bald man with woman in bed

You say in your recent AARP article there is no harm in a man looking at porn to get aroused. What about the emotional harm it does to his wife? What about the low self esteem it cause his wife to know her husband can only get aroused by looking at younger women and not her? Why would any woman want to have sex with her husband when she isn’t the one who is turning him on and she isn’t the one he is thinking of while he is having sex. No harm in porn – I THINK NOT!


  • Michael Castleman says:

    I’m very sorry that you’re suffering pain over your husband’s use of pornography. You are by no means alone. Many women feel exactly as you do. I’ve heard many women say what you’ve said—often in almost exactly the same words.

    And you’re right. In my recent article for on the difficulties older men have becoming erotically aroused, I said it was fine with me if they used porn to become excited. I also said that many women disagree with me and feel deeply offended by porn. Evidently, you’re among them.

    Given the depth of anguish your question expresses, I seriously doubt that my words can change how you feel. But I hope you’ll allow me to explain, from a man’s point of view, why so many men view so much porn. It has nothing to do with no longer feeling turned on by their wives or girlfriends. I’ve talked to many many men who view porn regularly, and they still feel erotically excited by the women they’re involved with and enjoy making love with them. It has nothing to do with preferring “those women” to their wives or girlfriends or wanting to leave their partners. The vast majority of men who view porn love their wives or girlfriends and wouldn’t leave them for a porn starlet even if they could. So from a man’s point of view, your fears are unfounded. He still loves you and wants you. So why does he view porn? For fantasies that make self-soothing during masturbation more enjoyable.

    Let me ask you a question: After a long day, how do you unwind? What do you do to self-soothe? Some women take long hot baths. Others go shopping. Some read. Others watch TV—and not necessarily because they’re truly interested in the programs, but because it’s a mindless yet pleasant way to unwind.

    Many men also self-soothe by reading or watching TV. But many self-soothe by masturbating while viewing porn. I realize that you hate this and find it incomprehensible, but it’s true. Surveys of Internet use consistently show that porn sites are among men’s top destinations—and not just your husband. Hundreds of millions of men regularly visit the billions, yes billions, of porn sites.

    Men use porn as a masturbation aid. To masturbate, one needs friction and fantasy. But over time, one’s own fantasies get stale and lose their power to arouse, so men turn to porn. It has nothing to do with feeling critical of their lovers or sexually divorced from them. It’s all about THEM, and their need to masturbate.

    When you watch TV and see hunky guys making love with beautiful women, should your husband feel threatened and repulsed? Of course not. TV isn’t part of your real life. It’s a fantasy. Men feel the same way about porn. It’s a fantasy. That’s all it is—and they know it.

    Which brings me to a crucial question: Do you think your husband has a right to masturbate? Many women do not. They believe that once a man is coupled, his girlfriend of wife should meet all of his erotic needs. From a man’s point of view, this is naïve. Your husband was masturbating long before he ever met you. Why give up apple pie once you’ve tasted cherry? Women CANNOT meet men’s real, deep need to self-soothe with one hand because, by definition, masturbation is a solo activity. Many women’s objections to porn are really veiled objections to the men in their lives masturbating. So do you think he has a right to masturbate? Believe me, he does.

    While I support men’s right to masturbate—and use porn to make it more fun—I am also critical of porn. It depicts a fantasy world of sexual abundance without responsibility, a world where women exist solely to sexually service men. In fantasy, that’s fine. But many men try to imitate the sex in porn, and that’s a big mistake because it makes them lousy lovers and greatly increases their risk of sex problems, notably premature ejaculation and erection impairment. You might want to read my article The Real Problem with Porn: It’s Bad for Sex.

    Some women in your situation confront their husbands and demand that they stop viewing porn. The men typically become contrite and swear they will refrain—but they don’t. They just go underground the way American drank alcohol during prohibition. The need for self-soothing runs deep, and many men do it by masturbating to porn.

    Like I said, I doubt that my words will change how you feel. But believe me, unless his porn use makes him miss work or totally ignore you, it’s not a red flag about him or you or your relationship. It’s just the way he self-soothes. Nothing more. So I stand by what I wrote in that piece. If men feel a need to view porn to become aroused for partner sex, it may not be fine with their partners, but it’s fine with me.

  • SSM says:

    As a man, surely it is fine with you. Now consider whether or not you discovered that all your wife’s fantasies involved drooling over ten inch penises, perfectly tanned skin, and a willingness to do her bidding. I think maybe you might start looking at yourself as less than well endowed, older and wrinkly than perhaps you really are, and even less than desirable.
    A previous statement of yours regarding whether a man wants to watch a bimbo dance around naked was a stark bit of reality that your thoughts on such are strictly from that penis based response, and rather demeaning to the women you watch. Never mind how horribly low that speaks to your spouse.
    In an age where women have to fight for reality regarding the presentation of women as a whole and as sexual beings, well – frankly the photo shoot is over – botox, silicone, and twenty year olds are all men want. Really? Power? Do men really think they can convince a woman how much they love them while looking at others in a highly intimate ways?
    Think about it – yet how quickly it is dismissed that the woman has low self esteem and should not feel threatened. How is a woman supposed to feel desirable when what he fantasizes about are so far beyond reality? “If that’s what he wants, he doesn’t want me” – it’s a very common reaction. I for one do not want to be the thing he exercises his fantasies on and feeling desirable is a huge amount of what makes women tick.
    Get a grip. Masturbation is a fine thing, all around, his fantasies are fine. He wants to look at bikini clad hotties on the beach, fine – but the majority of women are going to feel less desirable and less secure in such knowledge that other women are satisfying a need that they can’t.
    Consider if you make a good living, nobody is exactly starving, but wow that neighbor guy drives a fabulous car – – while you have a wife in a beater wagon – so then maybe she likes the car, maybe it’s the guy. If she makes enough comments, makes focused stares, and makes it known that the beater is a low line and the fancy car is all there is. Eventually you are going to start thinking less than good things about your ability to provide – or satisfy.

    Think about it – she doesn’t have the right to tell him not to look? Interesting – just keep your mouth shut – the minute the guy starts talking like porn and acting like porn, he defends his right to it and his right to whatever. At the point he considers it his right to view, request, and deny – so shall she have the right to deny, query, and cry.
    He made a vow to honor and the honor is in respecting those vows, there is no honor in making your woman feel less than cherished and respected.

  • Michael Castleman says:

    Pornography is about men’s fantasies. I believe in freedom of fantasy for both men and women. If my wife has fantasies of sex with men other than me, men more generously endowed than I am, that’s fine with me because I believe in freedom of fantasy.

  • SSM says:

    Fantasy – product of one’s imagination.

    Nobody is questioning the right to have fantasies – that’s imaginary – but photos and videos are not imaginary. Every show from Dr. Oz to Oprah has proffered the issue of Porn and Sex – – nobody agrees on anything other than it’s an individual choice. Dr Berman suggested it as a way for women to learn to accept their bodies – ‘huh?”
    What sort of dark place justifies women killing themselves to be beautiful? Silicone breasts, botox, and so goes the litany.
    What sort of fantasy includes making your woman aware that you would like to have sex with other partners? What sort of mind thinks that a woman is off her mark to be offended by such?
    Fantasy means mental imagery – but apparently it boils down to a man’s lack of imagination and the need to have an excuse for self soothing – nobody questions the self satisfaction issue – but videos are not self satisfying. They command a mental imagery of repetition, regarding the viewing media – and the man’s ability to project himself into that imagery.

    Porn – Not exactly against it, but absolutely against it as a tool to damage relationships and cause harm to women who are already taking it in the keister for the societal pressures of beauty. To each their own – sure, but two people together means that more than one is involved and neither has the right to dictate or dismiss the others emotional responses. Marriage is a relationship that should be built on trust, communication, and compassion – when one partner dismisses the emotions of the other, no excuse.
    Obviously, here is a case of men say sure and wives say no – not always the case, sometimes it’s reversed – so drop the entire “his right’ b.s. and get down to the nitty gritty. He wants to play with himself, he needs an excuse and that pretty little bimbo can get him going – wow. Meanwhile the wife knows darn good and well that she does not look like that, act like that, and if that’s what he wants then most women assume that he does not want them.
    It’s a sour case of ‘he said, she said’. Blanketing such a question as was presented by the OP, with ‘it’s ok with me’ was frankly less than the poster deserved. The comparisons are weak. If the man is looking for a ‘mindless way to unwind’ then perhaps he ought to get his mind out from between some other woman’s legs and take up a sport, a really weird one like seducing your wife.

  • carecare7 says:


    My husband and I have only recently purchased porn (at my request). Yet after watching it a couple of times, neither of us is much interested in it. He has been able to masturbate without it for 24 years before we purchased it and still does without viewing it. I manage to masturbate without it as well. Your argument is false; men don’t “need” porn to masturbate. Saying that is like saying women “need” vibrators to masturbate; they don’t. Many men don’t even like porn (my husband doesn’t much like how it shows non-feeling based sex). I think using porn to self soothe is a crutch. If you need something outside your own self to soothe yourself, that can lead to an addictive personality.

    There’s also the truth that once people rely on outside stimulus for pleasure, their brains soon get used to only having pleasure if the outside stimulus is present. For example, many women who start out using vibrators to masturbate have difficulty having orgasms with vaginal sex. The same goes for porn; many men who use porn to masturbate have difficulty having vaginal sex with real women because that will feel less stimulating than the many positions and kinky things they saw in porn.

    The truth is, our imaginations will continue to provide stimulus unless we supplement these wiht outside sources. Imagination is like any brain section; use it or it atrophies. Your argument isn’t supported by the neurological research or sex research.

  • Michael Castleman says:

    You’re right that many men don’t need porn to provide masturbation fantasies. But many men—millions—enjoy using porn that way. I’m not advocating that. I’m just reporting on surveys that have asked porn users why they view it. Men who consume porn by themseles generally call it a masturbation aid. Couples who view it together generally say it’s a little appetizer to get them aroused before sex.

  • Kitty says:

    Could you comment, then, on the increasing body of evidence I keep reading about that says that the more a man (or indeed a woman) uses porn, the more likely they are to suffer from erectile/sexual dysfunction, and to have problems orgasming with their real-life partner, because they inadvertently train themselves to respond to a different kind of stimulation to the one they get in real life. Or that porn addiction leads to a decrease in real-life sex frequency.

    What about the suggestion that the current, younger-generation of people who have grown up with constant exposure to porn have developed completely unrealistic expectations of what real-life sex (and real-life bodies) are and should be. That young men today are less interested in their partner’s enjoyment that the generations before them, because most porn portrays sex as only for men’s pleasure? And the fact that young women are also expressing the belief that sex is for the man, not for the woman, but they are still expected to mimic every conceivable sexual act to be an acceptable partner?

    How about the fact that porn is rarely ‘pleasant, loving’ sex? On-line porn, at least, is almost exclusively hardcore, angry, extreme stuff – and if people become conditioned to be turned on by violent sex, anal sex, SM, multiple penetration, fetish, rape, abuse etc, it’s going to have a damaging effect on them as a person, on their attitudes to the opposite sex, and on their real-life sex life? You have to look really hard to find any ‘pleasant’ (if I can call it that) porn these days. If my partner is being turned on by that kind of material, they’re not a positive person to have in my life (quite apart from the morality of being a consumer of material which is, at its level of production, often abusive of very vulnerable people – which says a lot about the person prepared to use or pay for it), and quite frankly I’d be better off without them.

    I recognise that most of this evidence is anecdotal, but it seems to be replicated again and again – and common sense and experience backs it up.

    You see, the problem isn’t about nudity or explicit material (I can get turned on by some of it myself). It’s not about masturbation (I think it’s fine and healthy for my partner to masturbate, especially when we’re apart). It’s not even really about your partner being turned on by another woman (we all fancy other people from time to time). It’s about the damage it does to someone’s sexual identity, and to their real-life sex life – now that really IS something to be concerned about.

    Men need to be told that using porn will damage their own sexual performance, and their real-life sexual pleasure and relationships – before a whole generation of men AND women are cheated out of their sex lives and their relationships.

  • Michael Castleman says:

    You’re right. Porn is bad for sex. Men who try to imitate it are at high risk for sex problems and for women who think they’re lousy lovers. Read my article, The Real Problem with Porn: It’s Bad for Sex.

    But plenty of people consume porn and have no sex problems. The issue is being able to distinguish fantasy from reality. People who consider porn real sex and try to imitate it often develop problems. But those who recognize that it’s just fantasy and not to be imitated generally do not.

  • username says:

    Wow, I sense a lot of hostility here, especially from the females.

    I sure wish the Q&A software datestamped the entries so I had a sense of whether the foregoing responses were a few days or a few years old for certain, i.e. am I jostling a hornets nest that has settled down for a while or not so much. Oh well, here goes.

    Maybe someone could explain (preferably without a lot of anger and hostility) how the females have concluded that when I, for example, look at amateur porn featuring mature people, I am expressing to you that I would like to have sex with the woman or women in the video.

    I don’t think that’s true of me at all. I think all I am expressing is that I would like to have sex, preferably with you, my wife or partner.

    But in general in the past, you have put a variety of strictures on our sex life in terms of quantity or variety which I’m sure is great for you.

    (I’m speaking to my ex-wife now, in absentia) You don’t like to have sex in the morning because you have a lot of other activities that are of higher priority to you; you don’t like to have sex at night because you’re just too tired at night; you don’t like to have sex anytime or anywhere someone might hear us because, well, someone might hear us. You don’t like to have sex when there’s too much light because you perceive I will perceive and be disgusted by your imperfections. You don’t like to have sex in the middle of the night because you don’t want to lose any sleep. You don’t want to have sex in the middle of the day because it’s messy and takes time away from things you really want to do like ironing, walking the dog, mowing the lawn, vacuuming, etc. You don’t want to have sex anywhere but our bed where you can right away change the sheets so nobody will know we had sex; you don’t like performing oral sex on me because according to you, I stink even straight out of the shower; you don’t like me performing oral sex on you because you think you stink even straight out of the shower and if you allow me to perform oral sex on you, you think I’m going to expect you to reciprocate; you don’t want to have anything but man-on-top, get-it-over-with-quick sex because anything else is superfluous and I should be satisfied with what I get; I know better than to suggest sex any time except maybe once every couple of weeks on a Saturday morning and I know better than to prolong it more than 5 or 10 minutes because I’m not going to get more frequency or variety anyway.

    So, you’ve nailed things down to exactly the minimum you think we need. I on the other hand am not satisfied with what you consider sufficient. But you think the problem is that I like to look at normal, average people having real, loving, healthy sex.

  • username says:

    Apparently this discussion is old and dead.

    But I had one other point to make via an aphorism by the 70s porn star Ron Jeremy “You can’t blame porn, when I was younger I jacked off to Gilligan’s Island.”

    And when I was young, I would watch “the Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Bob Newhart” then go take a shower and I jacked off to the mental images of Mary Richards and Emily Hartley. I didn’t even know what porn was then, much less make use of it.

  • SSM says:

    Dear username – who is angry?
    Not a dead topic – in fact all responses are less than a few weeks old (10-2012)

    The point some of us are trying to make is that it is absolutely not necessary to view another persons genitals to fantasize – we do not need to view others having sex to engage our minds.
    Perhaps all this anger boils down to a simple case of ‘he said – she said’, but thanks for clarifying that pornography is absolutely not the only way to get your rocks off.

    How you handle it – how women respond, this is all a very private conversation between two people (any time another person is introduced into a couplehood, there will be fur flying – even if the intruder is in fact one dimensional, or two)

    Most men would be appalled to find a large dildo in their wife’s drawer, most men would be horrified to learn that women have sex drives as well – not merely as responders. Most women will be horrified at the idea that their spouse is in fact mentally wallowing between someone else s legs and it makes most women want to clamp theirs shut.

    The comparatives – the what goes on in front of a camera, what has been made up and alteres, and absolutely as stated previously = the horrible ways that porn distances itself from caring or considerate touch. Most women were raised on the Fairy Tale principal – most men were raised on the She’s Mine principal and somehow they need to get it together. That is a game only two can play.

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