Pornography hurts people. It destroys relationships, prevents people from developing healthy sex lives, cripples the sense of empathy, and generally hinders people’s ability to form the kinds of connections that make life interesting and worthwhile.
When boys start looking at porn at an early age, they become desensitized to women’s feelings. Boys of 10 or 12 are too young to understand anything going on in a porn video except that it gives them boners and that women apparently like to be treated like a set of holes. I know that’s a gross way to put that, but that’s the message in most porn, isn’t it? They don’t learn anything about female sexuality, they don’t learn how women want to be treated, they don’t learn that sex can be anything more than sating a biological need, like eating or going to the toilet. Or masturbating.
These boys become teenagers and have their first sexual experiences, and they don’t understand why things are so very different than the fantasies porn created for them. If they’re thoughtful, they may have realized that women don’t really like to be treated like a set of holes, and they end up learning to live with the frustration created by the fact that their partners don’t do the things they’ve learned to associate with orgasm through years of watching porn. If they’re unthoughtful, they may ask their partners to do the things they’ve seen in videos, in which case their partners will either go along despite not wanting to do such things, or they’ll say no, which leads to the same frustration.
Boys also know that love exists, and they usually want to experience it, if Snoop Dogg and Maxim haven’t beaten it out of them yet, but the messages of pornography make navigating personal relationships difficult. How can young boys associate love with sex, when sex as they’ve been exposed to it looks like something you do to someone you don’t think very much of? I met a friend’s 15-year-old brother when I was 24, and he asked us if he could talk to us about his relationship problems and get our advice. He said, “I really liked this girl a lot, but she let me fuck her. Now I don’t think I like her anymore. I mean, she let me fuck her!” Let that marinate for a minute.
Girls generally don’t use porn to masturbate, so they usually don’t develop an association between orgasm and images of women being used/abused. Still, their first sexual experiences can be fraught with problems, too. Boys raised on porn don’t know what to do with a real female partner, so early sexual experiences are usually at least very disappointing, and likely uncomfortable and worrisome, for girls. Boys come to their first sexual experiences hoping that the girls they have sex with will duplicate the behavior of women paid to allow men to use their bodies, and girls come to their first sexual experiences hoping to be romanced and treated gently and carefully. They want sex and love to coexist, as it should, and are shocked when boys they liked enough to have sex with seem to develop hostile feelings toward them after they sleep together.
I know I’m generalizing, but our society (in the form of its media, porn included) tends to train young people to have exactly these expectations, and the fact is that it generally turns out exactly thus. There is a MAJOR disconnect built into this scenario, and it sadly reflects the reality that most young people face these days.
Alright, you’ll say, but early sexual experiences are almost always weird. Yes, but it isn’t as if actual sex replaces the influence of porn once we lose our virginity. Instead, even more complicated and conflicting issues arise once the two meet.
To be continued…