Pornography & Porn Addiction

Does Porn Demean Women?

I don’t think this is a very helpful question. Porn is a compendium of human fantasies about sexuality—and, therefore, about power, pleasure, connection, anger, fear, gender, desire, beauty, comfort, and the exotic, and many other things. Of course, human sexuality involves enormous doses of imagination. That’s part of what gives it so much impact in […]

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Rule 34: What It Says About Your Sexuality

Rule 34: If it exists, or you can imagine it, there is porn of it. No exceptions. Rule 34 summarizes everything about sexuality. It says that human sexual fantasy is limitless. It says that anything can be eroticized, can be arousing, can be life-affirming. It reminds us that any ideas we have about what’s normal sex are about us, not about sex. I’m always telling patients “don’t blame sex for your ideas about sex.” Rule 34 reminds us exactly what pornography is: a library of human eroticism. Pornography is a celebration of how humans can stretch their erotic imagination—sometimes in ways…

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No Mabel, You Don’t Have to Compete With Porn Actresses

One of the objections that some women have to their partners watching porn is “I can’t compete with the women in those videos.” The idea that a woman has to compete with the women or activities in porn films is an unfortunate misunderstanding. Now some women feel they have to compete with mainstream celebrities like Scarlett Johansson and Beyoncé (and before that, with Marilyn Monroe and Sharon Stone, and before that, with Cleopatra). That’s a fool’s errand that no one should attempt. These are professional; do not attempt to do their job in your home. If you’re smart enough to…

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Why does anyone look at porn?

Why does anyone look at porn? For tens of millions of American men and women, there’s only one answer: To get more sexually excited. The goal of getting excited, of course, is to enhance the process by which people eventually get not-excited—also called satisfaction. Lather, rinse, repeat three times per week for 75 years. How someone feels about that—deliberately doing something to get more aroused—is an excellent predictor of how they will feel about pornography. For those suspicious of sexual arousal, porn is bad. For those who think that tinkering with our own arousal is selfish or creepy, porn is…

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Nine Absolutely Untrue Myths About Porn—And One Fact We Can All Agree On

Opinions about porn are like noses—everybody has one. But varying opinions are so contradictory, they can’t all be right. We actually do know a lot about contemporary porn’s use and effects, so let’s get some knowable facts out on the table. * Myth: Porn is mostly violent and misogynist. * Fact: Most porn shows happy, smiling people doing fairly ordinary things. A lot of porn shows happy, smiling (and perhaps sweaty) people doing exotic things. And some porn shows adults pretending to play dominance and submission games. Pretending? Yes. The actors and actresses are acting. * Myth: Watching porn causes…

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Your Husband Watches Porn—Now What?

Another woman leaves my office, broken-hearted that her husband looks at porn. Or enraged that her husband looks at porn. Or terrified, confused, or ashamed. I understand the anguish, I do. It’s all the more poignant because it’s so unnecessary. Although porn feels like the problem, focusing on that rarely brings domestic peace or more intimacy. It certainly doesn’t bring more or better sex. Here’s what various women say they feel in this situation: * “I hate that he keeps secrets. I feel left out.” * “I can’t compete with those damn women who perform in porn films. I’ll never…

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