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September 25, 2003
My boyfriend looks at porn and it freaks me out. It's not because I'm jealous, but because I'm insecure. I'm sure many of those girls are more attractive than me. In general, Dan, you've been really insensitive toward people (girls, I guess) who feel strange about porn. I think that was unnecessary because you have to see, even if it is flawed, where we are coming from. Any words illuminating this interest in porn would be helpful in my getting past this.
All men look at porn--men with hot girlfriends, men with dumpy girlfriends, men with 10 girlfriends, men with no girlfriends. The handful of men who claim they don't look at porn are liars or castrates. Tearful discussions about your insecurities or your feminist principles will not stop a man from looking at porn. That's why the best advice for straight women is this: GET OVER IT. If you don't want to be with someone who looks at porn--if you can't handle it, AG--get a woman, get a dog, or get a blind guy. I'm sorry if you think that's insensitive--no, wait: I'm not sorry. I sincerely believe that "Get over it" is the best possible advice for women bothered by porn. While men shouldn't rub their female partners' noses in the fact that they look at porn--that's just inconsiderate--telling women that the porn "problem" can be resolved though good communication, couples counseling, or a chat with your pastor is neither helpful nor realistic.
But, hey, you want compassion, AG, and compassion you're going to get: I sent your letter along to David Loftus, author of Watching Sex: How Men Really Respond to Pornography.
"Her letter is sweet," says Loftus. "Unlike other women, she admits to her own insecurity instead of attacking her boyfriend. It is common for women to think their men are comparing them to the gals in porn, but believe me, we don't. Men are much simpler than that: We enjoy looking. When we regard a passing Porsche with awe, it doesn't mean we really want to own one or that we hate our little Honda." So you're a Honda, AG--I hope this compassion stuff is making you feel better. Moving along, Loftus wonders why women who feel insecure about men looking at porn don't feel insecure when their men leave the house. "The women he sees on the street every day," says Loftus, "are far more accessible than the ones on the page, his VCR, and computer screen. But it's a lot of work to get to know someone new, and we tend to like our significant other for a host of reasons besides mere looks."
My boyfriend and I haven't had sex in a couple of months. We have been together for over a year, and he wants to get married. We used to have a lot of sex--good sex. And no, I haven't suddenly become a fat, ugly sow who is lousy in bed. He enjoys looking at porn sometimes, and his library of porn tapes contains over 50 videos. He doesn't watch them often, but I have always found his interest in porn obnoxious, especially now that we're not having sex. What is going on here?
Going Crazy in Portland
"There are so many things that affect frequency, from overwork to depression," says Loftus. "Before we go blaming pornography, it's important to know where his head is at: How does he feel about the frequency of your lovemaking? Does he have any theories or solutions? And does he expect (and more important, want) the sex situation to improve after marriage? If you haven't discussed these issues with him, you need to get on it right away. And don't mention porn. That's an easy excuse--a red herring--that can sidetrack the discussion to the detriment of deeper, more important issues."
A few months ago, my fiancée found some of my porn videos and threw them out, telling me how much they upset her. We've been dating for six years; as of two years ago I have been officially banned from going to the strip club with my friends. I should also mention that whenever an attractive woman walks by, I have to look at the floor for fear that a stray glance will enrage my fiancée. Her take is that looking at other women borders on cheating. She cried and cried this evening, sobbing that she doesn't understand why I need to so much as look at other women, saying it makes her feel like I'm not satisfied with her. I feel that pornography isn't cheating; if anything, it probably prevents a lot of men from cheating. By the way, my fiancée is a beautiful girl with a great body, so I can't understand how low self-esteem is such a factor. Any suggestions?
First, a little insensitivity: You would have to be an idiot to marry this insecure, inconsiderate bag of slop. She throws your stuff away? You can't look at a pretty woman on the street? That's the sort of crap you squelch before you marry someone, PC, unless you're really looking forward to that first divorce. If you love her and want to marry her, do her the favor of leveling with her: Of course you're not satisfied with just one sex partner--no man ever is! Men aren't wired for monogamy. Period. It's one thing for a woman to ask her man to make that commitment and be faithful; it's quite another for that woman to ask her man to pretend that he's not even remotely interested in having sex with other people--to pretend, essentially, that he isn't a man. But the true measure of a man's love isn't that he doesn't desire others, PC, but that he doesn't act on his desire for others. If your fiancée can't see that, well, then she has no understanding of men's sexuality and, consequently, no business being in a relationship with a man.
Once more, for emphasis: I wouldn't marry this woman if I were you. If you must marry her--if you love her and stuff--then you'll have to do what millions of other men in your shoes do: Tell the wife what she wants to hear, hide the porn, and pray you don't get caught.
And now for a little compassion from Loftus: "Pornography shocks a lot of young women because they don't understand the role it plays in many men's lives. Tell your girlfriend that you aren't comparing her to the women in porn (you aren't, are you?), so it's not an expression of dissatisfaction with her. It's just another way of expressing your sexuality. But if your girlfriend's mind is made up about this, if she isn't willing to listen to you, then maybe you should think about whether this relationship is worth the constraints she insists on putting you under." Which is Loftus's compassionate way of saying you would have to be an idiot to marry this insecure, inconsiderate bag of slop.