I Was a ‘Self-Esteem Vampire’: A Woman’s Journey Out of Watching Porn (explicit language)

For blogger Biting Beaver, the special ‘juice’ of porn lay not in the sex but in the domination, the degradation of others for her viewing pleasure. She describes her journey into–and out of–watching porn:

Women and Pornography: My Story

…It’s almost as if the phrase, “But BB, women look at porn too” is intended to completely remove any and all problems with porn just because, ‘women look at it too’…

I too used porn and I am a woman. For a many years when I was younger, I looked at pornography. My soon-to-be-X really started it for me. Until that time I had obviously seen porn and I had even watched it at the prodding of my first X but I never ‘used’ it myself, as in, I never popped in a video when I was by myself to masturbate to. My second husband changed all that and within a few months of moving in with him I was actively watching it as well.

…I also watched quite a bit of BDSM porn. It didn’t start out that way, but it sure as hell ended up that way. My X inaugurated me into it and my ‘porn phase’ lasted around 2 years (give or take). Mind you, that was 2 years that I was actively using it myself rather than just watching it to pacify the man I was with.

…initially I was repulsed by pornography… Slowly though, this changed for me, but it never changed completely.

Even whilst I was actively seeking porn out I would always feel dirty and stained after I watched it. I would look for the stuff I wanted to see, watch it, masturbate, orgasm and then promptly go and shower. It’s a very difficult sensation to describe, this sort of revulsion coupled with the compulsion to look at it in the first place, this strange cycle of compulsion, justification, masturbation, revulsion and cleansing.

I began to realize that there was a serious problem when, one night, I was having sex with my husband and realized that I was seeing porn images in my head while we were being intimate…

…after a time, focusing on my husband began to feel strange, harder somehow than just thinking about the images I had seen before. It was easier to regurgitate the stuff I had seen earlier in the day, or earlier in the week.

…There came a time when I began to shower after sex, NOT because I just wanted to shower, rather because I felt just as dirty as I did when I was watching the porn.

…I began to question the things I was seeing. I began to wonder why I despised those women and yet was using them, even in my own head, to get off to. Slowly the veil began to thin and the guilt and disgust I would feel afterwards would grow stronger than the compulsion to look at the stuff in the first place…

I asked myself honestly, what was I getting out of porn? The answer surprised me. It terrified me. It shamed me…

I was getting a sense of power from watching the humiliation and degradation of the women on the screen.

I was claiming power, the all-elusive power that women strive for their entire lives, from degrading and enjoying the degradation of other women. I had absorbed a lesson from the patriarchy: women are easy to degrade, weaker, and more vulnerable, so much so that even another woman can take their power. Watching women being slapped and hurt was filling that void within me that was taken so many years before by men. It allowed me to feel powerful and in control…

It wasn’t some sort of biological excitement from seeing two people having sex (although, that’s what I told myself for a very long time). It was the power that is inherent in degrading and humiliating another human being that brought me climax…

And I hated them for it. I hated them for reflecting my own weaknesses back at me…

At the same time I hated MYSELF for using them. I hated myself for being a vampire of sorts, a kind of ‘self-esteem vampire’. A creature which was incapable of making her own self-esteem and who therefore took it from other humans. But self-esteem garnered at the expense of another human being does not, and never can, replace your own…

This is the hallmark of EVERYONE I have ever met that uses pornography, males and females alike: low-self esteem and a horrible fear of being exposed as being weak… And these fears and these worries are alleviated, at least for a time, through porn…

Pornography is about control. It’s not about sex, it’s not about lovemaking. There is nothing natural, normal or healthy with pornography…

…many times we will realize the dangers and see that WE were only a tiny margin away from being THAT woman ourselves…

That’s what happened with me. Soon my husband began to ask me to do the same things for him that the porn star was doing. What could I say then? I mean, after all, I was watching the same damn thing he was and he knew it. If I didn’t do those things then I would have to admit to myself that they were degrading and I’d see the paradox, I’d see the holes in my illusion. I’d be forced to see that I wouldn’t want those things done to ME, and yet I wanted to see them done to other people.

So I did them. I did them and I tried to pretend that I liked them… Soon however, I began to see JUST how horrible it felt to have cum on my face. Just how terrible I felt when he called me a ‘whore’ and a ‘slut’. I realized that when he asked me, “Do you like that you little whore?” and I moaned “Yes, fuck me harder” that I really didn’t like the way I felt afterwards…

It was only after I pushed the pornography from my life that I was able to feel good about myself. It was only then that I began to be able to be honest about the things that I liked and didn’t like. My husband didn’t like it. He raged at me, angry that I would ‘suddenly’ take away ‘his right’, that I would do such an about-face…

When I was watching porn I was more insecure than I have ever been in my life. I was chaotic, I drank too much, I self-medicated with alcohol and sedatives to numb myself to my own sense of worthlessness. I allowed degrading things to be done to me because I was numb…

Since I have stopped watching porn, since I stopped allowing it in my life and in my home, I began to heal…

See also:

Testimony in Minneapolis: Pornography contributes to women’s masochism, chronic depression, anxiety and lowered self-esteem; porn’s false promises to men
Letter of Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D.
Based on fourteen years of clinical research and clinical practice, (1969-Present, 1983), I have found that pornography significantly adds to women’s psychological stress…

In my professional opinion, pornography, together with certain other practices, contributes to women’s masochism, chronic depression, anxiety and lowered self-esteem. For example, most women continually compare themselves with tyrannizing images of beauty. Pornographic images and expectations then turns what they feel about themselves, into a deeper self-hatred, and into greater attempts to please men, in order to be loved, in order to avoid being seen as truly “ugly”…

In my professional opinion, what women learn from observing pornography directly, or from relating to men who observe pornography directly, is tolerance for physical, sexual and emotional abuse at male hands. This, in turn, leads to the suppression of anger, and its consequent self-destructive behavior among women.

Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture
Raunch culture came along as a way for women to have their cake and eat
it too. We could feel empowered without needing to make enemies or stop
having “fun” as defined by the commercial media. In this way, says
Levy, feminist energy became co-opted by a consumer culture in which
solidarity for political change is replaced by personal advancement at
the expense of other women. For a large part of raunch culture’s
appeal, she says, is that it permits women to hang onto their feminist
credentials while using their sexuality to achieve success in a
male-dominated business world.

Women have to act like one of the guys to establish themselves in this
domain, and gleefully collaborating with their love of porn is an
effective way to do it. “Raunch provides a special opportunity for a
woman who wants to prove her mettle. It’s in fashion, and it is
something that has traditionally appealed exclusively to men and
actively offended women, so producing it or participating in it is a
way both to flaunt your coolness and to mark yourself as different,
tougher, looser, funnier—a new sort of loophole woman who is ‘not like
other women,’ who is instead ‘like a man.'” (p.96) A loophole woman is
a token successful woman who creates the illusion that her profession
is accessible to women in general.

D.A. Clarke: Women Adopting Men’s Bad Habits Is Not the Answer
For women, including lesbians,
have absolutely nothing to gain from nihilism, fascist chic,
self-conscious decadence, and a romanticisation of the crimes of dead
privileged men [e.g. the Marquis de Sade]. That is not the way to legitimise our lives and lovers.
When life is valued cheaply and pain is in vogue, it is women’s and
children’s lives which will be valued cheapest of all, and women’s and
children’s pain which will be the raw material for entertainment. When
fantasy is valued over truth, it is the truths about our
lives and deaths which will be hidden, and the fantasies of others
which we will be made to serve. When brute force is admired and bullies
are cultural heroes, the vast majority of women and children will be
the losers.

Voice Male: “Intimacy and Porn: A Contradiction in Terms”
Personally, I know using porn never left me feeling particularly proud. It was more likely to bring up feelings of shame after the fact–seldom a good sign. My reflections sparked by the Jensen article inspired a revelation: Jasmin and I strive for intimacy in our relationship. Using porn hinders that. Whether alone or with my wife, viewing porn takes time and energy away from our union and squanders it on a pseudo-relationship. Even using porn as a stimulus for marital sex is problematic because porn rarely reflects healthy modes of connection. Porn is wham, bam, thank you, ma’am–at best–and not reflective of the kind of sex I really want in my own life. No surprise, I find it easier to achieve sexual pleasure and intimacy with my wife when images of models paid to perform male fantasies are not playing in my head.

Video Presentation: A Content Analysis of 50 of Today’s Top Selling Porn Films (explicit language)
Ana Bridges: “…I’m going to begin to talk about what it is that we
found after looking at these 304 scenes in these 50 top selling
pornographic films. In total in the 304 scenes we coded a total of
3,376 acts of aggression. That ends up averaging…to an aggressive act
every minute and a half. The scenes on average contained eleven and a
half acts of verbal or physical aggression…”

Bridges: “We also coded for, what…we’re calling loosely in this talk,
‘extreme acts’ (of sex acts). The only sexual sequence that we coded,
which is…when one thing follows another, was something called
ATM…’ass-to-mouth’. This literally involves anal penetration followed
by oral sex…she is literally eating her own shit. That occurred in
41% of the scenes that we coded…

Bridges: “So how many scenes didn’t contain aggression? About 10%.”

2 thoughts on “I Was a ‘Self-Esteem Vampire’: A Woman’s Journey Out of Watching Porn (explicit language)

  1. Given your awareness of the destructiveness of porn–a point of view with which I am in agreement–then, why does the Left, predominant in Northampton, always vote on the side of those who would be on the side of the pornographers, of the zealous Democrat Party supporters such as Larry Flint and many others of that ilk?
    Thank you.

  2. Yes, porn is a major blind spot of many on the Left, who are otherwise quick to protest exploitation and corporate callousness. Porn is an issue where the usual distinctions between Left and Right break down and may not be useful. You may enjoy these articles:

    Hustling the Left
    As Craft demonstrates in the numerous Hustler cartoons she reproduces
    on her site, the magazine mocks child abuse (often by depicting the
    child as sexually precocious and seducing the adult), and promotes
    racism and violence against women. Hustler invites readers to identify
    with Nazis, wife-beaters, incestuous fathers and kidnappers of children
    (the famous “Chester the Molester” cartoons). The Left would show no
    mercy to any other corporation that made money by trafficking in
    racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic images. Why does the porn industry
    get a free pass?

    Andrea Dworkin: Time for Progressives to Stand with the Victims, Not the Users (explicit language)
    This is a political point: what once was the Left wants to be the user,
    does not want to be anywhere but on top of the used; and some so-called
    feminists want to be the user, not to be under, not to be the
    condemned, the injured.

    A Review of Adriene Sere, “Sex and feminism: Who is being silenced?”
    Sere, the former editor of the feminist e-zine Said It, says leftist
    publications, in their rush to overturn conservative taboos, have
    become apologists for oppressive and dehumanizing sexual practices.
    Magazines such as The Nation and The Progressive consider it off-limits
    to ask whether porn, prostitution, sadomasochism, and sex without
    emotional intimacy really advance the liberation of women, or simply
    perpetuate inequality. Feminists who raise these questions are mocked
    as prudes.

    Pornography and Male Sexuality
    …a particular incident was reported in the men’s jail during the
    Diablo Canyon anti-nuclear blockade. While most of the activities had a
    strong feminist consciousness, once 800 men were separated into the
    prison and prison authorities distributed pornographic literature along
    with other reading material, “that atmosphere began to disintegrate,”
    as one of the participants put it. His account continues: “Some
    courageous and concerned men began to see what was happening and,
    within a few days, succeeded in changing the jail environment back to
    something very close to what it had been in the camp itself [prior to
    the blockade].”

    People on the Left and the Right Share Blame for the Sexual Miseducation of Americans

    Jackson Katz:

    I want to mention a chapter in the book called, “Guilty Pleasures:
    Pornography, Prostitution, and Stripping”. In this chapter, I look at
    the ways in which the pornography culture, and the prostitution and
    stripping industries, if you will, are helping to shape boys’ and men’s
    attitudes toward women and girls and their sexuality as well as men’s
    sexuality. This is a national conversation that is long overdue. You
    asked what my dream was about the book–well, one piece of the dream is
    that I hope my book helps to catalyze a more thoughtful conversation
    between men, as well as between women and men, about pornography,
    prostitution, and stripping. Ideologically, these are enormously
    influential industries. I think there has been very little thoughtful
    conversation about them in male culture, and certainly even in the
    academy. My friends and I are very frustrated by either the lack of or
    the superficiality of the conversation about them. For example,
    pornography is by far the most influential form of sex education–or
    sex (mis)education–in the United States. There is so little quality
    sex education in the schools in our sex-crazed country. The right has
    successfully squelched the responsible sex education movement that
    arose in the seventies. In the void, you have this enormous
    multi-billion dollar industry that has profit as its motive, not
    education. The pornography industry is serving as the vehicle for so
    many boys’ and men’s sexual socialization. And the level of brutality
    that has been normalized in mainstream pornography, the level of sexist
    brutality, is just astounding. Many people have not been paying
    attention, but I think they need to pay attention. It’s very
    disturbing, I think, for a lot of people to see–with eyes wide
    open–what boys and men are masturbating to. But I think it needs to
    happen. Sadly, in recent years many feminists have been leery of going
    down this road because this issue is seen as divisive, and fraught with
    both ideological and interpersonal conflict. I think that’s really sad
    because the industry hasn’t slowed down one bit–in fact, it’s only
    been accelerating in the last few years.

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