Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Not a Man's Disease: A Guest Post About Pornography Addiction

 by Anonymous

I've come to realize that women are really good at fooling themselves about all sorts of things.  We see that others have a perfect family, a perfect life, perfect hair.  Lots of perfect something.  We see none of these things in ourselves.

But there are other things, too.

We fool ourselves into believing "that's not me, not my problem, not my weakness, not my life."

We fool ourselves into believing that pornography is a man's disease.

It is not.  It is a human disease and women are just as subject to its binding chains.  

And not because the men we love are addicted.  Yes, a husband's addiction can destroy a family.  But, women can be addicted, too.  To the drama that comes with playing the victim, to the self-loathing that comes with wondering why, to the images of men and women which stimulate certain types of feelings.  We fool ourselves into thinking that we are immune to attraction, that we do not see the beauty of the human body, that we are not drawn to the act of creation and all its wonders.  

It is a lie, and every time we tell it we injure the women who are caught in the poisonous web of pornography.

Anyone, male or female, can become trapped.  As women, we must acknowledge this truth.  It's not just about what HE is seeing.  It's about what SHE is seeing, too.  And reading.  Magazine articles, steamy romance novels, and all those fifty shades of in between.  I've read the books.  I've seen the movies.  I've watched for moments of bared flesh and intimate moments.  I've felt sick, I've felt lonely, I've felt frustrated, I've felt unclean. 

This is not a man's disease.

I don't mean to sound accusatory.  Only honest.  I read about how pornography tears marriages apart and it's always men who are addicted.  We never hear about the women.  I don't know if it is intentionally being hidden, but I can't believe I am alone in this struggle.  The conversation has to change.

No more lies.  No more fools.  Only love, acceptance, and moving forward.

Because that's what I would want for my daughter. 

Surely that is what God wants for me.



40 comments:

BMarie said...

How is it that pornography tears marriages apart? Is the woman (or man) so self-loathing that they cannot look past themselves to see it is their partner with a problem that needs to be solved on a spiritual level?

experimentalcriticism.com said...

@BMarie

It makes me really sad when I hear women leave their husbands because of pornography. It makes me sadder to hear married women say that if their husbands ever confessed a pornography addiction that they would leave without hesitation.

anna.marie.in.nyc said...

@experimentalcriticism.com

I completely agree. I find that so sad to hear women say they would leave them like that. If they really love them they would do anything they could to help their spouse get better.

C. Jane said...

BMarie & EC,
we are talking about addiction here. Men looking at porn is one thing, addiction to it is another. Addiction destroys families and causes toxic relationships. There is a real dark side to addiction that sometimes we don't understand until we've been through it.

Amy said...

Actually, beliefs about the addiction destroy families. Addiction is merely a symptom of a bigger problem. The lesson isn't just for the addicted.
Until religious dogma, fear, blame, shame and finger pointing are taken out of the picture, there will never be a solution to what this is trying to teach those it is affecting. And yes, I speak from experience.

Amanda said...

To those who don't understand how pornography can destroy families, how women can leave men over such an issue, I say grow up as a daughter in a house where your father is an addict. Go through your childhood coming into a room and seeing images on a screen you don't understand but make you feel dirty. Have an adolescence filled with "catching" your dad masturabting in front of bared breasts and human forms doing things you don't yet have words for. Then become a teenage girl and feel sickened by the sight of your father, his touch, his hugs and kisses. Feel his secrecy seep into your psyche so now you, too, are hiding a dark secret. Become a young woman who feels both drawn to physical relationships with men but strangely repelled by their wanting hands and natural physiological responses. Carry all this baggage into your marriage and try to have a healthy sex life of your own. If you've done all this, you know that when you birth your beautiful, perfect daughters, you will walk through fire to protect them from this pain. I would end my marriage if I meant protecting my children and my husband knows as much. Addictions ruin lives; forgiveness is divine, but protecting my kids from repeating cyclical dysfunction is owning my past and doing what I can to preserve their future. You can't judge women who leave until you've been a child who couldn't.

BMarie said...

Cjane-- I guess I just don't understand where you are coming from. Two of my loved ones suffer from this addiction and it is my role to support them, not leave them. It is truly between themselves, the addict, and God and only God can truly change someone. Abandoning the relationship only shows ones lack of faith in themselves, their resolve for the sinner and their God. I agree with the original poster that woman become addicted to the drama and wanting to be the victim. Women need to stop making everything about themselves and their feelings and dive into scripture. That's where the true answers lie.

Amy said...

My thinking is that if we believe an addiction can destroy our family, us, or anyone, we have given away our power. I understand your point Amanda, I was repeatedly sexually abused as a young child. It made me mad, it ruined the way I looked at men, myself and life....but it did only because I gave the abuser control over me, essentially for years. Even after the abuse stopped. If you are still afraid of your husband, men, sex or any of the above, then the lesson all of this was teaching you is still in play and it will keep coming around until you learn it. Threatening your husband is just another form of control over someone else. I'm not sure how to explain that without it coming out wrong. But from my experience, until we gulp hard and accept that everything our lives are we did to ourselves, nothing changes. Even if we feel and from the way things look are justified in blaming someone else for how we feel or what our experience has been. It's hard to accept I know and I am still working on it, but this is just how it worked for me.

Jemma said...

What constitutes an addiction to pornography?

I'm struggling with this series as I can't place myself in these people's shoes. I can understand alcohol, drugs, even food as an addiction but I struggle with the word 'addiction' to pornography.

T said...

Thank you for opening the door on a more full spectrum of sexual addiction. There are no set rules or boundaries--no age or gender limitations, yet and we get lost too easily in generalizations that say 'these problems belong to men.'
I hope people who read this do not brush this woman aside as if her struggle is less harrowing than a man's, (or than a woman coping with a partner's addiction). She, and the countless women like her, deserve more than to have their personal struggles minimalized or dismissed.
Anyone can become entrapped in a porn addiction (or in any of the 'shades' of pornography), just like any other addiction. Women deserve just as much support and understanding as any other person who is struggling.

Anonymous, I hope you are able to find the strength and support you need to ease your heavy burden. I hope, from the bottom of my heart, you find the kind of freedom you are longing for. You are worth it! Thank you for bringing up some really important points to our conversations on pornography and addiction.

Jaime Ashby said...

To the drama that comes with playing the victim


That was very condescending. Thank you.

T said...

Amanda: You just summed up a lifetime of hurt in one poignant paragraph, and you made the inarguable point that addiction can destroy families. Even if the addiction doesn't result in a breakup or divorce, we should all be aware that families can be silently, privately, secretly destroyed by addiction, often in ways that are far more destructive than a physical separation may be. Sometimes leaving is one of the healthiest things we can do.

I honor your resolve to protect your babies in a ways you were not.

Jaime Ashby said...

@anna.marie.in.nyc and @experimentalcriticism.com and @BMarie

And I find it sad that a man would hurt his wife like that. Walk a mile...

Jaime Ashby said...

@Amy

Wrong. Not every case of pornography destroying families has to do with religion.

I mean why is this hard to understand?????

Pornography, and I mean ANY use of it, destroys the dynamic and intimacy of the marriage relationship. Anything you have to hide from your spouse is toxic and hurtful. It destroys trust, self esteem and it HURTS.

Jaime Ashby said...

@BMarie

Cjane-- I guess I just don't understand where you are coming from. Two of my loved ones suffer from this addiction and it is my role to support them, not leave them. It is truly between themselves, the addict, and God and only God can truly change someone. Abandoning the relationship only shows ones lack of faith in themselves, their resolve for the sinner and their God. I agree with the original poster that woman become addicted to the drama and wanting to be the victim. Women need to stop making everything about themselves and their feelings and dive into scripture. That's where the true answers lie.



I am truly OFFENDED by your comments. I don't and didn't enjoy being the victim. You think I wanted to be divorced? To have two relationships ripped to shreds by pornograpy? You think I'm lacking in faith because I left???? NICE. You are clueless. And wreckless with those comments. You have no idea. And you have no idea how it is to try to raise two little girls in a relationship where there is no love, no respect and no trust. I chose to raise them alone and teach them a healthy view of life, love and relationships. I am furious that anyone would claim I enjoy playing victim because MY HUSBAND CHOSE PORNOGRAPHY.

Messed up.

Vanessa said...

Amanda thank you for posting that comment. I hope many see it and can understand that side of it.

To the author you are very right. It is an addiction for both sexes. And I think with the "younger crowd" more of it is females. Just had a loved one leave her husband BC of *her* addiction to porn. A family friend...the mother left her family. She became addicted to porn, then wanted to experience it in real life so met man from online. It happens a lot more with females than we know.

Amy said...

I hope you are not telling me that my experience is. Wrong. Jaime. Because your comments read that you are and that you are the only one who knows how this should be dealt with.
I was merely offering my viewpoint (you know nothing about my life or experience with my husband or children (3 daughters)).
I fail to see where I said it is all about religion or that women should stay put.
For me it is about perspective and owning our lives by letting go of blame, regardless of how deserved we think it is.

KJ said...

I get frustrated (and sad!) when I read the comments like "if they really love them, they would do anything they could..." I have no idea what I would do if my husband became an addict (to porn, or drugs, or whatever). There are simply too many other variables.

As the daughter of a now-deceased addict, I know that nothing is black and white, right and wrong. What works for you and your situation might not work for me and mine, and the only one that knows the best course of action to take is the person living it.

My thoughts are with you Jaime Ashby, and anyone else going through a loved ones addiction. I wish you strength, no matter what path you are on.

Camie said...

I have enjoyed reading these posts and gaining insight into the experiences of these authors. I have also gained insight from the comments. I don't personally feel that anyone can or should place judgement on anyone else in regards to pornography addiction. I think each situation is so personal and there's no blanket statement that can or should be made when it comes to the decisions and actions taken when pornography addiction is present in a marriage or family. We don't live in a vacuum, the decisions and actions we take do affect our families. Whether a spouse decides to stay or leave, it's not for us to judge, only to support. We cannot decide on what someone else should do, because we are not in their shoes. If there is one thing I've learned, it's that we don't know the whole situation. We don't know what's surrounding the addiction, or what other pieces there are in the puzzle. I surely wouldn't want or need anyone judging me or telling me what the right thing for me to do would be. I would just need love and support.

Sarah said...

@Jaime

I am sincerely sorry that you feel offended particularly by the "playing the victim" part of this post. Not every woman who is affected by a pornography addiction plays the victim, and I certainly do not believe that people enjoy being a victim. I do, however, think that many people get caught in a cycle of blame, hurt, fear, and victimization that is similar to addictive behavior. People subject themselves time and time again to situations where they know they will be hurt. There are lots of reasons for doing this, but I personally do know people who are not 'happy' unless they are unhappy. They seek out drama and pain. I am sure we can all think of people we know behave this way. When you combine that with pornography addiction, it creates a volatile environment which continually feeds on pain and humiliation. This is not a religion thing, this is a human thing and I believe it is true for many types of relationships. Acknowledging the cycle is key for stopping it.

Jaime Ashby said...

@ Amy

Nowhere in my comments to you did I say YOU were wrong??

That is MY viewpoint as well.

Amy said...

Your reply was directed at me Jaime, that is where my assumption came from and you said Wrong. Not, here let me offer my viewpoint Amy. Wrong. I am bowing out of this. My frustration with this entire series is boiling starting to boil as it is. I am frustrated I even ventured into this. No amount of airing of dirty laundry will fix anything for anyone, including those posting anonymously as evidenced by the comments. I apologize for my lack of better judgement in jumping in. Best wishes to all and good luck with this pornography series CJane, whatever your intent is and whatever you hope to accomplish with it.

Christy said...

It is very easy to say what you would do and to offer up suggestions to love and support your spouse with a sex addiction. I'm not going to judge the woman who decides to leave when the pornograhy addiction escalates into soliciting prostitutes or multiple affairs. Trust can only be regained so many times and Heavenly Father loves his daughters enough to allow them these personal limits. I think there is also a big distinction between a romance novel and hard core pornography. Big difference......huge like comparing a paper cut to a gaping surgical wound...

Unknown said...

There are many reasons I enjoy reading Cjane. A space where her thoughts and feelings are so similar to my own, but her experiences to get us there are different. Her lessons and insights resonate with me and I felt less alone.
I enjoyed reading her life history last year. So raw. So brave. And now she has opened up a new space where the topic of pornography does not remain out "there" but is rightly brought out and recognized to be apart of all of our lives. We just perhaps chose not to know it yet.
I read the comments from this last post and I felt my throat closing in and my heart closing off. The earlier posts brought forth compassion, understanding and love, but this post has brought forth anger. Why? Why is this one different? Why is it so important for your experiences to negate the experience of others and the intent of the author?
Please stop it. Please. Don't shut the dialogue down. We can't afford that. There is no time or space left to deflect the issue with semantics or misunderstandings or defense for what we did or would do or might have done.
This is what prompts secrets to remain secrets. This is why our lives remain an illusion for the world to aspire to as we drown in depression. No one feels safe to be and say how they fear or failed.
Why is it so difficult to give each other what we so desperately need? The space to be heard and the space to feel loved?
Please express how YOU feel. Tell your stories. Share your lessons. Do so with the intent of helping. Do so with the hope of healing...yourself. And then maybe others will find what they need to heal themselves in a way that is right for them.
the end.

Cheryl said...

Everyone has their line in the sand so to speak. I don't know how we can judge another persons limit. All we should do is love and support, not judge.

Tamara Lambert said...

@Jaime
I want to say how sorry I am that you felt so judge and criticized. I do not have a clue what I would do in an addict situation, of any form. I believe we women need to lift each other up and support each other. Also, I've followed this series, and I really don't see guilt and self-loathing being the first response of the men I know. Most of the men I know have the attitude of "Hey, I'm a guy! It's what we do!" It's a shame they can't see how disrespectful it is to wives, daughters, co-workers before it's too late.

Marie Huber said...

@Jemma
Here is a recent youtube video, that explains the science behind a porn addiction
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ya67aLaaCc

Jen said...

This series is getting a little carried away. It's starting to feel like a witch hunt.

Lisa from WY said...

It seems that this post -- written by a female addict -- was the most difficult for people to connect with. The post that received the most compassionate responses was the post by a daughter of an addict. Perhaps that is because we feel the most compassion for our daughters, but least of all for ourselves. At least, that is true for me.

Taryn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Taryn said...

Good point Lisa, I've been thinking the same. What sad commentary that we have a woman who is coming out to represent many nameless women with similar struggles, in hopes that maybe she (and they) might be afforded the same support and compassion from humanity as the next Joe. Sadly, I feel like she is all but being brushed over. Her struggle is being minimalized, as we sit around and cat-fight over various semi-related points of her post, rather than focusing on the big issue she wants us to look at. This just isn't right. She is reaching out, and not many people here are really reaching back. That sends a pretty shabby psychological message.

Anonymous, I hope you know that I hear you (and I know others do too, we just may not be hearing from many right now). I know that you are clawing your way out of the pit you find yourself in. You are tirelessly working and hoping for restored peace of mind, and self-respect. I think this is remarkable especially since you are having to fight to be taken seriously, but I feel confident you will succeed despite any deficits in external support you may experience.

This just underscores the reality that the bottom line is you, and God...and really that is enough for you to do ANYTHING you need to do. Would it be nice if people would acknowledge your struggle? Yes, of course it would! But it is not necessary, and that is a comfort in its own way.

I appreciate your journey, and am grateful you are opening yourself up, even if it comes at a personal cost. You've done the right thing, and you will find people who are willing to meet you where you need them to. I wish you the most exquisite success and know you will find it!

Jemma said...

Thanks for that Marie I'm a little clearer but maybe as I'm a female who indulges in a little porn from time to time I just find it hard to grasp in it's entirety.

downj said...

Reading fifty shades of gray constitutes a porn addiction? Everything this woman described is bordering on a normal exploration of human sexuality. The essays, in a large part, are so vague. Perhaps that is why there is no uproar about her experience. Is this series only geared toward the Mormon experience? I get the feeling that Top Gun is considered porn in the Mormon religion and I just don't get the connection. I think I am missing the point, not being Mormon and all. I understand that sex can be an addiction, as well as pornography. I just feel like the line is seriously blurred as to what constitutes a porn addiction in the Mormon religion, assuming the posts are written by Mormons.

Sarah said...

Reading 50 Shades does not constitute a porn addiction just like smoking one joint does not constitute a drug addiction. For everyone there are various levels of experience. What is highly addictive for one person is only mildly distracting for another.

Niki B said...

@CJane - How about a guest post from Amanda? Nice to have a different perspective!

Anna D Kart said...

Very well put and your are so RIGHT. We can get lost in the dirty, sexy novels, in the perfect world of TV shows and other disgusting junk. Envying our ideal friends' home life, wishing you had a husbands liker hers.
Thank you for sharing your experience

Lizzy, Andy, J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Becky Home-ecky said...

As a woman who has struggled for many years with an addiction to pornography, I don't find this post offensive. My personal addiction is romance novels. I started at Harlequins and Regency romances and worked my way up to 4 or 5 soft core novels a weekend. I know that many women are dismissive of romance novels as pornography, instead choosing to see them as an exploration of sexuality, but for me they were an ADDICTION. I couldn't read just one novel, and after a while the light kissing and anticipation in a Regency romance just didn't do it for me anymore. I liked to read them at night when everyone had gone to bed, and I'd neglect my household, my children, and reading anything of redemptive value for them.

When I've managed to stay away from them, I am incredibly productive, creative, spiritual, and kind to my family. But I have triggers for them, usually stress, and when I feel myself sliding to the point where I look for the little hearts on the spines of books, I have to avoid all fiction.

The difference between an occasional purveyor of romance and me is that I can't stop at one, and it doesn't make me want to have sex (which reminded me of the TED lecture that talked about internet porn users who experience erectile dysfunction after a while). Anyway, I worked in a library for many years, and I know I'm not alone in my addiction---I regularly saw women check out 10-15 romances a week and thought, "I see you, sister." I'm not ashamed of it; I'm just matter of fact now. It's something I always have to watch out for.

The funny thing is, my husband doesn't really consider it a problem. I'm not sure if he knows what's in the kind of romances I read, or if sex in books just doesn't affect him the same way. It doesn't matter. I know how it affects me, and that's what matters.

Becky Home-ecky said...

Oh and also, I wanted to post my comment without my name attached, but then I was like, no, nope. There's too much anonymity out here on the web, and I'm not going to be a part of it. I show up at church because I'm a sinner and that's where sinners belong.

By the Light of Grace said...

I also want to add a voice to this... and take it a step further.

You mentioned that women can become addicted to steamy romance novels and intimate scenes.

That is very true, and you are not alone in that.

However, women also fall subject to pornography (soft and hardcore) and masturbation, just like men.

I am a daughter of God in recovery from a sexual addiction and the main trunk of my addiction includes hardcore pornography and masturbation.

It's dangerous to label people... whether labeling women or men.

Pornography addiction, sexual addiction, is a brain addiction... anything that releases dopamine and serotonin in high levels into the pleasure center of the brain can increase the risk of addiction. Sexual stimuli is a main contributor.

I have worked with women who struggle with all sorts of sexual addictions, it manifests differently for each of us, because Satan molds his lies to fit our vulnerabilities and our brains are going to remember, and seek out, that which brings us the fastest max pleasure.

The one thing that DOES look the same between us all is that we are all beautiful daughters of God, with innate worth, who are just stuck. Stuck in self hate and isolation and loneliness and hopelessness.

I am here to say that women who struggle are not alone, there are many of us. I am here to lend a voice to the hope of recovery through the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ.

He loves us. He is not ashamed of us. He wants to rescue and heal us.

Much love,

Sidreis

www.bythelightofgrace.com
www.thelighthousecoalition.blogspot.com
www.ldsaddictionrecoveryblogs.blogspot.com