Sex Education via Pornhub

March 13, 2020

Being successful at sex means developing confidence that you understand your role in it. Adolescents are naturally curious about sex; they will find their way to Pornhub, but they won’t find information about family values or sex in a loving and committed relationship.

They will see sex videos filmed almost exclusively from the male point of view; what they will be exposed to on Pornhub is that men are insatiable, ever ready, and never refuse an opportunity. They will encounter the idea that sex is about power over women who are infinitely disposable and replaceable. They will see bodies that rarely look like their friends’ or family members’, much less their own. They will likely examine these videos uncritically, suspend disbelief, and accept that what they view is real.

What they won’t see are the essential developmental steps for healthy relationships: falling in love, physical intimacy connected to emotional intimacy, vulnerability, and healing a broken heart. They will see legal sex but not ethical, moral, or reciprocal sex.

Behind the anonymity of their keyboards, adults as well as adolescents will explore, with only limited fears of consequences, fantasies they want but don’t want to want. I regularly hear from men in areas like the Middle East, where sexual expression is religiously and culturally suppressed. In broken English, these inquiries often begin with “How are you, handsome? What are you into?”

Although these men address sex first, as if it were necessary to capture my interest, most of these men are hungry for a connection—not just a sexual connection but an emotional one, too, in which they can discuss their hidden desires with someone who is nonjudgmental and accepting. Many fear that exposing their desires could cost them their lives. But these searches for fantasied intimacy also often come from regions in the United States, where the majority of people believe they have a lock on family values.

Many of these men have learned the tribal “natural laws” of masculinity: conquest over connection, sex as status, and the disposability of partners. They have anxieties about sexual performance that lead to avoiding sex outside of the virtual world. (Shouldn’t we be thinking about sexual pleasure rather than considering it a performance?)

They want to know how to make their penises bigger, how to make sex last longer, and whether to use steroids to make their bodies look like porn actors’. Fat shaming is real for both men and women, and most judge their own bodies more harshly than they are judged by others. These fears of failure become self-fulfilling prophecies. I have yet to receive a question that probes into how to make sex more satisfying for a partner.

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