Sunday, February 27, 2011

Emotional Pornography

Male porn is obvious - some near nudity and sexual innuendo at a minimum, and there you are. We might even be able to argue for a lower minimum.

But what of something that does not look like that at all? We might justify ourselves for a very long time. A very long time in deed.

Let's define porn as media(books, magazines, movies, etc.) related to mating, that is detrimental to real relationships. Pornography is dangerous because it weakens our ability for relationships, real or future. It sets up unrealistic expectations and acts as a kind of gratification fantasy that where we get what we want, from people that we will never have a real relationship with.

Where ordinary porn shows unrealistic women, romance novels and movies, show unrealistic men - that is to say, 99% of men are not like that. Instead of tittilating and flattering with the body, it tittilates with the emotions. This is a problem because it sets up unrealistic expectations in actual relationships. The man has become used to unrealistic expectations in terms of bodily figure and willingness because that is what he has acclimatized himself to think of as normal while being desensitized to ordinary women. Meanwhile the woman has been unconsciously acclimated to Mr. Darcy or Dr. McDreamy for the same reasons and likewise similarly desensitized towards ordinary men. If you asked them, would they recognize this?
No, probably not.

These expectations sit just below conscious realization and do a lot to frustrate couples, married and otherwise when things are not as exciting or passionate or romantic as they might hope. But doesn't every woman deserve this in a relationship? Perhaps, but neither life nor marriage are
places to demand what we feel entitled too.

Neither of these forms of porn make demands of us, put our own desires first and foremost, and so by consuming, we put ourselves first. That is why they are enjoyable, because whether meant for men or women, they put what each gender looks out for, first.

Books and movies like Eat, Love, Pray or Pretty Woman, are most comparable to hard core
pornography in how self-gratification is indulged and rewarded, even while actions have not been
righteous. Even while outwardly speaking of love, neither reader nor main character makes the
sacrifices a real relationship requires; they make no demands of us. The same atmosphere that focuses attention on self in ordinary porn works similarly in female porn. Can we justify it because masturbation or orgasm are less likely? No, that is a difference in how our bodies and minds work, but the spiritual damage, and injury to relationship-ability, is the same.

What if we recognize that what we are seeing is unrealistic? Does not matter. (BBC link if you don't like academic papers)

The justifications will fly thick and fast, but it isn't doing anyone any good.


  1. This actually makes a lot of sense. The true consequences of visual/physical pornography are essentially the same as emotional pornography. I happen to think that one is more blatant while the other is more subtle, so one will obviously be accepted more. Either way, they're both just bad news.

  2. "Pornography is dangerous because it weakens our ability for relationships, real or future." I don't think this claim is true. At least it isn't self evident. Pornography _can_ be dangerous if it breaks the marriage contract. But it is possible for spouses to be fine with some pornography.

  3. A good post. Just some thoughts _

    While I definitely agree that both these are problems in relationships, I have to find lust of the flesh to be a far greater spiritual problem than romantic fantasies.

    That having been said I couldn't tell you how many times I've had a woman tell me that she divorced her husband purely because he wasn't romantic enough or understanding enough.

    It is also interesting to note that in most romantic movies the man apologizes even when it is undeniable that the woman was wrong. Therefore women continue with this expectation.

    By wanting to have someone who is handsome, pretty and/or sexy it makes a marriage disintegrate in interest with age and wrinkles. It has a lifetime regression clause. If we put our focus where God says, on spirituality, it can continually grow.

  4. It would be a good idea to remember Alexander Pope's oft repeated quote about sin, and things being "seen to often ... first we endure, then pity, then embrace".

    If we read romance novels or porn or anything else, we are definitely enduring it. And if we continue to endure it, we will sympathize with it. That should set off warning bells, but often it does not. Once we begin to sympathize, we can find all kinds of excuses from the opposite perspective. And once we embrace, damage has been done. This applies equally well to comments about porn in marriage or excessive "emotional porn".

    If we have set up unrealistic standards, we have only ourselves to fault.

    Porn is not malum prohibitum, it is malum in se.

  5. Love this post! SO right! It's all fantasy, for men and women. The adversary whispers to us that our reality sucks and leads us into an unrealistic world where we are likely to be trapped. Thanks for the truth in this post.