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A Biblical Feminist’s Take on Porn

What constitutes pornography pales in comparison to the choice to patronize it.

by
Susan L.M. Goldberg

Bio

October 27, 2013 - 9:00 am
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Consider the following evidence against the “no harm, no foul” theory:

Countless studies connect porn with a new and negative attitude to intimate relationships, and neurological imaging confirms it. Susan Fiske, professor of psychology at Princeton University, used MRI scans in 2010 to analyze men watching porn. Afterward, brain activity revealed, they looked at women more as objects than as people. The new DSM-5 will add the diagnosis “Hypersexual Disorder,” which includes compulsive pornography use.”

According to the report, overexposure to sexually explicit images and video  have caused men to lose interest in ordinary sexual encounters — including  experiences with a real woman… After a period of time, excessive porn watchers overstimulate a neurochemical  in their bodies called dopamine — the drive behind every “want” and “desire”  that humans feel we need to “overcome.” But with your libido in constant drive  mode, your dopamine reaction will become numb and, eventually, you won’t be  aroused by the same experiences as before.”

A survey of 28,000 users found that many Italian males started an “excessive consumption” of porn sites as early as 14 and after daily use in their early to mid-20s became inured to “even the most violent” images, said Carlo Foresta, head of the Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine (SIAMS).”

“…pornography would normalize things I wasn’t emotionally or physically ready to handle in my relationships with men, making me feel like I had no options or control over my sex life, filling me with much regret and physical pain …[that] I would begin to objectify men, build up images in my mind and think of sex day in and day out, to the point where I couldn’t remain focused on anything else …[and that] it would make me feel less valuable to men and bring up insecurities for years in the bedroom.”

Perhaps the most damning evidence comes from Dr. Victor Cline, research scientist and expert witness on the effects of pornography:

“The second phase was an escalation-effect. With the passage of time, the addicted required rougher, more explicit- more deviant, and “kinky” kinds of sexual material to get their “highs” and “sexual turn-ons.” …Being married or being in a relationship with a willing sexual partner did not solve their problem. Their addiction and escalation were manly due to the powerful sexual imagery in their minds, implanted there by the exposure to pornography. They often preferred this sexual imagery, accompanied by masturbation, to sexual intercourse itself. This nearly always diminished their capacity to love and express affection to their partner in their intimate relations. The fantasy was all-powerful, much to the chagrin and disappointment of their partner. Their sex drive had been diverted to a degree away from their spouse. And the spouse could easily sense this, and often felt very lonely and rejected.”

While we may have lost sight of what constitutes pornography in our over-sexed era, we have gained real insight into the impact pornographic material has on the individual and those around them. 3,000 years after the mitzvot were given, we’ve finally figured out what we couldn’t understand all along: God is a rather practical lawgiver to whom “No harm, no foul,” doesn’t really make any sense.

For a Biblical Feminist, the litmus test of pornography is the same as for any other media: How are the images you are exposed to impacting the way you think and the choices you make? I can’t make choices for others, nor do I seek to judge. Rather, I simply seek to point out the common sense in Scripture: If what you are viewing (or even reading) isn’t inspiring you to be your best or the best to others, then why pursue it?

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Susan L.M. Goldberg is a writer with a Master's in Radio, Television & Film and a PhD in Life who would be happy roaming the fields of Prince Edward Island with Anne of Green Gables, were it not for her strong belief in the axiom "all that is required for evil to prevail is for good women to do nothing." She prefers the career title "Renaissance Woman" and would happily be bar mates with Ann Coulter, Camille Paglia and Dorothy Parker. Her writing tends towards the intersection of culture, politics and faith with the interest in starting, not stopping the discussion. Follow her on Twitter @SLMGoldberg and @winegirlblog.

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All Comments   (7)
All Comments   (7)
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Yeah, I'm with Charlie Martin. Estimates of male porn consumption always give regular use numbers well upwards of 90%. If there was any statistically significant effect of the kind you're suggesting, women wouldn't be able to go out in public without being kidnapped.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Biblically speaking, there is no direct commandment proclaiming pornography evil. Yet, there are several commandments regarding acceptable and unacceptable sexual behaviors."

Actually, the bible does address pornography. Both in the old and new testaments, God directly and repeatedly condemns adultery and fornication (the first being sexual sin of married people and the second including all sexual sin, even pre-marital sex). Then, Jesus tells us, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matt. 5:27-28, NIV) Men who look at porn do so "lustily", or "with lust in his heart" as the NASV puts it. So, the action of observing porn, in any of it's forms, is in fact, directly proclaimed to be sin.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
As I remember some Supreme Court judge, concerning pornography, said something like: I cannot quite define it, but I know it what I see it. I will take up the "visual" interpretation and seek to explain how I saw it a night or two back here in Rheinland, Germany as my local gym celebrated (viz., cashed in on) the Oktoberfest, a Bavarian "folk" thing with tons of beer. Again, in order to stress that all is "visual" experience, I note that I have long sense entered into my 70s and am blessed with less testosterone, i.e., the sex drive is noticeably abated. Well back to my visual attempt to "define" pornography.

Some young "ladies", oh say, in their early 20s were dressed in a dirnle, a folksy type of costume usually seen in films with Bavarians men in leather breaches and women in, well, dirnls. Most areas of Germany have their own version of dirnls, though commercialization has mixed it all up. Some other young "broads" were present in normal and abnormal tightly fitting jeans. The distinction in my vocabulary between "ladies" and "broads" is purely subjective, i.e., refers to my reactions not to anything in the women themselves. I did see two really attractive "young" women (please note that my notion of "young" can be stretched to 45 years old) struck me, particularly re the essence (so illusive to the judge) of pornography.

Well, one of the young "ladies" wore a particularly feminine dirnle and danced about most alluringly. What I saw in a quite aesthetic manner was beautiful, in some way eternal woman-ness, feminity, leading me to affirm and give thanks to creation. My giving thanks was a feeling, not an expressed verbalization. The visual feeling was aesthetic because it retained a certain contemplative moment. I was in no way fixated in the moment and momentary pleasure, rather had a vision of that wonderous female reality, a reality that supplements my male-ness.

The young "broad", on the other hand, possessed an attractive face, fantastic figure, one quite clearly revealed as much as tight jeans allow, simply fixated my attention on the "real" consumption of now. In other words, the "broad" (I repeat the term reflects my reaction) in someway focused interest away from contemplating female totality to itching for female genitality--and that means displacing non-contemplative visual experience with exiting visual experience that seeks implicitly physical contact, immediate real genital satiation. I stress here that I had no wish for sex, only my visual awareness was genitally real and not aesthetically appreciative.

The difference between the two experiences defines pornography for me, not by abstraction, rather as for the judge by what I see.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here are a couple of examples to give a perspective on how art has evolved and has now merged with pornography.

In 1863 the brilliant French painter Edouard Manet exhibited his painting Le Dejeuner sur l'herbe (The Luncheon on The Grass), a classically-based painting depicting two men in contemporary dress and a casually naked woman in the foreground enjoying a day in the outdoors. The woman looks directly at the viewer with a slight smile on her face. The painting scandalized Paris.

Today I saw an announcement at The Daily Caller of an exhibit in England which will take place on 1/25/14. A gay artist named Clayton Pellet will lose his anal virginity and the general public is invited to come and observe. More than likely they won't be able to accommodate the throngs who will want to attend because we all understand that in a short time this young artist will be all the rage in the artistic circles of London, Paris and New York. Though one can only shudder to imagine what his next artistic work of genius will be.

It's taken a mere 150 years to go from point A to point B. Where do we go from here?
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
More sensational nonsense. Everything we do in life has influences and consequences. Sometimes they include benefits as well as negative aspects. It doesn't necessarily make them bad. Depending on the latest research, a glass of wine is healthy for you. Yet alcohol kills tens of thousands of people every year. But for the vast majority, a glass of wine is a satisfactory indulgence. Chocolate? Contains good chemicals, but can lead to obesity, along with much junk food. In other words, enjoy, but beware of excess that may lead to negative consequences.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Susan,

I agree with your observations and with the studies. As social beings we have a built-in trigger to conform to the culture we perceive. We want to be accepted. But what does that mean today. Everywhere we look, girls and boys as young as six, are engaging in sex, not because it arouses them at that age but because they see and hear it's the thing to do to be accepted by their social group. Every day I ride the metro, and all I see are people staring at their cell phones playing games, no-one interacting or even acknowledging their neighbors to the point of rudeness. It's like the movie "The Time Machine" with the Eloi, watching one of their own drown and no one lifting a finger to help the victim and no one caring. All being bred by the Morlocks for sheep in a Morlock driven society. I suspect it is getting harder and harder for each successive younger generation to be connected with each other despite facebook, etc.. Why go to the trouble or risk of being accused of sexual abuse or being publicly humiliated by daring to tell someone that you're attracted to them. Better to take no risks and live in your fantasy computer game porn world where the only one you abuse is yourself. I also suspect that this is especially true for young men who are told by society that their physical urges toward guns, playing cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, violent sports, etc. are abnormal and are to be punished. Load them up with Ritalin and turn them into metro-sexuals or worse. How many children today live in homes where parents can't or wont given them love and teach them how to behave in society? Too many. I don't know what the cure is but we'd better find one quick before our society devolves to savages and cannibals who prey on each other rather than help each other.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hmm. So porn causes men to stop wanting to have sex and become abusive rapists.

Right.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
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