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UBC lecturer debunks the anti-pornography argument

Justin Fleming | The Ubyssey (University of British Columbia)

Photo by Mico Mazza

VANCOUVER (CUP) — For anyone who has seen Gary Wilson’s TEDx talk “The Great Porn Experiment” or his YouTube video series “Your Brain On Porn”—or even simply wandered the halls of the subreddit r/NoFap—time spent with a trusty porn machine for an all-night solo sex marathon may in fact seem like a recipe for a libido-sapping descent into erectile dysfunction and mental illness.

The stigmas around masturbation are many, and pornography is obviously seen as a vehicle or gateway for masturbation. Wilson claims in his videos that Internet pornography is a far more potent force than its predecessor, the pornographic magazine, and is having devastating effects on many areas of young people’s lives.

In his TEDx talk, Wilson stated that symptoms of a porn addiction “mimic” ADHD, social anxiety, depression, performance anxiety, OCD, and a host of other mental disorders.

“Guys never realize they can overcome these symptoms simply by changing their behaviour,” said Wilson.

He went on to say that healthcare professionals should be screening for porn addictions first, rather than treating patients who have already shown signs of mental disorders.

But Jason Winters, a sessional lecturer on human sexuality in the department of psychology at the University of British Columbia, finds Wilson’s claims troubling and unethical.

“There is no research showing that Internet pornography causes mental disorders—none,” Winters wrote in his class blog. “Psychological problems and mental disorders can lead to problematic porn use as a means to cope and self-medicate.

“Wilson is simply presenting his ideology as fact,” wrote Winters, “and in this case, it’s dangerous.”

Wilson claims porn can cause desensitization through brain rewiring and can result in men being unable to achieve and maintain erections with a partner.

Anyone who has ever been stricken with an unresponsive member in a time of need will tell you that this is can be a confusing, frustrating, and emasculating experience. But Winters offers a few alternate explanations:

• The more orgasms you’re having, or the longer you’re stimulated before one, the longer it will take you to be fully sexually recharged. If you’re masturbating to porn for an hour and your partner wants to have sex hours later, you are not going to respond as strongly.

• A man whose main sexual partner is always or mostly himself is likely to feel anxiety when with a real partner. Anxiety is a boner-kill.

• Some men will grip themselves in a certain way when they masturbate. When they’re with a real partner, the sensation can be different or not as intense. This can lead to erectile dysfunction or delayed ejaculation.

“They’re extrapolating on poorly done studies and kind of making shit up—it’s driving me crazy,” said Winters.

Attempting to eradicate porn only drives it underground, he said.

“The best thing that can happen to porn is to make it mainstream,” said Winters. “Then we can criticize it, evaluate it, and it becomes more legitimate … far better than it hiding in the shadows.”