Tue, Oct 01, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Internet porn changes our expectations about sex

Brain scan images show that watching online ‘adult’ sites can alter our grey matter, which may lead to a change in sexual tastes

By Norman Doidge  /  The Guardian

Teenagers’ brains are especially plastic. Now, 24/7 access to Internet porn is laying the foundation of their sexual tastes. In Beeban Kidron’s InRealLife, a film about the effects of the Internet on teenagers, a 15-year-old boy of extraordinary honesty and courage articulates what is going on in the lives of millions of teen boys. He shows her the porn images that excite him and his friends, and describes how they have molded their “real life” sexual activity. He says:

“You’d try out a girl and get a perfect image of what you’ve watched on the Internet... you’d want her to be exactly like the one you saw on the Internet ... I’m highly thankful to whoever made these Web sites, and that they’re free, but in other senses it’s ruined the whole sense of love. It hurts me because I find now it’s so hard for me to actually find a connection to a girl,” he says.

The sexual tastes and the romantic longings of these boys have become dissociated from each other. Meanwhile, the girls have “downloaded” on to them the expectation that they play roles written by pornographers. Once, porn was used by teens to explore, prepare and relieve sexual tension, in anticipation of a real sexual relationship. Today, it supplants it.

In her book, Bunny Tales: Behind Closed Doors at the Playboy Mansion, Izabella St James, one of Playboy magazine publisher Hugh Hefner’s former “official girlfriends,” described sex with Hef. Hef, in his late 70s, would have sex twice a week, sometimes with four or more of his girlfriends at once. He had novelty, variety, multiplicity and women willing to do what he pleased. At the end of the happy orgy, wrote St James, came “the grand finale: he masturbated while watching porn.”

Here, the man who could actually live out the ultimate porn fantasy, with real porn stars, instead turned from their real flesh and touch, to the image on the screen. Now, I ask you: “What is wrong with this picture?”

Norman Doidge, a physician, is author of The Brain That Changes Itself.

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