A Word About Porn

Posted On: June 29, 2016

Recently, Straits Times published research about childhood exposure to porn. I just wrote a forum letter in response to it (will let you know if it is published). I am also inspired to share this essay which is in my second book Orgasmic Yoga.

With easy access to online porn, many people use porn as part of their masturbation. Both men and women can get turned on by things they can see. Most men who come in to seek my services admit to masturbating to porn from puberty. They would explain that they “need” the images to become sexually excited enough for ejaculation because they are “visual”. They use porn for a “quick release” so that they can feel relax or sleep better after.

laptopMen who like porn come in because of one or two of these reasons: erectile difficulties (cannot get or stay erect), delayed ejaculation (cannot eject when they wish to), or early ejaculation (ejaculation happening sooner than they would like). Once a physical cause is ruled out, their difficulties usually stem from a lack of understanding about their own arousal (which this book will address under Sexual Response Cycle).

Most of my male clients would admit that the idea of not masturbating to porn (even if once in a while) never crossed their minds, but instead were using porn every single time they masturbated. Indeed, why change a good thing if it works? Why change the way you masturbate at all?

While many medical professionals are conflicted on this issue of porn usage, it has been documented that heavy and compulsive use of pornography results in neurological effects. To put plainly, consistent and long-term use of porn can wire your body-mind connection when it comes to sex with a partner. It affects your ability to express yourself in sexual relationships.

  • Porn as sexual education – Porn depicts visually how to “get it done.” Many young people are learning about sex through pornography, for lack of other sources of information. Over time, these porn images and portrayals become embedded as part of their thought patterns – fantasies, dreams and even subconscious mind. Many people, at some point in their lives with a partner they are comfortable with, would like to try sex with porn. That, by itself, is not harmful.
  • Porn can lead to performance anxiety – There are many people who begin to develop distorted ideas of what sex is or ought to be like, and become disappointed when their actual experiences do not match up to what was portrayed. Similarly we can build up idealized and unrealistic images of intimacy and relationships, and become sorely disappointed or feel like failure if we have anything short of picture-perfect.
  • Porn can lead to negative perceptions about our bodies – Not all men have huge penises, or women big boobs. Not everybody is capable of having sex for a long time or climax again and again. They might compare themselves against porn actors, feel inadequate and become perpetually unsatisfied with their own bodies and sexual performance.
  • Porn as all about him only – Most porn is created by men for men. In porn, the male actor is always the star as well as initiator and aggressor. Men can identify with or model the porn actors by tapping into their inner performer or ‘star.’ The show ends with his cum shot. No wonder it is off-putting for most women. For less offensive porn, you could key in web search terms like “ethical porn” or “porn for women by women”. The work of Candida Royalle is a good place to start.
  • Porn does not teach intimacy – The emotional intimacy longed for as part of or after sex is usually not depicted but instead all about their male ejaculation and his lust. This really does a number on authentic connection during sex.
  • Porn can result in spectatoring – Spectatoring is when you find yourself watching or observing yourself (“How am I doing?” vs. “How does my partner feel?”). This fixation with performance could also short-circuit actually being present in the experience and enjoying the sexual experience. Hence, while one might perform “well” sexually, they may not necessarily be a good lover in terms of meeting their partner’s emotional, sexual and intimacy needs.

With all I’ve said, no wonder there is a big fear around “porn addiction.” Keep in mind that not everybody who watches porn does so regularly, some watch too much of it or become obsessive about it. We are not all made the same. There is no one size fits all. The effects of porn will differ person to person.

I believe that there is absolutely nothing “unhealthy” or abnormal with watching porn in and of itself. As long as they are legal adult movies, and where everyone involved including those who are watching are consenting, there is nothing inherently bad about pornography.

  • Is there such a thing as addiction to porn? – How much porn is too much porn? Who decides? Is this person watching porn every day – 24 x 7? Are they able to function in their work? The amount of anxiety about porn watching in our culture is staggering. The same people who have addictive personality are more likely to be sexually compulsive.
  • I am worried. What can I do to help? – If you believe somebody close to you is displaying sexually compulsive behavior, the first thing I want to suggest is that you talk to them about it. Without being judgmental, find out what they like about porn. Is it the fantasy? Are there things they want to try? Is it out of boredom or habit? If your partner is seeking variety within the relationship – not physically unfaithful, could you deal with it? To some extent, relationships are about compromise, and this may be a time when one or both of you will have to meet somewhere in the middle. More understanding on your part of what is going on, and being less judgmental about his behavior will already help the current situation.
  • We spoke and I am still upset. – In general, men do not view porn or solo sex as a sign of infidelity. Sexuality is so complex and complicated that it is unlikely we will ever share all our partners’ sexual interests. If you find yourself unable to work it through alone, it may be helpful to talk to a sexologist or psychotherapist who could help untangle some of the issues.

“Masturbation: the primary sexual activity of mankind. In the nineteenth century it was a disease; in the twentieth, it’s a cure.”
― Thomas Szasz

Who is Martha?

marthaFounder of Eros Coaching, Dr. Martha Tara Lee is a Clinical Sexologist in Singapore who has a doctorate in human sexuality. She also holds certificates in counselling, coaching and sex therapy. In practice for seven years now, she is the only certified sexuality educator by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) in Singapore. This accolade is only for those who meet the stringent requirements determined by AASECT, which is the leading professional organization for sexuality educators, sexuality counselors and sex therapists in the United States.

Often cited in the local media, Dr. Lee is the appointed sex expert for Men’s Health Singapore, and Men’s Health Malaysia. She was recognised as one of ‘Top 50 Inspiring Women Under 40′ by Her World in July 2010, and one of ‘Top 100 Inspiring Women’ by CozyCot in March 2011. She has published two books: Love, Sex and Everything In-Between, and Orgasmic Yoga.

Martha works with individuals and couples in private coaching sessions, and conducts her own workshops. She takes prides in making sure all her workshops are also fun, educational, and sex-positive. This comes easily to her because even though she is extremely dedicated and serious about her work, she fundamentally believes that sex is meant to be fun, wonderful, amazing and sacred. As such, this serious light-heartedness has shone through again and again. You can read the testimonials she’s received over her seven years of practice here. For her full profile, click here.

For mindful masturbation as your solution to becoming a more confident and skillful lover, be sure to purchase my second book, Orgasmic Yoga here. (P.S. It’s a good book because I wrote it!)

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