24 votes

Is porn making young men impotent?

19 comments

  1. [12]
    ThatFanficGuy Link
    That, to me, raises an interesting point. The old prudes often claim that the modern Western society is promiscuous, and obsessed with sex, and all kinds of odd suggestions – and yet, for so many...

    Being faced with a real, complicated human being, with needs and insecurities, could be deeply off-putting.

    That, to me, raises an interesting point. The old prudes often claim that the modern Western society is promiscuous, and obsessed with sex, and all kinds of odd suggestions – and yet, for so many young people, it's incredibly difficult to engage in any sort of sexual relationship out of romance. It's frightening (because they have no idea what sex is about yet), it's intimidating (because the ideas they do have are woefully exaggerated, and the young people have no idea whether they can even do that yet), it's frustrating (because they're encouraged to have some sort of a sexual relationship by all the media – not directly, but in a suggestive manner, and out of interest of their own – and they can't, and there seems to be no way to rectify this issue) – and in the end, it's not their fault.

    I feel like the young people would do better if sex – and especially its kinkier parts – weren't so repressed a topic. I feel like education on sex and the relationship it inevitably forms (and all its complicated results, such as falling in love with the person you fuck) would go a long way to forming a healthier self-image for teenagers and young adults who seem to be lacking the physical connection so much nowadays.

    Some people, I believe, will find themselves feeling better and thinking clearer if they used the opportunity to be locked up in a sex dungeon for a week and were "played with" by experienced BDSM specialists (for lack of a better word). We're not all clear and pure of thought: many have sexual ideas that deviate, slightly or significantly, from the mainstream idea of sex. The fact that these deep-seated desires are dismissed, unaccounted for, unaccepted, and often left unsatisfied only creates more tension and stress in our stressful world.

    It's none of my business what goes on in your bedroom, but my experience tells me that sexual liberation in the repressed societies of the first world (looking at you, United States) is a major step towards personal well-being – and, therefore, towards the well-being of the whole nation. If I were king, I wouldn't tell you to let yourself be roped, handcuffed, or whipped – but I would tell you that it's okay if that's what you desire, and look into making my country a place where people could sexually-engage with others more freely and with a better education about the topics surrounding it: the physiology, the medicine, the psychology...

    Protected sex with a trusted partner is a good way to relieve stress without the hassle of having to raise a kid afterwards. Kinks are not the flaws of character: they're forms of sexual expression. Sometimes, they form to protect us from an earlier trauma; sometimes, they're just there because you are who you are. Having sexual desire as a teenager is normal. Being forbidden from learning about the stuff due to social stigma, however, is not.

    It's telling that PornHub started a program to educate people on the matters of sex. It's also telling that the first four Google results for pornhub sexual education is porn about sex ed and/or teachers, or the internal PornHub search result for the same.

    21 votes
    1. [8]
      Gaywallet Link Parent
      Something often forgotten when people speak about this is the casualties to relationships and personal growth we have because sex is such a repressed topic. People often spend decades of their...

      Something often forgotten when people speak about this is the casualties to relationships and personal growth we have because sex is such a repressed topic.

      People often spend decades of their life married without realizing they are gay, because they aren't given an outlet to explore their sexuality and they feel that society is guiding them in a specific direction.

      Marriages break down because people wait for marriage before having sex. There are a lot of problems here, but perhaps the biggest issue is that people don't know what they want sexually out of a partner.

      This can be an issue when a relationship is lengthening as well - you might have an idea of what you want sexually but never having experienced a relationship of several years the bedroom often dies and I think a good percent of the issue is because people are too worried to ask their partner about fetishes they'd like to explore because they don't want to be ostracized.

      And that's not even to get started on other contributing factors. Some modern dating apps are incredibly sex-centric and others are the opposite. Sex is seen as something restricted to dating and the vast majority of people are mono-amorous, leading to issues of sexual incompatibility with no chance to release sexual stress. Further complicating the issue are the major changes in epigenetics due to a modernized environment - phytoestrogens and other components have lead to a huge increase in men with secondary hypogonadism at a young age. These same components may be changing our brains (of all genders) to seek out porn as a quick dopamine hit over meaningful relationships or healthy sex.

      There's a lot to unpack, but I think a healthy amount of sexual education is necessary and as you suggested I think some of this education needs to be "hands on".

      4 votes
      1. [3]
        Akir Link Parent
        I think the problem is a little more nuanced than lacking sex education. I think one of the larger problems is that sex education is not comprehensive enough. We are teaching children the basics...

        I think the problem is a little more nuanced than lacking sex education. I think one of the larger problems is that sex education is not comprehensive enough. We are teaching children the basics of sex as a mechanical action. The problem is that it doesn't have an emotional or spiritual aspect. People who try to teach this are made fun of. See Meet the Fockers if you don't believe me.

        Just as a fun (read: terrible) experiment, you should listen to teenage boys talk about sex. It's not just brash and immature, it's unrealistic. They only think about sex in terms of both parties being aroused, and they don't really consider that having sex is going to change the dynamic of their relationships. When they lose their virginity they may be subject to emotional pain they had no way to predict.

        From a personal perspective, I didn't have this kind of insight even after I had sex with at least two partners. I honestly didn't really "get it" until I played Yu-No. It's saying something if a video game is better at teaching you life lessons than literally every adult who was ever charged with the responsibility.

        6 votes
        1. [2]
          Gaywallet Link Parent
          You're absolutely correct, it's not just more nuanced, it's a lot more complicated. I didn't mean to imply that simply teaching kids more about the mechanics of sex would be enough to fix...

          You're absolutely correct, it's not just more nuanced, it's a lot more complicated. I didn't mean to imply that simply teaching kids more about the mechanics of sex would be enough to fix everything, and I went into more detail about this in my replies to /u/ThatFanficGuy (once again going to plug the Netflix show Sex Education because it's fantastic).

          I think in general teenagers have a very skewed perspective of life because they've been exposed to more things via media than via real life experiences. But you can easily say the same about adults and topics they aren't familiar with, too. Try asking an adult what they think LSD is and does, and it'll give you pretty good insight into just how much popular media influences how we think things are without having experienced them. With any situation like this we need to increase education - and that means not just quantity but also quality.

          2 votes
          1. ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
            Hell, I'd say it's better to have one good, solid lecture than a year of sex mechanics.

            Hell, I'd say it's better to have one good, solid lecture than a year of sex mechanics.

            1 vote
      2. [4]
        ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
        The way I see it, it isn't supposed to be a guideline after 1970 because of the Sexual Revolution. Before that, sex was most likely going to lead to children. Now that the contraceptives are...

        Marriages break down because people wait for marriage before having sex.

        The way I see it, it isn't supposed to be a guideline after 1970 because of the Sexual Revolution. Before that, sex was most likely going to lead to children. Now that the contraceptives are readily available, having sex outside of a long-term relationship is a reliable possibility. In other words: it was historically-relevant, and is no longer so.

        I'd like to question, or ask for proof of, a couple of your statements:

        the vast majority of people are mono-amorous

        How do you reckon? Is there data? I've always assumed that, though many people can fall in love with one person for a long time (which would likely lead to a marriage if both are single beforehand), with a lot of time after they lose their loved one (grief, reconciliation - all normal, lengthy effects of losing someone very close), they could fall in love with someone else.

        Further complicating the issue are the major changes in epigenetics due to a modernized environment - phytoestrogens and other components have lead to a huge increase in men with secondary hypogonadism at a young age.

        What exactly are those changes, and how are they introduced?

        Let's suppose that sexual education is necessary, and we're in charge of introducing it in a fictional, vaguely-European-yet-noticably-prudish country. How do we approach it?

        We could try to introduce sex ed bills in the legislative body, but I don't think this is going places because of the general attitude towards any sort of sexual exploration. The way I see it, many people would not even be willing to discuss the issue if they were raised in the same repressive cultural climate that we're trying to get rid of. How do we convince those people that a good sexual education is, in fact, necessary for the health of the nation, without going door-to-door and persuading each personally?

        3 votes
        1. [3]
          Gaywallet Link Parent
          Monoamory is the state of only falling in love with one person at a time, as contrasted with polyamory which is the state of being capable of love with multiple people at a time. I suspect more...

          they could fall in love with someone else.

          Monoamory is the state of only falling in love with one person at a time, as contrasted with polyamory which is the state of being capable of love with multiple people at a time.

          I suspect more people are polyamorous than they would admit (how many people have been in a state of dating and having sex with more than one person? This is pretty common and yet people don't think of it as polyamorous, just dating), but are incapable or unwilling to attempt a polyamorous relationship. I suspect this has quite a bit to do with the potential trust issues (if your end goal is to live with someone) as well as the difficulty of maintaining poly relationships.

          I don't have numbers at the ready (I've never had someone question whether this is the case) but I can dig them up if this isn't enough of an explanation to quell any doubts you might have.

          What exactly are those changes, and how are they introduced?

          Honestly we don't know most of them. About the only thing we know for certain is that it affects our gut biome, and that certain disease states have been on the rise - autism, ADHD, secondary hypogonadism in males, autoimmune disorders, etc.

          Let's suppose that sexual education is necessary, and we're in charge of introducing it in a fictional, vaguely-European-yet-noticably-prudish country. How do we approach it?

          Yikes, I have absolutely no idea here. What people are comfortable with is more important in policy than what is best for the country. I do not think most people would be comfortable with what I think is necessary.

          I think the first step would be to start polling people to find out what kind of changes they are actually okay with.

          The way I see it, many people would not even be willing to discuss the issue if they were raised in the same repressive cultural climate that we're trying to get rid of.

          You're probably correct here. I think an increase in availability and a de-stigmatization of sexual health counselors would be a good place to start. If people know and seek out these professionals, their ideas on sex might change naturally.

          How do we convince those people that a good sexual education is, in fact, necessary for the health of the nation, without going door-to-door and persuading each personally?

          I think it primarily needs to come through increased access and reduced stigma around sexual health. We need to promote, socially, for people to have these conversations in an open matter. We need to put on events (like kink fests) to draw attention. We need to ensure that our children, at the very least, have some sort of mandatory sexual education and we should be encouraging our teachers to have these discussions in class or perhaps even bringing in licensed professionals to have these talks or to be available for consult (much like we might bring in therapists, psychologists, and speech pathologists). We need to, as a culture, create more media which celebrates sex and the exploration of it (a side note, the Netflix comedy sexual education is fantastic).

          I think there's a lot we can do to promote a healthy environment without the need for mandatory education in the same way we've been slowly normalizing mental health. In fact, it is mental health, so we should be adopting the same strategies.

          5 votes
          1. [2]
            ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
            At a time, then. I misunderstood initially, thinking it means in a lifetime, for some reason. That's on me. That's a reasonable first step. Before making changes in a societal layer, make sure...

            Monoamory is the state of only falling in love with one person at a time, as contrasted with polyamory which is the state of being capable of love with multiple people at a time.

            At a time, then. I misunderstood initially, thinking it means in a lifetime, for some reason. That's on me.

            I think the first step would be to start polling people to find out what kind of changes they are actually okay with.

            That's a reasonable first step. Before making changes in a societal layer, make sure either they're not going to meet much wrath, or that you're okay with how much wrath they might cause if the results are worth it.

            I think an increase in availability and a de-stigmatization of sexual health counselors would be a good place to start. If people know and seek out these professionals, their ideas on sex might change naturally.

            Good point. Probably do the ads on TV, billboards, the Internet - the usual stuff, with the general idea of: "If your sexual life is suffering, if you have issues with having sex or getting excited about it, see a specialist about it. Your government wants you to be healthy, and so do the people who love you."

            Would also be good if could encourage the leading media personalities to either talk about this or make their TV shows/films/music/games that feature any of the vast array of issues in sexuality, so that people could recognize those issues and at least learn that those are normal, and help could be found. Not the politicians: people actually listen to the media they consume, whether they realize it or not.

            We need to ensure that our children, at the very least, have some sort of mandatory sexual education and we should be encouraging our teachers to have these discussions in class or perhaps even bringing in licensed professionals to have these talks or to be available for consult (much like we might bring in therapists, psychologists, and speech pathologists).

            Agreed, especially with the latter, but it comes back to the issue of legal matters. Let's suppose our education laws are entirely state-controlled, and not spread across multiple states-as-in-US. How do we pass the bill that makes the schools include scientifically-accurate, mandatory sexual education, preferably led by trained sexologists and the like? Now that I think about it, it isn't exactly impossible, or even difficult, given how the US has, relatively-recently, legalized gay marriage and marijuana. What I'm wondering is: how did it go from illegal to morally-repugnant to de facto acceptable to legal?

            2 votes
            1. Gaywallet Link Parent
              An entirely different story for gay marriage than marijuana, but I think popular media and normalizing the behavior were both incredibly important.

              What I'm wondering is: how did it go from illegal to morally-repugnant to de facto acceptable to legal?

              An entirely different story for gay marriage than marijuana, but I think popular media and normalizing the behavior were both incredibly important.

              1 vote
    2. [3]
      acdw Link Parent
      You raise some interesting points. It seems to me that porn has much of the same issues a lot of mainstream media faces: it sets unrealistic expectations under the guise of "entertainment" or...

      You raise some interesting points. It seems to me that porn has much of the same issues a lot of mainstream media faces: it sets unrealistic expectations under the guise of "entertainment" or "escapism" (in porn it's for sex, in other shows and media it's for relationships, jobs, politics, etc.), while it's really instructing people (especially kids) that what it portrays is the way things are or should be. And there's the problem, because that's obviously false -- but if you've never driven a car before, and all the stuff you've seen on TV portrays people driving cars with their feet on the wheel, that's how you're going to think you're supposed to drive.

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
        I don't think that porn is being presented as the way of things, exactly, but people see it that way. There's never been a clear designation for media: "This is escapism, so the features are...

        I don't think that porn is being presented as the way of things, exactly, but people see it that way. There's never been a clear designation for media: "This is escapism, so the features are likely to be exaggerated", and "This presents as accurate data as the authors were able to find, so this should be taken note of". Nobody explains that, or the difference between the two, so we're forced to measure our accounts entirely on our own, based on experience that's just as likely to be reliable as it is unreliable.

        I never learned my sexual behavior from porn, but I did try to extract meaning from various TV shows and films, taking the portrayals in in an effort to build a better model of how the world works, and what kind of person (in the more-general terms) I want to be. Nobody told me to: I just assumed that the TV and the films would portray the world as realistically as possible (in the areas that aren't clearly-fictional, that is). Doesn't seem off-the-mark to me to suggest that people could just as easily learn from porn.

        2 votes
        1. acdw Link Parent
          I absolutely agree with you on the way TV/Entertainment/Porn is produced and received. And you're right, sometimes it can be educational. The problem comes when the viewer assumes that TV is how...

          I absolutely agree with you on the way TV/Entertainment/Porn is produced and received. And you're right, sometimes it can be educational. The problem comes when the viewer assumes that TV is how the world works when TV is not how the world works -- for example, the way people interact with each other in a show like Full House might appear accurate, but people don't really act those ways, or shouldn't be assumed to. The danger lies in learning everything about interaction from the entertainment, because then it warps expectations.

          For non-sexual interactions, it's fine, because most of us have a lot of those types of interactions IRL and know what is real and what isn't. But sex is a taboo subject in a lot of places and isn't talked about, so the entertainment (porn) can be the only frame of reference for kids, which is harmful, because there's no external source of truth.

  2. [7]
    cadadr Link
    I did not editorialise the title, but I'm not sure if that was a good decision: it does not really tell what the article is about. The article discusses "clinical and anecdotal evidence" regarding...

    I did not editorialise the title, but I'm not sure if that was a good decision: it does not really tell what the article is about.

    The article discusses "clinical and anecdotal evidence" regarding sexual performance problems and pornography overconsumption/addiction. The meat of the article is this quote:

    [... A]ccording to the latest studies and surveys, between 14% and 35% of young men experience ED. “It’s crazy but true,” says Mary Sharpe of the Reward Foundation, an educational charity focusing on love, sex and the internet. “Until 2002, the incidence of men under 40 with ED was around 2-3%. Since 2008, when free-streaming, high-definition porn became so readily available, it has steadily risen.” The evidence, clinical and anecdotal, is mounting that pornography use is a significant factor.

    Clare Faulkner, a psychosexual and relationship therapist based in central London, is among those who link ED and pornography use. “I now have ED clients in their early 20s,” she says. Part of the problem with pornography is that it is “a very dissociated experience. Stimulation is coming externally, which can make it very hard to be in your body.” It also perpetuates the myth, she says, that “men are rock hard and women are ready for sex all the time”.

    Lone viewers of pornography become accustomed to being fully in control of their sexual experience – which again, says Faulkner, “isn’t replicated in the real world”. Being faced with a real, complicated human being, with needs and insecurities, could be deeply off-putting.

    5 votes
    1. [6]
      Route66 Link Parent
      I think this point is key. Relationships take some skills, work, diligence and perseverance to become healthy and meaningful. AFTER they are healthy and meaningful, sex can be very satisfying part...

      Lone viewers of pornography become accustomed to being fully in control of their sexual experience – which again, says Faulkner, “isn’t replicated in the real world”. Being faced with a real, complicated human being, with needs and insecurities, could be deeply off-putting.

      I think this point is key. Relationships take some skills, work, diligence and perseverance to become healthy and meaningful. AFTER they are healthy and meaningful, sex can be very satisfying part of the important 'glue' that keeps a couple together. Fast hookups can be fun for a short time but inevitably they are deeply unsatisfying because what we crave as humans is intimacy which goes far beyond just banging genitals and an orgasm. We all have a need and desire to know and be known deeply and if the rush of getting off is constantly satisfied by porn, then the desire to go deeply into an intimate relationship gets short-circuited and ultimately, it leaves one empty.

      3 votes
      1. [5]
        TheInvaderZim Link Parent
        I think thats only half. The other half (and what applies the most to a not-incosequential number of people including myself, many of my friends, and I would liberally assume at least a few of my...

        I think thats only half. The other half (and what applies the most to a not-incosequential number of people including myself, many of my friends, and I would liberally assume at least a few of my past and present coworkers or classmates) is that relationships are messy and porn is a MUCH preferrable alternative. Theyre painful, hurtful, hard to find, and the inherent need for a partner is psychologically addictive on top of that, especially if, like me, you didnt get around to experiencing one until your early-mid 20s. What's more, my few interactions with actually FINDING a relationship as a man are remniscient of trying to find a job, which is to say, I literally feel ill thinking about that mockery of a 'process.'

        And thats all assuming youre in a DECENT relationship - one without abuse, with good communication, and so on.

        Having had my one crappy (read: totally normal) experience for all the reasons above, my left brain says thay I never want to go through it again. It was a harrowing, draining, diaappointing and emotionally exhasuting endeavor which gave me the best highs of my life while still being in no way worth the depression and self-doubt that followed. My right brain, though, needs to get off, because thats just one of those awkward things about being human. So, porn.

        I'm certainly one of the people "suffering" from ED, but seriously, fuck everything about relationships. I'll take porn and welcome an eventual psudo-asexual consequence with open arms.

        Point being, there's more to this issue than pornography being "easy."

        1 vote
        1. [4]
          Gaywallet Link Parent
          Have you ever considered going to a therapist to discuss your thoughts? I think it's completely normal to be fed up with the process of dating for a number of reasons (to some extent we all are),...

          Have you ever considered going to a therapist to discuss your thoughts?

          I think it's completely normal to be fed up with the process of dating for a number of reasons (to some extent we all are), but the way you frame it makes me wonder if it wouldn't help you to have someone to talk about this with.

          1 vote
          1. [3]
            TheInvaderZim Link Parent
            It might, and I imagine the correct course of action would be some kind of counselling - if I ever want to fix the problem, but I dont. Dont get me worng, I'm not an incel about it, Ive got...

            It might, and I imagine the correct course of action would be some kind of counselling - if I ever want to fix the problem, but I dont. Dont get me worng, I'm not an incel about it, Ive got nothing against sex, women, relationships - and I know the barrier is entirely self imposed. If the right person suddenly appeared like some kind of story, I'm confident I could overcome everything. Thats just not likely to happen.

            I'm more remarking on the general necessity of the experience as a whole, and why it's been necessary for me.

            1 vote
            1. [2]
              Gaywallet Link Parent
              Have you ever known someone to say "if I ever want to fix the problem" about anything, to not need some form of therapy? I personally find that if I'm having trouble mustering up the desire to fix...

              Have you ever known someone to say "if I ever want to fix the problem" about anything, to not need some form of therapy? I personally find that if I'm having trouble mustering up the desire to fix something that most people don't have a problem with, that that's precisely the time that I need to go see a therapist. Some of that stems from my lifelong history of depression and being ever vigilant of a lack of interest, hopelessness, apathy, etc. are all signs of it acting up again.

              1. TheInvaderZim Link Parent
                Certainly. "I'll fix it if it ever presents a real problem" is the matra of any realist, because anyone who accepts their limited sphere of control, knows they can only fix some of what happens to...

                Certainly. "I'll fix it if it ever presents a real problem" is the matra of any realist, because anyone who accepts their limited sphere of control, knows they can only fix some of what happens to be within that sphere. Case in point: as it is, this particular stance is only a problem if for some reason I find myself wanting another relationship but am actually somehow unable to pursue one. But that isnt going to happen for a variety of reasons, not the least because I've never been in such circumstances before to begin with.

                So do I try and reopen this now-stable wound in the hopes of it healing better, or do I instead continue to focus on, say, getting my professional life on track and working towards living where I want, or towards personal growth outside the need to be in a relationship to feel happy? Its the same kind of question you have to ask yourself if you were to quit drinking or, in my case, quit playing video games. It isnt a solution, but a choice, and the latter options are far preferable to me, and (to the point) to many other people I've known. So, to better explain why I brought the compartment up, you have people like me over-using porn (and becoming impotent) because of such a choice. When I was younger, it was because I didnt think I had a shot at a relationship. Now its because I dont personally value the point.

                Being "broken" doesnt bother me, then, because its a choice, and one easily justified - not only that, but I've certainly learned to live with and even appreciate the consequences of it. Pretending otherwise would have me railing against any number of things instead of just being accountable for myself.

                Though I appreciate your concern.

                1 vote