Men share on their first experience with porn

Men share how porn has affected their lives

Men share on their first experience with porn

While making love and genuine affection between two people is as natural as the act of breathing, this naturalness has long been hijacked by scripted depictions of sex and nakedness in lieu of the real experience of love.

As the word suggests, Pornography – from the Greek pornē (prostitute) and graphein (to record or to write), is an industry built on prostitution. This trading of flesh can be consensual or can be the result of sex slavery and trafficking. It can be lauded as an empowerment of the women who stream themselves online for money or it can be criticised for its large scale abuses of the actors who don't have true agency in the process.

But none of these observations amount to anything if we don't first ask: why the demand? After all, it is demand that fuels the supply and not the supply that ensures the demand.

This then begets the question: how is demand created? What circumstances create the ground for the normalisation and standardisation of porn in our culture? When we live in an age when boys will likely be exposed to porn before they even reach puberty, have we considered as a society what impact that has? We spoke with men from across the globe to ask them about their first experience of witnessing porn.


Mr G

I remember the first time I saw porn; I was aged nine and on a family holiday. My slightly older brother and I saw a magazine on the footpath and raced over to see what it was; we managed to open it to the centrefold on the ground to look at it inquisitively, in awe and shock it was a porn magazine. Within minutes my mother was standing beside us telling to stop looking and that it was rude and disgusting and to move on. It was never spoken about again between me and my brother or my parents but had etched pictures and questions in my mind about why the woman did that? The loss of innocence had begun.

The next time I saw porn was approximately a year later at eleven years old. I was at a family friend’s Sunday barbeque gathering when the teenage son five or six years older called us to come under the house to see something he was hiding: it was a pile of porn magazines he had and like Gollum, was proudly showing us his cache. I remember we were not really interested and could not see the point in all this but could not take back some of images we saw. We both left fairly quickly. I never trusted or respected this older boy after that time for his imposing introduction and hoped to not have to see him again.

There was true innocence here: as beautiful ten and eleven-year-old boys we were still very sweet and had not been denatured by the effects of porn and the hooks it digs into the bodies and minds of men.

It just made me wonder why this duality of life existed, as I had a beautiful mother and sister and I could never imagine them doing what I had seen in those magazines. Later on, as a teenager I was then introduced to a friend’s father’s porn stash of hidden videos and before I knew it, we were watching these very explicit full on staged sex scenes. Although there was some excitement and intrigue, this was way past the innocence we had as young teenagers and really quite surreal and pretty weird. More and more denaturing happened each time I saw porn from then on – it started to denature or take me away from the innocence of who I truly was.

As I grew up into a man, I learned to walk the wild side of life as a world traveller, adventurer, and partier; all the while the incremental drip-feeding and normalisation of porn kept me going from the strip shows of King’s Cross to the sex shows of Patpong Road and Amsterdam. Looking back, the emptiness was everywhere of the sold-out commodity of human spirits trading in this energy.

I never became addicted to porn, but porn and fantasy had been embedded in my body and mind and porn still had a hold over a part of me: all those experiences had denatured my true being and have taken time to clear.

I distinctly remember the last time I looked at porn more than a decade ago. After a traumatic relationship break that was void of physical intimacy, I found myself alone and away from my family and children in a small rented cottage, and started indulging in porn on the newly available internet for the first time. After a couple of days, I felt empty and craving more to fill the void or need.

I wanted to reinvent myself as the new party boy bachelor on the block, so I started going out with friends to local pubs and nightclubs. Same as porn, I could feel the emptiness of that scene: I really wanted the true intimacy and transparency and to be truly seen and met by another, but I realised I needed to heal the emptiness within, not look outside for a cure or quick fix.

Instead of indulging more, I went into a process of learning to look after myself more, i.e. more self-care/self-love, going to bed early, cooking meals for myself and not partying or writing myself off.

So, day by day, brick by brick I built the strong foundations I stand on today by renouncing porn, drugs and the wayward life for one more of purpose, self-care, and love . . . and it really worked, as now I feel steady and grounded. I feel life will always have its challenges but is best met with your best foot forward and not on the back foot, so to speak. Porn and its fake, fantasy world is a form of withdrawal away from the truth and amazing relationships we can learn to have with each other.

Dissolving judgement of my own experience gives me great understanding to why it is so popular – the supply and demand aspect. I got hooked by excitement, secrecy, duality and stimulation into the staged and faked puppet show; the offer of false relief or nirvana built a barrier between me and the love, connection and intimacy I really wanted.

Now at fifty-two years old after not indulging in porn for over thirteen years, having built a level of self-love and care for myself, I now see the insidious nature of porn; the desecration of sacredness of both woman and man.

I feel the energy of porn, the denaturing, is everywhere I turn, imposing through social media and billboards, music videos etc, and what our society has accepted is just as insidious as the seedy strip shows where drugs, crime and human trafficking are all part of it. The difference is I’m not owned by it anymore. I am no longer an agent supporting the demand. But this wasn't done by willpower, self-criticism or discipline. It was through the 'brick by brick' approach of bringing more self-love, care and purpose to my life.


Mr M

When I was eleven years old I discovered a penthouse magazine under a bed in the spare bedroom. Flicking through the magazine I was wide-eyed with the thought, is this what young women looked like with their clothes off? I was not shocked but accepting that this is the way the world is and as far as I could tell there was nothing wrong with it. In fact, I thought it was pretty good and wanted more of it. The question I ask myself now is, why would a young boy not have a sense that pornography was not normal, that both women and men are exploited, and the lack of sensitivity, understanding and respect associated with it?

To answer this question, I need to go back to my early childhood years up to around five years of age. There were two sets of circumstances that occurred within a very short timeframe that are etched in my mind. I lived in a household that had a degree of anger, violence and uncertainty. The first one related to a family dinner where we were seated around the dining room table. Without any notice my father erupted into a rage and threw the food that my mother had prepared on the floor. As a four-year-old it was obviously quite frightening and I effectively froze, trying to understand the reason for the outburst. At that very moment I decided I had to develop a strategy to navigate a path in relation to this sort of behaviour. My course of action was that I learnt to subdue some of my innate qualities as a young boy and not allow the innocence, light and love to be openly lived. This in effect was a rejection of these qualities and the start of introducing layers of protection to feel safe.

The second event occurred shortly after. We lived on a farm in a typically male dominated environment, however this event involved my mother and female relatives. I was around four years of age and I was playing dolls with my younger sister, as I naturally enjoyed this form of play, and without my knowing my mother had taken a photo of us.

Some weeks later she was with our relatives and showed them the photo. The women were making comments about me playing with dolls and were questioning the suitability for a young boy to play in this way. I had seen them discussing the photo and I was devastated. I said to myself that I would never play with dolls again as clearly it was not acceptable for boys to play in this way. I felt in a way betrayed by my mother, although I don’t feel it was her intention to impact me in this way.

Now you would think that I would be true to my word around dolls, but my sister had graduated to Barbie a few years later. Of course I loved playing with Barbie, but again I had an older female cousin who also embarrassed me around this. This time I definitely swore off doll playing forever.

I tell this story because it is clear to me that with each event, I decided to shut down part of me that was sensitive and nurturing out of fear of ridicule and rejection. It added a layer of protection that I thought was necessary to survive in the world. No one explicitly told me to protect myself, but we learn this form of behaviour from events in our daily life. Interestingly, the issue around me playing with dolls did not come from men criticising my behaviour, it came via my female relatives. Because they were women, you would like to believe that they would understand the sensitivities around the circumstances and honour that in the development of a young boy. But no doubt they too had their protections and fears around being sensitive.

Whilst I am sure that these events planted the seeds of the fear of rejection by women, I feel there is an added impact. In essence I was actually rejecting my own feminine sacredness and the qualities such as sensitivity, nurturing, understanding, vulnerability, tenderness and caring.

This rejection meant that when I first saw pornography, I had already denied who I was and that allowed me to accept it without question. I could not feel the energy around pornographic material as I had decided not to honour my own sensitivity. As adults we have a responsibility to nurture our children and develop their innate knowing around who they are and what they bring to the world.


Dr J

As an impressionable young teen back in the 1970’s, the media was pushing boundaries as they continue to do so today. Instead of promoting a person with a certain look or attitude similar to those of the big screen, television was creating sex symbols by exploiting women’s body parts. Soft porn was now streaming directly to your lounge room.

These sex symbols were used to sell products on advertisements or inserted into shows to get people watching. They were attractive, more often than not blonde and extremely voluptuous. I was being groomed that this was the type of woman women should aspire to be and that men should desire.

Around this same era came my introduction to hardcore porn when I had my first glimpse of a fully naked woman. They were images on a deck of playing cards that a friend shared one afternoon with myself and a few others. I couldn’t help but feel I was looking at something that I wasn’t ready to receive and did not know how to respond to.

The quality of the images was not good, even for early 1970 standards. Each card possessed a naked woman in different poses, many exposing their whole regalia with legs fully spread. To me this was not a beautiful thing to behold, as the women themselves were hard and held no love in their eyes or their bodies; they were damaged physically and emotionally, and I could feel that. However these images were branded in my mind and stayed with me for many years and would haunt me whenever I came close to or thought about a girl, shutting down any intimate thoughts I may have had.

When it came to dating or even just kissing a girl it felt I had been given some of the information in the form of these images, but nowhere near all of it and that everyone else knew it all, which made me feel totally inadequate. I would continually go into my head as to how I needed to behave instead of trusting who I was and what I could bring and that we were all equal in this equation. I had been robbed of an innocence that would have supported me to develop in my own space.

As the years went by the images faded but the damage had been done, for the boundaries had been well and truly demarcated back in my early childhood. As I matured I found myself gravitating towards the soft, blonde, voluptuous types, as they had been portrayed in a far less confronting way than the 52 women on the deck of playing cards. I thought I was attracted to a certain type of woman, however I had been set up to make a choice and I was choosing the less confronting of what was on offer, thinking that this was more acceptable.

In later life this also set a standard whereby I could justify watching porn as long as it featured fair skinned, blonde haired women, as this was the clean or the less dirty version. I had been swayed to believe that certain types of women behave and acted differently due to the way they looked and how they had been portrayed. Porn had such a hold on me, without me realising, that I would even sway my partners to watch porn and role play. I was fuelling the fire.

My life and intimate relationships had been moulded from a young age by television and a deck of 52 playing cards that I was not ready to receive but had been set up to view nonetheless.

Today, now understanding the full extent of manipulation I had undergone, through an untainted lens I can now fully appreciate a woman not for what she looks like but for her essence and the honouring she holds for herself. I can appreciate who she is, what she offers and the love she brings to the world instead of going into desire and fantasising over what I can get or how my needs could be fulfilled. Instead of coming from a place of need and desire that only led to short term fantasy and a lingering hollow feeling, I am free to have fulfilling relationships based on equality, honouring and love that has no limits.


Mr W

I must have been around age eight when I went on a school camp. Of course boys and girls were separated, sleeping in different rooms. I clearly remembered that one of the boys secretly had brought a soft porn comic that showed a guy who conquered all kinds of women. All the boys wanted to see the comic as it was very arousing. I also clocked the fact it made the boy that had brought the comic more popular as he had something that all the other boys wanted. He acted like he ‘had’ all these women, and if you approached him, and he liked you, he would share the women in the comic. Looking back, writing this now, it was like he ran a brothel.

I wanted to be popular so I bought such a comic for myself. But when I went to share with the other boys, to my disappointment, it did not make me more popular.

But the relationship with porn and buying porn was set, as a normal.

The foundation of how to treat women was also set: they were objects that you could have sex with. I craved that, but did not bridge it to the girls around me. Yet. Later on, in my early teens I switched to buying porn magazines with real photos showing real penetration. This very much aroused me. At that age I did not show it, or tell it to any other boys as I knew it was a bad thing to buy. I very much craved having sex with girls around me, but simply was not popular enough to have that. Porn was the substitute for that, and I had to get more and more of it. The effect of one magazine faded out after a while and a new magazine, new women, had to be conquered.

I can clearly see the effect porn had on my life. I started seeing women as images, as objects – not feeling into their beauty. I judged them on appearance; objects that had to be conquered. For a very long time I was attracted to women as images, not truly feeling their inner beauty as I was so much living in my head, and the effect of the images in the end faded out. I left relationships again and again, basically blaming women they were not ‘the one’. Porn played a big part in that.


Mr T

Physical intimacy was foreign to me as a child and throughout my early teenage years, so when I was shown an adult magazine around the age of twelve, I was quite curious, excited, shameful and guilty all at the same time.

A couple of years earlier I had found in our bookcase two new books; ‘Where did I Come From’ and ‘What is Happening to Me’. Although having two older brothers, sex was never a topic that was ever mentioned and very rarely did I witness my parents hug, let alone kiss, so these books became my introduction to puberty.

It was never anything I did regularly yet I still remember the fear I had of being caught looking at pornographic images, and the shame I had for wanting to look. And although I actually found some of the pictures a little unsettling, I did enjoy the stories that were told in the magazines, supposedly of real-life experiences. These were of wild sexual experiences happening in normal day to day life. So, with this combination of the images and the stories, my mind would run wild.

Pornography was not something I put much time and focus into, although the lasting impressions were huge. I would fantasise about women I’d see and wonder what could happen sexually between us, and I would judge women on their physical attractiveness and not who they actually were on the inside.

I have done a lot of drugs during my life, yet I feel the residual effects of pornography are more damaging; even though it was something that I rarely looked at, it had scarred my view on women even after stopping the activity.

Pornography is like a drug and just like drugs, if the reason behind using is not addressed then you are not free of the addiction, even if the activity has been stopped. For me I had not viewed pornography for quite a while yet I would still see women as though they were an object. This would all happen in a flash; I would see a woman and I would be grading her on what I thought it would be like to have sex with her. I saw women through porn-vision.

If I was feeling lonely and craving some affection these thoughts would be more dominant. This is not something I am proud of, but the truth is pornography has a strong hook and I was caught. It wasn’t until I realised this and learnt to love myself that the seeking of intimacy from another diminished. Intimacy is now something I bring to another and not something I try to 'get' from outside of myself.

I feel the lack of physical intimacy I witnessed as a child had a lasting impression on me, so much so that the only time I would show my girlfriend affection was when I wanted sex. This even continued into my relationship with my now wife, and it was only after she brought it to my attention that I realised that this was the case. I thought I just wasn’t one of those touchy-feely types, but in reality I was missing out on true connection, because to hold or be held by another without any sexual neediness is quite beautiful

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