Sunday, April 10, 2011

Why more and more women are using pornography

... as she entered a depressed job market after university, it became a form of escape, a default she turned to whenever she felt anxious or bored. "I'd be stuck at home in front of my laptop on my own all day. I'd wake up with all these ideas for the day – and end up surfing for porn, trying to distract myself, eating and then going back for more porn. No one would ever have known. But I didn't get much done. It was like a constant battle between my sexual urges and my self-control. I'd think to myself: 'It's not doing any harm.' But then I started to loathe myself for giving in and wasting so much time on it."

Caroline is not alone. While it's accepted that women are watching – and enjoying – porn more and more, it's less recognised that some are also finding it hard to stop. At Quit Porn Addiction, the UK's main porn counselling service, almost one in three clients are women struggling with their own porn use, says founder and counsellor Jason Dean. Two years ago, there were none.While more than six out of 10 women say they view web porn, one study in 2006 by the Internet Filter Review found that 17% of women describe themselves as "addicted".

... Orgasm releases a dopamine-oxytocin high that has been compared to a heroin hit, and many regular users of internet porn report experiencing an almost trance-like effect that not only makes them feel oblivious to the world, but also gives them a sense of power that they don't have in real life. "The PC becomes an erogenous zone. The more you keep trying to put porn out of your mind, the more it keeps popping back in. The brain then learns that porn is the only way to cope with anxiety."

... as porn becomes more pervasive, Hodson observes that women are now also using it as a quick way to have sex without emotional investment, just as men traditionally have. "For women, just as for men, the internet is able to satisfy that need in rather a raw, crude sense, quickly and easily. Why serenade someone and go through all the courtship rituals with another person when you have Google?"But it's important not to turn lone use of porn into a catastrophe, adds Hodson. For many women, it's a phase that will pass ...

"I have a problem with the word addiction," he says. "Sex is a very natural function – and what is an abnormal level of sex to have or to want? If a woman is taking two minutes to orgasm to porn, and she's doing it, say, 10 times a day, that's still only 20 minutes a day.

"But if porn does become a habit that interferes in other areas, it might be an opportunity to take stock and realise there's not enough happening in your life. Forgive yourself for being tempted and having a few orgasms. If it goes beyond that, there are people outside who can help." ...

via Why more and more women are using pornography | Culture | The Guardian.

It's a like a junk food addiction. Sugar is an attractant in fruit intended to get us to eat something healthy. But we extracted the attractant (sugar) from fruit and added it to things that are not good for us.  Similarly, the sights and sounds of sex cause brain stimulation that is intended to accompany intimacy.  Mating with your a laptop is certain to be unsatisfying, but the same can be said of steamy romance novels, adult toys, running water, pillows and so on.

That dopamine-oxytocin high from an orgasm is not bad for you, so comparing it to a heroin high is stupid. You could also compare the intensity of desire to eat when hungry or drink when thirsty to heroin, but these are healthy behaviors.  Studies show that at least one orgasm a day is good for your overall health (lowers depression and stress, good for your heart, etc.), and there are plenty of reasons to avoid intimacy if the conditions aren't right.

If you do believe you have an addiction to anything (junk food, alcohol, porn, facebook),  you owe it to yourself to learn the skill and experience the fun of being able to re-program your own behavior. To break a habit, find a new desired replacement behavior and trick yourself into doing that instead for a few weeks. Pretty soon you'll have a life long habit.  I meditate, lift weights, run a mile and drink a healthy shake every morning, for example. Am I addicted to the high I get from exercise? Perhaps. But I wouldn't call that a bad thing.


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