If He Loves Me Why Does He Use Porn?

The 'Psychologies' debate at the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships played to a packed house, impressive for a rain-lashed Friday evening and a controversial topic.

 

The 'Psychologies' debate at the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships played to a packed house, impressive for a rain-lashed Friday evening and a controversial topic.

Event chair, the redoubtable Professor Brett Kahr kicked proceedings off by taking a ‘show of hands’ poll on the question: ‘If a man uses porn, does it mean there’s a problem in the relationship?’ Few in the audience agreed, but the question itself sparked a heated discussion about: 'It depends how often,' and 'it depends what kind of stuff he’s looking at.'

The stellar panel comprised Susanna Abse, centre director, columnist Suzi Godson, counsellor Jenny de Yong and Booker winner Howard Jacobson and they took it in turn to assess where we are as a society with porn, and how far its prevalence is problematic to relationships. 'We spend more on pornography than on entertainment and sport put together,' announced Kahr, to get the debate rolling.

'Do women use porn in the same way as men?' pondered Susanna Abse. 'Women don’t need porn — we use our imagination,' retorted Suzi Godson, who revealed that her Times postbag invariably featured letters from women who felt betrayed by their partner’s use of porn, particularly the secrecy which surrounded it. From the front row, Sun agony aunt Deidre Sanders concurred.

Jenny de Yong provided a fascinating insight from her couples’ casebook, an anonymous composite of a typical problem concerning use of porn, in this case a new mother and a husband who regularly retreated to his study to view internet porn. From here on in, disparate, sometimes fiery, views came thick and fast, both from the panel and the audience.

However, no one could definitively agree on an answer to the question posed by the debate. One useful benchmark was suggested by Suzi Godson. 'It’s when porn gets interactive that it becomes a problem,' she noted, citing webcams and other online tools that went one step beyond the essential voyeurism of porn.

Quote of the night has to go to Howard Jacobson, discussing the rise of hard-core material. 'Men don’t masturbate to images from The Sistine Chapel,' he quipped.

In closing, Kahr observed that this debate raised so many issues it could be one of a whole series on the topic.

The next Tavistock debate will take place on Friday December 10th and the subject is: Does the Person Holding the Purse Strings Wear the Trousers?