The Truth About Men, Women, Love, and Porn (In 2 minutes and 37 seconds)

So, who among us is feeling more and more like St. John the Baptist?

You know, the lone voice crying out in the wilderness? The fellow standing athwart history yelling “Stop!” The only woman at the Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros concert without a tattoo?

Okay, maybe that last one was just me last Friday. But the point stands. With the culture seemingly on the express train to Crazy Town, it’s all too easy these days to feel like the last sane person standing.

donjon3820132But then, something happens. Not a big something. Just a little something. And for one bright shining moment, the heavens part, the angels sing, and you know, know, that you’re not alone.

I just had one of those moments.

Here, I’ll share. You can have a moment too.

(Warning: Uber-brief images of scantily-dressed women. Nothing you won’t see walking through your local mall, but just so no one can gripe at me…)


See?

Admittedly, this is just a trailer. The actual film is rumored to have more than a few scenes in it that make one think writer/director Joseph Gordon Levitt may not entirely grasp the point he’s making. Still, beggars can’t be choosers: I’ll take my cultural bright spots where I can get them.

And this trailer is a bright spot. In a mere 2 minutes and 37 seconds, it manages to convey more essential truths about men, women, love, and sex than Oprah does in a year.

Like…..?

1. Pornography is a problem.

Did you see the tears in that trailer? The betrayal felt by Don Jon’s girlfriend? The hurt? That’s pornography in the real world. It’s not funny. It’s not healthy. And it’s not “no big deal.” It’s a destructive habit that leaves one’s significant other feeling like they’re not good enough, that they’ve been cheated on, and that they can never measure up. It also makes many a woman think that in order to find love, she needs to don porn-star chic every time she leaves the house to go to the grocery store. Note: Women don’t wear skin-tight mini-dresses for the comfort factor.

Even worse, pornography is a vicious habit that turns viewers into users. Not just users of “pornography.” Users of people.  On screen and off. Remember how Don Jon looked at his girlfriend’s Facebook photos? He didn’t see her as a person. Just a particularly pliable sex toy.

And no, it doesn’t matter if the people freely signed up to be used. Using people is still wrong. It’s wrong to treat living, breathing, thinking, feeling human beings as objects, as things. That holds true for using people for the sake of professional advancement, for emotional gratification, and for sexual pleasure.

2. Pornography is addictive.

That’s right, addictive. Like alcohol. Or crack. Or heroin. The chemicals released in a person’s body while watching porn function like a drug, drawing users back again and again until the porn, not them, controls their life and habits. That’s not only why porn made it on to Don Jon’s “things that really matter” list, but why, as the trailer implies, it’s actually at the top of that list.

Back when purchasing porn meant a trip to a shady store, fewer people succumbed to this addiction. But in today’s world, where you can’t do a Google search for Rainbow Brite without explicit images turning up (trust me on this one), even just dabbling with porn is playing with fire. It takes a heck of a lot of virtue to walk away and stay away when the supply is abundant and ever present, and most people just don’t have that kind of virtue. Hence why pornography addiction is soaring.

3. Pornography messes with a person’s understanding of reality.

When the culture peddles porn, it praises it as an aid to a healthy sex life. But in reality, it’s just the opposite. Men who regularly use porn report growing dissatisfaction with the bodies of their wives and girlfriends. Many, like the Don Jon character, start to prefer pornography to real life intimacy. They’d rather be alone with their porn than deal with the messy complications of loving a real, live person.

That preference is not only evident in growing reports of lack-luster sex within relationships, but also climbing divorce rates and plummeting marriage rates. Remember the mother’s cry when her son tells her he doesn’t know if he wants a wife and kids? “I look like a grandmother, but do I have any grandchildren?”

There are a heck of a lot of moms saying the exact same thing today.

 4. Romantic comedies mess with minds too.

In the trailer (and movie) Don Jon isn’t the only one with a problem. His girlfriend has one too. Only hers doesn’t carry an “X” rating. Today, half the loosey-goosey, bolt from the blue, “I have to marry my soul mate so I can find my life’s purpose” love notions that people have are spoon fed to them by sappy romantic comedies. No, they’re not addictive and destructive in the same way porn is, but they’re not contributing to a culture of marriage either.

In real life, love doesn’t happen in an instant, men don’t talk like Edward Cullen, and happy relationships take more work and compromise than any 90-minute chick flick can possibly convey. The more we let our expectations for love and marriage be shaped by those flicks, the greater the chance we’ll miss out on love when it does present itself. Reason being? Real love doesn’t look like movie love.

Cue The Avett Brothers.

 

5. Loving another person is a high risk, high reward endeavor.

Casual sex and casual dating have their perks: namely, quick emotional and physical highs. They bring instant fun and instant affirmation. They’re also empty, meaningless, and leave you facing cancer, heart disease, or old age all by your lonesome.

Loving someone, on the other hand, is hard. It means letting someone see all of you, not just the pretty, pleasant parts, but scars and warts too. It means growing and stretching and compromising so that your life can move in harmony with another’s. It means opening yourself up to unimaginable pain and loss, knowing that illness or accident or rejection could take the one you love from you at any second of any day.

But that’s where the real fun is. That’s where the joy and freedom and adventure that come across in the last few seconds of the trailer begins. You find life when you make a gift of your life. You live when you live for another. “It is not good that man should be alone.”

***

So, will Don Jon find happiness? Will he choose love over lust? Will the film even be watchable? Who knows? I suppose, almost none of us will until Don Jon hits theaters on October 18.

But the trailer, at the very least, suggests that one bright young Hollywood actor isn’t completely buying into the cultural script on love and sex. It may not be much, but again, I’ll take what I can get.

In the wilderness, company is company.

65,549 views

Categories:Culture Marriage Media

39 thoughts on “The Truth About Men, Women, Love, and Porn (In 2 minutes and 37 seconds)

  1. Another excellent article Emily Stimpson. There has been nothing that has prepared men and women (especially men) for the impact of the wave of pornography that has swept over them. The medium now has made it not only accessible as never before but has allowed it to take hold of the memory and imagination with an unyielding grip: rooted so deeply that it is something, one might say, that it requires the absolute adherence to Jesus’ words – “if your hand causes you to sin cut it off, if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.” Nothing less than a radical response can overcome the radical disorder that pornography gives rise to in a person’s life. Unfortunately, too often we talk about the dangers of its use in a notional manner, but one can not simply think oneself out of what has become a passion and one so tied to a bodily appetite. In fact, the movie trailer presents pornography as one of the things the young man is “passionate” about – ironically along with Church. I thought this was an interesting touch – for so often people can be passionate about their faith but still not fully engaged and so vulnerable in just this fashion. For generations now, men and women have not be educated in the ascetical and spiritual traditions of the Church and thereby left with no means to engage in the spiritual battle. Many faithful men become despondent and truly hate the passion but lack the formation or the resources to address it spiritually. Those who do want to overcome it usually see it as a sexual addiction and seek to “treat” it as such but few seek out or find in the Church the spiritual means available to engage in the struggle. The necessity of grace, discipline (fasting, prayer, adoration, frequent confession and spiritual direction), and humility it seems are rarely mentioned when the topic is discussed.

    In recent times, Blessed John Paul II’s integrated vision of the human person – body, soul, and spirit has provided an intellectual foundation for a deeper understanding of sexuality and marriage but in talking to people, both young and old, there has been a complete disconnect between theology and the ascetical life. We have a tendency to compartmentalize aspects of our life in Christ – so much so that in the end we cease to be Christian.

  2. Steve says:

    Excellent article. I’m looking forward to seeing if the promise of the trailer pans out. I know what it’s like to be hooked, but I also know what it’s like to have total freedom from being controlled by lust. Check out freedom-coaching.net if you or someone you know wants to break free from the attraction to porn.

    I also completely agree with Jen that this is not just a guy’s only problem. We’ve programmed women, like men, to believe it’s normal to use each other. When we get trapped by these images, we may be incapable of saying no. I’m still doing research on how to heal women from these wounds. Please pray for this ministry.

  3. Maureen says:

    GREAT ARTICLE!!!
    Am forwarding to my college-age kids!!!

  4. Jen says:

    The only down side to the article is that it makes pornography addiction into a male problem. I think one sad thing of porn availability online is that it has attracted a strong female audience too. Women with porn addictions have a harder time speaking out because they feel like they might be the only one. Women can have the same addiction have the same problems with porn men have.

    1. Actually, Jen, read through the article again. I was very careful to not use gender specific nouns or pronouns unless referring to characters from the movie or documented effects on one particular sex, i.e. women’s dress or men’s conceptions of women’s bodies. You’re right that it’s becoming a growing problem for women, and while I didn’t talk about that specifically, I did make a point of being inclusive when talking about the problem.

  5. Tigress Lily says:

    My husband was the ideal Catholic guy – handsome, smart, funny, popular. By the symptoms, however, I knew from the first autumn we were married he had a porn problem. I didn’t find his “stash” (over 22,000 files, and hundreds of magazines and CD ROMS, etc) until 11 years later. I went through a period of unprecedented grief and anguish trying to reason with him about getting help. As the years went by, the problem grew worse and worse…he was always mean but got meaner and less capable of any empathy at all. The meanness and lack of empathy became abuse. The abuse became torture. I got porn for my birthday. We are now divorced…a dozen children later. Guys, there’s a reason your wife is terribly upset about your porn problem. Yes, it’s a problem! Even Christ said “if you so much as look upon a woman with lust in your heart…”

    1. mominvermont says:

      So sorry to hear about your run-in with porn via your husband. My neighbor is in a similar situation and it has been horrible for her and her children. I pray for hope and healing for you and all victims of porn.

      1. Tigress Lily says:

        I’ve been very frank with my older children about porn and purity. Like we warn our kids about strangers and drugs, I’ve warned them about the ease of becoming addicted to it – male or female. Sadly, we aren’t going to get rid of porn anytime soon – so we have to take preemptive action in raising up a few generations of “intolerant” and unjaded young adults.
        I hope and pray your neighbor’s (spouse) gets help and they can both heal before it’s too late. I’m doing better with time, but will always have scars from the crushing blow to my self image.

  6. Danielle D. says:

    I think #4 is a huge problem. I don’t know how many girls at my high school thought that there was “the One” out there waiting for them and if their current boyfriend wasn’t clairvoyant and superhuman, he must not be “the One”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

STAY CONNECTED


DON'T MISS A THING

Receive our updates via email.