It's actually now been 92, but who's counting? Well, I am. That's kind of the point. But why this number? What makes this significant? Why, indeed, should you give one fuck?
Cos it's three months, stupid. And, arbitrary or not, this is a major goal on the way to quitting porn (and alcohol, and drugs, and gambling – basically anything addictive). Obviously your first goal is a day, then a week, then a month. They say if you can go a month without doing the thing you're quitting, you're something like four times more likely to kick it for good. The next stop along this road is 90 – three months in. And that's where I am. Porn has now not been a 'thing' for me for fully three months and, in the interest of it being the subject of this blog, I thought I might tell you about how it feels.
It feels good (I think). In all honesty, I have not missed porn that much. Not entirely true, of course. Any former addict will tell you in an honest moment that they miss their chosen poison profoundly but that they are concurrently continuously glad they have given it up, and proud that they have done so. I guess missing the thing is what makes it feel like an achievement. It makes you feel strong and that you know that much more about yourself and the power of your own will. In the words of Roots Manuva, “discipline maketh the geez*.”
* Geez, noun, masculine: Go-getter, gentleman, all-round top bloke.
I do miss it, of course I do; I love sex and hot women and porn gives you the opportunity to see (experience?) both of these things in abundance. In case you're uninitiated, in porn, hot women actually do sex. A lot. Joking aside, though, it is fun looking at sexy vids on the interweb. You get to see hotter people than you (I) may (definitely) ever have the chance of ever getting with do things of which you can only dream. That's kind of the whole point.
But it's fantasy. And it's crashing. As I have discussed before, when the 'bubble bursts' and the laptop's shut down, there's just you, alone in a room with your (rapidly deflating) dick in your hand and sock full of your own tepid jizz. A sad picture, but (generally) a true one. That's how it always ended for me, anyway. And that's why I decided to stop. I have covered my reasons at length, so here, friends, is instead a summary of how it feels to be porn-free for nigh-on a hundred days.
I have more time. More time for reading, for writing, for wasting on the internet. Yeah, I still waste time (Jesus, who doesn't?) but now it's mine to waste. And I still procrastinate, but it's for damn sure that cutting out porn has increased my productivity dramatically. I noticed this when I gave up smoking. On long days in the house on my own, cigarette breaks would punctuate the tedium. You'd have five minutes to sit down, have a cup of tea and ruminate. And the fact that you were doing something made you feel like you'd actually achieved something in this five or ten minutes.
In fact, all you had done was stand still, stare out of the window and put yourself slightly further on the road towards fatal lung disease! Almost the polar opposite of achieving anything! It was only when I stopped that I realised I had just been using smoking to create the illusion of progress. Smoking is not an end in itself and a day of numerous smoked cigarettes is not a productive one.
And it's the same with porn (for me). I'm bored, what shall I do? I guess I could start writing that song/play/book/poem/sketch/piece of stand-up... Or I could just click away and... boom. There goes half an hour. It's an escape in so many ways. Or, more accurately, in one way; it's an escape from reality. You (I) don't want to confront that piece of work or the fact that you (I) don't have a girlfriend, so you sneak off into another world where you are a sex-god with a massive schlong; where the most beautiful women fall at your feet let you put it anywhere; where, for a short time, you are free.
It's escapism. I get it. And sometimes we all need a bit of it, but when I look back at how much time I spent there instead of here. I know where I would rather be.
So I feel more attractive to women, right? So I'm a sex-god and I'm now a buy-to-let landlord and a paid comedian, right? Right? Guys? Well, not exactly. In fact, in the whole three months without porn, I have only had sex with one person (Montreal Girl) and, although we packed in (as it were) as much as we could into four days, pickings since (and before) have been surprisingly (alarmingly) slim. I could go out and get wasted every night and try and bag myself a fellow desperado,* but I can't afford it and anyway I am kind of looking for more than a drunken clattering of genitals (is this really me talking?).
* Not strictly true, of course. When I do go out and get fucked up, I am still painfully shy.
In truth, I am a little bit lonely (violins, please), but I would rather feel this loneliness than shut it out or put it off through fake interactions with pornstars. Because you're not interacting, you're watching. You are outside looking in and they are having all the fun (read: practically forced, mostly unenjoyable intercourse). I would rather know that I face being alone if I don't connect with another human. To paraphrase Ben Kingsley's character in The Whackness, I would rather embrace my pain and make it a part of me.
I've gone all serious again. Underneath all the talk about jizz and Tinder and wankerchiefs (see previous posts), though, my point is a serious one. I do not think my (or numerous others') relationship with porn was/is healthy. I do not think that porn, in its current form, is right and I think more people should start talking and thinking about it in an effort to change things. That's my credo and I still believe it is right.
I have lost some of my earlier zeal. I have seen that this is a more complicated subject than perhaps I first considered it to be and I have learnt that I do not have (anywhere close to) all of the answers. I am still convinced that (for me, at least) this is important.
As well as giving up porn, I have been trying to become a better feminist (for me the two are concomitant). I have been trying to think clearly about the feminist cause and where I stand within it. What male privileges do I take for granted? How does it feel to be constantly objectified on a fundamental level? How has a patriarchal society damaged men and how does feminism mean a better deal for us all?
These are some of the things I have been trying to get my head around. Certainly, being a feminist does not preclude porn (as numerous contributors to the Woman's Hour debate pointed out), but it does mean thinking about what it means to us, what we want from it and how (principally women but really all of us, not least our kids) are affected by it. I'm not going to get all up on my soap box. All I am going to say at this point is that I am proud to be doing what I'm doing, that I plan to continue and that I believe simply stopping is an end in itself. So here's to (porn) freedom! Let's keep kicking its arse!