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There's More to Sex Than a Cum Shot to the Face: What Men Should Unlearn from Hardcore Porn

No, porn does not turn men into crazed sex fiends. But it's clear that pornography has affected the way we view -- and have -- sex. Here's how to counter porn's effects.

There are no more male porn virgins. A Canadian study released this week sought to compare the views of 20-something men who watch porn with those who don’t. They couldn’t find a single one who hadn’t seen any. “Guys who do not watch pornography do not exist,” concluded the lead researcher, Professor Simon Louis Lajeunesse of the University of Montreal’s School of Social Work.

Guys who watch a lot of pornography, however, are easy to find. Of the 20-something heterosexual men they interviewed, most had sought out pornography for the first time at age 10. The single men among them, on average, watch porn three times a week for 40 minutes, and those in relationships, 1.7 times a week for around 20 minutes. In no small part that's because porn so easy to find: 90 percent of consumption is on the Internet, while only 10 percent is from the video store.

But no matter: the authors of the study concluded that the sex lives of their young subjects were "pretty conventional, almost identical to their parents,” that “pornography has been demonized and that its effects are negligible.” And that pornography is not a “neurotoxin” that damages the brain as some anti-pornography "crusaders" claim: “As for the persistent perception that pornography breeds crime against women: aggressive men don’t need porn as an incentive to be violent.”

I can accept that pornography doesn’t make its audience violent, and that most people’s sex lives are still pretty conventional. But when I asked my friends about their experiences, they couldn’t disagree more that porn’s effects are negligible. Few of my friends are anti-porn. None think pornography makes men violent. But all say porn has changed their male partners' approach to sex. Like the authors of the recent glut of articles on the topic, my friends mention everything from new pubic hair preferences to new special requests. One friend said she’s dreading her boyfriend’s upcoming birthday because he views it as his “anything he wants" night. While she doesn’t mind dressing up, she's dreading the "porn requests” (she didn’t specify what those are, so we can only imagine).

In a recent piece on Salon, Mary Elizabeth Williams realized porn had changed her sex life when her partner asked, for the 18th time, without noticing that she wasn’t answering, "You like that, baby?” And then it hit her: “I wasn't just having bad sex. I was having bad porn sex.”

Williams and others are experiencing firsthand the effect porn has had not just on grown men who grew up without it and are now watching it, but on the young generation that grew up watching it. And the effect on that generation -- Generation Y -- is even more significant, especially given the dearth of real sex ed. According to an article in Details, “The awkward truth…is that 90 percent of 8- to-16-year-olds have viewed pornography online. Considering the standard climax to even the most vanilla hard-core scene today, that means there is an entire generation of young people who think sex ends with a money shot to the face.”

In that same article, one 21-year-old college student described his first “real-life ejaculate-to-the-face finale like this: ‘It was the happiest moment of my young life. There is just something about blowing a load in a chick's face that makes you feel like a man.’” The author went on to say that "For most men over 30, facials aren't something you actually do. They're like car chases or hurling someone through a plate-glass window—the difference between cinema and life. But the ubiquity of porn has blurred the line.”

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