How PORN Is Destroying Modern Sex Lives; as It's Revealed Britons Are Having Less Sex, the Feminist Writer NAOMI WOLF Has an Unsettling Explanation

Daily Mail (London), December 12, 2013 | Go to article overview

How PORN Is Destroying Modern Sex Lives; as It's Revealed Britons Are Having Less Sex, the Feminist Writer NAOMI WOLF Has an Unsettling Explanation


Byline: by Naomi Wolf

THESE days, I am rarely surprised when, after a lecture or book signing, someone will try to talk to me about their addiction to porn and ask where he or she can get help.

As an author and feminist social commentator, I often discuss my work at events and meet a wide spectrum of people who talk to me about sex, relationships and, more increasingly, the impact of pornography on their lives.

There is no stereotype of what this person will look like. A man in his 60s has asked me if I think his porn addiction accounts for his current impotence.

A lovely young mother of three boys asked sadly how her husband, in an otherwise happy, sexually fulfilled marriage, became 'lost to porn' to the point that she had to leave him. She now wonders how to protect her sons.

A bright, male college student confessed that he is worried about what he calls 'the kink spiral' -- the term he uses to describe feeling trapped by his need to see more and more extreme porn to get aroused.

Couples in their late teens tell me no one they know can have sex without porn playing on a screen. A guidance counsellor at a private school asks where he can find help for his students -- many of whom are so addicted to online porn that the obsession is affecting their schoolwork and social development.

A major British study, the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, which questioned more than 15,000 people aged 16 to 74, showed couples are having about 20 per cent less sex than they did just ten years ago.

As someone who has been researching in this field for over 20 years, I believe we must take seriously the rise of pornography. New research shows it is having a detrimental effect on men's and women's sexual responses and harming relationships as a consequence.

My latest book, Vagina: A New Biography, about female sexual desire, has a chapter on new discoveries in neuroscience that show how pornography negatively affects both sex and relationships.

Popular culture is reflecting this trend: the new film Don Jon centres on porn addiction. The hero is sleeping with Scarlett Johansson but sneaks off to watch porn, since he says nothing with a real woman (even Johansson!) is as good.

Meanwhile, sex scenes in mainstream movies are getting more violent. In The Kids Are All Right, I was startled to see Julianne Moore's character start slapping her partner's face as he neared orgasm.

YOUNG women tell me that hairpulling, and even pressure around the neck at orgasm, are normal parts of courtship sex these days. These are 'porn cliches', as one young woman put it. I am not surprised by these shifts because we all know about the pornification of society.

I believe more voices would be speaking out if the new research on this issue were better understood. What we're not being told -- and this is a view which many scientists now confirm, but too few ordinary people understand -- is that porn use poses health problems.

Mine is not a moral position. I think adults should be able see whatever they want in the privacy of their own homes (if the images are not based on a crime or any cruelty being committed).

Yet the neuroscience of porn addiction is clear: watching porn causes sharp spikes in the activation of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain, which makes people feel focused, confident and good.

The trouble is that this short-term neurological arousal has long-term consequences. Firstly, it can cause desensitisation to the same erotic simuli that turned you on recently and, over the longer term, it can cause a greater likelihood of sexual dysfunction.

The user then craves more and more extreme pornography -- violence and taboo images activate the autonomic nervous system, which is involved with arousal -- in order to reach that same level of excitement.

This desensitisation explains why images that were seen as fetishistic, taboo or violent ten years ago are now mainstream fare on porn sites. …

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How PORN Is Destroying Modern Sex Lives; as It's Revealed Britons Are Having Less Sex, the Feminist Writer NAOMI WOLF Has an Unsettling Explanation
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