Random Thoughts, Feb 2020: Super Bowl Halftime, Porn is Everywhere, Contact Your Local Library for Me

Being a New England Patriots fan, one of the few perks of living in the tundra known as Maine, this year’s Super Bowl was far less important than most in recent memory. I did watch the game, however, and while it was tremendous, I’m hearing a debate between those who enjoyed the dancing and pageantry of the halftime show and those who thought it was an oversexed, adults-only debacle.

For those who missed it, the halftime show featured Jennifer Lopez, who returned to acting last year as an aging stripper in the film Hustlers, taking certain inspiration from that role, including a brief pole dance and Shakira, known for her belly dancing-inspired moves, doing some kind of oral sex equivalent tongue wagging that has become the most popular meme this week.

Taking a cue from both women’s Latino roots, the music was fast-paced and they were usually surrounded by dancers who one may feel were gyrating in a sexual manner in too-revealing costumes while others might defend it as a normal piece of the Latin music culture.

Despite my strong desire to educate the world about pornography addiction, I’ve got to be honest, I find both sides a bit extreme. It was a Super Bowl halftime show. I’m not a fan of either woman’s music, so I was playing on my phone. I think the last one I watched was Lady Gaga a few years back when the Patriots came back from a 28-3 deficit. Take that, Atlanta fans.

Could the halftime show possibly trigger someone who is new to recovery or send a person in their addiction off to the computer for a round of watching pornography? Sure, but as with my alcoholism, I don’t think the world should stop because I had a problem. I had to get over the fact people drink around me, not that they needed to stop drinking because of me.

I just looked it up and the highest-rated halftime show ever was Katy Perry’s, so apparently they keep track of things like that. If you’re offended by what you’re watching on the halftime show, turn it off. Sports and television are entertainment mediums that depend on audience engagement. The less eyes on the product, the less money they make.

Ironically, the Super Bowl is great for anti-porn advocates as PornHub always reports a sharp decrease in consumption on Super Bowl Sunday. And seriously, do you really want them to bring back Up With People?


I did a podcast recording a week or so ago and somebody asked a question that I have never been posed. Aside from simply being refreshing, it was a terrific question and I thought I’d share the answer here.

I was asked: “You say that you are nearly six years sober with no relapses. Are you saying in those six years, you’ve never seen pornography?”

I gave my typical response to the question “What is pornography?” in that it’s two-fold. First, anything can be pornography if you use it in a certain way. One person’s Victoria’s Secret catalog is a junk mail nuisance while it’s another’s main source of visual stimulation. More pertinent to that question is the second definition, which is what we can all agree is pornography. That’s the XXX stuff that is shown on the pay-per-view channels with names like Spice and Xtacy, in magazines like Hustler and Penthouse, and on websites like PornHub.

Have I seen any of this second classification of pornography in the last six years?

Of course. I have no idea how I could have avoided it.

In jail, there was a guy who had a couple of small hardcore sex photos taken from a magazine. I’ve seen street vendors in NYC selling the stuff. As a guy who writes regularly about pornography and includes pictures with his blogs, sometimes the Google search terms bring up pictures that go well beyond an R rating. And there’s been more than one movie I’ve seen in the last six years that while not technically pornographic, sure pushed the boundaries in the name of “art.”

So, do I feel like I relapsed? Not at all.

I’ve seen alcohol plenty of times since I got sober. Hell, we have some here in my house. Have I drank it? No. Am I still sober? Yes. When I saw any of that pornography, did it give me urges to engage in self-pleasure using visual aids? Nope. Did I engage in self-pleasure using visual aids? Nope. Do I reasonably try to avoid seeing such pornography? Absolutely.


My book He’s a Porn Addict…Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions has been performing decently. It was the publisher’s best performing new title over the last two months and ranked in the top of its “new release” category in three categories on Amazon during that time. You’re still invited to buy a copy.

The rollout of an “evergreen” book (meaning that there is no huge element of time involved) is a slower process than many books. First, the softcover comes out, then the Kindle and in this case, we’ve been lucky enough to also have a hardcover run. It is very cool seeing my book in hardcover. It makes me feel like a real book writer for the first time.

Marketing has involved blanketing just about anybody who would listen to me, as I started doing multiple podcasts every week dating back to November. That schedule is finally slowing down as I now am more selectively targeting audiences.

One area that my first book did well and I’m hoping this one also will also is with libraries. A lot of people don’t realize it, but libraries purchase their books like anyone else. Sure, there are certain titles that are gimmies like Stephen King or the next political tell-all, but for most of us, we are competing for limited shelf space.

How does a library decide what’s important? From its patrons.

I’m going to ask you, especially if you didn’t purchase a copy of my book, to do me a solid favor right now. Go to the website of your local library. Usually the site will have a search function that lets you search their catalog or the site. Search the site with the phrase “suggest a title for purchase.” Most of you will find a link to the form you need. If you can’t find this, and the link isn’t in one of the drop-down menus, just simply go to the “contact us” or “ask a librarian” form they all have.

Then, fill in the blanks. By you simply saying you want He’s a Porn Addict, Now What? and listing my co-author Tony Overbay in the author field (he’s listed first, so it’s easier for them to find if you use his name), you’re doing a lot to increase the chances of getting the book into your local library. You may not need it, but there are probably people who do, and your library may never get the book if you don’t suggest it. You’re doing a good thing for me, and for those who may benefit.

So, go do that right now. I’ll wait. Seriously. It takes 2 minutes. Please.

Thank you.

 

Q&A Time: Is it OK to Watch Porn if I Don’t Become an Addict?

QUESTION: I listened to a couple of your podcasts. Good stuff. I heard you say on two different shows that you think it’s OK for people to watch porn because most don’t become addicts. Do you really believe that?

ANSWER: If those were my words, or what you inferred, it came out a little wrong. What I believe is that people can look at pornography without becoming addicts, not that I think they should look at porn.

From a strictly scientific standpoint, just about anything can become a bad habit or an addiction. For me, it was alcohol and porn. But I also can enjoy things that others find troubling, like gambling, eating or video games. Based on statistics available, far more people are able to take part in these activities and not develop a problem than those who do. That’s moral-free math talking. So, yes, I believe that somebody can look at pornography and not become addicted.

That said, do I think people should look at pornography? No. While there are some who preach its benefits in their relationship or simply appreciate the release it provides without becoming problematic, at its core, it’s people selling their bodies. I don’t think that’s a healthy thing on either side of the transaction. The only porn that exists is porn that objectifies people. Is it OK if the person being depicted understands this? I still don’t think so.

I’ve always found it crazy that many pharmacies sell cigarettes. It seems completely counterintuitive to their mission statement, unless it’s “make money at all costs.” Selling people an instrument to give them emphysema only to turn around and sell them inhalers is a brilliant business model, but is it ethical? CVS finally recognized this a couple of years ago and pulled all cigarettes from their stores.

I see CVS ending this hypocrisy along the same lines as porn stars, producers or cam models saying that since they are doing it willingly, it’s OK. It’s nice to know that nobody has a gun to your head and you’re not being trafficked, but it’s still objectification and you don’t know whose hands your product is falling into. They say if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Where do you fall in this equation, Ms. or Mr. Porn Star?

I don’t specifically tell people not to look at porn mostly because of my philosophical leanings. I’m very much a libertarian and don’t want people telling me what I should or shouldn’t do with my life. If I have this belief, it’s hypocritical to tell people what to do. I’d rather provide them with data and let them make their own decision.

I also don’t tell people not to look at porn because I think it comes off as shaming and that’s not a good way to encourage healthy behavior. It’s manipulative. Making somebody feel worse about doing something that they likely already know is not good for them doesn’t magically make them stop. It just makes their self-loathing they already feel even worse. I don’t want to be the person to contribute to that.

Maybe I should change my answer to: “I can’t think of a reason someone MUST look at porn, but of those who do, many don’t end up addicted.”

———————————————————————————————-

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.

Is Porn Viewing Becoming a Problem? Six Questions to Ask Yourself

As a generation of people who never knew a world without the Internet become firmly entrenched in their 21st century jobs, we’re just starting to see fallout from the first couple of decades of having the world at the end of our fingertips.

Sure, we no longer need to visit a library, video store or travel agent since these services are now just a click, instead of a car ride, away. But, to obtain and view pornography, the days of sketchy XXX theaters, scuzzy adult bookstores and mail order are now just a click away.

This is not a good development. Statistics regarding the use of pornography have not only exploded in recent years, but so have the documented cases of pornography addiction.

I was lucky in that I had the resources to seek treatment at an inpatient rehabilitation facility and that was where I learned that women can also be porn addicts. Despite reading similar statistics that suggest the ratio of female-to-male porn addicts is 1-to-5, Of the 15 people in my program, only one was a woman. She told me in conversation that while it’s shameful and embarrassing for a man to seek help, it is downright unacceptable for most women to even admit to viewing porn where she came from. How can you get help if you can’t tell anybody you’ve got a problem?

Most people who view pornography neither develop an addiction nor break the law, but for many who end up with a problem, like I did, it often isn’t recognizable until it’s too late.

Have you been wondering if your porn consumption is starting to become an addiction? Here are several questions worth considering as you reach your conclusion:

 

How much time am I spending with porn? There’s nothing inherently wrong with using visual aids to enhance masturbation, but when you’re watching three, four or more hours of porn daily, it’s gone beyond a simple self-pleasuring tool. How many photos, film clips or websites must you visit to be satisfied? Has this number grown over time? Do you find that you’d rather watch porn than do other things you once found pleasurable? When your duration of use continues to escalate and that time is replacing experiences that once brought you pleasure, it should be a red flag. Porn is quickly climbing the list of priorities in your life.

Is what I’m watching different than in the past? Most people who become drug addicts don’t start with the hardest stuff possible, but end up there. The need to escalate comes from the brain’s desire for the same dopamine hit that once came easier. It explains why those with gambling addictions make increasingly larger wagers and how the marijuana user evolves to heroin. There are plenty of people into roleplaying, S&M and exploring their sexuality in extreme ways in photos and on film. Have you found that the content of the porn you watch is becoming more extreme? Does what you once watch not do it for you anymore?

Where am I viewing porn? Most people view pornography in the privacy of their own homes on their computer screen, television or in the pages of a magazine, end of story. A study that’s almost 10 years old suggest that nearly a quarter of US workers view porn at work. Do you think that number has gone down or up in the last decade? Even more than that watch it on their phone, in the bathroom at work, or while driving in the car. Are the places that you’re watching porn not considered traditional? If so, when did this begin? Why can’t you wait until you get home?

Who am I lying to about my viewing? Statistics suggest that the majority of the people who have access to a computer are watching pornography with some kind of regularity. Since self-pleasuring is usually accompanied, the entire topic is one many shy away from. But, if your use is starting to enter problem territory, the odds are good someone may have broached it with you. Did you lie? How big was the lie? Were you flustered and irritated they asked in the first place? Would you lie about your porn use to the people absolutely closest to you – those who you could otherwise tell everything?

How are my intimate relationships? If you’re in a relationship, has the frequency of physical intimacy dropped, but the use of porn increased? Many people being using porn within a relationship to enhance the experience, but if your partner is not into it, this can leave one wanting more. If you’re not in a relationship, do you find yourself paying for sex or frequenting strip clubs more than before where emotional intimacy is not a subject to be bothered with? Does the viewing of porn make you want to seek out casual sexual encounters? The idea of being intimate with only one person for the rest of their lives freaks out a lot of people. That’s natural if you’re one of them, but what is your long-term plan in lieu of lifetime commitment?

How do I feel about yourself? Addiction of any kind often brings an increase in depression, stress and anxiety. Immediately after you use porn, does a sadness wash over you that is hard to explain? Most addicts feel isolated and alone, even if they’re constantly around people and unlike some addictions, porn is the kind of addition one generally engages in privately. Are there feelings of shame when you think around your use of pornography? Do you wish you could slow down or stop, but find it impossible? Do you worry about where this is heading?

 

You probably had a good idea if you were addicted to pornography before answering these questions. A more important question is if you’re going to do anything about it. The disease of addiction is something that can be fought, and it’s easier to do the sooner an addict faces their problem.

If you can’t quit cold turkey, there are 12-step resources like Sex Addicts Anonymous available. Most private therapists can speak to the issues of addiction, if not porn addiction specifically. For the critical, there are inpatient rehab options available.

Suffering alone, in shame, is not necessary any longer. If you believe you may have a pornography addiction, or are developing one, seek help.