Is viewing pornography considered cheating? This is a question that is frequently raised by wives and girlfriends who have caught their significant others looking at pornographic material – be it on the Internet or in a magazine. To prove this, take a took at some back issues of your daily paper and read the “Dear Miss Manners” or “Annie’s Mailbox” columns where readers ask for advice. Many of their questions are about what they can do to stop their husbands or boyfriends from reading pornography.
“He’s not just reading or looking at pornography, he’s practically drooling over the pages!”
That’s one comment we read recently from a frantic housewife. Comments like hers certainly force us to think about whether or not the act of viewing or reading pornography can be considered cheating on your spouse.
A writer for CNN said that if we were to take the Internet alone, over 28,000 surfers go to porn sites every second. We repeat: every second. If you were to calculate that in minutes and in hours, how many porno fans do we have in our midst? But like we said, that’s just the Internet.
How many people do we know buy Penthouse and Playboy monthly? We wouldn’t really know, would we, because many men won’t dare admit buying them. At least for the Internet, there are tools that measure visitor traffic, and the 28,000 + figure cited by the CNN writer could have some credibility. But what about people who sneak out and buy a porn magazine? Who tracks their numbers?
Should we panic that there exists human hunger for pornography? Or is it normal child’s play? Some teens go ballistic if you take their Nintendo or Xbox away from them, would men do the same if pornography was suddenly banned and made punishable if caught?
Viewing Pornography: Knowing the Difference
If anyone came up and announced that viewing pornography was the same as cheating, we believe there would be an outcry – a loud one – especially from male readers. The person making the claim would be hard-pressed to prove that viewing pornography is indeed tantamount to cheating.
At least 90% of humans have sexual fantasies. There’s no point contesting this. But of the 90% who have these fantasies, how many actually go out and turn sexual fiction into fact?
When we were in university, we browsed the pages of Penthouse and Playboy occasionally – not because we deliberately went out to buy them, but because they were available. Either a friend waved a copy of it to us or we stumbled upon issues carelessly left behind by the owner. By scanning the pages and giggling at some of the erotic poses, were we called “unfaithful” or “cheater” by our significant other? Of course not.
A question for women: what would you prefer – your partner flirting openly with your best friend or flipping (or clicking) porno material and doing it in front of you?
If we were to be 100% honest, we’d much rather he read pornography than flirt with our best friend. Seriously. Because if he did flirt openly with our best friend or with any female for that matter, we’d be tempted to re-think our relationship. Possibly even walk away from the relationship - who wants to put up with a live flirt the rest of your life? We’d rather get him a 12-month subscription to a porno mag which he can flip through in the privacy of our bedroom.
And then if he gets stimulated by the erotic pages and then turns to us and says, “honey, you think you could wear one of those things one day and parade in front of me – like on a good day when you don’t have one of those infamous headaches?”
Our answer? “No sweat, hon, just make sure you ask me first before you ask our neighbor or my colleague in the mini skirt, ok?”
So when we suggest that you have to know the difference between viewing pornography for the sake of curiosity and a bit of spice, and viewing pornography compulsively, then we can see things in better perspective.
To clarify: if your man looks at pornography and doesn’t hide and says he enjoys it occasionally, but then forgets about it after a few hours because he has to run off and play hockey, there’s absolutely nothing to gloat over.
When your man starts his mornings and ends his evenings with large doses of pornography (possibly during the lunch hour too), denies it and then has unexplained absences from home far too frequently and yes, starts salivating and huffing and puffing, and you can hear his heart beat two feet away, then you can conclude he’s not necessarily cheating, but is positively, unequivocally and absolutely deranged. A genuine sicko. Your man needs professional counselling.
Viewing Pornography: the Other Side of the Fence
Lest we be mistaken as being pro-porn because we believe that it has no link whatsoever to infidelity – real or imagined – we’ll make this clear: there are other more wholesome alternatives to viewing pornography. For example, we wouldn’t express shock and pass judgment about people who enjoy pornography once in awhile, but when it becomes too frequent so that they don’t find something else more worthwhile to do, then it raises our antennas.
And if viewing pornography seems to be responsible for the numerous sad and frightening stories we hear about everyday, then there is reason for alarm.
Edward Marriott wrote an article in the British paper, The Guardian, about what porn does to men. He said that in the UK, an estimated 33% of all internet users surf on porn sites. The American pornography industry is worth about $15 billion in revenues and that on a yearly basis, people spend their dollars more on porn than on films and the performing arts. The statistic that Marriott brought up and which raised our antennas was that in Los Angeles, more than 10,000 porno films are made, compared to the Hollywood average of only 400 movies annually.
If these trends continue, then woe to all of us. To us, the question, “is viewing pornography considered cheating” is only of secondary importance to the more alarming question, “why are we addicted to pornography?”
We think that the second question is a much more urgent one. Like alcohol and drug and gambling addictions, porno addiction implies that professional counseling may be called for.