TsaphanBabe has posed a very interesting set of questions about men’s relationship to sexually explicit media.

To the immediate question of how men masturbate to pictures of unknown women, I turn to Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong and their brilliant, genius, wildly brilliant “Peep Show.” This is how men masturbate to a picture of an unknown woman.

(The men out there who don’t think this is generally accurate are welcome to comment.)

The deeper question is essentially about jealousy/insecurity: what does my partner get from a picture that he doesn’t get from me? why am I not enough? will he grow increasingly dissatisfied with me as I fail to match the media’s image of women?

Answers: probably novelty and lack of drama; no one is enough to for anyone – if your partner meets ALL of YOUR needs, then there’s something wrong with you; and no, though he may grow dissatisfied with you for any number of other reasons, not least because you make him crazy with your insecurity and need to control his sexuality.

That paragraph came out more judgmental than I intended. Sorry.

To begin: novelty and lack of drama. Men are more visual, women are more social (sorry to reinforce a stereotype and to oversimplify the science). Also, men are more responsive to novelty while women are more responsive to the familiar. Both of those make pictures of naked, unfamiliar women pretty hot to straight men.

And that image, that anonymous stranger, is free from the mundanities of relationship. If all “she” needs from him is his hard, throbbing cock, and that’s all he wants to give her, well that’s a hell of a lot simpler to wank to than… emotions and chores and responsibility to each other and everything else that comes with an actual person.

Second. You’re not enough. No one is enough. That’s as it should be. You’re supposed to have a life outside your relationship or else the world will view as a sad, sorry, miserable, and pathetic loser. For men, that may include a sex life – of some kind – outside the relationship. In my experience, men’s relationship to sexually explicit media is NOT the same as their relationship to women. In other words, he’s not looking at a woman he doesn’t know, he’s looking at a PICTURE of a woman he doesn’t know. Ceci n’est pas une femme (a truth universally misquoted). To be jealous of his use of porn is like his being jealous of your use of novels.

“I mean, can’t you get enough relationship from me, without having to resort to that foul, disgusting fiction??”

(That’s an imperfect analogy.)

And finally, no sane person would leave their partner as a result of looking at porn. In all but the mentally ill, the woman in his bed is way, way better than the image on a screen. Warmth and softness and curves and muscles under skin and the wet of tongues and vaginas is just in a different (and altogether superior) category than dots of light on a computer screen or colored ink on a page.

It’s the same thing I tell people who are worried that their partner’s vibrator will replace them in bed. To put it bluntly: if you, the human being they choose to be with, are not incomparably better than a mechanical toy or a picture, you have a lot of work to do. And if you can’t feel intrinsically and confidently superior to that toy or that image… again, lots of work to do. You’ll be a better partner and a happier person.

PS – confidence and joy. Have I mentioned those lately? Yeah.