What does sexual morality mean to you?

{hot~tea}

New Here
Lately I've been contemplating sexual morality and what that means to me. I was raised in a pretty hardcore Baptist Church so any kind of "lust" outside of marriage was considered a big sin, which caused me to feel immense guilt over my body's need to masturbate. Years later, I grew out of Christianity and started exploring my sexuality in a new relationship with a man with much more sexual experience than me (which I was and am 100% okay with). Since then, I've done a lot of healing and growth and still have a pretty strong libido.

However, I have a really rough time with my partner watching porn. I could write on and on about the problems with the porn industry and all of the negative impacts it has on relationships, society, and especially young boys growing up with 24/7 access to porn on the internet. My partner and I have come to terms with "agree to disagree" on the subject, but I find myself falling into despair and depression whenever I suspect that he's been watching porn.

I am working really hard to heal, and the other night I realized that I really don't like the secrecy/ambiguity of when my partner watches porn. I thought about it and realized that it may be connected to my father's ambiguous sexual energy towards me when I was a child. There was a lot of intruding, spying on, disrupting boundaries, etc, but there was never any cold hard evidence of sexual intent. I think that's what him hiding/not communicating the activity takes me back to emotionally. But my partner says that he doesn't feel comfortable communicating that private part of his life to me.

What are your views on pornography? How have you cultivated a strong, healthy, and positive view on sexuality? How has this impacted your relationship with pornography/modern day sexuality? I'd love to hear everyone's experiences.
 

Wendell_R

MyPTSD Pro
I grew up in an environment that had lots of sex, but no affection, and asking for any closeness was dangerous. Starting when I was around 11, I discovered porn and got hooked. For me, it's an addiction. Independent of its morality, I can't indulge in it without it taking over my life and work hard to be sober. The big problem for me is that the internet feeds a numbing click-click-click of endless consumption that is really, really effective at giving me a dissociative numbness that makes all my PTSD symptoms fade away, at the cost of taking over my life and freezing my emotions and senses. I've heard it phrased as, "This is not your grandfather's stack of Playboys that we are talking about."

Apart from that, here are some of our thoughts ...

Ultimately, porn is kind of deadening if it gets to that click-click-click chain of consumption. I learned this largely from my female parts. Their fantasies and sense of their body are way more intense and pleasurable than my response to porn. It's as if pornography hits only my visual sensors and my genitals. Sexuality still seems somewhat forbidden to my male alters, and that's what we're working on. We've made progress in understanding how real touch is different than porn. We've made progress in building affection into our relationship with Mrs. W. We've made progress in talking about sexuality. This goes kind of slowly, though.

There's no clear line between what is and is not porn. My therapist is fine with my reading romance novels. Modern romance novels often have explicit sex scenes. Some differences between that and most internet porn is that the sex is in the context of a broader relationship; there's a lot of emphasis on flirting, touching, and other gently sexual connections; and you don't need to worry about people getting exploited (although you do need to worry about getting unreasonable expectations of relationships!). Another example of a gray area is a site like Pinterest where you can find a lot of softcore erotica, and because of the way social media is engineered, there can be an endless stream of pictures designed to get you hooked on staying on. My therapist says that many of her clients who have a relapse take the first downward step watching YouTube.

There are questions about what content people are comfortable with. One thing that helps me to figure out a reasonable line of what I'm comfortable with is to imagine that I was in those videos/pictures/stories. If I would be comfortable admitting that I did that, then it doesn't seem hypocritical to be interested in it.

I think it's a little unfair to focus on the bad things in the porn industry and cast that as a universal generalization, but to not think about that is also problematic. It is clear that the sex industry can be traumatic for many. But there are a lot of industries that can be tough on people: e.g., doctors who work really long hours and neglect family, or musicians that get addicted to drugs, or models and eating disorders. We don't say to avoid listening to musical genres because there is a high addiction rate. And on the flip side, you can imagine a loving couple who mutually enjoy posting pics/videos of themselves, and nobody is getting taken advantage of. I don't know how you sift out the traumatic from the non-traumatic! This whole issue is difficult.

If I listen to my female alters right now, they would say about relationships and porn:
  • Is the porn manageable, or is it taking over the consumer's life?
  • Is the porn being used to manage a mismatch in sexual desire, or to give room for fantasies, or to relax in a reasonable way? That may all be good.
  • Is the porn taking energy or joy out of a relationship?
  • Porn can help us expand our sexuality and senses or it can give us narrow and unreasonable expectations of real relationships. Are either of these happening?
  • Secrecy is tricky: on one hand, we all like to have fantasies that we don't share. But we'd like to have a core level of trust and know the general scope of what our partner is interested in. That's hard to balance.
 

Weemie

MyPTSD Pro
What are your views on pornography? How have you cultivated a strong, healthy, and positive view on sexuality? How has this impacted your relationship with pornography/modern day sexuality? I'd love to hear everyone's experiences.

Breaking the mold by quite a lot, I am not a huge fan of most mainstream pornography. Pornography in and of itself (the act of viewing people having sex) is not immoral to me, but I was part of the sex industry for years & years and I had an extremely bad porn addiction when I was a child/teenager that involved me watching videos that, while they claimed to be consensual, almost assuredly weren't.

The dynamic between a porn actress/actor and producers/filmers is almost always unbalanced and especially in "hardcore, amateur" shit the amount of non-consensual sex that u are watching is absurdly high. I used to believe that when they'd show those "before" interviews where the person talked about how great it was -> they actually film those prior to the sex act. So it's all a lie.

Porn also is very damaging to our society, in my opinion. It encourages unrealistic standards for men and women and it desensitizes us to violence against others, both men and women (I watched all types, and gay porn is just as shitty and violent and unbalanced as straight porn). It also encourages a lot of shit like racism ("BBC") and incest ("stepmom/dad/etc").

That being said, I think porn is such a ubiquitous part of our society and so many people simply don't critically examine it, that judging others for watching porn is not productive. I think it's more appropriate to educate people on what they are looking at and to teach them how to identify healthy versus unhealthy porn. (Because again, just watching people f*ck isn't immoral, it's all the shit on top of it.)

As for sexuality, I'm a lot more critical of sex than I used to be. It used to be that the "free, fun-loving, liberal" perspective was to have an "anything-goes except rape" policy when it comes to sex and expression without actually comprehending how much of kink spaces can be pervaded by unhealthy and abusive dynamics, for all participants, of all genders.

There are appropriate levels of kink and expression (I was active in kink spaces in my community and I did my best to make it a fun, healthy, exploratory space for all, and my boundaries were firm) but there are also a lot of shitty "Doms" out there who take advantage of traumatized individuals and teach them that they have no power and no ability to say "no" to any of their demands.

I am also critical of the sex industry as a whole as it is built on fantasy and often times, on deliberate lies. Some people genuinely enjoy sex work, but to claim that every single person involved in sex work is doing it consensually is a fantasy. And our role, as fellow human beings, should always be to reduce the amount of violence and trafficking and suffering in our communities no matter where it comes from. That way, if someone does want to do sex work, they will be free to do so without the very high probability of being assaulted or exposed to creeps and bullshit.

&& that being said, I wouldn't have a problem with my partner viewing pornography as long as they made the effort to engage with the material in a healthy and appropriate manner. It would literally depend on what they watched, how often, and what their views were on sex and porn and body image and all that shit in conjunction. It's a nuanced circumstance, I think, && it deserves nuance. A lot of people simply aren't aware of how much goes on "behind the camera."

&& it is more fair to focus on teaching people than on judging them. These days a lot like @Wendell_R said, I mostly read ER and write it. Sometimes I'll go on Reddit on places like normal nudes or whatever, as that seems to be a low-level probability that there is exploitation happening. It's also a more realistic and it feels more "human" to me, that people of all body-types, sizes && genders are free to post. It's also not explicitly "sexual" and intending to arouse in unrealistic ways, people are just being themselves.

However we can sift out "ethical" pornography versus unethical pornography, I think that is something we should be focused on as a whole. Just plain degrading the entire concept is not feasible and it alienates a significant portion of our population that could otherwise be taught emotional & behavioral skills that enrich their lives instead of damaging their circuitry and deadening themselves and desensitizing themselves to violence.
 

EveHarrington

MyPTSD Pro
I will not be with a man who watches porn. Full stop.

If this means I’m alone for the rest of my life then so be it. I don’t agree with it for the reasons you have already listed.

Porn changes the brain and can wreck havoc on a relationship. It’s not something I’m willing to deal with. I have read the many stories of women who have porn addicted partners and it’s not a struggle I’d wish on anyone. I have known people who have had various addictions and this is just another one. Guys do no fap November or whatever it’s called, but the problem was never masturbation, it’s always been porn. (It doesn’t help if the issue isn’t named.)

I could go on and on for days. If you feel this strongly, then this guy may not be for you. I honestly think you deserve better.
 

{hot~tea}

New Here
I grew up in an environment that had lots of sex, but no affection, and asking for any closeness was dangerous. Starting when I was around 11, I discovered porn and got hooked. For me, it's an addiction. Independent of its morality, I can't indulge in it without it taking over my life and work hard to be sober. The big problem for me is that the internet feeds a numbing click-click-click of endless consumption that is really, really effective at giving me a dissociative numbness that makes all my PTSD symptoms fade away, at the cost of taking over my life and freezing my emotions and senses. I've heard it phrased as, "This is not your grandfather's stack of Playboys that we are talking about."

Apart from that, here are some of our thoughts ...

Ultimately, porn is kind of deadening if it gets to that click-click-click chain of consumption. I learned this largely from my female parts. Their fantasies and sense of their body are way more intense and pleasurable than my response to porn. It's as if pornography hits only my visual sensors and my genitals. Sexuality still seems somewhat forbidden to my male alters, and that's what we're working on. We've made progress in understanding how real touch is different than porn. We've made progress in building affection into our relationship with Mrs. W. We've made progress in talking about sexuality. This goes kind of slowly, though.

There's no clear line between what is and is not porn. My therapist is fine with my reading romance novels. Modern romance novels often have explicit sex scenes. Some differences between that and most internet porn is that the sex is in the context of a broader relationship; there's a lot of emphasis on flirting, touching, and other gently sexual connections; and you don't need to worry about people getting exploited (although you do need to worry about getting unreasonable expectations of relationships!). Another example of a gray area is a site like Pinterest where you can find a lot of softcore erotica, and because of the way social media is engineered, there can be an endless stream of pictures designed to get you hooked on staying on. My therapist says that many of her clients who have a relapse take the first downward step watching YouTube.

There are questions about what content people are comfortable with. One thing that helps me to figure out a reasonable line of what I'm comfortable with is to imagine that I was in those videos/pictures/stories. If I would be comfortable admitting that I did that, then it doesn't seem hypocritical to be interested in it.

I think it's a little unfair to focus on the bad things in the porn industry and cast that as a universal generalization, but to not think about that is also problematic. It is clear that the sex industry can be traumatic for many. But there are a lot of industries that can be tough on people: e.g., doctors who work really long hours and neglect family, or musicians that get addicted to drugs, or models and eating disorders. We don't say to avoid listening to musical genres because there is a high addiction rate. And on the flip side, you can imagine a loving couple who mutually enjoy posting pics/videos of themselves, and nobody is getting taken advantage of. I don't know how you sift out the traumatic from the non-traumatic! This whole issue is difficult.

If I listen to my female alters right now, they would say about relationships and porn:
  • Is the porn manageable, or is it taking over the consumer's life?
  • Is the porn being used to manage a mismatch in sexual desire, or to give room for fantasies, or to relax in a reasonable way? That may all be good.
  • Is the porn taking energy or joy out of a relationship?
  • Porn can help us expand our sexuality and senses or it can give us narrow and unreasonable expectations of real relationships. Are either of these happening?
  • Secrecy is tricky: on one hand, we all like to have fantasies that we don't share. But we'd like to have a core level of trust and know the general scope of what our partner is interested in. That's hard to balance.
My partner is not very confident being vulnerable so he doesn't share with me what his sexual fantasies and turn ons are. I just want to be involved. I've tried numerous times to encourage communication on that end but it feels one sided. I feel like porn offers an easy out to that. Also we're not having sex as often as I would like so I end up feeling left in the dust.

I really would love to cater to his fantasies and do some dressing up/roll playing but he says that sometimes he would rather masturbate to another woman than have sex with me.

On another note, I don't like how porn influences the way that men objectify women. For instance, last night we were watching a documentary on volcanos and my partner exclaimed "she's a squirter!" Which to me, is so creepy and degrading. It might be an intense reaction but it feels dehumanizing to me.
 

Friday

Moderator
What are your views on pornography?

Not my jam, but I don’t have a problem with it, either. No more than I have a problem with any other industry, or artform.

How have you cultivated a strong, healthy, and positive view on sexuality?
How has this impacted your relationship with pornography/modern day sexuality?

Can’t claim any credit here, for cultivation of anything; the same way I can’t claim any credit for having strong, healthy, and positive views on women driving cars. As it’s simply what I grew up with & came of age in.

(I lived in the KSA for a time when it was illegal for women to drive, amongst other things, and travelled around other countries with similar / worse restrictions. It was very peculiar, as it was during a time when there was a lot of societal pressure in the KSA & other places for women's rignts. It was like I was reading articles written in the 1800s & 1960s in the West; about the horrible afflictions women having equal -or at least more- rights would have on society).

I make this link largely because they’re near identical to the arguments made against both things like sex work (including porn), & reproductive healthcare, & sexual identity, etc… modernly.

When something is just normal? It’s very easy to be / to have strong, healthy, and positive views on it.

It’s not like I’m blind to the fact that women cause fatal road accidents (as do every other group of drivers), or spend less time with their families & friends/allies isolating them from sources of strength, friendship, & companionship (as they’re most often going to be driving solo), nor the financial costs upon a family of purchasing/fueling/repairing extra cars, ditto the costs upon the environment as roughly double the number of vehicles are sold & on the road, etc., etc., etc. <<< Those are all simply facts of life in countries where both sexes drive, and they are met in many & varied ways. >>> Nor am I in some idealized fantasy about how women driving would do ABC-XYZ. Because women driving is a very normal thing, where I grew up & live. There are positives, and negatives, the same way there are for anyone driving.

The question of “morality”, when both sexes are legal drivers, only enters into frame when HOW one is choosing to drive (or HOW one is manufacturing & selling vehicles) is added in. (Is one stealing cars? Driving drunk? Leaving children locked in the heat? Using the car in the commission of a crime? Electing to pay for the vehicle whilst neglecting one’s other responsibilities? Et Cetera.)

Just like I’m not blind to the realities of sex work. And the only way “morality” enters into the frame is, again, in the HOW of it.

Everything beyond the “how”? Is simply a matter of personal preference.


***

ETA… Okay, that “everything” beyond the how just came back to bite me. 😉 Mostly because the (below) was already in my head, but on reading my own post, realized I hadn’t actually written it down.

Clearly, whilst some people choose not own own a car, drive, or associate with anyone who does? (Which is their perogative). There will be people with trauma surrounding vehicles, or driving, that kicks whatever their personal preferences to the curb.

Just like there will be people with trauma surrounding sex or sex-work that are dealing with issues that kick their personal preference to the curb.
 
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Wendell_R

MyPTSD Pro
I just want to be involved. I've tried numerous times to encourage communication on that end but it feels one sided. I feel like porn offers an easy out to that. Also we're not having sex as often as I would like so I end up feeling left in the dust.
That sure sounds like porn is hurting your relationship, in a very clear way.
 

EveHarrington

MyPTSD Pro
he says that sometimes he would rather masturbate to another woman than have sex with me.

It sounds like porn has become a big problem in your relationship. Porn has wedged itself between you and your partner such that he wants to see images of women he doesn’t know instead of being with you, his flesh and blood partner. If you haven’t read the stories of women with porn addicted partners, I suggest doing so. This will be a lifelong struggle, even if he does say he wants to stop using porn. If he never wants to stop, just expect things to escalate to him never wanting sex with you, having ED problems, etc.
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
There are three things at play here:

- You feel rejected. Where you should be the goddess - the one to bring pleasure, there is a substitute taking your place.

- He - may enjoy the non-emotionally tangled freedom of fantasy. Because when you are there, in bed - everything in your history together is there too, insecurity, fear, the fact you made him a PB&J sandwich for lunch and he doesn't like PB&J, everything.

- The "chemical" reasons. Men fall asleep after sex because ----there is a huge release of cortisol after sex. Cortisol is the "healing hormone" among other things. In adolescents with trauma, masturbation can become a self soothing activity. Think about it this way -do you have to deal with others? no - reduced stress, pleasurable? yes,
soothing when complete? yes. Turned in a different direction it's promiscuity and other behaviours people with trauma tend to have problems with. But it's that calm, the happiness the feeling good for a few minutes afterward that they chase, like a drug addict looking for their next escape from reality.

So really, it's a problem when it becomes more than an occasional distraction.

If it's daily, constant, or obsessive, it's more than a problem with just porn, there may be lots more there.
 

Roland

Confident
An interesting topic that I feel like I'm constantly digging into.

First off, I too was raised religious, with no sex before marriage and porn is bad alalalala.

I grew up to mature my beliefs into "The only true sex crime is nonconsent/rape". Like seriously, religious views aside, that's the only thing that hurts another.

That said, the large majority of the porn industry is rape. Porn itself in my opinion is not immoral. If people choose to make explicit videos and post them, they are consenting to them being watched, and there's nothing wrong with watching it. However, a lot of porn isn't like that, the people in the videos maybe consented or didn't, maybe were trafficked, or maybe are being groomed, manipulated, and threatened.

So I think choosing more ethical porn is much better, but I honestly don't mind if my partner is watching porn as long as I am getting the attention and affection that I want. If porn is used when the other partner doesn't want to have sex, or isn't there, like what does that have to do with me?

My boyfriend was also raised with religious views on sex, likely in some ways stricter than how I was raised. He still subscribes to them, but he's had a porn addiction since he was eleven years old and he struggles with the conflict that he's 'sinning'.

So that's interesting for us to navigate because I'm much more liberal about it, but I support his beliefs and boundaries out of respect. He's baffled that I don't care that he watches porn. In fact, he even was like "Why would I try to stop watching it, if you don't care" and I had to separate all my complicated views on sexuality and society and be like I support you in whatever you do and I'll try to help you the best I can, and I see that as a good thing, breaking from an addiction to porn is really a lot different than discussing the morality or my own beliefs on it.

My partner is not very confident being vulnerable so he doesn't share with me what his sexual fantasies and turn ons are. I just want to be involved. I've tried numerous times to encourage communication on that end but it feels one sided. I feel like porn offers an easy out to that. Also we're not having sex as often as I would like so I end up feeling left in the dust.

I would try to acknowledge how you say it takes you back emotionally, and separate that, so you can try to be more present when discussing. It's likely he doesn't want to talk about what he likes in part because you won't accept or like it, and you don't like porn the 'agree to disagree' option is still avoiding opening up. It's likely he'll also feel more comfortable if you share what you like or are interested in and make him feel safe to share what he likes.

Also, have you talked to him about wanting to have sex more?
 
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