No Porn, No Joke

by Jameson Zaballos, Contributing Writer

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Procrastinating, forgetting to clean the dishes, having a messy room, and failing every single thing you have ever tried. We all have bad habits. This article isn’t about any of those, though. In the age of internet addiction, the question more and more people are asking themselves is, “Should porn be added?”

You read the title of the article right. Porn might not be the best way to spend your alone time. And while masturbation is certainly a relevant habit (with porn being a huge part of it), it is often not discussed, despite 62 percent of males and 43 percent of females aged 20-24 masturbating in the past month, according to Journal of Sexual Medicine. You’d think something that almost two-thirds of young adult males and almost half of females do would be more openly discussed. Believe me, there’s a reason it isn’t.

Traditionally, it’s been considered to be something of an immoral act, and something difficult and uncomfortable to talk about. But in an increasingly sexual culture with increasingly easy access to porn, masturbation becomes both inevitable and frequent. Amidst our unwillingness to approach the subject, more people are masturbating more; finding it to become less of a once-a-week release, and more of a multiple-times-a-day addiction. So what’s the big deal, the devil’s advocate may ask. “What benefits could I possibly get from not doing something pleasurable, with (unlike procrastinating and messy rooms) seemingly no downside?” Well, like any habit, it can have some unintended consequences.

Enter NoFap, a movement started by Alexander Rhodes, a 24-year-old web developer from Pittsburgh. The subreddit, which boasts 172,000 subscribers and counting, is dedicated to “Rebooting”, or giving its users (referred to as “Fapstronauts”) the challenge of abstaining from masturbation and/or pornography. It touts the benefits of everything from improved self-control and attitude to more hard drive space. The site urges skeptical users to try their program for “Just seven days. If you’re in control, that should be no sweat, right?” Indeed, self-control seems to be at the core of a lot of issues users find when talking about excessive masturbation. Make no mistake, though, the process of “Rebooting” is not, as the site’s wiki puts it, a “stealth morale crusade.” It continues, saying “A clear majority of /r/NoFap, subscribers and moderators alike, agree that there’s nothing inherently wrong with masturbation.” It’s true, and clearly they like a more open-minded approach. Part of the problem with under-educating what masturbation means to someone is the stigma of it being wrong in some way. What they’re arguing is that “heavy porn use makes real sex less enjoyable by desensitizing the brain’s reward system, which has consequences on sexual performance and intimacy.” These people are abstaining from masturbation not necessarily because it’s masturbation, but because it’s masturbation to something that creates an addiction. Doesn’t seem like such an easy choice now, does it?

Recently, even celebrities have gotten behind the movement. Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Expendables) recently published a series of videos, called “DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS”, on his Facebook detailing his pornography addiction during most of his teenage life, saying “It became a thing where I didn’t tell anybody. It was my secret, and that allowed it to grow.” He continues, saying, “It changes the way you think about people. People become objects. People become body parts…rather than people to be loved…Once I became aware, it changed me.” Crews, like many others, is realizing that masturbation isn’t the problem. Addiction to porn and the objectification it brings is the problem.

Crews and the fapstronauts may have a point beyond objectification too; abstaining from masturbation to porn, like quitting smoking or eating junk food, can be an important exercise in self-control and may allow people to, as they tout on their website, experience “the surge”, which is a “temporary boost in physical energy reported in males shortly after abstinence from ejaculation begins.” That’s just the beginning, as afterwards the NoFap “superpowers” (some positive psychological effects associated with abstaining from pornography) kick in. These range anywhere from a boost in confidence and sexual interest to a decrease in shame and anxiety. Seemingly, the benefits far outweigh the reward.

In an increasingly sexual age with incredible ease of access to over-stimulation, it has become almost too easy to be more content with what’s in front of the screen and less content with why we’re enjoying it. The reluctance to educate young adults about what masturbation means combined with the abundance of ways to do it leads to, as you’d expect, two extremes. People are either afraid to do it or they can overindulge in it to the point that it becomes less of a healthy release and more of a bad habit. And if we pick at the mindless addiction it has become for some, we might be able to embrace the idea more and start down the path of better education.

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