Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Addicted? Moi?

So if you've been reading, you'll have noticed me using a lot of addiction terminology with regard to porn. Words like, 'binge,' 'trigger,' 'relapse,' 'edging' and so forth. This is because I have come to realise that I was (still am and will always be) a porn-addict. Admitting this and coming to terms with it was, as is always the case, the first step on the road to recovery. I am writing this blog under an assumed name because I am not yet fully comfortable with telling the Whole Damn World. I will one day, I promise, but for the moment I am still ashamed. Sad, but true.

Addiction is essentially compulsive behaviour that we have little or no control over. I wasn't spending multiple hours every day looking at porn. I wasn't letting it interfere with work or social engagements, but I was using it habitually. I might have days away from it but I'd always be back and, over the years, I developed what I have come to recognise as a dependency.

If this is not news to you, I apologise, but for those not in the know, here are some addiction basics. (Also I am not a psychologist. If you are and you find my exposition painfully inadequate, please admonish/enlighten me in the comments. Thanks:) Addiction is usually based around a release of dopamine. Dopamine is a hormone secreted by our brains and is basically the Good Shit. It's what gets released and causes us to feel pleasure when we smoke, when we drink, when we have sex. It is responsible for our dreams.

When we watch porn, we get a huge surge of dopamine and as long as we keep jerking off, the dope just keeps on coming (as it were). Our brains can't distinguish between sexual arousal caused by real sex and the sexual arousal caused by porn. Because procreation is hard-wired into the most primitive parts of our brains, it will keep us doing whatever it is for as long as gene-transferal appears to be probable.

So the brain will keep porn pleasurable for us for as long as we want to do it for. This causes a feedback loop which would probably go on forever if it wasn't for the fact that we eventually ejaculate and feel (temporarily) satisfied. So yes, you can absolutely be addicted to porn just as you can be addicted to alcohol, gambling or heroin.

Add to this dopamine-fest a thing called The Coolidge Effect, and you've got some serious time-wasting on your hands. The Coolidge Effect is (better) explained here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSF82AwSDiU but in essence states that a male's capacity for sexual stimulation and ability to be aroused will continue as long as there are new, ready and willing mates in the vicinity. And this, friends, is where the internet fucks us right in our stupid asses: never-ending novelty.

One of the greatest draws of porn is the novelty. We can always find new sites, new pornstars, different fetishes. There are literally millions of pages, thousands of pornstars (with new ones arriving all the time), myriad genres* and categories. It will always be 'fresh' so it will always be exciting. And this is why so many men (and women?) have trouble putting it down. In a way – as with all addiction – we are not even in control but the fact that porn appeals to evolutionary imperatives for procreation and survival means it can be one of the very hardest to kick.

* (I have always found the term 'genre' slightly ambitious with regard to porn. You have 'genres' of music and fine art, not of people fucking. I don't think anyone ever said, "I mean, Busty Sluts 5 truly redefined the genre of Big Tits Porn." Also, this is fine while the 'genres' remain relatively simple, but what about when they start getting amalgamated into compound genres like Post-Spunk, Rhythm n Boobs, Afro-Cuban Jizz, Cock n Hole and Spunky House?)

Once again, you might think I'm being dramatic. As I've said before, these are all personal realisations. I'm not judging or speaking for anybody else, I'm just narrating my thoughts and feelings and relaying what I have learned. If you feel your relationship with porn is under control and (be honest!) healthy and have squared the morality with yourself, then good luck to you. If, on the other hand, any of what I’m saying is ringing a bell, then I hope what I'm writing helps you even in the smallest way.

If you watch the rest of the TED Talk video above, you might be astounded by the fact that when looking for a control in their experiment, the scientists concerned could not find any men under a certain age who did not use porn. Not one! Allow me to clarify, of the men they spoke to initially, 100% were now using porn regularly! These are men and boys born after the advent of broadband internet, who will never have known a world without access to free hardcore porn. To someone who was young before the internet was a thing, I can't help worrying that this in not a good statistic.

However you feel about porn, I think you will agree that its depiction of sex – from the gargantuan, shaven phalli to the submissive, bald-vagina'd nymphets being penetrated by them – is not realistic. You and I know this. We are grown-ups. But what if this was your sex-ed? Don't you think you might be growing up with a somewhat warped picture of sex? Women are (in general) rarely treated with respect in porn and men are little more than massive cocks-on-a-stick. I'm not religious and I'm not a crusader, but I find the whole thing pretty troubling.

I am a feminist. I define this in the same way as Chimamamanda Adichie as, "a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes." Porn, as it is today, is an overwhelmingly 'male' medium. It is made almost exclusively by men for an audience which is also majority male. Where do women figure in this? They are almost always the 'objects' of desire but very rarely catered for or respected by the medium in which they feature so predominantly. 

There are certainly some performers who truly love what they do and are not damaged by it but there are literally thousands more who are railroaded into it, come from backgrounds of abuse, make no money from it and resort to drink and drug addiction to make it through. In my humble opinion, it's a disgrace that our society treats women (and men) like this and as long as there's demand – I.e. as long as you and I are jerking off over it – it will continue. If you see yourself as a feminist or you care about the welfare of your wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, daughters and sons, stop looking! Opt out! To paraphrase Gandhi, be the change you want to see!

P.s. More food for thought can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRJ_QfP2mhU

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