*This piece was originally posted on my other blog, but I wanted to repost it in the spirit of Thanksgiving. I received many helpful comments and suggestions then, so I decided to rewrite it based on that feedback. I am thankful to those readers who help me grow as a writer.
Pornography (porn) is a multi-billion dollar industry, and an increasingly common undercurrent of nearly every internet-user’s digital life. The porn industry is paradoxical in that a majority of people participate in it, while simultaneously demeaning its actors and decrying it as socially and psychologically corrosive. All the contentious aspects of the industry aside, I want to call attention to the experience of watching porn. Specifically, the male-bodied masturbatory experience and dependence on porn.
This brief essay revolves around male masturbation and sexual pleasure. My assumption moving forward is that people generally aim toward pleasure whenever possible — for some this takes different forms and objects, but the basic principle applies across the board.
I believe that starting with the ongoing proliferation of porn in the early 20th century, we have been depriving ourselves of heightened self-pleasure and possibly transcendental sexual stimulation by fixating on unreal images and removing ourselves from the act of masturbation.
Most men agree that prolonging self-stimulation usually intensifies orgasm, which, presumably, is more pleasurable. Porn is an expedient tool that shortens arousal time and reduces the moments to climax. Porn-aided masturbation, therefore, diminishes the time and energy spent to climax, decreases orgasm intensity, and, arguably, decreases subjective pleasure. Quite simply, porn-aided masturbation gains you a considerably less intense orgasm relative to self-mediated masturbation, although it requires more mental energy and time.
To paint a better picture of this phenomenon, I jumped into an online forum called, ThoughtsAroundMe, where I posted this inquiry,
Not a baited post, this is for an article i’m writing: do you have more intense orgasm when you masturbate aided by porn or not aided?
What I found not only surprised me but revealed that intuitions about masturbation and pornography readily elicit cultural, identity, gender, and behavioral tropes linked to the way men relate to their own bodies and sexualities.
1. One man assumed I was a female. After I corrected him, he said I probably have low testosterone levels:
“Dude, you got low testosterone. That’s why your orgasms are fluctuating. Don’t blame us for that.”
2. Some men were unaware that orgasms could vary in intensity. One man suggested only women have that capability:
“Lol um it feels the same every time unfortunately and [Andrew] are u a female?”
3. One man acknowledged the differential and opted to masturbate without porn more often, despite the added effort and time:
“Male, and better without porn. I try to avoid porn as much as possible, it’s not good for my mental well being, for awhile I watched it 5-6 times a week and it gave me bad expectations when it came to sex and I lost all arousal and just suffered from it.”
One striking commonality was that multiple men had a lived experience verifying the unfortunate reality that male orgasms are invariant in intensity. I do not think this is the case for most men; however, I think these men likely have rendered masturbation a mundane act through habit.
As one Tinder man put it when asked the question above, “That’s like asking if I like to eat cereal without milk”. Peanut butter and jelly; porn and masturbation.
Porn facilitates this co-dependence by making the orgasm easy to attain. It commodifies the orgasm, and, like a happy meal it is quick and cheap. It is also unhealthy.
Quick and cheap orgasms short fuse our ability to maximize pleasure from our own bodies and minds. Quick and cheap orgasms detach us from our selves, hampering the near spiritual benefits of attuning one self to one’s own mental and physical sexual appetites. If porn-aided masturbation is a happy meal, then self-mediated masturbation is a scotch. You appreciate it best in slow and paced sips.
Self-aided masturbation is also a window into the realm of sexual desire, the exploration of which culminates in an orgasm proportional in intensity to the mental energy devoted to conjuring a personally tailored sexual fantasy that is not limited to what’s on RedTube.