Is Porn Bad For Men?

We've all heard the arguments about porn harming women, in part through creating unrealistic images of sex and bodies, but what about it making men feel inadequate?

The Good Men Project polled a bunch of people, some well-known, about how they felt about porn. This included some rather hateful, deliberately provocative feminist-blaming from advice columnist Amy Alkon:

"The hysteria around pornography is just not useful. A good bit about it is an ugly side-effect of the negative part of modern feminism; unattractive women who can't get what they want, and instead of doing the logical thing, doing the best with what they have, they demonize male sexuality.

But it also entailed some thoughtful analysis of how this affects men, in keeping with the site's mission. Writer Steve Almond says, "I'd hate to be a teenage boy inundated by porn—it just makes them feel inadequate and angry and dismissive of women and their desires." And here's novelist Alexander Chee:

"Young men are taught that the objectification of the self, the marketing of the sexual persona to others in slick media formats, is normal.

If you stand in a CVS and look at the magazine rack, you'll see guy after guy who could be an Ultimate Fighter or porn star, and it feels like the message coming off the culture is that to succeed, or just to live, we all need to turn into killer porn stars; with tattoo sleeves and no privacy. If you look at the blog (NSFW) Guys With iPhones, I feel like what you see are picture after picture of guys looking to see if they fit that mold yet. And I don't think that blog is hot—those guys all look lonely. I'm actually very pro-porn and erotica, but what I wonder is, where is all this loneliness coming from in the booming age of so-called social media? I think that loneliness is more of a problem than the porn which, to my mind, is just a symptom."

Chee is gay (and a friendly acquaintance — hi, Alex!), which may account for his being particularly attuned to the ways in which men's bodies are policed or judged. But all men, gay or straight (and, more obviously, women) are arguably subject to this implicit pressure to mold their sexual expressions to the ones seen in porn. Then again, the Internet has provided a forum for a greater range of sexy than ever. Does that change anything, or is it merely a place for posing as if one were sexy rather than feeling sexy?

Getting Off [The Good Men Project]

Photo via Guys With iPhones.