A Visit to the Goon Cave
A brief dive into the fetishization of porn addiction through "gooning"
Hello and welcome to Many Such Cases.
There are some for whom masturbation is a ritualistic act. Many varieties of this might exist that take this act to be something divine or rewarding; a rare treat of connection between ones body and something beyond. For those who engage in one Internet-centric form that entails entering a trance-like, all-consuming state of edging for hours on end driven by pornography, perhaps this remains true. Or maybe those devoted to gooning, as it’s called, have simply found a way to fetishize an addiction to porn and masturbation. Among those involved in various online gooning communities, those blurred lines are often both irrelevant and part of the appeal.
Gooning, at its most basic level, involves masturbating for extended periods of time to pornography while attempting to prolong orgasming. This isn’t just about approaching orgasm a few times, staving it off and eventually letting it occur over a half-hour masturbation period, or whatever. Instead, goon sessions can last the length of The Godfather twice over. The idea is to become completely absorbed by the act, totally mindless and dumb to anything but the porn before you. This is, it’s thought, why it’s called “gooning,” — you become a total idiotic goon, interested only in your base bodily pleasure.
A post on r/GoonCaves by u/bizarre69fruit
To that end, some gooners have developed goon “caves” that allow them best to literally surround themselves in the act. Many utilize multiple computer monitors so that they may both view several videos and photos at once while also ensuring as much of their vision is devoted to porn as possible. Others cover their walls in X-rated photos and magazine covers, creating their own DIY smutty wallpaper. Some do both.
From the r/GoonCaves subreddit — this is a hotel room
Giving so much time and physical space to porn naturally comes at the expense of social connection among some hobbyists. r/GoonCaves, a subreddit devoted to showing off gooning setups, is evidence of this. “How to prove your devotion to Porn,” one recent post begins. “be like me. Family is in town, i pretended I had to see a friend and booked a flat for the night so I can goon for ever,without beeing disturbed by my family. Got all my sextoys,Porn,my cock, weed and poppers, its gonna be a night to remember.” Plenty of other guys on the subreddit discuss booking hotel rooms to masturbate in for days on end or calling out of work to masturbate. One hotel gooner, whose photo is used above, wrote that he spends upwards of two hours arranging his photos onto his hotel room walls and goons for between eight and sixteen hours. “the perfect session is holed up from Saturday morning til check out on Monday morning,” he said.
This obsession to the detriment of their social life and wellbeing is part of the appeal, too, though. Most r/GoonCave members call themselves porn addicts — the griminess of it all only makes the experience hotter to them. “Can't wait to see how it goes as you sink deeper down the rabbit hole of perversion,” one user wrote on another’s post about gooning for the first time. Frequently, the language of actual drug addiction like “relapse” is used. It is framed as something detrimental to one’s life, and embraced for it. The taboo, the desperation, the bizarre, unhealthy nature of it all is built into the eroticism of gooning. Any criticism I offer here, then, would probably only be utilized as further fuel their fetishized downward spiral.
Of course, much of this is fantasy (some that I’ve spoken to assert that they are playing with the role of being a porn addict, rather than being “addicted” per se), and some gooners have found a community in the fetish, regardless. There is a sense of kinship among gooners united in their allegiance to depravity. Some, moreover, have even found real-life goonbuds with whom they can masturbate. One prominent poster on the subreddit goons with his wife. Nevertheless, even among those who have found friends through gooning or those who share the act with a loving partner, that sense of seedy obsession remains.
Even if we do interpret all of this as fantasy or roleplaying, we can still read gooning on its face: a corner of the world fetishizing porn addiction is the obvious end point of a culture with endless unfettered access to pornography and a population of people with little else better to do. If you’re a lonely young man with few social/romantic prospects whose sexuality has primarily been dictated by pornography, what reason is there not to take your consumption to its furthest reaches? By the time you’ve allowed yourself to become a so-called pornosexual, how do you even come back to a state of being able to ejaculate without the mental stimulation of multiple screens of content? Some gooners have likely led themselves into a place difficult to return from, and it’s easier to just sexualize that despair further than it is to actually confront it. Building gooning into an identity with a semblance of community surrounding it at least offers some sense of fulfillment in the absence of true social ties.
What is most frightening, however, is the way in which some (certainly not all) have allowed this mentality to justify their descent into perversions beyond moral grey areas. For example, in writing this piece, I did a quick search for “gooners” on Twitter and came across several posts from people explicitly discussing masturbating to underage teen girls, some as young as 13. Here, the depravity of it all is celebrated, too, pushing the idea that their porn-sick brain can’t help but attract them to these girls who (as these men believe) have been encouraged by the broader culture and TikTok specifically to sexualize themselves for attention. The whole underlying sentiment here is that they just can’t help ourselves — that we’re all either victims to porn or victims to a hypersexual culture, and that we might as well give in.
It’s just not true, though. It’s easy to blame porn for all of this, but I find that argument weak. The majority of porn consumers, I’d guess, have completely normal, non-debilitating relationships with it, as with most other legal vices. But let’s approach porn the way many do alcohol, and say that there’s something about the culture that encourages binge drinking/binge porn watching. In the case of the latter, I’d argue that it’s not a culture that encourages binging porn, but a lack of culture encouraging much of anything else. Again, gooners broadly seem to be people who have turned to watching porn in a hypno-esque state after years of continuously choosing porn as the primary way to spend their leisure time. Through even the most basic sociological lens,1 this pursuit is a sign of weakened societal bonds, of a lack of cultural cohesion. Of course, the most basic sociological lens would also assert that it is not the individual that is responsible for this, but social change writ large and economically-imposed isolation. Thus presents some of the more complicated questions when discussing sexuality and culture: beyond the obvious imperative to not do harm to others, do we have any responsibility for what our desires might reflect about the problems of the world around us? Are we perpetuating said problems in having them? Or, at the end of the day, are we able to take down our goon collages, unplug our six monitors, put our phone on airplane mode and call it all a bit?