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3 Ways Porn Hurts Men and Fuels Their Insecurities

For a moment, let’s turn our attention to a few ways porn can degrade and victimize men, specifically. Here are some ways that porn hurts men and exploits their insecurities.

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There’s a lot of information out there about how the porn industry exploits women—it fuels trafficking of women and girls around the globe, its themes objectify women, and women’s pleasure isn’t portrayed half as often in mainstream content.

In our resources, we often cover the issue of porn’s degradation of women because it matters immensely to the overall conversation about porn’s harms.

But research has made it clear that porn’s harms do not discriminate based on sex, gender, age, size, or any other diversifying factor.

For a moment, let’s turn our attention to a few ways porn can degrade and victimize men. Here are some ways that porn hurts men, specifically, and exploits their insecurities.

Related: Does Porn Objectify Both Men And Women? Yes, But In Different Ways

BHW - General

1. Porn fosters body insecurity in men.

It’s commonly acknowledged that porn sells images and videos of women that have unattainable standards of physical perfection and beauty. These unrealistic portrayals have been shown to foster low self-esteem and body shame in women partnered with men who watch porn.

Porn also sells unrealistic standards of men’s appearance and performance as well. It’s a bit subtler, but it’s just as real. This is especially true related to porn’s depiction of male genitalia.

Get this: it’s been estimated that for every 1 search a woman makes online about her partner’s penis, men make 170 of their own.Stephens-Davidowitz, S. (2017). Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are (First). New York: HarperCollins.COPY  

About 40% of men with average-sized penises go to the urologists’ office seeking penis enlargement surgeries thinking they are too small.

Related: “I’m Worried I Don’t Measure Up”: How Porn Is Causing Countless Males To Panic About Penis Size

In the past decade, the number of men receiving the penis-enlargement surgery called penoplasty has gone from negligible to concerning, with one London-based surgeon saying he has seen a 40% jump in penoplasty operations in recent years.

Even though the procedure doesn’t have much of an impact, men are eager to undergo a surgery that severs the ligament holding the penis to the pubic bone (and can even make a normal erection painful)…why? Because porn across the board shows men with larger than average genitalia. So men who actually fall within the average range of penis size can start to believe they don’t measure up.

Virtually every man in porn seems to have a huge penis, maintain an erection for an inhuman amount of time, and please women no matter what—even with violence.

The key word being seems. There are often computer editing techniques, dummy penises, and erection-enhancing drugs behind these scenes, and porn actresses are pros at faking pleasure. A guy watching this deceptive media learns that if he doesn’t fit this description, he won’t make the cut.

This kind of warped lesson often leaves men fighting insecurity, shame, and fear—even if they hide it well and only confess their concerns in their internet searches.

Become A Fighter

2. Despite the stereotype that “men only want sex,” porn leaves consumers without emotional intimacy.

It’s fairly common for guys to joke about preferring porn to dating because it’s this instant and endless sexual satisfaction requiring no effort and leaves no risk of pregnancy and STD’s. But this banter and the ever-present media that backs it up cover up the fact that men need more than one “get turned on and get off” scenario after another.

In fact, habitual porn can fuel major loneliness and depression in consumers, including men who consume porn.

A number of peer-reviewed studies have found a link between pornography consumption and mental health outcomes like depression,Harper, C., & Hodgins, D. C. (2016). Examining Correlates of Problematic Internet Pornography Use Among University Students. Journal of behavioral addictions, 5(2), 179–191. https://doi.org/10.1556/2006.5.2016.022COPY  anxiety,Wordecha, M., Wilk, M., Kowalewska, E., Skorko, M., Łapiński, A., & Gola, M. (2018). 'Pornographic binges' as a key characteristic of males seeking treatment for compulsive sexual behaviors: Qualitative and quantitative 10-week-long diary assessment. Journal of behavioral addictions, 7(2), 433–444. https://doi.org/10.1556/2006.7.2018.33COPY  loneliness,Butler, M. H., Pereyra, S. A., Draper, T. W., Leonhardt, N. D., & Skinner, K. B. (2018). Pornography Use and Loneliness: A Bidirectional Recursive Model and Pilot Investigation. Journal of sex & marital therapy, 44(2), 127–137. https://doi.org/10.1080/0092623X.2017.1321601COPY  lower life satisfaction,Willoughby, B. J., Young-Petersen, B., & Leonhardt, N. D. (2018). Exploring trajectories of pornography use through adolescence and emerging adulthood.55(3), 297-309. doi:10.1080/00224499.2017.1368977COPY  and poorer self-esteem and overall mental health.Koletić G. (2017). Longitudinal associations between the use of sexually explicit material and adolescents' attitudes and behaviors: A narrative review of studies. Journal of adolescence, 57, 119–133. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2017.04.006COPY  These studies have found that these links are particularly strong when pornography is consumed to try to escape negative emotions, and also when pornography consumption becomes heavy and compulsive.Levin, M. E., Lillis, J., & Hayes, S. C. (2012). When is online pornography viewing problematic among college males? Examining the moderating role of experiential avoidance.19(3), 168-180. doi:10.1080/10720162.2012.657150COPY  According to another study performed in the United States, researchers found a significant bi-directional association between pornography and loneliness, prompting them to conclude:

“Results revealed that the association between loneliness and viewing pornography was positive and significant…those who viewed pornography were more likely to experience loneliness, and those who were experiencing loneliness were more likely to view pornography. These findings are consistent with research linking pornography use to negative affect.”Butler, M. H., Pereyra, S. A., Draper, T. W., Leonhardt, N. D., & Skinner, K. B. (2018) Pornography Use and Loneliness: A Bidirectional Recursive Model and Pilot Investigation, Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 44:2, 127-137, DOI: 10.1080/0092623X.2017.1321601COPY 

Related: Study Finds Link Between Frequent Porn Consumption And Sexual Dysfunction For Both Men And Women

We receive story after story like this one sharing how guys (and girls) find real happiness, fulfillment, and freedom from depression when they ditch porn, making connections to the people they care about that didn’t seem possible before.

3. Porn contributes to an unhealthy understanding of masculinity.

Porn’s lies could fill a library. Let’s talk about the ones that are directed toward men.

One of the gigantic, deep lies porn themes construct for men is this: you are only as valuable as your ability to control others and be aggressive. This is what it means to “be a man.”

Don’t mistake what we’re saying here—an unhealthy spin on masculinity isn’t necessarily representative of the concept of “masculinity” in and of itself, but a very warped and power-obsessed version of it. See the difference?

Related: How Early Porn Exposure Traumatizes Boys And Fuels a Toxic Version of Masculinity

Just like porn reduces women to objects for men’s pleasure, porn reduces men to instruments of power and domination. It says that men are “men” when they can successfully force others into submission and control the behavior, responses, and pleasure of those around them, particularly women. Porn is often considered a fantasy, so it does a disservice to men by giving them an unhealthy “ideal” to look to. See how that’s degrading and objectifying?

Fortify

But authority-based worth is a warped and unfair assessment of who men are. Leadership, a beautiful and innately human capability, is one quality that men (and women) can foster—but leadership is the opposite of porn-encouraged domination, and it’s only one element of a healthy concept of masculinity.

The tragic outcome of this warped version of masculinity displayed in porn is that boys as young as eight, who turn into young men, are being taught over the course of more hours than a school class that their masculine identity is one-track. Porn ignores the amazing, multi-faceted nature of being capable of creativity, kindness, empathy, and love.

And a dark irony of this? Those are actually the unique traits a romantic partner often looks for, not porn-promoted sexual aggression.

Men deserve better than porn.

Under porn’s influence, guys can easily one-dimensionalize the best parts of themselves that leave them less secure in who they are and less fulfilled overall in their everyday lives. We believe in guys’ potential more than the porn industry does, and we fight for them.

Related: How Mainstream Porn Perpetuates Racist Stereotypes Of Black Men

Everyone, including men, deserves only the best stuff for their brains, hearts, and bodies that porn can never offer or inspire. Porn is trash and you deserve better, no matter if you’re a man or not.

Need help?

For those reading this who feel they are struggling with pornography, you are not alone. Check out Fortify, a science-based recovery platform dedicated to helping you find lasting freedom from pornography. Fortify now offers a free experience for both teens and adults. Connect with others, learn about your unwanted porn habit, and track your recovery journey. There is hope—sign up today.

Fight the New Drug may receive financial support from purchases made using affiliate links.

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