Straight Talk TNT: College-age panelists weigh in on pornography issue

By: Lauren Forcella
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Dear Straight Talk: My younger brother is 19, a healthy college student. We are close friends. He confided in me that he is reluctant to date because of recent problems with arousal. He said this didn’t used to happen to him. Personally, I think it’s from too much porn. I doubt a day goes by since he was 13 that he doesn’t masturbate to it. I told him to lay off it and find a real relationship. What do the college students on your panel suggest? I hope they’re not all porn addicts, too. It’s getting hard to find anyone who doesn’t watch it — and if you question it and you’re a guy, everyone thinks something is wrong with you. ~ Tyler Brie, 19, Santa Barbara: I’m not into porn but several close guy friends are. Porn has its place, but it’s no substitute for a real relationship. Like alcohol, it can become an addiction and the only thing that “works.” He should go without it and build a solid relationship. He needs to get back to reality. Liz, 19, Sacramento: There is no moderation here. Porn is taking over his life. He needs to cut back or get help for porn addiction. Gregg, 20, Los Angeles: It’s true that porn is so common people think something is wrong with you if you don’t watch it. To me, it’s the lazy man’s way to sex. It’s best to stay off it. Charles, 24, Sacramento: Speaking as one of those healthy guys who has masturbated to porn every day since age 13, I also had major arousal issues when I first became sexually active. Was it because I had blown my brains out on porn? No, I was just nervous! Porn doesn’t prepare you for actual sex. The ensuing shame and confusion (especially if comparing oneself to male porn stars), can ruin a young man’s confidence. What works is having an honest relationship with your partner where you can talk about sex. Rachel, 19, Petaluma: I once attended a “passion party” and asked if too much exposure to sex toys would desensitize you. The facilitator said no, but that it could take time for the body to adjust to other things (especially if those other things aren’t high-powered vibrators or porn stars). While watching porn regularly, your brother probably won’t be aroused by a partner, but once he steps back, he should be fine. Mark, 24, Laguna Niguel: The arousing touch of another is replaced by self-touch. This is virtual life. It isn’t healthy, but it’s normal (i.e., common). But there are other reasons for loss of arousal: stress, guilt, trauma, nervousness. Stop harping and ask questions. What goes through his mind when he thinks about male-female interaction? What does he find appealing about porn? Is he insecure about his private areas? Was he molested? Therapy might be good for him. Dear Tyler: I also advise therapy for your brother. Pornography is definitely a suspect. Studies show that the first arousal cue for a male, especially if he ejaculates to it, can imprint the need for that stimulus. (With the multitudes of young men coming of age to porn, no wonder so many defend it with their lives) — (not to mention order Viagra in record numbers.) Compassion is key. Through no fault of your brother’s, he was part of a generation raised on pornography. He “fell in” when nobody was looking. Healing requires true human intimacy. It sounds cliché, but love really is the solution. Regardless of one’s sexual upbringing, within an honest intimate relationship, peace can be found. Encourage your brother to also look for love. ~Lauren For more discussion, to ask a question, or inquire about being a youth panelist, visit www.