Everything is Broken: Part 2
Everything is broken: Part 2 – Pornography, its links to human trafficking and why it sucks
This is a three part series documenting the thoughts going through my head since my move to Amsterdam. Today’s post explores the ‘broken’ in porn and sexual addiction, in particular linking those issues back to Human Trafficking. This is your warning that I am going to explore some graphic information in this post, if this will bother you, or if you are too young to read about adult material, STOP reading now, go listen to some old school rock and roll or something, and come back next week. For those of you who keep reading, please know my heart is to expose these issues, but never to pass judgement, only to encourage you to reconsider what has become acceptable in our society.
I was cycling along the canal in the Red Light District in Amsterdam, with some take away Thai food and a million thoughts running through my mind, when out of the corner of my eye I say a word on a sign that I was sure I misread. The word was “Rape”.
Huh? I stopped my bike and turned back to double check that I really just saw what I thought I saw. Yep, there it was in the window of an adult store that was advertising a sale on porno DVD’s, a sign reading “Rape-Sex, take two pay one“.
Not kidding you, the shop was blatantly advertising that they were having a two for one DVD sale featuring “RAPE-SEX”.
It really started me thinking about pornography and the connections to human trafficking, and the damage that a pornography addiction can cause. So I started doing some reading and research and the more I learned the more I realized, everything really is broken.
I did not want to write this blog post. I mean, who really wants to tackle something as common and acceptable in our society as porn is. ‘Every guy is looking at it, and so are half the girls out there.’ (generalization).
But when sifting through the thoughts of the last few weeks, the reality of how damaging pornography really is just keeps coming forward. I feel like some of the stuff I am learning needs to be shared, if only for one person to consider seeking assistance for a sexual addiction.
To be honest, not a lot ‘shocks’ me these days. But a lot makes me angry, and one of those things is the realization that the porn industry is worth billions of dollars (15 Billion a year that is) and the sex industry is inevitably linked to sex trafficking, no matter what country you are in or what laws you have. Sex trafficking is a part of human trafficking, and human trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world. We all agree that sex trafficking is wrong, but our opinion on prostitution and pornography, and in the end, morality is all messed up.
Where do we draw the line? I know girls who have been who have been filmed while being forced to have sex for the financial profit of a third-party. I know of several horrific cases where child pornography was being created, and the aftermath was little girls who wanted to take their lives because their minds were so messed up from what has been done to them. In South Africa, those creating child pornography and forced pornography were almost always ‘legitimate’ businessmen, whose names never seemed to make it into the newspapers.
Of course, these could be considered extreme cases, and I am sure someone will think, well if I only watch porn from legitimate companies, than I will avoid anything that involves trafficked individuals. Not necessarily true. Just last week two men from a company in America called “Miami Vibes” were charged with human trafficking. These men would lure women from across America with the promise of jobs as actresses and models, they would then drug the girls and engage in filmed sex acts which were packaged and sold on DVD through businesses and the internet. (See full story: HERE)
As we navigate our sex-obsessed culture, we are fuelling and funding and driving the demand for exploitation, and we are justifying it at the same time.
There are quite a few discussions happening on the internet regarding pornography and whether is harmless or damaging. As there are a lot of people who are already taking the time to explore this issue more in-depth, I will leave it to you to wade through the differing opinions and I am just going to link to some information. One article in particular I would like to draw attention to is entitled, “How porn can ruin your sex life – and your marriage.” an article by Gary Wilson and Marina Robinson for the Good Men Project, they also run an interesting website called, http://yourbrainonporn.com/
A few of the points from this article in particular highlight how our brain is wired for monogamous pairing-bonding and how chronic pornography use leads to an addiction that actually rewires our brains to become dissatisfied in a monogamous sexual relationship. A few excerpts:
“Porn keeps dopamine (the hook in all addictions) surging in the brain. But at what point does chronic stimulation become chronic dissatisfaction?
Too much stimulation can actually numb the pleasure response of your brain, producing a variety of symptoms. We know this from recent research on gamblers, overeaters, and, of course, drug users. The brain starts to respond more weakly to whatever dopamine is around
Ironically, even if sex with your spouse isn’t calling to you, you may feel intense cravings for something hyperstimulating (novel, risky). You keep slamming down that dopamine accelerator because your brain desperately wants to feel good again.
When we flood our brain with too many visuals of mates begging for our sexual favors, our brain […] obligingly drives us to binge by subtly numbing our pleasure response.
Unless you understand this hidden brain mechanism, which urges you to step on the gas even when you’ve had more than enough, it’s hard to connect an insatiable libido with a less responsive brain. After all, it feels like your libido is getting stronger. The reality is that neurochemically induced dissatisfaction deep in the brain is urging you to seek more stimulation.
According to a 2007 study, mere exposure to images of sexy females causes a man to devalue his real-life partner. He rates her lower not only on attractiveness, but also on warmth and intelligence. Also, after pornography consumption, subjects in a 2006 study reported less satisfaction with their intimate partner—including the partner’s affection, appearance, sexual curiosity, and performance. Moreover, they assigned increased importance to sex without emotional involvement”
This article goes on to address how porn is actually messing with our brains design for monogamous pair-bonding. There is so much information in this article I would really encourage you to read it yourself and put all the information together.
Another website called Porn Harms highlights a lot of important research on the effects of pornography on our brains. In particular I would like to direct you to a research article about how we acquire our sexual interests and tastes: HERE.
According to research by Norman Doige, as we reinforce certain behaviours we create new neuroconnections in our brain, altering our sexual desires.
“Pornographers promise healthy pleasure and relief from sexual tension, but what they often deliver is an addiction, tolerance, and an eventual decrease in pleasure.
Pornography is more exciting than satisfying because we have two separate pleasure systems in our brains, one that has to do with exciting pleasure and one with satisfying pleasure. The exciting system relates to the “appetitive” pleasure that we get imagining something we desire, such as sex or a good meal. Its neurochemistry is largely dopamine-related, and it raises our tension level.
The second pleasure system has to do with the satisfaction, or consummatory pleasure, that attends actually having sex or having that meal, a calming, fulfilling pleasure.
People with perversions often organize their lives around activities that mix aggression and sexuality, and they often celebrate and idealize humiliation, hostility, defiance, the forbidden, the furtive, the lusciously sinful, and the breaking of taboos; they feel special for not being merely “normal.”
As for the patients who became involved in porn, most were able to go cold turkey once they understood the problem and how they were plastically reinforcing it. They found eventually that they were attracted once again to their mates”
What we learn from Doige’s research is that the online porn epidemic is actually changing our human sexual desires, often from something healthy, to something addictive and perverse. This connects back to Human Trafficking, helping to explain a high demand for diverse sexual services, where males are often seeking the opportunity to act out their sexual fantasies, which can actually be tailored by their pornographic addiction. It also explains why our brains adapt what is acceptable, sexy, or appropriate according to what we are exposed too. What was sexy and scandolous in 1950 would hardly phase us today. Doige points out that hardcore porn used to be two people having sex. Now hardcore porn is increasingly more violent and twisted.
But Doige also assures us at the end of his research that it is possible through assistance to re-map our brain in order to develop healthy patterns and sexual attractions.
Another website called AntiPornography.org includes many video testimonies by ex-porn-stars exposing the high levels of abuse and degradation experienced during their time working in the adult industry.
Below is a link to a TEDTalks video with psychologist Philip Zimbardo highlighting the struggles of today’s young male, and linking their increased fear of intimacy to anti-social behaviour such as excessive online gaming and pornography viewing: In summary what we can learn is that pornography can develop into an addiction that has serious consequences on an individuals real sex life. A key word that was constantly coming up was dissatisfaction. Porn does not deliver the satisfaction and fulfilment promised. We have also seen that the adult entertainment industry, just like other aspects of the sex industry, is inherently linked to the degradation of woman and to the issue of Sex Trafficking. Which explains where the thought comes from that advertising DVD’s featuring Rape-Sex is acceptable and profitable…
But we have also seen that there is real help, support and hope for people who struggle with this type of addiction.
Finally I would like to direct you to a fantastic article on the Good Women Project, it is written by a guy and entitled A Woman’s Role In His Fight Against Porn. In this article the truth is laid out. True freedom can come from one place and as a woman our role is not to try and compete or save our men from their struggles with pornography. (Obviously I recognize that this is not just a man’s struggle). As I said at the beginning none of this is meant as a judgement but rather an exposure and question about what we have come to consider acceptable in our society and a personal journey exploring the high levels of brokenness in our sexuality.