May 5, 2020

Porn and the Pressure to Perform: The Rise in Viagra Misuse Among Young Men

Porn and the Pressure to Perform: The Rise in Viagra Misuse Among Young Men

There’s no doubt that the porn industry has been a subject of heated debate amongst men and women for many years. What with a recent NUS study that involved 2500 students, 60% of young men and women stated that they use porn as an educational tool to learn more about sex. With the rise in porn viewership, comes a rise of unrealistic expectations: intimacy is often eliminated from sex, and women often feeling pressured from their partners to recreate violent male pornographic fantasies, or perform acts that they may otherwise find degrading.

Whereas porn has created this evidently worrying culture of expectations for women, we often forget the expectations that are being created for men. Although the gender gap in porn viewership is still heavily weighted towards men, today, almost a third of people watching porn are female.

The internet has revolutionised the way that people are currently selecting their partners. Dating apps like Tinder, Bumble and Hinge have cultivated an infinite number of options for both men and women seeking temporary partners for sexual gain, leading to an increasingly superficial selection process. If someone’s not good enough, there’s plenty more fish in the sea.

And with the rise of pornographic content that depicts men with endless endurance who can give women multiple orgasms in less than 10 minutes, men are taking drastic measures to keep up with this pressure to perform.

In 2016, £17m of fake Viagra pills were illegally being bought online by men. After the pills were responsible for multiple incidents involving seizures, heart problems and visual impairments, in 2018, the British government decided that Britain was to be the first European nation to sell Viagra without a prescription. Today, men can easily purchase packs of the blue pills over the counter at a pharmacy or have them delivered to their home address.

Although I think that this is slowly removing the stigma of sexual dysfunctions and is also eradicating the problem of fake Viagra purchasing, it’s also having severe implications on young men, who are beginning to normalise a misuse of the drug.

Ever since porn became readily available to stream online in 2008, the rise of impotence and sexual dysfunctions among men has increased by 91%. Society is facing what an Italian study has coined “sexual anorexia”: men and women’s perception of normal sex is being rebranded as “too vanilla”. The normalisation of violent and graphic pornographic content is causing men to find that they can no longer perform when faced with sex in real life.

Now, we have men who are going to clubs and using Viagra as a recreational drug, mixing alcohol, cocaine, and MDMA with the medication in order to ensure that they can still manage to perform if the opportunity arises at the end of the night. According to a 2019 Global Drug Survey, the UK is the most likely European country to combine sex with drugs.

Has it really come to this? Last week, I talked about the negative implications that the media has on women, but men are also constantly being told to be dominant, powerful and assertive. Our society is so consumed by this anxiety to perform to our social norms, that it seems we have psychologically encouraged men to associate a perfect sexual performance with an idealised sense of masculinity.

So what we do to change this? We can start by looking at education. When schools don’t talk about sex, students are encouraged to look elsewhere to find information. And the most readily available site that anyone can use is porn. Although 75% of students who watch porn understand how unrealistic it is, young people still continue to replicate what they see behind a screen in real-life situations.

My school never gave me the sex education that everyone in our year needed – besides a lesson that taught us how to say no, and a rather scarring presentation of all the potential STDs that we could get once we actually decided that we wanted to have sex, we never got the “condom on a banana” experience, never learnt about the multitude of psychological side-effects that came with taking birth control, and the subject of porn was never even acknowledged.

How can we expect to not feel pressured to act or perform a certain way, if the only thing we have to go by is the porn industry? I think it’s time to make a change.