Running Away From One Problem And Making Another: Porn as Escapism from Anxiety

Hey, I’m Daniel and I’m the blogger behind Daniel’s Delirium. I’ve been invited by Alicja to do a guest post for Popular is Wrong, so without further introduction, I’m really happy to present my first post here – and I’m hoping it won’t be my last!

Today, in the spirit of Mental Health Awareness, I want to talk about a topic that is very important to me. Porn. Especially, porn in the context of mental health: How detrimental it is for our mental health, for our partners health, and for the actresses involved. Even though it seems like a harmless crutch, bringing short-term relief for anxious and depressed people.

Just a forewarning for anyone who may be upset or otherwise affected by this subject matter, I will talk only about personal experiences in this post. I am not here to challenge your personal view on porn, just share my own opinions and thoughts. Also, if you are upset by graphic details, please proceed with caution.

I must regretfully confess that it’s something that almost ended my serious, at the time 3-year relationship. Something I used to think was so harmless, something ‘we all’ do alone, had put the most serious relationship of my life on the line.

It was time to start listening, time to take action.

Recently, I was cleaning up my Internet footprint. You know, deleting old social media accounts I’d made when I was a teenager and have long since been abandoned. I was trawling through old emails, mostly laughing at my terrible grammar and Internet slang. I found old photos and realised how much of a bean pole I was when I was growing up. I’ve put on a lot of weight since I became an adult, which is a good thing, but now I have a potbelly accumulating. At least I don’t go blind every time I stand up nowadays, though!

Among one of my old email accounts, I saw a feature where you could trawl through your old search history.  At first, I thought it would be cool to see what was going on in my head back then, to see what I was searching for through a random day when I was 14, 15 years old. Amongst the searches for deadmau5 and Aphex Twin’s music, Minecraft mods and types of Monster Energy available in the UK, I found this little entry:

“i hate porn but watch it” – Me, 2013

I hate porn, but watch it. If I could go back and hug my 15 year old self, I wouldn’t hesitate. I’d perhaps take him out to the village, buy him a can of Monster and a chicken tikka salad crusty roll from the bakery and talk man-to-man with him at Errington park.

I was 15 years old when I tapped that into Google. Seeing this now, it was deeply upsetting. I realise that, even back then, I had a strange relationship with pornography. I was on the fence: I couldn’t resist the temptation of it, but at the same time I knew it was wrong, I realised why it was immoral. I just wasn’t strong enough to fight it.

Porn had been a coping mechanism the entire time.

Only now I’m 21 and have received therapy and medication for my anxiety disorder, do I realise that I have been terribly anxious since I was at least 11 years old. I just didn’t know that it was abnormal back then. I was told I was sensitive, told that it was normal. Though, the entire time I was experiencing an anxiety disorder which would only grow worse over the following years. Thankfully, though, that’s what has lead to it being diagnosed and treated.

When you’re a teenager, especially a male teenager, it’s only natural that you’re going to get sexual urges that are best managed and contained by masturbating. It’s a natural act and as we grow up I think we all do it at some point or another. It’s an extremely personal thing and I hate that there is a huge sense of shame surrounding it. Personally, I think back when I was a teenager, I saw porn as just an extension of masturbating. What’s the point of masturbating? Well, really, I realise half the time I wasn’t doing it because I was horny. I hate that word, it’s really cringe-worthy. It has really lecherous vibes, it’s lustful, not loving. Anyway, I realised that I was doing it because it was stress-relief. It calmed me down. I felt less anxious. I could relax. I could finally sleep.

I was curious about the porn. I was curious about girls, I was curious about sex. These are both natural. Of course they are. Society can seriously alienate young people who are going through puberty. I think this is bad: the more we brush under the carpet, the more we treat it all as ‘taboo’, the less we educate young people. No wonder so many young people have such a warped view on sex and relationships from watching porn, they’re not getting a decent sexual education elsewhere! If we educate young people who, let’s face it, are going to feel this way and are most likely going to do things, we should educate, educate, educate about intimate relationships, consent and safety.

Porn is dangerous. For one, you can never know if the ‘actors’ and ‘actresses’ in the production are 1) old enough and 2) consenting. Even if a website states something along the lines that it’s compliant with the law and that all models featured are 18 or above at the time of publication, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. In fact, most of the time it probably isn’t. Think of Pornhub, a website which is basically the YouTube of the free porn world. If anyone can upload anything, this begs a few unnerving questions. If you trawl any mainstream porn site, you are bound to stumble across a photo or video of someone with a questionable age. How could that be entertaining in any way? It’s sickening. The questions that spring to mind are:

Did the person or people in the video upload this themselves?

Are they adults? This is important to consider with the horrific rise in popularity of so-called ‘teen porn’ and ‘daddy-daughter incest’

Is this consensual? Am I witnessing real rape or another form of abuse?

Is this revenge porn? Were these nudes ever intended to be posted online?

Is this safe? Some of the acts performed for porn leaves the men and women involved with permanent, life-changing injuries. I remember reading about how one woman was injured so badly from anal sex, that she has to spend the rest of her life with a colostomy bag. This is absolutely abhorrent.

Is this human trafficking? The porn industry is directly correlated to human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

You can never know for sure if what you’re watching was uploaded with the consent of the people appearing in it. This is especially true with ‘amateur’ or ‘home-made’ porn. How can you be turned on by something with so much uncertainty, not just that, but with really dark implications. You could be witnessing evidence that belongs in a police investigation, not ‘porn’. There are websites that feature terms like ‘jailbait’ to describe the porn being hosted on there. If you take a quick look at the definition of ‘jailbait’, you’ll find that it’s something along the lines of a young girl, younger than eighteen, and whom is sexually enticing – hence being ‘jail bait’. The implications of this are disgusting. If there’s porn that features an under-18, that isn’t ‘porn’ – that’s a child abuse image.

I don’t even want to know.

How is this allowed?

The phrase ‘Teen porn’ makes me shiver. The phrase sounds so wrong. “Barely legal” is another that sends alarm bells ringing. I feel a bit unwell when I hear those phrases. Like I shouldn’t be hearing these phrases – I imagine that’s the rush for some people that keeps them coming back. I find that disgusting. Along with the fact that some of the most popular forms of porn are ‘mother-son incest’ and ‘daddy-daughter incest’. Is porn warping people’s minds? I think so.

People become desensitised over time to ever more extreme forms of porn, some people even go so far down the road of addiction that nothing turns them on anymore. They resort to bestiality or paedophilia. It really happens. That’s usually how people get into those detestable acts. Like a drug addict who builds up a tolerance, a porn addict gains a similar tolerance. Other people’s urges become external and simply looking at porn on their computer doesn’t do it for them anymore: They may become physically abusive, violent or otherwise dangerous, they ruin their real-life relationships.

It’s not even extreme porn that is the problem. I think all porn reinforces very negative and harmful stereotypes about men and women. In a world which is quickly moving on from gender roles and traditional gender stereotypes, I’m confused as to why most people turn a blind eye to it when it features in porn? Women are the sex object in all porn where women are depicted. Even in gay porn, there’s a dynamic of man and woman. The weaker man, sometimes called the ‘sissy’ – sister, girl, is acting as the female during sex – even though they’re both biologically men. One is more feminine and is being dominated by the alpha male. Yes, it might be radical, but I’m proposing that even male gay porn is sexist to women. The concept of femininity is being dominated here, made to look weak, as if it’s just there to be fucked and humiliated, nothing else.

For more thoughts on why I don’t think there’s such thing as Feminist porn, please check out my article on the subject.

I learnt a lot of what I know about how porn affects the human mind from the charity Fight The New Drug. Not only does it affect the user’s brain, it affects the user’s partner: It’s important to note that porn addiction isn’t just a problem because it’s affecting you. Porn users partners bare the burden. Being the partner of a porn user is distressing: the constant secretiveness, the emotional coldness, the distance it creates in the relationship. Many partners of people whom use porn may develop mental illnesses because of it, namely anxiety and PTSD. People can get PTSD from finding out their partner watches porn in secret, as it’s something they never expected their otherwise loving partner to do. It begs the question, what else are they doing behind my back? It completely sours the relationship and brings trust into question.

The worst thing to do is cover it up, hide it away like it’s a dirty secret. The constant guilt of doing something, using porn, while knowing full-well that it was a deal-breaker for my partner quickly became insurmountable. I had to admit to it, I had to confess to it. I’m so glad I did. Although at first my partner was understandably distraught by it, we were able to work together. The most important thing is to talk. The constant shame around this ‘taboo’ subject is what’s keeping us from moving on, I think. I think we should all have an honest discussion about porn.

It’s trash. Porn was my crutch when I was deeply unwell with anxiety. Just as junk food is a crutch, or smoking weed is for others, or a heroin hit for someone else. All of these are self-destructive, hedonistic behaviours that don’t just affect us negatively – it affects the people we love, the last people on Earth we would ever want to come to harm. Not just that, this so-called ‘harmless entertainment’ comes at a cost: The cost of the human rights and freedom of the actors and actresses depicted in the photos or videos, or whatever else it may be.

If I had to put anything in Room 101, it would be porn. It just isn’t worth it.

Thanks for reading my guest post for Popular is Wrong, I hope I’ll see you around.

Daniel, Daniel’s Delirium.

 

 

One Comment

  • Hannah

    This is a really interesting perspective. I totally agree with you on the desensitisation process – something I noticed myself from it in the past and something that’s being a bit more focused on now, which is good. I’ve read quite a few stories of people just needing more and more and it really affecting their relationships, which sucks. Self-love in a sexual sense is a great thing, but I think when porn is involved it can change the dynamic and make it more negative – you’re not really enjoying yourself anymore, but relying on something else that in the end just won’t be enough. Thanks for sharing!

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