Friday, June 12, 2009

What are the benefits and dangers of pornography?

Is it really as dangerous as many believe it to be? Can it be useful? Helpful? Does it degrade women and promote/tolerate sexual violence as some researchers say it does?

What about gay porn? Power imbalance does not exist in most mainstream gay porn thus eliminating the argument that all porn promotes domination and violence.

In fact, many women and even lesbians watch gay male porn because of the absence of social power imbalance. So the argument that pornography includes watching the victimization of a partner is not always true.

Is it always cheating? Can it be used to help couple's remain monogamous? Is it always addictive?

Tell me what you think here on my blog.


Alain Brouze said...

It is a big subject. In my religious tradition, the ethical value is liberty : so everyone must judge for himself what is good or not, folowing is personal responsability. Then, we must also think not only about the consummers, but also to the actors : the people they work in it must be protected and their rights granted. We can not only think selfishly when somebody is dealing with is own body for the pleasure of others.
Recently, I've discovered (may sounds strange, but I've been living many years in the closet with great repression) that I'm free to seek real sex with real partners if I want. Before, masturbation and the asiociated porn imagination or internet was my way to satisfy me : the consequence can be an isolated attitude and a low selfestime. And of course, I agree with Joe that you can amplify an addiccion to sex with porn, wich is a great problematic legacy in the gay culture.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Can pornography help couples remain monogamous (maried to one partner)? Your statement seems to imply that viewing porn makes some couples turn to polygamy. A clear corruption of language. Do mean that porn might interfer with fidelity?

Joe Kort said...

Annonymous you heard me correctly but I did not mean that viewing porn makes some couples turn to polygamy.

I meant that for many individuals--more males than females as the stats for male porn users are higher--using porn can stop men from cheating on their partners.

Instead of finding someone to act out their fantasies in reality, they can turn to pornography and remain monogamous while still fulfilling their sexual desires.

If their female partners are open to the sexual act they desire, many males say that is a bonus. Others say they enjoy looking at porn to fulfill their sexual fantasies that don't involve their partners and for them that helps them remain monogamous.

Dave Kavanagh said...

I feel that the benefits, or lack or them, for porn depends on the individual. I didn't come out until late in life because I had "built" this image that was based on social attitudes about being gay. It wasn't until I started exploring the gay world via the internet that I realized that there is not just one type of gay person. All my life I couldn't understand why I was masculine, yet always wanting to check out other guys since society had taught me that gay men were feminine. Seeing other guys like myself on gay porn sites exgaging in sexual acts made me realize that there was nothing wrong with me and that I was a gay man. For myself gay porn brought me out of the closet. I am now very happy, well adjusted and proud of who I am.

PK said...

Well I think in the long run Porn isn't helpful. It has only led me to feeling exploitive in a way that was cheap and ultimately unfulfilled. I saw this from my own experience. I agree with another comment I read that when I think of the lives of the people in the magazine or video and how I've never heard a happy story about any of them I feel it leads me to feel that porn isn't the way to grow.. Granted I've seen my share and I suppose it's something everyone has to find for themselves but that's where I've come to in my understanding.

Mac said...

Hi Joe,

On your strong recommendation, I bought and read Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel. It was (as usual) good advice. In response to this post, I looked back through the book and failed to find a specific discussion of porn. And I think that’s significant.

It’s not about the porn; it’s about our imagination.

I thought these quotes from Esther were germane.

“The central agent of eroticism is the human imagination, but for many people the project of sexual self-discovery is hampered by parental messages that induce fear, guilt, and mistrust. (p 109)

“Fantasies are an ingenious way our creative mind overcomes all sorts of conflicts around desire and intimacy . . . . In the sanctuary of the erotic mind, we find a psychological safe space to undo the inhibitions and fears that roil within us. Our fantasices allow us to negate and undo the limits imposed on us by our conscience, by our culture, and by our self-image.” (p. 156)

“Understanding what our fantasies do for us will help us understand what it is we’re seeking, sexually and emotionally.” (p. 174)

Porn is a way to help us to understand and develop our fantasies.

There are many instances in your book “Gay Affirmative Therapy for the Straight Clinician” where you cite porn as a legitimate way of coping. For instance, when a couple discovers that they have a gay/straight relationship, the emotional bond of their love (agape) may continue to hold them together even though the physical side of their love (eros) is diminished.

Then there’s this comment by Dan Savage in his Savage Love column dated April 30, 2009: “It wouldn't bother me if [my boyfriend] was looking at porn -- I'd be concerned if he wasn't looking at porn.”

Bob (Macsband)

Sir said...

There are two sides to this for me. I have posed naked, and it can be found on the net, periodicals, and also in a couple of galleries. I have had a lot of "fan" mail, I don't see the big deal about this. Our society has changed. The Greeks, and Romans were naked half the time, and their sexual escapades ended up on walls and pottery. Do we get our sexual ideas from what we see? Probably, and what is so wrong with this?

Joe Kort said...


Thanks for clarifying for me what is *not* in Esther Perel's Dating in Captivity book. I know she talks about it in her talks as I have heard her many times and just thought I had seen it in the book as well.

Also THANK YOU for all those pieces from her book. Her book is so rich and good that a lot gets lost for me unless I go back and re-read it. I am glad you enjoyed it.

Mac said...

Also germane to any serious discussion of pornography is Dr. Michael Bader's book (also recommended by you): Male Sexuality: Why Women Don't Understand It - And Men Don't Either. See Chapter 3: The Appeal of Pornography and Internet Sex, and Chapter 6: Sexual Aggression and Pornography - Myths and Realities.

loosecanon1 said...

Really grateful this conversation is happening at this point in my life: I am coming-out in my 70th year and wrestling with the pluses and minuses of porn. Have been helped by Sexual Compulsives Anonymous. And yet, still not clear whether the 12-step language is accurate for myself (ie, "admitted I am powerless..."). What I CAN admit to, is that my attraction to internet gay porn has been very costly in terms of time, to both my work and my relationships, and thus for me has been 'addictive.' So...still wrestling with all this, and feel that the very wrestling itself is a valuable component of my growth.

Anonymous said...

For myself, I am rather ambivalent about porn. It is rare for me to seek it out on a continual basis. In my walk through the internet, items do come before my face that will make me want to see a particular person or activity in a sexual backdrop/action and I will probably go that extra click to view it. I know I enjoy amateur porn over the glossy mass produced stuffs.

What I observed about porn and myself was that before I came out of the closet, I did purchase it for viewing and masturbation purposes (this was the pre personal computer ownership time period).

But once I came out to myself, it was the real thing, sex with another man that was more important to me. I found the real thing much more arousing and rewarding.

What was even more rewarding was to experience actual intimacy (physical/emotional) with another man that had the same feelings for me. With this backdrop, porn really had no pull on me at all.

My partner has what would be the most opposite view/need of porn compared to me. Of course how I view my partner and his porn habits is impacted by the filters I utilize in viewing the world. In my view I see how he is consumed with porn. I see his porn habit as an escape for him. I see his eyes dilated by the continual rush he is receiving with each new click of the mouse. I see what things get ignored in his (our) life due to this ferocious appetite.

I believe there is a benefit to porn if a couple can incorporate it into their personal sex life to spice things up with both open to this idea. I also agree with the idea that it could be a good outlet of sorts for a partner that wants to remain faithful without loosing the danger of something new. I also believe it could be a great conduit of acting out sexually with each other if one finds it difficult to verbalize a specific need or curiosity.

From my perspective porn is a third partner in my relationship and this could very well be the danger. I have evolved to accept this third partner. At first I was in a continual mode of competing with my partner's porn to get his attentions. If I were continually silent about its impact on me and our relationship I would be sleeping with someone that has a painfully swollen penis coupled with me being exhausted from the chores of home ownership to watching television by myself with a feeling of sexual/intimate neglect.

I have personally grown to the point of knowing that his porn appetite is not about me. I can strongly state now that "I am not responsible for our struggling intimacy". I can now easily reject any sentence or implied notion that attempts to make his porn use my responsibility.

If only he could recognize how his concept of omission of how it consumes him is very transparent to me. My partner does hear and see me but there is a conflict for him in trying to "have it all". I understand that it is his path to recognize what porn does to him and he may or may not ever view this impact the way I do.

And for those that may want to view me as a sexual porn prude with all of this, I personally do believe in gay monogamy. But to accommodate my partner's sexual appetite and my own, we have become swingers as defined by the book "Boy Crazy". Even with this step, porn volume and its impact on our relationship, in my view, has not changed.

Sir said...

Pornography isn't real life, and that is where the danger is. I wrote that I have posed naked in a couple of periodicals, and also an artist rendered me in a carving, and several paintings. I worked out in preparation for the shoot, and then the photographer/ editor captured what they wanted for print. The aritist has me hung like an elephant! This is great to look at, but isn't real. Guys love the image of me, but knowing the real me? As for that one movie scene of five minutes that gets a viewer to "shoot their load", it may take one to two days to film. My porn image has me in a Jeep, owning a bar, on the beach naked daily, sleeping naked with a new hot guy each and every day. In reality, I don't live near the ocean, I drive a Lexus SUV, I am a librarian, share a house with a female social worker, and I sleep alone in pj.s. My 20+ year partner died from lung cancer, and I just haven't felt like dating,yet. Gay porn does have its place, since the naked male image hasn't been allowed for hundreds of years. I like getting together with my Warrior group each week, and Saturday night is usually with good friends over supper. I am a real person, my "naked image" isn't. Guys need to realize that, and not waste too much time with the fantasy. Even I can't complete with me!

Anonymous said...

What about the issue how porn industry is related to prostitution, drugs,STD´s, human trafficing etc? I recently watched videos where Shelley Lubben, former porn star, is telling her story ( + others), and it totally changed my perspective about porn. I know some people may judge her work since she is presenting it as a Christian, but for me (being the average person when it comes to being religious) it was really the story from her experience in the pornindustry and how/why she entered it that really made me think again about my perspective of porn. I never really gave thought to that I might be watching people being abused! It leaves a kind of strange feeling having used other people´s traumatic life as a way of enhancing one´s own sex life... Do the rest of us have the courage to really face that subject in a non-defensive way? Here is her link in case you haven´t seen it.
I would love to read your comments on this.