Poll: Pornography Use

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Re: Poll: Pornography Use

Postby Jgtrs » Sun Jan 11, 2009 4:58 am

I'm not trying to defend a rationality for porn use with this post; I've already expressed my confusion and ambivalence when it comes to my personal observations. I do, however, want to bring a measure of reality to the discussion.

In the previous message, rm1971 wrote, "We all see the negative effects of porn every day. There is no denying that it leads to the destruction of families, to the abuse of children, to the disintegration of moral values, tetc, etc."

I don't know that we can say this with such conviction. This sounds too much like propoganda and not reality. No matter how bad porn is, or how bad we want it to be, this isn't necessarily a true statement, or should probably be qualified better.

1. Does it LEAD to the destruction of families? In isolated cases, individual cases (i.e., anectdotal evidence) we could say sure. But we could also say, probably based on our own personal experiences (our own and our friends) it can also LEAD to improved family relations (husband has porn habit, repents, marital relations improve, better family relations). While there is little doubt that SEXUAL ADDICTIONS are destructive, there is no current evidence that porn in and of itself is destructive in that way. In other words, will a person with an attraction to porn, or even a porn habit, necessarily have a destructed family? No. Porn has likely facilitated addictions, but we know that these addictions are present regardless of porn. From a different perspective, we might view porn as an EFFECT of deteriorating families and disentigrating marriages. Would porn be a multi-million dollar industry if marriages were great? Probably not. Is porn the primary CAUSE of bad marriages? No evidence to support this.

2. Does porn LEAD to the abuse of children? We know that child abusers sometimes view child porn before they abuse children. We know that there are people who make that disgusting stuff. We also know that child abusers also engage in their heinous acts without the use of porn. We also know that child porn IS child abuse and is seen as disgusting and criminal by the vast majority of people, even the vast majority of the people within the "porn" industry. Child porn is illegal as is child abuse. Interestingly, there are child abusers who find child porn disgusting. Even the "baddest of the bad" in our society (convicts) generally frown on child abusers and child pornographers. If you go to prison as a child abuser, look out. When we talk of porn in this forum, I'm assuming we are talking of the porn that is readily acceptable and "legal". Does (that definition of) porn lead to the abuse of children? There is no evidence to support this. There is also no evidence to support that porn is a primary factor in spousal abuse, divorce, or crime. However, there is ample evidence to support that drugs and alcohol are primary factors in all those things.

3. Does porn LEAD to the disintegraton of moral values? Okay, I have no argument here. Even if I disagreed, it would difficult to argue whether or not something contributed to moral decay since morality can be defined so differently by different people (even LDS people).
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Re: Poll: Pornography Use

Postby Iridity » Sun Jan 11, 2009 10:00 am

From a different perspective, we might view porn as an EFFECT of deteriorating families and disentigrating marriages. Would porn be a multi-million dollar industry if marriages were great? Probably not. Is porn the primary CAUSE of bad marriages? No evidence to support this.


Pornography, the same as any other sin, is an attempt to fulfill a valid need in an invalid way. It exists because people feel that they are missing something in their lives. Whether or not porn fills this hole is irrelevant--they think that it will, and so act on their desire to view it. The only way any program can be effective in stopping pornography usage is by treating the cause, not the symptom.

So what is the root cause? Lack of a strong father figure? Lack of creative outlets for sexual energy? Lack of emotional support or rapport? There are strong arguments for and against each of these, and the cause may be different in each case (though at the root I suspect it is the same). If we (the Church, LDS people as a body) try to demonize porn without understanding why men seek it out, we will fail at eliminating its usage catastrophically--as we have been.
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Re: Poll: Pornography Use

Postby old.geezer » Sun Jan 11, 2009 4:45 pm

Iridity wrote:So what is the root cause? Lack of a strong father figure? Lack of creative outlets for sexual energy? Lack of emotional support or rapport? There are strong arguments for and against each of these, and the cause may be different in each case (though at the root I suspect it is the same). If we (the Church, LDS people as a body) try to demonize porn without understanding why men seek it out, we will fail at eliminating its usage catastrophically--as we have been.


I agree with Iridity, you have to understand why men seek porn. Personally, I think it's simple--it's like travel magazines. How, you say? Studies have shown that most subscribers to travel magazines are not avid travelers who are looking for new destinations. They are, rather, folks who can't travel but enjoy the fantasies they have about traveling and they read travel magazines to help nurture their travel fantasies.

Like our would-be travelers who have only their fantasies, men fantasize about what it would be like to have sex with a woman who wants it and loves it as much as they do. Since most men have never met such a woman, they turn to porn to nurture their fantasies because porn portrays women as wanting and loving sex. Of course, men realize that the women are just acting but they can suppress that realization just like they can suppress their awareness that Clint Eastwood is really not Harry Callahan.

Mind you, I'm not justifying porn, just commenting on the reason it attracts so many men.
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Re: Poll: Pornography Use

Postby Jgtrs » Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:37 am

Great comments.

I agree that porn is the ersatz intervention, the illusory answer to the dearth of intimacy between man and woman. Porn is sought to fill an emotional as well as physical emptiness.

In the early history of our church, did polygamy answer this intimacy issue for men? Many male-dominated societies have dealt with this predicament in similar ways--concubines, multiple wives, prostitution, mistresses. This tells us the problem is likely ubiquitous regardless of setting. Porn seems to be our modern day answer, and may have exploded recently because of fears and concerns about STD's, AIDS, and the like.

Are men and women supposed to find sexual and emotional intimacy? We would hope.

I'm not advocating polygamy in any way, but here is a question: Would we be here having this discussion if polygamy were still a part of our church and each of us men had two or three other women to have sex with on a regular basis? Because men attain emotional intimacy through sexual intimacy, I suspect that we all MIGHT be fine and dandy. On the other hand, the women might be seriously emotionally empty. Where would they turn? Probably to other women.

What you think about this?
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Re: Poll: Pornography Use

Postby KRP5 » Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:43 pm

I have found this discussion quite interesting and thought promoting. For me, I believe like Old Geezer, porn is attractive because of the illusion of intimacy that the women want me, need me, desire me, are attracted to me. I married believing that my wife would want me, need me, desire me, be attracted to me; now I realize that my wife does not want me, need me, desire me, or is attracted to me a lot of the time because of hormones, GGS, fatique, or a combination of the three despite me providing the love language she desires/needs. Becoming "one" emotionally and physically requires work and a concerted effort. I am so glad that more women and men (particularly women) are understanding "men's" need for intimacy and that it is righteous -- thank you Laura Brotherson! My experience "in the church" is that we have shut off virtue in the attempt to be virtuous. I hope that the recent emphasis of the church to return to virtue does not also result in reinforcement of the "good girl syndrom" (GGS). I particularly appreciate the perpective and insights of women to this forum.
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Re: Poll: Pornography Use

Postby rm1971 » Mon Jan 12, 2009 5:00 pm

In the previous message, rm1971 wrote, "We all see the negative effects of porn every day. There is no denying that it leads to the destruction of families, to the abuse of children, to the disintegration of moral values, tetc, etc."

I don't know that we can say this with such conviction. This sounds too much like propoganda and not reality. No matter how bad porn is, or how bad we want it to be, this isn't necessarily a true statement, or should probably be qualified better.

Are you serious? This topic's postings are scary...seeing how easily we can all justify our behaviors and begin viewing evil as good and good as evil. There is signficant documented evidence (both anecdotal and qualitative) that shows the negative effects of porn. Here are just a few:

Leading experts in the field of sexual addictions contend on-line sexual activity is “a hidden public health hazard exploding, in part because very few are recognizing it as such or taking it seriously.”

Research reveals many systemic effects of Internet pornography that are undermining an already vulnerable culture of marriage and family. Even more disturbing is the fact that the first Internet generations have not reached full-maturity, so the upper-limits of this impact have yet to be realized. Furthermore, the numerous negative effects research point to are extremely difficult, if not impossible, for individual citizens or families to combat on their own.

This testimony is not rooted in anecdotal accounts or personal views, but rather in findings from studies published in peer-reviewed research journals. I have submitted a review of this research to the Committee, and request that it be included in the record.

The marital relationship is a logical point of impact to examine because it is the foundational family unit and a sexual union easily destabilized by sexual influences outside the marital contract. Moreover, research indicates the majority of Internet users are married and the majority seeking help for problematic sexual behaviour online are married, heterosexual males. The research indicates pornography consumption is associated with the following six trends, among others:
-Increased marital distress, and risk of separation and divorce,
-Decreased marital intimacy and sexual satisfaction,
-Infidelity
-Increased appetite for more graphic types of pornography and sexual activity associated with abusive, illegal or unsafe practices,
-Devaluation of monogamy, marriage and child rearing,
-An increasing number of people struggling with compulsive and addictive sexual behaviour.
These trends reflect a cluster of symptoms that undermine the foundation upon which successful marriages and families are established.

While the marital bond may be the most vulnerable relationship to Internet pornography, children and adolescents are the most vulnerable audience.

When a child lives in a home where an adult is consuming pornography, he or she encounters the following four risks:
-Decreased parental time and attention
-Increased risk of encountering pornographic material
-Increased risk of parental separation and divorce and
-Increased risk of parental job loss and financial strain

When a child or adolescent is directly exposed the following effects have been documented:
-Lasting negative or traumatic emotional responses,
-Earlier onset of first sexual intercourse, thereby increasing the risk of STD’s over the lifespan,
-The belief that superior sexual satisfaction is attainable without having affection for one’s partner, thereby reinforcing the commoditization of sex and the objectification of humans.
-The belief that being married or having a family are unattractive prospects;
-Increased risk for developing sexual compulsions and addictive behavior,
-Increased risk of exposure to incorrect information about human sexuality long before a minor is able to contextualize this information in ways an adult brain could.
-And, overestimating the prevalence of less common practices (e.g., group sex, bestiality, or sadomasochistic activity).
Jill Manning, 2005.


Defenders of pornography argue that it is not harmful, and thus should not be regulated or banned. Citing the 1970 Presidential Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, they conclude that there is no relationship between exposure to erotic material and subsequent behavior. But two subsequent decades of research based on the increased production of more explicit and violent forms of pornography has shown the profound effects pornography can have on human behavior.

Psychologist Edward Donnerstein (University of Wisconsin) found that brief exposure to violent forms of pornography can lead to anti-social attitudes and behavior. Male viewers tend to be more aggressive towards women, less responsive to pain and suffering of rape victims, and more willing to accept various myths about rape.

Dr. Dolf Zimmerman and Dr. Jennings Bryant showed that continued exposure to pornography had serious adverse effects on beliefs about sexuality in general and on attitudes toward women in particular. They also found that pornography desensitizes people to rape as a criminal offense.

These researchers also found that massive exposure to pornography encourages a desire for increasingly deviant materials which involve violence, like sadomasochism and rape.

Feminist author Diana Russell notes in her book Rape and Marriage the correlation between deviant behavior (including abuse) and pornography. She also found that pornography leads men and women to experience conflict, suffering, and sexual dissatisfaction.

Researcher Victor Cline (University of Utah) has documented in his research how men become addicted to pornographic materials, begin to desire more explicit or deviant material, and end up acting out what they have seen.

According to Charles Keating of Citizens for Decency Through Law, research reveals that 77 percent of child molesters of boys and 87 percent of child molesters of girls admitted imitating the sexual behavior they had seen modeled in pornography.

Sociologists Murray Straus and Larry Baron (University of New Hampshire) found that rape rates are highest in states which have high sales of sex magazines and lax enforcement of pornography laws.

Michigan state police detective Darrell Pope found that of the 38,000 sexual assault cases in Michigan (1956-1979), in 41 percent of the cases pornographic material was viewed just prior to or during the crime. This agrees with research done by psychotherapist David Scott who found that “half the rapists studied used pornography to arouse themselves immediately prior to seeking out a victim.”

The Final Report of the 1986 Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography lists a full chapter of testimony (197-223) from victims whose assailants had previously viewed pornographic materials. The adverse effects range from physical harm (rape, torture, murder, sexually transmitted disease) to psychological harm (suicidal thoughts, fear, shame, nightmares).

Nearly 900 theaters show X-rated films and more than 15,000 “adult” bookstores and video stores offer pornographic material, outnumbering McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S. by a margin of at least three to one.

Each year, nearly 100 full-length pornographic films provide estimated annual box office sales of $50 million.

Approximately 70% of the pornographic magazines sold eventually end up in the hands of minors.

About 1.2 million children are annually exploited through child pornography and prostitution.
-The Forerunner, 1991


Is porn the primary CAUSE of bad marriages? No evidence to support this.

No one said it is the PRIMARY CAUSE of bad marriages. But to say that porn is a result of a dysfunctional marriage is a cop-out. There are other ways to resolve marital problems.

People use drugs to fill an emotional void, but that doesn't make drug use okay.

Another expert in the field has said:
According to Rabbi Shmuley, pornography is incredibly harmful and destructive to marriages. Pornography subtlety undermines male respect for women by detaching a woman's personality from her body, reducing her to a mere sexual commodity, he says. This in turn bores men and leads to dissatisfaction with their own wives and an inability to create a fulfilling, authentic sex life based on mutual respect for their female counterparts.

Rabbi Shmuley outlines the five main reasons why porn has a negative effect on marriages:
1. Porn is a drug that leads to addiction. "It gives you a hit, it gives you a high that cannot be sustained unless you have massive exposure to it," Rabbi Shmuley says. As such, he says men often consume more and more porn, which can lead to distancing themselves from their loved ones, losing their jobs, etc.
2. Porn is a form of sexism. Women are commoditized and objectified in porn, which puts them on an unequal footing with men. Rabbi Shmuley says this leads men to regard women as subordinate. "He sees breasts and genitalia," he says. "He sees the walking gratification of his material urges. So, he can't relate to that woman because there's no person—all he can do is use that woman."
3. Porn portrays all women in one of four degrading, dehumanizing categories. They're either a "greedy gold-digger," "mindless playmate," "insatiable nymphomaniac" or "one who craves pain," Rabbi Shmuley says. "It gives you the most insidious view of women," he says. This can lead to an inability to form meaningful romantic relationships and even violence against women.
4. Porn makes men get bored with their own wives. "Excessive exposure to the incredible variety of naked bodies that you see in porn makes men feel permanently dissatisfied with their wives' bodies," Rabbi Shmuley says.
5. Porn cultivates a single standard of beauty that no real women can live up to. Again, Rabbi Shmuley says this leads men to be mistakenly dissatisfied with reality as it pertains to sex.

"The principle sin of porn is not one of commission but omission. All the erotic energy that should be focused on the woman in your life is being wasted. Your eroticism is being punctured, leaving your relationship boring and predictable."


And I haven't even included what latter-day prophets and apostles have said about the issue.

Iridity wrote:Pornography, the same as any other sin, is an attempt to fulfill a valid need in an invalid way. It exists because people feel that they are missing something in their lives. Whether or not porn fills this hole is irrelevant--they think that it will, and so act on their desire to view it. The only way any program can be effective in stopping pornography usage is by treating the cause, not the symptom.

So what is the root cause? Lack of a strong father figure? Lack of creative outlets for sexual energy? Lack of emotional support or rapport? There are strong arguments for and against each of these, and the cause may be different in each case (though at the root I suspect it is the same). If we (the Church, LDS people as a body) try to demonize porn without understanding why men seek it out, we will fail at eliminating its usage catastrophically--as we have been.


Yes, I agree completely. It would behoove us to focus on filling those emotional voids in more appropriate ways. However, some people (mostly kids/teens) become addicted to porn after coming across it accidentally.
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Re: Poll: Pornography Use

Postby Max » Mon Jan 12, 2009 7:55 pm

I think there is a bit of a spectrum here, beyond the black and white of it. There probably aren't many people in this forum who would not agree with you that pornography is bad and potentially very dangerous. But there are a lot of layers to this onion and I think there is also some danger in the way the church (or its members) seems to suggest that there are only two kinds of men: those who are unsoiled by pornography, and the addicts. If it's discovered that someone has had issues with porn, they are almost immediately branded an addict. The truth is that most men in the church fall somewhere in between the two extremes and a great many, even though it is a constant temptation for them, are doing a pretty dang good job of avoiding it. Sometimes they goof up, but it does't destroy their family or turn them into child molesters. I guess some of us are perfect in this regard, others pretend to be, and the rest are just doing their best and trying to keep it real and leave it behind. I'd like to see less focus on addiction and browbeating and more on understanding and helping.

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Re: Poll: Pornography Use

Postby Jgtrs » Tue Jan 13, 2009 2:43 am

I think rm1971 is missing the point of the message. No one is trying to justify behaviors or say that porn is good. As I stated earlier, I do have some personal confusion after experiencing and observing improved emotional and sexual intimacy from my wife after her accidental exposure. But, in no way am I trying to rationalize anything. Nor am I suggesting that if she just watched porn all the time, all would be well in my marital world. I don’t believe that. Rather, I am trying to help us think about this problem in a more useful way. Pounding the pulpit ain’t working. There are still a large percentage of LDS men viewing porn who feel it is wrong. Why do they still do it when they believe it is wrong?

Most of the research reported by rm1971 relates to studies on sexual additions, deviant sexual behaviors and crime. There is little doubt that porn is a factor in most sexual addictions and most sex crimes. There is also little evidence to suggest that porn causes normal people to commit these heinous acts. I would not argue that repeated and prolonged exposure to porn can change or rewire a “normal” brain to the point where that individual may eventually act out in a crime. It could happen and probably does happen. But it doesn’t happen with the exposure that we’re typically talking about in this forum. The studies that have shown emotional, value, and moral judgment changes after BRIEF exposure to porn have all used more abhorrent, violent, or “less-acceptable” (in the world sense) types of porn as dependent variables. Such results did not surprise most researchers since we already know that exposure to single traumatic events can have a profound effect on our psyche and behavior (e.g., soldiers at war and post-traumatic stress).

rm1971 nicely pointed out the deleterious effect porn exposure can have on children. We also need to remember that since we’re really at the beginning of this age of “pocket porn” and ready availability, we won’t know the long term effects on our society for some time. There is ample research showing how porn exposure (especially repeated exposure) can interfere with the normal sexual development of children. In today’s world, exposure isn’t the ripped centerfold page you find in the garbage can outside the convenience store. Fortunately, however, there are some pretty effective blocks and filters one can install on computers. Nevertheless, we could probably start another discussion about how to address porn exposure to children. What do we do when our kids see something they shouldn’t see? How do we help older children understand the attraction and deal with it appropriately? Maybe we start with helping ourselves?

I ask again, would there be any crime or need for jails if everyone were like the typical LDS adult who has an attraction to porn? Very likely not. We’re not talking about abnormal, deviant, or sick individuals here. Viewing porn is not going to make them rape anyone, not going to make them abuse a child, or not going to make them gay. <I should point out, however, that there is a definite demarcation in severity and potential malfeasance with the types of porn that even the most liberal among us deem wrong—the illegal stuff. If you find yourself attracted to, seeking, or viewing illegal things, please understand that you need immediate help and that it is impossible to overcome this on your own.>

But we need to keep the problem of the typical LDS individual in perspective. We need to keep perspective, understand the basis for the attraction, understand that this likely relates to marital difficulties, avoid demonizing the behavior, and keep shame out of the equation. Shame perpetuates the behavior.

I suggested that the LDS attraction to porn may be a major effect of marital problems, rather than the primary cause of marital problems. rm1971 indicated that “to say that porn is a result of a dysfunctional marriage is a cop-out. There are other ways to resolve marital problems”. Certainly, there are other (and better) ways to solve marital problems. No one would disagree with that. I am not suggesting porn as intervention, but that we consider focusing the intervention on the marriage and the emotional and sexual relationship, then maybe the porn problem will take care of itself. I think that rm1971’s stereotypical “pound the pulpit” approach, focusing only on the evil of porn is the great cop-out (though he did indicate at the end of his post that it is important to focus on the other things).
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Re: Poll: Pornography Use

Postby rm1971 » Tue Jan 13, 2009 1:02 pm

Jgtrs-I agree and disagree. Yes, I agree that "pulpit-pounding" and shaming, and demonizing porn is not helpful. That was not my intention. My purpose was to bring some reality/evidence to a discussion that seemed to be defending and even advocating porn at times. Whenever someone starts out saying..."I am not justifying x,y,z", well it makes you wonder if that is what they are really doing. Trust me, coming from someone who has the same struggles as every one else here, I don't endorse the shame techniques that we frequently receive. So, my question to you is....what do you propose as a better alternative?? Some things that have been mentioned already: understanding why, providing emotional support, filling one's emotional void with other things, 12 step groups, etc., etc...other ideas?

What I don't agree with is the distinction you made between "typical", "normal" LDS adults and "deviants". Or between "acceptable" and "less-acceptable" porn. I know too many "typical" men who viewed porn and then later sexually abused their daughters or engaged in other "deviant" behaviors. They started out viewing "acceptable" porn, but that wasn't enough anymore. Like I said in an earlier post, it is a slippery slope. We all have our own "Shadow", so let us not deceive ourselves by saying "I'm immune" because I'm just a typical LDS male.
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Re: Poll: Pornography Use

Postby Max » Tue Jan 13, 2009 8:06 pm

rm1971 wrote:Some things that have been mentioned already: understanding why, providing emotional support, filling one's emotional void with other things, 12 step groups, etc., etc...other ideas?


I don't know if anyone has noticed this yet, but we have a new sub-forum to deal specifically with these issues. I hope some of you will join us. The first 10 members get a free subscription to Playboy. JUST KIDDING!!! Go to the home page and scroll down to the bottom to the section labeled Pornography Help Group. You'll find detailed info there.

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