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Is porn bad for you? A skeptical look at NPR's dismissive answer

C C Offline
(NPR) Masturbation abstinence is popular online. Doctors and therapists are worried

EXCERPTS: . . . More than two decades of growing internet use has surfaced fears about the social and psychological impacts of nearly unfettered access to pornography. But many researchers and sex therapists worry that the online communities that have formed in response to these fears often endorse inaccurate medical information, exacerbate mental health problems and, in some cases, overlap with extremist and hate groups.

There are many variations on how and why members of these communities choose to abstain from masturbation. One of the central concepts in these communities is known as "nofap," a play on an onomatopoeic word for masturbation popularized on the notorious 4chan message boards.

The term "nofap" has come to encompass a set of unproven claims that not masturbating confers social and health benefits.

[...] For those who believe they may be addicted to porn, the official NoFap LLC website suggests no masturbation for 90 days, during which the brain supposedly reboots like a computer. Other claimed benefits of avoiding masturbation may include "superpowers," like more confidence and more romantic interest from women. NoFap LLC says it is not anti-masturbation and it's not anti-porn, and today, its creator says it is a peer-support group for people with problematic pornography use.

[...] A national poll conducted in late 2022 found that 4 out of 10 Americans believe society has become too "soft and feminine." Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson did a special for Fox in 2022 called The End of Men, drawing attention to "the decline of manhood, of virility, of physical health, all of which together threaten to doom our civilization."

In masturbation abstinence groups, the ubiquity of internet porn is often framed as a major factor in this alleged decline, and abstaining from masturbation is held up as the cure.... (MORE - missing details)

Is porn bad for you? A skeptical look at NPR's dismissive answer

EXCERPT: . . . To her credit, NPR reporter Lisa Hagen acknowledged that some people benefit from the NoFap movement, quoting one man named Tim who credits the community for saving his marriage. But she spent most of her article casting doubt on the efficacy of  “masturbation abstinence" while overlooking a large body of research that has investigated the harmful effects of porn use—even when those effects coincide with concerns she voiced in the article.

She warns, for instance, that anti-porn forums and websites can engender shame in their male members and malign women “as the source of temptation” for young men. Yet the same impacts of porn itself have been documented time and again. Examining the effects of sexually explicit content on teenage boys and young men, this 2016 review of 135 studies published between 1995 and 2015 reported that

… [E]xposure to sexually objectifying images of women is linked with young men’s feeling more discomfort with their own bodies, as indicated by higher levels of self-objectification and self-surveillance and lower body esteem [emphasis in the original].

A 2015 study similarly found that teenage boys exposed to “sexualizing magazines” assigned increased importance to girls’ body size and sexual body parts, which encouraged them to pursue courtship strategies that emphasized the value of appearance.

Earlier research from 2009 showed that male undergraduate students exposed to images of sexualized women expressed less confidence in their own romantic capabilities compared to men who didn’t view the same images, leading the authors to speculate “that participants believed that to be romantically successful with these women would require them to conform to an idealized appearance standard.”

What about the opposite sex? Summarizing eight studies published between 2008 and 2015, the 2016 review reported that young women exposed in the lab to sexually objectifying media content reported higher levels of self-objectification than students exposed “to neutral or non-objectifying media.” In sum, the review continued:

“ …[T]here is substantial experimental evidence that adolescents and adults exposed to sexually objectifying images report greater body concerns and body dissatisfaction than do individuals who were not exposed to these images.”

These results seem especially relevant given the ubiquity of online porn; somewhere between four and 15 percent of the internet is dedicated to adult content. Why, then, is NPR troubled by a tiny subculture that wants to avoid it? (MORE - missing details)
Magical Realist Offline
I think porn and the incessant viewing of it has the effect over time of numbing us the beauty of the human body. It cheapens it and objectifies making love into a mere animalistic ritual that is viewed over and over again to masturbate by. The erotic is in reality a very subtle and private aesthetic that we must protect and conserve. Art is the sublime affirmation of the erotic in the human experience. I find it much more rewarding than porn.

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