Advice from the armchair marriage counselor

Suppose your marriage is afflicted with that everyone’s-talking-about-how-they’re-suffering-in-silence Mormon epidemic know as “your husband’s porn addiction.” Suppose you’re absolutely convinced that that is the problem, and if he won’t stop, then your marriage will be destroyed — nothing can persuade you otherwise. But he can’t seem to stop, or refuses to.

Then there are two possibilities: (1) you’re wrong, and hence you’re choosing to throw your marriage in the garbage, or (2) you’re right, hence your marriage is toast. either way, there’s only one course of action: start getting your finances in order because you’re heading for divorce court.

But let’s say that you’ve decided to entertain the possibility that your marriage can be salvaged. I’ve had so many people contact me for relationship advice (not just about this, but on lots of different problems), that I’m starting to get worried that I’ll be arrested for practicing marriage counseling without a license, so I’d like to start by quoting Jonathan Blake‘s comment which he posted here:

Pornography/masturbation and the shame associated with it were a huge part of my youth. I took the GAs counsel to heart. This resulted in self-loathing and even suicidal thoughts on occasion. I was vulnerable to this shame because I wanted to do the right thing. It was a big deal for me. I considered myself a sexual addict for a long time.

Years later, I leave the church for reasons unrelated to pornography (trust me). This gives me the opportunity to disregard the messages from the LDS church and culture that have been telling me that I’m evil, disgusting, unworthy, etc. for viewing pornography and masturbating. I allow myself to take a relaxed attitude on the issue for the first time in my life.

Just as djinn said, poof, the sexual addiction evaporated. The difference was like night and day. A almost unbearable burden had been lifted. The key ingredient in my addiction was gone: shame.

This may be hard to swallow, but mainstream LDS ideas about pornography are part of the problem. Taking a more balanced view was key for my recovery. If the LDS people want to overcome their addiction to porn, the first step is to cut out the teachings and attitudes that fuel shame about an innate and beautiful part of what it means to be human.

With that in mind, let’s consider both sides without dismissing one as a priori wrong. Masturbation (with or without porn) may be (1) the root problem (2) a symptom of another problem, or (3) not actually a problem. I’ve written a couple of new posts to help spark a discussion between you and your spouse which may help if you’re both willing to agree to read them with an open mind and consider them: Fidelity, Autonomy: Where does your body end and your spouse’s begin? and For married Mormons: Where does OK end and sin begin?

I hope this helps and you won’t, y’know, turn me in to the Marriage Counselor Licensing Board. ;)

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116 Comments

  1. 1
    Seth R. says:

    I’m personally more worried about a porn habit than masturbation – although the two can often go together and mutually reinforce.

    The porn thing is just degrading to your wife – both in how you see her, and how she thinks you see her.

    And you don’t need a General Conference citation to reach that conclusion.

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  2. 2
    profxm says:

    Actually, Seth, I wouldn’t want a GC citation for that. I’d prefer a peer-reviewed citation for that, as this peer-reviewed article indicates pornography is associated with more feminist views and not sexism (or degrading women):

    Garos, Sheila, James K. Beggan, Annette Kluck, and Amanda Easton. 2004. “Sexism and Pornography Use: Toward Explaining Past (Null) Results.” Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality 16:69-97.

    As the above article illustrates, the empirical literature has something to say about pornography use. Pornography is associated with less sexist attitudes, though that is explained via a third variable – political tolerance. People who are okay with pornography also tend to be more feminist. I also interpret this to mean that Jonathon Blake’s experience is not unusual: once the stigma is removed from using pornography for sexual stimulation, the “mystery” and “danger” surrounding it disappear. It becomes a tool that serves a specific function, like a hammer for pounding nails (okay, that’s an odd pun/metaphor). :)

    Pornography generally only has a compelling addictive draw for those people who believe pornography is illicit or a sin (there are exceptions, of course). For people who have no problem with sexuality, nudity, or pornography, it usually isn’t an addictive problem.

    As far as pornography ruining marriages… If the wife doesn’t condemn it and it doesn’t prevent him from being sexually interested in her, what’s the problem? Honestly? Men do, statistically, have a higher sex drive then women and like to get off more, on average, than do women. Pornography is only threatening if it completely replaces sexual intimacy with one’s spouse. If it is used to enhance sexual intimacy or “fill-in” when a partner is not interested, what’s the harm? I hate to say it, but the best solution here IMO, is for the wife to start watching the porn with her husband – most men think that’s a major turn on as it makes the wife seem as though she is into sex and sexual experimentation. Plus, the wife gets to make sure he isn’t into anything super freaky (great South Park episode on this recently – when the internet goes out – http://gawker.com/380877/south-park-the-day-the-internet-stood-still?autoplay=true ).

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  3. 3
    Craig says:

    I’d agree with profxm and the statement by Jonathan Blake. For me it wasn’t that it was degrading to women (I’m gay), but the guilt the church/society foists on you really is what makes it addicting. Once I no longer had that faith-based belief in the church, I had no problems with porn or masturbation.

    I think that the church is crazy for considering masturbation a sin, and I think that recently, the church has realised that it’s not that big a deal. I think that porn can potentially be problematic, but I also think that the church is creating far, far more problems than it is solving by making porn so taboo and shameful. I think that part of the problem with the church is that in the making of porn, “commandments” are being broken, even if a husband and wife are viewing the porn.

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  4. 4
    Craig says:

    Once I no longer had that faith-based belief in the church, I had no problems with porn or masturbation.

    By no problems, I mean that porn wasn’t addicting, and masturbating didn’t produce a shame-response which fuelled the negative feelings that often lead to obsessive behaviours like porn addiction. When I changed and began viewing masturbating simply as a natural thing that most men do, as a consequence of a high sex drive (with perhaps no partner to engage in sexual contact with), it lost the negative, “sinful” label.

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  5. 5
    Seth R. says:

    Ummm… Did you get what I said last sentence?

    I said you DON’T need a GA quote.

    Plenty of feminists condemn pornography for reasons unrelated to Sunday School CV. The big problem with the stuff is that it’s creating a sexually disinterested male population. An orgasm is a pretty powerful Pavlovian stimulus. Arguably the most powerful one we have.

    When you divorce that stimulus from real women, real women have an increasingly difficult time getting any response from a guy at all. And the women are pressured to perform more and more sexually extreme acts to “keep their man interested.”

    Girls at college keggers are now expected to make out with each other to arouse the guys in attendance (you even get crap like this in Provo on occasion). Oral, anal, three ways… Ritual humiliation. Whether she feels like it or not. Because that’s what it takes now to keep these selfish, sexless eunuchs “buzzed.”

    Pathetic.

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  6. 6
    Steve EM says:

    I don’t even buy the initial premise. For background, while I fell off the LofC wagon big time post mission, my marriage has been going great now for over two and a half decades. Many Mormons and GAs misuse the word addiction, like spouting off absurd nonsense about sex addiction. Given that sex is essential for life, Mormons might as well be spouting off about addictions to clothing, shelter, food and other essentials. Porn is a substitute for or precursor to sex, so I put porn “addiction” into the same intellectual masturbation garbage heap.

    My advice to the gal is ask the “addict” that you view porn together and give him all the sex he wants. Don’t say he can’t view porn or else; that’s creating a forbidden fruit that he’ll eventually have to eat. Every guy has his energy limit in that department, so give him all he wants and he’ll be spending more time with you and less and less time with porn.

    If you say it’s too much effort, then you’re just looking for a way out of the marriage, and his porn is your excuse to end it. I can’t help a marriage that’s already over.

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  7. 7
    John Moeller says:

    Seth:

    As for feminists condemning porn, I’ll let chanson handle that particular issue. Suffice it for me to say that not all feminists share that opinion, and the ones who do aren’t necessarily correct simply because that may be the majority feminist opinion.

    When you divorce that stimulus from real women, real women have an increasingly difficult time getting any response from a guy at all. And the women are pressured to perform more and more sexually extreme acts to “keep their man interested.”

    Girls at college keggers are now expected to make out with each other to arouse the guys in attendance (you even get crap like this in Provo on occasion). Oral, anal, three ways… Ritual humiliation. Whether she feels like it or not. Because that’s what it takes now to keep these selfish, sexless eunuchs “buzzed.”

    Pathetic.

    Thanks for conflating men who use pornography and serial date-rapists. Personally, I’ve had no problem being respectful of my wife’s boundaries. Why? Our relationship is built on mutual respect.

    The problem with the men that you seem to think are typical porn users is that they don’t have any respect for women in the first place. And it’s not because of porn. It’s that they were taught that women were objects from an early age.

    Men of this kind have been degrading women for far longer than the explosion of porn has been around.

    chanson:

    Thanks for this post. I cringe every time I hear about “porn addiction.” It’s just disguised self-loathing or an excuse for control.

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  8. 8
    Seth R. says:

    Who said I conflated them with date rapists? Where’d you get that from?

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  9. 9
    Joe says:

    The big problem with the stuff is that it’s creating a sexually disinterested male population.

    Are males really more sexually disinterested? I personally doubt it in general, but if a subset is, how much is driven by pornography and how much by an increase of misandry.

    One theory I’ve had is that a subset of men are tired of dealing with women and the availability of porn allows to relieve their horniness without having to deal with the opposite sex.

    But what about “female” porn–chiefly romance novels, but other stuff as well? Are some women creating unrealistic expectations about relationships and thus driving men away?

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  10. 10
    Seth R. says:

    Actually several studies talk about porn reducing the incidence of rape. But that doesn’t really negate my point.

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  11. 11
    mormonzero says:

    Seth said…

    “The big problem with the stuff is that it’s creating a sexually disinterested male population.”

    What makes you believe men are not interested in sex?

    “An orgasm is a pretty powerful Pavlovian stimulus. Arguably the most powerful one we have. When you divorce that stimulus from real women, real women have an increasingly difficult time getting any response from a guy at all.”

    Wouldn’t this make pornography a better alternative than masturbation?

    “Girls at college keggers are now expected to make out with each other to arouse the guys in attendance (you even get crap like this in Provo on occasion). Oral, anal, three ways… Ritual humiliation. Whether she feels like it or not. Because that’s what it takes now to keep these selfish, sexless eunuchs “buzzed.”
    Pathetic.”

    This is just as much the girl’s fault as it is the guy’s fault. She doesn’t have to participate in such activities…unless you’re saying she has no other choice in which case how can you blame the guys for looking at porn if you can’t blame the girls for engaging in potentially very destructive behaviors.

    I assume you are going to say that this is not what you meant but this is how you came across to me.

    I think porn is not all that appealing but I do agree w/ the others who said that the church appears to HELP create addicts out of ppl who would not normally have demonstrated addictive behavior. This is just my simple opinion based on ppl I know, including myself, and even many of the posters in the bloggernacle.

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  12. 12
    chanson says:

    Thanks Jonathan, you’re right this is my area of expertise. ;)

    I actually know which article Seth is referring to, or at least which one started the new anti-porn-feminist theory. It’s a little disturbing to see it has now entered the public discourse to the point where it can be referenced as “what feminists think” without any citation.

    Problem #1 with the new theory is that it was put out by the same people who brought us “porn is the theory, rape is the practice.” Without skipping a beat. The evidence finally sank in that their “porn leads to rape” theory was dead wrong, and instead of responding by rethinking their theories about rape (as one might expect if their real concern had been rape), their first concern was to find a new excuse for hating porn. They’ve clearly demonstrated which was their primary issue.

    For the second big problem, MormonZero hit it on the head: no one is making these women do anything. They are autonomous humans who are qualified to make their own decisions about what they do with their own bodies. Real feminism says give women as many choices as possible and then grant that they are the ones who should make the decisions about their own bodies. It’s only in the “black is white and war is peace” dictionary that denying women’s sexual autonomy becomes feminism.

    Claiming that women have no choice in this matter denies some obvious realities about male sexual and romantic responses. Sure, some guys like these obvious displays of sexuality. But even in our modern porn-infused world, most don’t. Most prefer to have a relationship with a girl who is more modest, but the fact that girls can now sew some wild oats and still expect to find a relationship with a respectable guy means that the ugly prejudice that “there are girls you do and girls your marry” is slipping away. A girl can choose to make a big display of sexuality or choose not to — either way there are plenty of guys who will applaud her choice.

    Why do some young women choose to go a little wild sexually these days? Because they have to? Or because they can? Without fear of retribution or stigma. Decrying an increase in women’s sexual choices and autonomy isn’t feminism.

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  13. 13
    Seth R. says:

    Chanson, you only think it’s an increase in autonomy.

    It isn’t.

    The only difference is that now it’s different people doing the oppressing.

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  14. 14
    C. L. Hanson says:

    Really? And what makes you think they’re being oppressed? Did they tell you they are?

    Some college-age girls choose to behave this way, some choose not to. Either way, they claim they’re making their own decisions. I don’t see why you think you’re justified in second-guessing them and telling them their own choices don’t count, unilaterally deciding for them that they’re not qualified to know their own minds.

    Yours is a common attitude, but it’s paternalism, not feminism.

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  15. 15
    Seth R. says:

    Who says I’m telling them what to do?

    So I can’t even make a statement about moral behavior without some adolescent rejoinder of “you’re not the boss of me?”

    Lets’ get a couple things straight here:

    1. I do think that bishops and other leaders ought to take a softer, less pressuring and guilt-inducing approach on the masturbation issue.

    2. If a couple wants to use erotic material as a part of their relationship, I’m not concerned about that. As long as it’s a sharing sort of thing, why not? I don’t have a gripe against various methods of stimulation in that context either.

    But if you want to try and make the sweeping point that porn is okey-dokey, no, I’m not going there with you. Sorry. Nor do I think that the majority of porn use going on out there is some “harmless and natural thing.”

    And to try and claim that women’s new “liberty of sexual action” isn’t oppressive is incredibly naive. Try actually studying the porn industry and how it works sometime.

    It makes your blood run cold.

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  16. 16
    Seth R. says:

    “Problem #1 with the new theory is that it was put out by the same people who brought us “porn is the theory, rape is the practice.” Without skipping a beat. The evidence finally sank in that their “porn leads to rape” theory was dead wrong, and instead of responding by rethinking their theories about rape (as one might expect if their real concern had been rape), their first concern was to find a new excuse for hating porn. They’ve clearly demonstrated which was their primary issue.”

    Chanson, what evidence do you actually have of this? Or are you just saying this because you want porn to be OK simply as an over-correction for the Puritan culture of sexual repression you feel you’ve left behind?

    Secondly, I never presented my remarks as “what all feminists think.” I don’t care if most of them think this or not. I think this. That’s what I was saying.

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  17. 17
    Seth R. says:

    Sorry, I keep thinking of things after the fact.

    College age girls are actually reporting a lot of sexual pressure and dissatisfaction with the new dating scene. They report that they are expected to behave like porn stars if they hope to keep a man interested. I’ve heard this from plenty of quarters.

    Some freedom.

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  18. 18

    Another idea that I see a lot is that pornography is progressive, that looking at nude photographs necessarily leads to more personally damaging forms of porn. Someone may get blasé about porn but that doesn’t imply that they then seek out porn that they once found repulsive. The analogy to drug tolerance is false.

    Personally, I don’t think all forms of porn are OK, especially for the sexually inexperienced or impressionable. The same goes for romance novels. Both can, I think obviously, shape what people expect from romance and sex. They can be fun diversions for those who can keep them in perspective as fantasy.

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  19. 19
    Seth R. says:

    Maybe it’s false for you Jonathan and several other anecdotes you are aware of.

    But it is true for a lot of other people.

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  20. 20
    Craig says:

    I admit that I know very little about differing feminist theories or psychology in general, so what I’ll say is just my own opinion.

    First of all, Seth, when was the last time you were at a “college kegger”? You seem to be presenting a lot of anecdotal evidence as fact, and I think that is a main reason why so many disagree with you. If you(and others) presented more of your “information” as your opinion, rather than fact (as you sometimes tend to do) it would be easier to defend your position and your statements would probably be attacked less.

    College age girls are actually reporting a lot of sexual pressure and dissatisfaction with the new dating scene. They report that they are expected to behave like porn stars if they hope to keep a man interested. I’ve heard this from plenty of quarters.

    That may be, but they are still choosing to behave in that way. If a guy is treating/expecting you to perform like a porn star, you might reconsider if that’s the kind of guy you want to be dating. There are going to be lots of men who don’t expect or want that kind of behaviour. Now, this may be common in places like frats (I don’t know, I’m just guessing), but there are many other places to look for dates. My point is, if a girl doesn’t want to do something a guy wants her to do, then she shouldn’t do it. Don’t blame the guy for what the girl chooses to do. You can criticise the guy perhaps for his unrealistic demands, but the woman who willingly gives in to those expectations is just as much responsible.

    Women have as much responsibility for their sexual activities and choices as do men. It is not only unfair, but sexist (and inaccurate) to put the blame on “sex-crazed” men only. Everyone’s only responsible for their own actions, not anyone else’s (except perhaps in very extreme situations – of which this is not one).

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  21. 21
    chanson says:

    Seth, you’re claiming the right to decide for people whether they’re oppressed or not, ignoring their claims to the contrary. By the same logic, I can unilaterally decide that you’re oppressed by your Mormon overlords, and that I’m doing you a great kindness by trying to free you from your oppressive Mormon beliefs, regardless of your opinion on the matter.

    Lots of people try to decide for other people what’s best for them. Sometimes they try to justify it by claiming the person who made the (supposedly) bad choice is oppressed. Sometimes they’re right to think this, but sometimes they’re wrong. Thus we need to have some objective criteria for distinguishing between “oppression” and “not oppression”.

    In this case, are these young ladies being forced? No. Do they lack realistic alternate options? No. So what does it even mean to claim they’re oppressed in this case?

    p.s. Thanks for calling me an adolescent for arguing the feminist position that economically empowered women are qualified to make their own choices about their own sexual behavior. More silly female thinking! I should learn that Daddy knows best.

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  22. 22
    chanson says:

    p.s. Craig is right that the key is that they’re not required to do this, and they’re not required to date they guys who like it. Men are interested in relationships too, and they have as much competition to make themselves desirable as the women do. If women really hate this stuff, then guys who don’t expect it become that much more desirable. Supply and demand works both ways.

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  23. 23
    mormonzero says:

    Seth said…

    “An orgasm is a pretty powerful Pavlovian stimulus. Arguably the most powerful one we have. When you divorce that stimulus from real women, real women have an increasingly difficult time getting any response from a guy at all.”

    I thought on this some more…wouldn’t this make it all the more dangerous if a person kept associating orgasm w/ guilt, shame, and depression?

    “But if you want to try and make the sweeping point that porn is okey-dokey, no, I’m not going there with you. Sorry. Nor do I think that the majority of porn use going on out there is some “harmless and natural thing.”

    I don’t think anyone is trying to make a blanket statement about porn being harmless…From what I can tell most are simply saying that it has more potential to be addictive if it is associated w/ guilt and shame and that women have a choice of whether to enter the porn industry and is therefore not female oppression. Is that not what ppl are saying?

    “And to try and claim that women’s new “liberty of sexual action” isn’t oppressive is incredibly naive. Try actually studying the porn industry and how it works sometime.”

    I have…I wrote a paper on it once (maybe I’ll post it sometime)…there are some women who believe that it has been a tremendous opportunity in their lives; others say otherwise. Yes, there are some despicable things that are done and that are not right.

    However, many of the problems in the porn industry can be parlelled to the sports industry, politics, big business, and even day to day jobs, which oftentimes affect us more deliberately and directly than the porn industry does. I am not trying to condone bad things but there are people who do things in a correct and legit way, even w/in the porn industry. If you are not being treated in a way that you feel is right or are being asked to do things you would’nt want to do then get a different job.

    “College age girls are actually reporting a lot of sexual pressure and dissatisfaction with the new dating scene. They report that they are expected to behave like porn stars if they hope to keep a man interested. I’ve heard this from plenty of quarters. Some freedom.”

    I’m in college and there are also college girls that are happy that they can enjoy “some freedom” over their sexual lives; they can choose what they want to be: celibate, sexually active, whatever. I have also heard this from plenty of quarters.

    In the end though men and women are responsible for their own choices. We can’t say men watching porn make women perform sex acts they don’t want to participate in, otherwise you then have to blame the women for being in the porn and thus making men watch porn, which then you have to blame the porn producers who film the porn for making women be in porn and so on.

    But perhaps this is the same mentality Dallin Oaks was taking when he said that women become porn when they don’t dress properly.

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  24. 24
    chanson says:

    College age girls are actually reporting a lot of sexual pressure and dissatisfaction with the new dating scene.

    Also — taking a short visit to reality world — do you have an example of a dating scene that everyone in it (or even a majority) is satisfied with?

    In the end though men and women are responsible for their own choices.

    Well, that’s what a feminist might say. Someone who thinks women are capable of making their own choices. A feminist would say that you should never do stuff you hate just to snag a man because what kind of relationship are you setting yourself up for? No relationship at all is better than a crappy one. Your self-worth doesn’t depend on snagging a man.

    A traditionalist says: “Men wanting X is oppressive to women because obviously women have no choice but to do whatever men want.”

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  25. 25
    Seth R. says:

    Having a choice of entering or exiting a situation does not mean there is not “oppression.”

    Come on, a lot of you guys are ex-Mormons. How impressed are you by the argument that you always have a choice about leaving or staying in the Church, therefore, quit whining about it?

    I doubt you’re very impressed at all. And neither am I. I find the argument that these women are making a “free legal choice” to be utterly unconvincing regarding whether there really is gender oppression going on or not.

    And where did “daddy knows best” come from. Give me one instance where I was advocating paternalistic oversight of women’s lives. Give me one example, cause I must have missed that one.

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  26. 26

    Seth,

    I agree that in the example you cited, the fact that the women technically have a choice to leave isn’t sufficient to show that the situation is just. I hope, for my daughters sake, that such situations are, as I suspect, isolated and avoidable.

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  27. 27
    mormonzero says:

    “Having a choice of entering or exiting a situation does not mean there is not “oppression.””

    For oppression to exist there has to be some form of a catalyst. So where do you believe the oppression is coming from?

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  28. 28
    Hellmut says:

    profxm, I doubt that pornography makes people men more tolerant of women. One can account for this correlation if one reverses the causality: people who are obsessed with sex worry about porn endlessly. Their fear of sexuality requires them to dominate women.

    People who don’t fear women, won’t be obsessed about porn.

    In other words, people’s attitudes about women determines their attitudes about porn, not the other way around.

    Having lived in the barracks several years, I can tell you from first hand experience that pornography is not an intervention that endows men with more respect for women.

    People who dress their daughters like Britney Spears are obsessed about sex. Religious fundamentalists who think of women as walking porn are equally obsessed about sex.

    The attitudes are exact inversions of each other, which means they negate each other’s sense of propriety but the attitude about women remains constant.

    I do think, however, that art can reinforce positive attitudes about the human body. One of my favorites is Yves Klein’s Blue Venus.

    Art requires perspective and makes for better inspiration and conversation than pornography, which is merely utilitarian.

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  29. 29
    Seth R. says:

    The “catalyst” is the expectations that surround the women.

    If someone in the LDS Church can feel oppressed by the need for a white shirt and tie, and the need to “bear testimony” and “be happy,” I guarantee you a girl can feel oppressed by the expectations of the guys she interacts with.

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  30. 30
    Seth R. says:

    The fact that some women may have bought into the expectations doesn’t change my point either.

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  31. 31
    Hellmut says:

    Just to be precise, Pavlovian responses are about conditioning behavior. It does not apply to pornography since guys do not need to be conditioned to get aroused by looking at attractive females.

    If you can get a guy to consistently produce an erection by looking at items that are not inherently sexual such as peas or ice cubes, like the dog whose saliva starts running at the ring of the bell, then you might have a case of conditioned behavior in Pavlov’s sense.

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  32. 32
    Hellmut says:

    People do stupid things all the time, even adults. Making out to impress guys is pretty stupid. People get to be stupid in a free country but that does not mean that the rest of us can’t criticize stupidity.

    Having said that reports about young people’s stupid behavior are usually exaggerated. That kind of behavior is not the norm.

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  33. 33
    Hellmut says:

    If someone in the LDS Church can feel oppressed by the need for a white shirt and tie, and the need to “bear testimony” and “be happy,” I guarantee you a girl can feel oppressed by the expectations of the guys she interacts with.

    I agree with that, Seth. FOX and other trashy TV bear more responsibility for those feelings of inadequacy than porn. Images of naked women are everywhere in Europe. I bet you that the problem you are referring to is much more prevalent in the United States than in Europe.
    Post-Soviet Europe can be pretty wild though.

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  34. 34
    mormonzero says:

    “The “catalyst” is the expectations that surround the women.”

    Okay, this does make some sense; much less generalized.

    Now, which expectation do you think is worse? Women being more sexual or men being less sexual?

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  35. 35
    Steve EM says:

    “………..I guarantee you a girl can feel oppressed by the expectations of the guys she interacts with.”

    If so, it’s due to mismatched desires, which is only a real issue in long term relationships that were never meant to be. When you hear about with-the-program LDS married couples who suffer issues like that, I’m surprised more don’t question the LofC as promulgated by the LDS church, which stopped making sense to me a long time ago.

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  36. 36
    Seth R. says:

    There’s no “expectation” for guys to be less sexual in my comments. It’s just a result of guys who’ve divorced sex from reality – it’s entered the world of fantasy. So, to compete with that unrealistic expectation and vision that guys harbor, the women feels the pressure in numerous subtle ways.

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  37. 37
    chanson says:

    Merely having expectations placed on you is not oppression, otherwise everyone is oppressed constantly all the time by their families, friends, schools, work, etc. The word becomes meaningless.

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  38. 38
    chanson says:

    The fact that some women may have bought into the expectations doesn’t change my point either.

    I see, so you get to decide which women made choices for themselves and which ones are “buying into expectations,” hence need to be protected from their own choices.

    Fine. But it’s not feminism. It’s treating women like children. That’s all I’m saying.

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  39. 39
    chanson says:

    the women feels the pressure in numerous subtle ways.

    Fine, but that has nothing to do with feminism.

    Let’s turn it around: Imagine a young guy feels like he needs to do dangerous, daredevil stunts in order to get attention from girls. Or he needs to go into massive debt to buy a super hot car that he can’t afford because it affects the number of women who will date him and which ones. Would you say he’s “oppressed” by these expectations?

    If he claimed “No, I actually like doing risky stunts” and/or “I think going into debt over this car was a good choice,” would you dismiss his claims? Would you decide for him that he must be “buying into expectations”?

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  40. 40
    chanson says:

    Jonathan — So you agree with me that this is about a father’s natural instinct to protect his daughters from sex and inappropriate suitors.

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  41. 41
    Seth R. says:

    Chanson, what exactly do you think I’m trying to argue here?

    Spell it out for me, because you’re losing me with most of your comments. It’s like “where did that come from?”

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  42. 42
    chanson says:

    I’m saying that you may believe that the situation is wrong for one reason or another, but that the words “oppression” and “feminism” don’t make sense here.

    Please answer my question in #39. Seriously. Maybe it will clarify my point.

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  43. 43
    Hellmut says:

    As an empirical matter, there is no doubt that young men and women are subject to pressures, which induce them to engage into behavior that is not in their best interest, especially when it comes to sex.

    I don’t think that pornography plays a big role. Television soap operas, sitcoms, and music videos are much more influential in that regard. Pornography might reinforce some nonsense.

    The real question is: why would young people be so vulnerable to obvious nonsense? In part, poor judgement is the nature of being young. The combination of raging hormones, a developing brain, and the lack of experience account for much.

    However, it is interesting that American teenagers consistently fare worse than their Japanese and Western European counterparts. That is not all that surprising given that our secondary education system is obsolete, that two thirds of our children do not graduate prepared for a 21st century job (Gates Foundation), that we
    contain “middle class” children in suburbs where they are isolated from public affairs, markets, and each other, and that we tolerate an increasing underclass that lives in worse conditions than in the southern Indian state Kerala or Costa Rica.

    If our children were raised on a steady diet of the BBC things would not be perfect but young people would be better prepared to understand their place in the world.

    For all of America’s strengths, pragmatism and anti-intellectualism do have a price when it comes to developing young people’s judgement.

    Compared to all that the pressures that might emanate from pornography are a minor problem. In fact, if people were properly educated and had experienced reasonable and humane notions of gender and sexuality in their families then pornography would not enjoy much authority in matters of sex but would merely be a spectacle, which young people would consider ridiculous regardless of its titillating attraction.

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  44. 44

    chanson,

    So you agree with me that this is about a father’s natural instinct to protect his daughters from sex and inappropriate suitors.

    I can’t discount that this is part of my motivation for worrying about porn (with one small change: to protect my daughters from inappropriate sex and suitors). I imagine that if I had a son, I would still be concerned that he grow up with healthy attitudes toward sex.

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  45. 45
    Hellmut says:

    Before the larger point gets lost in the discussion of details: I am skeptical that there is such a thing as a porn addiction. If it exists at all, it will be rare.

    In most of the cases that Chanson is referring to, the most effective remedy would be proper biology education of Mormon (men and) women.

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  46. 46

    I think porn addiction is real, but it is a largely psychological addiction. If you change the underlying psychology, the addiction goes away. Specifically, if you can remove the shame and fear surrounding porn for most religious people, porn addiction ceases to be a problem.

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  47. 47
    profxm says:

    Hellmut, here’s the actual article:
    http://mainstreetplaza.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/garos-s.pdf

    I think everyone should read it and decide what they think for themselves. As I stated in my original comment, there is empirical data that can be brought to this discussion, but it isn’t being brought to the discussion.

    From the article,

    More recent feminist theorizing (e.g., Dworkin, 1988; Hill,
    1987; MacKinnon, 1986; Millett, 1970; Morgan, 1980; Russell, 1998) argued
    that virtually all sexually explicit material has detrimental effects on women.
    In contrast, other feminists (e.g., Steinem, 1998; Tong, 1989) distinguished
    between pornography that is erotic and sexually stimulating for both men and
    women, and pornography that contains images of women that are degrading
    and objectifying.

    In short, feminists have mixed views. Now, the empirical evidence,

    Although certain feminist perspectives (e.g., Boyle, 2000; Brownmiller,
    1975; Dworkin, 1988; Hill, 1987; MacKinnon, 1986) argue that exposure to
    pornography leads men to develop hostile beliefs about and behavior toward
    women, empirical analyses of the relationship between pornography use and
    men’s attitudes toward women convey an equivocal picture. There appears to
    be little evidence that men’s exposure to nonviolent sexually explicit material
    is related to their attitudes toward women (Demare, Lips, & Briere, 1993;
    Gray, 1982; Linz, 1989). In fact, a few studies (e.g., Baron, 1990; Davies,
    1997) have found that increased pornography use was associated with more
    favorable attitudes toward women.

    Let’s stop pretending we all have answers and actually go to where there are answers. There are literally thousands of researchers working on these issues. And, the evidence that is available says: pornography does not make men look at women as objects or denigrate women.

    Other fact claims in the above discussion that warrant peer-reviewed references:
    -College-aged girls are engaging in pornographic behavior to attract men.
    -The interaction between porn use and religion leading to guilt. What’s more, taking religion out of the equation and seeing a cessation in guilt.
    -Is the majority of porn use harmless and natural? (Seth #15)
    -Is the porn industry universally oppressive to women (and men)? (Seth #15)
    -Are college girls dissatisfied with the new dating scene? (Seth #17)
    -Do different types of porn have different effects? (Jonathan Blake #18)

    I could go on, but I hope I’m making the point clear: There is a lot of bloviating going on here, but these are empirical questions. If the data doesn’t exist, fine (let me know and I’ll do the research myself). But if it does, let’s bring it to the discussion!

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  48. 48
    chanson says:

    ProfXM — Thank you.

    The new “feminist” anti-porn theory — about porn obligating college-age women do things they themselves find degrading — is based on unfounded claims and anecdotal evidence, just like the old “porn leads to rape” theory was. That’s the bottom line here.

    Though I’ll add that I’m shocked to see so many of you guys so willing to believe unfounded (and insulting) claims about women’s supposed inability to act according to their own will when it comes to sex.

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  49. 49
    Craig says:

    profxm: I fully agree that all those claims need some sort of support – especially as some have been making sweeping claims without real (non-anecdotal) evidence.

    You mention “The interaction between porn use and religion leading to guilt. What’s more, taking religion out of the equation and seeing a cessation in guilt”.

    I posted simply about my own experience, with a specific religion. I have had conversations with several others who have had similar experiences, but I certainly wasn’t making any “fact claims” based on my experiences, as I haven’t done research on the topic, and I do believe I made that quite clear with phrases like “I think…” and “In my opinion… .”For me…”, etc.

    I think that the main problem with this (and other) threads is that too many are stating their opinions as if they were legitimate peer-reviewed, double-blind studies, rather than simply their opinion. I don’t know whether some are just not backing up their claims with data (as you mention profxm), or whether they’re not aware that they’re not making it clear when they’re just stating their own opinion, and not some sort of fact.

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  50. 50
    Wayne says:

    Jonathon-

    What is the difference between a Psychological addiction and any other addiction?

    I also disagree that taking away shame can make any type of addiction, (alcohol, drugs, sex you name it) easier to deal with.

    Certainly, without shame tossing one off in the shower before going to work won’t make you feel like a perv, but when you choose the toss off instead of a romp with your wife then you have a problem. In that case shame is a good thing.

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