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The Porn Identity: Is online pornography warping the minds of an entire generation of young men?
02:15 pm
The Porn Identity: Is online pornography warping the minds of an entire generation of young men?

Over a decade ago, I directed a piece for television about “extreme” pornography and the societal effects it would have on a generation of young men who were but a mouse-click away from “Anal Armageddon 3,” “Barnyard Fun” and midget gangbang videos. They didn’t even have to suffer through the hang-dog wanker’s ignominy of dealing with a frowning video store clerk, it was just there already, right in their very homes.

For many young men coming of age in the past decade, probably more than anything else, the Internet represents a Pandora’s Box of digital perversions that can often be quite specific. 12% of all websites are pornographic in nature and 25% of all Internet search terms are for porn. Around the time that modems got fast enough to allow for video streaming, there seemed to be a corresponding spike in how sick, twisted and violent porn could get, each fuck film auteur trying to outdo the rest of them and raising the bar little by little, one fucked-up “gonzo” scene at a time.

Surely having such violent and dehumanizing images seared onto one’s retinas at the point of orgasm, I don’t think could ever be considered a healthy thing... Certainly it might at least prove to be, well, confusing, if not far, far worse, when a generation of men are getting their sex education from the likes of Max Hardcore. One of the interviewees I talked to, Australian writer Luke Ford, said that pornography was for the soul what cigarettes are for the lungs. Author Anka Radakovich, who was also in the program, mused that it might take ten to fifteen years before the full data was in and to get back to her with the same questions then.

It’s been thirteen years now since that TV piece and “Did Porn Warp Me Forever?” a brutally honest essay about growing up with unlimited access to smut from 23-year-old Brooklyn-based writer “Isaac Abel” (not his real name for obvious reasons), I think, has some answers for us:

With a teenage sex drive only inhibited by a vague shame, I quickly fell down a “kink spiral.” After all, we’re talking about reaching climax — when the overriding thought is often just “more!” The unknown, the unseen, was sexy to me, and I pursued novelty with vigor.

I found myself rapidly desensitized to online images. If a threesome was kinky last week, then I’d need something wilder this week. To reach climax, I had to find that same toxic mix of shame and lust.

By my sophomore year in high school I felt torn. Even though I was fairly certain that most guys my age were regular porn watchers, I felt ashamed about the type of porn that I was watching (not something that even the son of psychotherapists was eager to share with friends).


These questions continued to bother me. I worried that real girls wouldn’t do it for me. So my senior year in high school, I decided to quit. Cold turkey. For five months. I actually decided not to masturbate at all, and I had few sexual encounters. It was refreshing, and I definitely became more easily turned on by “traditional” things — including the women around me.

But when I started having sex, I realized that I had far from cleansed myself, even though I had continued (and continue still) to keep up my boycott on pornography. I had trouble getting and maintaining an erection with the first three women I slept with. This didn’t feel like a small matter. It seemed like all the schoolyard jockeying ultimately came down to that moment of phallic power, and I just couldn’t do it. Was I more turned on by porn than by real women? What did that mean about my sexuality?

I starting seeing a young woman regularly, and some confluence of alcohol, weed, no condom, and the trust, comfort, and affection I felt with her allowed me to start enjoying sex — to an extent. I wouldn’t acknowledge it, but the majority of nights I had “good sex” I was intoxicated. And, what’s worse, I was fantasizing about porn during sex.

It was a dissociative, alienating, almost inhuman task to close my eyes while having sex with someone I really cared about and imagine having sex with someone else or recall a deviant video from the archives of my youth that I was ashamed of even then.

I’ve talked with other millennial men who’ve experienced this, and it’s not particularly surprising. A decade before we were having intercourse, our neural pathways associated ejaculation with an addictive, progressive perversity that demanded a superlative overstimulation — skipping from climactic scene to climactic scene so that it’s always the most novel, deviant, kinky.

You get the picture and it’s not a very pretty one.

Read more of Did Porn Warp Me Forever? (it’s excellent stuff) at AlterNet.

Posted by Richard Metzger
02:15 pm



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