kanyefap

Kanye West Is a NoFap Hero

The anti-porn ‘Jesus Is King’ artist has become an inspirational icon for anti-masturbation incels and the fringe right

Kanye West is a NoFap guy. That’s according to members of NoFap, anyway — a grassroots internet movement for those who want to abstain from masturbating (and quit looking at porn). The coalition boasts around half a million subscribers on Reddit alone, plus a standalone NoFap forum, Twitter presence and meme-heavy Instagram account. Across these channels this past weekend, NoFappers discussed, mostly with a positive outlook, an interview in which Kanye professed an addiction to porn that began with an issue of Playboy his father had left lying around their home.

It’s typical of West’s aggrandizing style to trace “almost every choice” in his life to the discovery of a nudie mag at an impressionable age. It’s also a neat encapsulation of the NoFap mindset, which inflates the issue of self-pleasure to the point of terrifying totality. Having conflicted feelings about masturbation is nothing out-of-the-ordinary, but these guys — and they are, overwhelmingly, guys, right down to “fap,” their onomatopoeia for the sound of the five-knuckle shuffle — seem consumed and tortured by their solo-sex history.

Like West, they view it as key to their identity, and who they are from day to day. And just as Kanye has entered a Christian phase that allies him with some of the same right-wing types who cheered his fleeting bond with Donald Trump, the NoFap idea is at root a conservative one, even repressive in its dogmatism. The proto-fascist street gang known as the Proud Boys forbid porn and set strict limits on wanking. Along those lines, Gab, a social network popular with white supremacists, applauded West’s newfound religiosity and inappropriate request that collaborators working on his album Jesus Is King not have premarital sex.

You see how quickly, in NoFap land, the project of asserting agency and discipline over your impulses leads to controlling other people as well, and often by specious means. For one thing, there’s the regular conflation of masturbation, and orgasm in general, with porn. Note that Kanye, far from disavowing the first two, spoke only against the third, yet was mostly embraced by NoFap as one of their own. Moreover, the legends of his porn habit make it out to be an ambient factor rather than something he used solely at physical release; Nicki Minaj recalls, when she first met the rapper, that he had porn playing in the studio and wanted to show her the erotic photos decorating the space.

All in all, NoFap encourages men not to balance a compulsion but turn off their sexuality altogether. In a so-called “hard mode” reboot, you’re expected to remain “PMO-free,” refusing yourself porn, masturbation and any kind of orgasm, even with a partner, for 90 days. The claims as to the positive effects of such a program — renewed “energy,” boosted confidence, greater sex appeal — are pseudoscience at best and snake oil at worst. The dominant theme is an elevated masculinity achieved through the denial of libido. NoFap’s writeup of the Kanye interview began by describing him, rather excessively, as “a worldwide celebrity, musician and business mogul with a net worth of over $240 million (according to Forbes).”

The implication is clear: Stop jerking off, and this could be you.

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Real Life > PMO

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What that post left out was Kanye’s remark on the connection between porn and sex trafficking, perhaps because it was so muddled. “Yeah, when you see all of the billboards, the traffic billboards. When I say ‘traffic’ I’m talking about the billboards are actually sex trafficking,” he said. “On one side of the street it’s a billboard with spirits, which is alcohol, and on the other side it’s ‘call this number’ or it’s a picture of a woman on a billboard and says, ‘Come to this strip club.’ So there are all different layers of trafficking.”

You’re welcome to try making heads or tails of that; I suspect he was alluding to the NoFap refrain of the porn industry enabling sex trafficking. While that’s a genuine problem, the talking point is a favorite of reactionary media outlets that would be happy to legislate all porn out of existence, not just the criminal or exploitative variety. It’s helpful to their scolding campaign to erase or demonize legitimate sex workers this way, and indeed, the atmosphere of NoFap may cast the consenting female porn star as a seductive Jezebel, out to soil and ruin promising young men.

This contemptuous gender essentialism provides a gateway between a community with the apparently harmless goal of reducing masturbation and a region of true misogyny, whether that’s a hissing right-wing rag or incel forum. Check out how, on a Kanye thread, the NoFappers described his wife, Kim Kardashian:

The merits of getting together with a bunch of internet strangers to divulge the last time you jerked off, and how hard it is not to do it again, are debatable. The benefits, however, of hanging around that social circle to trash women as fuck objects and talk other dudes into wrongly believing that masturbation is unhealthy… are pretty much nil.

Men are drawn to NoFap by the sense that they lack command over their most intimate self, and then, in exposing that vulnerable core to a groupthink hive, wind up harnessed by this doctrine instead, one with troubling proximity to the toxic absolutism of the hard right and hubs for hate speech.

Because as soon as you sign on to the concept that anyone with a dick is enslaved by it, and must wage a moral battle against their biology to gain the upper hand, you have bought into a twisted power dynamic that will surely apply elsewhere — that will shift your understanding of the world via the weird solipsism of seeing your ejaculations as critically, life-changingly important.

Guess what: They ain’t.