Why ‘Porn Addiction’ is a Myth

It seems that in the back yard of every adult service stream, there’s a selfless guy offering to free disgruntled users from the horror of ‘porn addiction’. But have you ever stopped to think what ‘porn addiction’ is supposed to mean, and how such an addiction could work in a clinical sense?

Given that the term is applied to a much broader base of sexually-motivated vices than simply buying or using pornography, why is it called ‘porn addiction’ and not ‘sex addiction’? Is it even an addiction at all? And if ‘porn addiction’ is a myth, should we not just accept it as “a white lie which is helping to eradicate evil?”

WHAT IS ‘PORN ADDICTION’?

Whatever else it may be, the phrase ‘porn addiction’ is a means of driving publicity. A form of Internet marketing. Success in Internet marketing depends heavily on gaining a visible online presence, and by far the most economical and well-targeted way to do that is to place well (or ‘rank’) on the search engines. The more people who search for a particular keyword, the more web traffic potential there is for the marketers using that keyword.

So what Internet marketers do (the clever ones, at least), is build content around the Internet’s most popular keywords. The content is then published, the search engines index it, web surfers search for the keyword(s), and the marketer’s web pages get visits. There’s a bit more to it than that. The content must be cleverly worded, and the marketer will normally need to do some additional types of search optimisation work in order to schmooze the search engines. But with all that taken care of, popular keywords can bring a vast volume of people scurrying to the marketer’s door.

And the punchline? Well, the word ‘porn’ just happens to be one of Google’s top five search keywords. Not within the adult entertainment genres – in totality. That equates to staggeringly high visitor traffic potential. An enormous amount of public attention, which can be channelled into all sorts of self-serving pitches. The word porn, if used intelligently, is Internet marketing dynamite.

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It’s not polite… but look, you needed to hear it, okay?

This is one of the reasons ‘porn addiction’ has become the widely proliferated cliché it is, over and above ‘sex addiction’, which would actually be a great deal more logical in most instances. Simply, far fewer people search for the term ‘sex’, than for the term ‘porn’.

And the commodity being marketed? Well, that’s just whatever the people riding on the back of the ‘porn addiction’ cliché want to promote. It could be a religious message, a self-help subscription, an app, or simply a monetised website. It may even be a vengeance campaign against adult entertainment, orchestrated by a guy who got rinsed by a model and feels a need to assuage his bitterness.

ADDICTION, OR DELUSION?

The ‘porn addiction’ preachers will often dramatise their message with stories of guys blowing a fortune on adult entertainment and ending up with serious money problems. This creates a strong aura of addiction.

But if you look more closely at these stories of financial ruin, they don’t actually relate to porn. They relate to a one-to-one pursuit of females. The men who’ve run up bills of £30,000, £50,000, £90,000+ in short periods of time, have not done so buying explicit movies. They’ve spent their money trying to buy women. Using one-to-one, pay per-minute contact facilities, and/or buying luxury gifts for models in the hope of befriending them (in other words, hoping to bypass their communication paywalls in the longer term). It’s sexually motivated, but it’s not porn.

Porn itself is a lot more economical a proposition. Much of it, indeed, can easily be sourced for free. It’s therefore hard to associate financial damage directly with porn. So how, exactly, does porn damage its ‘addicts’? Well, it occupies their time and can interfere with their relationship (if they have one – many so-called ‘porn addicts’ don’t). But then, the same applies to trainspotting and football. Not exactly the kind of devastation typically associated with addiction. There’s also no physical damage, and there are no recognised withdrawal symptoms.

Okay, but what about porn’s notorious brainwashing effect? Porn sites seek to delude their visitors – asserting that women enjoy being heavily objectified, and pushing the expectations of men way outside of realistic norms. This effectively sucks the men into a bubble they can find it hard to escape.

The delusions about women make it difficult for the men to attract female interest in real life, and increasingly, many of the men cease to even want real women, because their expectations have been warped so wide of reality. They want pre-undressed girls with a particular hi-glam look, who react positively to comments about their tits and will generally oblige when instructed to perform weird sexual acts. And the men come to see such females (who don’t exist outside of adult entertainment) as the only ones who can fulfil them. Surely, this is damage?

Of course it is. But the point is it’s a manufactured delusion – not an addiction situation. The difference?

Delusion is a misconception which, once dismantled, ceases to have any effect.

Addiction is a clinical craving which persists regardless of how the addict understands the situation.

It has been demonstrated time after time, that once men recognise the portrayal of women within adult entertainment as bullshit in the name of profit, they change their behaviour.

Men who have spent £tens of £thousands calling adult chat or flirt lines, will instantly stop when they discover that the women don’t really like them and have only been humouring them for the money. Same with gifting. Men will buy gift after gift after gift for half-clad sex symbols. But once they find out that the model only cares about their cash and actually regards them as a seedy weirdo, they immediately cease. Their behaviour has changed according to their understanding of the situation. That does not, and cannot happen with real addiction. Addiction is blind to reason.

The fact that the adult entertainment ‘bubble’ is man-made and founded on a lie, is evidence AGAINST porn being an addiction.

EASY TARGET

We can see that the integrity of the ‘porn addiction’ battle cry is already beginning to wear thin. But is it only the power of the keyword that motivates marketers to use the ‘porn’ term – even when the pursuit in question is not strictly pornography?

Not at all. Another reason the term ‘porn addiction’ is so commonly used, is that porn is the easiest target.

Porn has a widespread bad rep. It’s associated with sex trafficking, misogyny, the normalisation of abusive conduct, the spread of misconception about women… It’s not only an easy target – it is, in many ways, a worthy one. So a war against ‘porn addiction’ is easy for people to support.

Sex, meanwhile, is difficult to attack. Sex creates life, within loving relationships. It’s not something the majority of people are prepared to demonise. It’s porn, not sex, which is considered an evil. If you’re trying to gain sympathy for an anti-adult industry message, ‘porn’ is definitely the term to use. That doesn’t, however, add any weight to the argument that porn is an addiction.

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The new-age online kerb-crawler in close-up.

Still not convinced? Let’s dive into some more contradictions…

The use of porn is heavily discriminate. Heterosexual men will normally reject gay male porn, and vice versa. So when a man says he’s addicted to “porn”, he really only means some porn. Whichever porn happens to fit his personal fantasies. The rest, by his own admission, he doesn’t even want, let alone crave. The level of selectiveness men display towards porn is inconsistent with addiction. Addiction is tied to a specific element, which is recognised as a cause of craving. There is no such specific element in porn, because its appeal is governed by personal taste, and differs from one user to the next.

It’s very unusual to find evidence of women who are heavy porn users. This is very much a male behaviour. Not so much a gender imbalance, as a male-only ‘addiction’. That once again makes the designation of ‘addiction’ hard to rationalise biologically.

Where’s the line between porn and other forms of titillating content, such as erotic art?… If a man is excited by erotic art images, to the point where he spends all his spare time searching for them, is he an art addict? Or does the seediness of the content determine whether or not the pursuit is an addiction?

Porn is detachable from the high of orgasm. Orgasm – the high that men are seeking when they pursue adult entertainment – can be achieved without porn. This contradicts all existing understanding of addiction. No recognised addictive vice is separable from its own high. If you can bypass the commodity, and still gain the high, you cannot be dependent on the commodity, and you cannot be addicted to it. You can feasibly be addicted to sex, but not to porn.

Porn. Addiction. Is. A. Myth.

BUT “PORN ADDICTION” IS A POSITIVE ‘WHITE LIE’ THOUGH, RIGHT?

The myth of ‘porn addiction’ is not a white lie. The fundamental problem with citing the use of adult services as an addiction, is that it gives men an excuse. Like…

“Yeah, I was gratifying myself on the Internet when I should have been caring about my family. But it’s not my fault, ‘cos I’m an addict. I don’t have to explain anything. I can just say that I’m an addict, and it’s fine. And I can keep doing it, and keep getting away with it, because I’m an addict, and that’s what addicts do. I’m ill, so I’m never to blame. It’s all the fault of nasty porn barons, and their evil succubi, who trick vulnerable guys like me into an impossible situation.”

The notion that using adult services is some kind of… illness… heavily diminishes the responsibility of men. This is not a white lie. It’s a phrase, containing a high value Internet keyword, which is used to promote an agenda. The ‘porn addiction’ myth persuades men that they’re not to blame when they clearly are to blame. It’s portraying selfishness as an illness.

If we want to attack the things that are bad in porn, let’s attack them. But let’s not pretend that men who masturbate to misogyny, relentlessly pester and annoy TV chat models, or spend their lives trying to control lapdancers with their wallets, are some kind of victims.

Author: Bob Leggitt

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