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It would be impossible for me to summarize research psychologist Dr. Jesse Bering’s sprawling essay, One reason why humans are special and unique: We masturbate. A lot, so I won’t even try. However, amongst the more interesting things discussed in the article—trust me, it’s a great read—is the fact that most men basically need to spill their seed, drain the vein, etc, at minimum, every 72 hours. Pair that notion with studies that found women’s bodies rejected sperm that had overstayed its welcome in the male testes (had not been flushed out) by 48 hours.
Masturbation a biological imperative? Looks that way. As Bering points out in the article, imagine if only our parents had known this! The male libido has been exonerated!
But as the article is, as I wrote above, difficult to summarize, here are the final paragraphs, going straight to the punch line, so to speak, where Bering ties together all that had come before quite nicely:
The Psychological Bulletin article on sexual fantasy is chockfull of interesting facts, and those with a more scholarly interest in this subject should read it themselves. [...] But Leitenberg and Henning’s piece was written over fifteen years ago, summarizing even older research. The reason this is important is because it was still long before the “mainstreaming” of today’s Internet pornography scene, where zero is left to the imagination.
And so I’m left wondering … in a world where sexual fantasy in the form of mental representation has become obsolete, where hallucinatory images of dancing genitalia, lusty lesbians and sadomasochistic strangers have been replaced by a veritable online smorgasbord of real people doing things our grandparents couldn’t have dreamt up even in their wettest of dreams, where randy teenagers no longer close their eyes and lose themselves to the oblivion and bliss but instead crack open their thousand-dollar laptops and conjure up a real live porn actress, what, in a general sense, are the consequences of liquidating our erotic mental representational skills for our species’ sexuality? Is the next generation going to be so intellectually lazy in their sexual fantasies that their creativity in other domains is also affected? Will their marriages be more likely to end because they lack the representational experience and masturbatory fantasy training to picture their husbands and wives during intercourse as the person or thing they really desire?
I’m not saying porn isn’t progress, but I do think that over the long run it could turn out to be a real evolutionary game-changer.