Tracy McMillan is a relationship expert, author and television writer. Her TV credits include "Mad Men," "Good Girls Revolt" and "United States of Tara." As an author, she’s written a comedic self-help book, “Why You’re Not Married…Yet," a memoir, “I Love You and I’m Leaving You Anyway” and a novel, “Multiple Listings.” Currently, she’s developing a half-hour relationship comedy and a musical drama that features songs written by Sia. She’s also writing a book based on her viral TEDx talk,"The Person You Really Need to Marry."
Ok let's just jump right in, shall we? What do you think about the spread of online porn?
Oh, thank you for this question. I have a theory that porn is the cigarettes of our time. That we’re going to look back in forty years and say, “Oh, everyone was doing it! We all thought it was fine!” So yes, I think porn is a big deal when it comes to relationships, but not from a moral standpoint. I happen to be the child of two sex workers (my dad was a pimp, and my mom was a "Girlfriend Experience"-type call girl). What I worry about is how it affects the brain, specifically the reward center. I’m not sure we evolved to be able to handle porn! To draw an analogy, we all like sweet things, but there are no Big Gulps and Dunkin’ Donuts in nature—and if you give people unfettered access to sugar, you end up with a nation of obese people. There has never been a world where you could be sexually stimulated by literally thousands of new bodies every day. How can this not be having an effect on at least some of us?
Partner sex requires a lot of energy: intimacy, children, and uh, feelings. Who’s motivated to do all that when there are literally ten-hundred new women on the Internet every single night who never ask you to take out the garbage and are also dying to have a three-way? And it’s not just men. I know lots of women for whom the availability of Internet sex has had an impact on their real life as well. And don’t even get me started on teenage boys. I have a twenty-year-old son, and in his cohort, they pretty much all view porn before they ever do a drug or have a drink. Imagine watching porn for the first years of your sexual development? How does that affect partner sex when you actually manage to have it?
I want to make it clear, I’m not demonizing porn. I’m just saying I think it can hijack the reward center in a really powerful way. I have no doubt we’re probably going to see a day where people quit porn like people quit cigarettes. I’m already there. I am happily in a porn-free relationship by mutual agreement, and not incidentally it has been a really hot thing.