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Did porn warp me forever? Like other boys my age, I grew up with unlimited access to smut. At 23, I wonder if it's totally screwed me up

Posted by on Jan. 13, 2013 at 10:08 PM
  • 25 Replies

Did porn warp me forever?

Like other boys my age, I grew up with unlimited access to smut. At 23, I wonder if it's totally screwed me up


Did porn warp me forever? (Credit: gremlin via iStock)

It was the era of Kazaa and we knew no better. Among my group of male friends at my austere private elementary school, watching, discussing and even sharing pornography became a sexual outlet. With the ease of downloading, we would burn CDs and swap them in school with “clever” titles taken from some album with a vague penis reference (like Will Smith’s ignominious “Big Willie Style”). That way, we could talk about porn in public, asking each other on field trips, “What did you think of that new Craig David CD I burned for you?” The “inside joke” rose to evil middle-school comic genius when other students bought the actual music albums to get in on the trend. It was a typical preteen hijink, except that the images on those CDs were far more raw than the traditional Playboy pin-up.

Both of my parents were shrinks, and even though I was generally comfortable talking about sex in my household, porn — especially the porn I was watching — just had to be taboo. It was inexplicably gross, divorced from the concept of sex as it had been explained to me. If sex was a man inserting his penis into a woman’s vagina, then how did girls drinking cum out of champagne glasses fit into that picture? Because of its unspeakable nature, Internet porn became inextricably linked with the anxiety of being caught.

I would sneak downstairs to the family computer once the house was dark. As I would settle into the polyester-cotton seat of the swivel chair and open a browser, my heart would thump with a mix of thrill and shame, my ears perked for any reason to abort my mission — zip, pull and dart with an excuse ready about checking the weather for tomorrow. (An excuse that worked more than once. I was a tidy kid). The terror and guilt would only be overridden with lust once the videos began to stream. It was an addict’s high, a high-stakes heist for sexual pleasure — an association that would not soon recede in my primal brain.

I distinctly remember the first time I ejaculated. Even back then it felt weirdly insidious — an innocent, exuberant, almost ancient moment of sexual development, stained with the futuristic debasement of a flashing screen. I leapt up from the chair at the family computer and bounded upstairs to the bathroom. I looked into the mirror, truly proud that I could now fulfill my procreative proclivities, and raised my arms and said out loud to myself, “I can be a dad.”

When I was 13, we moved to a new house with a lock on the computer room door. I was still cautious, but a few times I had my pants down when I heard the clicking of someone jiggling the locked doorknob.

Were you watching pornography?

No.

We checked the history, and there were porn sites on it.

Must be a virus.

It’s an impasse that many parents and children have known. It’s not just that it’s embarrassing, it’s paralyzing — no one knows how or exactly why to move forward. What, you want me to admit that I was watching porn? What does that do? Am I supposed to be ashamed of this? Do you expect me to stop? Everyone I know is doing this!

* * *

Those of you who’ve browsed youporn.com or redtube.com or any other porn site know the set up. The sidebar will list the categories: Mature, Hentai, S&M, gangbang, foot fetish, redhead. Under each category there are pictures and videos (but c’mon, who would look at pictures when there are videos?), and with a fast enough Internet connection, you can skip to your favorite part of a video and move on to another.

Lesbian kissing *click* blow job *click* cum shot *click* threesome *click* orgy

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).

In English class, we were reading “The Scarlet Letter” and the teacher told us to write down a secret that we would never want anyone to know. I scribbled down, “I’ve watched cartoon porn.” (Actually, I was so frightened of discovery that I wrote it in code). And I had. And MILF porn. And “bukkake.” And rape. And all manners of things that I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing in real life — for moral reasons, sure, but also because it wouldn’t even necessarily turn me on to do these things in real life. But I had watched them, and I was ashamed. And I wasn’t sure if I should be or not.

For one thing, I wasn’t hurting anybody. And for another, these sites put that pornography up there! They must be doing that because people want to watch it, right? I didn’t dream it up. I just clicked through the categories of what was there by popular demand. So it was normal, right? Did that make it OK?

* * *

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.

Furthermore, because I learned to cum from watching porn (I had watched porn even before I had first ejaculated), I never even had the chance to learn how to achieve an orgasm without a voyeuristic element — through an exploration of my bodily sensations or fantasies of intimacy that I conjured myself. I — and I don’t think I’m alone here — conditioned myself with the help of Internet pornographers to pair the feeling of ejaculation with the specific images that those sites provided. And even years later, I couldn’t cum without them.

This didn’t stop me from cumming, of course, since the images were seared into my brain. I can still exactly recall videos that I haven’t watched for six or seven years.

Even now, my “fantasies” are essentially rooted in the fantasies of my 14-year-old self. Age discrepancies in sex? Rape or S&M? These are fantasies of power and domination. This is not a particularly unusual (or necessarily bad) sexual preference, but it’s a nearly predetermined result for an immature adolescent being given a vast selection of pornography with no guidance.

I worried that Internet porn had forever warped my sexual development. I mean, if it’s playing on loop in my head, can I ever really stop “watching” porn?

* * *

It’s gotten better. I’ve had several long-term relationships, read some Foucault and even had a chance to experiment a bit with kinkier sex. What helped the most was talking to friends, particularly women, who have had more positive relationships with masturbation. A female friend explained how she used to have rape fantasies and wasn’t thrilled about it, so through masturbation she found ways to be turned on by “beauty,” whether a sculpted body or an open field. Another friend who had been masturbating from a very young age but had never watched pornography told me that she never fantasized in a voyeuristic way, but instead would remember a particular setting or feeling that aroused her, like waking up next to someone in a mess of sheets.

Now, I’m trying to reprogram myself — unlearn my socialized sexuality. But that’s left me very confused. I mean, what am I really trying to do? Discover my “natural” sexual attraction? Sexiness is always constructed — it used to be normatively hot to be fat and pale! What’s really the alternative to the socialized, porn-inspired sexiness that I’m seeking?

I think in the end, I just want to feel good about feeling good — to dislodge disgrace, guilt and addictive perversity from the part of my brain that controls arousal. I think kinky sex is wonderful; it acknowledges how shame, domination and weirdness truly pervade sexuality. But, I want to be able to explore kink — not be resigned to it. I’m grateful for my generation’s embrace of sexual liberation, but this feels more like a cage.

I feel estranged from my sexuality, like it’s somebody else’s. I want to reclaim my sexual desires. I’m not attempting to perform conversion therapy on myself to rid myself of the demons of my porno past. I’m trying to go back to 2002 and take away the computer and figure out what feels good through honest sensual exploration.

I lay in the bathtub and let the warm water rise around my thighs. My exposed parts feel unduly detected, like they know they’re the center of attention. I close my eyes and touch. Chest, stomach, hips — hair, neck, shoulders. Once I get to my penis, the discrepancy in sensitivity is startling. Rather than restraining fantasies, or intentionally focusing on them to get off, I try my best to be mesmerized by the touch — as though I’m only just discovering myself.

I can get off without thinking of anything “shameful” or pornographic, but it’s not as much fun — it physically doesn’t feel as good. Should I just resign myself to replaying MILFs with whips and chains in my head as I fuck someone I’ll never find sexy? Maybe I can find a cougar I can love or a partner who can convincingly role-play? Or should I keep exploring my body and hope that the pollution of XXX videos slowly clears from my masturbatory fantasies to reveal more dream-like, meditative, present, fleshy, alive states of mind and body?

If there’s an answer out there, it’s probably on the Internet.

*click*

by on Jan. 13, 2013 at 10:08 PM
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Replies (1-10):
futureshock
by Ruby Member on Jan. 13, 2013 at 10:09 PM

This happens more often and to more men than many of us care to believe.

Veni.Vidi.Vici.
by on Jan. 13, 2013 at 10:13 PM
6 moms liked this

My biggest issue with porn and kids who view it always has been and will continue to be the fantasy that it portrays. Porn is for adults and/or sexually active people. I don't think porn is hideous, but I do feel that it can warp a kid and create delusions about sex.

Good post

coupon_ash_back
by on Jan. 13, 2013 at 10:20 PM
4 moms liked this
Its a shame (in MY opinion) that porn was even invented. I don't have anything against the adult industry when it comes to toys and other products...but porn just isn't my cup of tea, and I find it nauseating that so many people find it to be normal. I am definitely not a prude either.
FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Jan. 13, 2013 at 10:32 PM
2 moms liked this


Quoting coupon_ash_back:

Its a shame (in MY opinion) that porn was even invented. I don't have anything against the adult industry when it comes to toys and other products...but porn just isn't my cup of tea, and I find it nauseating that so many people find it to be normal. I am definitely not a prude either.

I agree with you.

areid1023
by Silver Member on Jan. 13, 2013 at 10:37 PM

this.

Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:

My biggest issue with porn and kids who view it always has been and will continue to be the fantasy that it portrays. Porn is for adults and/or sexually active people. I don't think porn is hideous, but I do feel that it can warp a kid and create delusions about sex.

Good post


 my little bug! 11-29-08

Paperfishies
by Silver Member on Jan. 13, 2013 at 10:37 PM
1 mom liked this
Hmm. I think if porn is watched from such a young age it can be damaging, he said elementary school was when he started, sad.

Personally, I enjoy porn and I like watching it with my husband.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
lga1965
by on Jan. 13, 2013 at 10:42 PM
1 mom liked this

 

Quoting coupon_ash_back:

Its a shame (in MY opinion) that porn was even invented. I don't have anything against the adult industry when it comes to toys and other products...but porn just isn't my cup of tea, and I find it nauseating that so many people find it to be normal. I am definitely not a prude either.

 Yup, I agree. I have seen porn. I'm not a prude, but I wish it had never been invented.  If anyone has ever seen the average every day porn, the funny stuff that is only semi-porn.....OR the really bad bad back-alley porn in Europe....well, you would agree with me that there is no justification for porn.It objectifies everyone involved, not just the women, It makes people think that the most important thing in life is sex...all kinds of sex with all kinds of people at any time, any place and that dehumanizes and degrades human beings and rejects the concept of love and fidelity. It does warp young minds. It can prevent them from being able to see the opposite sex as people to admire,respect and cherish. I was a married grown up when I saw some extremely crappy porn in Germany with two other couples in a little bar. It took us wives weeks to recover from it...LOL. No kidding,we were traumatized. Its not a good thing, trust me.

Its bad.

futureshock
by Ruby Member on Jan. 13, 2013 at 10:48 PM


Quoting coupon_ash_back:

Its a shame (in MY opinion) that porn was even invented. I don't have anything against the adult industry when it comes to toys and other products...but porn just isn't my cup of tea, and I find it nauseating that so many people find it to be normal. I am definitely not a prude either.

DITTO.

turtle68
by Mahinaarangi on Jan. 13, 2013 at 10:57 PM

 Sexual fantasizing has been around for millenium...its what shapes mens desires and attraction, be it the weather lady, the kid next door or their first time with a big woman. Its what they go back to when they masturbate or have sex.

Porn to the extent that this man was exposed to as a boy child is way out of the limits of normal IMO.

My son (then 14) was caught watching porn that he had been sent to him via email by a school friend.  What worried me the most was the type of porn that he had been sent.  It started a discussion on sex and what is appropriate and what is not.  Porn was discussed at length in regards to how it can affect the actual act.  Yes it did become uncomfortable every now and then LOL

It also had his friend blocked from his email list and a threat to that boy that his parents will be involved if any emails are sent to my son.  (I did not feel the need to expose his parents to his internet usuage)

Ive spoken with many women who faked orgasm and became so entrenched in faking one that they didnt know how to have one spontaneously.  IMO same thought process.

Bookwormy
by Platinum Member on Jan. 13, 2013 at 10:59 PM
1 mom liked this

Man, I feel for him.  Talk about be stuck between a rock & a hard place.

Seriously though, I hate when I work with youth who have been exposed to porn at such a young age.  Its not his fault really.  Its there, its available.  What kid is going to say no to it?  But is is so bad for them.  This guy is the perfect example if the long-term effects of porn on elementary & middle school age children.  His parents should have supervised & monitored his computer time much more closely.  I think/hope that we are much more aware now of DD's access to the internet.

 I will also add that not all porn is degrading.  Not all porn gives a bad view of the opposite sex.  For one thing, some porn is specifically made by & for viewing for gays or lesbians.  Some is made to be very respectfully.  I know that there is some awful stuff out there.  But it isn't all awful.  Neither all the straight stuff is awful, nor all the queer stuff is awful.  Just because some of you have been exposed to some horrendous stuff doesn't man all porn is bad.  It isn't all objectifying.  Sometimes folks use it in a very sex positive way.

I used to be very anti-porn.  I am still very anti-porn that is degrading to women, snuff films, that kind of crap.  But I've come a long way baby!  I'm always against children and youth being exposed to porn.  Our youth do not need to be exposed to stuff like that.  It really is adult material.

Hate Is NOT a Family Value.

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