The internet is my shepherd, I shall not want. For lo, when I was thinking, “Gee, I really need to write something, but I can’t find anything worth a full article,” the internet hath provided for me. Yea, I shall walk in the sheltering arms of the internet, and I shall fear no writer’s block. For the internet hath given me a bounty of idiocy to cover with this newly discovered hashtag: #pornkillslove.
Now, I wasn’t aware that this has apparently been a thing for a few months, due to this blog. But now I’m fully aware, and I’m just amazed. Amazed by the amount of misinformation that people are willing to spread on the internet, but more importantly, amazed by how absolutely awful ignorance is.
First, let’s examine this site’s claims. As you may have guessed, they center around the notion that porn is bad. Well, to be fair to this site’s designers, they center around the notion that porn is evil. And addictive. Oh, and it ruins relationships. Because trust me, you didn’t do anything to wreck your marriage; it was all those evil videos doing it for you.
This new “movement” is entirely based on the claim that porn is addictive. So let’s get a few things straight about what these people mean by that. Thanks to America’s hypersensitivity to addiction, the very use of the word conjures up some extremely strong images, many of them having to do with drug addicts in the throes of a horrific detox, their bodies ravaged by the harmful effects of whatever they’ve been pumping in their systems.
But let’s hold on a moment, because there are two kinds of addiction, and sites like this are always keen to gloss over that point. There are physical addictions, like addictions to alcohol, methamphetamine, and many other chemicals (not marijuana). And then there are psychological addictions, like addictions to gambling, or pretty much anything else you can name. And that’s the problem. One can claim that anything causes psychological addiction, because technically, anything can. So long as you’re activating pleasure centers in your brain with an activity, the activity can be considered psychologically addictive.
Now, I’m not saying that psychological addictions are somehow fabricated, due to their mental nature. Quite the opposite. But there’s a fundamental difference between a physical and psychological addiction that companies like FTND are relying on you to not know. If I’m a gambling addict, and I quit gambling, I’ll probably feel like hell. But if I’m an alcoholic, and I quit drinking, I may die. That’s a pretty stark difference.
And we’re obsessed with addiction, to the point that we’ve made social outcasts out of anyone we deem to have one. Enjoy lots of sex? You’re a sex addict. Enjoy online games? You’re an MMO addict. Enjoy looking at pictures or videos of naked people online? Porn addict.
And why would anyone want to negatively label people who are receiving pleasure from something? Because apparently we can’t get over our puritanical roots long enough to realize that pleasure isn’t inherently bad. Of course, one might note that no support group meeting would be complete without coffee, donuts, and cigarettes, but let’s focus on harmful addictions, right? (Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.)
There really don’t need to be any studies showing that porn is addictive. Anything can be addictive, especially if you’re a person with an addictive personality. What these people hinge their entire argument on is that this addiction is harmful, in that (according to them) it will destroy relationships and lead to sexually deviant (and yes, criminal) behavior. And that’s where they get you, because they rely on you to not realize that amidst all the scientific studies about the addictive properties of porn, there isn’t a single peer-reviewed study that documents its harmful effects. They’re relying on your negative associations with the word addiction to cloud your judgment, and I’ve got to admit, it’s a fantastic strategy.
So here are some of the major misconceptions about pornography that they’re going to try and get you to implicitly believe through some very suggestive writing:
Porn kills your sex drive.
This hasn’t been documented in any substantive way, but if Dan Savage’s column is any indication, porn does the complete opposite for many people. Some people may want to look away right now, but here’s a dirty little secret: people masturbate. People masturbate when they’re single. They masturbate when they’re in committed relationships. They masturbate all the damn time. And yet, my Facebook wall is still full of pictures of people’s terrible children [Don’t worry, I’m not talking about your kids, person who’s reading this. Your kids are wonderful.]
Porn is simply looking at something in order to aid masturbation. Otherwise, you’re going to be using your own imagination as an aid. And are you really going to claim that your mind is less dirty than everything that’s on the web?
Porn-using behavior escalates
This is a nice, plain, misleading sentence, because it uses a fundamentally true statement (addictive behavior often escalates in the pursuit of a greater high) to suggest a fundamentally untrue implication (porn “addicts” will eventually not be able to achieve arousal without viewing or participating in increasingly “extreme” scenarios). First of all, both of these statements ignore the fact that not everyone has an addictive personality. I know from past experience that I don’t (or to the extent that I do, it’s very minor). So I can go to a bar and just have a drink. An alcoholic can’t. That’s because our brain chemistry is fundamentally different. One of us has an addictive personality.
But this also ignores the fact that there are no facts supporting that implication. Even if we accept the premise that addicts seek out a greater high every time they go out, that simply means that a porn addict will look at porn with greater frequency. There is no scientific evidence to support the notion that an adult can develop a brand new set of fetishes based entirely on porn consumption. Nor is there any evidence that fetishes are harmful, but let’s face it, these people think that any extra-marital sexual desire is bad (more on that later).
Porn destroys relationships
Again, this statement isn’t based on scientific evidence. It’s solely based on the anecdotes provided by spurned wives (again, we’ll get in to why these people are obsessed with straight, married relationships). As a divorcee, I can testify to how easy it is to place the blame for a failed marriage on an external source. It’s a hell of a lot easier than blaming your partner or, Odin forbid, yourself.
So if your sex life was failing, look for something else to blame. It couldn’t be that pervasive and repressive attitudes about sex were having a strong effect on you and your partner. It couldn’t be that a lack of open communication about your sex life created a psychological strain on both of you. The internet’s to blame.
Now, as you may have noticed, I’ve started to get a little more specific about the people running this thing, and believe me, it took quite some effort to be confident in my specifics. Although, I wasn’t surprised by the amount of effort it took once I confirmed my suspicions.
When I looked at the FTND site, I couldn’t help but think, “Oh boy, I bet this is another conservative Christian group out to shame people for their sexual desires and preferences.” But after doing a lot of digging on the site, I couldn’t find a single religious reference. In fact, I found specific notes on their school presentations (yep, they do this in schools) that mentioned how there was no religion involved. And I got this tiny tickling feeling on the back of my neck: Mormons.
If you haven’t spent any significant time around the LDS community, you’re probably wondering why that would be my first instinct. Mormons are absolute geniuses when it comes to repackaging religious ideas as secular ones. And once I started to re-examine the site, I noticed the predominance of good-looking white people, imagery that somehow manages to leave out homosexual relationships in any form, hip language, and a now-conspicuous lack of religious rhetoric in a topic that is usually dominated by it. So I went digging.
It took a little bit, but I finally found my smoking gun. I knew that the arguments on this site sounded eerily familiar. And I knew that the whole ad campaign looked even more eerily familiar. I’d heard these things in Utah. And I’d seen these advertising strategies when the LDS church bankrolled Proposition 8 in California.
But why would Mormons go to such great lengths to hide their involvement in this? Because even without the massive persecution complex that many devout LDS followers have, church members understand that no one likes them that much. The left doesn’t like them due to their insanely conservative social views. The conservative Christians don’t like them, because they view Mormons as a cult. So Mormons have learned that the only way to reach a wider audience is to appear to be making secular arguments. And they’re damn good at it.
Porn has been around forever. It doesn’t destroy relationships. It doesn’t lead to “deviant” behavior. It doesn’t make you an addict. It doesn’t make you a bad person.
Do you like looking at porn? Great. Do you not like looking at porn? Great. The only reason that any of your preferences will affect your love life is if you aren’t open and honest with your partner about them.
And remember: the internet is for porn. (If you weren’t expecting this link at the end, I have lost a little respect for you.)