Anti-Porn Activists Still Fixated on ‘Porn Addiction Health Crisis’ During Pandemic

Anti-Porn Activists Still Fixated on ‘Porn Addiction Health Crisis’ During Pandemic


NEW YORK — As scientists and public health officials continue to recommend masturbation as the safest form of sex during the quarantine, anti-porn activists are using the COVID-19 pandemic to double down on their #NoFap narrative.

Leading U.S. conservative magazine the National Review and celebrity Terry Crews have both released statements yesterday targeted to those staying at home during the quarantine, urging people, specifically men, to repress the urge to masturbate or watch adult entertainment content.

The National Review’s article, published yesterday, is titled “Big Porn Seeks to Capitalize on the Pandemic,” making a reference to the much-publicized offer by Pornhub of free content during the quarantine.

The article was written by Madeleine Kearns, a Scottish singer who is also a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute.

Kearns, who appears to now lead the magazine’s “porn beat,” last month penned an essay questioning women’s ability to freely choose sex work as an employment option and called for a full inquiry into how so-called “porn culture” has “insidiously and thoroughly infected the mainstream.”

Using language like “infected” to refer to adult content is part of a deliberate strategy by War On Porn proponents to shift the debate around sexual expression from Free Speech to the realm of Public Health.

Getting Advice From the #NoFap Subreddit

While anti-porn activists have attempted to hijack public health discourse, and funds, for several years,  Kearns’ latest article, concerning an actual public health crisis, repeats the usual unscientific myths about “porn addiction” common in War On Porn rhetoric, but it gives them a COVID-19 spin.

“In an attempt to stop our healthcare systems from crashing amid the COVID-19 global pandemic, many are stuck in self-isolation, facing the stress of joblessness and indefinite uncertainty,” Kearns writes. “At such a juncture, many men may well be wondering whether they picked the wrong week to quit pornography.”

(Incidentally, from her writings, Kearns appears to believe that only men masturbate to porn.)

The source for the latter statement appears to be a quick stroll through the #NoFap subreddit, a hub for a masculinist subculture holding on to the debunked Victorian belief, with deep Medieval roots, that men lose some kind of “vital essence” if they masturbate. The #NoFap subculture believes masculinity — and overall willpower — are somehow related to semen retention.

The bulk of Kearns’ article includes quotes from #NoFappers complaining about “relapsing” in their use of porn.

“This corona s*** is killing me,” one of the anonymous men quoted by Kearns laments. “Not the virus but the quarantine. I went to the gym every day and I was very active in my social life but now I have nowhere to go and nothing to do. I relapsed after 24 days.”

“Slowly descending into madness in the lockdown,” another overdramatic #NoFap redditor offers. “Not yet crazy enough to resort to porn. But we’ll see.”

After a passing mention to apparent studies that allegedly link porn use to “poorer mental-health outcomes and another 45 neuroscientific studies suggesting that porn is addictive,” Kearns, who has no known qualifications as a sex therapist, sex expert, scientist or psychologist, concludes that it’s “hardly surprising that not everyone is finding the increased temptation to watch porn a welcome distraction.”

Kearns’ proposed solution to quarantine ennui comes wholesale from the #NoFap subreddit.

The Reddit #NoFappers, she enthuses, “recommend meditation, exercise, connecting and communicating with others virtually, and limiting one’s daily internet use.”

To demonstrate how destructive porn use can be, Kearns sneaks in a pedestrian example of digital ekphrasis, writing, “one of the #NoFap forum’s users posted a meme showing a deep river labeled ‘urges,’ hanging over a built-up community labeled ‘my fullest potential,’ which is prevented from being flooded by a wall labeled ‘self-control.'”

The porn industry, Kearns concludes, “may pounce on the opportunity of a global pandemic. But at a time of isolation, boredom, and fear, it only adds more misery.”

But for all of her pseudoscientific claims and her use of fringe forums for self-help masculinists with Victorian notions of “vitalism,” Kearns’ anti-porn, anti-masturbation views are, in fact, religiously inspired.

Last week, as the quarantine began around St. Patrick’s Day, Kearns wrote this as a National Review short item: “This will be the first St. Patrick’s Day in centuries not to have a parade in New York City nor a public Mass in its cathedral. Perhaps, then, this is a good moment to reflect on the more solitary aspects of the saint’s character.”

“As a teenager, he was captured by bandits and taken to Ireland where he worked as a herdsman,” Kearns adds, confusingly mixing history with legend. “It is said that it was during this time — a time of loneliness and angst — that he developed a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Christian faith.”

What Kerns really wants the young conservative men reading the National Review to do during the pandemic is “pray the porn away.”

Terry Crews’ ‘No Porn Quarantine’

Also yesterday, Terry Crews — the athlete and actor known for an upbeat persona, motivational “you-can-do-it!” exercise videos, outspoken born-again Christianity and, increasingly, being a vocal spokesperson for the War On Porn and the #NoFap movement — offered an Instagram Live seminar to his followers encouraging them not to touch themselves during the quarantine.

“Hey guys, how you doin’? At 3:30 I’m gonna be on Instagram Live talking about a ‘No Porn Quarantine.’ Yes — a ‘No Porn Quarantine,'” Crews told his followers on an Instagram post still pinned to his page. “I’m here to answer your questions, here to talk about what pornography does to you, what it did to me. I wanna answer the questions. Let’s talk it out.”

Crews added that “this virus, and the quarantine has really brought the porn corporations out and they’re giving the stuff away in an attempt to get you hooked. So, let’s talk about it. Some people don’t even think you can be addicted to pornography, so discuss it! Let’s talk about it. Somebody prove me wrong, all right?”

Crews has called himself both a survivor of Hollywood sexual harassment — he is one of the few male performers to have publicly joined the #MeToo movement — and of “porn addiction.”

Maitland Ward, a mainstream actress and an award-winning porn performer who worked with Crews in the 2006 comedy “White Chicks,” expressed disappointed with Crews’ moralistic crusade.

“I have known Terry as a costar and a friend in the past,” Ward told XBIZ. “He was always funny and loving, which is why it shocks and saddens me even more that someone of his caliber and his reach would use his platform to actively try and bankrupt an entire industry that is suffering right now.”

Considering Crews had “such hard times at the beginning of his career, I would think there would be empathy there,” she continued. “These stigmas, stereotypes and really targeted misogyny are that much more real to me today.”

“But you know what’s also real?” Ward added. “People talking back and standing up — performers and sex workers demanding their rights and their dignity and their power like never before.”

Ward doubts Crews influence will reach beyond a small number of #NoFap zealots and believes he will ultimately have “no impact on people turning off porn.”

“It does serve as a highlighted example of what sex workers and adult performers face daily,” Ward told XBIZ. “But times are changing, and we, as an industry, are making that change happen.”

Adult and mainstream actress Maitland Ward and anti-porn activist Terry Crews at a social event.

NYC Health’s Inclusive ‘Sex and COVID-19’

As anti-porn activists continue spreading myths about masturbation and adult content, the New York City Department of Health has been widely praised for a sensible tip sheet advising on safer sex practices during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

In a non-stigmatizing, inclusive statement, New York’s public health officials recommended the following:

  • Have sex with people close to you.
  • You are your safest sex partner. Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands, and any sex toys, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex.
  • The next safest partner is someone you live with. Having close contact — including sex — with only a small circle of people helps prevent spreading COVID-19.
  • You should avoid close contact — including sex — with anyone outside your household. If you do have sex with others, have as few partners as possible.
  • If you usually meet your sex partners online or make a living by having sex, consider taking a break from in-person dates. Video dates, sexting or chatrooms may be options for you.

It might seem odd that in 2020 a public health team has to be praised for stating the obvious — that there is nothing inherently wrong with masturbation as a way to satisfy sexual arousal. But one has to remember that as recently as 1994, Democratic president Bill Clinton dismissed his Surgeon General, Joycelyn Elders, after a year on the job, for recommending masturbation as a safer sex practice.

Main Image: Composite image of a #NoFap subreddit thread and a selfie taken by Terry Crews.



Sex and COVID-19 (NYC Health)



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