Porn or Pawn? The latest on Porn, Kids and Relationships in Australia

Porn or Pawn? The latest on Porn, Kids and Relationships in Australia

 The use of Pornography must be one of the most polarising subjects around when it comes to sexuality and relationships.

Shrouded in secrecy, both women and men, silent for their own reasons. Men for their shame and guilt. (It's a fact that pornography is more commonly used by men)

Women, for their feelings of betrayal and shame that they are 'not enough' for their husband, who has to resort to porn to satisfy him.

A sense of failure prevails for both. Deep wounding is triggered and is created fresh in the moment, as each click drives another relationship to the wall.

(Please note some aspects of this post may offend)

Attending the Porn Harms Kids Symposium, organised by Collective Shout last month in Sydney was a massive eye opener for me. Shocking and informative, it felt good to be amoungst educators, researchers and advocates who were having real and intelligent conversations about this alarming subject. I say alarming as I'd have to agree with Dr Joe Tucci, Australian Childhood Foundation CEO and Psychologist, who said that in Australia, the now widespread 'use of porn is a health crisis in the making'. (See article by Natasha Bita, where she quotes Dr Joe Tucci at length Online Porn turns School aged Kids into Sexual Predators)

So we all know that obviously Porn harms kids, but my quest was to find what the solutions are.

You see, porn is no longer static images in a magazine stashed away in a garage or behind a tv. The old video version of porn rarely exists anymore. It is hard core, flick in a click, in your face and takes up 30% of internet traffic worldwide. Just a click away now, no effort is needed by children or adults to access some of the most agressive and violent scenes in relation to sex.

After I gave my 'It's called Making Love isn't it?' Tedx talk in 2013, people sent me all sorts of links to how porn harms relationships and kids. It seems that cat was out of the bag and everyone was talking about it. I really wanted to play it down because I felt like the focus was in the wrong direction. My focus is on LOVE, not porn. How can we create more love in our lives and relationships?

After attending the Porn Harms Kids Symposium, believed to be the very first of it's kind in the Southern Hemisphere, I have to say my shackles were up again. I sat, eyes wide open, horrified at what the statistics say now and in fact, what large scale research is now showing, that wasn't even readily available when I gave my talk. In fact, the only recent figures I could find were, as I now know it, from 2006, BEFORE iphone and android devices. In fact, my figures were understating the truth. It is now believed to be 90% of boys have seen porn and 60% of girls.

Whatever the stats are, my deep concern is where relationships will end up for our future generation. While porn is 'normalised' by a whole generation because they grew up with it, their brains have become, as I said in my talk, desensitised.

The big take out from the day was the essence that porn promotes male domination and expectation of women to satisfy their needs. Normalising of extreme sex acts that condone male domination and female submission, alters the whole psyche, leaving the watcher numb to any kind of sensibility of associating sex with what we are all longing for - LOVE.

The common reaction from porn advocates is to name and shame anyone who does not agree with it as 'a prude', 'Christian',  or 'behind the times'. The times they are achanging by Bob Dylan could never be more true.

One of the most shocking slides I saw from presenter Melinda Tankard Reist in relation to adult relationships, was the following... from Di Macleod, Director of the Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence (April 7 2015)

"I am director of a Sexual Violence counselling service. In the past few years we have had a huge increase in intimate partner rape of women from 14 to 80+. (80+!)

The biggest common denominator is consumption of porn by the offender. With offenders not able to differentiate between fantasy and reality, believing women are 'up for it' 24/7, ascribing to the myth that "no means yes and yes means anal", oblivious to the injuries caused and never ever considering consent.

We have seen a huge increase in deprivation of liberty, physical injuries, torture, gagging, filming and sharing footage without consent. I founded the centre 25 years ago and what is now considered to be the norm in 2015 is frightening. I wonder where we will be in another 10 years!"

Even with this alarming report, some say to avoid of catastrophising. There is an interesting interview with Dr Michael Flood on ABC's The Drum (16.5 minutes into the show) who says that we must 'steer clear of a simple apocolyptic vision of pornography that any exposure to children and young people to pornography will radically change their sexual lives. He says that pornography is a risk factor among other risk factors, that there are some boys and girls, men and women for whom it is dangerous, those  who are already predisposed to sexual aggression.'

However, here are some more sad facts...

  • 88% of scenes include physical aggression
  • 48% of scenes include verbal aggression.
  • 94% of cases include gagging, choking and slapping - and are directed to females.
  • 95% of aggression was met with neutral or positive response by young users. (Study of 50 best selling pornographic videos Ana Bridges et al 2010)
  • Yr 7 girls are asking questions on bondage and S + M
  • Women between 15 and 24 are having labiaplasty and vulvoplasty - demand for these procedures has risen by over 50% in ten years.

What to do for our children?

I am not qualified to answer that question in depth and prefer to leave it to the experts. Two in particular.

I refer to film maker, and educator, Maree Crabbe and her website It's Time We Talked. There is plenty of support here and for schools, she has a 250 page resource for teachers and schools and a comprehensive support to deliver it's content.

And educator and author, Liz Walker from Youth Wellbeing Project has a brilliant website with loads of resources for parent and educator. 

Biggest report was UK Children's Commissioner's Report 2013

Melinda Tankard Reist is a pioneer in this field and has been an advocate for girls and boys, visiting schools around the country. She cofounded Collective Shout to make corporations responsible for what they merchandise to kids and teenagers. Check it out. It's amazing what they are doing on a shoestring budget. They need support so if you feel called, you can donate.

Here is what one young woman wrote to Melinda Tankard Reist after hearing her speak at an event.

"I think back to last year when I saw you talk for the first time. I had given up on hope thinking I was only good for being abused and assaulted by men. I had had no sleep and coffee was my friend. Your talk really spoke to me that day, a day I will never forget because your talk gave me hope, gave me strength and courage but it saved my life that day. I was gonna kill myself that night but instead I walked away full of inspiration. It was such an honour and blessing to meet you in person…"

So what are the long term effects of ongoing porn use on relationships? In one word?

Disaster.

At some point through listening to Dr Joe Tucci, I got it. Everyone was saying how what porn teaches is male dominance and female subservience.

Hey, this has been around for thousands of years! And this is what we are trying to break free from. I believe that we are in a critical point in history where everything is being shaken to its core.

The real truth is:- Porn is AMPLIFYING WHAT IS ALREADY HERE.

My argument is not anti-male, it is pro LOVE, RESPECT, MUTUAL CONSENT.

Domination, whether it is male over female, male over male, female over female, or female over male, creates the association that love means subservience. Or subservience means love (as illustrated and indoctrinated to a generation of young people through the book and movie 50 Shades of you know what)

One thing I would say to young men and which was offered on the day, is that 'Porn makes you bad lovers'. If you want to be a good lover, and hey what man, young or old doesn't want that, then don't follow pornography. One young woman in her mid twenties, who I spoke to recently told me that she knows instantly if a guy has watched porn. It all goes the same way. And when she is with someone who hasn't, she said it is so different, so tender, so real.

What to do for yourself when confronted by something you don't want sexually:-

Check with your body

  • Does this feel loving to me?
  • Does this deepen my love?
  • Does this honour me or the other?
  • A woman (or man) and her (or his) body should never be expected to replace porn. This is your body, not anyone elses. Take ownership of it. If it doesn't feel right, say no.

One could say a whole new path needs to be taken, one that challenges what is being viewed as the 'norm'. It's interesting how every generation seems to need to break free of the shackles of it's very own conditioning.

First it was religion and it's stifling suppression of natural desire, now it's pornography and it's overtly hypersensationalised, unnatural, aggressive selling of shock entertainment. The generation of children born in the 80's, 90's and later, as never before are subject to possibly being conditioned in a way unprecedented in human history.

I observe what I see as gender confusion amongst our young these days. I am not against experimentation. It's when youth identify as something that they are clearly not because this is what is cool or expected or who, in their innocence, confusion or lack of inner clarity, have even been coerced by others to be something they are not. Or because being with the opposite gender is just too plain hard.

A genuine gay or transgender  person often feels their differences from a very young age and appears to think carefully about who they are and make genuine thoughtful steps to move in that direction. Whether the child has watched porn or not I wonder if the general air and acceptance of 'all sorts' porn has played a major role in the need to appear to be 'liberal minded' thus creating an unprecedented rise in multi gender relationships. Maybe more liberalisation is a good thing? Again this is not a judgement but an observation.

I was heartened when I heard Melbourne speaker and psychotherapist who courageously confessed using porn himself, Hugh Martin from Man Enough.  He views it as an addiction. I'd have to agree. But what must be dealt with is the underlying emotion, what truly causes the impulse to use. Hugh says that for many men he has worked with, shame is the deep core emotion. And the compulsive use of porn is a response to something that has not been properly dealt with; a trauma, hurt or being shamed.

One suggestion that the antidote for a man is to make sure he has 'lots of sex' with his wife. Well, that's ok if she wants it too. Chances are that she has been or is going through her own trauma at the feeling of betrayal that she has been replaced, sometimes for years. My suggestion would be the antidote to be 'more loving sex', intimacy that is less based on sensation and more on sensitivity.

Hugh Martin supports men on this journey and I am so pleased to find a colleague who is a man and who is actively working with men at the coalface in this issue. To view his offerings go to his website Man Enough. I hope to have Hugh write a guest blog sometime soon that can shed more light on this subject, particularly to help not just the men, but the women confronted by this issue.

And as with any addiction, it can be a long arduous process and difficult for the loved ones around the one using. But it is possible. As I mentioned in my Ted talk, there are now men of all ages from 14 and beyond who are actively seeking their own journey back to healthy self love and more conscious relating. As hard as it is for the partner one must only have compassion for the origin of the users story and healthy respect for the addict in recovery. This is not easy when your own values do not fit the use of porn and I know many many women in that camp. Their journey is also one of self love, boundary setting and compassion.

How can you get help?

For perhaps the most in depth and extensive research and online help with porn addiction go to Gary Wilson, author and research scientist. This site has a forum that people can participate in:-

www.yourbrainonporn.com 

And his recently published book:-

Your Brain On Porn: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction

This is also a brilliant and easy to navigate website for information by a couple in the UK for Adult relationships:-

Reward Foundation - Our brain on Sex and Love

Six Initiatives for Men available free online, is an incredibe book, written especially for men, by my partner Gene Thompson. It is also in a small book publication here.

Of course, if you are in Australia, the most loving way I can think of to heal this for a couple is to come to a Making Love Retreat where you both get to be on the same page, reset the scene for awakened intimacy and create that sweet bond that has perhaps been lost. It would have to be the most comprehensive, intelligent look at sexuality of our time. There is good reason that this work by Diana Richardson has been called 'A step forward in human evolution'. You both get to re-experience sexuality from a deepened spiritual viewpoint, that can transcend, heal and nourish.

So the landscape for any young person these days has changed considerably and I feel we as adults can only seek to become more informed about how to support our beautiful ones as they step into a world many of us cannot even imagine was possible.

Every generation of parents has its challenges. To navigate this terrain as parents takes more thought and skill in love, acceptance and guidance and I wish each and every one of you well and hope that the links in this blog help you on your journey.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and how this may have touched you or helped. Feel free to comment below.


 

 

Recent Comments 

Thanks so much Janet for your heartfelt, comprehensive, alarming and educational account of pornography today. I’m deeply saddened but also feel empowered on many levels with the information you’ve shared. The call for conscious loving relationship training and education is becoming deafening. Thanks for the beautiful part you play in the healing and evolution of men and women and relationships.
Namaste,
Karakrista x

Thank you Kara, I'm glad it's appreciated.

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