DCP Recap: 50 Shades of Porn

I’m going to do a series of blog posts labeled “DCP Recap:…” These will all be posts recapping the different sessions from the Demand Change Project weekend. There was a lot of information, so as I process through some of it, I’ll post.

“50 Shades of Porn” breakout session

One of the breakout sessions I attended at the Demand Change Project was on porn and its connection to sexual exploitation. The speaker, Gail Dines (author of Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked our Sexuality), was very direct which I appreciated. I didn’t agree with 100% of everything she had to say—but I could agree with a lot of her points on the subject of porn and culture.

Basically, it all comes down to this:

We live in a pornophied culture which grooms girls into sex objects and boys into users of these objects.

Girls

Girls are groomed at a young age to desire to be “sexy.” From girls’ clothes to excessively skinny models in ads to the articles in Cosmo or TV Shows like “Toddlers and Tiaras,” our culture grooms girls to become sexy. Gail showed us an image similar to the one below and said, “All girls know how to do this look. And what is it saying? ‘F*** me.'”

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And it’s true. I remember practicing that look with my girlfriends.

Unfortunately, this grooming of girls (and what boys are also groomed to find attractive) results in two categories of women: Sexy or Invisible. And no one wants to be invisible.

So what happens is women succumb to our own demise in a sense. We become obsessed with how we look, how we present ourselves and start to believe that really, our worth is based on how sexy we are. Gail used this as a tie into the other side of how we are groomed: romance novels and stories—like 50 Shades of Grey.

Now, I have never read the book and probably never will. But Gail summarized the plot and pulled out some passages that clearly show how the man in this novel is a controlling, abusive, and violent lover. Yet, women “love” the book and find it to be a female version of porn. Which it is…obviously…because the man is continuing to take advantage of the women’s vulnerability, control her, and use her how he pleases. Gail shared how a survey showed that women wanted a lover like Mr. Grey but would never want their children to become a Mr. Grey or bring home a Mr. Grey for dinner.

“Hello…if you don’t want your kids to become this person, why are you idolizing and fantasizing about this character?!”

Men

So while girls are being groomed into wanting to be sexy objects, boys are being groomed to want sex objects. Gail showed us a whole bunch of advertisements where women literally turned into an object–or their body parts are used to sell other objects.

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On top of this, the porn industry is completely focused on turning women into objects to be used for sexual and violent pleasure.

Before I jump into this, I want to bring up a very important point, one that Gail mentioned as well. The average age for boys to start watching porn is 11—right when he’s starting to develop his sexual template as part of his journey through puberty. Unless he is taught differently by some other source, his whole sexual template is going to be created by what he sees on TV and through the Internet—which will most likely include a lot of porn.

36% of the internet is porn—a $32 billion industry. Gail shared statistics from studies on top porn searches, top visited porn sites, and so forth. Right now, the majority of porn consumed today is called “gonzo porn,” which is extremely violent and degrading to the women. On top of this at least 34% of porn is advertised as “teen porn.” (And we wonder why so many young girls are getting raped, molested and bought).

So, the 11-year-old boy who is wondering what sex is will end up seeing videos and images of men in doing incredibly derogatory things to women. As curiosity continues, perhaps fueled a bit by peers, consumption increases—and I think we can all travel down the road of what this means as boys become men.

All that to say, there is a clear, direct line between porn and sexual exploitation—in fact, porn is legalized sexual exploitation that turns our boys into potential johns.

Obviously, Gail’s session had many more statements—and many many images which I would not include on my blog, simply because I think we can grasp the point without having to see it.

My Takeaway

My challenge to myself and to others? Healthy Sexual Education! Seriously, this session just slapped me in the face with how important this is. Girls and boys, men and women need to be taught an alternative sexuality—one that does not result in sexual objectification, disrespect or derogatory acts. Sex was created to be beautiful, relational, and holy….and if we don’t come to understand that, if we don’t teach our children healthy, holistic sexuality in a loving, caring and unshaming way—our culture will fill the gap in that education—and frankly, that is terrifying.