My name is Nathan. I watch pornography, and I masturbate.

Usually in that order.

I say that not by way of confession, nor am I in a recovery program making a declarative statement while looking to take control of my addiction. I’m simply being honest. It’s 2014, pornography is an $8 billion-a-year business, and yet people still lie about supporting it.

(To be fair, I’m not sure how porn is a multi-billion dollar business, or how I support it, considering everything I view is free and I have advertisements blocked… but then again, I still get emails telling me a Nigerian prince only needs $1,000 of my money in order to free his millions from a bank, so I guess there are suckers out there falling for scams and paying for things they can see for free. But I digress.)

Anyway, I bring this up because my wife was out boozing it up with some friends. As happens when alcohol meets the brain with giggling women, the topics of relationships, sex lives, and pornography came up. When she got home, the Mrs. tossed an odd nugget of information my way: when her turn in the tell-all rotation came up, she said she knew I watched porn, and the other women were taken aback.

They were surprised I admitted to watching it, and equally surprised this admission was to my Mrs.. The origins of their shock seemed to be rooted in the confidence their boyfriends/husbands didn’t look at porn. In some cases, this was because the significant other said he didn’t partake in that particular hobby; in other cases, the woman said her feminine instinct would cue her in to any extracurricular hand habits of her hubby/boy-toy.

I laughed and told my wife that someone was lying. I don’t know exactly who, but someone in those relationships is a fibber. The husbands may be lying to their wives; the wives could have been lying to the collective dinner group (doubtful). Maybe those women were lying to themselves about what their husbands do when they’re not around. But the overall statement is one of fiction. I know, because I’m a man, and in all my years as a man I have yet to meet one of my penised brothers who didn’t take the occasional gander at online delights.

Well, no, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Every so often I meet a man with the sex drive of a tree sloth, and when he says he has no interest in watching two shaved apes go at it, I believe him. But those rare instances aside, men look at pornography, and men masturbate.

Since it’s not 1950, I don’t know why we have to lie about that. In my time on this planet, I have had several women ask me if it was normal for a man to look at porn. Their idiot boyfriend/husband forgot to clear the browser history, or she was just curious, or she asked him and he lied said he wasn’t into it…

I can think of a couple reasons men might lie about their ocular interests: shame, and insecurity. Shame, because maybe there are still people out there who believe masturbation is icky, immoral, or wrong, and they don’t want anyone to know they enjoy it just as much as everyone else. Insecurity, because most men I know have dealt with a woman stuck in the “Oh, is that what you like?” mentality. The porn actresses have bigger boobs, or are more daring, or are more skilled… that can leave a self-doubting person feeling they lack in the sex department.

I look at porn maybe twice a week. Couple minutes each time. Five tops. Because the beauty of porn is: you can see what you want quickly, and get out. You don’t have to sit through exposition or plot—“Pizza’s here, hey, you’re only wearing a towel!” You watch a couple scenes, and then it’s off to the races. Watching porn isn’t something you make an afternoon of; you realize you’re carrying a little extra weight in the testes and decide to do something to release it. You don’t have to light candles, create atmosphere, or get in the mood. You just Nike away.

What I watch is pretty vanilla. There are bizarre, fetish-oriented videos out there I just don’t understand, but hey, if two consenting adults are into something? Whatever.

I think that’s the secret to any relationship—two consenting adults connecting on emotional and sexual levels. I found a woman that doesn’t care I satisfy myself every so often. Hell, she sometimes feels relieved, because it means my meat paws aren’t clawing at her that night. So we match. If out there, two people who both happen to like gimp costumes and bananas in the butthole find one another and fall in love? More power to them, too. Which means that if there are men out there who want to lie about masturbating and watching porn, and women who want to believe their husbands are part of that precious few fraction of fellows not supporting the 4.4 billion clicks some websites get per month? I guess I have to say more power to them, too, even though I spent the early part of this essay rallying against such nonsense. I guess just don’t understand why they go through the hassle of lying, when being honest would be so much easier.

After all, self-service was the high point of Lester Burnham’s day.

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