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Mar 16 2015

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PORN ADDICTION: Men Really Can Quit – Stop Saying They Can’t

NY Post By Baleigh Scott on March 15, 2015 | 8:29pm

You can do it, Russell: Brand knows porn messes him up, but he can’t quite stop looking.
Photo: Getty Images

In a turn of events both unexpected and welcome, Russell Brand joined the ranks of those speaking out against pornography in a video posted to his YouTube channel.

Brand makes a powerful and unapologetic assessment of soft-core porn, listing its known negative effects on young men and corroborating them from personal experience.

Voyeurism, objectification of women, the need to validate one’s masculinity through beautiful women, fear of true intimacy, the tendency to view women as trophies rather than individuals: All of these, he admits to — and attributes to porn use.

He also admits he hasn’t yet been able to quit — despite his distaste for the stuff. “If I had total dominion over myself, I would never look at porn again,” he says.

That strikes an all too familiar chord in the pornography debate. Whether or not porn is healthy or moral, can men abstain from it?

The majority opinion seems to be a resounding “no.”

“All men look at porn. . . The handful of men who claim they don’t look at porn are liars or castrates,” sex columnist Dan Savage famously remarked. The notion’s almost universally accepted.

We see it manifested in countless male TV characters from Barney Stinson of “How I Met Your Mother” to Frank Underwood of “House of Cards.”

We heard it in Jennifer Lawrence’s response to the celebrity nude-photo leaks: “Either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.”

I’ve confronted the notion many times. I once told a close friend that my fiancé doesn’t look at porn. She raised her eyebrows, tilted her head, looked me in the eye and said, “I think he might be lying to you about that.”

Men can’t help but look at porn, we’re told. The only option for girlfriends, fiancées, and wives, it seems, is to accept it.

Sorry, no.

I’m not trying to argue with the statistics. But the idea that porn-use is inevitable for all men is problematic for a number of reasons.

First, not all men look at porn.

I’ve seen statistics claiming 64 percent to 80 percent of men are habitual users, but men are also a vital part of the active and growing anti-porn movement. Whole societies of people fall in line with Russell Brand: They’ve found porn use damaging and addictive, and found healing in self-restraint.

The Reddit community No Fap has more than 140,000 members who challenge themselves to give up porn and masturbating.

The group provides support and camaraderie for those looking to “recover from porn-induced sexual dysfunction, stop objectifying and establish meaningful connections, improve your interpersonal relationships, live a more fulfilling life.”

TO SAY THAT MEN, BY THEIR VERY NATURES, ARE SLAVES TO THEIR SEXUAL APPETITES IS TO DENY THEM FREE WILL — AND THEIR VERY HUMANITY.

The wealth of success stories posted proves that men, even those recovering from serious addictive behavior, are not powerless to resist porn.

Yet, though that evidence is comforting and inpiring, it’s ultimately beside the point. The insistence that men can’t help but look at porn has more serious problems than merely being false.

To say that men, by their very natures, are slaves to their sexual appetites is to deny them free will — and their very humanity.

It’s also particularly problematic in a society striving for gender equality.

Excusing male behavior on account of some constrained view of “human nature” is the flip side of the sexist claim that women can’t take on leadership roles because our decisions are invariably dictated by emotion. Or that we can’t properly manage our finances because our “natures” render us defenseless against the shiny gleam of a new pair of shoes.

In both cases, “nature” is just another word for “prejudiced stereotype.”

Insisting that emotional recklessness is a necessary result of female “nature” at once absolves women of such behavior and shackles them to it. Likewise, denying men’s ability to resist porn may excuse their conduct, but it also confines them to it.

Porn addiction (which neuroscientists have compared to cocaine addiction), is a serious matter, but it can be overcome.

I’m engaged to a man who has rejected porn for years. But even if he failed in his struggle to avoid it, I’d never denigrate him by assuming he can’t control himself enough to refrain.

So let’s change how we discuss pornography. Let’s promote a dialogue that doesn’t demean men by claiming that their natures render them powerless in the face of porn. Let’s elevate the conversation by refusing to deny men their free will. Because men — and all of us — deserve that.

Baleigh Scott blogs at The Indisputable Dirt. A longer version of this article was first published at VerilyMag.com. Reprinted with permission.

Permanent link to this article: http://desidivine.com/?p=1113

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