WOMEN

21 Men Reveal How Porn Shaped Their Views Of Sex

"I ended up having more questions than answers."

In an age of unprecedented access to pornography, there seems to be one central -- and polarizing -- question: Is porn detrimental or benign to the way young men learn about and understand their sexuality?

It's a question that's been tricky to answer, given the range of experiences men have with porn. Much of the research out there points to porn as a source of relationship strain and the cause of infidelity and sexual dissatisfaction. Other studies, however, have found that porn has no effect on sexual functioning.

Opinions on the matter vary, too: Many Americans -- 71 percent, according to a 2014 survey -- think porn is morally unacceptable, while others consider it a matter of erotic rights.

When it comes to porn, what we do know is that a good sexual education outside of viewing pornography has become increasingly important -- as many men learn, porn isn't always such a good indicator of what sex IRL is like. 

To gain a little insight on how men interpreted their first glimpses of porn, we (unscientifically) polled our male readers, asking them to tell us how they thought it shaped their sexual development. Within 24 hours, we received nearly 150 responses.

Some men said they learned about sex through early Internet-era downloads, while others caught their first glimpse of nudity via stolen issues of Hustler. And everyone who responded seemed to get something different out of the experience. How a guy interpreted the porn he saw really depended on the guy.

Here's what 21 men had to say: 

1. "I mostly learned about sex from porn, rather than sex ed."

I was in 5th grade when I first looked up porn, around the same time I got the Internet. It wasn't necessarily monumental moment -- I still didn't understand how to have sex. All I knew was that it looked like rolling around naked and kissing. I mostly learned about sex from porn, rather than sex ed. I didn't talk with my parents about it, and my friends and I didn't really talk about it until we were all doing it.



2. "I ended up having more questions than answers."

I was 12, and I ended up having more questions than answers.



3. "I find it very demeaning towards women, so I can't stand it."

I was 21 and I was kinda disgusted with most kinds of clips. I still am. I am a 101 percent heterosexual straight guy, but I find it very demeaning towards women, so I can't stand it. That's not how I look at sex. Though I do like the [porn] where the woman is "treated well" and is at least enjoying it, rather than being treated as a sex object.

 

4. "Sex for me was more intimate and personal; porn was not."

I was maybe 7 years old and found pornographic magazines in my parents' bedroom. For whatever reason, however, I don't feel it influenced my view of sex when I began to be sexually active at age 15 -- though I could be wrong about that. Sex for me was more intimate and personal; porn was not, and the two largely remained separate, if that is possible.



5. "I wanted to see if I got stimulated by gay sex."

I was 15. I had at quite a young age realized I was gay, so I wanted to see if I got stimulated by gay sex.



6. "I thought I was supposed to be built like those guys and have sex like they did."

I was 11, and I had no clue what sex was until I saw [porn]. The influence was detrimental. For a long time, I thought what I saw in porn was normal. I thought I was supposed to be built like those guys and have sex like they did. When the time came for me to actually have sex, I realized I was worrying over nothing. Real sex was nothing like what I saw.



7. "Porn has made me curious and understanding of the female body."

I was 8 when I found my dad’s stash of Hustler mags in a drawer in the bathroom. Porn has made me curious and understanding of the female body, and taught me how to be a sensual, open-minded and exciting partner. I think it's just normal human instinct to be sexual and seek out sexual things. Erotica and porn can be used in healthy ways or negative, just like anything else.



8. "It made me feel like a girl would never have sex with me, because I was overweight and the male actor was not."

I was around 12 or 13. It made me feel like a girl would never have sex with me, because I was overweight and the male actor was not.



9. "I found different things hot about black or white women, and started noticing early on that whiteness got higher production quality."

I was 13 and it led to me wondering a lot about how sexuality would even work along lines of race. I found different things hot about black or white women, and started noticing early on that whiteness got higher production quality.



10. "Watching porn influenced me to experiment with other kids my age."

I was 11 and I was exhilarated! Watching porn influenced me to experiment with other kids my age, and it helped me understand what sex was to a degree.

 

11. "I think it may have cost me a relationship or two."

I first experienced porn at the age of 10. I quite literally wanted to try everything the actors did. In hindsight, I think it may have cost me a relationship or two.

 

12. "It gave me what turned out to be a very false idea of what having sex would be like."

I was 13 when I had my first experience with porn. It gave me what turned out to be a very false idea of what having sex would be like. It wasn't until I actually experienced sex for the first time that I really realized that using porn as a how-to guide does not work.

 

13. "It made me wrongfully perceive sex as an object or activity for pure leisure."

I was 12. It made me wrongfully perceive sex as an object or activity for pure leisure, with no emotional value attached whatsoever.

 

14. "It made me think all women liked to give oral sex."

I was 12 years old. It made me think all women liked to give oral sex.

 

15. "I think it confirmed my fear that all men wanted was sex all the time and women could take it or leave it."

I saw a Hustler magazine at age 12 when a friend showed it to me. I think it confirmed my fear that all men wanted was sex all the time, and women could take it or leave it. It made women seem very powerful to me.



16. "It influenced me to always try to please my partner."

I was probably 9. It influenced me to always try to please my partner.

 

17. "Sometimes it's fun to act like a porn star and try some more daring things."

I was probably 11 or 12 when I found a bunch of magazines and a VHS of a porn from the ‘70s in the barn on my family's land. Sometimes it's fun to act like a porn star and try some more daring things, and ejaculate on women other than in them or in a condom.

 

18. "I was baffled that real breasts weren't perfectly round."

I was between 9 and 10. When I got older, I was baffled that real breasts weren't perfectly round.

 

19. "Porn made it seem like sex was something you did to someone else or had done to you, instead of being a shared experience of intimacy."

I was a child, couldn't have been older than 8 or 9. My friend's father had magazines stacked under the coffee table, and we would look at them when there weren't any parents around. Porn made it seem like sex was something you did to someone else or had done to you, instead of being a shared experience of intimacy.



20. "Porn gave me a more relaxed view of sex. "

I was 20 years old. It was my sophomore year in college, and I had this huge crush on a girl. Things were getting serious, so I sought porn out to help me feel less awkward when the time came. Porn gave me a more relaxed view of sex. I didn't think it was something to take too seriously. It helped me feel more comfortable talking to women.



21. "I learned a lot on how to keep it interesting in bed."

I was 14 when I first watched porn. I learned a lot on how to keep it interesting in bed.

 

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