Does pornography cause poor performance?

I wrote before in defence of pornography, saying that photographs of naked people can be celebrations of human beauty. The fact that they also give rise to sexual feelings does not make them bad (if you think giving rise to sexual feelings is bad, please explain why). But there are other considerations.

The risk (according to a rather wordy article in a free newspaper recently) is that young people will come to regard the kinds of sexual act shown in pornography as norms they should follow, and this will result in them becoming bad lovers. The argument is that pornography is now easier to access than genuine sex advice, and that young men will turn to this as a source of (mis)information.

Sexual acts in pornography videos almost never show any attempt to create the kind of atmosphere that would turn a woman on in real life.  She is assumed to be instantly ready. In addition she is assumed to enjoy a vigorous pounding without any expression of real intimacy and which goes on for a very long time. For some reason that is certainly beyond my comprehension she is also supposed to enjoy the man coming over her face or entering through the wrong orifice. These scenarios are male fantasies. I doubt most men could even perform at such length in the unlikely event of ever finding themselves in such a situation, and I’d hazard a guess that the female ‘ohs!’ and ‘aahs’ are for the most part scripted.

Of course, if a couple can and want to last twenty minutes or more in real life, then that is wonderful (my book, Last as long as you want in bed explains how to achieve this in a loving relationship and without drugs). But no-one tells a young person watching a video that goes on for that long that continuous pumping is not necessarily what women want, nor that the male ‘actors’ involved  have probably taken various drugs (SSRIs and perhaps Viagra) in order to sustain that rather unusual performance, nor that the average time  for normal young males from vaginal penetration to orgasm is actually about six minutes.

Thus an inexperienced man may attempt a sexual style which will most likely be a big turnoff for his woman, because he will not have warmed her up in the first place and because he will imagine he has to perform in a way that doesn’t take her desires into account. Because she will not be happy, his confidence will be damaged. This will make him anxious. This anxiety together with a lack of care for her pleasure will make him come too quickly. Anxiety about poor performance will then be carried over to his next sexual encounter and the whole problem will repeat, quite likely leading to premature ejaculation and/or problems sustaining an erection. That at any rate is a possible danger of learning about sex through pornography.

One giveaway that porn is not genuine, exciting, loving sex is that male porn stars are not infrequently seen to have less than full erections. They’re not having as much fun as they should be. It’s just a job to them.

Having said all that, I am not aware of any sociological studies confirming that there is really more of a problem now than before the internet age, or that as beginners we weren’t always rotten lovers. Even so, it does no harm to question the idea of sex that pornographers present, and to be aware that it is not real.

In response to criticism of pornography

In response to this criticism of pornography on another blog:

… The addict to pornography desires to be blinded, to live in a dream. Those in the thrall of pornography try to eliminate from their consciousness the world outside pornography […]. In engaging in such elimination the viewer reduces himself. He becomes stupid.

I wrote:

One can become lost in a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, thinking about whether one will get a pay rise, the rent, the mortgage, carrying anger against one’s beloved for some trivial matter, self-justification, ten thousand things that are not one self. Why single out pornography? It is only the image of the beloved, warped and distanced because one is separated from the reality. It is not the object of our identification that is at fault, but our identification with it.

Yes, pornography has dangers, but so does reading the newspaper or watching TV, or indeed reading or writing blogs. Any communication can become a substitute for reality, an end in itself. It is also possible for a piece of writing, theatre, song, painting, photograph to point beyond itself.

The line between art and pornography has been debated before, and it is an interesting question, perhaps without a definite answer. If you see beauty in what someone else calls pornography, then it is beauty that you see.

There is the intention of the artist or photographer, and there is your intention as viewer. Of course a definite result is more likely if these intentions coincide. And what kind of result do you want? But if you want to be inspired, be inspired.