I remember when women (it was always women) started losing their…stuff over 50 Shades of Gray. Women were inundating social media platforms with comments and consuming the “novels” at alarming rates. Probably similar to how some teenage boys process broadband pornography–as if it were potato chips. And judging by how the ladies are responding to the movie being released, we are likely in for more of the same. It will sell tickets, but it wouldn’t surprise me if people walked away from the theaters hiding their faces with newspapers.
From what I understand, the author first published it as Twilight fan fiction—and an ebook—and was somewhat surprised when it took off the way it did.
First of all, from what I understand of fan fiction, if often tends to lean toward erotica. These books are no different. Typically, that sort of thing is not written very well (by that I mean both fan fiction and erotica. If you don’t believe me, check out one of those older Anne Rice versions of popular “fairy tales.” Not written by a fan, but certainly more badly written than her very popular vampire series—which I have read). In any case, the excerpts I have read from 50 Shades read more like a Penthouse letter than art.
Secondly, most people don’t admit to reading or viewing pornography—even of the soft-core variety, but make no mistake, these books fall under that umbrella. I suppose the women I know do not read these things because of the quality of the literature. They read it because “everyone” is reading it, and because it is supposedly titillating (I know, but it was a slow pitch and I swung at it). Mommy porn, I have heard it called, and that is very apt indeed.
It is porn—perhaps not the flagrantly hardcore stuff, but porn nonetheless.
Many might think it harmless, but I submit to you it is not. Not in book form, and even more so not on film. Porn is a stumbling block for many—yes, usually more for men than women—but women are not excepted from this particular…vice. Clearly. Look at the popularity of these books.
I think human beings are not naturally bent toward sado-masochism. I suppose those that are all have their reasons for reading or viewing it, but I think those attempting to normalize it or legitimize it in some way are simply fooling themselves. It is not just a little adventure in the bedroom, even if it does start that way. I believe that God created sexuality as a means of not just pro-creating, but expressing our love and devotion for our spouses—yes, spouses.
Like all things God made, he designed it to be good, and it is. I am not sure where whips fit into that equation.
It’s a thing designed to be beautiful, and as I said before, enjoyed within the context of marriage. Have I indulged otherwise? Yes, but for a time it absolutely did harm to my outlook and how I view both women and sex. It was the same with porn (and yes, there was a time when I struggled with that as well).
I am fairly certain most wives are not OK with their husbands looking at porn, but can somehow rationalize reading these books (and now, watching the movies) because they are “just books,” or “just movies.”
They aren’t. I believe that if we can look at someone and sin, and if the entertainment we are taking in causes us to look away from our spouses or significant others and indulge in any sort of fantasy, then this is exactly the same as porn.
I think it would be fair to say most folks would agree pornography is harmful to both viewer and performer, and those that don’t agree would typically make the argument that it is a victimless crime. Allow me to express why I do not agree with that statement.
A year or so ago, a story kept popping up on various online news sites (I saw something about it on CNN.com, Foxnews.com, Yahoo, and Drudge Report), regarding a young woman—a freshman at Duke University—who was “outed” by a classmate as being a porn star. Ostensibly, she chose this particular career path because college is really expensive and she needed help with her tuition.
As a former student who just recently completed his BA, finally, I can personally attest to the truth of this. College is expensive. I chose the student loan path, however, rather than trying to break into the adult film industry as an overweight guy in his mid-40’s with more hair on his back than his head.
What got my head to spinning a little bit about this young woman was not her work (no, I did not try to find any, though I am certain it would have been easy), but a comment she made in an interview. There was a very short blurb on CNN where she said words to the effect that she found performing in porn “freeing.”
Who is freed?
As I can only speak from a male perspective, I would submit to anyone who cares to listen that porn isn’t freeing at all—quite the contrary. It’s enslaving. Whether you are talking about the really vile stuff, or 50 Shades of Gray, once that ball starts rolling, it is difficult to stop and easy to rationalize.
But that does not mean it isn’t harmful.
It’s my belief that the attitude of this young woman is something symptomatic of this current generation, which has somehow found itself steeped in moral relativism rather than any sort of values, traditional or otherwise. Hey, go ahead and do it if no one gets hurt. And sometimes even if they do. Because that’s hot. Or not.
Porn is freeing? It is not. I only wish I were not speaking from experience. If you want statistics, I am sure there are plenty of articles out there that will give them to you. That isn’t what I wanted to talk about today.
Porn is dangerous and harmful in so many ways. It is not, as the industry and those partaking in it would have you think, harmless or victimless–in my opinion, not to the consumers or the performers. Whether you’re talking about 50 Shades or something with a few more X’s behind the title.
This line of reasoning, however, is what makes it so easy to fall back into the habit of looking at that shit and rationalizing it as simply entertainment.
Why is it harmful?
Again, from a male perspective, it gives young people–young men–a highly skewed (and highly incorrect) perception of what sex should be like, and how women (or men, I suppose) view it. Especially with something like 50 Shades. Hey, liven up your sex life—that’s cool. But watching or reading pornography is not the way (no, I am not going to give you a manual with this post). It objectifies both women and men and makes the act itself often a carnal buffet of grossness, supposedly meant to be titillating but often more along the lines of sickening, at least to me.
Perhaps those without “religious” values or some kind of moral center would think of porn like the performers and partakers do, but it is so difficult for me to get my mind around that way of thinking, now that I realize the truth of it, and think about my own kids potentially getting involved in it or with it.
This young woman at Duke is not freeing herself, no matter what she might say or think. Kudos go out, I suppose, for her entrepreneurial spirit. She found a way to pay her tuition without going into debt. Yay.
Numerous meaningless sexual encounters with people who likely view her as little more than a…means to an end.
Meanwhile, young men (and possibly women—I don’t know anything from that perspective) are partaking in her work and developing an image in their little heads about what women are like, and what they want from a sexual encounter (which, I believe, is meant to be—as designed by God—within the framework of a marriage). Often, as with 50 Shades, that involves pain and often a sort of enslavement. Certainly , these forms of entertainment are also subject to escalation—it starts with a little titillation, which ends up going further and further into very dark places. In my opinion (and in my experience), that is much more complicated than just a little “slap and tickle.”
As someone who was single for most of my adult life, there was a time when I held that image of women that porn wanted me to. I am thankful that God showed me the truth of it. I was chained up by that nasty garbage for a number of years, and I know plenty of other men who were, too, at one point or another. I know men who have had their relationships and their marriages threatened by it, and lost to it.
It’s not harmless, people. It’s not victimless, either.
I can’t say how performing in porn damages the female psyches of young women.
I can’t say how it damages the psyches of the male performers, either.
What I can say is that if left unchecked, it can be an addiction like any other addiction. It can affect and even ruin lives. It can prevent or harm otherwise healthy relationships and marriages by giving men and women unrealistic and unhealthy ideas about sex and love—as with the domination and bondage featured as normal expressions of sexuality depicted in 50 Shades of Gray.
My personal belief is that if you reduce sex to a simply biological act, or an expression of carnal adrenaline, then you are detracting from what it was designed to be. The formula that porn tries to sell people is false. It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s bull, completely.
If you had a daughter, would you want her to be a porn star? How about your sister? Your mom? Would you want her handcuffed in a dungeon somewhere being flogged? Would you want to be?
Would you instruct your son on how to find the “best” porn online? Would you give your wife a copy of 50 Shades?
Rhetorical questions, certainly, and I hope the answers would be “no” if given.
All I know is when I was slave to that crap I was lost in almost every way a person can be lost. I found my way out, by the grace of God and the accountability of people I trusted. You can, too, if you’re stuck in that particular rut.
I think about that stuff sometimes. I remember how it felt, and how much it took to get out of it. Hard as it was, it was also the right decision. I know this is a big part of my testimony, and I often have to ask God what I should say about it? How can my words mean anything to anyone?
Recently, I was driving down I-95 on the way to work and a snatch of lyric from a 1980’s song occurred to me. It occurred to me when I was slave to so many different things than God as well.
If you’re lost you can look and you will find me
Time after Time
If you fall I will catch you, I’ll be waiting
Time after Time
I don’t know if that will mean anything to anyone else, but it did to me.
Clearly, she wasn’t writing about God. But that’s what the chorus made me think of today. Funny how that works.