♦ LAST UPDATED ON November 2, 2020 ♦

porn or art
Porn or art?

Yes, I do. My problem with porn, however, is that most porn seems to be made by men for men, and that teenagers have easy access to porn.

I do not have much of a problem with what porn depicts in general — that is people in “lustful” situations. That porn stimulates one’s own lust is by itself not necessarily a terrible thing for me. Erotic art — tastefully — is as natural as apple pie to me.

Of course, one bad apple ruins the pie. But could some couples, perhaps, benefit from watching some soft porn together to bring a bit of passion back into their marriage?

I know that there is also women-created porn — porn made by women for women. There is soft porn made for HBO and other streaming channels, and even “educational” material for the studious, uninitiated or faint-of-heart. Less malign, more benign, sure. I’ve seen it all. As said, there is also erotic art, ancient and new, and then some. You name it…

Porn is harm done

However, there is great harm done by producing hardcore porn since it is nearly begging young people to watch it. Teenagers get hooked on porn as early as high school. A lot of professions share in culpability, from porn producers, actors to distributors.

Young men and women, in their formative years, do not benefit from subjecting their psychological and social becoming to the merciless message that most male-centric porn carries: “You are the man, and you can have it your way irrespective of the woman. She is there to please you, and she will.” And female watchers get that message as well and are subtly conditioned to comply.

Incessantly watching porn is an undesirable, life-altering event for both the young male and female; and perhaps more troublesome to the female as she is typically the one being objectified. As women necessarily strive toward higher realizations of emancipation, porn is a quintessential anti-message trying to “put them back into their place.”

Most porn is truly exploitative in that it plays “hardball” (pun intended) with the defenseless human need for sex, the quest for affirmation and beauty, the fear of isolation and loneliness — the desire for being one with an other.

I do not know what to do regarding easy access to porn. Even voluntary censorship by Internet companies is a thing of the past.

Writes Alain de Botton in his 2012 book How to Think More About Sex:

“Yet this poison is not easy to resist. An unlikely and partly unwitting alliance between Cisco, Dell, Oracle and Microsoft on the one hand and thousands of pornographic-content providers on the other has exploited a design flaw of the male gender. A mind originally designed to cope with little more sexually tempting than the occasional sight of a tribeswoman across the savannah is rendered helpless when bombarded by continual invitations to participate in erotic scenarios far exceeding any dreamt up by the diseased mind of the Marquis de Sade.

There is nothing robust enough in our psychological makeup to compensate for developments in our technological capacities, nothing to arrest our passionate desire to renounce all other priorities for the sake of a few more minutes (which might turn out to be four hours) in the darker recesses of…”

Porn is a lot of trouble, to say the least, because it cultivates natural base instinct to possibly become unduly dominant by circumventing sublimation, and ending up ruling the unsuspecting person — both young and mature, male and female. Sexual urges need to be governed rather than allowed to dominate.

Parents are helpless

In this very complex and competitive day and age, young people need all the high-minded support they can get to develop their inner capacities and external skills to stand up to the growing pressures of modernity. Porn is not helpful, and even the best parenting is often blindsided.

Quoting de Botton again: “Pornography, like alcohol and drugs, undermines our ability to endure certain kinds of suffering which we have to experience if we are to direct our lives properly. More specifically, it reduces our capacity to tolerate our ambiguous moods of free-floating worry and boredom.”

These moods — worry and boredom, “…need to be listened to and patiently interpreted” — that is channeled instead of simply being overpowered by lust.

So, please stay away from porn.

“Religions are often mocked for being prudish, but insofar as they warn us against sex, they do so out of an active awareness of the charms and the power of desire. They wouldn’t judge sex to be quite so bad if they didn’t also understand that it could be rather wonderful. The problem is that this wonderful thing can get in the way of some other important and precious concerns of ours, such as God and life.”

What is Sublimation

Instead of citing platitudinal religious warnings or moral codes alone, it might be better to explain to teenagers what sexual sublimation is — in terms of dissuading them from consuming porn. Parents or mentors might be well advised to affirm the distinct sexual natures of both males and females in their talks with teenagers, instead of collectively casting erotic instincts and desires into the realm of the taboo — much of what Christianity tends to do.

But what is sexual sublimation and how can an understanding help? Another topic for another day, but for now, a curious person can read up on the topic.

A young adult’s consent to abstain from watching porn might be stronger when based on a plausible understanding of human nature and self-discipline when self-confidence and an understanding of his or her body — desires, emotions and feelings — is actively pursued.

Christianity, I am sorry to say, did not get this right enough. The proof is in the porn (pudding).

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