We’re halfway through No-Nut November, in which men attempt to improve their lives by eliminating masturbation, pornography, and ejaculation (to “nut”).
This started as a cute parody of viral challenges (remember the Ice Bucket Challenge?) involving a handful of guys on Reddit. But it’s now part of a nation-wide movement promoting damaging lies about medical, social, and psychological health. It isn’t little, it isn’t cute, and it definitely isn’t harmless.
Like so many things that take off on social media, No-Nut has metastasized into a darkly ominous grid of violent rhetoric, conspiracy theories, misogyny, anti-Semitism and white supremacy. The 55,000 No-Nutters have been overtaken by a million NoFappers (fap = to masturbate).
PORN = JEWS?
These NoFappers are convinced that “the Jews” are diabolically addicting Christian whites to pornography, who become progressively weaker by their repeated ejaculating (I am NOT making this up). So they see their own sexuality as the last protector of Western Civilization, and demand complete abstinence from self-pleasuring. It’s an epic battle between the clueless, effeminate masturbators and the courageous, well-informed NoFappers. These zealots say that anyone who denies that sex addiction and porn addiction are real is our nation’s enemy.
NoFap has been endorsed by Gavin McInnes, founder of The Proud Boys, and by David Duke of the Ku Klux Klan. Participants include Nicholas Roske, who attempted to murder U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh; and John Earnest, who shot up a synagogue in San Diego.
No wonder NoFap is now described as an “extremist” misogynist group by the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism. The Violent Extremism Risk Assessment says the term “NoFap” is associated with online violence and misogyny.
In the journal Deviant Behavior, researchers Nicole Prause and David Ley studied homicidal behaviors and calls for violence on Reddit NoFap forums. They found that NoFap has followers engaged in real murders, that NoFap posts are far more violent than comparable non-abstinence forums, and that their calls for violence are enthusiastically shared by followers.
NoFap posts repeatedly demand that porn actresses and producers kill themselves; short of that, they should be doxxed into stopping, or they should be murdered. Similarly, they explicitly demand that scientists who study porn be silenced. Prause and Ley have each received dozens of death threats, which the FBI says it takes seriously.
As if that weren’t enough to attract huge numbers of disaffected young men—including Incels—NoFap promotes the false ideas that quitting masturbation will have benefits, including an increase in both testosterone (and therefore attractiveness) and sperm quality.
TIKTOK: TERRIBLE SEXUAL HEALTH ADVICE
An enormous 2022 study showed that male sexual health topics are extraordinarily common on TikTok and Instagram. Unfortunately, most of what’s there is inaccurate. Semen retention and NoFap are the most widely posted male sexual health topics on Instagram (one million) and TikTok (one billion), but they also contain the least accurate health information.
Contrary to what people learn on social media, abstaining from masturbation is consistently associated with negative health outcomes. According to Dr. Rena Malik, a California urologist, these negative outcomes include:
~ A reduction in sperm quality
~ A decrease in testosterone level
~ Increased frequency of anxiety disorders, including Dhat Syndrome
~ Increased pelvic floor tension
~ Increased fear of, and alienation from, women
~ Increased frequency of “wet dreams” (not inherently negative, but freaky for some people)
Tens of millions of Americans feel out of control, in one or more domains: shopping, gambling, eating, drinking, masturbating, porn watching, Facebooking, even exercising.
But most people are NOT out of control, even if they feel that way. Most of us just don’t like the emotional work of tolerating how we feel when living lives of moderation. After all, unless you sort yourself out emotionally, it’s a never-ending job.
It’s bad enough to completely abstain from masturbating—it just makes people think about it more, and then they want to do it more. But demonizing your own sexuality and desperately fighting your own urges is problematic. The NoFap and No-Nut November echo chambers do more than just discourage masturbating; they promote bad ideology. As David Ley says, NoFap is “a creepy little smorgasbord of insecurity-driven hate with anti-Semitism, misogyny, and homophobia all rolled up in one.”
NOFAP: SOCIAL CONTROL THORUGH SHAME
And have you noticed that demonizing sexuality is always adjacent to demonizing women? (see: the Catholic Church, Iran’s Morality Police, America’s Incels.)
One of the most common issues I see in therapy is adults who feel guilty about their childhood sexuality or masturbation. Their current sexual dysfunction, anxiety disorders, depression, fear of intimacy, and poor boundaries are great for business, but bad for them and their loved ones. And frankly, incredibly sad to see.
Shame, of course, has historically been used by demagogues as a means of social control. NoFap claims to liberate men from the porn industry’s brainwashing, but demonizing something that virtually all young men want to do leads to the very shame and anger that makes them vulnerable to manipulation and violent ideology.
I know that many well-meaning clinicians recommend Sex/Porn Addicts Anonymous or groups like NoFap as part of helping clients to control their sexual behaviors. I urge these colleagues to reconsider this strategy.
After 42 years as a sex therapist, one thing is pretty clear: The world would be a better place if more people, not fewer, masturbated—and felt fine about it.
Like short videos about sex? See my Quickies at www.YouTube.com/@Marty_Klein. Like your wisdom even shorter? See www.Instagram.com/DoctorMartyKlein