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Culture, life, Op-Ed, Porn, rape culture, Sex, society

Why I Quit Watching Porn

It started off innocently enough. At least as innocently as any guilty pleasure does. And it wasn’t something I did everyday. Like I said, it was a guilty pleasure, and one that seemed relatively harmless at first. I mean, everybody watches porn, right?

It wasn’t like that when I was growing up. Back in the pre-internet dark ages, porn was one of those things which are not spoken of, the purview of shady businesses with painted windows and sweaty, unsavory men in trenchcoats. Sure, lots of people watched it — and read Playboy and Penthouse and Hustler and Juggs and the million other mags behind paper covers at your local newsstand. But it wasn’t til the internet exploded all over the world that porn really came into the mainstream. And hey, for what it’s worth, I’m not here to judge people who do watch it. I know lots of healthy, well-adjusted people who like, on occasion, to watch people they don’t know have sex while someone films it. If that’s you, awesome. Go on with your bad self.

But, it turns out, it’s not for me.

I never went too far down the rabbit-hole. By most standards, my taste was pretty tame. The more degrading, misogynistic stuff never really turned me on. Most of the time I spent longer looking for something to get off on than I spent actually getting off. And I know myself enough to realize how easily I fall into compulsive behavior patterns, so I took care to keep it from being a regular thing.

But it still infected my psyche. And it still affected my relationships.

See, I’m one of those people destined (or doomed, take your pick) to live mostly inside my head. And given my tendency to compulsion, my psyche is really good at laying tracks for the engines of my desire to run along. Every time I watched porn, another spike was driven, another tie cinched into place. Another length of track got laid down, training my brain that this was the way to Ejaculation Town.

All well and good til you’re, you know, having sex with an actual person, especially one you’re in a committed, loving relationship with.

It wasn’t so much that now I could only get off if my partner and I were doing porn-ish things. I mean, there was that, which was followed by the inevitable let-down because things that look good on camera don’t always translate to this-is-actually-fun, and because reprising the dynamics of even the most anodyne, vanilla-est porn in a committed, loving relationship takes a lot of trust and a willing partner. I’ve been lucky to have partners who were good, willing, and game.

No, what really convinced me was the psychic seepage that took me out of the moment, out of my body and bed and the wonderful things a partner and I might be doing there. That seepage robbed me of being present, flipped the switch from active, engaged partner to entitled observer and fantasist. From lover to glorified masturbator, alone in the most intimate situation a person can be in.

Which was a real shame, because sex isn’t nearly as much fun when you’re in that headspace.

I’d like to say it took me a long time to realize that. But it didn’t. What took me a long time was gathering the resolve to change it. Now I’ve started, I’m glad that I did.

I don’t remember exactly how long it’s been since I watched porn, only that it’s been long enough I can say that and not be lying. And it’s not like it wholly solved the problem. I’m still a person who lives in my head most of the time. And though now when I get myself off it’s mostly through the magic of memory and imagination, sometimes those memories are things I’ve seen in a private browser window and not things I’ve seen and/or done in real life.

But I’ve gotten better at remembering to be present in moments of intimacy. And I (and my partners) enjoy sex a whole fuck of a lot more because of that.

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About Dallas Taylor

Dallas Taylor is the grandson of a rum-runner, a valedictorian, a handyman, and a good Catholic girl. He lives and writes in Seattle, and builds things for a living in his spare time. In 2010, he attended the Clarion Writers’ Workshop.

Discussion

One thought on “Why I Quit Watching Porn

  1. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    WORTH THE READING.

    Posted by Jonathan Caswell | December 3, 2017, 7:26 pm

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