Programmed to obediently work, consume, and act on our hedonistic impulses, we immigrant inhabitants of Turtle Island are probably amongst the most gullible people in the history of humanity. In the United States, critical thought and education are considered to be frivolous. Madison Avenue, Hollywood, Wall Street, and our very own Ministry of Truth in DC pound home the message that we exist to make and spend money to keep our mighty Capitalist economy running like a well-oiled machine. Contemplation and deep analysis are for "fuzzy-brained liberals" living in their "ivory towers". Our role as Americans is to "git 'er done", go home, drink a beer, and flip on Fox so O'Reilly can tell us what we think.
America's corporate media offer a virtually endless supply of sound and imagery to stimulate our endorphins while filling our minds with propaganda powerful enough to make a ruthless empire appear to be a benevolent crusader for humanity. (Believe it or not, some of us have actually been able to over-ride the "Americans good, Muslims bad" loop in our program).
Need proof of how deeply the lies are etched into our mental hard-drives? Recent polls indicate that at least a third of Americans are still wandering about with their power to reason disabled to the extent that they voice their support for the wretched malefactors residing along the Potomac.
America has morphed from the land of opportunity into the land of the opportunists. Did the architects of the United States system of government truly intend for our Constitution to protect the rights of avaricious corporations and wealthy individuals to exploit the masses? I sincerely doubt it. But their "rights" are often more protected than those of We the People.
Consider the example of pornography.
What could be more innocuous than looking at images of naked people, right? Humans (predominately men) have been doing it since time immemorial. At first blush, it seems harmless enough that pornography has permeated nearly every facet of America's culture of compulsive consumption. Yet a powerful undertow awaits those who venture too deeply into these seemingly placid waters.
My personal experiences coupled with the well-researched conclusions of Pamela Paul (a contributor to Time Magazine) in her recent book entitled *Pornified: How Pornography is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families have led me to expunge pornography from my life to the extent that it is humanly possible. And given its ubiquity and seduction, it has proven to be a Herculean task.
A woman with whom I had a relationship about twelve years ago was so damaged by pornography that despite her attractive physical appearance, she saw herself as ugly and overweight. Her ex-husband had been addicted to pornography. He was physically abusive, insisted on watching porn movies while they had sex, and forced her to act out the parts of the women in the movies. Based on those experiences, she lived in a nightmare world of virtually endless and hopeless psychological competition with fantasy women. She was comparing herself to air-brushed, surgically-enhanced women whom pornographers portrayed as compliant sex partners with endless cravings for hot jism. Machismo delights such as these do not occur in nature.
What effect did this "mind-f*ck" have on my girl-friend? Multiple suicide attempts and severe bulimia were the observable fruits of her bitter harvest. Who could truly comprehend the almost non-stop inner torment she faced? With the help of extensive therapy and medication, she was on her way to recovery by the time she and I parted ways. Wherever she it today, I hope she has conquered her demons.
Despite my strong reservations about pornography and choice to abstain, I am not suggesting that everyone choose the path of abstinence. I was once a consumer of pornography so I am not casting stones at those who buy or view pornography. My intent is to deliver an informative and cautionary message.
I am calling upon pornography users to consider the harm it inflicts on them and others, the adverse impacts of its virus-like infiltration into nearly every vehicle of our media, and the intellectual and spiritual power they surrender to pornographers by mindlessly consuming their eye candy.
Reading Pornified (Pamela Paul's book) would be an excellent starting point. Most of Ms. Paul's book is devoted to personal interviews with people whose lives have been affected by pornography. She provides examples across the spectrum, ranging from men who are so addicted that they spend hours each day surfing the Internet and have lost the ability to have sex with human beings to men like me who shun pornography because it has damaged them or a loved one. Or from women (like my former companion) whose lives have been devastated by pornography to women who enjoy the fact that their lovers are into porn. And Paul includes interviews with many people who fall somewhere between these extremes.
Paul makes the point that many Americans fall prey to the false dichotomy that everyone is in the camp of either zealous pornography advocates like Larry Flynt or militant feminist oppositionists like Andrea Dworkin. The reality is that most people fall somewhere in between. And despite the potent aversion to censorship in the United States, according to Paul's research, 42% of Americans desire some form of regulation of Internet pornography to minimize the possibility of children accessing it. (I did say regulation, not elimination).
Perhaps the most disturbing element of pornography Paul exposes is how deeply it has woven itself into the fabric of our society. Movies, advertisers, rock bands, Hip Hop artists, Websites, magazines, and newspapers hammer us with a steady barrage of material that fits the definition of pornography. If something glorifies the objectification of women, lacks artistic value, and is intended to pump up libido, it is a form of pornography.
Images of alluring women looking ready to satisfy nearly any man's carnal desires are powerful tools to attract customers and create the profits that acquisitive capitalists crave. Common knowledge for years, no? The problem is that now it is common practice to market by objectifying women. Even life insurance companies try to lure customers using women.
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