Stories of Men

Fancy a chat about p*rn?

Fancy a chat about p*rn?

Although it’s not the most socially acceptable of conversations, I think it’s time we had a talk about p*rn.

It might be uncomfortable, embarrassing even, (for me, mostly) but I’m willing to wager that everyone reading this article will have been exposed to p*rn at some point in their lives.

Some of you may even find yourself watching a great deal of p*rn….on a weekly basis.

According to recent statistics, around 50% of men report watching p*rn on a regular basis. That’s already a high percentage but I reckon the real percentage could be higher, a lot higher.

It was also the case that in a single month in 2023, P*rnhub got over 2.14 billion visits, more than Instagram, Netflix, Pinterest and Tiktok combined. Crazy, right?

The fact that so many of us allow p*rn to play such a significant role in our lives makes me think that we should start to talk more openly about our experiences.

So I’ll start…

My first experience of seeing a sexy, naked female actually came through cards. 

No, it wasn’t a game of strip poker, it was a card I found on the floor that had a nude woman on it. It was 1996 and I was nine years old walking back to my house. I remember being fascinated by it at the time. Woooowww, cool…a naked woman! 👀

Rumour got around that there were other kids at school who had cards of their own. I remember groups of us crowding around to check them out. ‘Look at that one’. “That’s nothing. Wait till you see this one!”

As I got older, my interest in p*rn developed. I remember my parents getting a cable subscription to the short-lived ITV digital when I was around 11 or 12. We got a knock at the door by some guy selling illegal ITV Digital gold cards. Johnny Vegas and ‘monkey’ were promoting it heavily. Did you ever get one of those? The card I mean, not the monkey. £60 for a year was a bargain and the whole Melia family were incredibly excited to get all the channels we could possibly imagine.

Anyway, as well as providing access to my favourite sports, such as football and boxing, it also included a number of other appealing channels as I was flicking through…The Adult Channel, Babe Station, Television X. “Amazing. They sound right up my street “, I thought.

I began scheming almost immediately, thinking about how I would get to watch these channels when my parents weren’t around. I decided that the surest way to do it was to wait until they were both asleep.

Great plan. The problem was that my dad didn’t go to bed till late, so I’d have to go to bed early and set an alarm for silly-o’clock-in-the-morning so that I’d be able to wake up and get my fill once the coast was finally clear. The lack of sleep screwed up my 6am wake up for my paper round but I didn’t care.

I was hooked. I was about 11 or 12 at this point.

Just as I was getting into the habit of doing this, my mum and dad decided that they didn’t want to keep paying for the gold card (or the gold cards ran out, can’t remember which one) and so, along with my football and boxing, the X rated channels disappeared. Even so, I found other sources of content now that the internet and dodgy internet videos began to really develop in the early 2000’s and I continued watching p*rn frequently until the age of about 23. 

But there were quite a few things that were beginning to make me feel uncomfortable about watching p*rn.

Firstly, regular masturbation was draining me of energy and preventing me from doing all of the things that, as young men, lots of us naturally want to do. You know, like going out to bars and clubs and actually meeting real women. (To be fair, I was terrible when it came to women but more on that in another blog).

P*rn saps our motivation because it tricks the brain into thinking that we are actually with the women that we’re watching on the screen. Let’s face it, some of the women on these p*rn sites look pretty amazing and, as our brain struggles to separate the experience of being a viewer of p*rn and a participant in p*rn, it takes away our motivation to get out there and experience the real thing.

Why bother when you can have all of these gorgeous women right there in your bedroom and you don’t even need to have a shower or get dressed? Never mind working out, or taking care of yourself in a way that would make you actually attractive to women!

Of course, in some countries this is being taken to the absolute extreme: in Japan, for example, where sex dolls are becoming more and more popular and interaction with actual women is being completely replaced.

Think about the skills that we’re not developing as young men when it comes to connecting with women and growing as people within relationships.

It’s also worth thinking about what we’re actually producing when we masturbate. Within our semen lie the amino acids and nutrients that provide the essence of life. Do we want to drain ourselves of this in front of a computer screen (or with a sex doll) so regularly? So mindlessly?

Another issue that I was having was that an extremely unrealistic image of sex was being beamed into my brain on a regular basis, which was not equipping me appropriately for enjoying sex in a more natural way.

Finally, although I didn’t watch it personally, the sort of p*rnography that was out there was becoming more and more objectifying and degrading of women. One of the most uncomfortable, and apparently popular, scenes that I heard about was of women who were forced to perform sex acts. I found out about this when watching a documentary on Netflix. This is seriously damaging for society and the way men view women.

This got me thinking about how little we know about the people behind p*rn? What are they experiencing? How do they feel about what they’re doing? Some women don’t even choose to be in the p*rn video we’re consuming with our trousers round our ankles. There are scandals regarding women from poorer countries who are kidnapped and then forced to do p*rn and then their videos are uploaded to websites like P*rnhub. It’s shocking stuff to think about.

For all of these reasons, I decided that I wanted to reduce the amount of time I spent on p*rn sites.

When I spoke to my mates about this, I found out that many of them were having even worse struggles than me.

This was such a big topic that we decided to split it into 2 parts. Check out part 2 here.

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Laura is the mix engineer for the Stories of Men podcast. She has a BA in Music from Nottingham University and an Advanced Diploma in Music Production and Sound Engineering from Abbey Road Institute. Alongside working for Our Voices she is a freelance sound designer and technician. Her highlights include sound design for JK Rowling audiobook ‘The Christmas Pig’, and sound effects editing on The Outlaws, on the BBC.

For the Stories of Men podcast, Laura is typically provided with a Voice Over and interview. She then cleans the dialogue, integrates the podcast intro and outros, chooses the music that will add to the storytelling and pacing of the episode, then bring all the elements together in the mix, followed by mastering and then delivering the final edit.

Experience in Industry: 3

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Favourite Movie: Anything Marvel

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Hobby: Music

Favourite Book: Northern Lights

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I’m the community manager at Stories of Men. I spend most of my time focusing on the implementation of our marketing strategy, achieving goals and KPIs, and the rest of the time listening to the amazing stories of our guests. What I love most about working for Stories of men is the impact it has on peoples’ lives. It requires a lot of courage to tell your story out loud so I make sure these stories are heard by as many people as possible.

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Favourite Show: Stranger Things – I love how an odd group of friends fight against challenges bigger than themselves.

Favourite Movie: Harry Potter – The only movie I can watch over and over again!

Favourite City: Prague – Absolutely love the Baroque and Gothic vibe of this city.

Hobby: Netflix, Travelling, and Eating- I want to try different cuisines from every country once in my lifetime!

Favourite Book: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – A fast-paced thriller that keeps you hooked from the first page to the last.

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I run Fascinate Productions, the production company behind the Stories of Men podcast. I’ve had a wide variety of roles in media, from underwater videography, to live televised sporting events around the world. But since listening to my first audiobook in 2016, I’ve been all about audio and jumped in with two feet. Podcasts are enabling the world to democratise its most valuable information. They’re about spreading messages, and sharing ideas, and it’s my mission to help those holding the knowledge, to distribute it far and wide.

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Favourite Food: Ice cream. It’s just the greatest culinary invention.

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Favourite Movie: Gladiator

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Favourite Book: I love to read anything business/startup related… One of the most recent great ones was Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt

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Richard Willan is the CEO of Fascinate productions, a podcast production and promotion company. Before starting Fascinate, he worked an audio engineer, mastering tracks for artists on major and independent labels.

He is an executive producer for ‘Stories of Men’ where he assists with production, creative direction of the show, and marketing strategy.  

 

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I am responsible for writing blog articles for the Stories of Men podcast. I have the privilege of listening to fascinating stories on the topics and issues regarding men that are of greatest relevance to our society today. Once I’ve done this, I create articles that provide an overview and description of the conversations in order to help spread them to the widest possible audience. My job is to make these articles as engaging as the conversations themselves.

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Favourite Movie: The Godfather. 

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I’m the Editor of Stories of men. I craft compelling narratives from the stories of our fantastic guests, editing their interviews and scripting the episodes. I’m a freelance journalist and audio producer from Northern Ireland, currently based in California. I cover social issues, health and gender – with reporting in The Guardian, Vice, NPR, Cosmopolitan and many others. My focus is shining a light on the communities and initiatives that improve people’s lives. I have a background in the nonprofit space, having worked in communications for a mental health charity, as well as an education start-up. I mentor young female writers and sit on the board of an NGO that empowers women in global supply chains. 
 
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