Men, we’re better than porn

The Tab isn’t the only thing you close when your mum walks in


This Caesarian Sunday, many men showed their solidarity for women with teal ribbons indicating their support for Cambridge for Consent.

That night, a good number of them went home and masturbated to videos of women being subjected to physical and verbal abuse by men.

What’s wrong with this picture?

A lot of men in Cambridge are feminist and proud. They condemn the idea of sexual violence.  Of sex without consent.  But what no one wants to talk about is that a good number of them are addicted to porn.  And what they do says more than what they say.

I should know. I was one of them.  It would be hypocritical of me to condemn others for watching porn given the years I was addicted to it.  In fact, most men watch porn – and it’s a gendered phenomenon.  The NUS tells us that only 8% of male university students in the UK have never watched porn – as compared to 50% of women.

I thought it was just me and pixels on a screen.

I go incognito when I need to read TCS.

I go incognito when I need to read TCS.

The reality is that porn is a lot more than that.  It contributes to a climate of sexual violence. Even mainstream porn is full of women being physically and verbally abused:  a 2008 study showed that 88% of scenes in the most popular porn films contained physical aggression and that 95% of the victims of aggression responded either neutrally or with pleasure.

In most of the porn we watch, women are getting beaten up, and they’re happy about it.  We fight to stop violence against women in Parker’s Piece and clubs.  But we don’t bat an eyelid when it’s on our laptops.

It shouldn’t surprise us that we are influenced by what we watch.  Studies have found that exposure to even non-violent porn is correlated with a greater likelihood of accepting rape myths, of using coercion or alcohol to get sex, and of viewing dominant or abusive relations as the norm.

It reinforces gender inequality – women are reduced to their bodies.  And not even their whole bodies.

Porn test: if you see boobs instead of a two-headed person, you have a problem.

Porn test: if you see boobs instead of a two-headed person, you have a problem.

As the Polish philosopher Karol Wojtyła put it: “The problem with pornography is not that it shows too much of the person, but that it shows far too little.”

Porn presents women as objects to satisfy men.  It reinforces the lie that we have a right to sexual satisfaction from women whenever we want it.

But what I don’t understand is why we’re settling for porn in the first place. Sex is amazing precisely because it is an act of knowing and loving someone else.

We don’t have sex just because of the biological urge: it’s part of being human. We need to be connected to other people.

But porn is nothing like sex. It makes us lonely and harms our relationships with women.

Gee, if only I hadn't watch all that porn, I might be able to look a woman in the eye.

If only I hadn’t watched all that porn, I might be able to look a woman in the eye.

It gives us unrealistic expectations that our sexual partners couldn’t possibly meet.  It doesn’t celebrate our sexuality. It cheapens it. We sell it off for a joyless orgasm.

We’re like kids who think the wrapping paper is the real present.

Many porn users find it harder to be aroused by a real person.  Some can’t even maintain an erection without porn.

We settle for porn and pass it off as something you just do.  But we actually know it’s wrong.  That’s why you draw the curtains and wait for your roomie to leave.

If any of the above resonates with you, there’s help. Russell Brand – yes, really – has promoted a new website, Fight the New Drug, which gives information on how porn harms your brain, your relationships and the world.

Sexual liberation doesn’t mean we should accept without questioning anything that involves sexual pleasure.

The world needs men who don’t just think equality, but live it.  If you’re complacent about your porn use, you’re not a feminist.