Sunday, June 13, 2010

Victim of Emotional Pornography

3:43 PM
I recently ran across an article in Relevant Magazine called The Dangers of Emotional Pornography. I just stopped and had to read it. The title just grabbed me, and its probably why you clicked on my blog. Pornography we can define, but what is emotional pornography?

Cole NeSmith, who wrote the Relevant article, had this to say. “There’s certainly a war against the prevalence of visual pornography in many corners of our society—especially in the Christian culture. There is an attempt to expose pornography for its promotion of unrealistic sexual expectations and exploitation of human sexuality. And that attempt is a very necessary one. But what about the unhealthy emotional and relational expectations portrayed in so much of our media? Is there really much of a difference in the hyperbolized sexual imagery of typical pornography and the hyperbolized momentary emotional high felt in a romance film or romantic comedy that sends us looking for a “love” that doesn’t exist?”

And it completely made sense. Over and over again, I see my girlfriends get sucked into a TV show, a movie, or a book series because they are just so invested in the character’s relationships. I think the whole world witnessed this as the Twilight series has taken over the world. My first exposure to Twilight wasn’t from people telling me how great the books were, but from Facebook posts from people who wished a) Edward Cullen was real b) their boyfriend/husband was more like Edward Cullen or c) they could become a vampire to be with Edward Cullen. And I was seriously like who is this guy?! A fictional [stalker-ish] vampire!?! [BTW, I'm not judging these fans, because I, myself, am a fan. Just wanted to throw that out there.] But hundreds of thousands of women were invested in this series for the relationship between Edward and Bella. Women, by nature, are emotional creatures.

I share this my students in the classroom regularly. We compare men to microwaves and women to crockpots. We talk about how men are visually stimulated, and it really doesn’t even take that long for a man to be visually stimulated. A woman can walk by in a revealing outfit, or they can see a pop ad on a computer and be sexually stimulated. I challenge the girls in the class to think about modesty, how they dress and what effect it can have on guys. We are able to talk about some of the dangers of pornography and some its lasting effects. And then we talk about women, and how we are crockpots. This is because women are stimulated by the emotional or caring parts of a relationship. It’s why we fantasize not about what the perfect guy looks like [OK, probably a little bit], but how romantic he will be, or how he will treat us. I then get to encourage the guys in the classroom to be careful with their words and how they talk to girls, because girls are emotional and look for connections in those words. It’s a great activity that brings about some great conversation.

But I never saw it in my own life. Am I a victim of emotional pornography? Absolutely. Whether it’s fantasizing over fictional male leads in romantic comedies or imagining myself as the heroine of a romantic story, I’ve been there. And I have to remind myself to be careful.

Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brothers [and sisters], whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” These are the things I need to be focusing on. Not unrealistic emotional standards that no real-life man will measure up to. And not the fact that I’m in my late twenties and still single. I need the constant reminder on where and on who to focus my thoughts. Because the temptation to indulge on emotional pornography is everywhere. But I don’t have to be a victim anymore.

About the author

Joy Muldoon is a full-time missionary and part-time blogger. Read about her travels, adventures, and missions here!


Adgirl said...

I think this is a very interesting post. I know exactly what you mean and have witnessed it with some of my friends. But I never heard the term emotional pornography before - love that. Those of my friends who idealise TV characters are the ones who a) have never had a real relationship b) are currently single and have been for a while with on off - not too serious boyfriends. When I watched twighlight I myself could feel the pull of wishing my relationship was as intense as that and felt for a few fleeting moments that perhaps it wasn't as good as it could be. But then I snapped out of it. If you are consuming this kind of stuff all the time then, just as pornography can effect men's views of women and sex, it could definitely affect your relationship or ability to accept the faults of another.

I am a little worried by the way you teach the children in your class that there are innate differences between the sexes though. I have recently been reading a great book about the return of anti-feminism called "Living Dolls". It questions whether the differences between girls and boys are being exaggerated by our culture. I think it's worth a read - even if you don't agree with the views or think of yourself as a feminist.

M. Frazier said...

I don't think that I've even thought of emotional pornography this way, but it makes sense. I HATE watching romantic comedies... I always have and I've never kept it a secret. I used to say that all the plots are typical (and they are). I, also, hate romance novels for the same reason... they both have to follow some unwritten rule of how they all should play out. Gag.

However, I'm a sucker for adventure with romance thrown in. You mentioned Twilight (I'm a semi-fan the second time I read them, I wasn't as impressed) and when I sat down and thought about it -I preferred Jacob because of his flaws for myself.

After reading this article, its shed some light on why I don't like RomComs --perhaps the Holy Spirit in me was influencing my subconscious. I've always disliked that feeling of being jerked around emotionally when watching/reading these things. Very interesting... thanks!