Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What is Pornography?

With all the fervor going on right now about the release of a certain movie coming out on Valentine's Day (which I won't name, because it's already getting all the Internet attention it can stand), I've seen a theme repeated over and over on social media. "It's not really porn. So what's the problem?"

I'm going to take this discussion away from that particular nameless movie and discuss the broader question--what is porn? The dictionary defines it as media that depicts people in sexual situations for the purpose of arousing sexual desire in the viewer. That's a pretty straightforward definition, not too hard to understand. Basically, if you're watching it and you're becoming aroused, it's porn. And even if it wasn't created for that purpose, if you're aroused, it's still porn. 

Lots of people can eat cabbage. (No, that's not a massive change of subject. Bear with me. I'll make a point.) I can't eat cabbage, at least the standard light green stuff. I can have red cabbage and I can have Napa cabbage and I can have bok choy, which is in the cabbage family, but if I eat your basic, regular cabbage, I get a migraine. Cabbage is healthy, right? For many people, it is, but for me, it's not. It's unhealthy.

Let me relate that back to the topic at hand. Some become sexually aroused more easily than others. They may have to be careful not to watch certain television shows because those shows elicit feelings they've chosen not to have with anyone but their spouse. Maybe that show doesn't bother their friend, but they themselves avoid it because it's not good for them. It's their cabbage. Because it's not good for them, because it leads to sexual arousal for them, it's porn to them. That's as far as the cabbage analogy goes--I'm not saying that porn is healthy for some and unhealthy for others. My point is that we can become aroused by things that aren't labeled "porn." It doesn't have to be "porn" to create that response.

I'm not going to go into a long debate over whether porn is harmful or leads to greater sexual fulfillment or whatever. There are tons and tons of articles on the topic, and you can read them at your leisure on the Internet. Basically, if you believe it's *harmful, you'll find stuff to back you up. If you believe it adds spice to your life, you can find stuff to back that up too. I'm also not going to go into religious ramifications--we all know what those are, and while I agree with them 100%, they're easy to find and I wouldn't be able to make any statements better than the ones that have already been made. 

What I am here to say is that we need to become clearer in our understanding of what porn is. If you're reading something or watching something and you find yourself becoming aroused, that media is porn to you. I'm not talking about the little heart flutters when you read about a great marriage proposal. I'm not talking about a contented sigh after seeing him confess his love under a starlit sky. I'm talking about situations where you find your own body responding in a sexual way. It could be a small response or a major one--anywhere on that spectrum is arousal, and if you have made the choice to stay away from porn, you should avoid the media that created that response within you.

Again, not here to moralize. This is your choice entirely. For me, as an individual, I've chosen to avoid it. Your choice may be different. I'd just like for us to make those choices knowing clearly what we're choosing. We can't delude ourselves into thinking that we're doing one thing when we're really doing another. We each need to decide for ourselves where we stand, and then stand there. It's too easy to get pulled to one side or another, debating and splitting hairs. If we each know where we stand, the question is answered.

You're the only one who knows what qualifies as porn to you. You're the only one who can make that determination, and also the choice what to do about it. My choice is made. I state it with respect to others who have chosen differently or haven't yet decided. I hope we can all be respectful of each other's personal moral decisions, remembering how very hard our Savior fought to that we might have the opportunity to make choices like this for ourselves.

*The statistics linking pornography to sex crimes are startling, and we have to admit that there is a strong connection. However, that topic is far too broad to cover in this one simple post, so I haven't mentioned it. I do leave this footnote so it's clear that I'm very, very cognizant of it. Not everyone who does porn will commit sexual crimes. However, nearly all of those who commit sexual crimes also do porn. Again, not the purpose of this post.


Jennifer Jensen said...

Well said, Tristi!

Andrea said...

So, are you going to watch the movie?

Ha ha ha ha. I'm so evil. :-)

Great post, by the way. I appreciated it.

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