Protecting My Sons From Porn

Porn is yet another one of those things I never gave much thought to. Don’t get me wrong, I have enough social science degrees to know the dangers of porn and sex work in general. My undergrad thesis was a study of dancers at a local strip club and their interactions with social service agencies. I talked to a lot of strippers. In my book Try a Little Tenderness, I tried to honestly convey as much of that world as I could. Those women were honest and forthright with me, and I tried to do right by them in my book. So yeah, I know all of the statistics and I know from professional interactions just how tragic it can be.

But it didn’t really come home until I had sons of my own. I’m horrified by what they will some day find on the computer. We have all the nanny protections on, but we all know a curious child can find a way around just about anything. The worst thing about it is that most of this stuff is not even “normal” sex anymore. As I’ve always maintained, porn is one of those things that we get desensitized to, requiring greater and greater stimulation to get the same buzz. The porn actresses with their dead eyes are just so horrific and the use of another human being’s body as a “thing” is not a mindset I ever want my sons exposed to. The use of porn is especially dangerous in a society where we socialize our boys to detach from and compartmentalize their emotions. That having feelings is somehow unmanly. This compartmentalization is the very thing that makes porn so attractive; sex without the messiness of dealing with an actual human being. It’s detrimental to women and absolutely devastating to our young men.

My husband and I have talked about this at length. He’s concerned as well. He jokes that I “ruined” porn for him a long time ago by telling him that most of those actresses were sexually abused as children. He was never a big consumer before and lost most of his interest after that. I certainly intend to tell my sons the same thing and explain the mentality/economic realities that leads so many women to “choose” sex work. We do our best to demonstrate that sex within the context of a loving healthy relationship is a good thing, and that using human beings as a masturbatory device is immoral and frankly gross.

I fear that this will not be enough. Just hanging out online I see so many young men who are clearly porn sick. Who’ve had their view of women and girls totally distorted by the pervasiveness of this industry. My husband points out that back in our day porn was much more difficult to acquire and that if it had been as readily available to him as it is to young men today, it would have had a devastating effect on him. He probably would’ve done nothing else but watch it. And that’s what I’m afraid of. I know so many men whose marriages and even careers have been destroyed by porn. It drives so much of the sexual sickness that has become commonplace. When I was growing up porn mainly consisted of sex. Even anal sex was shocking and I was a fully adult woman before I actually saw photos. Now we’ve reached the point that with one click of the mouse I can see women experiencing an unimaginable level of bodily harm. This connection between pain, humiliation and pleasure is a very dangerous one, especially in the developing young brain.

I’m not a prude or ignorant, I know my sons will be curious about sex and sexuality. (And BTW, could somebody PLEASE write a version of Our Bodies Ourselves for boys? Without all the, “this is the stuff you can’t talk to your parents about” rhetoric? I don’t want to reinforce that mindset. I could talk to my VERY old school mama about anything and I want my boys to feel the same way.) Sex and sexuality is a normal developmental stage, but how do I help them through this stage when so much of this garbage is so readily available? From the very beginning we have tried to raise them as loving, empathetic young men with a healthy respect for other human beings. Porn is the antithesis of this. A cancer that serves only to erode and undermine healthy adult relationships. We are using the only antidote we can think of for this insidious poison; a healthy adult relationship. My only question is, will it be enough?

 

Advertisements

Roslyn’s Second Epistle On Marriage

I’ve thrown up on my husband. I’ve also bled all over my husband. My husband is the only non-medical person who has actually seen my uterus (twice!) and yes, according to him it’s just as horrific as you can imagine. (I was so full of the happy juice I really don’t recall any of this, but he was apparently traumatized beyond belief). My husband stood by me when our babies died. When my mama died. When it seemed that everything I’d ever given a damn about was dying. He took care of my mama like she was his own. She lived with us for nine months before she passed on, and they adored one another. More than once when I slept through one of the baby’s late night feedings he got up and brought the baby to me and let him latch on. (Yes, I slept through more than one baby nursing from my breast, and yes, it’s as freaky as it sounds). In other words, my husband is my rock. He knows more about me than any other human being, even my best friend. And she’s responsible for shaving my chin should I lapse into a coma lest the world discover I have wookie DNA.

Why am I telling you this? Because there is probably no one in my entire life that I’ve been more intimate with than with my husband. And I’m not talking about just sexually, though there is that, I’m talking about the day-to-day interactions that regularly occur in life. See, I give a lot of advice on this blog, especially about romantic relationships. I like to think I give advice not just about attracting a mate, but about sustaining a relationship. I don’t give a lot of “man-catching” advice because, quite frankly, that’s the easy part of the equation. If you’re a woman, men are going to be attracted to you. Sustaining a relationship is much more difficult. And that’s what this post is about. I see a lot of people recommending all manner of deceptions, big and small in the quest to get a man. This confuses me because in my mind I think they’re forgetting that the object of all this man hunting is marriage. After you get this dude, you’ve got to live with him. And you’ve got to live with him in a open and vulnerable way or it’s highly unlikely your marriage will succeed.

Lies or deceptions as you might prefer to call it have an ugly way of growing and manifesting into even bigger lies. I remember a dude I met online dating back in the day. I was in my early thirties, and he’d claimed he was in his early forties. We met for coffee at a Starbucks and he was telling me about his children. Both had already graduated college. I was like, “Wow, you started early.” He was forced to admit he was actually in his early fifties. I really liked this guy; he was handsome, well-traveled, sophisticated and charming. Even though I probably wouldn’t have dated a man that old under normal circumstances, the fact that he lied was such a turn off I couldn’t go out with him again. If he lied about small things, how would he handle much larger issues? So from the beginning I would’ve started out not trusting him. That goes back to my Free Lesson about choosing an honorable man: You can take the word of an honorable man to the bank. My husband does not lie, even when he probably should. Even when I would prefer it. It can be hard to live with at times, but you know you can trust him, period. If someone lies, even by omission, they’re not a trustworthy person. Period. Oh, you can rationalize all you like, and people do. “Don’t hate the player, hate the game,” they say. But the bottom line is, you choose what game you play and how you play it. It really comes down to either you’re honest or you’re not.

Now, don’t get it twisted, as I said in my Free Lessons book, you don’t have to tell a man all your business. In fact, I think women tell men far too much in the beginning of the relationship. However, what you do choose to share with him, must be truthful and honest. After all, if you’re successful this is the guy who might have to make the decision about pulling the plug on you one day. Do you really want there to be even a fiber of dishonesty between you?

Roslyn’s First Epistle on Marriage

I haven’t been married for four decades, but I think the most crucial part of a successful marriage is finding someone who wants to be married to you, and to whom you want to be married. This is not easy, but more than anything, it makes a difference. No matter what (barring abuse and/or infidelity) I know he’s not going anywhere and he knows the same about me. And yes, there are days when I absolutely loathe the man, and I know he feels the same way, but there is nobody on earth I’d rather be with. With just a quirk of an eyebrow he can make me laugh until my sides ache. And watching him with our children is the greatest joy in my life. It more than compensates for those other times.

I was in my early thirties when I met Whit. Long past any delusions about who I was or my ability to change a person. At that point I understood marriage is pretty much WYSIWYG. Traits you don’t like aren’t going anywhere, so you need to decide if you can live with them before you get married. More than anything marriage is an amplifier, not a change agent.

But marriage is also about faith; knowing that even through the bad times things will get better. And we’ve been through some bad times; job loss, relocation, infertility and that’s the tip of a very large iceberg. I didn’t expect our marriage to survive the year we each lost a parent and a baby, but we came through to the other side. Stronger and more importantly confident that we can weather the tough times. After all, if we didn’t break up after that fuckery, what could be worse? And that’s important. Tough times test a marriage, but they show you how strong it is too. I know there is no one I’d rather have at my back than my husband. Yes, he’ll drive me batshit crazy, but he’ll make me laugh and I know he’ll go down fighting to the death to save me. Because he wants to be married, to me. And that’s the core of our marriage.

Interesting Response to Men Aren’t Stupid

Image

There’s a reader who took umbrage with my book, Men Aren’t Stupid. So much so that she felt the need to review it on two sites as well as on her own blog. No, I’m not linking back, because that would be pointless. She seemed to like much of it but had problems with me saying that men with children are to be avoided, and that men give relationship advice that is slanted to their advantage, not yours. Apparently, she’s concerned about the fairness of not dating men with kids. That if we reject them for having kids how can we say they’re wrong for rejecting us. Uh, do you think they don’t? And do you think your willingness to date them changes that? Look this is dating, not a social program. If you are under the mistaken impression that life is fair, well, I don’t know what to tell you. The majority of men are not interested in dating women with children. Period. Your opening your life and your children’s lives to the drama of dating a man with children notwithstanding. This is not a fairness issue, this is a commonsense issue. Men who are interested in having families don’t run around making babies with women they’re not married to. 

Now on to the other comment, she also stated that I believe that men don’t think about anything but sex. Actually, I didn’t say that. Masters and Johnson said that more than fifty years ago. Having lived with men in one situation or another for much of my life I must say I haven’t seen anything to persuade me that this isn’t true. If you have opposing evidence, please present it. Until then I will continue to believe what my own eyes and experience tell me: Men are focused on sex. If you don’t believe me, ask them.