Pornography and the Average Joe
The TrapFor many men, the battle with pornography is not unlike Aesop's classic children's story of Brer Rabbit and a person made of tar (see full story). When we first encounter pornography, it seems perfectly innocent. It sometimes even seems like we should want to experience this wonderful new thing, just as Brer Rabbit thought he was meeting a nice new neighbor. What those facing pornography often remain unaware of is that with each interaction they become more obsessed with their own snare. Before they realize what has happened, their seemingly harmless introduction to a docile and undamaging form of entertainment has become a trap that cannot be escaped without help.
It is no secret that the average man looks at pornography much more frequently than the average woman. What most people underestimate is the immensity of the problem and its effects. While the religious and moral nature of a home can have some effect on how old males are when exposed to pornography, even a very protective home is frequently inadequate protection. One survey found that 91% of men raised in Christian homes, 96% of men raised in partially Christian homes, and 98% of men raised in non-Christian homes were exposed to pornography while growing up. These statistics are staggering and frightening when it comes to the emotional health of men.
Naming the Problems
In his book The Centerfold Syndrome, Dr. Gary Brooks points out five effects the visual stimulants in our culture and in pornography have on men.
Have you ever walked across Baylor campus and found yourself unable to stop checking out each attractive woman you pass? Our culture has exploited sexuality so much in advertisements, television, and magazines that it has broken down men's natural ability to avoid these thoughts. This leads to voyeurism in which men obtain pleasure by looking at women from a distance rather than interacting with them in meaningful relationships.
There comes a time at which you have looked at women in so many pictures, fantasized about them so frequently, and been tempted so thoroughly, that you are no longer looking at women as people, but as objects of personal gratification. When men objectify women, they look at their bodies but do not see the real person inside.
III. The Need for Validation
Does seeing that your best friend's girlfriend seems more attractive than your own cause you to feel inadequate? The continual onslaught of pornographic imagery flooding our lives frequently teaches men that they should be dating a certain type of woman with a certain type of look. When men begin to live out this need, they may find they are never satisfied with any woman because they are continually searching for something "better" as a way of validating themselves.
Rather than seeing women as people who are worthy of a genuine relationship, a woman becomes like a trophy on the mantle. The man uses her to show his value to others.
V. Fear of Intimacy
After culture gets done teaching all these other lessons about what men should seek in women, it is no wonder their willingness for intimacy is also compromised. After continual exposure to physical relationships with little emotional content, the fear of something genuine naturally ensues.
The Problems in Action
As Brooks illustrates, the use of pornography can have a long list of undesired effects. In a study conducted by Bergner and Bridges on men's use of pornography, several observations were made. First, men tended to pursue pornography and fantasies in order to fill desires missing in their lives. This observation implies some part of these men is longing for an alternative. Secondly, the study found that once the fantasy had been acted out, the men were left feeling degraded and depressed. They needed to repeat the process to relieve the tension.
Men are not meant to use these images and build these fantasies in place of relationships. Mark Swartz, director of the Masters and Johnson clinic in St. Louis, Missouri, points out that use of visual imagery actually leads beyond a fascination to an actual dependency on it for sexual arousal. By using pornography, men degrade their own ability to find meaningful sexual fulfillment in a committed marriage relationship, instead building pornographic walls in their minds that will prevent true satisfaction.
As men take in all these visual images and their ideas of attractiveness and ability for arousal become increasingly skewed, consider this: researchers are finding more than ever that the brain is the critical sex organ. Pornography has the ability to affect men's minds on an ongoing basis. As it does, men who are not careful may find their ability to be attracted to their spouse being demolished by a barrage of "perfect" women. Even with the long list of other effects, this danger alone should be enough to make men take notice and realize they need to throw out the pornography.
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