write the e-mail that prompted the article. The only difference between her experience and mine is that I’m not married.


I can certainly understand why someone consumes porn overall. I understand that it serves a purpose. Whether that purpose leads to deviant behaviour or serves as catharsis is as individual as the person viewing it. But why would someone do it when it’s hurtful to someone else? Some theories:

LONELINESS - When you’re not making connections – sexual or otherwise – with other human beings, maybe the only intimacy you can get is through watching the most intimate thing two people can do. Maybe you’ve been hurt or shamed so much, that observing someone else’s experience is the only safe way to feel it for yourself. Maybe the easiest thing to do is turn on the computer and put yourself in the roll of someone else who doesn’t seem to have any hang-ups or self-consciousness about what they’re doing.

FRUSTRATION - Maybe you’re not getting what you want. And maybe you don’t know how to communicate what that want is. Maybe you have a fetish that you don’t think a partner would understand or that you’re too ashamed to vocalize it because of popular perceptions of the act. Maybe you’ve been put off so much that the porn is the only outlet.

REJECTION - If your partner turns you down often enough, I’m sure that porn becomes a viable option for sexual release. Having a computer in another room makes it easy to watch and imagine those fantasies without disturbing your partner. Maybe it’s just easier to stay up another half hour while your partner sleeps and you can partially get what you want. You can at least pretend, and you can also imagine that you’re in control by turning on porn and deciding what type you want and how long you want to let it go. You also get to remain sexual to the exclusion of your partner and it’s their loss if they don’t want to participate. In fact, maybe you even enjoy leaving your partner out of it because they don’t deserve it.

I think porn is a way of being in control. It’s so readily available, that you can find any type at any time and make decisions about when, where, how often, how long, etc. You don’t need anyone else’s approval or permission.

ENTITLEMENT - This one is my favourite. Some people, because of certain things that have happened to them, feel that they are above everyone else. Maybe because they were spoiled and coddled as children; maybe because they think they were deprived or neglected as children. Maybe because the media bombards them with sexual images and they get the message that they deserve it too. We all have a right to sexuality, and maybe this is the best access someone has to it. Plus with approximately 266 new porn sites daily (check the link for more great stats), it's not like anyone prolific is sending the message that we're doing something wrong. The internet is just making a point of how desired it is. So, why wouldn't someone feel like they should be able to consume as much as they want?

I find it interesting that I can talk about this with a certain amount of empathy. At first I thought that it would destroy me, but I think I let myself get too worked up by my experience. Having written this, I realize that, yeah, it bugged me to write from the perspective of not considering the harm that could come of the consumption, but I also started to see how it wasn't just a choice at first, especially when the initial use was based on ignorance of the consequences. The real choice came in after it was raised as a damaging issue and those pleas went ignored. That's when the hurt started.


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