“You’ll be the prince and I’ll be the princess, it’s a love story baby just say ‘Yes!'”
This post contains adult content. Not suitable for children. And maybe a little bit awkward for you.
For resources on sexuality, scroll down to the bottom and click on the links I have shared.
When I was a little girl, one of my favourite bedtime (and daytime) stories was ‘Beauty and the Beast’. I loved the pictures of the different scenes and would memorise them so that I could imagine them later and retell the story in my own way. That story was particularly emotionally intense and even as a little six year old I could feel how the Beauty’s fear turned into love and how his own heart was changing – so redemptive, so romantic!
Today, on the rare occasion that I decide to watch something that is not non-fiction, my first choice is always a serious dramedy (?!) where the main characters start off hating each other and then fall in love at the end. Bliss. Or one where the two lovers are an unlikely pair: a blind musician and a high flying patent lawyer – yes please!
I have a soft spot for love stories of the soppy kind, where the man pursues the woman and she runs away but he catches her against all odds! Not only do I love stories like that, I want that for myself! Weirdly enough, I have found that most of my women friends want it for themselves too. I say that it is ‘weird’ because, typically, the kinds of conversations I have with my friends are about how we can be beautiful, strong, intelligent women who lead in our areas of influence. We talk about paternalism, the influence of feminism, racism and the empowerment of women. We talk about how Jesus Christ shapes our view of these things. And we talk about relationships. All. The. Time. Most recently, we have been talking about how we are dying to have someone declare their undying love or even express a vague interest but there is no one, even on the horizon. Nada, zilch.
Or at least no one we would seriously consider.
No, the guys who holler at us from construction sites do not count.
We are all willing to admit that we have reached the age where there is the beginning of a gap in our hearts, a loneliness, a growing longing to have someone fill it.
This is a post about understanding how women first get into reading and/or watching stuff of a sexually explicit nature and how they get hooked on it. The first thing I want us to understand is that, for most women, that kind of material fills an emotional gap. This is an important generalisation. From chatting to my man friends and doing some research, the trend seems to be that for men, sexually explicit material is mostly a physical thing for them. This distinction is important because it helps us understand why women get into porn and therefore how they can get out of it.
I have some thoughts I would like to share with you, here they are:
A commercial product.
There are people who make a living out of studying your tastes and preferences and advising producers about what you want. Disney knows what it’s viewers want to see, so does Playboy. Porn plays on our sexuality- our legitimate and illicit desires. While most people do not have their first contact with X rated stuff intentionally, their second, third and fourth time are usually because you’re starting to seek out the stuff for themselves.
How do people get into the habit? Sadly, most of the people that I know got into watching porn or looking at pictures when they were still in primary school. For my guy friends that I have spoken to it is a kind of rite of passage when they hit puberty- firstly drooling over pictures of hip hop video girls and Victoria’s Secret models and, if left unchecked, moving on to the hardcore material. It is “normal” for a guy to do that kind of stuff.
I think that (with some exceptions), most women get hooked on sexually explicit material for reasons that are less straightforward than reasons why men do (but I can only speak from a limited perspective). The kind of product that women get into is, to take an example, what “Fifty Shades of Grey” and the other books in that series offer. Illicit stuff woven into a story- two people who fall in and quickly out of love, heartbreak, betrayal, passion.
As awkward as this is for me to write about, allow me to explore this a bit more. Porn is often talked about as being a ‘guy problem’ and I would say that is mostly true in the sense that the majority of people who consume porn are men. I think that one of the reasons for this is that most men are generally more visual in their sexuality, whereas, as I said, most women are more emotional. Let me use really simple (and maybe silly) illustrations to explain. How many times have you been talking to a man and you notice that his eyes keep darting down to your chest? No, he is not looking at your cross necklace that is encrusted with cubic zirconium. I am not saying that it is good or right for man to do that, I am saying that he does that because he is visual. On the other hand, how many women do you know who will be talking to a man and keep inadvertently glancing at his broad shoulders or abs? I know a few but not many.
Of course, a woman knows when a man is hot – we have eyes! We can appreciate physical beauty when we see it. But most women will become physically attracted to a man because they feel an emotional connection to him- for better or worse. Please note that I say most women. There are many women out there who are as visual as men and whose physical attraction is closely linked to what they see, but not many! A woman will very rarely feel attracted to a man she does not feel emotionally drawn to already and many women are surprised when they start feeling an attraction towards a man friend they once considered physically unattractive, even ugly.
Not everyone who has a first look at porn gets hooked on it but how come some people do? For most women our reasons for getting hooked are not purely physical and even if it may have started off as a physical thing, many of us form some kind of emotional attachment to it. I have some key words that may help you understand.
University students go through intense academic pressure and most of us are really badly equipped to handle it. We do not know how to process the mental and emotional stress that comes with trying to get this degree. Also, it is that much harder to resist the urge when you are tired. Some people watch series and drink excessively. And others watch porn. For a consumer, it provides two things: an escape from reality and a release from the pressure. A person can go for months without watching or reading or looking at pictures and when the pressure mounts and becomes too much they give in and go on crazy binge, frantically searching, downloading and taking it all in. I am not the best equipped to talk about the hormones that are released into your body because I do not know much about Biology. But I do know that is a drawing point.
If you have a porn issue and have never learned to healthily handle stress then it will always be something that is a trigger.
Loneliness and PMS
Like I said before, a lot of the things that I am writing about here are from personal experience and from things that my friends have told me. I am not theorising. If you are woman you would have noticed that there are certain times of the month when this thought hits you:
I am never going to have a boyfriend, let alone a husband. My friends don’t appreciate me and my life is not going anywhere. (sigh). Woe is me! I have so many people around and I feel so alone, I am going to be alone for the rest of my life!
And then you slip into this deep emo mood where you reflect on the deep meaninglessness of life. But then a few days later you discover that you are just on your period. I am not trying to say that all women turn into emotional wrecks or mad cows when they are hormonal, I am saying that if you are someone who has a porn problem, you are vulnerable during this time. Your hormones and emotions are
ridiculously, embarrassingly, crazily slightly out of control and it is really hard to summon the willpower to think straight and say no.
The thing about stress, loneliness and PMS are that these are thing that will always be in your life. You will go through times of intense pressure even after you have left the job you are at right now or after you are done with school. Not everyone’s ‘go-to’ fix is porn – yours might be food, or something else that I have not thought of. Ask yourself: What are my triggers?
The point of this post is to help you understand how porn is designed to get you hooked and what it is about you that keeps you falling back into it. And if you or a friend of yours are struggling, this should help you see when you are most vulnerable. This is only the starting point though. In my next post I am going to dig deeper and look at the root of why some of feel stuck in the porn cycle.
Please, leave a thought in the comments sections (anonymously if you wish), I would love to know what is on your mind.
Thanks for reading.
Some good, good stuff on sexuality (not just porn):
Boundless Webzine: http://www.boundless.org/relationships/Sexuality#P=0
Relevant Magazine: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/tags/sexuality