Hidden in Shame: Heterosexual Men’s Experiences of Self-Perceived Problematic Pornography Use


Sniewski, Luke; and Farvid, Pani


2020 in Psychology of Men & Masculinities

  • This qualitative study analyzed how men with problematic pornography habits discuss the effects of their pornography use. Analysis showed that their pornography use is associated with guilt and shame, increased objectification, sexual dysfunction, unhealthy expectations for sex, and poorer self-esteem and mental health outcomes.
The rapid rise in the availability of pornography has given the world instant access to a vast and diverse supply of pornographic material. Although it is possible for both genders to experience a problematic relationship with pornography, the large majority of online pornography consumers who identify as addicted to pornography are heterosexual men. This article aims to examine the experiences of adult heterosexual men with problematic pornography use in New Zealand. A total of 15 heterosexual men were recruited via advertising,... READ FULL ABSTRACT
  • "In this article, we have explored the different ways men speak about their problematic pornography use. We covered both the origins of their use—primarily in the form of the contextual issues that shaped their initial viewing habits—as well as the individual subtleties and nuances that trigger present use. Although a private activity, pornography use was shrouded in secrecy and silence, ironically positioning its use as “taboo” in an ostensibly sexualized and pornified sociocultural context. The two primary reasons for men’s private, hidden, and secretive use were that, first, sex and pornography were largely taboo in these men’s lives and, second, that opening up about pornography use was hard and often met with rejection or judgment."
  • "As the participants developed and matured into adults, pornography began eroding their sense of autonomy, an important psychological need that contributes to healthy functioning and wellness for individuals. The men experienced a loss of control over their use, which underpinned the core aspect of their SPPPU. The men valued qualities of self-control, willpower, and discipline, and yet pornography completely undermined these traits and their efforts to be optimal versions of themselves. Such an undermining represented a form of disempowerment and even emasculation. Over time, their continued and repetitive use began adversely impacting various aspects of and experiences of sex. The men perceived that pornography had resulted in having unrealistic expectations when it came to sex and sexuality, the way they viewed women (solely as objects of sex), and lead to diminished sexual function."
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