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LOVE&LUST

THE PORN ULTIMATUM IS IT COMING BETWEEN YOU


Its no longer a taboo topic for many women, but are there any negative consequences of using porn as part of your sex routine? Cosmo finds out more. BY DENISE LI
Just because we know for a fact that men surf for porn at some point of their lives, it doesnt make the discovery of your own significant others little habit any less nervewrecking and ego-crushing especially if youve always thought the two of you have a pretty good sex life. In fact, the problem is so common, Googling how to deal when your man watches porn turns up a host of articles with advice on how to broach the topic with your man. However, many women also harbour pornography-watching habits of their own. One of them is Carol, 25, a university student. I started looking for porn sites when I was about 19, out of curiosity. Gradually, I enjoy watching them, but it isnt without a sense of guilt, she admits. In the back of my head, I know I wont want to be treated like the women in the videos, but I cant help myself. Does that sound like a deviant sex habit? Here are the ups and downs of it.

AND YOUR MAN?

Why We Watch Porn

If youre hiding your habit of pornsurfing from your man, and your love life isnt going well, you might have an addiction.

Show Me The Money

its easy access. In the past, it required a measure of effort such as making a trip to a well-hidden adult shop. Arguably, the ubiquity of porn and the ability to access it quietly and with greater privacy has led to its normalisation. Even in Singapore, porn-watching seems to be quite commonplace, and the women Cosmo spoke to were relatively blase about it. But, are there any legal ramifications? Pornography is any material which is considered obscene or objectionable. It is not illegal to watch or read pornography, provided that its not downloaded or copied, clarifies Adrian Wee, director, Characterist LLC. Downloading pornographic material creates copies, the possession of which is illegal. Soft copies count as copies. In addition, making, displaying and distributing pornography is illegal here. A person can be arrested for the possession of porn. The maximum penalties for first-time offenders is a fine of up to $1,000 per film, 12 months of imprisonment, or both.

Legal issues aside, are there any downsides to porn-watching? Some women argue that it comes with the territory of sexual liberation. Mei See, 28, a finance executive, is one of them. Times have changed and women are bolder than before. They have no problems admitting they are turned on by sexually stimulating materials, she says. Whether we like it or not, porn has entered into our sexual consciousness. Indeed, research has proven what we have instinctively known all along women, like men, get visually stimulated too. After all, its a perfectly natural, healthy, sexual response. A study done by McGill University in Canada has shown that both men and women not only displayed arousal within 30 seconds of being shown a pornographic clip, but they also reached maximum arousal at almost the same time. But, according to the experts Cosmo spoke to, pornography holds a different allure for men and for women. While both get turned on by what they see, men tend to use it as a quick fix. Men use it to masturbate, and can use it even if they are in a sexually satisfying relationship, says Dr Martha Lee, a Singapore-based clinical sexologist and founder of Eros Coaching. They are task-oriented in getting the orgasmic release or relief so

Pornography is a huge business. In 2006, pornography revenues worldwide were estimated to be a staggering US$97.06 billion. Research has shown that, at any given second, 28,258 internet users are viewing porn online. On the whole, people are watching more porn than ever, simply because of

A woman addicted to porn is essentially rewiring her brain to always get to that heightened state of arousal
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LOVE&LUST
When You Just Cant Stop

If recent studies are any indication, the answer might be a yes. A new study conducted among Italian men by the Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine has found that men who started watching porn in their teens have trouble getting erections. It usually starts with a lower reaction to porn sites, followed by a gradual drop in libido, and then finding it impossible to get an erection. Thankfully, the condition is not irreversible; it can be treated in a few months with the right therapy. Were interested to see what the results are if a similar study was conducted among women.

Can Porn Kill Your Sex Drive?

The symptoms of porn addiction are similar to that of drug addiction, Weiss says. These include, first, a loss of control. Women who are addicted to porn may find it hard to emotionally commit to themselves or to others. Secondly, they go great lengths to hide their porn habit from their partners or family members, he says. Another common sign is escalation and this is where the addiction can become dangerous. Their porn-watching habit can eventually snowball into something bigger, such as hooking up with random men they meet online for sex.

Once again, theres that reference to a drug addiction; because junkies gradually become immune to the small doses of stimulating substances, they have to use more and more of it, at more frequent intervals, in order for them to get their fix. Watching pornography causes reward centres of the brain to light up by triggering the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter thats widely referred to as the love drug. Its also the reason why substance abuse and addiction happen, says Weiss. T imagine a little of how that o feels, just think about the times you told yourself youd stop after eating one square

they can relax or sleep better. They compartmentalise pornography as an extra in their lives and do not view it as a sign of infidelity. Unsurprisingly, things are not so cut and dry for women. Women tend to romanticise erotica, and the romance is just as important an aspect of the pornography theyre after as the sex itself, says Robert Weiss, founding director of The Sexual Recovery Institute, an outpatient sexual addiction treatment centre based in the US. In fact, pornography has been around for quite some time. Case in point: the Mills & Boon novels. With their focus on romantic affairs and rather graphically described love scenes, those novels were what served as porn for women not so long ago. Women have always had their avenues for sexual release. The only difference is, they now tend to access the same sort of material as men do. On its own, porn isnt the problem, argues Weiss. The problem begins when the porn-watcher becomes addicted to it, he says.

of chocolate, but it tastes so delicious, your resolve weakens and you end up eating half the block before you eventually put it away. While you know what the sensible decision is, its difficult to stop doing something when it just feels so good. Despite what you might think, porn addicts dont watch porn strictly to satisfy a sexual urge. After all, sexual urges are 100 percent normal in healthy adults. What theyre addicted to is the process of looking for porn. They are after the intensely stimulating and arousing experience they can lose themselves in for hours at a stretch because it allows them to temporarily escape from reality, says Weiss. He uses an alcoholics addiction to the substance as an example. Most alcoholics are aware that their behaviour is destructive. But they still do it, anyway. Why? Because being drunk is a familiar, reliable and manageable emotional state for them to be in, particularly if they are having a hard time in other aspects of their life. In other words, its when addicts lose themselves that they feel they have the most You dont have to suffer in silence. control because they dont Help is on hand at these centres. have to think about whatever Winslow Clinic at Novena stresses plaguing them in real Medical Centre Tel: 6397 7309 life even if its temporary. When you think about it, this The Institute of Mental Health isnt something were unfamiliar Tel: 6389 2000 with; most of us do look for forms of escape from reality, especially when it gets too much to handle. The difference is, for porn addicts, their addiction tends partners to look as good as the male porn to take over their lives completely. stars she sees, and she will start looking at people as body parts, totally disregarding their individuality. She will also be more Anything But Sexy critical of partners who do not live up to How many of you have heard a man say, those unrealistic expectations. Wow, Id love to date a girl who is a sex The worse part is, she wont just apply addict.? In reality, a sex-related those standards to her partners. She, too, addiction is anything but arousing and will compare herself to the images of the its negative impact will be felt by the female porn stars she sees. Weiss says, woman addicted to porn, as well as by The woman will get the impression that those around her. The more someone its what men want and, soon, she will looks at porn and masturbates to it, the start thinking she isnt desirable enough. less interested she will be in a sexually This will create a negative impact on her and emotionally satisfying relationship self-esteem in the long term. with her partner, says Weiss. Treatment for porn addiction, like The reason is simple. When the eating disorders, can be tricky. For woman is focused on the idealised people undergoing sex addiction images of porn stars and masturbates to therapy, its not about getting them to them, she is essentially rewiring her abstain from sex completely. Its about brain to always get to that heightened state helping them rebuild a healthy attitude of arousal. Her expectations of her sexual towards sex. They have to learn how to partners will change, says Weiss. She associate it with emotional intimacy and, will always expect and want her sexual

STRUGGLING WITH AN ADDICTION?

build healthy parameters towards it, says Weiss. These can differ from individual to individual for instance, the parameters are not the same for a 22-year-old woman as they are for a 45-year-old man.

PHOTOGRAPHY: (WOMAN LYING ON MANS BACK) CORBIS; GETTY IMAGES. MODELS ARE IN NO WAY RELATED TO THE STORY.

Not That Bad After All?

So, is porn just bad news and should women stay away from it completely? Not necessarily. The key is to find a healthy balance. Recreational use of such sex aids is not a problem. Most people are aware that what they see in pornography is not real, says Weiss. Lee agrees. You can approach porn with the right attitude, she says. Women can use it as a tool to help spice up their sex lives, but they have to be very clear about the purposes pornography serves entertainment and, visual stimulation. It is nothing close to anything that happens in reality. As with most other iffy issues, open communication is also important. If a couple is open with each other about their porn-watching habits, thats okay, says Weiss. Its only when the habit becomes secretive to the point of one person leading a double existence to hide her habit from her partner that it becomes a problem.
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