Sunday, June 1, 2014

What about pornography?

Why would this be the choice for a book
cover?  It is designed to catch your
attention, of course.  Sex sells.  It's
the centerpiece in much of the
advertising and  programming
we see every day.  Our kids
are fed the same diet.
Pornography is not a starting point.  Porn is the far end of a media spectrum that commonly sexualizes images, storylines, and advertising.

These are all advertisements for ... fast food.
Why would that be acceptable?

For men, it is one more of many choices along the pathway of character, and it is a long, long way down the road from nobility and virtue. 

It's perhaps helpful to consider the people involved.

In non-religious terms, porn affects the way the viewer thinks.  A guy with a porn-exposure lifestyle, for example:
  • may find it difficult to relate to a pretty girl as just a person.  True?
  • may struggle trying to relate to his wife as a person to the same degree as before.  True?
  • may have difficulty coaching his kids through the difficult years of sexual maturation.  True?
  • may find difficulty relating to young people in his life; family, church, community.  True?
  • may, in later years, perhaps regretfully understand the self-imposed shaping of his mind in regards to life, love, family, and people.  True?
  • The portrayal is diametrically opposed to healthy family, obviously.

Brain Shaping:
As men fall deeper into the mental habit of fixating on [pornographic images], the exposure to them creates neural pathways. Like a path is created in the woods with each successive hiker, so do the neural paths set the course for the next time an erotic image is viewed. Over time these neural paths become wider as they are repeatedly traveled with each exposure to pornography. They become the automatic pathway through which interactions with women are routed.  They have unknowingly created a neurological circuit that imprisons their ability to see women rightly.  (Wired For Intimacy, 85).

Behavior Shaping:
Pornography works in the most basic of ways on the brain.  It is Pavlovian. An orgasm is one of the biggest reinforcers imaginable. If you associate orgasm with your wife, a kiss, a scent, a body, that is what will turn you on; if you open your focus to a stream of cybersex images, that is what it will take to turn you on. The ubiquity of sexual images does not free eros but dilutes it.

Softcore Manhood:
As a business, pornography is the same
as the sale of illicit drugs.

There is no altruistic motive, no exercise
of free speech, no artistic expression,
just business and exploitation of
the participants.
Sexual representations in advertising as well as in pornography affect men and their clarity regarding their role. Softcore pornography enables and teaches men to view women as objects for pleasure rather than as individuals. Pornography gives men a false impression that sex and pleasure are divorced from relationship. Pornography is inherently self-centered – something a man does by for himself – by using an available girl as the means to pleasure, another product to consume.

Pleasure Killer:
Pornography leaves men desensitized to both outrage and to excitement, leading to an overall diminishment of feeling and eventually to dissatisfaction with the emotional tugs of everyday life…Eventually they are left with a confusing mix of supersized expectations about sex and numbed emotions about women…  The real world often gets really boring…” (Pornified, 90, 91).

Woman Shaper:
Porn affects the way the viewed subject thinks.  Porn gives girls a place to sell their bodies, and in return requires of them their mind.  A woman who spent time in the porn industry or the do-it-yourself equivalent has shaped her own thinking about herself, her worth as a person, and her value in any relationship.  She's likely to be changed for life.  That's decades of regret and awareness of loss.

The Narrowed Life:
Dines records how porn tells a false story about men and women. In the story of porn, women are “one-dimensional”–they never say no, never get pregnant, and can’t wait to have sex with any man and please them in whatever way imaginable (or even unimaginable). On the other hand, the story porn tells about men is that they are “soulless, unfeeling, amoral life-support systems for erect penises who are entitled to use women in any way they want. These men demonstrated zero empathy, respect, or love for the women they have sex with…(Pornland, xxiv).”

The expected bad news (since millions of viewers and billions of dollars are involved) is that there's no good result from either the production or consumption of pornography.  It has a long-term impact on the lives of folks involved, all of which is detrimental, much of which is life-limiting and individually crippling.

Freedom of speech being considered, perhaps by some overreach of reasoning there's a right to say and do pornography.  That doesn't mean that the saying and doing isn't knowingly harmful. No surprise there.

Pornography, as was said, is not a starting point.  Porn is the far end of a media spectrum that commonly sexualizes images, storylines, and advertising.  When someone steps over the boundary into porn, it's not their first step in that direction.
Note:  Pornography is part of a broad business approach that is visible in many venues. Sexualized imagery is used to attract and extract wealth for a few at the expense of individuals and the culture as a whole.  
For us as individuals, just avoiding porn is not the goal.  Rising up to the freedom of clear thinking, unencumbered by shallow selfishness, living with the long view of great good for ourself and others -- that's the goal.

(This post was occasioned by a radio discussion.  A young man insisted fervently that there was nothing wrong with porn, and a broken-hearted wife recounted the damage it was doing to her relationship with her husband.)
From the forward to Stephen Arterburn's book, Every Man's Battle.

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