Cover photo by Brooke Cagle. 8 minute read

In a world where sexual objectification and violence sell, it can be difficult to see what media is doing to our perception of those around us.

For example, because of the normalization of sexual exploitation in hardcore pornography, which is largely women being abused at the hands of aggressive men, it can be so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that all men enjoy hurting others. And not only that, but it can be easy to think that for them, it’s sexually exciting for them to intentionally hurt their sexual partner(s). The choking, slapping, hitting, forced sex, and verbal abuse that’s on the front page of most main porn sites can make it seem like every guy fantasizes about committing such atrocities. But do they, really?

Spoiler alert: they don’t. In believing these lies, that women enjoy abuse and men enjoy abusing, we’re buying into the false narrative that the porn industry is selling. The reality is, not all men would sexually take advantage of someone at the drop of a hat if they were given the chance. And the reality is, not all men take sexual pleasure in the pain, degradation, and humiliation of others. But we wouldn’t necessarily know that just by looking at the mainstream porn industry that claims to show everyone’s “fantasies,” would we?

Related: What If We Told You That Something Widely Accepted In Society Actually Degrades Women?

That’s where we come in. As a pro-love and pro-healthy sex organization that’s fighting against sexual exploitation, we’re here to expose the damaging lies that the massive porn industry sells as the sexual ideal. Because we know that we’re better than buying into the false stereotypes that the industry portrays about people, and the degrading lies that are so brilliantly marketed as “fantasy.”

(For the female-focused version of this article, click here.)

Let’s debunk a few of the myths that today’s hardcore porn sells about men, and expose some specific harms porn has on men:

It shows men as aggressive and abusive.

As we’ve said before, today’s pornography has never been more violent, abusive, or humiliating. Generally, the actors that do the abusing and the hitting in pornography are men, and because porn is a multi-billion dollar industry that reaches people all over the world, we think it’s a safe bet that it is affecting the way the world views men.

Related: Porn Director Gives A Shocking Behind-The-Scenes Look Into Making Porn

The most popular categories of modern pornography include violent terms like “facial abuse,” “teen crying,” and “extreme brutal gang bang,” with increasingly popular categories like “painal” (which means “painful anal”). Yeah, this stuff is accessible by anyone with a smart device and an internet connection, no matter their age or preferences.

And these violent videos are deemed okay by many consumers because it’s a “fantasy” and not actually real. But does packaging this as a fantasy really make it any healthier?

Not only that, the world is seeing this content where men are violent and aggressive, while the porn industry and its supporters claiming that it’s all “pretend fantasy” — the unreachable sexual ideal for men. Do you see the problem here?

And while the majority of pornography is violent towards women, there are categories of male humiliation porn that show men being hurt and degraded in the name of sexual entertainment. Not cool.

Related: 5 Former Male Porn Stars Share Their Most Disturbing Experiences While In The Industry

Porn makes it seem like this is what all or most men desire, but we know for a fact there are so many wonderful men in the world who are not violent abusers. Though it is true that the majority of assaults are committed by men, a conversation is finally starting about what we can do to teach that no one (man or woman) needs porn, that violence is not okay, and that consent is mandatory. Let’s not shut down this change and this conversation by reinforcing the idea that it’s a fantasy for men to be violent and dominating.

By fighting against porn, we are fighting against the normalization of domestic violence and all forms of sexual assault. Violence is not love. Pushing partners into performing sexual acts is not okay, ever. If we truly believe that, and we truly believe that not all men are okay with assault, we can’t support an industry that literally makes money doing just that.

It harms male performers.

In an interview with Men’s Health in 2015, a porn director explained, “In my experience, 95% of the male performers use some sort of erectile enhancement medication, and the ones who don’t are at the bottom of the totem pole.” Yikes.

This male enhancement medication comes in the form of pills or even injections. He goes on to explain that many of these men develop a tolerance for these drugs and can no longer achieve an erection naturally, without them. And this is the industry standard.

Like former porn performer Chris Zeischeggs, who had become reliant on performance-enhancing erectile dysfunction medication to continue his career like so many other male performers.

“In porn, we take Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, injections. It’s very common,” Zeischegg said in an interview with Forbes. “As a result of taking those types of medications, I ended up in the hospital.” He was treated numerous times for painful, prolonged erections, and doctors warned him about long-term damage if he kept abusing the drugs.

“So I quit. The job wasn’t worth putting my health at risk. And I wasn’t the type of person who could perform in mainstream porn without pharmacological assistance. Not with such consistency,” he said.

Related: Study Indicates High STD Incidence And Reinfection Among Porn Performers

There’s also the fact that the porn industry usually does not encourage actors to use protection, though they do occasional testing. Condoms are not required, which means that STDs run rampant among the majority of the actors.

Some performers develop a tolerance for medications that cure these STD’s and have difficulty ever getting rid of them. Their frequent sexual activity with so many partners also increases their risk of getting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

It alters self-image for men.

Our society today has completely unrealistic expectations of what the “ideal” human body should look like. According to these standards of perfection, men are supposed to be incredibly muscular, defined, tall, and well endowed. Manly men are supposed to have a perfectly quaffed man bun with a perfectly groomed beard. The masculine ideal has become warped and exaggerated to the point of dramatically increasing body dissatisfaction.

According to research gathered by the Australian Psychological Society, male body-image dissatisfaction has tripled in the last 15 years, going from 15% of the population to 45%. And with a near 100% exposure rate to porn, is it any wonder?

Related: The Problem With Saying “Guys Need To Look At Porn”

It’s important to remember that the porn industry is marketed as an “entertainment” industry. It relies heavily on illusion. Viewers don’t see the physical reconstruction, the drugs, heavy editing, and the Photoshop that goes into it. Instead, consumers are left with fake, seemingly flawless people that have insatiable sexual appetites and no abnormalities or weirdly-shaped body parts.

Here’s the truth: professional porn performers have a whole team of people to make every detail look perfect, from directing and filming to lighting and makeup, maybe even a plastic surgeon or two to thank. With some careful editing, a typical 45-minute porn flick that took three days to shoot can appear to have happened all at once, without a break. Film the right bodies from the right angles at the right moments, edit out all the mistakes, Photoshop away any imperfections, add a catchy soundtrack, and you have something most definitely NOT like “natural” sex with “normal” people. Is it any wonder men (and women) are having self-esteem issues when they’re exposed to this kind of fakeness day in and day out?

Related: “No Harm In Looking, Right?” A Study Of Porn’s Impact On Self-Esteem

And let’s be real. Male performers usually have abnormally large penises, to begin with, and most of them have to take pills and even get frequent injections in order to maintain erections for hours on end. This can affect the way that men see themselves and can affect their confidence and comfort in their own sexuality.

Looking at fake things for so long can make us dissatisfied with reality, both in our partners and in ourselves. Watching unrealistic bodies doing unrealistic things can make men view themselves negatively. And how is that healthy?

It negatively affects relationships.

A study showed that men’s behavior toward women changed after watching degrading sexual films. Men generally demonstrated more aggression and dominance towards with women, without showing any anxiety about how they were treating others.

Related: Study Explains Men’s Behavior Toward Women After Viewing Pornography

This negative effect of the porn industry’s degrading videos shows that pornography impacts the way men behave, but not for the better.  There is more research done by Jennings Bryant and Dolf Zillman, two of the most respected pornography researchers, that shows that pornography consumers become increasingly dissatisfied with their own partners’ physical appearance, sexual performance, sexual curiosity, and affection.

Although not all porn viewers are male, the majority of them are. That means that pornography can change how a large percentage of men view and act towards their partners, redirecting them to say and do things that they may not say and do otherwise.

It harms male viewers’ sexual health.

It’s a fact that not everyone who consumes pornography will become addicted to it, but it’s scientifically possible for anyone to get hooked on pornography.

Addiction is a serious disease that will negatively impact most aspects of the addicted person’s life. Your dependence on the substance you are addicted to becomes more important than your schooling, your career, your relationships, and in extreme cases more than food or water.

Related“No Harm In Looking, Right?” A Study Of Porn’s Impact On Self-Esteem

Because the majority of porn users are men, that means that most of the people at risk of addiction to pornography are male. Too many men, some of whom were exposed unwittingly at a young age, are now suffering from an addiction they can’t shake.

There is also the fact that pornography is has been known to produce porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED) and porn-induced abnormally low libido. Because they have been led to more extreme pornography, they are no longer excited by ordinary sexual activity. While not life-threatening, PIED can cause serious problems in relationships and personal life.

Why This Matters

From the time they’re 11 or 12, young boys (and girls) are often exposed to the most hardcore, demeaning, humiliation-focused pornography available. They don’t know that it’s fake, or that it’s for “entertainment.”

Related: What’s The Average Age Of Someone’s First Exposure To Porn?

They’re shown the idea that men are dominators, and women need to be submissive. They’re shown videos that disregard consent, where “no” means “try harder,” or eventually turns into “yes.” They’re shown the stereotypical porn story lines where men sexually take advantage of women any chance they get, without regard for the consequences. These young boys are trained to believe that slapping, choking, gagging, punching, and forced sex are all a “fantasy” that should be enjoyable for them, even if women are hurt.

But this is not the world we want to live in, and this is not the world we want the next generation to grow up believing in.

The fact is, despite what porn shows, not all man fall in the broad, stereotypical, and offensive categories that these hardcore videos place them in. Many guys in our world, including the male Fighters in this movement, strive to fight for healthy relationships for themselves and others. They respect women, hold themselves to a higher standard, and have the integrity to never take advantage of anyone against their will. They are peacemakers, not abusers, and they are lovers, not assailants.

And while this is all true, this is not what pornography shows the world.

The reasons stated above, and countless more, are why we believe porn isn’t helping men be the healthiest they can be, and be seen as they truly are. It’s time we speak out that sexual exploitation is not healthy for anyone, including how men are perceived.

What YOU Can Do

Porn is not only harmful to the consumer, it’s harmful to society’s view of women. SHARE this post and raise awareness on the fact that porn isn’t healthy for our world.

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