Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Porn Post

I've been away from posting for awhile, so I thought I would come back with a bang! You'll have to forgive me for the novel-length of this post, but just think of it as me combining a few weeks worth of posts into one!

I think that I generally tend to shy away from these kinds of posts, but I was so offended appalled offended and appalled by what I read in one of my recent issues of Glamour that I just couldn't keep from wading into the turbulent waters of venting through my blog a "controversial" topic.

I first started subscribing to Glamour about four years ago. At the time, I saw it as one of the few women's magazine that focused on empowering women instead of solely discussing sex.

I have definitely changed in these past four years, but I think this magazine has changed even more. Over time, I've gone from reading about how to succeed in the workplace and stories of women changing the world for the better to articles upon articles about how to please men in bed, contraception dos and don'ts, abortion, and the latest topic of porn.

Click on the images to see them in full size and read the original articles.
Pictures are blocked out due to inappropriate material.

As you can see from the articles above, the magazine takes the standpoint that:
  1. Porn is normal.
  2. It's okay for men to view porn.
  3. Women should not feel threatened by men viewing porn.
  4. Thus, women should be okay with porn, and even embrace it.
"Jake" knows everything.
They presented these ideas through their men's opinion section of the magazine, both through surveys of men and a commentary from "Jake", a real, live single guy who writes a monthly column about dating.*

*Jake is a pseudonym for a regular male columnist who writes about what men think in regards to dating, and everything that dating entails these days. The writer who portrays Jake sticks around until he is no longer a single guy. I happened to like the last Jake, who followed a woman he met across the ocean after pining for her in his column for months. This Jake - not so much. He enjoys one-night stands, teaching women how to please men, and porn! At the rate he's going, he might be here as a columnist for awhile...

Of the 101 men that were a part of the survey (quite the sampling, huh?), 62% said that they always masturbate when watching porn. When asked what they would do if their girlfriend had a problem with their porn, 53% of men said that they would "talk her through it until she understood it wasn't a threat to her."

But wait, it gets better.

Yea, I can't live without beer either.
68% of these men would rather give up porn than sports for a whole year, and a whopping 72% would give up porn over beer. Yet, only 38% of these men said they would give up porn in favor of their girlfriend (if she has a problem with it). I guess it's good to see that they have their priorities straight! Beer, sports, porn, then girlfriend.

As I read these survey results, I began to wonder if real men are actually like this or if they happened to find their "random" sample of men at The Playboy Club. But, then I turned the page to read Jake's opinion, Why Men Love Porn, and it all just got better and better.

In an attempt to keep my disgust thoughts organized, I'm going to highlight different things that Jake said in the order that they were written. His thoughts are italicized, and any additional emphasis is mine. Again, please click on the image above if you are interested in reading the entire article.
For my May column, I attempted to abstain from sex for a month, which had me thinking about (and often watching) porn. So I figured now might be a good time to explain guys' relationship to the weird world of recorded, artificial sex, which is a sort of cherished one.
What a great way to start of the column this month! In abstaining from sex, he turned even more to artificial sex... isn't that breaking the rules a bit? At least he recognizes that porn is artificial. (He then goes on to explain that next month he will return to writing about more "wholesome" topics... can't wait.)
My gal pals tell me this [porn] offends them more than razor stubble in the sink and dirty socks combined. They find porn a little lame and unarousing at best, and disgusting, exploitative and potentially harmful to the relationship at the worst. 
Well, Jake, you are correct. Porn does offend me more than razor stubble in the sink and dirty socks... because those things don't offend me (and yes, I have had male roommates before in college, so I've been there). They might be annoying, or frustrating at best, but they don't offend me in the least. Porn, on the other hand, does offend me. Not because it is a little lame and unarousing (I've never watched it, as I've always left the room when friends have turned it on, so I wouldn't know from experience), but because I find it disgusting, exploitative, and extremely harmful to relationships.

Try not to fantasize, ladies.
To address why women find porn a bit lame and not arousing: this is probably because women, in general, crave more of an emotional connection with people. Porn does not give emotional connections, but makes up really weird (and sometimes awkward) scenarios where mind-blowing sex just happens to occur with random strangers. Women, in general, do not sit around waiting for the UPS guy hoping to have pornographic sex with him. They wait for the UPS guy to deliver the latest clothing item they ordered off the internet, sign their name on the tracking device, and send him off with a polite smile. Even if the UPS guy has a nice body and a flirty grin, he is not arousing in that way because we ladies don't build an emotional connection in this 30 second encounter. Sex should not and cannot be made into a purely physical act, forgetting about the emotional union that is formed.

Secondly, the fact that Jake just brushes off the fact that some of his gal pals (I hope they find a new guy friend now!) find porn disgusting, exploitative, and potentially harmful to the relationship is worrisome. But then again, I guess men statistically value beer, sports, and porn over the women in their lives. If porn offended their can of beer, I'm sure that would be an entirely different story!
Women's biggest question when it comes to their guys' porn consumption: Does he want me to do that? Simple answer: No.
Good to know. But why? Jake's friend "Faisal" answers the question for us:
I wouldn't want my girlfriend to act like that in bed. It's not how I like to think of someone I love.
So, men don't want to think of the women they love as porn stars. Why? He doesn't go into detail, but I assume it's because deep down inside, Jake's friend recognizes porn as an unnatural and disordered version of the sexual expression of love. Love is about more than just sex, and sex is about more than just physical arousal. Porn subtracts everything but the physical arousal, and both men and women long for something more for this - the true expression of love.

But what about the women in porn movies? What makes these women any different from the women that Jake and his guy friends love? By removing everything but physical pleasure, you remove the act of truly knowing and loving a woman. Without sex being an act of love, the woman becomes an object that exists purely for physical pleasure. The women on the screen become nothing more than a sex toy. Jake comes back to this idea a bit further on...
The second question women ask me about porn: If he's spent so much of his adult life gawking at lithe, top-heavy, super orgasmic bombshells, how can I compete? You shouldn't.
I don't believe him. If it gets to the point where a man needs to see a porn star to get aroused - and he just can't possibly give it up (unless he has to choose between that and beer!) - then the average, girl-next-door look isn't going to do it for him. Also, in most cases, if a woman knows that her man is watching porn, she is always going to be wondering if he sees her or the porn star when they're together. Women tend to over-analyze, and we will in this respect as well - even if he says it doesn't matter.
When I'm with a woman, I want to touch her skin, look in her eyes, and yes, even feel some hair.
It's nice to know that men want to actually be with a woman - to feel her, see her, smell her - dare I say it - love her? So watching porn is not the same as being with a woman (which is why we shouldn't feel threatened by it, I'm guessing. It's not the same as cheating, apparently), because you can't feel her and look into her eyes and know her. One of my favorite Relient K songs, Candlelight, opens with the line: "To know her is to love her." What a bold statement - to know a woman is to love a woman.

This old, celibate guy could teach
you a thing or two about the dignity of women.
This is where the exploitation of women comes in. Men cannot truly know the women starring in these videos, and therefore they do not love them as they should. Porn degrades the fact that each human person is worthy of respect and dignity and love, whether we have a personal relationship with the person or not. However, because men can't actually be with the porn star, and therefore can't truly make love to her (ever wonder why we use that expression?), these important aspects of sexual intimacy are removed, such as building emotional bonds, sacrificing one's needs for the good of the other, and uniting together as one. Because porn removes these aspects from sex, it then acts to use women purely for the man's pleasure. She becomes an object, something that can be picked up or pushed to the side at will. He does not need to build a relationship with her and know her, because she is not a person, but a play toy. She isn't a real woman. I think the women who find themselves in such an exploitative career would probably argue to the contrary - that they are, in fact, real women.
No one wants to be with a faker, and at some point, all that stuff is faking.
So where do we draw the line? When exactly do we reach the point where "that stuff" is faking? Jake states from the beginning that porn is "artificial sex", so is that not the same thing as "being with a faker" and "faking"?
Confession: I find most pornography foul and unsupportable, but I make an exception for the post-it-yourself youporn.com variety, which offers me a regular dose of harmless voyeurism, courtesy of exhibitionists.
Darn those word limits in these editorial columns! I'm sure that's what kept Jake from explaining what the difference is between the porn that he finds "foul and unsupportable" and that which he deems "harmless." I'm sure his treatise on the difference between the two would have been just as enlightening as the rest of his opinion column... oh wait, there isn't a difference.
Guys have been conditioned to be ashamed of our pals Masturbation and Pornography since we met them, and our impulse is to conceal our filthy sexual fantasy life.
Why have men been conditioned to be ashamed of these things? Could it perhaps be because it is written on our hearts that these things actually are something of which to be ashamed? The impulse to conceal this "filthy sexual fantasy life" is because it actually is filthy.
The right direction = God

That being said, we all have our demons that we try to hide. This is one of the beauties of the sacrament of Confession - it brings the Devil right out into the open, and don't we know how he abhors being recognized out in the open for what he is. So, instead of embracing those impulses, maybe it's time to listen to that shame, and recognize it that it's trying to point the moral compass back in the right direction.
So don't take it personally if he hides his porn favorites...
I do take it personally. I think many women would agree with me. So far, Jake has done more to convince me that I should take it personally because he's spent the few words he's allowed for his column each month justifying why he needs porn as well as why women should just give up and accept this "filthy" habit of men as normal.
If you raise the idea of watching it with him, porn can serve as a lighter fluid on the slow burn of a monogamous relationship.
Lighter fluid is for the weak!
Ah, we have reached the apex! All of this justification is to try to convince women to suggest that they watch porn with their male companions. It has to be the woman raising the idea, because if the man suggests this as a couple activity, that could be offensive... right? This way, men don't have to feel guilty about hiding their porn, nor do they have to give it up - meaning they can still drink beer, watch sports, and have a girlfriend! What a fulfilling life.

Also, there are other ways of re-igniting the fire in a monogamous relationship. A real fire-builder doesn't need lighter fluid to get a fulfilling flame. It might take a little bit more work and a little bit of time, but building a fire the natural way - with some logs and a match - turns a spark into a warm and full fire. We were created for monogamy, to not only build a lasting relationship with another person, but to spiritually and physically become one with that person. Porn won't help the flames grow, but will ultimately snuff them out.
If he's too spent from watching Barely Legal 7 to pay attention to your actual, better-than-HD self, that's a problem. If he needs to cue up one of the Spice Networks to get off, that's a problem. If his tastes run to the illegal, that's definitely a problem.
We actually agree here...
Like you, we crave connection and caring alongside our crazy sex...
Wait, what? Did I read a different column than the one he wrote? I didn't get the idea that Jake craved anything more than just physical pleasure. Porn doesn't give "connection and caring" nor does it provide "crazy sex" - since you actually have to be with a person to have sex - yet the entire column has been devoted to his defense of why men love and need porn.
...but now and then we simply want a quick release, and we may get it from the gross, dumb but somehow arousing stuff that we relied on before we found you.
So porn is "gross" and "dumb", yet it is something that men love and women should not only accept, but embrace. Does it seem like there are a lot of contradictory statements in this column? As for a "quick release", our generation has become the culture of "I need this, and I need it NOW" instead of putting off fleeting desires to wait for something more fulfilling. It seems that porn is one of the many outlets for men (and some women) to get what they think they need even more quickly, while really pushing away those things that can actually be fulfilling to the body and soul.
The thinking, feeling, warm, soft, sexy real women in our lives are just that: real. And there's not a glowing screen that comes close.
This last sentence seems to be a last ditch attempt to win back any women who have smartly run in the opposite direction, far away from this column. Again, all women - even those who are porn stars - are real women who are worthy of dignity and respect. Degrading certain women to being no more than pleasurable objects for men only harms all women in the long run.

----

It seems that Jake has convinced the female editors of Glamour that no harm is done by allowing men to love their porn. Ladies, don't let him convince you. This may only be the published opinion of 102 men and their female editors, but I can guarantee that many of the 137,999,898 men in America also find porn to be a normal practice. While it can be difficult to find accurate statistics on this subject (because, well, it is shameful to admit that you watch porn, as Jake points out), it was cited in 2006 that approximately 70% of men between the ages of 18 and 34 had viewed porn in the last month. 10% of adults admitted to internet sex addiction, and this has definitely impacted marriages:
"At a 2003 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, two thirds of the 350 divorce lawyers who attended said the Internet played a significant role in the divorces in the past year, with excessive interest in online porn contributing to more than half such cases. Pornography had an almost non-existent role in divorce just seven or eight years ago."
Let's follow the money, too. The most recent financial statistics are from 2006, and I can only imagine how they have grown in the past five years. Worldwide, the porn industry rakes in $97 billion worldwide, with $13.3 billion coming from the U.S. The porn revenue in the U.S. alone exceeded the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC at this time, and it was even larger than the combined monies from professional football, baseball, and basketball franchises. It is clear from the money that porn has become a major part of the entertainment industry.

Ladies, we like to think that the good, Christian men in our lives aren't a part of these statistics, but unfortunately, that isn't always the case. Talk to any priest or religious leader, and they'll tell you that sexual deviances (pornography, masturbation, pre-marital sex, etc.) are what they hear about more than any other struggle. Julie wrote a great piece about how important it is to stand by the men in our lives, encouraging and praying for them in their struggles against pornography. For anyone who is struggling with pornography addiction, or who is interested in learning more about it from a spiritual and physiological level, I really encourage you to listen to Matthew Frad discuss how to break free from pornography here and here.

We have to stand against pornography, together. Even when people, like Jake and Glamour magazine, try to convince us otherwise, it doesn't change the truth that porn goes against our very nature. It's time that we re-prioritize the things in our lives, putting the relationships that truly fulfill us above the disordered and artificial ones that do not.

**Writing this post wore me out. I'm going to go have some beer and watch some sports. 
If you made it through my whole post, go reward yourself with a nice, cold beer on me. You deserve it.**

I bought these, just for you. Only if you give up the porn, though.

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