I’ll share the story about it tomorrow, but I’m at a Human Library event in Massachusetts today sharing my story of recovery and how this is a conversation we all need to have. This has been deeply powerful. Can’t wait to share more…
Note from Josh: Let me preface this article by saying that I think the following data is fascinating. I do not want any conclusion drawn that it somehow shows I have any negative feelings toward anybody’s sexual orientation. I have no problem with any gender or sexual identification. I say be who you are, not who others tell you to be. I do, however, think that any data we can gather that further illuminates who is watching pornography can do nothing but help us understand the grip it has on people. I draw no value judgment on this data, but I thought it important to share. If any disparaging remarks are left in the comments section about gender or orientation fluidity, they will be deleted.
While I think their product is garbage, I have always been complimentary toward Pornhub’s annual release of their analytics, which give us a better understanding of how more people are using porn, exactly who those people are, where they’re from and what kind of material they are looking at. Recently, another very popular site released data that was compelling about the sexuality of their viewers.
While PornHub is the nation’s 7th most popular visited site, xHamster, the creator of this new report, is the 27th. For statistical purposes, their content, like PornHub, is all over the place, not catering to any particular demographic. xHamster claims that it polled around 11,000 of its users to get this data. If true, that’s an amazingly large sample group and since their site is one of the most popular in the US, should paint a relatively clear picture of who is using their site.
I’m taking the screen captures directly from their blog. It’s completely SFW and there is no nudity at all. It goes more in-depth than I do here. Obviously trigger warning, but if you’re interested in seeing the other stats, the link is: https://xhamster.com/blog/posts/934387
Here’s the first slide…
Their site reports:
“…while women who watch porn were more than twice as likely as men to identify as bisexual, nearly one-fifth of men in the study identified so as well. These are much higher numbers than have been previously reported.”
Consider the 11K interviewed, I have no doubt this is accurate, but it is surprising to me. When given the luxury of anonymity, over 32% of porn users do not identify as heterosexual. Personally, I would have thought the straight and gay numbers would have been higher.
On to the next slide:
Now, we have to remember that this is a pornographic website, not a site that interprets the Bible. While you can’t really stereotype a porn user into any specific demographic these days, those who use the Internet tend to be younger and more liberal than the generations prior.
It’s hard to get a real statistic on how many people overall in the US are gay or bisexual, with figures ranging from the low single digits to the high teens depending on which study you look at. I think these numbers are much higher than the overall national average, but it is telling that they are tied to porn viewing.
For me, this is the most fascinating slide in the entire study. There is no correlation between homosexuality and frequency of porn usage, and it clearly drops in frequency among heterosexuals, but it grows among bisexuals.
This leaves a lot of unanswered questions: Does this graphic speak to a bisexual person’s tendency to watch more porn or a person who watches a lot of porn’s tendency to identify as bisexual — and how many of these people who are identifying as bisexual have acted on those feelings in real life?
The site attempts to analyze some of the data by getting even deeper:
We also wondered if there was some way that women porn fans — 38% of whom in our study identified as bisexual — might be somehow skewing the data. So we repeated the calculations with just men. The results were even more dramatic.
Just 10.8% of men who watched porn once a week identified as bisexual, but 27.2% of men who watch porn multiple times a day identify as bisexual. (After all, if you’re looking at naked men all day — even if there’s a woman in the picture — maybe it opens you up to a broader ideas about human sexuality.)
I think it’s absolutely fascinating that more than one-out-of-four men who view porn on a daily basis through this particular site identify as bisexual. It again brings up a lot of interesting questions and I mostly wonder if these men have engaged in a bisexual physical relationship away from the computer.
Since the frequency of viewing is at least once a day, it might be safe to assume that these are the problem viewers who are either addicted or close to it. That means that they have built up a tolerance to run-of-the-mill “vanilla” porn between a man and a woman. Like the alcoholic who starts with beer and moves to the harder stuff, are these viewers watching more exotic or extreme genres of porn? If they are, and they find themselves not repulsed by what they see on screen, might they make a leap that they are more open to different kinds of sexuality other than just heterosexual? One of the top guys at xHamster told the New York Post that was the conclusion they reached:
“We can only provide correlation, not prove causation, but it would seem that watching porn more frequently helps show users what sexuality can be,” xHamster vice president Alex Hawkins tells The Post. “The more porn you watch, the more you may think, ‘Hey, that’s actually somewhat of a turn-on. Maybe I’m not as totally straight, or gay, as I thought.’”
I don’t know what it all means, or if it has to mean anything, but it’s interesting. I hope that actual scientific research is done into sexual identity and porn usage in upcoming years. xHamster, despite publishing porn garbage, has provided us with an eye-opening look into its users that can be a jumping-off point for real study.
I’ll leave you with this final slide…
That’s depressing. There’s still so much work to be done.
We had a beastly nor’easter here two nights ago and while we didn’t lose power, our satellite TV was still pixilated last night, meaning I couldn’t embrace my usual Thursday night flip-back-and-forth between Thursday Night Football and Everybody Loves Raymond.
A month or so ago, I read the last few chapters of my first book. It had been well over a year since I cracked it open. I wanted to add a new chapter to the end of the book before I reintroduced it to Amazon. I forgot that those were the chapters that briefly detailed the beginning of recovery, so they generally have a positive tone.
With the lack of consistent TV last night, I figured I’d read the rest of the book again. I have a lot of podcast interviews coming up in support of the next book, so reviewing my history seemed like something that would at least fill the time in my Raymond-less life.
It started OK because the first chunk of the book is about why I wrote it and how I get better in the end. My former publisher told me that we should establish upfront that I wrote the book for the right reasons and was on the path to turning my life around when I was working on it. The theory was that if we immediately got into the bad stuff, people might be turned off. I think that makes a lot of sense.
Maybe I’ve started to block, or forget, some of the details of my life in the last year before the police showed up, but for the first time ever in reading my story, I felt a pit-of-my-stomach shame and embarrassment I’d never felt before. I think just a day or two ago I wrote that I felt ashamed of what I did, but I’m not ashamed of myself. Scratch that.
I really can’t believe what honesty and detail I put into the book. It’s all there for people to see: the unbearable boss I became, the narcissistic local celebrity, the horrible father and husband and worst of all, perpetrator of a disgusting crime. It really blew my mind that I was willing to release it to the general public. It’s not graphic by any means, but it’s brutally honest.
I recall the bullet points of what happened and recount them for the podcast and radio interviews I do, but this was a level of detail that didn’t stay top-of-mind. It was difficult to read.
I wrote the book as a cathartic release in jail, found it even more therapeutic when I edited it down from 200,000 to 90,000 words, and felt like I put a lot of those demons to bed when I finally read the finished version in book form. I think I got a glimpse of those demons last night through different eyes.
As I was trying to fall asleep, it dawned on me that I didn’t want anybody reading it because I didn’t want anybody to know that stuff about me. It’s not who I was for most of my life and it’s not who I am now. Sure, I think a lot of people found me difficult to deal with through a lot of my life and I did have my addictions, but they were nothing like they became in that last year before the arrest.
I figured it would be easy enough to get rid of the book. I just had to pull it off of Amazon since that’s the only place currently selling it. Problem solved. I drifted off to sleep and had a dream I can’t recall.
My son has a nasty cold, so I don’t need to rush around in the morning to get him ready for school. This means I can sleep in a bit and check my phone from the comfort of my bed in the morning. I was reminded of killing the book when I came to check the overnight stats of this blog.
It dawned on me while I could ax the version of the book currently for sale on Amazon, I can’t eliminate the first version. It sold almost 1,000 copies, include around 250 into libraries across the country (and for some random reason, New Zealand). I can’t recall those copies. I also remembered the people who wrote to me after reading the book thanking me for being brutally honest; not just addicts, but their loved ones and members of the healthcare community.
After hesitating, I decided I’ll leave it out there. I guess it’s easy enough to find a copy at this point that eliminating it is pointless and, if I want to spin it for good, despite being a very shameful experience reading it last night, the book might still help people and that was the reason I wrote it.
I need to just own that it’s out there. I own what I did, why it was wrong and how I became that way. I’m a writer. Is it so strange there is a written record? It’s what I do.
In many podcasts I’ve done where the host has read the book, they often say I’m brave for coming forth with my story. I never fully understood that sentiment. I think today, I get it. I feel an unease, but a bravery for leaving it online.
I’m not asking you to buy it, but for strict transparency’s sake, if you’re interested in seeing the book, click here for the soft cover and here for the Kindle. I think one of those options leads you to be able to read the first few pages. I can’t run away from it, so I may as well embrace it. I’m probably done reading it, though.
I think there are many components to successful addiction recovery, and that’s why so many people fail. One that many people gloss over, despite the fact it’s preached in 12-step groups, is being available and of service to others. I believe both the kindness of fellow addicts, coupled with my efforts to educate about porn addiction have helped me immensely.
Addicts are selfish. We lie and we take, take, take. To become a selfless person who gives is a massive paradigm shift. This is one of the reasons I tell people that inpatient rehab is important and valuable. While it does keep you away from your drug or bad behavior, it also creates an environment where inner change can happen, and be practiced before returning to the real world.
Early in my recovery, shortly after I returned to freelance journalism, I had an encounter with a recovering alcoholic and drug addict that really stuck with me.
I wrote an article for a recovery website about the history of substance abuse in professional wrestling, tracing the arc of the hard-partying, painkiller-abusing 1970s and ’80s to the radically different modern day with frequent drug testing and much cleaner lifestyles.
One of the reasons I love being a writer is because it allows me access to people I otherwise would never get to talk with, and this was one such time. As a kid, I loved wrestling, but I wasn’t into the guys like Hulk Hogan or Randy Savage who yelled into the microphone. I preferred guys who could talk great smack without raising their voices like Rowdy Roddy Piper, Nick Bockwinkel and especially Jake “The Snake” Roberts.
Roberts has been a poster boy for recovery in wrestling. Among the hardest partiers, it’s amazing he’s still alive. Having essentially spent all of his money on drugs, he was living in squalor in Georgia until seven or eight years ago when fellow wrestler “Diamond” Dallas Page rescued him and put him on a lifestyle regimen that changed things. This journey can be traced in the film “The Resurrection of Jake The Snake” which is a fantastic documentary.
Roberts seemed like a perfect interview subject and while it took a little bit of effort, I was able to connect with him. I admitted to being a huge fan as a kid, as I always do when I interview anybody I admire. It just seems phony for me to pretend I didn’t know his vast body of work.
We talked his recovery for about 20 minutes, and I mentioned that I was very new to recovery. At the time, I was only about three months out of my first rehab and it would be another six before I went to the sex/porn rehab in Texas. I was just really focusing on alcohol at the time.
“You’re taking notes so you got yourself a pen and paper there, right?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I said.
“Write down this number,” he told me, giving me a telephone number with a Georgia area code. “That’s my personal cell number. If you ever find yourself struggling. If you’re at the grocery store and you think you’re going to buy beer or if you’re at a bar and you’re having a bad day. Whenever you need to, just call me and we’ll work through it. I don’t care if it’s the middle of the night.”
“Wow,” I said. “That’s a really nice thing to do. Thank you.”
“We gotta stick together if we’re gonna beat this disease,” he said.
A few minutes later, we said our goodbyes.
I never called him. The few times I felt skittish, I was able to get through the moment on my own. Despite still feeling the occasional craving to this day, I’ve never come what I’d say is close to relapsing.
In truth, I would have felt incredibly weird calling him. I know a former wrestler means nothing to 99% of the population, but he had a big impact on me as a kid. His character was the loner who did what he needed to do to survive to the next day. And as it turned out, the real guy was a lot like me, too. Calling on him to help would have been like a football fan calling Joe Montana or a basketball fan calling Michael Jordan. How do you seek help from people you’ve put on pedestals for decades?
Roberts’ kindness and reaching out really touched me. It sticks with me to this day. Somebody who I view as a superstar, but knew the same challenges of recovery as I did, wanted me to know he was there for me if I stumbled. The “bad guy” who once threw a snake at Andre the Giant wanted to help me if I needed it.
Thankfully, I didn’t need the help, but he did teach me a valuable lesson that day.
Seeing this got published this morning was a nice way to start the day. I also saw Dunkin Donuts is doing their Halloween-themed donuts again, so all is good with the world. If you’re interested in pre-ordering the book, and getting 25% off, visit here. I think the deal only lasts until Nov. 1. The publishers makes those calls not me.
QUESTION: I read your blog on bipolar disorder the other day. Do you think your bipolar disorder caused your porn and alcohol addictions?
ANSWER: I think it certainly played a role. It doesn’t dismiss the fact that I got myself lost in the addictions, but to deny that there wasn’t some influence is ludicrous.
When you’re an addict and have mental health issues, it’s called having co-occurring disorders. It’s not rare. More than half of drug addicts and around 40% of alcoholics have co-occurring disorders. I have not found statistics on porn/sex, gambling or video game addiction.
An important revelation I’ve come to accept during recovery is that everything is connected in our lives.
I became an addict because I had some childhood trauma, which stunted development of certain coping skills. I became an addict because of a rich history of addiction on both sides of my family. I became an addict because I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I felt so different than my peers. I became an addict because despite being properly educated on the danger, I had a bit of a defiant, curious, pleasure-seeking personality that was open to trying anything.
But then again, maybe all those things happened because of the bipolar disorder, or both.
I have a chicken-and-egg debate with myself about whether I entered the critical phase of addiction because I stopped taking my bipolar medication or whether I stopped taking my bipolar medication because I entered the critical phase of addiction.
At that point, my sleep tumbled to 2-3 hours per night, my relationships with family and business partners grew distant and strained, my physical appearance became of little concern and I eventually stopped caring about almost everything. Was that because I was a critical addict or because I was mentally ill?
I think you’d need a pie chart to graphically represent what led to me being who I was. I don’t know what the biggest piece would have been. Some might have labeled me as an addict, some may have labeled me as mentally ill while others would have just labeled me as somebody they didn’t want to be around because of those other little parts of the pie chart put together. It doesn’t matter really. It was all connected.
As somebody who had already been in and out of therapy for several years prior to accepting my porn and alcohol addictions, I knew that not only would I have to get help for the addictions, but the therapy was going to have to not only continue at a higher frequency, but start exploring my life in a different direction. I needed to learn how to manage my mental health and addictions. I had to have co-occurring solutions to co-occurring disorders.
Sadly, only 7-10 percent of people suffering from co-occurring disorders get help for both simultaneously. Unfortunately, most therapists who deal with the kind of mental health issues that come with bipolar disorder are not schooled in addiction counseling or solutions, and vice versa. At the first rehab I went to for alcoholism, they’d basically start shutting you down if you talked about other facets of mental health.
This question was part of a much larger email from the person who wanted an answer. My final words to them are the final words I’ll write here: In the end, you have to take care of the entire person, but that means simultaneously taking care of a lot of little parts. You’ve got a doctor for your teeth, one for your eyes, one for your general physical health. You see a specialist for your heart, or another specialist if you need an operation. It’s OK to see one therapist for addictions and another for dealing with bipolar. We have a lot to take care of as humans because after all, it’s all connected.
If you liked this Q&A, check out the others HERE
You can check out my Resources page if you need a place to start getting help. Click HERE
If you’d like somebody to talk to who has been there about porn addiction, be it yours or someone you love, but aren’t ready to make the leap to get help from the medical community, I can be a great resource. For more information, click HERE
DISCLAIMER: I have no formal training in counseling or medicine. My advice comes from experience as an addict and as someone in recovery for over four years. Please take my words only as suggestions and before doing anything drastic, always consult with a professional. If you’d like me to answer a question publicly, either post it in the comment section or visit the contact page. Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.
I usually don’t promote my appearances on podcasts or radio shows because most are taped weeks if not months in advance, but I’ll be on a rare live broadcast tonight. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. EST, but I’ll be joining at 9:30 p.m. EST. Come and take a listen or even call-in and ask a question. Click HERE to connect.