NoFap Founder Files Lawsuit Against Neuroscientist Who Says There Is No ‘Porn Addiction’

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Alexander Rhodes, the owner of the NoFap trademark, filed a complaint against a neuroscientist who studies porn and sexuality for libel and defamation.

Rhodes founded NoFap in 2011 after—as he reveals in the lawsuit—a lifelong addiction to porn beginning at age 11, aiming to help men refrain from extensive masturbation. The tenets of the NoFap website state that it's merely trying to help people break their porn addiction by abstaining from masturbating. The website is careful to claim that it's just a website, not a movement, even though it was spawned from an associated subreddit with 515,000 subscribers and a Twitter account with more than 19,000 followers. The website is most commonly associated with #NoNutNovember, an online challenge in which men try not to masturbate or otherwise orgasm for a month.

The lawsuit is aimed at Nicole Prause, a neuroscientist studying sexual science through a neuroscience and physiology lens who found no scientific basis for “porn addiction."

“These online communities have whipped themselves into a frenzy when in the past men wouldn’t have been concerned," Prause told the Guardian in 2016. "Then the next time they go to have sex they are causing themselves more distress."

"Alexander Rhodes and NoFap's lawsuit has no merit nor do his libelous and unfounded assertions regarding me, my character, or my business," Prause told Motherboard. "He is entitled to his opinions, however he is not entitled to spread complete falsehoods about me to profit himself and silence speech."

Rhodes claims that Prause's statements are false, and have caused him to suffer "significant reputational harm and sustained actual damages" in lost revenue, productivity, and expenses in an amount exceeding the jurisdictional minimum of $75,000. Rhodes' attorney, Andrew Stebbins, told Motherboard that Rhodes will not tolerate “malicious personal attacks from those who seek to discredit, disparage and otherwise injure him through false statements designed to assassinate his character and reputation.” Rhodes also launched a crowdfunding campaign where he aims to raise $200,000 to pay for the lawsuit. At the time of publication, he has raised more than $35,000.

NoFap has a controversial reputation in the scientific community, as the supporters of the group are known for verbally attacking opponents online. Prause has said publicly that she is regularly harassed and has even received death threats from NoFap followers, to the point that the FBI and local law enforcement are involved.

"There's reason to be concerned about the way in which the trademark of NoFap by Alexander Rhodes might be used to silence criticisms of anti-masturbation campaigns, which have historically been referred to as NoFap," Mike Stabile, communications director for adult industry advocacy group Free Speech Coalition, told Motherboard. "This makes it tremendously difficult for critics of these anti-masturbation campaigns to reach an audience, because they can't use 'NoFap' without fear of legal retribution. As a result, scientists, therapists and others who have spoken out about the anti-masturbation community's anti-semitism, misogyny and harassment find themselves targeted if they use the phrase."
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