Salvo 02.09.2024 5 minutes

Fapping, Fascism, and What NPR Believes Is Good for Men

In this photo illustration, National Public Radio (NPR) logo

Online pornography and masturbation are causing immense damage.

According to a recent essay from National Public Radio (NPR), experts are worried about the rise of anti-masturbation challenges and online groups to support men who choose to stop masturbating. Men who participate seek to become more independent, self-controlled, chivalrous, and less ashamed. Their relationships might even improve as they stop looking at their wives as sex objects and start seeing them as actual people. Worse still, they may become more culturally and politically conservative.

Fortunately, Lisa Hagen and a team of “sexperts” are on the case and eager to push these misguided men back into their basements so they can masturbate more often. Left unchecked, fewer men “fapping” (slang for masturbating) to online pornography might precipitate an epidemic of depression, anxiety, and even right-wing extremism.

Hagen comments on the apparent lack of evidence and expertise behind the movement. None of the “nofap” forums or self-help companies are led by certified doctors or sex therapists, and none of their claims are based on peer-reviewed research: “The term ‘nofap’ has come to encompass a set of unproven claims that not masturbating confers social and health benefits.” To demonstrate the absurdity of the movement, she addresses its most outrageous claims, such that quitting masturbation will confer “superpowers” to men and make them irresistible to women, which are not scientifically demonstrable.

She discusses the experience of three men who took up the challenge of not masturbating, one positive and two negative. The first man was experiencing marital issues because of his habit, and was able to stop because of the support he found from a nofap community online: “When Tim felt tempted to watch porn, he’d post in the forum…. NoFap.com, Tim says, saved his life.”

The second man believed the habit caused his erectile dysfunction, so he joined a group and tried stopping, though he relapsed often. Eventually, he realized his ED was caused by his ADHD medication, so he stopped taking his medication and went back to masturbating. Today, “he looks back at his time with these ideas and wishes he hadn’t spent so much of high school stressed out about masturbation.”

The third man had “early success with a reboot challenge” but soon struggled and constantly felt bad about it. It turns out he also liked wearing women’s clothes and felt judged by anti-masturbation forums claiming that “using porn will drive people to more and more extreme fetishes or kinks.” He eventually left these forums and presumably feels more comfortable exploring his “gender and sexual identity” as he continues his masturbation habit.

After telling these men’s stories, Hagen then talks about what constitutes addiction: “the word ‘addiction’ means different things to different people…. There is no official porn addiction diagnosis in the United States.” Because there’s no consensus on a set definition, she and her likeminded sources conclude that porn and masturbation addiction are subjective issues that don’t merit the same serious treatments as other addictions. As one “licensed therapist” notes, “if you want to view pornography less, that’s a reasonable goal. Identifying as an addict is not going to help with that.”

Finally, Hagen gets to the real point of her essay: the rise of right-wing extremism and misogyny. According to sociologist Kelsy Burke, “in nofap spaces online, it’s a short leap from self-help to more extreme, misogynist messages.” It turns out that men who want to stop masturbating and feel like men again often gravitate toward voices that preach masculine virtues like strength, independence, and confidence. Of course, for Hagen and Burke, this is simply code for becoming “alt-right, neo-Nazi, white supremacist, antisemitic.”

Though the essay seeks to discredit the anti-masturbation movement and discourage people from kicking the habit, it nevertheless highlights a massive problem for men today. Moreover, the article cites helpful resources on how to stop. Hagen’s weak argument relies on appeals to authority, confuses correlation and causation, and knocks over straw man arguments as fast as it can make them. In case any men had doubts about giving up masturbation, they can read Hagen’s essay and rest assured that their suspicions were correct.

In truth, the damage done by online pornography and masturbation can hardly be overstated. It breaks up existing marriages, prevents potential marriages, and plays a major role in decreasing birthrates. Most women don’t want to be with men who regularly masturbate to random naked women performing sex acts. They rightly see it as something repugnant, exploitative, and dishonest.

I might not be a certified sexologist, but I am confident that porn and masturbation emasculate our young men. In general, boys today are more insecure and antisocial, lack ambition, and are uninterested in dating girls than earlier cohorts. Generations of men who grew up before high-speed internet were more energetic, competitive, cocky, and very interested in having girlfriends.

Not surprisingly, we didn’t have the growing achievement gap between young men and women that exists today. Nor were we hindered by the roundabout social media courtship rituals (otherwise known as “talking”) that is the standard practice for Gen Z. Our approach was direct: impress the girls with our achievements and conversational skills and then ask them out. The worst they could say was “no,” and while it hurt, we survived and moved on.

From what I can remember, there wasn’t an epidemic of loneliness, depression, or anxiety, nor was there a collective obsession with sexual identity. Adolescence and post-adolescence were relatively straightforward phases of life, and pornography was considered “dirty” and largely unobtainable. It certainly wasn’t widely available, as it is today. Somehow we never grew up to embrace fascism.

Nevertheless, Hagen is insisting that young men growing up like I did or those in the generations before mine are more at risk because developing a masturbation addiction was much more difficult than today. Not only does this reasoning have it completely backward, it is positively vicious (in the original sense of the word), compounding an already overwhelming problem and normalizing loser behavior.

It’s fundamental that men reject this lie. The solution is simple, though not easy: quit fapping. We’re made for much greater things, and porn was, is, and always will be a pernicious obstacle to happy men and healthy societies.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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