From Broken Boys to Whole Men: #9 – Sex Addiction and Porn
August 20, 2019
When I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, parents didn’t much talk about pornography: it was seen as a teen-male of rite of passage in an age when men’s intense interest in sex was seen as normal, and print magazines like Playboy and Penthouse were coveted commodities passed among boys and looked at on the sly.
All that changed with the advent of the Internet. Porn is now largely free and widely available, and the use of smart phones has made for widespread and more compulsive use of it, along with sexting and the use of sex and dating apps among teenagers.
A number of years ago, cybersecurity firm Webroot published on its site a stunning summary of porn’s internet presence and its supposed effect on society https://www.webroot.com/us/en/resources/tips-articles/internet-pornography-by-the-numbers. The tone of the article is one of alarm, and the stats are surprising: for example, every second of every day, 28,258 users are watching pornography on the internet, $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography on the internet, and 372 people are typing the word "adult" into a search engine. I’m sure the stats are higher now.
An estimated ten percent of men are sex addicted, including viewing internet porn, exhibitionism, promiscuity, compulsive masturbation, the use of “adult establishments,” and employing sex workers. And the costs in lost workplace productivity are huge.
Like other behavior or “process addictions,” such as compulsive shopping or gambling, the costs stay hidden longer, and relapse is a concern because of porn’s availability and the way the internet facilitates returning to the bottomless well.
As a substitute for forming real relationships, healthy attitudes toward self, others, body, and soul, internet porn and addictive sexual behavior can stunt growth of whole people, and perpetuate toxic male attitudes toward women specifically and sexuality in general.
To boys and men, pornography can seem a harmless outlet that satisfies certain needs: casual relationships, avoidance of the discomfort of true intimacy, and sexual gratification free of commitment.
But if porn is one’s primary outlet for sex ed and forming attitudes about oneself and others, the fallout can be loneliness, objectification of The Other, and distorted standards for gender ideals. And probably more important, pornography and sex addiction can become the all-consuming taskmaster, as with other addictions.