NoFap founder is suing a neuroscientist who thinks masturbating is okay

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NoFap brand and website owner Alexander Rhodes is suing a neuroscientist for defamation, claiming she made “numerous false and defamatory statements” about him and his work.

Rhodes founded NoFap in 2011 after – as he relates in the lawsuit – having a lifelong addiction to porn from the age of 11. The NoFap website’s tenets are that it is merely trying to help people overcome porn addiction by temporarily giving up masturbating. The website carefully claims that it is just a website, not a movement, despite having emerged from an associated subreddit with 515,000 subscribers and others Twitter account with more than 19,000 followers.

NoFap is most commonly associated with #NoNutNovember, an online challenge in which men try not to masturbate or otherwise achieve orgasm for a month. As with many online male-centric communities, there are parts of the community that focus on men’s rights, are misogynistic, and have molested people. A 2018 study published in peer-reviewed journal Sexualities found that members of NoFap online communities do not see women in porn as “real women” and that “real sex” comes from the predominantly male, heterosexual Worldview of its members is seen.

Nicole Prause, a neuroscientist who studies sexology from a neuroscientific and physiological point of view, has researched what is known as “porn addiction” and found no scientific basis for it. “These online communities have gone into a frenzy even though men wouldn’t have worried in the past,” Prause told the Guardian in 2016. “Then the next time they have sex, they’ll cause themselves even more grief.”

Prause has publicly said that she is regularly harassed by NoFap supporters, and in the past few days she has alleged that the harassment and death threats from Rhodes fans have escalated to the point that the FBI and local law enforcement are involved. Rhodes firmly denies these claims.

In the lawsuit, Rhodes alleges that Prause orchestrated a smear campaign against him that resulted in “significant reputational and actual damage” in revenues, productivity and expenses exceeding $ 75,000. In court records, Rhodes accused Prause of repeatedly contacting journalists to provide false information about him and NoFap, of making false accusations about Rhodes against the producer of a television show that booked him as a guest, and of making false accusations against Rhodes at Pennsylvania. to have submitted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Alexander Rhodes and NoFap’s lawsuit has neither justification nor its defamatory and unsubstantiated claims about me, my character, or my business,” Prause told Motherboard. “He has a right to his opinion, but he is not entitled to spread total untruths about me in order to benefit himself and to silence the speech.”

Rhodes’ attorney Andrew Stebbins told Motherboard that Rhodes “is and has been an avid and willing participant in the provocative debate about pornography addiction, and is always open to honest and fair criticism of his work, views and opinions. However, he will not condone malicious personal assault by anyone who attempts to discredit, belittle, or otherwise injure him by false statements that aim to assassinate his character and reputation. This case will only be limited in response to such attacks and in an appropriate manner. “

Rhodes also launched a crowdfunding campaign seeking to raise $ 200,000 to pay for the lawsuit. At the time of publication, he has raised $ 34,327.89.

Sex educators, adult industry groups, and therapists told Motherboard they were afraid of legal action from NoFap, and some of them were unwilling to speak openly about masturbation and the stigma of watching porn.

Max Bennet, vice president of new media at the amateur camming platform Stripchat, said Stripchat decided to host a weekly interactive stream for users with therapist David Ley after conducting a user survey.

The informal survey found that many of the people who look at the platform feel bad – or at least fearful – about their porn and masturbation habits. Of the 6,300 strip chat users surveyed, 42 percent stated that they were at least “occasionally afraid” with regard to their viewing habits.

On Thursday, Ley will be hosting a special November stream on the topic of No Nut. But Ley and Stripchat are reluctant to even mention NoFap in announcements because of fear of being harassed by people in the movement.

“These people are some of the most obsessed and hateful people I’ve ever met online,” Ley told Motherboard. “They frantically attack anyone who disagrees with them, with extraordinary black and white thinking… My impression is that they tend to be very obsessed people who turn their obsessive use of porn into obsession, humans who may expose that the problem is within them, not the porn. In the end, they are the problem, not the porn. “

The term NoFap was trademarked by Rhodes in 2013. The NoFap website states that “using the NoFap trademarks as a general word for quitting porn or not masturbating” is not an authorized use of the mark.

“The need [for Stripchat’s therapy chat] is there, in part I believe, because of the anti-masturbation messages that have been spread by various groups, “said Bennet.” When it came to #NoNutNovember, we decided to focus specifically on that topic, but we did avoided using certain phrases and posts in our conversations because of the brand. “

“There is cause for concern about the way the NoFap brand could be used by Alexander Rhodes to silence criticism of anti-masturbation campaigns that have historically been referred to as NoFap,” said Mike Stabile, communications director the advocacy group for the adult industry’s free speech coalition, Motherboard said. “This makes it extremely difficult for critics of these anti-masturbation campaigns to reach an audience because they cannot use ‘NoFap’ without fear of legal retaliation – anti-Semitism, misogyny and harassment of the masturbation community are targeted when they use the term . “

All of these – the slippery nature of NoFap’s founding principles, Prause allegedly being harassed online – are typical when trying to understand the subject of groups like NoFap and No Nut November. Last year, Motherboard investigated the origins of the anti-masturbation movement: refusal to orgasm and control over one’s own sex drive are central principles of historically fascist and white supremacists, including the Klu Klux Klan. Rhodes, on the other hand, expressed that he was not “anti-porn” or “anti-masturbation” and stated in a press release: “Our success in raising awareness of pornography addiction has resulted in us being the subject of an extended defamation campaign,” which “ tried to falsely portray us as belonging to religious groups, hate groups and extremists in order to discredit us. Our website brings together people from all walks of life to work together to overcome porn addiction. These elements seem to falsely make the subject controversial and misrepresent us in order to distract people from our actual views, facts and emerging scientific research. “

“I find it immensely fascinating how these people take on the role of beleaguered martyrs fighting against evil, but then claiming that their arguments are not based on morality,” Ley said. “Personally and professionally, I am concerned that they portray men and masculinity as so weak that dirty films overwhelm our sanity and self-will and paralyze our penises. It’s a disturbing representation of their idea of ​​men. “

This article was updated on July 23, 2020 to include additional statements from Rhodes and his attorney.

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