I’ve long considered the idea of “porn addiction” to be bullshit. Now I’ve got another example of just how bullshit it is.
Dirty Girls Ministries (I’m not going to link to them) is a new website created by evangelical Christian group the Westside Family Church. It aims to “help women struggling with pornography addiction” through “confession, prayer support, resources for accountability and many other tools.”
Yes folks, the loony Christians have discovered porn for women and they’re determined to put a stop to it. A Focus On The Family website, promoting Dirty Girls, reported with horror that: “Porn producers are actually producing this erotica for women. It’s more based on relationships, more storylines, things like that.”
Dirty Girls Ministries offers a forum for women to confess their “addiction”, a blog that talks an awful lot about Jeeezus, a filtering program to “fight internet temptation” and podcasts. And, surprise surprise, there’s a link to a “30 day purity program”, an online workshop available for the low low price of $99. Yes folks, you too can be pure, but only if you’re prepared to pay for it.
As you click through the site you’re constantly bombarded by the words “sin”, “dirty”, “pure”, “clean”. This site declares looking at porn to be adultery, it’s absolute sin that you must turn away from and, of course, embrace the church instead. Preferably with your wallet open. Dirty Girls Ministries offers to replace your porn “addiction” with a shitload of guilt and shame. Check out this blog post:
I will always be dirty. In reality. My cleanliness has NOTHING to do with what I watch or don’t watch. It has everything to do with the condition of my heart. My heart, when left on its own, will drift back to dirty.
Yes, I won’t view pornography again and I won’t have an extramarital affair, either emotional or physical, but whether or not I’m a DIRTY GIRL has less to do with what do and more to do with what direction I face my heart.
If my life is faced toward the Cross, if that is where I truly place my eyes, then the unkemptness of the world has less of a hold on my heart. I will desire good things and the ick of immorality sicken my stomach.
This kind of guilt trip is pretty much a modus operandi for many religions. If they can make you feel bad about natural human desires and needs, then you’ll think the church is your only hope for redemption.
Here are the facts: Addiction is a physical condition, a medical diagnosis. It’s the body’s response to certain chemicals. Nicotine, alcohol and drugs create addictions. Porn doesn’t.
Porn offers arousal and sexual fantasy. It usually results in masturbation or sex. If a person enjoys that response, there is nothing wrong with that. It is perfectly natural for a human being to enjoy sex and to want more of it. That’s what we’re biologically designed to do. There is nothing sinful or shameful about it.
Of course, some people can develop an obsession or compulsion, which is entirely different to addiction. If someone spends too much time with porn and it puts their life out of balance, then there’s a problem. But it’s not the porn that’s the cause, it’s that person’s obsessive personality.
Fact is, plenty of people can look at porn, enjoy it and then get on with their life. They can happily make use of it as a tool in their sex lives, just like a vibrator. And then it’s put away and done with. Most people are also able to make critical judgements about what they’re watching, decide if it’s good or bad, and make decisions about where porn belongs in their life.
There are some people, however, who can’t do this thanks to their obsessive personalities. Those people should be seeing qualified counsellors to get their life back together. They absolutely should NOT be handed over to religious nutjobs who make the situation worse by inculculating the victim with further guilt and shame… and then extract cash for the privilege.
This is why the regular use of the term “porn addiction” (and “sex addiction”) is so troubling. It’s actually part of the religious right’s wider anti-sex agenda. They’re opposed to porn and they will use any devious means necessary to get rid of it. The usual arguments about “sin” started to fall on deaf ears so they began to couch it in medical terms, in an attempt to garner support for bans.
Thus you end up with Judith Reisman telling the US senate that porn produces poisonous “erototoxins” that damage the brain. According to Wikipedia, Reisman defined “erototoxins” as being the natural chemicals and hormones testosterone, adrenaline, oxytocin, glucose, dopamine, serotonin, and phenylethylamine.
That’s right. These people actually think testosterone and the pleasure-producing chemicals serotonin and oxytocin are harmful. They also push the idea that masturbation is sinful and addictive because, according to the X3pure website: “Studies have shown that ninety-nine percent of all masturbation involves lust and mental fantasy*, which disconnects you from real relationships with real people. Despite these difficulties, masturbation can be conquered. If your desire is to change, God can heal and bring restoration.”
And these fundamentalists will keep pushing their message that all porn and pleasure is dangerous because it is ultimately gets more people through the doors of their church and paying 10% tithes into the church coffers.
Unfortunately, Dirty Girls Ministries was given a publicity boost this week thanks to a credulous New York Times article about it. The “journalist” John Leland didn’t bother to interview any actual psychologists or skeptics for opposing viewsand the NYT was perfectly happy to include links to several religious anti-porn organisations.
I’ve said it before in this blog: I think today’s mainstream porn is extremely problematic and it is well worth discussing its meaning in our society. But the fact remains that it is not addictive. And if the media continues to push this religiously-defined way of thinking about porn, the results will ultimately be far more harmful than any scare campaign the churches can think up.
For a different and more humourous perspective on the religious idea of “porn addiction” please visit my site ExExExChurch.
* What does the other 1% involve?