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Pornography- Addiction or Civil Right?

The headline of the Eugene Register Guard today was “Battling Porn from the Pulpit“. The story was actually three stories on the many faces of pornography. The numbers are impressive no matter what side you are on… Every second $3,075 is being spent on pornography by over 28,000 users on the internet- yes, that was every second. There are over 4.2 million porn websites which makes up 12% of all the sites on the internet. The 2006 porn revenue in the US was over 13.3 billion dollars.

The story about the church rehabilitation of their porn addicted members recounted the individual men’s inability to stay away from porn sites. As in most obsessive behaviors, being able to admit and talk about our problems is the first step to building a relationship that is manageable with it and oneself. Sadly the church could not stop there, but adopted a curriculum called “Pure Desire” which not only puts the kibosh on pornography but also masturbation and fantasy. Nothing like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The program differs from other 12 step, because there isn’t a reference to a “nebulous higher power”- Christ is the only hope.”

The scientific discussion of pornography as an addiction in an accompanying piece was also illuminating. According to Wendy Maltz, a local Sex therapist and researcher who just completed a book “The Porn Trap” – the issue is that pornography is not only accessible, affordable and anonymous, it has also become completely socially acceptable. This makes sense given the largest growing segments of porn users are women and couples.

The argument over the addictive quality of porn runs deep and wide- Can visual stimuli create the same neurological dependence as other substances taken internally- Maltz says that the biofeedback loop that internet porn enables creates a powerful adrenalin response. Her clients report that giving up alcohol or drugs is easy by comparison. These arguments are layered with an equally emotionally charged issue of the use of women as sex objects or sexual subjects- Another local who used to run the planned parenthood agency in town, Diane Duke, has taken up the mantle of protecting the civil liberties of adult entertainment companies. The current administration has turned up the heat and not allowed the application of basic civil rights to apply to their medium. She asks “Why are the government and anti-adult entertainment zealots afraid of women as sexual beings?”

The question I think is more complicated than that- because both sides of this story have a point, there is some very healthy experimenting that goes on with couples use of pornography and there is also some serious relationship destruction that occurs because of the over- use of pornography. The shame and hiding of sexual urges and the drive to experience raw sexuality all contribute to a massive industry that rarely feeds the real urge that human sexual drive craves- that of connection.

The more informative question is “How do we stay with our sexual selves and our sexual drives and our sexual idiosyncrasies in a way that respects our relationships and gives us a fighting chance to have love connect with sex?” We all have this deep and irrational aspect of our humanity… the Kinsey reports and studies verified the expansive range of reality that this represents for us 50 years ago. Still we refuse this- and we obsess about it and we refuse our obsessing…

Nothing in life is as deeply satisfying as an orgasmic experience with someone who loves you. Wish I could bottle that and sell it- oh yeah, I did. Its called Good Clean Love.