Monty, 31, an actor from Queens, who between shooting scenes spends about an hour a day masturbating to online porn, says he’s noticed the shift. “I was with a girl who seemed to be in an arms race with porn,” he says. “She had this imaginary Soviet Union she kept trying to out-fuck.”
“Women are turning up the dial,” says Evan, also 31. “I’m a pleaser. I get off on a woman’s arousal. But I’ve noticed that women are getting a lot more vocal now. Either I’m doing something I’m not aware of, or women are beginning to mimic what happens in porn. Honestly, it’s kind of weird. I’m not sure if I like it.”
Tony, 48, a web designer in St. Paul, who separated from his wife a few years ago after twenty years of marriage, echoes the thought. “I’ve always thought it’s really hot when women in porn movies say dirty stuff,” he says. “Usually, they’re just literally narrating the shit that’s happening, giving the play-by-play: ‘You’re fucking me! Your dick’s in my ass! I’m sucking your cock right now!’ For whatever reason, that’s what does it for me. But recently a woman I was with started saying all that stuff, and it just kind of spooked me. She seemed slightly nuts.”
And so a conundrum emerges. Men, oversaturated by porn, secretly hunger for the variety that porn offers. Women, noticing a decline in their partners’ libidos, try to reenact the kinds of scenes that men watch on their computer screens. Men, as a result, get really freaked out. They don’t want their real women and their fantasy women to inhabit the same body. Or, as Ron analogizes: “Remember Ghostbusters? How in love Bill Murray was with Dana, the Sigourney Weaver character? He feels lucky to even get her to agree to a date with him, but then when he shows up at her door, she’s possessed by demons, floating four feet above her bed, begging him to fuck her brains out. And he’s completely rattled by it and can’t get out of there fast enough. Well, that’s what it’s like when your girlfriend suddenly starts acting like a porn queen. You’re like, ‘Baby, where’d you go? I just want my girlfriend back.’ ”
Like any thorough researcher, I decided to investigate a theory. I had heard about something called the National Day of Unplugging, sponsored by the New York–based Jewish group Reboot, which encourages people to take a one-day vacation from their tech. But I chose to unplug in my own way: by refusing to visit the usual series of tawdry websites I frequent before bedtime. Now, I’m certainly not trying to indict porn, or to conclude that it has no place in men’s lives, whether they are alone or in company. And I’ll concede that some couples still find it to be something of a turn-on. But realigning one’s relationship to it might just improve one’s actual relationships—especially if you’re often finding yourself in the bedroom, staring into the eyes of a very confused partner. So I did some realigning.
I went without porn for a day. Then I tried it for two. Then three. On the fourth day, I had the fortune of having sex with a woman. And nothing was faked, although I can only speak for myself.