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Porn Sunday: Cum On Ye Faithful

February 3, 2011

According to a quiz created by the XXX Church (which I would have joined, for the name, until I realized the name is just trickery to get me on my knees,) I am a sex addict. I have a problem. I need to come with Jesus. I am a sex addict because I sometimes watch porn and masturbate, even though I know it may upset some people.  (Seriously, upsetting other people was their criteria.)

Nevermind that I haven’t had sex in nearly two months because I am too picky and refuse to have sex that doesn’t feel right in my heart and soul. Or that I have dedicated my life to helping women become safe and empowered in their own sexuality. I have a problem with sex. I need help. (Really, all I need is to find a suitable partner, but okay, I guess that’s sort of a problem.)

Fortunately for me, this Sunday is PORN SUNDAY, also known to ball-handlers, and their fans, as Super Bowl Sunday. Porn Sunday is awesome, it’s when those of us who love balls, but not football, gather together and watch porn all day, laughing because it is us, the chosen ones, who know the real meaning of “double dip” and “end zone” and “hail Mary pass, (full of grease.)”

WHAT? That’s not it? Why must you religious people use lies and trickery so often?

Nope, Porn Sunday is about dealing with the problem of porn in our society.  According to their web site, “This weekend service brings healing to those sitting in churches who are caught up in pornography.” Wait. What does that even mean? Caught up in? Is that a medical term? And why is it a problem?

TWO, FOUR, SIX, EIGHT, IT’S OKAY TO MASTURBATE

Let’s do a quick background here on Craig Gross, who founded XXX Church. Before coming up with this Porn Sunday idea, he had a throbbing hard-on to stop the heretical act of masturbation. He told Slate.com that he’d rather see his kids “slip” and have premarital sex than start down the road of masturbation.

In a branding campaign to support the idea that giving yourself pleasure is evil, he equated masturbation with the killing of kittens. I literally gagged when I read this in the Chicago Tribune:

Craig Gross, pastor of XXXchurch, an online ministry that deals with pornography and sexual addiction, was talking masturbation earlier this week with legendary porn star Ron Jeremy at a debate at Sonoma State University in California. “It’s just so foreign to people to hear, ‘Hey, don’t masturbate,'” Gross said. “But if you have lust in your eyes, you’ve committed adultery in your heart.”

To encourage people to talk about “the ‘M’ word,” Gross started “Operation: Save the Kittens,” encouraging his followers to spread the word that, “Every time you masturbate – God kills a kitten!”

Nice. I don’t gag easily, I learned to suppress that reflex long ago.

Even Web MD will tell you that most people masturbate, and should. Not only is it a safe and healthy form of sexual pleasure for men and women, but many experts agree it is good for your health. I would like to also point out that you cannot get pregnant from masturbation, nor can you get a disease. You can, however, learn a lot about what makes you feel good, and get comfortable enough with your body that when you have a healthy sexual relationship with another person, you can show them how to pleasure you. I consider that essential, as do many other experts.

So why does he want you to feel shame for what is a natural and healthy impulse?

That same Tribune article goes on:

Richard Carroll, director of the Sex and Marital Therapy Program at the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation, said, presumably to the delight of many, “Masturbation is normal.”

He said he frequently counsels people who have been made to feel ashamed of their sexual impulses.

“Anyone who’s trying to turn normal, healthy sexual behavior into a pathology or a sin, that doesn’t serve society very well,” Carroll said. “It might further their political aims, but it certainly doesn’t help individuals.”

Oh, so Gross doesn’t want you gettin’ any, so that he can get ahead? That is gross. After all, he’s written a bunch of books on Sex Addiction, which he wants you to buy, which means he needs you to believe that you have a problem. Oh, and he’s built a gigantic ministry dedicated to convincing you that you have a problem with sex, so he needs to keep you tithing for the porn. Ya, that really is gross.

GIVE ME A P! GIVE ME AN O! And another O. Oh ya, another O!

So, what’s the problem with porn? Gross spews forth the predictable froth about porn leading you down a path to behavior that will hurt you, everyone you know, and kill kittens. Porn, apparently is the problem.

Nope. Porn is not the problem. This is yet another red-herring argument to block us from looking at the real problems.  Porn has never ruined a single relationship. Lying has. If you are lying about porn, it is the lying that is the problem.  If you are lying to yourself and /or your spouse about what you need and want sexually, that’s a really big problem.

Lying, of course, is a symptom. Why do people lie? People lie because they feel fear and shame about something. Why do people feel shame and fear about something? Because people like Gross tell them, day after day, that their natural human impulses are shameful and will bring about not only the downfall of society, but ensure them a toasty spot in hell for all eternity.

And that feels bad. So they seek to numb the pain. How? Drugs? Sex? Tapping their toes in airport bathroom stalls?  Joining churches and buying books to save their souls?

Guilt, shame and fear associated with your sexual identity is a serious problem. Besides the  obvious fact that people who are made to feel badly about themselves, do feel badly about themselves, there is a growing body of research into suicide attempts by people who feel sexually marginalized.

Most of this research exists about the GLBT population, but I’m comfortable extrapolating some soft conclusions about people who feel generalized shame about their sexuality. If your dominant culture (a Gross church) shames and marginalizes your most natural impulses (masturbation,) you will feel generalized shame about your sexuality.

A recent article in the Journal of Homosexuality (which is a peer-reviewed research journal, not an internet church started by a zealot) offers some interesting findings:

  • Over the past decade, consensus has grown among researchers that at least part of the explanation for the elevated rates of suicide attempts and mental disorders found in LGB people is the social stigma, prejudice and discrimination associated with minority sexual orientation
  • One study of White and Latino LGB young adults aged 21-25 (Ryan et al., 2009) found that those who experienced frequent rejecting behaviors by their parents or caregivers during adolescence were over eight times more likely to report making a suicide attempt than those with accepting parents.
  • Data from the National Survey of Midlife Development showed elevated anxiety, depression and other stress-related mental health problems in LGB adults aged 25-74 who reported personal experiences with discrimination
  • Using the NESARC data from 16 states that enacted constitutional amendments against same-sex marriage during 2004 and 2005, the researchers found significant increases in mental disorders among self-identified LGB respondents in these states between wave 1 (2001-2002) and wave 2 (2004-2005) of the survey. Specifically, mood disorders increased by more than one-third, from 23 to 31% of LGB respondents. Increases were also found in generalized anxiety disorder, from 3 to 9%, and alcohol use disorder, from 22 to 31%. By contrast, no comparable increases in mental disorders between the two waves of the survey were observed in heterosexual respondents living in these 16 states.

In short, that  shame and fear stuff that Gross and his cohorts are using to drive people into their pews is the same stuff that drives some depression, anxiety, suicide and, yes, addiction.

So. Is porn a problem? No. The problem is addiction, which is a mental health issue that impacts millions of American adults. And you bet, it ruins lives and marriages. Some of those people are addicted to all sorts of things, including porn. But decreasing porn and increasing shame is not the answer. Dealing with the underlying causes of mental illness is the answer.

Porn is a red herring. A huge red herring.

SIZE MATTERS

Yes, this is the section in which we get to Ron Jeremy and his colossal cock. But first, let’s deal with the giant dick at hand.

Reading his rhetoric, it’s really not clear what Gross is fighting. He says its addiction to porn, but never once really talks about addiction or mental health, except to make people feel ashamed and afraid. So I’m not convinced that his concern is actually for anyone’s health and well-being.

He does speak about a desire to eliminate the porn industry. Quoting an article on CNN.com, “If the church stopped consuming [porn], we would put a huge dent in it,” he said, referring to individual churchgoers.

Sounds to me like he’s trying to kill porn, not addictions and mental illness. Well, okay. Porn is gross, right? I mean, just a handful of skeeves watch porn, so who cares?  Wrong.  And we should all care.

Porn, as an industry is estimated to generate $15B in gross revenue each year. (The numbers vary wildly depending on who’s talking, so I just took an average, but that sounds about right to me, and I spend all day looking at this industry.)

According to a handy chart on the XXXChurch site:

  • 12% of sites on the Internet are porn
  • 40 Million Americans regularly visit porn sites
  • 1/3 of porn viewers are women (actually, that number is growing.)
  • 25% of all search engine requests are for porn
  • Utah has the highest rate of porn downloads, views and subscriptions. (Do I have to point out that some of the most repressive churches in the country are based there? Hmmmm, cause or correlation?)

Why does size matter here? Because in order for porn to be the problem, ALL of those people have to have a problem. And that’s ridiculous. That’s like saying that alcohol causes alcoholism. Or that everyone who drives a car has a driving problem.

Moreover, there are a LOT of really good reasons to watch porn.

Last year, researcher Milton Diamond released some hardcore data about the impact of porn on sex crimes. And guess what? Porn is good for society.  According to a story on CBS News:

Diamond looked at the relationships between porn and sex crimes in various parts of the world. He says that when police suggest that sex offenders are porn users, this is meaningless, as most men are porn users. And, having plowed through every piece of research he could find, he concluded that “What does correlate highly with sex offense is a strict, repressive religious upbringing.”

He found no data that suggested a correlation between an increase in the availability of porn and an increase in sex crimes. If anything, his research told him that “there is an inverse causal relationship between an increase in pornography and sex crimes.”

You caught that, right? Some people who may otherwise be committing sex crimes are working it out by watching porn and, um, working one out.

In that case, we should thank God that, according to that same article, 33% of clergy were on porn sites in the year 2000, that could have greatly reduced the number of clergy sex crime that otherwise may have happened that year. Maybe Steelers starter Ben Roethlisberger ought to watch a little more porn. Seems like whacking off would be a whole lot easier that fighting off a bunch of sexual assault charges.

Another academic study last year looked at the impact of consuming porn on the psycho-sexual health of individuals. Did it make them feel inadequate, victimized, insecure? Nope, just the opposite.

In their survey of 688 young Danish adults (men = 316; women = 372), Hald and Malamuth found that respondents construed the viewing of hardcore pornography as beneficial to their sex lives, their attitudes towards sex, their perceptions and attitudes towards members of the opposite sex, toward life in general, and over all. The obtained beneficial effects were statistically significant for all but one measure across both sexes. Now here is the kicker: A positive correlation was obtained between the amount of hardcore pornography that was viewed and the impact of the benefits reaped. This positive correlation was found for both sexes. In other words, the more that one watched porn, the stronger the benefits (for both sexes)!

Oh, Ron Jeremy. Right. I have nothing against the guy, or his 10-inch cock. But I find his involvement in Gross’

Fear can be useful to get sex as well as stopping people from having sex. If that doesn't make for a giant dick, I don't know what does!

cuckolded crusade a bit suspicious. You can’t watch porn without one of his ads popping up. Nice, huh. He’s also using fear to hock his wares. I know a giant dick when I see one, and I’m not buying it.

LET’S GO DEEP!

So, why do I watch porn and masturbate? Because it feels good.  And right now, the only person I am interested in having sex with is 1,000 miles away from me, a distance that even Ron Jeremy can’t bridge. But, let’s be clear, I’ve watched porn with lovers before. A lot.

In a CNN. Com article, Gross explains why this is a problem. “I don’t believe this is going to be helpful in your relationship,” he said. “I’ve seen more fallout because of this. When it’s done secret, eventually you don’t cover up your tracks. You’re going to get found out and women automatically go to, ‘what’s wrong with me.’”

Right. I agree with him. But it’s not the porn, it’s the DONE IN SECRET. It’s the LYING.  Done together, this can be fun.

Why? Because not only are you doing it together, but you are probably learning something new about each other. And given how bad most porn is, you are very likely laughing, which is always good.

But what’s this bullshit about women automatically thinking “what’s wrong with me?” Sure, if you hang out with women who are trained to believe they have to meet some idealized norm, that might happen. The problem, then, is not the porn, but the stupid idealized norm and telling people they should be something they’re not.

I have used porn to see, with my own eyes, that yes, in fact THAT can go in THERE. Once I saw how it worked, I felt comfortable trying it. I had a lover recently who loved my body and having sex with me, but he also loved big boobs. I do not have big boobs. But damn, that boy loved him some boobies. So we would watch big boobie porn and fuck. Porn gave us something that we didn’t have – and with no risk of disease, pregnancy or drama. Thanks porn, I love you.

I don’t know nothing ‘bout no football. Don’t care either. On Porn Sunday, I plan to make sure my AAs (batteries and boobs) are ready to go, and watch some awesome porn.

So, Reverend Gross, I invite you to join me in some porn on Porn Sunday. If you don’t know where to start, one of the hottest videos I’ve ever seen is Nina Hartley’s guide on how to eat pussy. Not only is it super hot, and crazy accurate, and simple enough that anyone who watches it will be a master – it is something that you can do together. Just you and Mrs. Gross.  (That’ll make anyone come to Jesus.)

_____

UPDATE: I was lucky enough to spend last night hanging out with Craig Gross and Ron Jeremy and some of the people they work with. It will take me a while to sort out my thoughts, but, I want to acknowledge that these are both profoundly decent human beings.

I still think that just about everything Craig Gross says is wrong and dangerous. His claim that he wants to help people who have a problem is admirable, and I join him in that. However, he discussed the porn industry all night. Never once was addiction mentioned. Never once did he  talk about alternatives to porn if you’re trying to spice up your sex live. Never once did he – or Ron – talk about how to figure out who you are sexually and communicate openly with your partner. THAT’s the conversation that needs to happen.

If I’m lucky enough to continue the dialog with them, that’ll change. Regardless, that’s what you’ll get from me. And call me crazy, but I think that if we can all get honest about what we want, and figure out how to get it, we won’t be watching so much porn anyway. We’ll be busy getting busy.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Alyssa Royse permalink*
    February 4, 2011 9:19 am

    It’s also worth noting that the NFL a nd several of it’s players are supporting this campaign. Probably hypocritical, at best, but the worst part is that they were asked – implored – to support an anti-slavery campaign, by a woman who was a victim of Sex Trafficking IN DALLAS, and they turned a blind-eye. http://www.sharedhope.org/SHIBlog/tabid/75/PostID/20/An-Earnest-Request-… Instead, supporting this hateful nonsense.

  2. February 4, 2011 1:55 pm

    I am not just the president and owner of Homegrown Video, the original amateur porn company, but also someone that has submitted my own homemade porn. Now, I can truly say I have experienced porn from all sides, and near as far as I can tell – it has way more positive than negatives going for it. Since I got involved in the 90s, the stigmas associated with porn in the USA have been vastly reduced (which I credit partially due to the democratization and catholic nature of amateur porn – it normalizes the inner freak in all of us… even Paris Hilton!) This is good and hopefully this trend continues rather than the usual conservative and religious backlash that tends to hit every decade or so and makes things miserable for everyone in the industry.

    I have been at adult industry trade events where the XXX Church has a booth, the literature they distribute and their rhetoric to attract devotees is nothing short of creepy and cultish. I am pretty sure that Jesus, disgusted, would be tossing their tables just like he did to the money lenders in the temple.

  3. February 6, 2011 4:04 pm

    Excellent points!

    And I’d also like to say that there’s a difference between keeping porn a secret, and keeping porn private.

    I read, and sometimes look at and watch, porn. Sometimes I make recommendations of stuff that I found particularly well-crafted, that I might like to go back to again. Pretty much anyone who’s looked at my Twitter feed for more than a week is aware that I read sexually explicit stuff. I am a lot more open about my expression of my sexuality than a lot of people I know.

    And yet, there are a lot of things I don’t broadcast (or at least, not anymore). I used to be an active Kittenhate member, and I was all right with that, and things changed, and I’m not anymore. (And I don’t think the website is around anymore anyway.) I am pretty open about the fact that my sex life is only with myself right now, but it is a decent sex life. I don’t tend to give too many more details: those details are nobody’s business but mine. They’re private, not a secret. The exact elements in some of the porn I read that gets me going the most: again, not something I publicize, because it’s none of anyone else’s business, not unless I choose to involve them. And yet it’s not actually a secret.

    It doesn’t really matter to anyone who’s not me. It matters to the creators of the porn, I suppose, so they can analyze their market and make more and offer me stuff more individually tailored to what I prefer, Amazon-style. It matters to people in relationships with me, so they can say “Let’s try that one,” or, if we don’t match up on that particular preference, “Let’s not try the other one, I don’t really think I’d like it,” or even “My doctor has recommended that I avoid this, alas.” If I were currently having sex-related issues that affected my mental health, it might matter to my counselor.

    It does not matter to my boss, my co-workers, most* of the volunteers at the open-source tech house where I volunteer, the friend who knows more about anonymous hookups than any given other twelve guys, my mother who showed me where “Our Bodies, Ourselves” was on the bookshelf when adolescence hit, or the guy who asked about my ethnic background and said I looked like a goddess.

    * Some of the people at said open-source tech house write porn and write it well, and love to hear back from their fans, and love to write customized gifts for their friends. It matters to them.

    I might be dismayed if someone who wasn’t cleared to know about the specifics of my turn-ons found out too much, the same way I was dismayed when an ex got into my locked journal and read some stuff there. Because it was private. But not secret. And not, never, shameful.

  4. Alyssa Royse permalink*
    February 6, 2011 4:21 pm

    Excellent points! All of ’em. It is never necessary for ANYONE to share the details of their sex life with anyone else. But it is also never okay for one person to force their values onto (or into) the sex lives of other people. Consenting adults get to do what they want.

    As open as I “seem” to people, I very rarely discuss my sex life with other people. Except the broad strokes – I enjoy it freely and will fight for a world in which others can also freely enjoy their sexuality, WITHOUT SHAME!

    Privacy is great. Shame is not. 🙂

  5. Julian Klappenbach permalink
    February 6, 2011 10:00 pm

    I wonder if this is where he got the idea:

  6. February 9, 2011 3:16 pm

    Thank you. THANK YOU! So articulate, so right.

  7. More than a mouth, anus and vagina permalink
    December 13, 2015 2:04 pm

    This is one of the most troubling things I’ve ever read. You are fine with your partners dehumanizing women and seeing them as bodies instead of people. (Thanks for telling guys this is OK – I really love being treated like a sex toy instead of someone with a mind.) You say that people need port to avoid sex crimes, insinuating that people are naturally rapists. And you are apparently incapable of touching yourself without seeing other people mate (which may not actually be consensual, but why would you care?) Sex-positivity is the most soul-crushing, dehumanizing framework I have ever encountered.

    Oh, and learning to suppress your healthy, natural instincts so you can be a sex toy for a man is not a positive action to model.

  8. Alyssa Royse permalink*
    December 13, 2015 7:40 pm

    I literally have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. But yes, I am absolutely fine with people consensually watching porn together or alone. What is right for one person isn’t right for another, necessarily, and so no, I do not think that just because something is pleasureable for one person it’s the same as telling everyone else to do it. Beyond that, I have no idea what you’re saying or where your ideas come from, but I’m relatively sure they come from a framework that I would not support.

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