Opinion

Porn increases sexual expectations, decreases two-way sexual activity

After John Mayer expressed his love for masturbating to porn, Josh Fernandez sought to understand the fascination with pornography and erotica. Pop musician John Mayer ticked off fans after revealing his current equation to getting off – his hand, imagination and good porn. Among other offensive things, an arrogant Mayer practically told Playboy that for… Read more »

After John Mayer expressed his love for masturbating to porn, Josh Fernandez sought to understand the fascination with pornography and erotica.

Pop musician John Mayer ticked off fans after revealing his current equation to getting off – his hand, imagination and Picture 5good porn.

Among other offensive things, an arrogant Mayer practically told Playboy that for him, no body is his wonderland and he’d rather masturbate to pornography or to thoughts of an ex than find a new woman.

“When I watch porn, if it’s not hot enough, I’ll make up back stories in my mind,” Mayer told Playboy, later adding, “this is my problem now: Rather than meet somebody new, I would rather go home and replay the amazing experiences I’ve already had.”

Although Mayer has been known lately for being cocky, his honest – albeit ridiculous – struggle raises an important question: Is porn causing such unrealistic expectations that people turn to masturbation instead of coming back to earth?

In an attempt to answer the first question, I spoke to Whitney Strub, assistant professor and GLBTQ minor adviser. Strub, who’s studied the political and cultural debates of pornography and teaches Politics of Pornography and Obscenity in the United States, said both male and female scholars have discussed these complexities as they relate to pornography.

“A lot of critics, not just conservatives, really emphasize the sense in which pornography creates unrealistic expectations of bodies, of organs, of pleasures, of desires, et cetera,” he said. “And it basically creates this new sort of oppressively hypersexual normativity that really works against almost everyone because nobody can live up to it, and most people don’t necessarily desire to participate in some of the acts porn is mainstreaming.”

After pornography was normalized in the 1980s, the emergence of the Internet in the 1990s assisted erotic media in reaching the masses. Curious adolescents and others interested in pornography no longer had to leave their homes and head for the nearest corner markets or video stores to find pornographic videos or flip through nude photographs.

The easy access to porn through our computers – along with situations like Californication star David Duchovny going to rehab for sex addiction or model Christie Brinkley divorcing Peter Cook over his spending on Internet porn, which amassed to thousands of dollars per month – makes it is easy to see why some people panic over the topic.

To get more information on how porn directly impacts college students, I turned to SurveyMonkey.com, a free online survey site. After creating a 10-question survey, distributing it through a Facebook event invitation and spreading the word on Twitter, I gathered responses from more than 100 participants willing to disclose their habits in order to whittle down the effects of porn.

Since the Web site’s free account services limit users to 10 questions and access to only the first 100 responses, I analyzed my good sample-sized data. Out of 100 participants, 16.2 percent said they watched porn or erotic images and videos frequently, which I defined as once a day or every other day. While 30.3 percent described their porn-viewing habits as occasional, members of the 35.4-percent majority said they rarely watched pornography or erotica.

Out of my sample size, 37.4 percent said they masturbated occasionally, defined as at least once or twice a week, and 64.6 percent said the role of porn and erotica was for masturbation material. When asked about the effects of porn or erotica on their sex and dating lives, the 58.6 percent who said it had little impact outnumbered the 37.4 percent and 4 percent that, respectively, said porn had somewhat of an impact or porn had a big impact.

The 51 respondents who answered the final question described the effects of porn on their sex and dating lives as follows: 51 percent said they felt advanced sexual expectations from themselves; 17.6 percent felt advance expectations from their partner(s); 33.3 percent and 2 percent, respectively, felt an increase or decrease in sexual frequency; and 23.5 percent felt “other,” encompassing responses varying from “unreal view of what sex is,” to “gives new moves to try, but doesn’t change expectations or frequency.”

So what does it all mean, besides that I’m a novice statistician? Well, because of my question limit, I was unable to ask about gender breakdown. Without that, I can say that 26 people of the 51 people – 51 percent – who answered the last question said they feel they need to live up to greater sexual expectations because of porn.

Like body image, the often-high expectations concerning our roles and abilities during sex seem to come from ourselves.
If this sample represents the issue well enough, possible errors aside, the good thing is we’re not all egoists like Mayer. The bad thing is we’re our own worst enemies.

Strub explained the debate between sex positive, or pro-sex, and anti-porn feminists. Strub said the anti-porn feminists’ core argument is that porn is not reflective of sexuality, but rather a “constitutive force in constructing sexuality” that shapes women and their desires and pleasures in a misogynistic, patriarchal framework that anti-porn feminists consider oppressive to women.

Pro-sex feminists, Strub said, use a “multipoint rebuttal that patriarchy is not as monolithic as anti-porn feminists would have, that all texts have multiple meaning, and the meaning is always contingent and site-specific.

“And even if the overwhelming meaning of pornography is degrading to women,” he continued, “sex-positive feminists argue that you can’t categorically say that – that the effect would police women’s sexuality by deeming women who like or participate in porn as un-feminist.”

You’d be surprised how greatly this argument applies to porn’s effect on sexuality. Despite the 26 of 51 final-question respondents who said they had greater expectations from themselves because of porn, 58 of the 100 respondents of the previous question voted that porn had little to no impact.

Like it or not, porn aims at pleasing and arousing viewers with fantasies about sex. Seventeen of 100 respondents said the role of porn and erotica for them was to learn about sex.
Porn can be used for sex tips and masturbation but unfortunately, can pressure people into having high expectations from themselves or their partners.

The bottom line is that not every sex partner you have will be as unrealistic as Mayer, expecting you to maneuver yourself like a porn star – and those partners are the ones who matter.

Josh Fernandez can be reached at josh@temple.edu.

8 Responses to “Porn increases sexual expectations, decreases two-way sexual activity”

  1. Paulio

    Wow, John Mayer gets off on porn? Isn’t he a big rock star? Shouldn’t he have a horde of willing teenage and young twenty something women (the only people who can stand his popular radio albums) to choose from, at his beck and call? WTF? What kind of message is he sending? He;‘s not being a good rock star role model, which would be trying to have sex with as many young women fans as possible (at least until his fanbase hits middle age.) Anyone can stay at home and wank to porn. At the same time, it’s good to hear that even really famous people can get hooked on the porn drug, and it;s not just a problem for regular people. I like his blues albums.

    Reply
  2. TaitMc

    That is quite a contribution to journalism… Additionally I believe Christie divorced her scummy, egoist ex for an entire menu of admitted, dishonorable behavior including hiding cash under rocks for his teen toy that he slimed up to at a toy store. The further attention to John Mayer’s lack of intelligence and editing is also such a nice reiteration as well. Yes, this was journalism at its finest.

    Reply
  3. Brenda

    I don’t see why you had to be insulting to Mayer. The people who answered your survey talked about the same thing except anonymously. You going to insult them too? It seems to be really fashionable these days to bash Mayer. Did he murder, rape, or steal? No he dated a few high profile women over 4 years or so. So what? He talked frankly and honestly about how internet porn affects his life and behaviour. So what? Useful contribution for the very topic you explored.

    Reply
  4. Larry

    Brenda, John Mayer is an arrogant cock. Fernandez cited the very interview where Mayer cemented his title as biggest tool bag in the universe.

    I have a feeling the survey respondents weren’t so douchy in their tone and general thought process.

    Reply
  5. Jake

    I’ll Just start off by saying there is a lot of very immature cretinous porn around, but there are sites too that are good and interested in sexuality, and amongst those there are lots of different kinds of porn just like there are lots of different kinds of music. If you choose the right porn, the aphrodisiac effect can enhance your sex life either alone or shared with a partner. If you have a partner who’s overweight go look at big beautiful women to counteract the obsession with skinny people (like me) who’s images in every magazine and ad hoarding fill our mind. Yeah in music theres slipknot, muse, Beethoven, and human sexuality is just as diverse and masturbating is part of sexuality, where you get explore your own sexuality and develop thoughts and notions that you later share with a partner. So it depends on the type of porn. When people talk about porn they always focus on the person who if we were talking about alcohol would be an alcoholic. Honestly most people who drink or use porn of both sexes aren’t like that and an intelligent appreciation of sexual images as aphrodisiac is needed I think.

    Reply
  6. Michael

    Why is pornography blamed for being effective? It is a business. If it can make a good product that people keep coming back to, who are we to complain? THAT’S ANTI-CAPITALIST!
    In all seriousness, if we’re going to discuss the unrealistic expectations that are imposed on us why don’t we discuss the images that reach a greater audience? What about the rippled stomachs and overall lack of non-white models (male and female) in Cosmopolitan? What about the remarkable dedication and love from one Edward Cullen? Don’t these have a much greater effect on us as a society?

    Reply
  7. Tyler

    “When I watch porn, if it’s not hot enough, I’ll make up back stories in my mind”

    Good to know that me and Mr. Mayer have something in common

    Reply

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