men, masculinities and gender politics

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Men And Pornography Addiction: A Growing Problem

By Elwood Watson

 

Not long ago, I was talking with a longtime friend who lives in another part of the nation. It had been awhile since we spoke and we got to catch up on a lot of things. For the most part, things were going pretty well for him. That being said, there was one surprising admission he made to me. He had become addicted to pornography, particularly online pornography. I will admit that I was taken aback by this revelation. Apparently, I was one of the few people he volunteered this information to. His own wife is unaware of his obsession. We discussed this for quite some time. We concluded the discussion by him promising that he would make an effort to address this issue for the sake of his mental well being as well as for his wife and two children. 

Anyone who avidly follows contemporary popular culture and cultural trends in general is probably well aware that the pornography (adult entertainment) industry is an entity that generates billions of dollars of revenue in the United States annually. Some estimates suggest that the figure is as much as $13 billion. What is more notable is the fact that 90% of young boys and 60% of young girls have been exposed to pornography before they reach the age of 18.

According to the website expastors.com the median age that children become introduced to such material is 11 years old. Thus, it is hardly a surprise that we live in a society that is deeply immersed in and obsessed with pornography.

In 1994, the recently revived Promise Keepers organization conducted a survey that revealed that 50% of the men who attended their rallies engaged themselves with porn within one week of attending the event. That was two decades ago. The fact that a considerable percentage of religious people have been affected by pornography causes many individuals to take notice.

Other statistics from several studies and articles conducted by researchers found that:

·      50% of religious men and 20% of religious women stated that they were addicted to pornography.

·      54% of men polled that they visited porn websites at least frequently.

·      Men are more than 543% more likely to look at porn than women.

·      People who have committed adultery are more likely to view pornography.

·      People who have paid for sex are 270% more likely to view adult sexual content.

The fact is that even many men who consider themselves religious and some minsters themselves are not immune from such addiction. A recent survey conducted by the Barna Group found that approximately two-thirds (64%) of U.S. men view pornography at least monthly. Moreover, the study revealed:

·      The number of Christian men viewing pornography virtually mirrors the national average.

·      Broken down by age: 79% of men between the ages of 18-30 view pornography monthly; 67% of men between the ages of 31-49 view pornography monthly; and 49% of men between the ages of 50 and 68 view pornography monthly.

·      Christian men are watching pornography at work at the same rate as the national average.

·      One-third (33%) of men between the ages of 18 and 30 either think that they are addicted or are unsure if they are addicted to pornography.

·      Combined, 18% of all men either think that they are addicted or are unsure if they are addicted to pornography, which equates to 21 million men.

Patrick Means, author of Men’s Secret Wars, revealed that 63% of pastors confirmed that they struggle with sexual addiction or sexual compulsion.

Prior to the 1990s, pornography was something that most people had to travel across town to purchase in the red-light district. It was material that one could largely only find in adult book stores and eventually, in some cases, convenience stores where it was located behind the counter and one had to produce an ID indicating adulthood to purchase such material. In other cases, most young boys’ exposure to such material was sneaking into their parents’ bedroom and inadvertently coming across their father’s magazines. For the record, my father did not purchase or view pornography.

Decades later, with the advent of the internet, coupled with the relative degree of anonymity it affords, having access to adult-oriented content is much easier, and many people, particularly men, have not hesitated to take advantage.

It is probably safe to say that the majority of Americans (myself included) have viewed some pornography when they were relatively young, however minimal, without having it dramatically alter our lives. That being said, the downside is that, in our current environment, too many people (men in particular) are seeing their lives turned upside down as pornography has increasingly gained considerable control of their lives—sexually, psychologically, socially, financially and, in some cases, physically. In some cases, careers are being ruined and families are being torn apart. For all those men who allowed pornography to consume and disrupt their lives, all is not lost. Some avenues to take are:

* Therapy - The most effective manner to deal with an sort of addiction is to seek the help of a qualified therapist. Any qualified therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist will be able to provide you with the skills to help you combat your dependency on pornography.

* Avoid Temptations - Learning how to avoid environments or situations that may trigger a reaction to view or seek pornography whether in magazines or on the internet. By learning how to avoid the triggers that lead to you to compulsive sexual behavior you can reduce the chance that you will continue making decision that will have negative impact on your well being.   

* Stop The Denial - For any addict, the first thing step to the road to recovery is to admit that you have an problem. the sooner you come to grips with this fact, the likelihood that you will be able to conquer your obsession will be greater.

* Consider Joining an Outside Support Group - The statistics make it clear that you are not alone in your struggle. Millions of other men (and some women) are facing the exact same dilemma. Seeking a community or support group or counselor can be of great benefit.

The crucial thing is that you begin to seek some sort of professional help. In certain segments of society, sexual abuse, human trafficking and, in some cases, rape are steadily increasing. While pornography addiction cannot be blamed as the sole reason for these issues, it is certainly more than likely a contributing factor. These facts are troubling on a number of levels. It is an issue that must be addressed quickly and aggressively.