Remediating the negative impact of the Pornification of our Sex Lives

By February 18, 2016February 1st, 2018Masculinity

Thursday 11 Feb 2016 | Peter Janetzki – Counsellor/Psychotherapists/Educator | 1233 words

When pornography was introduced to mainstream western society by Playboy back in 1953 it was the beginning of a revolution that transformed an understanding of male sexuality by promoting Heffner’s playboy lifestyle as the ultimate dream for the average man. By 1969 Playboy’s circulation was 4.5M per month contributing to the development of a new but prevailing attitude that pornography was part of normal male sexuality.

With the development of technology and in particular the Domain Name Systems (DNS) in 1984, pornography has infiltrated every aspect of our homes from fashion, advertising, and music video clips. With almost every home having access to the internet pornography is just a single click away and unfortunately by accident porn is often an uninvited guest into our family homes. Reed Johnson cited by Gail Daines, (2010, p. 99) said that,  “Fashion also is taking more aesthetic cues from porn, including the growing popularity of genital piercing and shaving, which was popularized by adult film actors.”

Pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry. To put it into perspective Hollywood produces 300 to 400 movies a year whereas the porn industry produces 8,000 to 15,000 movies a year. Like it or not our world has been impacted by pornography even for those of us who find it inappropriate and repulsive. Just think for a moment how many of those in the public eye, politicians, sporting stars etc. who have been exposed of sending explicit photos and/or lude text messages? Off the top of my head I can list more than all the digits on my hands and feet!

You may well ask how it has impacted me even when I have not consumed any pornography? The answer is simple. Modern pornography is invasive and indiscriminate in its proliferation, resulting in most of our children being exposed to it at some point in their lives. This exposure combined by the social acceptance, as porn being a part of normal male sexuality, has transformed our understanding of the meaning of sex in relationships ever so subtlety, but profoundly, for the worse.

Pornography, (soft through to gonzo) has inundating our girls and women with the message that their most worthy attribute is their body and their sexual hotness. And that their relational role is to enjoy whatever their male sexual partner wants to do to their body even if it is distasteful, painful and cruel because it is about his pleasure ultimately. There is overwhelming evidence that these messages have eroded the self-esteem of our girls and women, stripping them of their sense of themselves as whole human beings. This objectification has shifted them from being a HUMAN BEING to a SEXUAL DOING!

However our girls and women are not the only victims of pornography so are our boys and men. With more than twenty years of working with men and couples that have been profoundly impacted by problematic pornography use I am yet to meet a man with a compulsive pornography problem who was not exposed to pornography by the age of ten to twelve years. Sure there are other contributing factors to the development of their struggle with porn however early exposure is a common thread.

Boys who grow up to become men who have problematic pornography use become conditioned to believing and expecting that sex is all about their own narcissistic pleasure. And that the further they push the boundaries into violent, degrading, domineering and often dangerous practices the better their orgasm will be. So now sex is about the individual pleasure seeking of entitled males driven by primal animal urges.

How can a generation of men and boys remediate this invasive toxic sexual worldview after consuming decades of insidiously destructive pornography? By learning mastery of my thinking and my mind!

The neural pathways and networks that have be built and reinforced by partaking in pornography can be changed however it takes time, effort and hard work to break these networks and rewrite new ones. (I will expand on the topic of the brain and pornography at another time.) So let me break this down into four helpful tools.

1.      Create a new understanding of the meaning of sex. Historically we have referred to sex as making love and I know nothing in pornography which is about love, mutual love, that involves giving and receiving which engenders feelings and emotions such as, connection, empathy, tenderness, caring, and affection. I call this Meaningful Connected Sex. So become a student of your spouse/partner. Learn about what she likes and dislikes. Learn about how she ticks, what makes her happy and said, what brings a smile to her face and then start doing some of these things without expecting sex in return. Do it for the sake of love. At this point most blokes I work with say something like but ‘I need sex’. Sorry mate you don’t. You will not die from not having sex! However you do need MEANINGFUL CONNECTION so work on building this first.

2.      Shift your thoughts from focusing on yourself and your perceived needs and start focusing on her. To do this you have to become aware when you are disconnecting from your spouse/partner by being off in your own head thinking about getting off and your own pleasure. Catch when this happens and refocus back onto the person you are making love to rather than the images in your heard. A helpful tip here for the spouse/partner is when you notice them disconnect then gently stop what you are doing and look at them and wait for them to reconnect with you. When they do smile and welcome them back to connection and then continue. The worst thing a spouse or partner can do is get bent out of shape and offended as this will make things go from bad to worse in a nanosecond.

3.      Thought Stopping. One of the most invasive aspects of pornography is that these blokes end up with a head full of unhelpful pornographic images. Learning to manage these images and associated thoughts that get triggered in your head is essential. So become self-aware and catch them when they happen rather than entertain them. Then push them aside. Martin Luther is credited with answering a question about dealing with temptation saying, ‘you can’t stop birds from flying over your head but you can stop them nesting on (or in) your head.
Two things can be helpful in this; i. Focus on a distraction, ii. Thinking about wanting the best for you spouse/partner. Focusing on mutual love, respect, tenderness care and connection. Remind yourself that your sexual worldview is wrong and that it is not all about me.

4.      Co-create a sense of a unique US. A combination of you and her, not just two people who share the same bed. This requires listening and sharing and developing understanding as well as having fun, laughter and play. (I will talk about this at another time under the topic of Robust Conversation).

I think it is time to stop giving the pornographers, who are interested in making money and don’t give a rip about the quality of personal lives, the power of determining our sexual worldview. We need to reclaim what has been lost and invest in building meaningful connected relationships in which sex is an extension of connecting with my spouse/partner with my mind, my heart, my body and my genitals.

 Gail Daines, (2010), Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, Beacon Press

© Peter Janetzki – 2016