This post was originally written by Daniel, a Fighter from Ireland. It has been reposted with his permission.


Porn cannot continue to live under the radar, like some dark societal taboo. For something that a large percentage of people deal with on a regular basis from the time they’re 9-12, we don’t talk about the real effects of porn enough. If porn sites receive more visitors per month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined, it’s worth asking whether porn is as harmless as some would assume. At least 70% of men, and 30% of women are watching porn on a regular basis; children are being exposed to it at younger ages, the average being 11. With this many regular viewers, creating an exponentially increasing demand, why is there such awkward silence surrounding the topic?

Porn generates silence because a forming porn habit can best operate in the shadows, feeding on shame and isolation. But we cannot allow this silence to win. Like never before, porn is readily available and accessible to anyone with a smartphone. Before the internet was in every aspect of our lives, porn was for the creepy lifelong bachelor, but today porn has become highly normalized and even celebrated. There are porn grammy’s, awards for performers, and even a Porn University where one can learn the industry. We can’t continue to say that a $97 billion dollar global industry that saturates our culture doesn’t somehow affect us in a very real way. Whether we say it out loud or not (usually not), porn is having a pervasive effect on society, and the way in which we connect with one another. And a negative effect, at that.

(Related: 9 Reasons Why Porn Isn’t Healthy For Viewers And Society)

I’ve been addicted porn since I was 12, and I’ve been trying to stop since age 16. With such a lengthy exposure to porn, talking about porn is like a fish trying to talk about water; it’s difficult to understand the weight it carries in your life, and even more difficult to compartmentalize it. In other words, porn will never remain within the four walls of your bedroom. Porn can twist your sexual tastes, and possibly eventually warp your view of relationships and contort the way we look at men and women.

For me, women became sex objects; few were outside the realm of sexual fantasy. I would walk into a room and immediately my eyes would conduct a subconscious scan of body parts and physical assets. Who’s got the best backside, best legs, best chest? Porn draws us down an avenue of objectification and secrecy. Unlike other compulsive or addictive things, it doesn’t leave the body. I’ve been clean from porn for some 150 days, but the content I’ve watched will take years to forget.

The damages of a fantasy world

For me, porn became a coping mechanism for stress and loneliness. Essay due in a few hours — an uncomfortable reality. Porn — a temporary alleviation of stress. This is exactly how porn operates; it lured me into a fantasy world. In this world, the currency is one of silicon implants, inflated muscles, hairless body parts, exaggerated shrieks of “pleasure,” machine-like movements and unachievable physiques. Inevitably, it had a profound effect on my body image. Perfectly assembled, action figure-like porn stars lead me away from feeling comfortable in my own skin. From the age of 12, I was presented with what I perceived to be true masculinity and true sex—two sculpted and hairless bodies, no intimacy, no caressing. This is what porn does: it takes sex–a holistic act of intimacy and giving–and strips it back to emotionless mechanical movements.

(Related: Why Porn Sex & Real Sex Are Two Very Different Things)

Today’s multi-billion dollar porn industry is expanding and always looking for new clients. Playboy magazines stuffed under mattresses are a thing of the past. Instead of hiding magazines, we clear our search histories and go incognito. We walk around with an endless XXX store in our pockets, and no social barriers or warning signs to stop us indulging. Page 3 of a tabloid newspaper actually pales in comparison to the degree of videos in variety, novelty and domination, which is all available at our fingertips. Even the language surrounding porn has evolved—that we no longer look at porn, but watch it, showing that still-images are not enough because now we need high-definition streamed videos. This concept of “not enough” is crucial. When I was 13, I was thrilled by a “softcore” video of two people having sex. The same video would not have sufficed for when I was 15. By 20, I’d need a novelty and bizarre scenario to get off.

Nobody starts off on hard drugs; there’s a process to reaching that point. Those who view something like parasite porn —  where images of someone you know are superimposed onto the body of a porn star — always start off with softcore porn. The slope is slippery. If I were to continue with porn, I know my view of sex and love might be warped, possibly beyond repair.

Breaking the silence

Porn can become an addiction with real physical effects. More and more young men are plagued by erectile dysfunction as sexual partners are finding less satisfaction in each other. Unlike the performers in porn, real men and real women are not physically perfect. Porn also has palpable links with misogyny, sexism and sex trafficking. If we truly want to build each other up and love and have healthy relationships, then we cannot allow our society permission to freely objectify and exploit.

A few weeks ago I shared a Facebook video telling of my recovery from porn.

To my surprise, I immediately received messages from others who were in the same boat. I am honored by their honesty and vulnerability. Admitting the struggle is the first step. Shame feeds addiction, honesty fights it. Recovery from porn addiction is a long road and to those who are struggling, you’re not alone, and programs like Fortify are there to help you.

So why bother not watching?

Because real relationships consist of so much more than what we see in porn. A year ago I fell in love. At that point I decided that I had to fight; because real love is better than pixelated fantasy. The freedom of 150 days without porn is worth the tiresome battle. Porn hurts your partner, fosters unrealistic expectations and breeds secrecy. Real love involves emotional connection, quality time, affirmation, respect—things you don’t see in a pornographic video. Porn can’t laugh with you, cry with you, comfort you, keep you company, eat with you, start a family with you or be your best friend. And all those things are more than worth fighting for.

In 2014, the word most searched on porn sites was “love.” Why? Because porn viewers are pursuing love and connection, and finding a poor imitation. It’s time we settle for more and fight for real love.

What YOU Can Do

If you are pro-love and anti-porn, SHARE this article and get the word out that you’re not cool with the cheap imitation that is being sold to society.

-Support this movement for real love. Grab a tee and rep the cause:

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