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I am tired of hearing that watching porn is a normal guy thing. My partner and I are now broken up, this issue being one of the main reasons why we departed. I have become obsessive about the matter. It all started out with petty snooping. I looked at his history and found porn-- and I am not sure if it is even considered porn because never have I found any material where there is a guy and a woman having sex. It is always just women touching themselves. He has a fetish for extremely big breast, domination, and larger women. I question myself because I am a regular sized girl with regular sized breast. It all makes sense when he wants me to be dominant in the bedroom and at times make me hold him like a baby so I can breast feed him. When I first confronted him about it, he said he would stop. I have found ways to hack his email accounts and other website accounts where he watches such material and obviously it hasn't stopped.

We are not together anymore, but I continue to bring it up. I continue to think about it. Everytime I see girls at school with big breast I feel like punching them in the face. I keep trying to find ways to make him understand, even though I feel like he never will. But somehow I cannot let him go. I love him so much, he is a good man with a horrible habit. He has now stopped promising me that he will stop watching it and says that he cannot help it. He says that it is a normal guy thing, but I will not conform. Because I really believe it is not an ok behavior. It is perverse and ridiculous intrusion into my relationship. It is an insult, it is disloyal, and it is cheating. I want him to consider how it makes me feel. It makes me feel hurt, deceived, lied to, and inadequate. The thing is pornography isn't real, it is a fantasy. It's makeup, beauty lenses, hair extensions, camera angles, lighting and silicone. It's also somebody's daughter who has taken a really wrong turn. She's demeaning herself and she's being exploited by people who fund her. It is a sick, demented, twisted world. He is not addicted and he doesn't watch it everyday, but I do not think it is healthy. It is not natural, it's not normal! I think viewing porn is a short step from taking cheating to the next level. Viewing porn is absolutely, unequivocally unacceptable. And really, it's a matter of choosing between a relationship or the porn.

I don't know what to do. I wish I could just forget about him. At times I don't even want to try to fix his bad habit because I am completely hopeless that no matter how much help he gets to fix it, it will not stop. It is stuck with him forever. Should I even try anymore to make him understand? Should I seek therapy myself? Please help me.


Hello, Vivian--

I certainly understand your feelings, and I know that many women would agree with you. In fact, many men would be saddened or disgruntled also to find that their wives or girlfriends were fantasizing about images of men with six-pack abs, muscular butts, and larger than average penises, which might make those with more usual bodies feel inadequate or intimidated. And your idea that many of the models for this kind of photography are made to look artificially attractive by means of carefully arranged lighting, carefully chosen lenses and camera angles, cosmetic enhancement, retouching of pictures, etc., seems right on target, although, to be fair, this is true not just of pornographic or frankly sexual images, but of many, if not most, commercial photographs of women in general. However, although I do empathize with your pain over this issue, your anger does seem to be way over the top, and your taking this to a place of such extreme judgment ("sick, demented, twisted") suggests to me that the problem is much more with your outlook on life than with your boyfriend's desire to look at pictures of women's breasts and vaginas.

First off, I do not agree that viewing pornography is "cheating," as you wrote. In my view, looking at anything could never constitute cheating, unless perhaps under intimate circumstances with another person involved. And even if you want to stretch the word "cheat" to mean looking at pictures of anonymous women's bodies, then this would only be cheating if it were hidden from you--if you didn't know about it. But you do know about it. Your boyfriend has not deceived you in the least; thus, it is not fair to accuse him of cheating. In fact, as I see it, your snooping on him, your violation of his privacy, is less respectable than anything you say he has done.

Further, I cannot agree that viewing pornography is only "a short step from taking cheating to the next level," as you also wrote. If you feel that having a boyfriend who likes to look at pictures of women's bodies is "unequivocally unacceptable," you certainly are entitled to that feeling, but in my view your disapproving moral judgments seem not just unfair, but way out of step with the psychological realities of sexual attraction, sexual fantasy, and the sexual chemistry of the human brain—particularly the male brain, bathed as it is in testosterone.

To begin with, the human fascination with pornography is nothing new. Yes, the internet has widened the availability of pornography, and the powerful capability of modern photography has allowed pornographers to provide increasingly lifelike imagery, but the human interest in pornography, including a fascination with exaggerated breasts, and large, wide-open vulvae goes very far back in human history--at least 35,000 years, if not more, as the recent discovery of a carved ivory female figurine demonstrates. Now 35,000 is a big number when applied to years of human existence. To look at it in another way, this is 14 or 15 times as long as the space between the beginning of the Christian era, and the present day.

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The figurine, discovered in September 2008 in Hohle Fels Cave in southwestern Germany, may be the oldest known example of figurative art (art that is supposed to represent and resemble a real person, animal or object). According to University of Cambridge anthropologist Paul Mellars, "If there's one conclusion you want to draw from this, it's that an obsession with sex goes back at least 35,000 years, but if humans hadn't been largely obsessed with sex they wouldn't have survived for the first 2 million years. None of this is at all surprising."

Writing a commentary on the discovery of the figurine for the magazine Nature, Mellars went on to say that, "The figure is explicitly--and blatantly--that of a woman, with an exaggeration of sexual characteristics (large, projecting breasts, a greatly enlarged and explicit vulva, and bloated belly and thighs) that by twenty-first century standards could be seen as bordering on the pornographic [italics mine]." And this sexual fixation wasn't just for naked women, either. Early carvings of large phalluses appeared in Europe at about the same time.

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So, Vivian, if you want a boyfriend who is not interested in viewing pornography, or even if you would like a boyfriend who finds pornographic imagery as repulsive as you do, there certainly are such men around, but you should try to understand that when this particular boyfriend told you that "watching porn is a normal guy thing," he wasn't lying, but, on the contrary, was simply telling you the truth about human (and particularly male) sexuality. If you feel that your boyfriend's porn habit was "a perverse and ridiculous intrusion into my relationship," you certainly have the right to your feelings, and you even have a right to believe, as apparently you do, that an interest in images of women with large breasts and open vaginas is, as you said, "is not natural, it's not normal!", but that belief is simply incorrect according to the facts of human psychology. The facts, whether you like them or not, are these:

1. Many people, both men and women, enjoy viewing sexual imagery, reading erotic literature, and fantasizing about sex. In other words this is normal.

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2. This interest in big breasts, open vaginas, big erect penises, and other symbols of human sexuality is nothing new in human history. It is an ancient, hard-wired part of the human brain, and has nothing to do with modern culture, modern morality, modern religion (or the lack of it), or anything else that has happened in the past thousands of years. In other words, this is natural, a lot more "natural" than your rather narrow-minded moral judgments which, reading between the lines of your letter, seem to be denouncing your boyfriend as a "sinner" of some kind because he likes to look at pictures of women.

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3. Many people--perhaps most--who have such interests can carry on more or less normal, monogamous relationships with a partner, and find that viewing pornography or reading it does not damage the relationship with the partner—and, in fact, may even enhance it.

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This is not to say that you as an individual should change your feelings about having a lover who likes porn. You have, after all, every right to your own feelings, whatever they are. But you do not have a right to your own facts, and the facts are that your boyfriend's interest in looking at representations of women's bodies is not unusual, not perverse, not abnormal, and not a "horrible habit." His interest is a widely-shared, ancient interest, active in both men and women, which has come down to us encoded in our genes, and is allied with the very same kind of motivation which provides for the perpetuation of the human race by means of sexual procreation. So please drop the moral judgments and try to see things as they really are.

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To answer your specific questions:

No, you should not try to make him understand.

Instead, in my view, you would do better to make yourself understand that:

1. your condemnation of your boyfriend is rather narrow and decidedly judgmental, as I hope my words along with the images from antiquity will have convinced you.

2. perhaps more spaciousness in the way you view human sexuality would feel more comfortable and more welcoming—more human, I mean--to both you and your lovers.

And, yes, if you cannot make yourself understand this, and so empower yourself to moderate the anger and the judgment, I believe getting some help in learning to understand might be a good idea.

Be well.

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page last modified May 14, 2009

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