Why We (Still) Need to Talk About Porn

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A wise person once told me, “Your commitment to working through the difficult conversations will determine the success of your relationship’s foundation.” No one enjoys the complexities of hard talks. They can often leave us feeling insecure and uncomfortable. But despite these emotions, they simultaneously can bring out authenticity and freedom in the midst of struggle.

For many years, pornography has been treated as a social taboo and gray area. As we live in an over-sexualized and objectifying culture, it can often be overlooked and desensitized, with many viewing it as an insignificant and harmless habit. Fight the New Drug begs to differ. In an effort to challenge the use of pornography, Fight the New Drug has spent years cultivating a fresh perspective on the topic, addressing it through scientific research and credible, conducted studies. They’ve struck a chord with wide support, including celebrity figures such as Russell Brand, Emma Thompson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Juliette Binoche and Terry Crews joining their #PornKillsLove movement.

As we strive to have really healthy relationships, it’s important as women to join the conversation and become increasingly aware of pornography’s harmful effects. Executive Director Natale McAneney opened up about why Fight the New Drug is culturally relevant and what the cause is doing to inspire change in our society.

Victoria Bardega: How would you describe Fight the New Drug and what motivated the company to begin?

Natale McAneney: Fight the New Drug is a nonprofit that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make educated decisions regarding pornography. There are many things that motivated the beginning of this campaign for love, but they all really boil down to one thing: The internet has made pornography more available, accessible and affordable than at any other time in history — and it’s impacting this generation in ways that no other generation in history has had to deal with before. So it was out of seeing a need to educate young people on the harmful effects of pornography that our founders joined the anti-porn movement and started Fight the New Drug.

VB: Pornography tends to be a social taboo, so, what practical ways has the company used to shed light on the conversation and its importance?

NM: Porn isn’t really a topic anyone feels comfortable bringing up with their friends during a casual evening hang out, much less with strangers on the street. Because we know how important it is to change the perception of porn in our society, our organization works to help provide individuals with ways to discuss this topic.

Fight the New Drug approaches the topics of pornography and trafficking using science, facts and personal accounts. If one really looks at the science surrounding this issue, it’s pretty difficult not to understand that pornography is harmful to individuals, relationships and society. Beyond that, something you can’t argue with is someone’s story. Of course, just because it happened to one person doesn’t mean that what happened to them will happen to everyone, but to hear someone tell how porn impacted them or their relationship, or how someone was trafficked and the role pornography played in that experience really makes it difficult to still think pornography is harmless.

That being said, we also feel very strongly that it is important to approach this topic without shame. Shaming those who struggle with pornography will only push this topic further into the dark and make it more taboo, and those struggling are much less likely to get help.

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VB: One of the company’s mantras is Porn Kills Love, and this is noted in many merchandise items. What is the heart behind this message?

NM: The mantra “Porn Kills Love” really encompasses so much of what our message is all about. This mantra is not about shaming those struggling with porn or saying that those who struggle are unlovable or incapable of love. Rather, “Porn Kills Love” is about porn and the multi-billion-dollar industry that promotes it.

Research and personal accounts show that porn negatively impacts relationships — both romantic and otherwise. This means that porn is damaging the way individuals experience love in romantic relationships, intimate relationships, friendships, relationships with family members, views of individuals in society and the way individuals view themselves and the hobbies they love or once loved. That is why this message is often paired with the phrase “Fight for Love.” Ultimately, at the end of the day being anti-porn is being pro-sex and pro-love.

VB: Your company recently developed an app to provide easier access for social education on this particular issue; what does the application do for its users?

NM: The Fighter App was created out of requests from our followers (or Fighters, as we call them) for ways they could more actively become involved in the movement.

The Fighter App is free to use and is all about donating your time to help spread this message of love by spreading content with science, facts and personal accounts on your social media. This gives users a way to talk about the harmful effects of pornography on their personal social platforms, while also being involved in campaigns with thousands of other Fighters.

VB: FTND has received a lot of support from celebrities and influencers. What responses have been the most impactful when executing your collaborations and campaigns?

NM: As we all know, porn isn’t something that is easy to talk about. That being said, we are always so excited to collaborate with individuals and celebrities who are willing to use their personal platforms to speak out on this issue. It’s amazing how much one person can help to change the conversation regarding pornography by speaking out or sharing his or her own experience.

Terry Crews, for example, was one of the first celebrities to use his platform to discuss the harms of porn. There are so many people who follow him who didn’t expect him to speak out on something like that, and it opened up an avenue for them to look into the harmful effects of pornography and get help.

If one really looks at the science surrounding this issue, it’s pretty difficult not to understand that pornography is harmful to individuals, relationships and society.

VB: There can sometimes be a perceived gender connotation to the issue of pornography. Why should women join the conversation?

NM: In our society, there is often a “boys will be boys” mentality associated with things like young men and sexuality. This often gives us the perception that men and boys consume porn and women and girls don’t. This also drives much of the content produced in pornography, meaning that much of it is produced for heterosexual men and boys, and often exploits, objectifies and abuses women and girls as a result.

There are a couple of things wrong with this mentality. 1. Women and girls do also consume pornography and can struggle with it to the same extent as men and boys. They often experience much more shame and isolation when struggling with porn as well, because they think they are the only female in the world struggling with this since our society has normalized this for males but not for females. 2. By perpetuating the idea that porn is for heterosexual men and boys, it perpetuates the idea that women and girls can and should be objectified and sexualized. This not only influences the ways that our society views women, but it’s also teaching young women and girls that their worth is equal to what they can sexually offer to a man.

Both of those concepts influence our culture on a much broader scale than we might think. Some experts even say that as long as men can purchase women, we will never have gender equality. As a woman, I feel that it is so important for women to really understand that pornography isn’t doing us any favors and that in order to be pro-love and pro-sex, one really has to be anti-porn.

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… I feel that it is so important for women to really understand that pornography isn’t doing us any favors and that in order to be pro-love and pro-sex, one really has to be anti-porn.

VB: What would you say to the person who is currently struggling with pornography and ashamed to seek help?

NM: Whether you’re a male or a female, at any age, there is hope if you’re struggling with pornography, and you’re certainly not alone in your struggle. Because of the internet, porn is more accessible, available and affordable than at any other time in history…and the porn industry knows that and they’ve been targeting you, and because of the way that pornography impacts the brain’s reward pathway, it’s no surprise that the porn industry has succeeded in getting you hooked.

There are so many resources out there to help you, and so many people who have gone through this and can attest to the fact that overcoming a struggle is not easy but it’s absolutely worth it! Don’t give up; reach out for help today.

VB: What are ways to get more involved with the organization?

NM: There are so many ways to get involved with FTND, as well as with the anti-porn movement as a whole. The first, most important way to get involved is to educate yourself and start speaking out. There is a lot of information on our website educating on the harmful effects of pornography and its links to trafficking, but there are so many other organizations and resources out there working to educate on this issue as well, and we recommend learning as much as you can. The more you can understand the issue, the easier it can be to talk about it with those around you.

I would encourage anyone who is curious to not just take our word that porn is harmful, but to research and come up with their own conclusion regarding the issue. Starting the conversation is the first step to changing the way our society views pornography. Some great ways to start conversations are by repping the movement with a message-focused tee, using the Fighter App and social media, or to bring a presentation to your community. For other ideas of how to get involved or get help, check out our website.

We are grateful for organizations like Fight the New Drug who are not only promoting awareness but also empowering people to pursue wholesome relationships. Ladies, we are more than just our bodies, and gentlemen, you are more than just your bodies, too. Hand in hand, the change starts with us. The movement starts now.

What other topics do you think would be helpful to discuss more openly?

Images via Zoey Bloom

Victoria is a freelance editor, photographer and writer currently residing in her home state of Florida. She completed her Bachelors of Science in Public Relations/Journalism at Southeastern University. She is an avid traveller with a love for community, culture and culinary finds.

12 COMMENTS
  • Michelle October 16, 2017

    This is such an incredibly important and powerful conversation. My company did a majority of the videos and graphic design work on their site currently, and it was such a passion project for myself and the rest of our team at VeracityColab. You ladies are pursuing important conversations and I really love it.

  • Joan October 9, 2017

    Thank you for broaching this topic. My heart goes out to young people, who are told by their partners to loosen up. That there is something wrong with them. Remember you are making a choice between a real person and a thing. Sounds like addictive behavior. Very sad to know you can’t complete with a thing. Please move on to someone who is like-minded.

  • Kasia October 9, 2017

    Thank you immensely for writing about this issue. As for the counterarguments suggesting that porn is a means of “empowering women,” this is simply just porn PR. Of course, some women may state that they feel they are empowered by porn. Does that mean that porn is empowering to women? No. There is a feminist author, Gail Dines, who states:
    ” In radical feminism 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. For radical feminists only massive structural change will do.”
    Check out The Porn Myth, by Matt Fradd which explores these issues further, and uses a scientific approach to demonstrate how harmful porn really is. https://www.amazon.com/Porn-Myth-Exposing-Reality-Pornography/dp/162164006X

  • Christa October 8, 2017

    I am really encouraged to see you writing this article, Darling Magazine. I have several female friends who have struggled with porn and experienced a lot of shame in telling other friends or trying to find help to quit. I’ve known men who have experienced devastation in their relationships because of escalating porn use. (And the terrifying, heartbreaking thing is that sometimes it escalates into child pornography). Even with well-intentioned guys I personally have felt treated like a thing to use to make them feel good about themselves, rather than a person to know and care for. and I think some of that comes from porn culture. Please keep writing about topics like this!

  • Monica October 8, 2017

    THANK you, Darling Magazine, for the courage to write about this topic so honestly. It’s a hard struggle to overcome, and it’s wonderful to have clear, factual information given that is also honest and compassionate. Well done.

    • Cbird October 8, 2017

      Couldn’t agree more! Thank you, Darling, for giving the facts and talking honestly about this issue. Porn tears family’s apart. Thank you and bravo!

  • Melin October 8, 2017

    Well I’ve been perusing this website for about a month and had considered subscribing to the print version. But when this kind of tripe is presented without any mention of the fabulous, hot porn that’s made by/for queers/women or even just a consideration that porn isn’t the “problem” I’m out. Bye Felicia.

    • Elizabeth October 8, 2017

      Completely agree. Don’t tell women what to do with their bodies, Darling Mag. To frame porn as something that happens to women instead of by women is to erase agency in the most destructive way. To read actual informed writing from people in the sex industry, check out the excellent Feminist Porn Book (a book of essays) from the Feminist Press. A great rule of thumb is not to ascribe imperatives to other people’s sexuality and bodies as long as everyone is consenting. Porn might not work for you. That’s ok. But saying that porn – in a blanket statement – kills love and does *all* women no favors is not ok and erases the experiences of many. Porn does me a lot of favors. Maybe you’re just watching the wrong porn. For more awesome exposure to diverse sexual perspectives check out Dan Savage’s Humpfest.

    • Sara October 9, 2017

      I agree, Melin. It’s true that the porn industry – in general – has a huge problem with objectifying women. But that’s reflective of a society that gets off on it, not pornography itself. In fact, there’s a particular movement that helps frame porn in a better light, one in which women aren’t objectified the entire time as it focuses on mutual respect and love. This is a MAJOR premise that I feel is missing from the article/company they write about. Men will still continue to disrespect women if we continue to portray them in the hostile environment that porn currently reinforces. Look – the way I see it is that people are never going to stop wanting porn, and with the internet, it’ll never be “banned” or “less accessible”. So then, shouldn’t the message be to revamp the industry to respect women rather than get rid of it altogether? The mentality here seems slightly outdated and almost oppressive rather than liberating. It feels like we’re shaming people for being sexual beings rather than removing the oppressive aspect of it, which isn’t liberating at all.

      • Jen October 15, 2017

        Amen amen amen amen amen amen amen.

  • I’ve never read a viewpoint that looks at porn this way – not sure what I think about it right now. I do think it’s good to discuss the issue more openly though.

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

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