illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)
There are arguments to support that grand sexism (e.g. « women can't do math » or « women cannot manage men ») is on its way out (dilbert.com/blog/entry/whats_the_difference_between_a_sexist_and_a_regular_asshole) but, unfortunately, ordinary sexism (e.g. « don't pay too much attention, it's that time of the month, just ignore her ») is still very much present. Since it is quite clearly a non-compassionate, non-generous, non-wise, ignorant habit, Buddhism asks you to challenge the status quo (both the projections on women and the projections on men… the mental fabrications of attractiveness in relation to both genders… both the concepts of femininity and manhood…).
And while the Buddhist establishment has historically failed to challenge the said status quo (or has even regularly promoted it instead), let's be clear here that 'mind' is gender-less, 'experiencing' is gender-less (even if it is happening in a context, in which gender is usually distinguishable in the "circumstances and conditions").
You're ignorant (in buddhist term) if you think it's legitimate to accept any form of gender-based certainties and absolutes. Sariputra, one of the greatest and wisest bodhisattvas, was caught off guard by the daughter of the Dragon king, so you don't need to carry guilt if you had wrong views in the past but being mindful here&now counts.
It doesn't matter whether you want to be associated to the 'feminist' label (or any other) or not; is it really shameful and unbearable for you to promote equality and respect?
In response to some immature reactions, I previously wrote "a (18+) post for laymen" (gplus.wallez.name/ESmM7wxDxN8). But let's address a new statistic today, before the week-end…
93% of men watch porn, I don't.
Is prudery the reason why I don't watch porn? No. Among my various creative activities, I'm a photographer and I once made an album graphically exploring the notion of buddhist 'selflessness'… And for various reasons these are nude photographs, which is to say I'm capable of asking friends, family and strangers, of various skin colour, age, BMI and of both gender, to pose nude for me. And I don't mind posing nude either. Prudery is an unwholesome bind; it's not the same as "mindful restraint and appropriate response".
Is celibacy the reason why I don't watch porn? No, I'm married and having a happy and healthy sex life, thank you very much. I don't need porn now, and I didn't need to watch porn previously either. And it's not that I "don't know how good it is" or whatever argument a porn-lover might advance: I was curious like everyone else, but then I also used my head to assess the experience rather than letting the experience lead my life.
Why not watch porn?
Porn is addictive
Like alcoholism, the addiction may develop slowly and this leads people to fall into the addiction without noticing. Because the craving only grows slowly, people can maintain the delusion that they're in control, than they can stop "whenever they want".
With alcoholism, the example you should be mindful of is not the shattered social outcast… but the socially-compatible, white-collar alcoholism of the 'elite' (often manifested in automatically having a rare, one-barrel, expensive single-malt when coming home after work, or similar habit… and yes, a nice little shot of refined spirit can be relaxing but the habit is the opposite of freedom).
Habit is the precursor of addiction. If you're interested in Buddhism, habit is karma, and is the opposite of freedom and choice.
It's dead simple: most people who claim they're not addicted "because they can stop whenever they want for however long they want" will refuse to even try stopping. They'll say that they don't need to prove anything, or that they're 'free' to lead the life the way they want. They're so 'free'… that they actually cannot even envision themselves not clinging to their habits!
56% of divorces involve one party having "an obsessive interest in pornographic websites."
If we talk 'individual' Liberation from saṃsāra, without focusing on the 'content' of porn, that's simple: any use which is beyond accidental, i.e. any use of porn which is strongly intentional (i.e. you sought for what you're watching, you took steps in order to watch it), is tying you down to the cyclical rebirth (notably in the animal realm).
Porn relies on wrong views
Let's not kid ourselves. Even "porn for couples" meant to be less degrading to women is still objectifying. Again, it's very simple: it is known that, in general, women don't enjoy porn where the 'action' ends with e.g. a "sperm facial", so "porn for couples" is just normal porn with a few different boxes to tick (or not tick).
Fundamentally, we all know porn relies on 'objectifying' (both ways: men watching porn build unrealistic expectations about women but are also prone to feeling inadequate in comparison to the monster appendages of porn stars. This is also true for female watchers). It's also based on self-satisfaction, permanency (denial of ageing), craving… In buddhist terms, you know these are the root cause of suffering.
Even "in the moment", you're likely to hide, be shameful, be fearful of being found out, etc., i.e. even "in the moment" supposedly of satisfaction, you're suffering. People keep it a secret (often from their own partner (and then they wonder why relationships are not satisfactory?!?)); to keep it a secret, people even avoid accessing it from home (fastest-growing porn segment is on mobiles; moreover, 70% of all Internet porn traffic occurs on workdays 9–5, which indicates wrong views about the spouse but also about work ethics! No, losing your job is not better than losing your spouse if you're about to lose your spouse as well, when (s)he learns why you've been fired).
Porn is unwholesome
This is not out of prudery. Wholesomeness is linked to the three characteristics: suffering, impermanence, selflessness.
As already expressed, porn doesn't relieve suffering (it merely switches the suffering experienced from one unsatisfactoriness to another), and it even tends to increase it (by locking you into deleterious habits).
Porn locks you into thinking / desiring archetypes, i.e. permanency.
This is a root-ignorance, the primary reason of suffering. I regularly explain that even wholesome good habits can lead to suffering due to their nature of habit, of permanency: permanent conceptions don't deal well with reality-checks.
Every time your experience, your observation does not match an anticipation, you suffer. This is the root cause of suffering (and this is why Buddhism promotes not-knowing, or dropping the anticipation!). But porn works the exact opposite way: it creates anticipations, and worse than that it creates unrealistic expectations. If you watch porn, you're fundamentally exploited by an industry which knows that you will not get satisfied (not even temporarily) and will crave for more, which allows to commercially exploit you.
But, maybe even more importantly, selflessness is tied to inter-dependence, the understanding that you don't live in isolation from your environment. So the impact of porn to consider is not just the impact on yourself, it is also on your relationships.
A lot of porn-watchers lose interest in their partners. Just due to this common consequence (without anything else), it's worth not watching porn.
42% of adults indicated that their partner’s use of pornography made them feel insecure; "spicing up" by making your partner feel insecure (hence less 'willing' in the long-run —unless you fall into emotional abuse, knowingly or not)? If you fall into the fallacy of having to "spice up" your relationship, be creative and play together; don't start bringing images where you have to imagine someone else than your partner to get aroused.
I call the "spicing up" a fallacy because it's already a sign of ignorance: if you pay attention, your partner's body and mood and preferences changes all the time… if you truly pay attention, it's nearly impossible to get bored or to feel like you're missing out. Practice mindfulness in the bedroom and you need neither porn nor spicing up: life is full of spice and bliss already! Because your partner's preferences change, you won't 'respond' the same way every time, and if you're mindful of subtle changes, you won't respond the same way even twice.
Finally, if we talk environment, and since people keep watching porn a secret, the education of children about porn is mostly non-existent (neither parents nor schools 'discuss' it). Kids will be kids and they'll be curious, the porn industry will be an industry and will lure future customers/addicts, the problem is that kids will appropriate what they see as legitimate anticipation (without anybody wiser telling otherwise). That is to say: if you want to make sure kids will forever experience an unsatisfactory sex life out of misguided expectations, let it be the way it is today and keep watching while pretending it only affects you! 100,000 websites have illegal child pornography. Even if you don't look at these (let's be clear: 100,000 means most people say they don't —maybe because it's just not their 'main' source— but that's a lot of 'consumers' needed to sustain 100k sites), do you really think it's okay that kids in your family might be the next victims (because the market is growing… and new films/photos are needed)?
13% of women (20% of men) admit to accessing porn while at work.
70% of women who access porn keep it a secret. 17% of women admit they are addicted to porn.
Seriously, mindfulness in your bedroom is a solution to porn. As mentioned earlier, there's no need to spice up one's life, and there's no need to fall into addictions to feel a void, when one's life is bliss, exciting, ever-changing and surprising, full of wholesome communication (in which 'appropriate response' may indeed sometimes take a sexual manifestation, but without sex being a prejudiced answer). Mindfulness of your body sensations as well as mindfulness of your partner's responses are all that is needed for ever-lasting fun. And I know a lot of people won't believe me based on their experience, but that's simply because they didn't cultivate mindfulness enough so far: they just assume "it cannot be enough" and continue with the status quo of unsatisfactory cyclical existence.
Mindfulness also is a solution in another form: mindfulness of your contribution to the very existence of a market meant to enslave people into addiction (to extract good money from them, $97billions worldwide in 2006, even when they don't have much to start with) and seeking to always trap unprepared kids into consumers and even actors.
Few people are enlightened enough to control their own impulses (most of the time, let alone all the time); don't start telling me that 18 years-old know what they're doing!
Don't start telling me that rape has nothing to do with the existence of porn, when a whole industry is based on the idea that women appreciate sex in particular when it's more/bigger/wilder than anticipated (i.e. the idea that consent 'naturally' extends to 'surprises', because 'surprises' are always good —which is quite the opposite of real life).
Take responsibility for your (causal and karmic) contribution to this 'market'. If you need eye-openers, watch these short videos:
• Girls going wild in red light district
• Somebody's Daughter
It doesn't matter whether you want to be associated to the 'feminist' label (or any other) or not; is it really shameful and unbearable for you to promote equality and respect, rather than slavery and abuse?
If you watch porn, it starts by stopping this behaviour (both for yourself and for others).
Like alcoholism, you might need help, a lot more help than you think. Like alcoholism, going cold-turkey often works better than attempting to slowly decrease.
Like alcoholism, calling yourself an 'occasional' user is likely not to be enough, likely to just be a defence mechanism to cling to your not-so-'occasional'-because-you-actively-create-the-'occasions' habit: quite simply, a 'regular' reminder of the root-cause of suffering isn't helpful (to anyone), even if the frequency isn't very high.
'Occasional' is 'occasional': occasion-based, neither intention- nor craving-based. Based on statistics, up to 8,000 of my followers may be addicted, with many many more on their way towards addiction due to complacency and "I'm not addicted yet" attitude.
Today is Friday: the week-end is coming, the porn at work is ceasing and the "porn for couples" is rising… People still don't communicate with others (one-night stands with strangers might embed more communication than watching porn), people still don't enjoy themselves (let alone their environment even though they cannot separate from it). We might as well be happy, since we're here! And… intentions do matter. Wherever you are on the scale of habit or addiction, if you really care about ceasing the unsatisfactoriness of life, now is a good time to wake up, stop porn (entirely) and reconnect with real people with real physical sensations, real changes of mood, real preferences, none of these necessarily matching your anticipations… and it's then time to learn to appreciate life without anticipation, to be fully present!
To develop mindfulness, cf. koan.mu/meditation.htm
Most statistics above are from 2003 and 2006 studies in the US.