Monday, August 5, 2013

Sex, Love, and Brooklyn: The Problem With Porn and Masturbation

Posted By on Mon, Aug 5, 2013 at 1:32 PM

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I was 12-years-old and in the 7th grade. The whole grade was on a camping trip for a program called Classroom Without Walls. I loved these trips. There was a frenzied feeling when we got on the bus to go out into the wilderness, like “whatever happens in Classroom Without Walls stays in Classroom Without Walls.” For my peers and myself, the whole point of camping was to play endless amounts of truth or dare and try to sneak over to the boys' side for a clumsy pre-teen make-out session. If only I'd had boobs then, I would totally have tried to get someone to feel me up. But no such luck.

There was a posse of outcast boys in our class. They were total nerds, but because they were so nice and non-threatening, no one bullied them. Most of the time they were left alone to play Dungeons and Dragons in peace. One of these guys was called Luigi, even though his real name was Sam. I don't remember how or why he was christened Luigi, but no one ever called him Sam—not even the teachers, and not even our principal. Luigi was tiny. I was one last growth spurt away from hitting my adult height of 5'3, so I was mostly likely about 5' even. Luigi barely reached my shoulder. He sounded like he always had a cold, and I had to stop myself from offering him a tissue whenever we had a conversation.

I was sitting at the back of the bus, when I saw Luigi get up from the middle section and make his way down the aisle.

“Hey Lacy, can I sit with you?”

I eyed him with suspicion, but told him, “Sure. I don't own the bus.”

I had recently watched a lot of heist movies and was experimenting with trying to look and sound tough.

Luigi coughed into his hand and said, “So guess what? I got something I think you may be interested in.”

“Anyone can get cigarettes, Luigi.” The whole grade had been trying out smoking for the first time.

“What I got is better than cigarettes.” He leaned over dramatically, cupped his hand around his mouth and put it on my ear. “Porn,” he said in a jagged whisper.

He sank back into his seat, and smugly shrugged his shoulders. He knew I was interested.

“You in?” he asked.

My heart started to beat. Of course I wanted to look at porn. I was the baddest girl in the 7th grade. And, finally, someone beside me had picked up on that, even if it was only Luigi. This could start a domino effect and then the rest of the boys would see that I was the only girl in our entire middle school that possessed any sexual prowess.

Though I had never been kissed, I knew I was meant to run with wolves.

“Bring it on,” I deadpanned.

“Not here. Too dangerous.” Luigi motioned to our teachers, both asleep at the front. “Tonight after lights out come over to my tent.” I put out my hand for him to shake, but he just stared at it not knowing what to do. I sighed. “It's a deal,” I said grabbing his hand.

That night after we were all supposed to be sound asleep, I slipped on my Tevas and my favorite heather gray sweatshirt and pulled out my pink Hello Kitty flashlight. In a matter of minutes I made it unnoticed to the boys' side and into Luigi's tent. He was sharing with his best friend, Matt, who was overweight and world-weary. Luigi unzipped his JanSport backpack, and inside was what looked like 50 Hustler magazines. “Holy Shit,” Matt said under his breath.

I started to panic. What was I doing looking at porn with 2 of my least favorite and certainly not crush-worthy male classmates?

Your reputation's at stake, I reminded myself. I swallowed hard.

“Alright lets crack these babies open,” I said, grabbing the first one. I flicked through it nonchalantly for a few minutes, but then I saw it. It was a 2-page beaver shot with a man's tongue licking a woman's clit. I can still remember that her pussy was super-wet—dripping—and for whatever reason it scared the hell out of me. If I was forced to describe that image then, I would have to say it looked like a wound. I slammed the magazine shut.

“I don't want to look at these anymore.”

Luigi started to get anxious. “But I was gonna give these to you. What am I supposed to do with them? We're gonna have a tent check tomorrow and these are contraband!”

I was already backing out of the tent. “Not my problem dude.” Then I ran as fast as I could back to girls' side. My tent-mate Sara sat up in her sleeping bag when I unzipped our tent.

“Where have you been?” she asked.

“Nowhere. In the bathroom.” I rolled over and tried to un-see that wet, hairy pussy.

Back on his side, Luigi also had a tumultuous night's sleep. He freaked out about his porno stash and decided the best thing to do was to walk as far away from the camp as he could (about a half-mile) and throw the whole collection into the river that ran next our site. Unfortunately, he didn't realize that the river was flowing upstream. The next morning the whole 7th grade awoke to find our entire camp had been paper-mâchéed with porno images brought in from the river and blown all over on the wind. Luckily for Luigi, our teachers figured it was some creepy dude in the woods, and they moved our whole operation just to be safe. Luigi was never discovered as the porn culprit.

That was my first experience with porn, and I hate to say it, but it hasn't really gotten any better. I often wonder about my initial experience with Luigi and Matt in that suffocatingly small tent. How did that image of the vag affect the way I think of porn now? How did it affect Matt and Luigi? Do they feel like they can get off without it, or like so many people I know, are they slaves to blue movies?

Don't get me wrong, I don't think porn is wrong or that it's necessarily bad for us. But folks have told me time and time again they can't get off by themselves unless they look at porn, and that this dependancy is not something they're happy with. Though I don't believe porn is in any way inherently bad, I do think the way we consume porn is a real issue, especially when it comes to how we masturbate.

When I first started masturbating, all I had to do was touch myself. I didn't have to think of anything and I didn't have to look at anything. The simple act of rubbing one out was enough for me. Slowly, however, I lost that ability and I started to have to fantasize about things. Now, I replay sexual situations I've been in from the past.

Specifically, I like to think about what was going through my head when I was coming with that other person. I conjure up the red polka dots, or the image of sail boats, or the way it felt to have the color green fill my body. It's the memory of these synesthetic experiences that push me over the edge. I've purposely stopped myself from looking at porn because I would hate to lose the ability to come thinking of red polka dots, the same way I lost the ability to come on my own thinking of nothing.

Recently, I had a very frank discussion with an ex, and I asked him if he ever thought of the sex we had when he masturbated. He told me he never thought of anything when he masturbated. He simply put his computer on top of the toilet, looked for a girl with a large ass online and went to town. He explained that this way he could jump in the shower as soon as he was done, and not feel so bad. He said he thought of masturbating more like a function, like brushing his teeth, than like something he actually took pleasure from.

My gay best friend told me something similar. Like the ex, he said that he never thought of people he knew, or personal sexual experiences when he masturbated. He only ever looked at porn when he wanted to get off alone. He also said, he made sure before he started that his cursor was over the x on the screen, so that as soon as he was done he could escape out. He said, “After I'm done jerking off, any lust I had drains out of me, and I don't want to be reminded of whatever dark internet porn hole I just went down.”

And yet, I know there are people out there who look at porn and don't feel ashamed or guilty—nor should they! Again, I don't have anything against porn. However, these two dudes aren't the only people I've heard from that seem profoundly dissatisfied with the way they masturbate, and it seems like porn has something to do with it. I'd love to go back to the moment they first looked at porn and rip the magazine from their hands, or unplug their Internet connection. Would they be happier with their sex lives now (or at least with their solo sex lives) if they'd learn to discover pleasure sans visual aids?

What it comes down to is this: I don't want to feel bad after I've orgasmed. I don't want my masturbation routine to be a reminder of how sad and lonely life is. When I've finished I want to feel excited, relieved, relaxed, maybe a little sleepy, sometimes rejuvenated. I don't want to hate myself. After all I just had sex with someone I love.

Follow Lacy Warner on twitter @laceoface

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