‘He Chose Porn Over Me’- Women Harmed By Men Who Use Porn global launch

Robert Jensen launches book, contributors speak of trauma – and rebuilding

Originally published on Melinda Tankard Reist's blog. 

My new book ‘He Chose P*rn Over Me’: Women Harmed By Men Who Use P*rn was launched into the world at a global online event last Tuesday.

American author, speaker and activist, Robert Jensen, launched my seventh title (and sixth with Spinifex Press). I spoke also, joined by four of the book’s contributors – Serena, Carla, Tash and Sarah McDugal.

‘He Chose Porn Over Me’: Women Harmed by Men Who Use Porn shatters the popular myth that porn is harmless. Personal accounts of 25 brave women reveal the real-life trauma experienced by women at the hands of their porn-consuming partners.

Dr. Gail Dines, Professor Emerita of Sociology, President of Culture Reframed, said she couldn’t put it down! “Occasionally a book comes along that changes the way we think about the world. ‘He Chose Porn Over Me’: Women Harmed by Men Who Use P*rn is such a book. Reading the stories of women whose partners chose porn is both heartbreaking and enraging, and can no longer be ignored”, she wrote in an endorsement.

It’s a great pleasure to be here with you all to launch ‘He Chose Porn Over Me’ into the world.

All my gratitude to the contributors – some of who have joined us today – including Serena, Carla, Tash and Sarah who will say a few words.

It has been a privilege to bring your experiences to light, thank you for your bravery, honesty, vulnerability and strength. As Robert says in his endorsement, your stories will be a lifeline to other women.

To my publisher – Spinifex Press – whose imprint now appears on six of my seven titles – thank you Renate and Susan so much for believing in this book – and getting it into print in record time! I am so fortunate that I have this brave, independent feminist publisher willing to put my words between covers and send them forth into the world!

To Robert Jensen who I first met at the Sydney Writer’s Festival a number of years ago. Thank you for your remarkable support and for endorsing and launching our book today. Your enthusiasm and passion for our cause means so much. Your line a few moments ago “This is a book saturated in women’s pain” is the perfect description.

And to the other endorsees – Gail Dines, Sheila Jeffreys, Paul Lavergne, Steve Bidduph and Anna McGahan. What you all wrote blew me away.

Caroline Norma’s excessive generosity to me has meant so much over many years. This book has benefited from her insight and wisdom and I’m delighted she’s called in from Japan to be here today.

Sarah McDugal is here too from Tennessee: Sarah came into my life at the perfect time – I’d come across her blog post re where you might end up if you marry a compulsive porn user – her line “Why choose to walk into hell?” is the title of her piece in our book. Sarah you’ve been an amazing support and sounding board through the process. The resource section also benefitted from Sarah’s significant input.

Special thanks also to Tash whose experience and insight also benefitted our book.

Paul Lavergne – with us today from Canada, – has been unwavering in his support of my work for a number of years. As a therapist working in the field, Paul provided invaluable advice. Look out for our ‘Ask the therapist’ podcast in the New Year!

To my Collective Shout team – Daniel, Caitlin, Renee, Lyn, and Melinda L (who has been on leave) your love and loyalty sustains me daily. And to family and dear friends for upholding me through another book journey.

‘He Chose Porn Over Me’ came to fruition as a result of a Facebook post late last year.

A young woman had called off her wedding in the same week she discovered her fiancé was a habitual porn user.

Women commented: “I wish I’d called off my marriage!”, “I wish I’d seen the warning signs!”, “I wish I’d heard the advice: 'Don’t date men who use porn!'”.

I shared extracts of accounts they began sending me, resulting in more stories.

In a short time I had more than enough stories for a book. And now, here it is.

This collection gives us an inside look into the lived experiences of women in relationships with habitual porn-consuming men.

It strips away the dominant narrative about porn being not only harmless but a benefit to relationships and society. The PR spin of the global multi-billion dollar industry is ripped to shreds in this book.

The personal devastation – brokenness, abandonment, emotional turmoil, trauma is laid bare.

The 25 women in this book were collateral damage in their partner’s insatiable greed for porn. Their stories tell of the crushing of intimacy, respect, connection, love. Felt inadequate, devalued, not able to compete, never good enough.

Porn colonised their union, their families and homes, seeped into every aspect of their lives, leaving women rejected and scarred.

Porn consumption changed the way their partner acted towards them.

“He used me like a blow up doll” writes Florence.

Women told of a total lack of respect for their boundaries, an overblown sense of entitlement, expectations that they would provide sex-on-demand, and participate in sex acts they found degrading and demeaning. The man’s gratification triumphed empathy every time.

Women described having to replicate the performance of women in the porn industry, with their partners expecting a ‘porn star experience’.

The women could tell when their partners were using porn or having a ‘relapse’, because the nature of the sex changed. “It was amazing how his behaviour changed when he was watching porn compared to when he was not watching it,” writes Maggie. “I knew when he had had a lapse before he even told me.”

It is difficult to refuse sex when in a relationship with a man saturated in porn experiences. In porn, women are up for it 24/7. And refusal is just another porn genre called ‘forced’ or ‘violated’ (Tankard Reist, 2021).

Forcing compliance was a standard component of the men’s sexual repertoire. Madeleine told me: “He would emotionally abuse me for saying no” (pers. com., 16 January 2022). And Kate wrote in this book: “After being forced to perform sexual tasks for his own pleasure, I would lie in bed and cry silently.”

Men asserted their sexual ownership over their partners. Women were subjected to what was essentially sexual terrorism in their own homes. The men, turbo-charged by porn, were intoxicated by sexualised power.

Some women made the stomach-churning discovery of child sexual exploitation material on their partner’s computer.

‘He Chose Porn Over Me’ situates porn as a significant element in the perpetration of domestic abuse. The men in this book carried out physical, mental, financial, verbal, emotional and spiritual violence.

The porn the men were consuming translated into sexual and emotional abuse, and coercive control of their partners.[i]

Some women described near death experiences from porn-inspired sex acts, in particular choking (a red flag for homicide). A number of women were raped by their partners. One passed out after being choked during sex; another described being unable to breathe when he put his full weight on her and pressed her face into the pillow. Two women were pressured into sex shortly after the birth of a child, with one suffering the agony of torn stitches as a result.

‘He Chose Porn Over Me’ is intended as a warning to young women: Why choose to walk into hell? (in the words of Sarah McDugal).

It’s for women drowning in self-blame; the women who think there is something wrong with them for feeling repulsed when men want to act out their violent fantasies on their bodies. And for the women who know, deep down, it’s not meant to be like this.

It is also a permission-giving book: women should not have to sacrifice their lives for a man who shows no desire to choose her over porn – who has allowed the erosion of his humanity and become a patron of a global industry built on the bodies of women and girls.

You should not be expected to sacrifice the rest of your life to a porn-twisted man who loves his porn more than he loves you.

The women who tell their distressing stories are now rebuilding and reclaiming their lives.

And they want their experiences to be of help to other women. They have generously offered their advice, in the hope that lessons can be learned – that relationships with men hooked up to pornography’s misogyny drip system will not lead to happiness and flourishing

I hope this book will help women demand higher standards in relationships, be more discerning, recognise the signs, and turn away from men who consume porn. And that, more broadly, individuals who value intimacy, connection, mutuality, empathy and compassion to quote Robert (as I do at the end of the book), “the emotions that make stable, decent human communities possible” (Jensen, 2007, p. 161) – will endeavour to protect these essential qualities from being devoured by the global porn industry.


You can order the book here.

See also:

Media Release: Women harmed by men who use porn and rise of sex dolls: new books published by Spinifex Press

"Ask the boys to stop making sexual moaning sounds in class": MTR piece in Eureka Street

Growing Up in Pornland: Girls Have Had It with Porn Conditioned Boys - ABC, Melinda Tankard Reist

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  • Caitlin Roper
    published this page in News 2022-08-05 23:53:00 +1000

You can defend their right to childhood

A world free of sexploitation is possible!

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