Jake and I engage in a lot of good natured bickering and teasing on any given day.
Me: “It’ll work! We’ll tie the rings to his collar and point a laser down the aisle!”
Jake: “There is no way I’m tying expensive jewelry to a cat!”
Occasionally, Jake sticks his foot in his mouth and genuinely offends me.
:: watching American Horror Story – Jessica Lang sprays perfume under her dress::
Me: “What did she just spray on her vagina?”
Jake: “Probably Binaca. You should try it, sometime.”
Me: “Excuse me?!?! Did you just say ‘It smells like fish in here’?!?”
Jake: “NO! That’s not what I meant! I meant because it will burn!”
Me: “So you want me to burn my vagina?!?! That’s your defense?!?!”
Jake: “I was kidding! It was a joke!”
It’s rare that we have anything resembling a fight. He gets annoyed with me when I take one of his games out of the XBOX One and set the disc aside. I get annoyed that he’ll lecture me on this, while leaving his headset in the floor, where I can step on it or the cat can chew it up. He stands behind me when I cook, making what he thinks are helpful (read: patronizing) comments until I tell him he can cook it himself and he apologizes… then continues to instruct me on how to cut an onion. I hate folding laundry and Jake hates searching through the basket for underwear. I refuse to spend money on new linens, when I know we’ll be able to register for them in a few months and he’s tired of drying off with ten-year-old threadbare beach towels. We may not fight, but we are two adults who’ve lived alone for several years, so I’m anticipating a dozen more small annoyances and probably three or four genuine arguments in our first year of marriage…
… but pornography will not be one of them.
– cue societal head pat ::here:: –
I know, I know. Aren’t we adorably naïve? Everyone watches porn. It’s healthy to watch porn. It’s healthy for couples to watch porn together. One Google search will bring numerous articles about how entirely harmless pornography is and how it can actually benefit your relationship. HuffPost even attempted to write an article defending the trend, without looking like they were actually defending the trend.* Well… I call shenanigans, because I also found articles on the health benefits of gummy bears and donuts. If someone wants to justify their choices, they will and the determined ones will find citations.
Before Jake and I started having sex, I clarified that I understood that an adult needs an outlet. Since he wasn’t getting that from me, I required neither denial nor confirmation that he was looking at pornography. Once we were sleeping together, however, I wanted to be the only one sharing that kind of intimacy with him. I wanted to be the only woman he saw naked. In turn, though it was only on rare occasion I watched porn myself, I promised to give it up as well. Jake agreed.
I do have a moral objection to pornography, but humans are both curious and sinful creatures, so I admit, I’ve watched it. Even then, however, I would go through phases, and not by chance. The cycles always ended, because I would begin to recognize how pornography could be addictive… how people could spend more and more time viewing to get the same response… how imagination could stop being enough. Furthermore, after Jake and I started dating, I understood that if I regularly watched porn, there might come a time when reality couldn’t hold up to the fantasy. Unlike my cheesy romance novels, these clips held no other appeal or purpose. There were no relatable characters in a story of boy saves girl, building up to a few raunchy scenes in the midst of their unrealistic, yet compelling, drama. It was just one quick high after another, with no fantasy world present to remind me that this isn’t what sex looks like.
Just a few weeks ago, there was a news story about a teenage boy arrested in Shetland for distributing child pornography. I’ve likely substituted this child’s class and now he’s a sexual predator, because while sexual curiosity is still a healthy and natural part of human development, the ubiquity of the Internet has tainted it. This is true for teens in a shocking and disturbing way, as quoted here from PsychCentral:
“In the absence of any context, and without having learned about or known healthy sexuality, children may experience depictions of sex as confusing and take the images they see to be representative models of adult behavior. They are thereby introduced to sex before they are ready through images they do not understand, which often involve sexual deviations, and sex detached from relationship or meaning, responsibility, and intimacy.”*
Fortunately for Jake and I, we came of age when finding porn online meant exposing your curiosity to your parents, because the computer burst into flames from all the viruses you inadvertently downloaded. When we were teenagers, getting a hold of porn was tough, probably more so for Jake, being three years older. In fact, just the other day, he was telling me about the VHS tape that circulated his high school. One VHS tape was Jake’s first exposure to pornography… and I’m quite comfortable with that, because we agree that as recently as 15 years ago, porn was probably more or less psychologically, if not spiritually, healthy.
While I’m certain that I would never be comfortable knowing Jake sought sexual stimulation from women other than myself, that’s not the reason we’ve recently reaffirmed our decision not to look at porn. I’m just not convinced that any kind of healthy relationship with pornography is sustainable in the year 2016. Sure, some people use it to enhance creativity in bed, but there are other ways to get ideas: friends, romance novels, sexual health literature, blogs… none of which risk developing an addiction that can cause either of us feelings of rejection, betrayal, depression, abandonment, isolation, loneliness, or humiliation.*
A police chief in New York first exposed himself to child pornography while preparing for a sexual abuse awareness program he taught to children. Over time, he developed a genuine curiosity and interest, because that’s how the human brain works.* I know, I know, we’re not talking about child porn… but who seeks out radical and disturbing porn from the start? No one. Exactly no one Googles “gang bang” the first time they ever look at porn. They start the same way everyone does, with a clip here or there… only to realize that the same old vanilla stuff has gotten old. Pretty soon, they find themselves on RedTube watching what they’re pretty sure is not an actual gang rape, because porn addiction works the same way drug addiction does, according to this peer reviewed study.
“Neural differences in the processing of sexual-cue reactivity were identified in CSB subjects in regions previously implicated in drug-cue reactivity studies.”
I’m not denying that there are individuals and couples who currently have a psychologically healthy relationship with pornography. I’m simply saying that they’re putting themselves and their relationship at risk, in a world where porn is so readily available. I’m saying, why court trouble? As I mentioned in my last post, I hear about how hard marriage is all the time. We have a lifetime of ridiculous and legitimate disagreements ahead of us. I’ll piss him off and he’ll make me cry. I’ll be passive aggressive and he’ll be a stubborn asshole, because neither of us is perfect. We don’t need the battle that is pornography, so we’re making the decision to abstain from the beginning, to choose only each other for our sexual needs. Now… if only I could cut an onion in peace…
He’s only crying, because someone’s criticizing him.