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May 18, 2014 | by  | in Being Well Opinion |
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Being Well – The Perils of Porn

In my day, obtaining porn was a stressful event. One would present at the counter of a carefully chosen dairy with the exact change, avoid eye contact, then scuttle out, hoping to complete the transaction before another customer walked in. Engaging in the transaction took courage, with any pride regarding the accomplishment overshadowed by feelings of shame. One consolation was that censorship mostly rendered perverse material off-limits, reducing the risk of inadvertent law-breaking.

Recently, I heard the claim that all male VUW students look at porn, with many carrying it in their pockets on portable devices. More and more women are looking at porn. Benign and perverse material can be accessed in apparent anonymity.

My present concern is the risk of porn interfering with our ability to enter and maintain relationships. I recall a UK TV show where men were asked to rate the most desirable of ten pairs of breasts. Without exception, they all chose the only unnatural pair – those implanted with silicone. By extension, as technology develops, men (and women) brainwashed by media could find themselves aroused only by the ‘perfect’ three-dimensional tactile interactive hologram. I’m picturing terrible feelings of loneliness, as attachment is strengthened to objects rather than people.

Historically, pornography has been used by sex therapists as an adjunct to therapy. More commonly nowadays, pornography use leads to isolation and disconnection or drives a wedge into relationships.

A Swedish study found that 27 per cent of women with no experience of pornography had engaged in anal sex, compared with 50 per cent of those in contact with pornography. 58 per cent of the study’s women who had engaged in anal sex regarded the experience negatively, 17 per cent neutrally, and only 25 per cent positively. Comments included: “They get the wrong idea about how it is”; “Some try to imitate and believe that reality should be how it is in porno magazines and films”; “They mix up real sexuality with the distorted picture porno feeds them”; “Rough pornographic films can cause many young people with less experience to believe that all things are OK to do with the girlfriend”; “Boys can get demands on them that can cause anxiety …”.

My advice: Use porn with extreme caution, and avoid it if you can. Take respectful risks with real people instead. If you want an enduring relationship with a real person, confine your fantasies to scenarios which fit with this. Don’t allow your arousal patterns to be hijacked by airbrushed images or by scenarios which conflict with your values. If you are in a relationship, and choose to watch porn: only do so with your partner; ensure they feel comfortable with it and with any sex play you initiate; share your fantasies; and, make your partner central to these. Read “The Porn Trap”, by Wendy and Larry Maltz, 2008, Harper Collins.

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About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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