No Such Thing as Victimless Porn

This week, Catholic Exchange is highlighting “The Pornography Problem.” Yesterday, we ran a review of “Out of the Darkness,” a documentary about “the adult industry.” Today, check out related pieces It’s Not Erotic Art, It’s Child Abuse,    The Pornography Pandemic, and Rated R — For “Repulsive.”

“Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” – GK Chesterton

I remember blushing when asked to help produce Out of the Darkness, our newly released documentary on pornography. After all, pornography is an uncomfortable topic and not easily addressed in polite company. But I realized that my very discomfort was the best argument for signing on. As the editing progressed and the film started to take shape, my eyes were opened to both the size and nature of the problem, and I came to see the dangers of pornography on both the cultural and individual levels.

Most people simply accept pornography (and its more mainstream variants) as unavoidable and harmless. After all, what’s the problem with looking at nude photos and graphic videos? No one gets hurt, performers use their free will to exercise free expression, consumers satisfy their urges, and life hums along. My experience producing Out of the Darkness has lead me to realize that accepting pornography as a harmless and private choice is naive at best, destructive at worst. I’ve also realized that pornography has been encroaching on our lives and influencing our popular culture for years, and to unprecedented degrees. Advertisements, Hollywood blockbusters, and entertainment ranging from sit-coms to dramas continue to push the envelope in terms of sexual content, and the resulting encroachment reaches larger and younger audiences each day.

We at Anteroom Pictures don’t pretend that sexual sins are new, or particularly unique to our time and place. Lust is one of the seven deadly sins, after all. But the porn industry, which gained acceptance as a cultural force in the second half of the twentieth century, is a completely different animal, and the pornography fallout is the reason our documentary is so timely and relevant.

Currently, the porn industry makes more money than Major League Baseball, the NBA, and the NFL combined, and what do we get for that money? A litany of well-documented problems, including failed relationships, addiction, depression, isolation, impotence, and an STD epidemic.

Many experts, including Dr. Judith Reisman (featured in Out of the Darkness) find a direct, cause-effect relationship between pornography and the disordered sexual conduct and psychological/emotional suffering rampant today. They argue there is a clear correlation between increased production and accessibility to pornography and the cultural fallout itemized above.

My work on Out of the Darkness made me realize that pornography is a silent epidemic, featuring countless victims. It’s a growing problem whose scope can make one lose hope. That flirtation with despair is itself a problem. The loss of hope can convince us that it’s either fruitless to resist, or that only a massive, systemic solution will suffice. But focusing too much on the cultural fight can lead us to stop fighting on the individual level. Dehumanizing the problem dehumanizes the solution.

That’s why we focused the Out of the Darkness lens on the personal stories of those whose lives have been affected and seriously altered by pornography. Without diminishing the cultural consequences, we went beyond the statistics and presented an honest and heartbreaking look at pornography through the eyes of the individual soul. These incredible individuals show us that healing from the trauma of pornography is possible, but only on the personal level, the very same place where the victimization occurs.

The stories we tell are often dark and disturbing. It’s heartbreaking to hear Shelley Lubben speak about the personal trauma she experienced in pornography. We sit captivated as Dr. Judith Reisman documents the deviancy behind Alfred Kinsey’s sex “science,” and how it inspired Hugh Hefner’s attack on traditional sexual morality. We see the dreary fruits of pornography use when Mark Houck admits to the loneliness and despair caused by his pornography addiction. And Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons’ clinical look at what pornography has done to children, marriages, and the broader culture presents an unmistakably bleak picture.

But like all stories worth telling, tales that begin in darkness do not have to end there. At the end of the day, Out of the Darkness is a love story, and as such, the turning point for each of these personalities was an overwhelming encounter with God’s love and mercy. Pornography seeks to destroy innocence, and certainly Mark and Shelley lost theirs at nine and eleven years old. Even Dr. Reisman’s daughter was victimized at the age of ten. In spite of those early traumas, each of these flawed human beings responded to the divine invitation to healing in a truly inspiring and extraordinary way.

Out of the Darkness does not provide a roadmap or solution to the overall problem. How could it? But stories, not statistics, move people, so we presented these stories to move hearts, convince minds, and present an alternative to sexual exploitation. Out doc tells the stories of normal, everyday people who struggle daily, just like you and me, to find their way to the light. How many people do you know who long for such a message?

Clearly pornography is a problem of sin and struggle, but the temptation and effects of pornography can be overcome. As such, Out of the Darkness is a film of hope. It presents the human heart in conflict and torment, but hungry for God’s inexhaustible love. Once out of its shadow we can lay claim to our individual dignity and fulfill our destiny as beings created in the image and likeness of a loving God.

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  • http://servantofcharity.blogspot.com John

    Thank you for taking on this issue. It must have been difficult. But it’s so important and there are so few voices out there speaking the truth about it. May your efforts bear the fruit of divine healing to individuals and our culture.

    John
    servantofcharity.blogspot.com

  • reclaim

    For those caught in porn and wanting to escape, reclaimsexualhealth.com offers a confidential, science-based online recovery program, including help for the spouse of the addict. A fully Catholic version of RECLAIM will be available later this spring. However, while the current version does not contain specifically “Catholic content”, there is nothing in it that contradicts Church teaching. Thousands have already used it and have recovered or are on their way. JMJ

  • http://www.quickestwaytoloseweighttip.com jamespereira

    One of the best ways, I’ve seen to deal with porn addiction is via the Theology of Body series.

    As a facilitator of the TOB in my parish, I’ve seen it change lives and people begin to see others as people (especially their spouses) and not objects that provide gratification.

  • janetdjm

    To say there are no victims if all are consenting adults is a lie. I am sure the women in porn are wounded. We all are wounded by the darkness, but more so possibly women.

    There is another dimension of the fruit of porn. In the late 70′s our high school had a sociology teacher who showed a documentary every year to empower women, “How to say No to a Rapist and survive.” Word was that his sister was raped, and he wanted to do what he could to make sure it didn’t happen to anyone else. It was an interview of 5 convicted rapists, in prison, who because of lighting, you could not see who they were, who shared their story of why they did the crime. All of them said the root was pornography–they reached a point that porn was not enough for a fix–and they also all said, rape wasn’t about sex. It was about anger, domination…..porn made it seem that women should be at their disposal to be used, as they had used the women in the porn, and then they reached a point that it wasn’t enough, they wanted more. They didn’t know if they would have ever ended up raping, if it weren’t for porn.

    In case you’re wondering what they suggested to avoid rape: They said fighting back tends to flare the anger even more, and could cause more harm for the woman for challenging them. Sometimes though it worked that they were in a mood that they didn’t want the hassle, or to get caught. Sometimes the woman who fought was effective by managing to poke their eyes, or kick their groin and run away, but that is risky for they tend to have the element of surprise over the woman. There was one response they all agreed they would stop immediately and leave. If a woman threw up on herself, they would not want to touch her. It may be gross, but considering even elderly women get raped, its pretty easy for anyone to use that strategy, and worth knowing in case of an attack.

    I would like to encourage everyone to define your standards of what you are willing to support with your time and money. If people refused to watch tv programming or go to movies that degrades God’s plan for our sexuality and for marriage, Hollywood is about profit, and much of it will stop. As it is, because they believe “sex sells” it is spilling over into family prime time. Start writing letters to your local station and advertisers to protest rank programming. Join the Parents TV Council to help protect children’s innocence. Ask your friends to join you in campaigning against soft porn. I have seen implied sex at 6:30PM (The Family Guy–which is animated, which kids think cartoons are for them!) Satan has a plan to be deaden souls bit by bit. We need to be awake, and respond!

    God bless.

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