25 votes

Men quitting masturbation: "Porn addiction" support groups reinforce damaging gender stereotypes

19 comments

  1. [2]
    dubteedub
    Link
    One important aspect of the no masturbation / porn movement that I think this article ignores is how it is not just a grift being pushed by the Christian community, but is also being used by the...

    One important aspect of the no masturbation / porn movement that I think this article ignores is how it is not just a grift being pushed by the Christian community, but is also being used by the altright to indoctrinate their members.

    The altright have been pushing their members to associate masturbation with guilt for years now. You can see the recent "Coomer" meme is an excellent example of this.

    Yet it would be naive to ignore that there’s significant overlap between the general ideology behind NoFap — and, to a degree, No Nut November — and that of the far right, which has increasingly coopted the principles of masturbation abstinence. Because the challenge is associated with abstaining from porn, some people associated with the movement have taken the extra step of harassing adult performers on social media, giving it an additional layer of troubling implications. “In the past [No Nut November] has always been like, ‘Oh, look at this ridiculous thing some people are participating in,'” says adult performer and director Casey Calvert. “This year, people [in the industry] are talking about, ‘Oh, actually this is connected to the far right and maybe we shouldn’t just be saying hahaha, No Nut November.'”

    A new meme brings these implications into sharp relief. Coomer is a reference to a meme of an unkempt, skeezy-looking bearded man in a white tank top with vaguely Semitic features, accompanied by descriptive text like “doesn’t even know anything about politics,” “extremely aesthetic right arm (huge muscle),” and “has never heard of NoFap.”

    Thankfully Reddit just banned /r/Coomer two months ago, but as usual well over a year too late.

    More from the Rolling Stone here on how the far-right / alt-right view masturabation / porn as feminizing and/or a global conspiracy by Jewish people.

    The idea that there are significant health benefits from abstaining from masturbation is partially based on the (primarily internet-propagated) theory that semen retention is linked to an increase in testosterone and male virility, an idea that has been widely debunked. For the most part, however, the idea that masturbation is somehow feminizing is “rooted in extremely antiquated ideas of masculinity,” many of which are also promoted by far-right groups, says Ley. The Proud Boys, for instance, a far-right extremist group known for its propensity toward violence, has long advocated for its members to abstain from masturbation on the grounds that it boosts testosterone and makes them more appealing to women; indeed, founder Gavin McInnes gave a shoutout to NoFap in a 2015 article for the far-right publication Taki’s Magazine.

    An even more extremist version of this far-right anti-masturbation philosophy has been promoted by David Duke, the former head of the Ku Klux Klan, who has propagated the conspiracy theory that Jews dominate the porn industry and use pornography as a way to control white men. On far-right threads on the encrypted messaging app Telegram, this sentiment is fairly widespread. “Jews not only control most of the pornography industry, they also rely on the goyim to maintain a routine of ejaculation in order to stay docile and non-violent,” one comment reads. Another shared a viral Pornhub tweet poking fun at viewers who’d failed No Nut November, writing, “the Jew mocks you as they poison the minds of millions.” (Pornhub is owned by the Canadian company MindGeek, the CEO of which, Feras Antoon, does not appear to be Jewish, even though there are numerous 4chan /pol/ threads speculating as such.)

    The Proud Boys, the violent altright street gang, in 2018 changed its rules to say that its members can't masturbate or look at porn.

    The Proud Boys rules also include new restrictions on members’ behavior. Proud Boys are banned from using opioids or crystal meth—although notably not cocaine, a drug McInnes has often extolled. Also now banned: wearing flip flops, fedoras, or cargo shorts to a Proud Boys meet-up.

    In the past, “third degree” Proud Boys were prohibited from masturbating more than once a month. But the new rules, under a section in the bylaws dubbed “No Wanks,” extends that prohibition to all Proud Boys.

    “No heterosexual brother of the Fraternity shall masturbate more than one time in any calendar month,” the new rule reads, adding later, “All members shall abstain from pornography.”

    It seems to me that while a lot of these altright / far-right communities claim to push their members to stop masturbating or looking at porn because of these debunked claims about feminization or (((the jews))), it is really about guilt, control, and grift, same as the christian communities discussed in this article. You convince your members that masturbation is somehow evil, admonish them for giving into their natural urges, and then either profit off that guilt through convincing them to buy some book or support their internet channel or channel that guilt into radicalization and violence.


    As a side note, I was hyping up /r/menslib as a positive feminist forum to discuss mens issues in another comment and it looks like they have some good discussion on this article for anyone interested in checking it out - https://www.reddit.com/r/MensLib/comments/gmqtik/the_truth_about_men_who_are_obsessed_with/.

    19 votes
    1. AnthonyB
      Link Parent
      Wow, the example provided for the Proud Boys rules checked a few boxes on the "Is this a cult?" questionnaire. I'm not very familiar with the structure of the Proud Boys, so I'm fascinated by the...

      Wow, the example provided for the Proud Boys rules checked a few boxes on the "Is this a cult?" questionnaire. I'm not very familiar with the structure of the Proud Boys, so I'm fascinated by the line: "no heterosexual brother..." Are there homosexual members of the Proud Boys, and if so, were they allowed to masturbate more often?

      4 votes
  2. [13]
    teaearlgraycold
    Link
    This whole culture of people quitting porn always seemed to me to be more about guilt than addiction. I believe you can have an unhealthy, addictive, relationship with anything. But I suspect most...

    This whole culture of people quitting porn always seemed to me to be more about guilt than addiction. I believe you can have an unhealthy, addictive, relationship with anything. But I suspect most people involved with porn addiction aren't really addicted.

    I'm curious what problems most of these people see porn causing in their lives. Porn could easily just be a phony scapegoat. Your sex life isn't going so well? You don't really appreciate your romantic partner as much as you feel you should? It's not your relationship with them. Your biology has been hacked by porn! If people didn't feel so uncomfortable about sex they'd be just as ready to blame their relationship problems on addiction to social media.

    15 votes
    1. [6]
      streblo
      Link Parent
      I think it's definitely more guilt than addiction -- although I'm sure porn addicts exist. It's interesting in how hardwired guilt can be in someone's brain with a religious upbringing to the...

      I think it's definitely more guilt than addiction -- although I'm sure porn addicts exist. It's interesting in how hardwired guilt can be in someone's brain with a religious upbringing to the point that it's impossible to understand their rationale.

      I will say that it does seem the parents of the last 10 years may have done a poor job in preventing their children from accessing pornography judging from what I have observed being said online. Addiction or not, porn cannot be healthy for a developing brain and I wonder if that can explain some of the non-religious parts of this 'movement.'

      10 votes
      1. [5]
        joplin
        Link Parent
        Yeah, a friend mentioned having read an article that said that doctors are seeing a huge (whatever that means) upswing in young men with erectile disfunction. Some are attributing it to easy...

        Yeah, a friend mentioned having read an article that said that doctors are seeing a huge (whatever that means) upswing in young men with erectile disfunction. Some are attributing it to easy access to porn. When you can easily fulfill your wildest fantasy at a click of a mouse button, reality isn't as thrilling, apparently.

        However, I don't know that the science backs that up. According to this article, 40% of men under 60 have some form of ED and in their discussion of the causes they don't mention porn or masturbation once. So I'm skeptical that my friend's source was correct.

        5 votes
        1. [2]
          Gaywallet
          Link Parent
          Porn often gets scapegoated for this, but ask any urologist or male health specialist, and they'll tell you that prevalence rates of secondary hypogonadism and low testosterone have been on the...

          Porn often gets scapegoated for this, but ask any urologist or male health specialist, and they'll tell you that prevalence rates of secondary hypogonadism and low testosterone have been on the rise for the last few decades. There's a variety of potential causes but frankly we have very little comprehensive literature on this because we still do a poor job of testing the testosterone levels of young adults.

          Combine this with other health issues which are tied to erectile dysfunction as discussed in the article (raising levels of obesity, type 2 diabetes, decreasing amounts of exercise, etc.) and you're going to end up with a lot of people with erectile dysfunction.

          12 votes
          1. joplin
            Link Parent
            Yep, that's sounds much more likely to me than "too much porn".

            Yep, that's sounds much more likely to me than "too much porn".

            4 votes
        2. [2]
          teaearlgraycold
          Link Parent
          Maybe, just as people are more comfortable seeking mental health support more than they were 30 years ago, men are less shameful of erectile dysfunction now and more are seeking help for that than...

          Maybe, just as people are more comfortable seeking mental health support more than they were 30 years ago, men are less shameful of erectile dysfunction now and more are seeking help for that than before.

          7 votes
          1. joplin
            Link Parent
            Yeah, I hope that's the case. I hope all diseases are becoming less stigmatized as time goes on.

            Yeah, I hope that's the case. I hope all diseases are becoming less stigmatized as time goes on.

            2 votes
    2. [4]
      mrbig
      Link Parent
      Guilty undoubtedly has a role in this, and the basis for these movements are unscientific. I do see benefits in avoiding masturbation and porn as a consequence. The habit of masturbation skews or...

      Guilty undoubtedly has a role in this, and the basis for these movements are unscientific.

      I do see benefits in avoiding masturbation and porn as a consequence. The habit of masturbation skews or difficult the access to my emotions towards women. I’m also not a young man anymore and take psychiatric medications, so when I’m sexually involved with someone I must save all my energy to showtime.

      Porn could easily just be a phony scapegoat

      Addictions frequently are phony scapegoats, one might say that’s one of their defining characteristics. Mental illnesses don’t exist in a vacuum.

      Regarding porn addiction, AFAIK any stimuli can be addictive. So I don’t see why that could not be the case, potentially at least.

      But I understand this is very personal, and the moralistic preachiness is unhelpful.

      4 votes
      1. teaearlgraycold
        Link Parent
        Yes, absolutely! If you enjoy sex more than porn, as most people do, then it's not a worthy trade-off when you only have so much libido to spend.

        when I’m sexually involved with someone I must save all my energy to showtime.

        Yes, absolutely! If you enjoy sex more than porn, as most people do, then it's not a worthy trade-off when you only have so much libido to spend.

        3 votes
      2. [2]
        teaearlgraycold
        Link Parent
        That's a good point. I don't know how best to describe addiction, but I'd assume that an addiction would need to be not just distracting, but destructive.

        Addictions frequently are phony scapegoats, one might say that’s one of their defining characteristics. Mental illnesses don’t exist in a vacuum.

        That's a good point. I don't know how best to describe addiction, but I'd assume that an addiction would need to be not just distracting, but destructive.

        2 votes
        1. mrbig
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          I’m not a doctor but an experienced patient: the criteria for diagnostics (DSM) of (almost?) all mental illnesses requires them to cause substantial damage to a person’s life. In theses you can...

          I’m not a doctor but an experienced patient: the criteria for diagnostics (DSM) of (almost?) all mental illnesses requires them to cause substantial damage to a person’s life. In theses you can present all the symptoms in the highest degree, but if it doesn’t cause you substantial risk or distress (mental or physical) you don’t need any treatment.

          2 votes
    3. [2]
      intuxikated
      Link Parent
      I dont know about the addiction part, but I've spend a fair amount time in Nofap communities.. Most of the people I met doesn't have ongoing relationships infact most people wanted quit because...

      I dont know about the addiction part, but I've spend a fair amount time in Nofap communities.. Most of the people I met doesn't have ongoing relationships infact most people wanted quit because they are afraid it will affect their relationships. Also how did you know relationship issues is the underlying cause? did you have any data or experience or was it just an intuition?

      3 votes
      1. teaearlgraycold
        Link Parent
        The situation will certainly be different for each person. I'm by no means saying that's generally the problem these people face.

        Also how did you know relationship issues is the underlying cause? did you have any data or experience or was it just an intuition?

        The situation will certainly be different for each person. I'm by no means saying that's generally the problem these people face.

  3. [4]
    intuxikated
    Link
    I was starting to appreciate how they were handling this differently than so called "conversion therapies". Then I read below paragraphs.. I mean c'mon.. I wish I could blindly believe something...

    Men’s brains are hard-wired to want porn, and therefore it takes supreme faith in God and all the masculine strength one can muster to avoid it.

    Treating porn addiction as a physical disease accomplishes two things for Christian men. They’re able to maintain their masculinity by conforming to the expectation that they do, in fact, want to watch porn. (They are MEN, after all.) They can also avoid feeling shame about committing the sin of watching porn, since it’s explained by factors beyond their control.

    I was starting to appreciate how they were handling this differently than so called "conversion therapies". Then I read below paragraphs..

    This sympathy, crucially, does not extend to women who watch porn themselves. Pornography addiction is decidedly a “man’s problem,” according to both the porn-addiction industry and the people I interviewed.

    As Perry puts it, women who watch porn are not just committing the sin of lust but they are also “sinning against their gender,” or “sinning like a man.”

    I mean c'mon..

    Jonathan, a 35-year-old Catholic, explained to my why he decided to join a pornography recovery support program this way: “Because I was tired of being held down by the chains of pornography. I was tired of not being who I am meant to be and not being the person that God made me to be more importantly.” Jonathan hopes to one day see “complete freedom” from porn, but for now, he experiences occasional “setbacks.” Still, he sees himself as a man on a quest—a quest to “win the war and be ready to keep on fighting.” 

    I wish I could blindly believe something like this, it must be nice to feel what you're doing will have an impact or everything will be good in the end. Atheism is not working for me, I have to formulate different strategies to cop with different problems. :(

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      It appears the conversation failed to be authentic earlier than your listed paragraphs. My experience tells me there's no hard wire: everything that's more appealing that the messy reality of...

      Men’s brains are hard-wired to want porn, and therefore it takes supreme faith in God and all the masculine strength one can muster to avoid it.

      It appears the conversation failed to be authentic earlier than your listed paragraphs.

      My experience tells me there's no hard wire: everything that's more appealing that the messy reality of things is going to be immediately more appealing. Porn is very much an escapism experience, but it could be anything: food, narcotics, alcohol, extreme sports, fighting... As long as you're finding relief or satisfaction in it that's greater than what your life is able to provide, of course it's gonna be addictive.

      I'm eager to believe that faith in God might help if it's genuine. Given that human beings are mostly deterministic machines, being able to put your expectations outside of yourself – like artists do when they define inspiration as coming from outside of themselves – it's going to shift the blame away and into hope, which is a more positive emotion that doesn't drain you. You can't fake that, but if you have such faith, you're better off for it.

      The problem, for me, is that none of these men stop and question whether porn is really that bad a thing. This Catholic dread about one's sexuality has always baffled me. What's there to be ashamed of in seeking sexual pleasure, or enjoying another person's appealing look?

      I can follow how being guided by sensations you don't quite understand – let alone control, in any meaningful way – can be frightening. I can also follow how you could seek shelter in whatever idea that grants you some form of control over this foreign thing you're shamed out of exploring... but you can't escape yourself.

      We all have needs and desires that "normal people" will not forgive us. None of us is fuckin' normal: we all have kinks and idiosyncrasies of one sort or another, but following an established set of unwritten rules is easier: you don't have to delve deeper into the unknown of the self. The further you go, though, the less scary it becomes: as you accept your needs, you become liberated from the anxiety.

      Maybe you're better off being liberated in this fashion because then you can serve God's will better.

      13 votes
      1. intuxikated
        Link Parent
        I wasn't commenting on the authenticity of their approaches, Its just that their new approach seems more empathetic than their aggressive conversion therapies, to men at least. Insightful comment...

        I wasn't commenting on the authenticity of their approaches, Its just that their new approach seems more empathetic than their aggressive conversion therapies, to men at least.

        Insightful comment nonetheless..

        None of us is fuckin' normal: we all have kinks and idiosyncrasies of one sort or another, but following an established set of unwritten rules is easier: you don't have to delve deeper into the unknown of the self. The further you go, though, the less scary it becomes: as you accept your needs, you become liberated from the anxiety.

        So true, If it wasn't late over here I would have wrote some of my personal experience of figuring out myself.

        2 votes
    2. teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      I wouldn't compare yourself against theists in this regard. It's difficult to say if each of your reported successes and failures are authentic.

      I wish I could blindly believe something like this, it must be nice to feel what you're doing will have an impact or everything will be good in the end. Atheism is not working for me, I have to formulate different strategies to cop with different problems. :(

      I wouldn't compare yourself against theists in this regard. It's difficult to say if each of your reported successes and failures are authentic.

      3 votes