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Porn addiction – what are we missing out on?

The debate about porn is as old as humanity itself

The recent excavations of Pompeii are testament to the fact that porn has been part of society throughout the ages. We now live in a time when access to pornography is easier and more widespread than ever before, with our children especially being exposed to porn at an increasingly younger age.

Within the narrow confines of a man's world, porn is often readily accepted as a rite of passage into manhood, and it is rare and unfashionable for a man to criticise porn in front of his peers. Women quietly either subscribe to it or keep their opinions to themselves for the most part – and when they do speak about it they are either labelled a pro or anti-feminist, depending on their stance.

In society, the debate forever rages on between two distinct points of view.

On one side, the crusaders for good decry porn as a moral outrage, denigrating to women, sexist, and responsible for the unravelling of a true and decent civilisation. On the other side are those who see porn as a fundamental freedom of sexual expression, and who argue that as long as it done by choice, then who does it harm?

The intellectual debate continues – a moralistic argument that polarises the general public. Is porn right or wrong?

It is difficult to talk about porn without emotion, without stigma, and for men especially, often without shame or guilt – especially when opening up the discussion with women.

But is it possible to have a discussion about porn without looking at it from the pretext of whether it is right or wrong?

Is it possible that the moralistic argument so favoured by the activists and politicians is clouding our ability to see the naked truth about porn?

It would be fair to say that sex aside, porn has very little to do with love, intimacy and connection. Indeed, there is much research now to suggest that porn has a hugely detrimental effect on our ability and willingness to experience such.

Porn provides comfort, a refuge from where we can experience a form of feeling intimate with another, but without getting hurt. Could it be that as men we are uncomfortable with feeling vulnerable and open, yet deep down we still crave touch, connection, love? What if porn provides a bastardised substitute for such?

If so, what would happen to our addiction to porn should we really choose to open up and be intimate – intimate with others, and more importantly, intimate with ourselves?

It seems a strange thing to suggest that as men our addiction to porn is based on our lack of intimacy, even more so to suggest that it is to do with lack of intimacy with ourselves.

What does that even mean?

Before we go there, let us look for a second at the way society encourages us as men to be. As young boys, we are all intimate by nature, unless we have been damaged early by some form of abuse.

It is natural for a young boy to hold another boy’s hand, or to hold the outstretched hand of an older man.

It is natural for a young boy to be sensitive to physical pain, to express how he feels, rather than repress his feelings.

Sure, for all of us we tend to 'grow out' of these traits at some point, and for some, younger than others, but nevertheless, it is a truth for most that by the time we hit manhood such traits are at best kept deeply hidden.

  • As men we are encouraged to be the antithesis of what comes so naturally to the young boy

  • We are told to be strong, and even tough. We are told to grow up; in other words, that the way we feel as a boy has no place in the adult world

  • We are sold the perception that we should be independent, capable, in control, able to manage life for all its ups and downs

But how do we maintain this image if we allow ourselves to remain sensitive? How can we teach ourselves to be immune to the cold winter without need for a jumper, and able to hit our thumb with a hammer without crying, if we do not first de-sensitise ourselves?

As men, we put huge effort into defining ourselves by our capabilities.

We define ourselves by sport, business, relationships or material success. Yet in doing so, from a young age we decide that being sensitive will not serve us to fulfil what we see as our role in life.

Is it possible that being intimate with one’s self and with others is a portal to that sensitivity, and thus a place that we dare not go?

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The secret of intimacy

Intimacy is a way of expressing the tenderness you feel within openly with another by gestures and postures as well as with words.

Perhaps it is true that deep down we sorely miss that sensitivity, that ability to feel deeply, that we had as a child. If so, is it not to be expected that we will seek something to replace it – at least in part?

Maybe it is not unrealistic to consider the possibility that underneath our attraction to porn, is the fact that we miss part of ourselves – that part that we dare not show in full, even to our loved ones.

Perhaps then the debate about porn is really just a sideshow – a side effect of the way we bring up men in the world – a conversation that conveniently stops us from having the discussion that is truly needed.

If there is to be change, perhaps WE need to open up and challenge the way both sexes see and need the role of men to be in society, for there is a grave impact this is having on their ability to express from their true selves.

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    By Adam Warburton, Builder

    I am a builder and a husband. I do not profess to live a life of extremes, but subscribe to the virtue of simplicity, dealing with all the same daily challenges most of us face. I love my wife... my job, my family…oh, and the world.