He Can’t Get It Up: Could Porn Be the Problem? A #GirlBoner Radio Follow-Up Chat

“Growing up watching porn and expecting to be good at sex is like growing up playing Madden on Xbox and expecting to be good at actual football.” – Gabe Deem

There’s little I love more than chatting with people who’ve not only overcome trying circumstances but transformed them into something hugely positive, even lifesaving, for others. This week’s Girl Boner Radio guest has done precisely that! Gabe Deem is a counselor for teens in Irving, Texas who has shared his personal struggle with porn addiction and his pathway to recovery with countless others in hopes that they might find similar healing. I was so thrilled when he agreed to an interview, in which he shared what spurred his fixation with porn, how it affected his life and relationships, myths about porn addiction and the wonders recovery can bring.

If you find yourself relating to his story, I hope you’ll also realize that there’s no shame in your circumstances, you’re far from alone and support is available. The same holds true if your partner is struggling with addiction. Gabe runs an entire community dedicated to porn addiction recovery and ways to “reboot” your system, ridding your life of porn’s complications, and is one of the most accessible and congenial folks I’ve encountered in the sex-positive world.

Listen to our chat using the below link then check out our after-chat. That’s right! He was kind enough to answer a few additional questions for us via email. (Thanks again, Gabe!) I hope you’ll chime in afterwards with your thoughts. 🙂

Gabe Deem on Boner Radio — He Can’t Get It Up: Could Porn Be the Problem? 

Gabe Deem GB Radio

Girl Boner Radio After-Chat with Gabe Deem

August: How do you feel parents and schools and teachers could make a positive difference regarding porn addiction? 

Gabe: I think parents and teachers could make a positive impact on children by doing three things: Having an open and honest conversation with the child about what real sex is and isn’t, teaching them about the possible impact that watching porn can have on their brain and future sexuality, and protecting them by installing porn filters on all internet accessible devices to prevent accidental exposure.

1) For the conversation, it’s important to teach kids that porn is fake, and in real life sex should never be violent or forceful or harmful to someone emotionally or physically.

2) For teaching them about the brain, it is important they know that porn can rewire the brain to where they no longer can connect with real people both emotionally and physically, and “numb” their brain so it is more difficult to “feel” pleasurable things. For parents to get educated on this I suggest reading the material on YourBrainOnPorn.com.

3) Protecting children by installing filtering software on all devices to prevent accidental exposure. The reason I say for the “accidental” exposure, is because if I have learned anything as a boy with a computer, it’s that if I want to watch porn I could easily get around blocks and do so. This is where points 1 and 2 come in!

August: Do you feel porn itself is problematic? Or that it should change?

Gabe: I think it’s potentially be problematic, and here’s why. Porn comes in so many forms now days it’s tough to say that all of it can be problematic, especially when you have everything from rape porn to loving couples uploading their most intimate moments followed by cuddling. However, to our brains’ content isn’t the only thing that matters; it simply soaks up what you teach it.

So no matter what type of porn it is, if you are a young child watching porn you are teaching your brain that sexual arousal happens with pixels on a screen and not people in person. I look at porn in regards to sex the same way I look at junk-food in regards to organic food. It is an unhealthy version of the real deal, and can potentially have a negative impact on you.

Growing up watching porn and expecting to be good at sex is like growing up playing Madden on Xbox and expecting to be good at actual football. I recently watched the new movie The Fault in Our Stars and one of my favorite lines was “a picture of something is not the thing itself.” A picture might say a thousand words, but it can never love you back.

August: Have you seen Don Jon? If so, what did you think?

Gabe: Yes, I have. I thought it was a really good movie besides the unnecessary porn clips as if people do not know what porn looks like. There were a few things that stood out to me in that movie.

Don Jon had a beautiful girlfriend who would have sex with him, yet even after having sex with her, he said porn was better. This is important to realize because a lot of women think it has to do with how attractive their partner finds them when in reality it is more the guys desire to get his dopamine fix via the novelty, shock and stimulation internet porn provides.

But the most interesting thing to me that not many people caught was WHY he decided to finally give up porn. It wasn’t because he felt guilty. It wasn’t because he found the perfect woman who was more desirable than porn. It was because he tried to masturbate without porn and couldn’t! Yup, he realized that porn was physically screwing him up to the point where he was dependent on it to masturbate. That was the original thing that made him realize there’s a problem. If Don Jon was a real guy he would have been real close to developing porn-induced ED or delayed ejaculation.

August: What do you find most rewarding about your work and activism? 

Gabe: Knowing that people are finally getting the answers they have been desperately looking for. I get messages from guys who are suicidal and have been to many doctors and specialists that have told them that their problem is all in their head. While they are technically right, because it appears to be in the brain, they are telling these guys it is anxiety and they just need to relax, take some Viagra and get out of their office.

But when the Viagra doesn’t work and months go by with no improvement, they feel hopeless. Seeing these guys finally give up porn and regain their sexual function back, as well as the joy in their life, has been the most rewarding thing to me. I know what it feels like to feel broken, and I know how important it is to have a light shining at the end of the tunnel. When guys tell me that my story gave them light, it makes any pain, embarrassment or discomfort from sharing my story all worth it.

*****

To learn more about porn addiction and recovery, check out Gabe’s articles on the Huffington Post:

Porn: Many Teens Watch It, and Two Reasons That’s a Problem

Internet Porn Addition: Exposing Misconceptions

We’d love to hear from you! Any thoughts to share with Gabe? What did you think of his story? How has your or your partner’s addiction to porn impacted your life? All respectful thoughts are welcome! ♥

Your Brain on Porn: 10 Common Signs of Addiction

“If a man or woman ejaculates to pornography on a regular basis they will actually attach to sex as object relationships as opposed to intimate relationships.” — Douglas Weiss, psychologist and executive director of Colorado’s Heart to Heart Counseling Center

What do you look at or imagine most during sex? What about just before you climax? If your answer has anything to do with a XXX website, photograph or movie, you’re at high risk for porn addiction, a condition that reportedly affects 10 percent of adults, according to Brigham Young University. Yikes, right?

Here’s why:

Whatever we envision, real or imaginary, during arousal and orgasm, when our levels of feel-good “I’m so turned on!” brain chemicals are at their highest, imprints on our brains. So the more often we watch or imagine porn during sex, the more likely we become to only experience turn-on and orgasm via porn, versus a lover. This is a definite setup for addiction. Once it develops, porn addiction can greatly detract from a person’s life.

The more porn the brain perceives during arousal, the more it wants.

The more porn the brain perceives during arousal, the more it wants.

10 Signs of Porn Addiction

Porn addiction affects people differently, but here are some of the common signs:

  • Needing to use porn for arousal or orgasm
  • Needing to use porn to relax, think straight or function normally
  • Reduced interest in normal sex
  • Using porn frequently and routinely (such as daily or more)
  • An inability to go a week, a month or longer without porn use
  • Defensiveness about porn habits
  • Secrecy about porn habits
  • Using porn instead of socializing or tending to work or family obligations
  • A strong desire for extreme sex or porn-like body types
  • Feeling generally withdrawn and having difficulty focusing

Thanks to folks like Rachel Khona, a writer whose ex-boyfriend’s porn addiction compelled her to speak up about the seriousness of the dependency, conversations are taking place, bringing light to this growing epidemic and help to those affected.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Rachel on Girl Boner Radio on Monday. To learn more about her experience and what to do if you suspect that you or your partner is struggling with addiction, listen to our chat via iTunes:

Porn Addiction: A True Story

Rachel Khona, Writer

Rachel Khona

Related links and resources:

The Washington Times: More Women Lured to Pornography Addiction,
Brigham Young University: Pornography Statistics
Sexual Recovery Institute: 10 Signs Your Partner Might Be a Sex or Porn Addict

Have you or a loved one been affected by porn addiction? How do you keep sexual intimacy going strong, with or without porn? What did you think of our interview? As always, I love hearing your thoughts! ♥

To learn more about Rachel and her work, visit RachelKhona.com and connect with her on Twitter: @RachelKhona.

4 Things I Wish Would Change About P*rn

For the first time in human history, the images’ power and allure have supplanted that of real naked women. Today, real naked women are just bad porn.” — Naomi Wolf

Yikes. Porn is a sticky issue for many feminists and sex-positives—no pun intended. Wolf’s quote derives from an article she wrote for New York Magazine called The Porn Myth, based on her research and discussions with college students, and I find her overall insight spot on. While I don’t believe all women are compared to pornographic images by partners or themselves (at least not consciously), countless are—particularly if they or their partners routinely partake. Based on recent statistics, MANY are, and at a cost.

bed laptops sex

Every second, $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography and 28,2258 people are viewing porn online, including children, and porn addiction is on the continual rise. — Family Safe Media

Would this be the case if as a culture, we celebrated and respected our bodies and sexuality rather than exploiting both? I personally believe the numbers above would be significantly lower, as would the negative repercussions of porn use, and we’d all benefit tremendously from the shift.

I have no problem with the explicit nature of pornography or the celebration of sexuality as a profitable business. We’re visual creatures, after all, and enticing our Girl Boners with sensual eye sweets is a groovy thing! Much like Wolf, however, I do take issue with other aspects of the industry. Today I’ve decided to whip out my trusty magic wand and share some wishes. (Hey—a girl can dream!)

4 Things I Wish Would Change About Porn

1. It depicted a broad range of body types and ages. The typical porn star is young, tan and, by society’s standards, flawless. Females are lithe yet toned and large-breasted, a combination that seldom occurs in nature, and males have been known to rely on steroids and cosmetic surgery to create that “perfectly” chiseled, large penis-ed physique. Whether we realize it consciously or not, this sends the very real and strong message that to be sexually attractive, we must look like those folks and pointing out supposed flaws that are actually just beautiful, authentic aspects of our appearance.

What would result: Women and men feel and appear more beautiful and embraceable, which leads to happier, more gratifying lives and relationships.

2. It featured a broad range of realistic sexual activities. There’s a place for just about everything when it comes to sexy play, as long as we’re not harming anyone. “Rough sex,” for example, provides some women a healthy way to explore the common fantasy of being dominated by a man, says Laura Berman, Ph.D, and can even help survivors of sexual abuse heal by allowing them to play out such fantasies in a safe, controlled environment. But setting outrageous standards for what sexiness is, such as females routinely ejaculating and climaxing through penetration alone, both of which only happen for a very small minority of women, can make normal sex less enjoyable for just about anyone, given enough exposure.

What would result: Porn fanatics would have more fulfilling sex lives and relationships, gain more pleasure from realistic, “normal” sex and have a lower risk of porn addiction (which is now affecting boys and girls as young as age 8—so sad and scary!). There’d also be a smaller epidemic of erectile dysfunction, which is growing continually more common among male porn users.

3. It was gender-balanced. While it’s changing somewhat with the rise of feminist porn, pornography is still largely male-focused, even though about 30% of porn users are female. This imbalance perpetuates the myths that men are more sexual and visual than women and leads to greater objectification of women and the mistaken belief that such objectification is natural and okay.

What would result: Pornography would become more about mutual sexual gratification and connectedness than merely women pleasing men, and women would gain worthy respect.

4. It hadn’t become our culture’s sex education. If this sounds extreme, that’s because it is—but it’s also true. As countless sexuality experts will attest, children should be learning about sexuality in schools from kindergarten up, yet most are taught nothing until puberty. By this time, research shows that nearly all boys and 2/3 of girls have been exposed to porn online. When kids aren’t taught about their bodies and sexuality from trusted adults, they quell their curiosities elsewhere, and the internet is far too ready and willing to mislead them onto an unhealthy track. While limiting kids’ access to porn can help, it’ll only go so far without fuller, healthier sex education. And adults want to learn, too! We all deserve plentiful, healthy resources.

What would result: Kids would grow up respecting their bodies and sexuality and better able to cultivate healthy, happy relationships with others and themselves as adults. I can’t think of a better outcome than that.

A little food for thought:

Sex is SEXY! So is kissing, fondling and seeing realistic adults in the nude. Like many women, I can get deeply turned on by the mere thought of sex and much subtler sexuality depictions than typical porn. I’d never want to sacrifice that by growing dependent on pornography, which is HIGHLY addictive (as is my personality, which is another reason I steer clear). While porn may fit well within healthy relationships in some cases, research shows that even folks who think that routine porn use isn’t negatively affecting their relationships or views about sexuality and aesthetics, are often wrong. You know what isn’t damaging? Cultivating healthier attitudes about sexuality and doing away with taboos.

Porn is a lot like fast food. If we load up on intentionally addictive, unhealthy food-like-substances in super-size portions, we lose taste for what are bodies thrive on: natural, healthy foods. The more we eat, the more our physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual wellness suffer. Porn functions the same way. The more we rely on it, the less likely we become to delight in happy, healthy relationships in which we cherish and care for our bodies, desires and partners with as much respect and pleasure as we all deserve. Life is too precious for that, in my opinion, and so are our Girl Boners! ♥

 

Unhealthy Diet

Not the kind of head we should want. 😉

How do you feel about porn? Do you wish it would change in any of the ways I mentioned? Any items to add to my list? I love hearing from you!

Hungry for more??? Today on Girl Boner Radio, I’ll be interviewing Belle Knox, aka “Duke’s porn star,” another woman who wants to change elements of the porn industry and the way we as a society view female sexuality. If you subscribe via iTunes, you won’t miss a beat! ♥