Friday, December 19, 2014
Not That Kind of Blog: Let's Talk about Porn
Today I want to talk about something a little out of the norm.
Porn. As in pornography.
Not food porn, "inspiration porn" or some other fake porn, but actual x-rated, naked, sex filled, porn.
When I was in the second grade I remember going to my friends house after school. For some reason that day we went into her basement--a place I don't remember ever going to before or since. It was a dirty, unfinished basement type of basement with junk everywhere. I don't remember much else from this excursion other than coming across one of her father's Playboy magazines and for the first time in my life (I think) seeing a pornographic picture. I wouldn't know it at the time, but that picture was about to be ingrained in my mind forever, because to this day I can describe vivid details about that picture. Fortunately, it wasn't "that bad"... you know, for porn.
That wouldn't be the last time I came across porn in my childhood and like that first image, many images are still ingrained in my mind, with some a lot more ugly and raunchy than that first one.
I read a book a number of years ago called "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television" and I remember the author talking about images and how one of the problems of television (this was written a while back, so definitely pre-dating the internet) is that as you sit there letting whatever images flicker onto the screen in front of you get inside your head and once an image flashes in front of your eyes you can't unsee it. Images are so powerful because of their ability to live forever in our minds. I'm paraphrasing, but as I read that I immediately connected his words to these experiences I had as a kid and to the problem of pornography in general. Today the magazine images of my youth were nothing compared to the onslought of degradation and dehumanization that today's porn market is bringing into the world.
I want to talk about this today because for our children this is a game-changer. This is not your grandpa's pornography so to speak.
Of course being a born and raised Mormon girl the idea that pornography is bad for you is not a new idea for me. And I get that not everyone agrees with this sentiment. But as I recently read,
Those who think that porn is a harmless and natural way to express sexuality have a tendency to stereotype those that think differently as "overly-religious prudes" or "right wing extremists" or something of the kind. But this isn't about religion, or politics, or anything else.
It's about science.
That snippet comes from an organization I want to tell you about called Fight The New Drug. This is an organization dedicated to fighting against pornography and the myriad of harmful affects it has on individuals, relationships and society as a whole. Society? you say? Did you know that sex trafficking and porn go hand in hand? While shocking, this does not surprise me in the least. I started following FTND on Instagram and have been impressed with their blog and their dedication to spreading awareness. Try reading some of their posts like, True Story: My Father Chose Porn Over Me or Ex-Porn Producer shares Mindy's story... pretty eye opening. What I love about Fight The New Drug is that they are not afraid to tell it like it is, there is no good porn, even a little porn can be harmful and we all need to take a stand and stop falling for the lies the porn industry is trying to sell.
There are so many articles and talks out there I could cite right now, but here are just a few. Young and otherwise health men are suffering from a new phenomenon called Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction. Yes, porn doesn't just mess with your brain, it actually messes with normal sexual response. What about Internet Porn is an Experiment in Dehumanization? I don't see how anyone could call themselves a feminist and be pro-pornography.
But the article that really turned my stomach and made me realize I can't just sit back and hope this plague quietly passes was this one from the UK entitled, Jamie is 13 and hasn't even kissed a girl. But he's now on the sex offender register after online porn warped his mind...
For parents this is a must read as a therapist discusses this large uptick in children becoming addicted to porn before they've even had their first kiss, many "becoming child abusers while they are still children themselves."
The author states, "Of course, critics who oppose restrictions will say pornography has always been with us, young boys have always looked at risqué magazines. Yet the advent of the internet--and particularly broadband over the past decated--means that never in human history has such a vast and relentless amount of it been so easily and freely available to all.... It means any child who has started to feel vaguely curious about sex can tap that same three-letter word into a search engine, and in a split second have access to thousands of graphic video clips. As a therapist I'm convinced that these images can be deeply traumatizing to children--not the lest because a competitive market means that pornographers are trying to outdo each other to come up with the most extreme images.... For many young boys [and I would add kids], this means their first sexual experience is not a nervously negotiated request for a dance from a girl at the end of the school disco. It is watching grotesquely degrading images of women, all too often mixed in with violent abuse."
The bottom line: My kids. Our kids.
If I could be exposed to a handful of magazines during my grade school years--magazines that had to be purchased in person, by someone of age back in the mid to late 80's--we know at some point our kids, boys and girls, are going to be exposed to this stuff in some form because it is free and made to be addictive. One study cites that boys as young as 10 start seeking out online pornography on their own. It frightens me to think that in a few years my girls will be associating with peers who will be regularly viewing these disturbing and graphic images--images that as an adult I can't even begin to fathom. I'm scared to think of young boys (and girls) that will start viewing my daughters as objects before they've even held a girls hand. This idea is beyond frightening to me.
So what can we do? I want to hear your thoughts, but first here are a couple of mine.
One, that's why I wanted to share Fight the New Drug with you as I feel that this is such a great resource. Read, become informed, get help if you need it, be a fighter and take a stand. The whole safety in numbers thing? Yeah it helps to know there are thousand of people who don't think porn is good, harmless or normal. There are even some really big companies taking a stand against pornography--good to know! FTND is not there to shame anyone who is struggling with porn (as they know many people become addicted as children), they offer assistance to those seeking help and more than anything they want to stop spreading the lies behind porn's glamorous and sexy facade. Their main message is simple: Porn kills love.
Additionally, a few months ago I realized that sooner or later my children are going to know about pornography. As sick as that thought is I can't stop that from happening. But I decided that if they're going to hear about it, they're going to hear about it from their loving parents first. As much as I hate that the fact that there is a need to talk to my children about this at their tender ages, it is so much better to get to them first! B and I wanted to arm them with age appropriate knowledge to help protect themselves from the dangers of porn and to open the discussion early so that they know they can always come and talk to us. We purchased the book Good Pictures, Bad Pictures: Porn-proofing Today's Young Kids and read it with our girls over several days. It's very simple, non-denominational (non-religious even) and walks kids through an age appropriate discussion on pornography, how it affects your brain and even has a step-by-step approach for kids to follow if/when they see a pornographic image. It was not my favorite thing to do with my kids, but I already feel so much better knowing that we've opened this subject and put it out on the table for them.
OK--honestly, my head hurts from writing all of this so now it's your turn, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Don't bother trying to tell my porn isn't that bad or whatever, I'm so beyond that... but I'd love to hear your thoughts on porn as it relates to you, your family, and especially your kids. Have you been pro-active about discussing porn with your kids? If so, how and what did you say? Have you done anything else to become pro-active in the fight against pornography? Do you think there is a need to fight against it? What about boys vs. girls... do you feel like you worry less if you have girls? Or worry differently? Any other good resources out there we should know about?