Pornography: how satisfying is it?

Over in [url=“”]this thread* some posters have suggested that sexually suggestive images of children might be a way for pedophiles to satisfy their urges without molesting children. I didn’t want to hijack that thread (which as of this time is already on its third page), so I thought I’d start a new one to ask this question: is there any reason to believe that pornography or other erotic imagery satisfies sexual desire and makes the viewer less likely to seek out sexual contact with others?

I don’t have a lot of personal experience with pornography. I don’t care for it, so I do my best to avoid it. But I do know that if I’m hungry, watching a commercial for a restaurant doesn’t satisfy or decrease my appetite. In fact, it makes me even hungrier. Similarly, I would think that if a person looked at stimulating images of people s/he found sexually attractive, then it would make that person want to have sex more than s/he did previously.

Yikes, I knew I’d screw up the coding. The thread that inspired this one is here.

Very satisfying, actually. Being single almost doesn’t bother me when I surround myself with porn. And when I wasn’t single, I never felt like cheating because I could always surround myself with more beautiful girls than the ones trying to take me away. (hijack–why is it when you’ve got a SO there’s suddenly a million more suitors than normal?)

Hmm. Not sure I like making that comment in a thread spawned off a semi-pedophilia thread :smiley: Let me say that my comments here are not necessarily related to the ones there.

Of course, after reading that I realize that it sounds a little serious.

Pornography is just fun for me. I love sex. :shrug: Can’t get it all the time, but you can keep up with it during those in-between spots!

I call the resolution to this auto-stimulation. Some have some other names for it. It isn’t exactly the real thing, but really, when you’re hungry you ain’t gonna pass up a burger just because you saw a steak. Or something.

Lamia: The problem with your analogy is that the commercial doesn’t provide a payoff, i.e. no food. Whereas porn does ( at least for most healthy people ), i.e. an orgasm. Whether it be through masturbation or via interaction with a partner, pornography as a “mood enhancer”, does provide some bang for the buck ( so to speak :wink: ).

Porn, rather than being analogous to a commercial for a hamburger, is more like the condiments you apply to a hamburger. Or at times, perhaps a cheap hamburger substitute.

Now, this does not speak to people who may have pathologies of some sort. I have absolutely no trouble believing that there are some individuals for whom porn is an enabler for their particular pathology ( whatever it may be ), fueling, rather than sating desire. Though I suspect that you could also find some disturbed individuals that also find porn a safe and cathartic release, that prevents them from doing damage to society at large.

MHO is that response to this sort of stimuli is going to be highly individual. To the best of my knowledge ( wring or others may have more solid data on hand ), research in this area has been controversial, with some conflicting results.

  • Tamerlane

Porn, in whatever form you like it, and for me I like stories more than pictures, can be a great turn on. I think we all enjoy being turned on, don’t we? And it makes sex, whether alone or with someone else, that much more delicious.

I am a big fanatasizer, and I can tell you straight up that the stuff I think about is stuff I would NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER do in real life. NEVER EVER. Some of it is not even possible, and some of it is erotic in the mind, but repulsive in reality. (don’t EVEN ask, just take it at face value.)

As for the rest of your question, no, I don’t believe porn “incites” anyone to do anything they were not already inclined to do. In fact, almost all legitimate research into the matter has proved exactly that, despite hysterical claims to the contrary. Consumption of porn is absolutely NO indicator of behavior.

** Tamerlane ** : how about porn being more like the appetizer? I think that’s a dead on description. Gets your appetite going, which you then satisfy any number of ways.


I think the theory you have heard is based on the reasonable assumption that the pornography-viewer will, while viewing, proceed to, um, lend himself a hand, if you know what I mean. That relief would, supposedly, help to take the “edge” off his urges.

Leaving aside the previous thread and going into mainstream pornography, we must recognize there is a stereotype of the porn user as loser wanking away to a videotape/skin mag/* newsgroup in the solitude of his home (or the anonymity of a peep show). But this is a chicken-or-egg case: has he been driven into porn because he’s unable to get some on his own merit, or does he get nowhere because his dating skills were learned from Debbie Duz DesMoines? I’ve never been fully convinced by the arguments that the very existence of even “mainstream” commercialized pornography inexorably leads to corruption, social disintegration, and widespread rape and child molestation, or that it “whets your appetite for more”. I believe I’ve heard similar dire warnings about marijuana, beer, run-of-the-mill sex, playing the lottery, etc. Sure, for some people vulnerable to addictive or self-destructive behaviors it’ll be a gateway to “harder stuff.” But as with drinking, most folks will just get over it or find a sustainable level of involvement. The vast majority of people using pornography are just making do 'cause that’s what they can get – their appetite was already as whetted as it was going to get – and though maybe not totally satisfying, it’s good enough to get through another day.

The comparison with the restaurant ad does not exactly match in this case – it would be more like watching the commercial for the restaurant, as you scarf down a slice of pizza and a Bud. You may not be completely pleased but you now may wonder if it’s worth the hassle to get dressed, stop by the ATM to get cash, and drive downtown tonight.

As to how satisfying the pornography experience can be… well, let’s just say I know of nobody being trampled to death at a performance of a “tribute band” [sub] ( = imitators, a-la-Elvis, i.e. it’s not the Real Thing) [/sub] but people who can’t get to the Real Thing can have a lot of fun with a good simulation, if the tickets are real cheap…

I think some people either like it a lot more or possibly have trouble achieving orgasm without it, for whatever reason. I’m a take it or leave it kind of guy. It does make masturbating somewhat more pleasurable, but I have never bought anything more pornographic than a Maxim (and that’s for the articles, honest!) and I only (briefly) owned one tape before getting married. Now I have a few but I didn’t watch them very often, and when we got the DVD player we didn’t bother plugging the VCR into the other TV until we needed it for other purposes (a paper on Forrest Gump) months later.

I do kinda want to get some DVD porn, though.

I don’t know of any study that has evaluated the effects of child pornography on future actions of c/molestation. IOW, does using porn help the c/m stay away from ‘the real thing’ or enhance the need for ‘the real thing’ or has no effect? Interesting concept. ON a practical basis, owning child porn. is itself a crime, and for some one convicted of c/m already, would be considered a serious violation of their parole/probation. If memory serves, it would also be considered counterproductive in treatment, tho’ I’m not certain that this is backed up by studies (as expressed first), or if it’s related to the simple illegality of the stuff. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

On the OP - some people seem to be stimulated by porn. But stimulated to re-enact what they see? not necessarily. For example, lot’s of folks have seen the movie Baseball Diaries some enjoyed it, some didn’t, only a very few thought to re-enact it later.

And, I would agree that the fact some one might fantasize about something, does not always mean they’d want that to happen.

But this stereotype is ludicrously inaccurate. A few months back, the New York Times Magazine did an article on the mainstream porn industry. Mainstream porn actually takes in more money each year than does Hollywood. About 700 million porn videos are rented each year in the U.S. As one of the porn producers interviewed said, “we suddenly realized that one million perverts weren’t each renting 700 videos a year.”


I don’t think that porn would usually induce someone to do something they hadn’t already wanted to do. What I want to know is, if someone already has a kind of sex act that they prefer, does looking at pornography depicting that kind of sex make them more or less likely to seek out that kind of sex in real life? Or would it make no difference at all?

Say someone really likes sex act X and enjoys engaging in it in real life. That person will probably prefer porn showing sex act X. But after viewing this porn (and performing any accompanying solo activities), is the person going to think, “Well, I don’t think I’ll feel the need to do X for a while!” or “That was fun, but I’m sure gonna do X the next time I get a chance!”

I think that for people with pathologies or fetishes, depictions of their predilictions would tend to feed their desires rather than reduce them. I don’t know that it would prompt them to act on them, but I can’t imagine it would be at all helpful in terms of altering them (if that’s even possible).

Is this a tamer version of The Basketball Diaries?


Maybe. Like I said, I suspect in some cases that’s true. Probably depends on just how deep-seated a particular pathology is. But I’m not sure if that would be the case across the board. And you run into problems with definitions. Is someone who finds the thought of B&D arousing a fetishist? Because as a couple of other posters have alluded, I could see someone getting enjoyment from watching a B&D tape, without ever wanting to participate in such an act themselves.

Altering no, probably not ( and this really is IMHO, I have no real data ). But providing harmless release, perhaps. A very equivocal perhaps :wink: .

stoid: Yes, that analogy could work as well. Although I’m actually not always a huge fan of analogies, useful though they are :wink: .

  • Tamerlane

I’d like to speak to that, if I may, as a, ahem, * professional: *


I just this last week read two articles in two different industry-specific places, one a website, the other a magazine, that completely tore down these insane figures being thrown around for the porn industry. I wish I could link you, but I can’t remember at the moment, since in the past week I have been too many places. But what I do recall is that at least one of the writers actually followed up on the numbers that are being thrown around and discovered that they are pretty much being made up out of thin air.

Most of what is being accepted as fact about the financial success of porn is coming from Forrester Research. Have been the “victim”, shall we say, of FR’s silly speculations myself, I know how incredibly full of it they are.

So all this to say: yes, the porn business does just fine. But no where near as fine as people think. Really. Hardly anyone is rolling around on piles of money.


Yes. :smiley:

(aside to Lamia I said, I don’t know if there’s been a study done to see if empiraclly we can determine ‘does this encourage acting out, discourage it by allieviating the sexual tension and/or have no effect’.)

Fair enough. 'Course, even if Forrester had gotten their figures right, it wouldn’t have meant that the porn industry was doing as well as Hollywood. Y’all have a lot more competitors and (presumably) a lot lower profit margin.


There’s a superb article on the state of the US porn industry, and the media’s treatment of it, at this site:

( the Ackman article is at )

That is one of the articles I read, thanks!

Given the OP’s core question – does consumption of porn make the consumer more or less likely to pursue the sexual experience in real life? – I’ll just throw out one of those meaningless little statistics for your consideration. Ahem.

Japan has, far and away, some of the most violent sexual imagery in the world. (Start with Legend of the Overfiend and work your way down.)

The incidence of rape in Japan is approximately 1/50th of what it is in the U.S.

Sure, this is a hugely simplified juxtaposition. I don’t know, for example, whether the rate of sexual assault in Japan is vastly underreported due to a patriarchal social structure that encourages women to keep quiet. It’s also invalid to assign causality, however loose, between one and the other, based on this information alone.

But is interesting to think about…

Allow me to reiterate that this is NOT my question. I am not asking whether pornography (or any form of media) can incite someone to do something they did not previously desire to do. I am asking whether pornography can satisfy an already existing desire or whether it instead increases it.

To use your example, I am not asking whether exposure to violent pornography could turn someone into a rapist. I am instead interested in learning if exposure to violent pornography would make someone who is already a rapist (or has a serious but unfulfilled desire to rape) more or less likely to commit rape in the future.

This issue may be worthy of its own thread, but rape and sexual assault are vastly underreported in Japan. It’s impossible to know what the real numbers are, but I wouldn’t be surprised if these crimes were even more common in Japan than in the US. You have perhaps heard that many women and girls face daily assault on commuter trains, but even these public incidents are almost never reported to the authorities. Reports of more private crimes (including acquaintance rape and domestic sexual abuse) are even rarer, and it’s not because they aren’t happening. While many social factors are at play here, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that violent pornography has helped to “normalize” sex crime and thus made victims less likely to come forward.