What I Learned From Porn

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Okay y’all. I’ve watched a solid amount of porn.
There.  I said it.
Sure, we can call it “research” for my job, if this makes you more comfortable.  But that’s probably only a tiny bit true.

However, porn was always uncomfortable and weird for me.  I tend to sit a majority of my time in the geek department so even though the pit of my stomach always indicated that porn was probably not a good choice morally, that wasn’t a good enough reason for me. I like to make my decisions methodically and logically.  (I once broke up with a boyfriend after I scientifically logged and categorized my feelings for him for a month….I’m really hoping he doesn’t read this.)  So, I decided to discover the root of my own discomfort with porn, based on the scientific research process, not a moral compass.  Because I’m awesome like that.

The sexology community as a whole is mostly porn-positive and considers it part of our sexual liberation.  To be in this field as a sexual health researcher, there is quite a bit of pressure to adopt porn as the progression of sexual revolution and even recommend it to help clients increase arousal or to help couples “spice up” their activities in their bedroom.

And I get it.  I get how it certainly does increase arousal for men and women.  It can absolutely spice things up between couples.  But in my own sexual health consulting practice, people were coming to me saying things like, “I can’t get an erection anymore without looking at porn before being with my girlfriend.” and “My husband watches a lot of porn and I don’t feel like I will ever live up to his sexual expectations. I don’t look like those girls and some of the things they do (that he likes) don’t feel good to me.” 

I even had clients who were addicted to pornography and it was absolutely shredding the fabric of their marriage by eroding their trust and intimacy.

So my hypothesis was that although pornography can seem to have surface benefits in a relationship, the underlying messages and long-term effects could actually be detrimental to the relationship.   The more I researched and talked to people, the more my hypothesis proved to be true.

So why, in the faith-based community do we have such a problem talking about porn?  We like to say porn is bad because it isn’t what is “kind and true.” (Phil 4:8) Sure.  Probably true.  That is usually where the conversation stops.   But can we go ahead look at it beyond a morality issue? I have always been very careful here.  The waters are murky and muddy here, because I, like many of you and your partners, am among the 77% of Christians that watch (or have watched) pornography.  And until I got logical about it, I always just assumed it was a moral issue…one which I was clearly able to overlook.  Because I’m awesome like that.

So, after doing my own extensive research project (lol!) I discovered three basic reasons why I personally have an issue with pornography, and why I feel my hypothesis rings true. These reasons have little to do with my formal religion or morality, but rather everything to do with my work with couples, my relationship to my own partner and my role and value as a daughter to the Creator of sex.

In a nut shell (pun intended, because I’m classy):

1) Porn is educating our young people on unrealistic, male-centric sex.
2) Porn (usually) depicts women as secondary in the power structure, having very little direction in what happens during the act, or their own sexual pleasure.  The clitoris is largely ignored as an area of pleasure.
3) The word ‘no’ is often depicted as ‘yes, more!’  Sexual aggression is far too common with no communication or direction on how to use power/submissive roles safely.

These are the basic and personal reasons I stopped watching porn and in turn why I don’t recommend it to clients.  There are more details that I am leaving out for the purposes of this blog, but you get the basics.

And now, more recently, something interesting is beginning to happen.  I started noticing that the sexual health and scientific community was starting to pay attention to porn’s detrimental effects.  Just this month as I was walking through the airport, I picked up a Time magazine whose top story was about how porn was creating unfulfilling sex.  Hmmm.  And then there is this TED talk…and this research.

So now, others in the scientific community are starting to prove my hypothesis to be true as well.  A researcher’s dream!

But here is the one thing I want you to understand…and probably the most important part of this blog.

Are you sitting down?  You should sit down sweetie.  I’m about to address the nude and hairless elephant in the room.

I chose to stop watching porn because I didn’t think it was a healthy choice, for me.  End of story.

But I refuse to feel guilty about the porn I’ve watched.

And I refuse to feel shame about the porn I’ve watched.

I refuse to feel guilt and shame because they don’t serve a purpose in my life.

Do you know what I do feel?  I feel fulfilled because I have the privilege of making healthy decisions for my relationship and myself.

I feel empowered, knowing that I did the work and the research to figure out what was healthiest for my marriage, and my marriage only.

And I feel loved by a God whose affection is not defined by what I do and don’t do, what I watch and don’t watch.

So can we just stop throwing shade?  Can we just stop with the shame and the guilt and the putting our heads down and avoiding the conversation about porn?  For the love.  People watch porn.  A lot of people. Men people, women people. Awesome people.  Creative people.  Hurting people.  Lovely people.  Bored people. Healthy people. Some people have a problem with it.  Some people don’t.  It’s time we had a real conversation about it my friends, and how you feel about it in your own life and your OWN relationship.  Not anyone else’s.

And I’m more than happy to have a conversation start with me, right here, right now.  You know how I feel about it, now you need to figure out how you feel about it.  And how your partner feels about it.

I have watched a solid amount of porn.  I have asked myself the difficult questions.  I have come up with my own difficult answers that have ultimately made my life and relationship better.

You can do it too.  You can come up with your own difficult answers, whatever they may be.  I’m just here to give you confidence to ask the difficult questions.

You got this.  You really do.

Let’s go.

 

 

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