Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Thoughts on Porn

Several months ago I read an interesting article on a blog called Beauty Redefined called Porn and Pop Culture: A Deadly Combination. It was very well-written and really thought-provoking and I've thought of it many, many times since reading it. There was so much food for thought, so I thought I would paraphrase the article and share some of the parts that I found most fascinating, plus my thoughts about each part. (In order to distinguish between the excerpts from the article and my own personal thoughts, I'm putting all of the direct quotes from the article in purple text.)

The article starts out by redefining what pornography is. Pornography Redefined: The average person hears the word “pornography” and imagines a computer, a vision of the World Wide Web, or a magazine hidden under a mattress. But scholars define pornography as “a state of undress and a mode of representation that invites the sexualized gaze of the viewer.” Webster’s Dictionary describes it as “the depiction of erotic behavior intended to cause sexual excitement." Working from these definitions, we find these dangerous messages in many other places than just behind "closed doors."

[I love this redefinition of what pornography is. Porn comes in so many forms and is so much more than dirty magazines and X-rated websites. Thinking of pornography in the context of the redefined definition has really opened my eyes  I've realized that pornography is all around us, and some pornographic images are becoming so "normal" that sometimes we don't even realize that what we're seeing is actually pornographic when you really stop and think about it. Some images might not be as graphic as others, but they still have damaging effects.]

The line between pop culture and pornography has blurred in just the last 10 years. The last decade of our lives has been called “the rise of raunch,” “porno-chic society” and “striptease culture,” which marks the way media makers incorporate sex into their messages while totally denying they are pornographic. 

[This.is SO true! Things in the media, for example, have really declined in the past decade and I'm constantly amazed at the things that are allowed on television these days that wouldn't have been allowed several years ago. The limit is constantly being pushed further and further as people try to top whoever or whatever is currently raising peoples' eyebrows.]

When we understand that pornography includes ALL of the depictions (in images or words) that are meant to invite a sexualized interpretation and incite sexual feelings, then we see that otherwise “mainstream” media choices are actually working as gateway drugs to more secret, addictive forms of pornography. These constant pornographic images and messages are causing boys, girls, men and women to become desensitized to images and messages that people would have RUN from just a few years ago. 

[I hadn't thought of things in this way before. (Number one, that the current images portrayed by the media are oftentimes pornographic when you keep the redefined definition of pornography in mind. And number two, that these sorts of images are actually like "gateway drugs" since they lead to more addictive forms of pornography.) As far as becoming desensitized, I know that I've personally become desensitized as I've gotten older. It's unfortunate, but understandable since pornographic images are being presented as "normal and natural," as the article said.

In 2009, a neurosurgeon revealed alarming evidence that pornography triggers changes in brain chemistry and functioning like those caused by cocaine and meth. These changes result in an “enslaving addiction” that damages the brain, reducing the size of the brain essential for self-control and prudent judgment. Other psychiatrists around the world echo these findings claiming that today’s ever-present pornography “is a form of heroin 100 times more powerful than before.

[These facts and statistics are really sobering. I bet a lot of people's addictions start rather innocently as they dabble in pornography, but then before they know it they are caught in a powerful addiction that they can't break free of.]

Studies claim men and women who viewed just six hours of pornography (one hour each week for six weeks) reported significantly reduced satisfaction with their present relationship, both with their partner’s sexuality and appearance.  Participants also reported being faithful to their partner was less important by study’s end and their view of sex without emotional involvement rose in favor.  [Another eye-opening statistic, in my opinion.]

Studies demonstrate repeated exposure to sexualized female bodies encourages women to view and value themselves from an outsider’s gaze, positively endorse sexually objectifying images in the future, and experience body hatred.

[I'm sure there's a huge correlation between pornography and women who experience body hatred and/or other self-esteem issues. There's a lot of pressure on imagine women to look a certain way and I'm sure it doesn't help their issues if they know their husband is looking at scantily clad women.]

RUN from Normalized Pornography! Sexual images and dialogue are now a normal part of media all hours of the day. You now know this research is very clear that pornography changes the way men and women view each other, it gets in the way of us forming loving and healthy relationships with family and friends, it skews our perceptions of female bodies, our sense of self-worth, and leads to unhealthy choices. Do not just walk away from it… RUN FROM IT!

We give power to media messages and images when we continue to view and read them. Recognize the ways pornographic images and content show up in regular, “mainstream” media. Recognizing and rejecting those normalized pornographic depictions can prevent us from falling into the trap of more blatant pornographic content later. 

[I like how the article pointed out that pornography isn't just limited to pictures, but things that are written can also be pornographic. I can't help but think of the Fifty Shades book series that's all the rage right now. I haven't read these books but I think they would definitely be classified as porn. When these books were first released I saw a display of them at Target and my sister and I stopped and flipped through one of them. "Oh my!" is all I have to say! I don't want to sound judgmental for anyone who has read these books, but they definitely aren't my cup of tea!]
I think Hardees/Carl's Jr commercials are the perfect example of "mainstream pornography" and a company that uses "sex to sell." I think their TV commercials are beyond inappropriate. If the burgers are that great then let the taste speak for itself! I don't eat out very often at all (and I think I've only eaten at Hardees once or twice in my life) but racy commercials like this don't make me want to run to Hardees for a meal! Here are two still images from two different Hardees commercials that in my opinion perfectly illustrate what mainstream porn is (a state of undress that invites the sexualized gaze of the viewer intended to cause sexual excitement").
I'm definitely not trying to sound judgmental or like I'm looking down my nose at others who think differently about this than I do. I just found this article interesting and it really opened my eyes to the "mainstream pornography" that's all around me.

4 comments:

Lisa said...

Good job!

Jen@Because I can said...

Very sobering. With three boys this is something I know I need to prepare them for. And I absolutely dispise Carls Jrs. Commercials. Good thoughts and insights though. I know that the more I know the more I can prepare my boys to withstand the temptation!

Tina said...

Great post Heather! It is everywhere. I don't know how to keep it away from my three young kids.

I know so many people who have read those fifty shades books. I think I might feel like I need a shower after reading them. No thanks!

Love,

Tina

Matthew Smith said...

Another worthwhile book to read on the subject of porn in modern culture is Pornland by Gail Dines, which gives an indication of how extreme the porn has become - people have easy access to so-called gonzo porn which depicts the most degrading (and very unhealthy) sexual acts and women appearing to enjoy them, when in fact they wouldn't in real life. Boys who have access to the Internet can get hold of this junk from an early age and it colours their view of what they're supposed to do and what women want from sex, and they run the risk of getting hurt, or hurting someone.

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