A Better Tomorrow

Discussion in 'Ages 30-39' started by NewStart19, Aug 12, 2019.

  1. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    I've actually read and taken notes on a few sections of The Porn Myth so far, and I thought I might try posting them before my usual updates. So here goes:

    Introduction (pg. 15)
    • The author’s definition of pornography: “Pornography…consists of visual materials containing explicit displays of sexual organs or sexual activities, whether real or simulated, in order to arouse erotic rather than aesthetic sensations. Or more briefly, pornography is material that depicts erotic behavior intended to cause sexual arousal.” (pg. 17)
    • Porn is a big industry – Its websites are often searched for and get a lot of traffic, its businesses are corporatized and run on sophisticated business models, their websites are cutting edge and high-performance, and it utilizes advice from mental health clinicians to snag more customers: “…pornography is a huge industry…The porn industry generates $13 billion each year in the United States…of the one million most-trafficked websites in the world, neuroscientists Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam [found]…42,337 of these are sex-related sites. After their analysis of the top 400 million web searches, researchers concluded that about one in eight searches is for erotic content…Blaise Cronin and Elisabeth Davenport, writing for Information Society, say that it is universally acknowledged by information-technology experts that the porn industry has been on the ‘leading edge’ when it comes to building high-performance websites…The porn industry’s big players are multimillion-dollar giants—not just household names such as Playboy and Hustler, but Time Warner, Hilton, and Rupert Murdoch…Stephen Yagielowicz, senior editor for XBIZ comments: The corporatization of porn isn’t something that will happen or is happening, it is something that happened—and if you’re unaware of that fact then there truly is no longer a seat at the table for you…Jack Morrison, writing for Adult Video News, says porn companies have sought the advice of clinicians who help people to overcome cyber-sex addictions on how to attract more customers to their websites. Companies that heed the advice have the potential to turn huge profits…Andrew Edmond, CEO of Flying Crocodile, a $20 million Internet porn company, stated, ‘A lot of people [outside the porn industry] get distracted from the business model by [the sex]. It is just as sophisticated and multilayered as any other marketplace. We operate just like any Fortune 500 company.’” (pgs. 17-20)
    What This Book Is Not (pg. 21)
    • The purpose of this book is to explore whether porn should be criticized more and if the quality of sex can improve without it; it is not a religious treatise, a call for censorship, nor a questioning of the legality of porn: “Lest I be misunderstood, the purpose of this book is not to rob us of the pleasure of our sexuality but instead to insist that perhaps sex can be more pleasurable when it isn’t on tap or made-to-order…This book is also not a religious treatise on the evils of pornography…Furthermore, this book is not about censorship, nor does it argue against the legality of pornography…The assertion I’m making in this book is not whether porn should be denied as a form of protected free speech…but, rather, whether porn is a form of expression deserving of tough criticism.” (pgs. 21-22)
    What This Book Is (pg. 22)
    • The goal of this book is to debunk commonly-believed myths about porn: “The goal of this book is to expose the myth that pornography is good or at least not that bad. Along the way it will debunk the most commonly held beliefs about pornography, either explicitly stated or implicitly understood.” (pg. 22)
    • The premise of this book – sex—used and consumed out of its natural context—does not to lead flourishing for an individual or on a larger scale: “This book rests on one fundamental presupposition: if you want something to flourish, you need to use it in accordance with its nature…don’t rip sex out of its obvious relational context, turn it into a commodity, and then expect individuals, families, and society to flourish.” (pgs. 22-23)
    The Purpose of Sex (pg. 23)
    • Porn flattens our sexual experiences and omits a key purpose of their drive – bonding and intimacy: “It has been said—and I agree—that the real problem with pornography isn’t that it shows too much but that it shows too little. Too little of what? Too little of the human person. Porn treats sex one-dimensionally, by reducing people to their sexual organs, and then uses them as a mere means to an end. As a result, it cannot offer the experience of real intimacy that we long for.” (pg. 23)
    • Neurochemicals like oxytocin and vasopressin are what make us experience feelings of attachment to a partner, to another human being: “Thanks to advances in the biological sciences, and especially in neurology, we know that the neurochemicals oxytocin and vasopressin are among the key players in our bodies for creating feelings of strong attachment…In human beings, these neurochemicals are released slowly during lovemaking and in large quantities during orgasm, neurologically ‘bonding’ a person’s memories to the source of sexual pleasure.” (pg. 24)
    • The human brain differs from (many?) other animals in that it’s built to forge enduring romantic bonds, which, along with reproduction, is the purpose of our sex drive: “Paul Zak, founding director of Claremont Graduate University’s Center for Neuroeconomics Studies, says…the human brain differs from the brains of animals: we are built for long-term romantic relationships. These neurochemicals are meant for forging long-lasting romantic bonds…This bonding, plus the biological purpose of procreation, is the purpose of our sexual drive—it is our sexual nature.” (pgs. 24-25)
    Celebrating the Human Body (pg. 27)
    • The author views pornography not as sexual expression, but as a reduction of the people depicted within it as a mere collection of anatomical parts: “Those of us who oppose porn’s objectification of human beings are not opposing sexual expression. We stand against pornography in order to stand for the honor of the human person. Anytime we capture the image of another—be it for artistic purposes or for entertainment—the display of that image should lead others to celebrate the mystery and depth of humanity, not encourage them to treat the person as a cheap assembly of body parts.” (pg. 28)
    Porn Culture (pg. 29)

    1. Porn is just “adult” entertainment. (pg. 31)

    • Porn, and other sexual services, are marketed as being for adults or as mature, but they aren’t suited for this age group either: “…if you said you were going to a gentlemen’s club…Today in the United States…it is assumed that you will be paying to see a striptease…if you said you were going to the adult section of the public library…Today people would assume you were looking for something pornographic…Pornography is often classified as ‘adult’ entertainment—something for ‘mature’ audiences—as if this form of entertainment were merely ‘not suitable for children’…The truth is, pornography isn’t suitable for adults either.” (pg. 31)
    • What is meant by mature/adult? They either refer to reaching a desired/final state or having grown past certain behaviors or attitudes: “This leads us to ask: What exactly constitutes an ‘adult’ or a ‘mature’ person? Do these words refer merely to one’s age, as in, at least eighteen, the legal age of maturity?...one way we use the term ‘mature’ is when talking about reaching a final or desired state…We also use the word ‘mature’ to speak of those who have ‘grown up’ in their behaviors and attitudes—they no longer display the impetuousness and naivety of youth.” (pg. 32)
    • Maturity in a neuroscientific context makes reference to the prefrontal cortex; this area has matured when it can regulate emotions and impulses so that we can better control ourselves and make better decisions: “Ask any neuroscientist what a mature human brain looks like, and he will likely mention a region of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex. It is directly behind the forehead and serves as the managerial center of the brain. It is responsible for our willpower; it regulates our behavior by making decisions based on judgments about good and bad, better and best, and so forth. When emotions, impulses, and urges surge from the midbrain, the lobes in the prefrontal cortex exercise executive control over them. By the age of twenty-five, this region of the brain reaches maturity, meaning that, by that age, thinking becomes more sophisticated and regulating emotions becomes easier.” (pg. 32)
    • Continued overstimulation in the brain through excess dopamine physically changes it, and this is true for drug and porn abusers; one type of change is hypofrontality, an atrophy of one’s prefrontal cortex that inhibits executive control and impairs decision-making; does this process really lead to an adult transformation?: “As the brain responds to sexual stimulation, surges of dopamine are released during sexual encounters (including pornographic stimulation) giving the person a sharp sense of focus and an awareness of sexual craving. Dopamine helps to lay down memories in the brain…But scientists are now seeing that continued exposure to porn gives the brain an unnatural high—beyond what it is wired to handle—and the brain eventually fatigues. Anatomy and physiology instructor Gary Wilson notes…that chemical overstimulation brings about significant changes in the brain—both for drug abusers and porn users…One of those changes is the erosion of the prefrontal cortex—that all-important center of executive control. Neurosurgeon Donald Hilton explained what scientists are seeing in their research…‘So we have four studies, two drug and two natural addiction studies, all done in different academic institutions by different research teams, and published over a five-year period in four different peer-reviewed scientific journals. And all four studies show that addictions physically affect the frontal lobes of the brain.’…If the frontal lobes of the brain are weakened, when the craving for porn hits, there is very little willpower present to regulate the desire. Neuroscientists call this problem hypofrontality, in which the person slowly loses impulse control and mastery of his passions. The point is this: the region in the brain that, when mature, is the mark of adulthood is the very thing that is eroded as people view porn. It is as if viewing porn makes the brain revert and become more childish. ‘Adult’ entertainment is actually making people more juvenile.” (pgs. 33-34)
    • Attempts to present porn consumption as a mature activity can be traced back to Playboy, which also included markers of upper-class life to give it an aura of respectability and sophistication: “Since the very first issue of Playboy hit the magazine racks in 1953, Hugh Hefner’s strategy was twofold: to distributors he would market the magazine as soft-core porn, but to the target audience he would market it as a ‘lifestyle magazine’ for upwardly mobile men. This began the cultural change in porn’s public image: ‘When the editors addressed the reader, the pictures were just one of many attractions, rather than the attraction. The reader was invited not to masturbate to the centerfold but rather to enter the world of the cultural elite, to discuss philosophy and consume food associated with the upper middle class…The markers of upper-class life, which appear casually thrown in as afterthoughts (cocktails, hor d’oeuvres , and Picasso), were deliberately placed to cloak the magazine in an aura of upper-middle class respectability. Just as Playboy would have died without the naked women lining its pages, so it also would have died without its articles and advertisements, which gave permission to the self-defined middle-class American male to indulge in porn.’” (pgs. 34-35)
    • What’s more mature, flooding your brain with pleasure-causing (and desire-causing) neurotransmitters for hours merely for a high, or instead using your sex drive to connect with and love another imperfect being like yourself?: “Which activity sounds more ‘mature’ and grown-up: making love for a lifetime to one real flesh-and-blood woman whom you are eagerly serving and cherishing, despite all her faults and blemishes (and despite your own), or sneaking away at night to troll the Internet, flipping from image to image, from one thirty-second teaser to another, for hours on end, pleasuring yourself as you bond to pixels on a screen?” (pg. 35)
    • The author’s conclusion - porn and commercial sex are not befitting the words “adult” and “mature”: “No, indulging in pornographic media and other forms of commercial sex are hardly befitting of the adjective ‘adult’.” (pg. 36)
    2. To be anti-porn is to be anti-sex. (pg. 37)
    • In the ‘80s, sex-positive feminism emerged as a reaction to the perception of some feminists that being anti-porn meant you were shaming women and their capacity to enjoy sex: “The 1980s saw the birth of the term ‘sex-positive feminism’…‘Sex-positive feminism’ emerged as a reaction to anti-porn sentiments that were common among some feminists…Ellen Willis, the author who coined the term ‘sex-positive feminism’, reflects on the genesis of the idea: ‘We took on the anti-pornography movement, which had dominated the feminist conversation about sex: As we saw it, the claim that ‘pornography is violence against women’ was code for the neo-Victorian idea that men want sex and women endure it…feminists who were against porn had gotten in bed with patriarchal prudes who put women in a subservient place to begin with. In essence, to be against porn is to tell women, ‘You shouldn’t be like these women in porn—women who portray characters that enjoy sex. Shame, shame.’ To be against porn, they say, is to play into the hands of a patriarchal culture that tells women that they live in a man’s world and that sex is a man’s thing.” (pg. 37)
    • Being against porn doesn’t mean you’re anti-sex; the two terms are not synonymous: “The issue is whether we can speak out against pornography as a degrading medium and not be anti-sex…Saying that we need porn to avoid sexual repression is like saying that we need gluttony to avoid anorexia. Pornography is as much a celebration of sex as gluttony is a celebration of food. In both instances, that which should be appreciated isn’t appreciated at all but is twisted into something unhealthy and dangerous. By placing sex—any kind of sex—into the medium of pornography, we gorge the masses on industrialized, commodified sexuality. This does not celebrate sex at all. It cheapens it.” (pg. 39)
    • The different forms pornography takes doesn’t change them at their core; it's about the commodification of bodies and sexuality to maximize profit: “When journalism professor Robert Jensen of the University of Texas visited the 2008 Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE) in Las Vegas, amid the myriad of porn-company booths, he happened upon the purveyors of an Australian website that bills itself as ‘real, passionate, unscripted’ sexual activity by ‘happy, healthy, regular girls in their normal environments’…[These] women looked different from the porn-star caricature, but their girl/girl action…didn’t look much different from the industry norm, and the men who were watching behaved the same as other fans on the convention floor…That moment provides an important reminder: Pornography, at its core, is a market transaction in which women’s bodies and sexuality are offered to male consumers in the interests of maximizing profit. Market niches vary, but the bottom line does not. In the end, it’s about attracting the most ‘wankers’ possible. Some of those men who wank to these images like porn-star caricatures. Some like the girl next door.” (pgs. 39-41)
    • Pornography is an industry that commodifies people’s bodies for profit by one-dimensionalizing them into objects of masturbation; to stand against this does not mean you stand against sex: “At its core, modern pornography is an industry. It is about the commodification of bodies for revenue. And it is precisely because I’m for sex that I’m against porn. Whether we’re talking about misogynist women-hating porn or the gentle girl-on-girl variety, it is pornography as a medium that is the main problem. Porn is the business of presenting women’s bodies to men for masturbation. To stand against this is not to stand against sex generally but to stand against a habit of solo sex that turns men into consumers, not lovers.” (pg. 41)
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2021
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  2. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Update (22 days without porn; 6 days without MO):

    As my mini-update mentioned, I have been working on bettering my sleep schedule over the past few days. Nothing too significant. I think my sleep overall (and my relation to it) has improved considerably over this past year, and here I am referring to my larger sleep patterns. That being said, there is definitely more improvement to be made with the earliness of when I awake as well as the overall consistency of my waking-up and in-bed times, and I decided a few days ago to see if I could get the ball rolling to implement long-term improvements in this area. Like anything of this nature, it'll take time to see whether it sticks or not.

    Anyway, the reason behind the sleep-deprivation is that I disrupted my sleep schedule somewhat to kick off this change, but I took a bit of my roommate's Valium the first night to ensure that I fell asleep. I was aware that this would make me feel languid the next morning, but what I forgot was that every other time I have done this (not often), I had caffeine to help jump start my day. This time around, having quit caffeine and stayed away from it for a little over two weeks now, I had no tool available to help me push past my listlessness...so I just had to do what I could to make it through the day. And I did, but lesson learned: do not take Valium again. This is fine though. I don't have any addictive tendencies with this substance. I really just used it once in a while as a surrogate sleep aid (which really isn't what it's meant for). Being sleep-deprived one day and then having pharmaceutically-induced lethargy the next definitely made it more challenging to be porn-, masturbation-, and fantasy-free, but I handled myself well. I had some carry over tiredness today as well, but it wasn't as bad. One difference I noticed for the urges, thoughts, and flash fantasies was that they mostly occurred during the evenings of the two previous days, whereas today they were more spread out. Yesterday, there was a brief period in the shower when I was somewhat out of it, just standing there in the tub with the streams of water flowing out of the shower head pounding my penile shaft and glans, and from my haze at the time I noticed myself starting to get some stimulation from those sensations. So I wrapped things up and got out of there.

    In short, challenging times, but grade-A performance.

    As for my other efforts, in History of the World Map by Map, I read about the efforts for increased unity in Europe post-WWII (ECSC, EEC, Euratom, EC, etc., as well as Comecon), the decolonization of Southeast Asia, and the decolonization of Africa. The current issue of The Economist is now done, but I realized that looking up all the terms and words I am unfamiliar with/do not know was a bit too ambitious. I think I should come up with a more realistic approach. Maybe just focusing on learning and remembering (or at least trying to) one word per article...or a few words a day? Too early to say. I think I'll need to play around with this for a while. As for The Porn Myth...well you can just check out my notes above. I reread the introduction since I didn't take notes the last time I read it, and I also managed to get through the first two myths. Not a bad start if I do say so myself, but I need to spend more time reviewing what I covered in Wack and The Four Agreements. I think I'll have to experiment with this a bit to find an approach that works best for me.

    I watched a bit of Japanese TV to start sharpening my ear, but what I watched didn't have any Japanese subtitles. That's fine, but they can be particularly useful to have on screen to help polish your visual recognition (which helps because of the sheer number of characters in the language; this is one of the few languages in the world that doesn't have a small set of non-redundant characters). They also sometimes help you understand words you wouldn't know just by hearing them. But it's fine without them too. I suppose both have their benefits.

    There were a few lessons added to the meditation app I use, so I listened through about 60% of them, though admittedly they aren't meditations in the sense I usually mean when talking about it in this topic. They were still interesting though, and provided me with some interesting lenses through which to view, or reframe, experience. I also listened to a podcast about psychedelics, microdosing, and ideas about the self and selves (or self states). Interesting stuff, and listening to this while going for a walk and sitting at a bench at a nearby park was one thing that helped me get through my Valium-induced day of lethargy.

    The above-mentioned meditations made me remember a book related to meditation that I had read previously, which caused me to take a look at it again only to realize that I never finished the last chapter. So I decided--even though it's an unexpected addition to my current activities--to read through that section and write some accompanying notes. I hope to finish tonight, but if I don't, that's fine. It just means I may have to delay further reading of The Porn Myth. I wonder what I was doing at the time that made me completely forget about that chapter? Well, it doesn't really matter.

    My desktop is still untouched, but I WILL make progress with it next week. For now, I have to deal with an unexpected and undesirable development that occurred today: I discovered that the rear passenger tire on my car is flat. I'll have to deal with this tomorrow morning. Hopefully I can do so without dragging my heels. We'll see.

    Hope everyone reading is doing alright. Take care
     
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  3. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Update (23 days without porn; 7 days without MO):

    It's pretty late for me considering my current switch to a better sleep schedule, so I'll keep today's post short. I feel pretty tired and can neither think nor write straight.

    Woke up early and made a call to get a serviceman to come on down. He switched the tire, and then made another call to initiate the next step of the process. He said he reached out to someone, and I'll have to head to where they're located to get a replacement tire free of charge (the flat wasn't caused by a nail or anything like that; apparently it was just faulty tire). That's good to hear, but I can't drive on the highway until then, which means I will have to come up with something different for my expedition this week. I lack the energy to think about it now, but I hope I don't overly rush my decision tomorrow.

    I did some reading (History of The World Map by Map covered the space race, read about an eighth of the new issue of The Economist that arrived today, and read another section (i.e. myth) in The Porn Myth, but didn't finish the 'lost' chapter of the other book I mentioned previously; hopefully I can tomorrow), didn't watch any Japanese shows/news, finished off the last two lessons that were just recently added to my meditation app, and helped some people I knew out with tech-related tasks they asked me to work on; the last item on this list actually took up most of my day. I suppose I regret some of that and wished I had reserved more time for myself, but hey, it's not a complete waste to help others out.

    Lots of urges, sexual thoughts, flash fantasies, and porn flashbacks today. But I handled myself well each and every time. Keeping myself busy helped combat withdrawals.

    That's it for the update. I need to get some sleep now or I will end up regretting it.

    Take care
     
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  4. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    I am going to do a preliminary post sharing my notes from the last few myths from The Porn Myth. Today's notes cover myths 3 -5.

    3. Porn empowers women (pg. 42)
    • Some people argue that masturbation—and by extension pornography—is the best way to escape monogamy in a society that shames people for looking for sexual pleasure outside its parameters: “Betty Dodson…has hosted many workshops in which she teaches small groups of women how to masturbate…While she doesn’t want to see children exposed to porn, and she doesn’t think porn offers the best in sexual education, in the end she believes that porn is ‘just an extension of accepting masturbation as the best relief for the socially imposed monotony of monogamy.’…In a culture where you are shamed into believing that sexual pleasure outside of a committed relationship is wrong, she says, porn just might be the best escape.” (pg. 42)
    • Some also argue that porn empowers women because it challenges norms that limit their sexual freedom; the question here is what is meant by empowerment – is the empowerment for certain individuals or a group as a whole?: “Porn, says Dodson, is not just entertainment for men; it can also empower women because of its ability to challenge the norms of our society that would control a woman’s sexual freedom…This is the theory of female empowerment through pornography: certain women willingly and joyfully participating in porn are the new high priestesses of female liberation. These women help us to throw off the shackles of gender norms that tell women what is off limits is too perverted, too pleasurable, or too degrading…Once can easily find spokeswomen for the porn industry…who say they have loved their work and have done so with their heads held high. In one sense, these women are empowered…On the other hand, however, one sees that these women are feeding the very systems that rob women, as a group, of power…Unfortunately, this use of ‘empowerment’ is possible only by redefining the word…‘Feminism is something individual to each feminist.’ This sort of hyperindivudalism requires us to legitimize any woman who enjoys the so-called empowerment of pornography while ignoring all of the women who do not.” (pgs. 42-43)
    • Many modern married women, who have come to believe their relationships should have mutual respect, honesty, power and love, encounter the opposite in their relationships and in the bedroom: “Ask the millions of women whose husbands habitually turn to porn. Do these women feel empowered by pornography? Dr. Jill Manning, a marriage and family therapist, notes that North American women live in psychologically split times. On the one hand, they have dared to believe the modern rhetoric that relationships should be founded on mutual respect, honesty, shared power, and romantic love. On the other hand, pornography involves the exact opposite: disrespect, dissimulation, power imbalances, and detachment…In a word, the discovery of a husband’s use of porn can be completely demoralizing. Furthermore, as men try to bring what they learn from porn into the bedroom, they can often be blind to just how painful or distressing porn sex is in real life. Pornography doesn’t just ramp up a man’s sex drive; it discourages empathy. When a porn consumer can’t see the degradation in the porn he consumes, this only goes to show how caught up in his own pleasure he really is.” (pg. 44)
    • Do young women feel empowered by porn? Many feel like they can’t compete and that their specific sexual needs aren’t being met: “In a similar vein, ask the millions of young women who live in a culture surrounded by men and boys who have grown up on pornographic sexual standards. Do these women feel ‘empowered’ by pornography? Naomi Wolf, author of the international best seller The Beauty Myth, relates her own experiences of speaking to young adults today: ‘Here is what young women tell me on college campuses when the subject comes up: they can’t compete, and they know it. For how can a real women—with pores and her own breasts and even sexual needs of her own (let alone with speech that goes beyond ‘More, more, you big stud!’)—possibly compete with a cybervision of perfection, downloadable and extinguishable at will, who comes, so to speak, utterly submissive and tailored to the consumer’s least specification? For most of human history, erotic images have been reflections of, or celebrations of, or substitutes for, real naked women. For the first time in human history, the images’ power and allure have supplanted that of real naked women. Today, real naked women are just bad porn.’” (pg. 45)
    • Men overexposed to erotic sexual stimuli exhaust their sexual response and find the average woman far less attractive: “French neuroscientist Serge Stoleru reports that overexposure to erotic stimuli actually exhausts a healthy young man’s sexual responses—making him, in a sense, impotent without the use of fantasy. The Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy found similar results. When men and women were exposed to pictures of female centerfold models from Playboy and Penthouse, this significantly lowered their judgments about the attractiveness of ‘average’ people.” (pgs. 45-46)
    • Some modern women are fine with their partners use of porn, but their reasons reveal that they are rationalizations that attempt to normalize the behavior of their partners: “Of course, some modern women have no problem with the porn used by the men they date or marry, but when we peel back the veil, we learn the reasons why. Dr. Ana Bridges of the University of Arkansas has interviewed many women who are okay with their husbands’ behavior. ‘All guys look at porn,’ they often say, ‘which is better than his having an affair.’ ‘At least he’s not always coming to me to get his needs met.’ These are not sentiments from women who feel empowered by pornographic media, but, Dr. Bridges states, they are rationalizations. These are permission-giving beliefs: ideas that make certain behaviors seem normal or healthy.” (pg. 46)
    • How do female pornstars feel about the empowering effects of pornography? Clearly there are some efffects, like money and fame; but even the most successful feel they are at risk of losing themselves and struggle getting the respect they deserve: “Finally, of course, we should turn our attention to the porn actresses themselves. Do they fell ‘empowered’ by the work they do? Miriam Weeks, known as Belle Knox in the industry, says that she loves the work she does, that the industry enabled her to build a name for herself, build a brand around her name, and pay her way through college at Duke University…At the same time, in a recent documentary, Knox has said that the industry has a way of making her very cynical and bitter…She also says she’s at risk of really losing herself and becoming her Belle Knox alter ego…Perhaps no woman has made it as big in the porn industry as Jenna Jameson…While Jameson has repeatedly defended her involvement in the porn industry, one only needs to read her own words to see the kind of empowerment she has experienced…In an interview, Anderson Cooper asked her what she would do if she ever had a daughter who wanted to get into porn. ‘I’d tie her in the closet,’ she replied, ‘only because this is such a hard industry for a woman to get ahead and get the respect that she deserves. I fought tooth and nail to get to where I am, and it’s not something that I would want my daughter to go through. It’s not something that any parent would choose for their child.’…Why does the Queen of Porn think the industry is a hard place for a woman to find respect? Because the entire industry is built on the premise that women are meant to be used for male pleasure. How can such an industry truly empower its hardest workers?” (pgs. 48-49)
    • The author’s conclusion? Talk of empowerment in porn is more PR than reality; some individual women find some personal empowerment, but women as a group do not because the medium transforms them into mere objects for male pleasure: “So, in review, are there individual women in the world who feel empowered by porn? Sure. Does this mean that porn is empowering to women as a group? No…Feminist author Gail Dines eloquently explains the critical difference: ‘…we don’t talk about empowerment of the individual but rather collective liberation for women as a class. We say that as long as one woman is being oppressed then our job is to fight for her. We don’t see more sex or better orgasms as the answer to women’s oppression. What we want is the end of a system where women are the majority of the world’s poor, hungry, illiterate, overworked and raped. Our bodies are commodified to the point that you can buy and sell a woman over and over again.’…’Feminist pornography’ is an oxymoron. Working for an industry that uses your body to make a buck can only feed a system of oppression. All the talk about female empowerment is just the new face of porn PR.” (pg. 49)
    4. There is no difference between porn and naked art. (pg. 50)
    • Some argue that pornography is itself a type of art, and at times the distinction between the two can be fuzzy; etymology aside, the key distinction between the two is the intent behind their creation; for porn, it’s to have its viewers enter a state of sexual stimulation (and most likely orgasm): “Pornographers often speak of their work as being in the cultural continuum of erotic art. Porn has been around since the beginning of time, they say, and will never go away. They appeal to antiquity, noting that some of the most celebrated works of classic art feature nudity…So what’s the difference between pornography and naked art?...First, they are different in their very definition. The word ‘pornography’ contains the Greek root porne, meaning ‘prostitution’ or ‘prostitute’. Like prostitution, pornography has a specific desired end: sexual stimulation in order to produce a completed sexual act. True art is not produced for this purpose, to substitute for a prostitute. True artists aim at capturing their vision of beauty in order that the beautiful might be apprehended and appreciated…The difference between a pornographer and an artist lies in his intentions…Jerrold Levinson, a professor of philosophy at the University of Maryland and an expert in aesthetics, says that art and pornography can both induce sexual interest, but pornography is made exclusively for the purpose of causing sexual stimulation. Porn makers intend to bring people into ‘the physiological state that is prelude and prerequisite to release’. In other words, the point of porn is masturbation…No doubt, the line between pornography and art can be blurry. Some say that the artistic value of porn is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps it is. But at the end of the day, porn is not created for the sake of beauty, and true art is not created for the sake of masturbation.” (pgs. 51-53)
    5. Swimsuit editions and men’s magazines are not porn. (pg. 54)
    • From an etymological standpoint, an argument could be made that men’s magazines include pornographic content; what’s more, their attitudes toward women seem to be similar to both the producers and consumers of porn: “Filled with barely clothed and, at times, totally naked women, Loaded is a premium example of today’s men’s magazine. But is it ‘porn’?...The word ‘pornography’ comes from the Greek words porne, meaning ‘prostitution’ or ‘prostituted woman’, and graphos, meaning ‘writings’ or ‘engravings’. Under this definition, pornography is not only graphic portrayals of sex or sexuality, broadly speaking, but also commercial sex. Pornography is about an economic exchange: it is sexually explicit material made by producers and paid for by consumers for the purpose of generating sexual activity…Under this definition, magazines such as Loaded could be considered pornographic both in their intent and in their use. Compare the first issues of Playboy from the 1950s with the material in Loaded today, and you will not see much difference between them; the intentions of the publishers and the readers do not seem much different either…Another clue that current men’s magazines and their readers are not much different from producers and consumers of prostitution is their attitude toward women. Psychologists from the University of Surry and Middlesex University took quotes about women from convicted rapists and from men’s magazines and asked people to label which ones came from which. Most people could not distinguish the source” (pgs. 54-55)
    That's it for my notes. I'll post my update later this evening.

    Take care
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2021
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  5. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Update: 2 Days of no porn, masturbation; 11 days of no intentional fantasy

    I ended up not posting an update yesterday or the day before for lack of time.

    As my update title and signature suggest, I relapsed. While I never feel good about a relapse per se, I do feel pretty good about how it happened: still within my new normal of +/- 30 minutes, I have continued to be free of intentional fantasy (so 11 unbroken days fantasy free), I went close to an entire month without porn, and--in spite of a little bit extra sleep debt, increased urges and a spike in emotional disturbance (anxiety and irritation) the day after, and an extra layer of depression this morning--the rest of my life has continued to move forward with the increased momentum I have established. Plus, the relapse served as another reminder of why not to do this: it worsens my physical, emotional, and cognitive health. It's toxic on all fronts.

    I did take this opportunity to work on one arena of recovery that has been severely lacking: support from others, i.e. not doing it alone. My first step was to initiate an exchange with an accountability partner, which I have already done. The next step is to look into Covenant Eyes and try to finally utilize accountability software. Lastly, I reached out to Noah Church to inquire about his rebooter support and discussion group, but have yet to sign up for it.

    In summary, I still maintain my optimism for permanent sobriety. It's a bit early to say, but it may even come by the end of this year. In the meantime, I am going to continue on gaining ground where I can until I reach the day where the last time truly is the last time, much like I did with other addictions, like alcohol and nicotine.

    With that aside, I'll leave the other details seen in my usual updates for later. I just wanted to take this opportunity to post my most recent notes from The Porn Myth.

    6. Only religious people oppose porn (pg. 58)
    • First things first – in a free society, citizens should be allowed to participate in civil discourse and should not be discounted from participating in it, regardless of their religious beliefs (or absence of them); moreover, if someone is motivated by moral reasons stemming from their religion, this does not mean their cause is intrinsically wrong: “A couple of matters should be made clear at the outset. First, just because some people oppose porn because it violates the morality taught by their religion does not mean their cause is wrong. During the nineteenth-century movement to abolish slavery, many Quakers opposed the trans-Atlantic slave trade because it violated the precepts of their religion, which teaches equality. Their religious motivation did not make their cause wrong…Second, in a free society people should not be excluded from civil discourse, or be discounted as having nothing to contribute to it, just because they accept the morals taught by their religion. Many people who are against stealing and murder were taught the Ten Commandments in their churches or synagogues. Should upbringing exclude them from public discussions about violent crime?...Stephen Carter of Yale Law School says this kind of privatizing of religion is unjust: ‘Efforts to craft a public square from which religious conversation is absent, no matter how thoughtfully worked out, will always in the end say to those of organized religion that they alone, unlike everyone else, must enter public dialogue only after leaving behind that part of themselves that they may consider the most vital.’…Every person, whether religious or not, has ideas about what human flourishing looks like, and he ought to be able to share those ideas in the public square.” (pgs. 58-59)
    • But do only religious people oppose porn? No. Many fapstronauts identify as atheists or agnostics and try to abstain from porn to improve physical health and well-being; another example is the subgroup of feminists who view porn as detrimental to society: “Is it true that only religious people oppose porn?...NoFap, an online community of (mostly) men who were challenging each other to put away porn and masturbation…began not because of religious motivations, but because its members wanted to see how quitting porn and masturbation would improve their overall health and well-being…After joining the NoFap community and quitting their porn habits, 60 percent found that their sexual function improved…most NoFappers considered themselves atheists or agnostics, and currently there are well over 150,000 online members…Men like Rhodes and the thousands of nonreligious individuals in his online community are not alone in their disdain of pornography…Men with damaged libidos are not the only ones who think pornography is a problem; thousands of women do as well. In the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, the world saw the rise of a new wave of feminists who ardently spoke out against the social ills of pornography—and these same women often also opposed organized religion…In conclusion, religious people are not the only ones who oppose porn. There are others who oppose it because personal experience, social science, or medical research has shown that porn is not conducive to their well-being.” (pgs. 59-61)
    That's it for now. Take care
     
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  6. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    Update: 5 Days of no porn, masturbation; 14 days of no intentional fantasy

    Just a quick update to let anyone reading know I am still doing well with my recovery efforts after the last relapse. The first two days after were pronouncedly difficult: anxiety shot up for most of the day after, and the next covered me with a blanket of depression for the first few hours after waking up, but I persevered.

    I mentioned that I recently formed an accountability alliance with a partner and started using accountability software (Covenant Eyes), and so most of the time I spend on this forum has been redirected toward that. I also have my first rebooter support and discussion group tomorrow, and it's in the morning, so that gives me a good excuse to wake up early on Saturday. I still plan on posting here and on Reboot Nation, but it will most likely be less frequent, or at least less frequent for the interim. My accountability efforts, while still nascent, are giving me some much needed additional support: my partner is serious about working together to get better and is someone whom I really want to succeed, and I don't want to let him down. What's more, I don't want to expose him to any triggering content (the software sends blurred screenshots of your IADs to your ally = partner). I also think the group I joined will add another layer to my support. I'm glad I expended the extra effort to get the ball rolling with the "not-doing-it-alone" part of recovery. Having worked a lot on lifestyle change, reduction, structure, and mindfulness, I can now add support as the fifth and perhaps final pillar to my quinfecta (I may have made this word up) of recovery.

    I am feeling more and more optimistic about obtaining long-term sobriety. I finally conquered the realm of bingeing, fantasy is close to non-existent (aside from when I am FMOing), I worked a lot on not ogling this past year and it has improved, the only time I touch my genitals is when washing them, and I only viewed porn once last month, which is a great start. The last main arena for me to make strides in is wearing down this toxic and perceived need for release through orgasm. I am not foolish enough to expect immediate improvements, but I think at worst by the end of this year I will have built up enough momentum to reach escape velocity and break through this miasmic atmosphere, finally reaching a space where I can live a normal life free of the confines of porn. I can't wait to be done with this ouroboric insanity. But all in due time.

    Take care
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2021
  7. Pete McVries

    Pete McVries Well-Known Member

    Thanks for posting your notes. They reminded me of what an outstanding book The Porn Myth is. It's the book that had the biggest impact on my recovery. I have read it twice and every time my eyes were opened and my will to leave the trap grew bigger and bigger.

    Good luck on your ongoing recovery with your new efforts! Don't leave this place for good yet ;). I'm sure, you will benefit a lot from your accountability partner and the Noah's self-help-group. In my experience opening up to 'real' people and discussing the matter with them will relieve your shoulders from at least some of the weight you are carrying around.
     
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  8. MindPoison

    MindPoison Active Member

    You're doing pretty good so far. Usually, once a week passes the cravings do tend to wane a lot more, but things do start to get a bit hard after 14 days from my experience, so be on your toes when you get to that point.
     
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  9. NewStart19

    NewStart19 Well-Known Member

    @Pete McVries

    I have a lot more additional notes at this point. If I get around to posting them, it's going to be quite the sea of text. While I had heard others mention/recommend it before, I think you were the final person to convince me to purchase and read it for myself. Having read my fair share about porn addiction, what's hitting me most about this book are the myths it tackles regarding the objectification of women and the one-dimensionalizing of sex and relationships. I'd love to be able to be drawn to and interested in a woman because of who she is and be aroused just by eye contact and a smile, or the sensation of her hand gently touching mine. I have vague memories of feeling just that in the past, but it's still just that, a memory. For it to be a part of my reality, I really need more sobriety under my belt.

    Sadly, I still haven't participated in a meeting yet (slept through one--it was early in the morning--and was too busy for the second). I hope to actually participate this week. My AP is a welcome addition to my recovery strategy. We worked on a more in-depth approach than just using accountability software, so it actually took a lot of time and effort to get everything up and running, but we seem to have settled more into a groove now. I think he is doing better than me overall, but what's nice is that I don't feel jealous. Even if I were to make no progress from the addition of some accountability, it would be enough for me to learn something from the experience and contribute to his success. He has been struggling for such a long time now, and I feel happy knowing that I might be part of what makes him finally beat this thing. Of course, it's still too early to say, but I am feeling optimistic about his recovery. He deserves to have this dealt with.

    It's not like I haven't seen changes, but having been stuck battling this thing for so long, I like to try avoiding coming to any hasty conclusions. But anyway, I'll still be using the site for some time to come, just less frequently. My ultimate goal is to use the forum until I get about a year clean so I can post a success story. Then maybe I'll add an update at two years, and perhaps again at three. I want to leave a record of hope for others who feel lost in the abyss of a seemingly endless cycle.

    @MindPoison

    Thanks for stopping by. I was surprised to see you post here, but pleased as well. I'll keep what you said in mind the next time I hit two weeks, but I still have my work cut out for me. Not losing hope though. Things have gradually been improving on average over the past 1-1.5 years. Slow progress I know, but it's helping me see glimpses of the light at the end of the tunnel, and it sure beats running in circles with no real progress year after year after year. Wishing you the best of luck with your recovery journey too. You are definitely on the right track.

    @Thelongwayhome27

    I hope you are doing well. I think I said this once before, but I hope your absence is a sign that you are living life the way you want to and not a sign that you fell off the deep end. Maybe PMO isn't your primary problem, but whatever it may be, I wish you the best of luck on identifying and addressing it.

    @-Luke-

    Same goes for you. I've always felt you to be a kind presence on this forum, and I continue to quietly root for you from the sidelines. I hope you sort out and move beyond whatever it is you're stuck on. I don't have the answers, but I do think they lie somewhere within you. You just need to develop the tools to find them.

    @Doper

    And I hope you are achieving whatever goals you have set for drinking (total sobriety or otherwise) as well as living a life devoid of mediocrity, whatever that may mean for you.

    @nuclpow

    You've come a long way. Thanks for providing an inspiring example to me and others. It's been so long since you have looked at porn, and it seems to me that you are slowly reducing how often you FMO. I think that deserves a bit more than cake and pop, but maybe that just means you can better appreciate the two now that your brain is closer to your normal state.

    @Bilbo Swaggins

    Having only mild PIED, there isn't much I can say to relate to your situation. I know you have mentioned that you prefer levity over gloominess, or something to that effect, but that may not be something I can offer you. What I can say is congratulations on your period of porn-free sobriety, and thank you for providing an uplifting example to others on that front. I hope that either through your music, relationship, or other life endeavors, you can find the sustenance necessary to keep you going as you take the time needed--however long that may be--to regain your full sexual function. My situation is different than yours, but I have actually caused some pretty severe damage to my penile shaft ("shaved" away a band of erogenous tissue on my shaft below my glans) and testicular region (aches in the area between my testicles and shaft). One thing that has helped me come to terms with this and make progress with sobriety is to reflect on how I would view myself if I had no penis at all (for example, if I lost it in some terrible accident). What would I think of myself then? Would I view myself as any less of a person? Would my life lose its value? I grappled with this thought experiment for a time, but ultimately I came to the answer that no, I wouldn't feel that way. I hope you too can find a similar answer. Perhaps it will give you some additional peace of mind as you try to let recovery take its course and preoccupy yourself with everything else that life has to offer. So much for levity. For that, I apologize.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Just a quick update to say I relapsed today. I looked at p subs (without masturbating) for a few minutes and then FMOed for around 20 minutes early this morning (when I went to bed yesterday, around 2:00 AM). Then, this evening, I looked at p subs for about 10 minutes and masturbated to them. No further risks for today, but tomorrow I'd like to reflect on this a bit more and re-calibrate myself.

    This doesn't mean all is doom and gloom. My session duration has stayed within the same ballpark, no change there, which is always a relief (i.e. I'm maintaining, not regressing). Still a bit too early to say (in terms of stabilization), but my porn/p subs use has dropped dramatically. If this alone persists for two more months, then that will be yet another breakthrough change. I still keep my ogling close to 0% as well as unnecessary genital stimulation (i.e. anything aside from bathing). Fantasy is also very low (outside of FMOing), but once I push past +/- my usual relapse frequency, the urge to do so gets stronger, and I will occasionally indulge for a little here and there. Not ideal, but definitely good. What matters to me is either maintaining while I work on making progress or actually making that progress. I'm either resting at a bivouac or climbing toward the peak. That's the goal at least.

    What else? Well, I am over 5 weeks caffeine-free now. This is the longest I have ever been (I made it to around a month 4-5 times, and to three weeks 2-3 times over the past 4-5 years). The pull it has over me is definitely less, and if I can get another 2 months, I am pretty confident that I can maintain for the rest of my life. So yea, finally hit new territory here. While this has nowhere near as bad an impact on me as porn does, it's still a net negative behavior for me, and I think I have made it through the worst of it (even some sleep-deprived days). I am trying to switch gears now to really stabilizing my sleep schedule until it becomes second nature for me to wake up and get in bed when I want to. I will need to be pretty strict for a while, but that's just to condition my brain.

    Reading: I have been keeping up with The Economist, although there was a period when I fell behind for a few days. I wish I could remember more of the content I read, but for now just keeping the habit is enough. History of the World Map by Map is getting close to finished. I made it through the topics and am now slowly reading my way through the timeline in the back of the book. Ditto on remembering content, but hey, it's enough just having a productive hobby. As for The Porn Myth, I'd say I'm about 70% through it.

    Meditation, like always, is a daily habit. I have been trying to mix it up a bit more and get myself to go back to doing different exercises (I had been exclusively doing general mindfulness with the small aim of trying to get to the state where one loses their sense of self for a while now), with limited success. Maybe I should add some lovingkindess practice. It's a bit contrived, but can work (and is great when it does; if you haven't conjured the feeling of universal/unconditional love within yourself, you're missing out on something), and maybe I need to focus a bit more on adding some positive feelings to my daily experience.

    Japanese news/TV: I haven't really been watching anything. This might be a good cool-down activity before sleeping in the evening, but having consumed way too much Japanese porn in the past, it can still be triggering for me to watch, even when it is tame. It's crazy, but one of the reasons I left Japan was because I was getting triggered almost everywhere I went. I still don't know how much of my attraction is innate and how much of it is influenced by porn. I can't wait to give my brain and body a few months to relax and heal. I'll be better able to tell up from down then. I also look forward to renewing my relationship with the language without randomly associating it with sex and porn.

    Hiking: Still going strong here, visiting a new place once a week. I tried to stack some other hobbies on top of this, including local geography and believe it or not bird-watching. I bought a wide-brimmed hat, some sunscreen and hand mirrors (to properly apply the sunscreen on my pale skin...I want to do what I can to not increase my chance of getting skin cancer in the future while still being able to enjoy the outdoors), some trail runners, hiking socks, used binoculars, and a field guide for birds. The last three places I visited were Bair Island, Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, and Bothin Marsh Preserve. Local geography has been going well. I learned all the counties and 50/60% of the county seats and some additional cities in the more populated locations, as well as the locations of some of nature spots and the places I have visited on my expeditions (without having to rely exclusively on Google Maps to remember where they are).

    Creativity: Being musically talent-less and not ready (or willing) to buy a keyboard (the main creative hobby I want to pursue) or start taking lessons, I decided to fill this slot for the time being with something I can--freestyling. I've been studying some books and slowly listening to established MCs (usually those that I am unfamiliar with) along with freestyling to instrumentals in my free time. I used to do this in the past, but--while I really enjoy getting in the flow state and playing with flows and cadences--I dropped the hobby because I felt embarrassed about doing it. But remembering how much of a rush I would get for freestyling say five minutes making sense, switching up my flow, and not fumbling (and even having the occasional bar that sounds like a written in there), I decided who cares what others think, I'll do it because I enjoy the experience. Plus it is a nice placeholder for playing keyboard later on down the line. But...I still need to get my desktop fixed (my laptop can't run the recording software properly). I know this is something that I have procrastinated to an unhealthy point, and I really need to just work on this when I have the time. I'll deal with it next week. At the very least, if I can't solve the problem on my own, I will try to get some estimates and maybe even drop it off at a shop.

    Any other miscellaneous details? I finally started doing my physical therapy again. I'm about 70% through my regimen. Then, I want to wait and see for a little while, and if I am underwhelmed by the results, I am going to meet with some physicians to either get another regimen or maybe even consider surgery. I'd love to regain some of my physical function, something I unfortunately lost in my 20s. I also developed a stye on the inner eyelid of my left eye, but have been treating it for about five days and it has died down. If it does come back again, I'll just go see a doctor and get some antibiotics. Next weekend, I plan on launching a new paradigm for cleaning, something that will instill a weekly habit of cleanliness that I can make more and more automatic. I'm a pretty tidy person, but I never clean as often as I should. This is something I have wanted to work on for a while, and I think I may finally be ready.

    Take care
     
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  10. MindPoison

    MindPoison Active Member

    Even 10 minutes of meditation helps. Back when I used to meditate daily it was actually somewhat easier to control cravings to masturbate, haven't done that in ages, but I plan to get back into it for sure soon.
    Nice to see that you went after doing something you love despite what others may think. In the end, if your hobby brings you joy then people who truly are your friends will accept that about you anyhow.
     

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