Anti-Pornography Website

Men's Accounts of the Harms of Pornography


 "My expertise in addressing this subject comes from a 10-year psychotherapy practice specializing in services for men. My practice has included over the years an ongoing treatment group for men who are physically, verbally, or sexually abusive. I have repeatedly found a direct link between pornography and attitudes towards women as objects that contribute to the ongoing crime of violence against women.
 The myth about pornography is that it frees the libido and gives men an outlet for sexual expression which liberates mind and body. This is truly myth. I have found that pornography not only does not liberate men, but on the contrary becomes a source of bondage. men masturbate to pornography only to become addicted to the fantasy. There is no liberation for men in pornography. Pornography becomes a source of addiction much like alcohol. There is temporary relief. It is mood altering. And it is reinforcing, i.e. "you want more" because "you got relief." It is this reinforcing characteristic that leads men to want the experience which they have in photographic fantasy to happen in "real" life. An endless search ensues to capture the docile woman of fantasy in total real life availability. The more hopeless it is to find this sort of woman, the more desperate becomes the interaction between men and the women they pursue. 
 The problem arises when real women do not like being dominated, controlled, and "made love to" on one-sided terms. When women assert themselves, men experience a loss of the feeling of being in control. Violence occurs in men when their own personal concept of "masculinity" is challenged. A man who is already addicted to the feeling of needing to have sex, and the fantasy of being in control, becomes desperate in his behavior when confronted by a woman who doesn't want what's being given out. 
 Women lose, and men lose too. Women lose, of course, because they are the object of this abusive pursuit. Men lose because they never experience true intimacy that comes from letting down and opening up with someone. Many men let down and open up when there is a threat of losing the relationship; but violence is a more common occurence. There is no social communion in domination and control. By nature we are social beings, and as such require true social interaction for well-beingness. Without such social communion, there exist only isolation and desperation..."
-- Written testimony of Floyd Winecoff (psychologist), read by Michael Laslett at the Minneapolis Hearings (1983). (1)

 "I have been raised and socialized in a pornographic society. Pornographic images of women have surrounded and bombarded me throughout my life -- images which depict women as sex objects available to me at any time, as sexually submissive, as meaning yes even when they say no, as always wanting sex, and as finding abuse sexually enjoyable. 
 Everywhere I go I carry a pornographic notion of what an "attractive" woman is, what she looks like, how she acts, what she says, and so on. I have been infected with pornographic, sexist, and blatantly oppressive expectations of women as friends, co-workers, passers-by, lovers. My sexism, however, is not a haphazard occurence. I am the result of a systematic socialization process which trains all men to oppress women, because it is in the interests of men as the economic, political, sexual, and cultural rulers of this society to keep women down. Pornography is a crucial tool in the maintenance of male power. 
 While consolidating this male supremacist system, pornography also directly harms men as individuals. For most of my life, I accepted pornographic definitions of women -- how large were their breasts, their buttocks, their waist. I was only attracted to women who met very narrow standards, and my sense of self-worth depended, in large part, on how many such women were interested in me. But pornography portrays women as insatiable. So while, for the good of my self-image and my status in the eyes of my male friends, I wanted as many women as possible to be attracted to me, I was also terrified of being sexually inadequate. 
 Even after I became aware of my sexism and its link to pornography, I couldn't simply shed a lifetime of socialization. I couldn't escape the perceptions of women I had been taught. I began to hate myself for being sexist and finding pornography arousing. 
 For years, I couldn't interact with a woman without feeling I was oppressing her, especially if I found her attractive. Since physical lovemaking is one of the most intimate forms of interaction, and since it has been so twisted and mutilated by pornography, I couldn't sleep with a woman without feeling I was oppressing her because my attraction for her had been influenced by pornography. I am still struggling with these feelings today. 
 Women are assaulted daily by and because of pornography, and my life and sexuality have been warped and distorted by it. Countering these effects of patriarchy will be a lifetime endeavor... [H]elp us in the task of dismantling our crippling pornographic images. Let us work so that women will be less oppressed, that men will be less well-trained to oppress them, and that women and men will be free to live healthier and more equal lives."
-- Testimony of Michael Laslett at the Minneapolis Hearing (1983). (2) 

"I'd like to speak of the ways pornography harms me as a man. At its fundamental level pornography is lies about my sexuality. My sexual relationships with women are based on respect, trust, and love as best as I can feel and express those. The absence of these elements in pornography creates an incomplete and untrue portrayal of sexuality. It has given me and countless other men an education about sexual relations that is lacking in some essential components. I resent the existence of such misleading material.... Men who take joy and celebration in their sexuality don't frequent X-rated stores. Men seek this outlet in a state of fear, shame, and powerlessness. They find a counterfeit and temporary sense of power and control. We (I've been there) are offered temporary respite, though not comfort, from our pain. Our pain and humanity are ignored, even denied. All that counts is that we are male and can afford the price of this ersatz pleasure. Men who fear to look a woman in the eye can see images of the feared party in states of degradation. Men ashamed of their gender and sexuality can witness scenes of men who appear not to experience these feelings. Someone makes money off the suffering and loneliness of men who deserve recognition of their state from themselves as well as from the men and women. Pornography has no winner -- women are abused and portrayed as powerless for the eyes of men who feel abused and powerless. I support any effort to challenge the system that this represents and submit that pornography hurts everyone and we all have a stake in its demise."
-- Letter of Jim Lovestar (excerpt) sent to the Minneapolis City Council, December 6, 1983. (3)

"... young men learn to be sexual in environments that are not particularly conducive to intimacy and empathy. The result is... unconnected lust and nonrelational sexuality, and what I call fear of intimacy... I strongly believe that the [pornographic] Centerfold Syndrome is a product of the way sex has been presented and taught to men. These lessons have been supported by the idea that men should keep women in their place and simultaneously establish their own place in the eyes of other men by using women's bodies. They have also been perpetuated by an irresponsible system of teaching young men about sexuality. They are the tragic result of a culture that profits from manipulating images of women and grossly impairing men's capacity to develop deeply intimate relationships with women."
-- Gary Brooks. (4)

"To bring themselves into relationship with an objectified female body, males must objectify their own bodies as well. The necessary corollary to pornography's myth of female instant availability is its myth of male perpetual readiness. Just as the former is an important source of misogyny, creating anger as real women fail to live up to the expectations of pornographic fantasies, so is the latter an important source of male insecurity, as men fail to live up to pornographic standards of sexual acrobatics performed by oversized organs... As Michael Betzold sums up pornographic distortion of men's self image: "When men view women as sex objects, they are also objectifying themselves, a point not often appreciated. . . Pornography promotes our insecurities by picturing sex as a field of combat and conquest. . . Emotional needs are denied altogether or telescoped mercilessly into the search to obtain exclusively genital satisfaction. Although what most men want is physical affection from another human being, what they end up thinking they want is to be laid by a Playboy bunny."
--Harry Brod. (5)

"I expected long drawn-out multiple orgasms with women babbling deliriously, thanking you as they fainted or died in blissful exhaustion... These expectations didn't come from conversations with the guys. Porn taught me everything I "knew" and taught me how to make it real. The woman I was chatting with had no idea at first she had to measure up to the dozens of pets, playmates, bunnies, pieces of tail I had pored over and fantasized about this past week. They are called "fantasies" but they sure become real and sink deep when you orgasm to them day in and day out for years. Nobody acknowledges the jerking off. Hefner, Guccione and Flynt are supposed to be such "liberators". . . What a joke! They merely built empires on men's envy and hatred of women, building up these feelings for added profits. They would never dare admit that the Average Playboy Reader spends his evenings choking the chicken, giving up on a love life. Their sexual scenarios pick up on the guilt and envy, offering violence and cynicism as solutions. As in rape, penises become weapons to punish women with, sperm is something filthy to soil their too-perfect bodies. I really believe that porn turns men into fetishists, hooked on overpriced media, with knee-jerk reactions to any woman."
--Martin Dufresne. (6)

"The problem is not only that a high percentage of women in porn are sexual abuse survivors... It is not only the reduction of women to what University of Texas journalism professor Robert Jensen, writing in the Sexual Assault Report, painfully describes as "three holes and two hands." It is the way the pornography industry helps to define heterosexual men's sexuality. Every time a video portrays a scene where a woman asks to be penetrated by a succession of men who ejaculate all over her face as they contemptuously call her a "cum-guzzling whore", it also portrays men getting pleasure from the sight of that "cum-guzzling whore" getting what she wants, and deserves. It normalizes the men's pleasure-taking as it sexualizes the woman's degradation. The idea that consumers of porn can masturbate and have orgasms to that kind of treatment of women and not have it affect their attitudes toward the women and girls in their lives is more a fantasy than anything the most creative porn writers can conjure up."
-- Jackson Katz. (7)

"Unlike the typical violent episodes on television, pornographic violence is, typically, not an integral part of a larger dramatic theme. Rather, the erotic violence itself is the theme. The erotic [sic] representation sometimes even approximates a how-to-do-it instructional film. Further, the juxtaposition of violence with sexual excitement and satisfaction provides an unusual opportunity for conditioning of violent responses to erotic stimuli. The message that pain and humiliation can be "fun" encourages the relaxation of inhibitions against rape."
-- Neil Malamuth and Seymour Feshback, media reasearchers. (8)

"People from the ACLU ignore the fact that freedom, as defined by our society, is not actually freedom at all... [T]he argument that pornography is "natural" ignores the fact that there are men who have given up their obsession with pornography and have not died... When the [pornography] addict commits an act of abuse, when he is sexual with a child or with a prostitute or a student or an employee, when he has sex with his wife while fantasizing on another woman, the addict believes that using another person as an object will relieve his unhappiness. And for a second that unhappiness is numbed and forgotten, and a rush of excitement does occur. But afterwards the unhappiness returns, the drug has worn off. And the addict becomes angry at the person he has used because that person has not done what he thinks that person should do -- take away his unhappiness. He carries that anger to the next act of abuse, to the next person he abuses."
-- David Mura. (9)

"...memories of experiences that occurred at times of emotional arousal (which could include sexual arousal) get locked into the brain by an adrenal gland hormone, epinephrine, and are difficult to erase. This may partly explain pornography's addicting effect."
-- Victor Cline. (10)

"Pornography EROTICIZES male supremacy. It makes dominance and subordination feel like sex; it makes hierarchy feel like sex; it makes force and violence feel like sex; it makes hate and terrorism feel like sex; it makes inequality feel like sex. Pornography keeps sexism sexy. It keeps sexism NECESSARY for some people to have sexual feelings. It makes reciprocity make you go limp. It makes mutuality leave you cold. It makes tenderness and intimacy and caring make you feel like you're going to disappear into a void. It makes justice the opposite of erotic; it makes injustice a sexual thrill... Pornography exploits every experience in people's lives that IMPRISONS sexual feelings -- pain, terrorism, punishment, dread, shame, powerlessness, self-hate -- and would have you believe that it FREES sexual feelings. In fact the sexual freedom represented by pornography is the freedom of men to act sexually in ways that keep sex a basis for inequality... You can't have authentic sexual freedom without sexual justice."
-- John Stoltenberg. (11)

"...those boys who said that it is okay to hold a girl down and force her to have intercourse. Our study demonstrates that overwhelmingly they are the male teenagers who are reading and watching pornography. . . it is a statistical link between the amount of pornography male teenagers watch and the belief that it may be okay to use force with sex. This is very important."
-- James Check. (12)

"The fact that exposure to pornography can activate sexually callous perceptions of women and promote manipulative and, in some instances, aggressive behaviors is highlighted clearly by the research evidence."
-- James B. Weaver. (13)

"A man's need to 'score' and to push women into sexual acts that earn masculinity credits objectifies women. 'Scoring' is enhanced by getting women to perform sex acts that the men consider demeaning . . . Still other practices involve sexual humiliation of women."
-- Chris O'Sullivan. (14)

"For me, porn is all about CONTROLING HUMAN BEINGS, or I should say the ILLUSION of controlling others. That’s what got me off. I felt so out of control in my life and from my childhood, that this was something I could control (which women I would see naked or I could hit the pause button and extend a particular image for eternity) for example. There is no vulnerability, no risk, and therefore - no growth. I think that for me, the illusion of controlling women, even in masturbatory porn fantasies, was a misguided attempt to quell the fear that I have around women. I know now there are much better ways to deal with these fears."
-- Mark, former porn user who told his story on the Anti-Porn Resource Center. (15)

"Like most boys and men in the United States, I have used pornography. I remember what it feels like to look, to masturbate to pornography. I know that it is an intense sexual experience that can bring physical pleasure... I also remember that after the rush was over, I was left with an empty feeling. How could something that felt so good physically end up leaving me feeling so bad emotionally?... [The explanation is:] For me, sex is mostly about the desire to feel a strong connection to another person. It is not the only way I feel connected to people (often that sense of connection comes simply through talking), but sex is a powerful way to bring me close to someone I care about. What really matters to me in sex is that connection; without it, the physical pleasures seem hollow."
-- Robert Jensen. (16)

"While looking at pornography, I developed a way of looking at women. I developed, if you will, a pornographic ethic. After looking at pornography, I did not look at women as colleagues, potential friends, or allies, or with any kind of gaze based on justice or caring. I looked at women based on how I compared them to the man-made images of women I saw in the magazines or on the videos. The women I saw on the street, in classes, at meetings, etc. became simply "fuck-able" to varying degrees. I looked at them and thought about the things that I would like to do to (not with) them sexually – things that I fantasized they would enjoy, but the ultimate focus of which was my own sexual fulfillment... Being committed to justice and using pornography is inherently contradictory, because one cannot look at others as fully equal, empowered, dynamic human beings if one is also looking at them through the pornographic gaze."
-- Rus Ervin Funk. (17)

"Once one has accepted that [pornographic] understanding of sex, the quest for the best pornography to deliver that orgasm with the most intensity TAKES PRECEDENCE, and other considerations -- about the costs to the people who make pornography, the politics of the images, or the harm that may result from the industry -- drop out of sight."
-- Robert Jensen. (18) 

"The evidence makes it even clearer that this pornographic culture also is destructive for men This doesn’t mean the harms of pornography are borne equally by all; in male-dominant societies, women bear the brunt of the damage from the sexualizing of a domination/subordination dynamic, which is so central to pornography.... In my own use of pornography as a child and young man, I remember how completely I would shut down during the experience. So, to enter into the pornographic world and experience that intense sexual rush, many men have to turn off some of the emotional reactions typically connected to a sexual experience with a real person -- a sense of the other’s humanity, an awareness of being present with another person, the recognition of something outside our own bodies, as well as a deeper connection to oneself. Many of those same men report that in intimate relationships with another person, this same emotionally shut-down response to sexual stimulation kicks in. In short: Pornography helps train men not to feel during an experience that is most about feeling. Compounding the problem is the way in which pornography intensifies men’s sense of control, over self and others.... So, men turn women into objects in order to turn ourselves into objects, splitting off loving emotion from body, in search of a sexual experience in which we don’t have to feel and can stay in complete control. Coming full circle, this is not only destructive for men but dangerous for women. Because sex is always more than a physical act, men see king this split-off state often find themselves having uncontrollable emotional reactions that can get channeled easily into violence and cruelty, increasing the risk to women. Despite this, the pornography industry continues to tell us that their products represent the ultimate in sexual liberation. But the only thing being liberated is our cash, into their pockets. In the end, I believe men should reject pornography and resist the pornifying of the culture for two reasons. First is an argument from justice, a principled concern for the welfare of women. Second is an argument from self-interest. Do we want to be shut down and cut off from one of the great mysteries of life? Do we want to trade our humanity for a quick, cheap thrill that ends up costing us all more than we may realize?"
-- Robert Jensen. (19)


"I am going to tell you the way pornography affected my life. Obscene is not the word for pornography. Pornography is dangerous. I was battered by my first lover, and the pornography each of us used condoned the violence... When I was younger, I was exposed to heterosexual pornography, including Playboy, Penthouse, Oui, and other magazines. It was one of the places that I learned about sex, and it showed me that sex was violence. What I saw there was a specific relationship between men and women. The woman was to be used, objectified, humiliated, and hurt. The man was in a superior position, a position to be violent. In pornography I learned that what it meant to be sexual with a man or to be loved by a man was to accept his violence. When my lover was violent, I was taught that the violence was normal. I accepted the violence, which I did not like, and it was some time before I left the relationship... My ex-lover used pornography. One of his first contacts with other men were in gay pornography theaters. He used pornographic magazines before I met him. He started wanting to look at pornography together. I believe that the pornography influenced his behavior. As our relationship progressed, it became violent. He threatened me with a knife, forced sex on me, and battered me on different occasions. The heterosexual pornography that I had been exposed to was one thing that convinced me that this kind of treatment was normal. The battering was one of the most profoundly destructive experiences of my life. Pornography has showed me that a man's love was violent and to be close to my ex-lover I had to accept his violence... There is a lot of violence in the gay community, and pornography condones it. I was with my ex-lover after he had been raped by a casual partner, and my ex said that rape was just a risk you had to take. I was with a friend after he had been violently raped by his boyfriend, and his boyfriend did not understand that violence and force was [sic] not supposed to be a part of sex. The objectification and the violent themes in pornography promote and increase these kinds of violence... I understand pornography to be a force in creating violence in the gay community. I was battered by my ex-lover who used pornography. The pornography, straight and gay, I had been exposed to, helped convince me that I had to accept his violence, and helped keep me in a destructive relationship. Pornography is harmful..."
-- Testimony of G.C. (20)


(1) Testimony appeared in "The Minneapolis Hearings, December 12-13, 1983"; in Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin Eds, In Harm's Way: The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings; 1997.
(2) Ibid.
(3) Letter appeared in "Minneapolis Exhibits"; in Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin Eds, In Harm's Way: The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings; 1997.
(4) Gary Brooks, The Centerfold Syndrome; 1995.
(5) Harry Brod, "Eros Thanatized: Pornography and Male Sexuality," in Michael S. Kimmel Ed., Men Confront Pornography; 1990.
(6) Martin Dufresne, "Getting Off on Sexploitation" (1989) in Diana Russell Ed., Making Violence Sexy; 1993.
(7) Jackson Katz, The Macho Paradox; 2006.
(8) Seymour Feshback and Neil Malamuth, "Sex and Aggression: Proving the Link", Psychology Today; 1978.
(9) David Mura, "A Male Grief: Notes on Pornography and Addiction" (1987), in Michael S. Kimmel Ed., Men Confront Pornography; 1990.
(10) Victor Cline, "Pornography Effects," in Jennings Bryant, Aletha C. Huston, Dolf Zillmann Eds, Media, Children, and the Family; 1994.
(11) John Stoltenberg, "Pornography and Freedom", in Michael S. Kimmel Ed., Men Confront Pornography; 1990.
(12) James Check, "Teenage Training: The Effects of Pornography on Adolescent Males", in Laura Lederer Ed., The Price We Pay; 1995.
(13) James B. Weaver, "Pornography and Sexual Callousness: The Perceptual and Behavioral Consequences of Exposure to Pornography," in Jennings Bryant, Aletha C. Huston, Dolf Zillmann Eds, Media, Children, and the Family; 1994.
(14) Chris O'Sullivan, "Fraternities and the Rape Culture," in Emilie Buchwald, Pamela R. Fletcher, and Martha Roth Eds, Transforming A Rape Culture; 1993.
(15) Mark, Source:
(16) Robert Jensen, Article Sex, sexual violence, and the sex industry: Some thoughts for boys and men; 2005.
(17) Rus Ervin Funk, "What does pornography say about me(n)? How I became an anti-pornography activist.", in Not for Sale; 2004.
(18) Robert Jensen, Getting Off; 2007. 
(19) Robert Jensen, Article Abusive images belittle women, men and sex, Irish Examiner (Dublin), June 7, 2007, p. 10. Source: http://
(20) Testimony appeared in "The Minneapolis Hearings, December 12-13, 1983"; in Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin Eds, In Harm's Way: The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings; 1997.