Trust me, you don’t want to look at pornography.
Preparing the final for my Mass Communications class, I thought I should share some of what we studied about one of the biggest players in the media today: pornography. Let’s count the reasons you don’t want to look at pornography.
1. You don’t want to be addicted.
A brief look, especially for guys, opens hormonal valves that make it hard to stop, because it dumps chemicals in your brain that demand more and more (the excellent “Fight the New Drug” website explains.)
Deciding to take a quick look at pornography is like deciding to open an airplane window for a second. To do so yanks you out of your world into its world.
2. You don’t want to support the pornography industry.
The pornography industry is an unhappy place. Look at the statistics: Women in pornography are much more likely to have been child victims of sex abuse and from foster care situations than the general population. They are more often depressed, more often in abusive relationships, more often the victims of sexual assault in adulthood, and more likely to be living in poverty.
“I work in this business and I know how many girls end up in the hospital suffering from brutal scenes,” wrote one man on an adult DVD industry website. “I know how many of these teenage girls have to go to an emergency room or a 24-hour clinic with chronic [e-coli-like] infections.”
Do you think it’s wrong for the industry to take advantage of people this way? Well, it’s just as wrong for you to take advantage of them through the industry.
3. You don’t want to kill your soul.
Let’s say it: Sin is a real thing, and it really kills your soul. “Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself,” says the Catechism, No. 1861. “If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back.”
For a sin to be mortal you need three things, says the Catechism: The act must be gravely wrong, and you must choose it with “full knowledge” and “complete consent.” Pornography is a “grave offense.” When you supply the other two conditions, it’s mortal.
4. You don’t want to be unable to form lasting bonds with real people.
Pornography users have a much harder time forming real, lasting, mutually satisfying bonds with real human beings. Patrick Fagan’s excellent research showed that.
As Pope John Paul put it, the opposite of love is use. To use another human being to please yourself is worse than hating them — and the more you use human beings to please yourself, the more incapable of love you become.
5. You don’t want to be creepy.
Men who are habitual users of pornography stop seeing people: They see parts. The pornography use trains them to think of people in a creepy way. They become creepy in ways that bother them, driving their self-esteem downward.
Davy Rothbart’s R-rated New York magazine piece demonstrates that. The headline says it all about the porn addict: “He’s Just Not That Into Anyone.” But the quotes in it — for instance from John Mayer — make it clear that pornography brings people to a very creepy place.
6. Women, increasingly, hate it.
As Rothbart’s piece demonstrates, there may be a bit of a generation gap here — some women imitate pornography. Many also use it, as Patrick Fagan’s research points out. But in religious circles, a wife’s discovery that her spouse is using pornography is psychologically just as damaging as a wife’s discovery that her spouse is involved in an affair. Peter Kleponis, who works a lot with pornography addicts and assists dioceses in fighting the addiction, explained to me the “trust wound” they feel.
In Iceland, feminists are behind a push to ban online pornography and the sex industry. Feminist Gail Dines explains that especially now, pornography is far from empowering to women. Pornography increasingly is not about showing women enjoying themselves, but showing behaviors that are debasing; Gail Dines’ presentations are not for the weak-hearted.
7. You don’t want to change to suit your pornography habit.
Pornography draws users into stranger and stranger places, according to the studies Pat Fagan cites. It also makes them less committed to their spouses, more likely to have lenient views of rape, and, as several news stories pointed out recently, makes them more open to redefining marriage.
It makes sense. As my students learn: We imitate what we see. And we are what we choose.
8. Pornography is the opposite of beauty.
Beauty is ennobling. It draws you toward goodness and truth. It inspires you to be better than you were, more loving, more caring. Pornography apes the appeal of beauty, but — since its appeal is chemical, not spiritual — it twists it and warps it.
A friend of mine says it’s only a matter of time before the Left, which currently is accepting of pornography, turns against it. Oprah has. Salon, along with lots of pro-pornography articles, occasionally publishes pieces that ask questions like, “Did Porn Warp Me Forever?”
So, you don’t want to look at porn. You want to look at beauty. Here is a place to start: I consider this video (which includes a non-pornographic naked guy briefly) the very opposite of pornography. Let it teach you how to appreciate the vast wide world outside your computer screen.
For more information …
www.FighttheNewDrug.org is a great, dynamic site with lots of facts and testimonials.
www.flrl.org/TrueFreedom.htm offered by the Archdiocese of New York, this site includes many helpful Catholic resources for breaking free from pornography.