At 16 years old, I learned that anyone is capable of allowing their minds’ to go to places that directly conflict with their true values. The realization of this truth came quickly and suddenly as my eyes scanned over the elicit content in the history on my family’s computer. It seems obvious now, but at the time, it was shocking that someone whom I loved and trusted, someone who belonged to my own family, could search for and revel in things that not only mocked genuine love and connection, but also the moral values we had always discussed and upheld as a family.
I Hate the way it twists sex- something that should be healthy, and noble, and all-round great- into an ugly perversion; a dark shadow of what sex could and should be.
As a young mother of three preschoolers I feel like I’m standing on a beach watching a tsunami about to crash down.
They say we’re doing the right things.
Barbie and her inaccurate body-proportions are not welcome in our home. We are open and candid about questions relating to the body. We are very conscious of the media we view, and when our children are exposed to anything porn-ish we carefully explain that we do not appreciate the image (advertisement, etc) because it does not show respect for the body or character of the individual depicted in it.
And of course, we are utilizing the following three steps to help our kids install their own built-in pornography filters:
- Define the word pornography.
- Explain that viewing pornography can hurt their brain (just like drugs).
- Give them an action plan to use when they see sexually explicit media.
So why do I feel so terrified about the above mentioned tsunami?
Because it’s a tsunami!!!!!!
And so you’ll excuse me if I don’t seem calm and self-assured knowing what represents and the destruction it inevitably leaves in its wake. Having seen first-hand the pornography addiction that has hollowed out the life of my younger brother, it’s almost unbearable at times to see that same terrible wave poised over my five-year-old’s head.
Luckily for me, my grandmother, who is infinitely wise, recently reminded me that I should spend my energy on things that I can control. I’ve been bringing that wisdom back to this whole porn issue… and it got me asking this question:
Do I fully reject pornography and it’s influence in all areas of my life?
The last time I checked, hypocrisy is not a great ingredient in the raising of children. So here’s my list of three things that the average girl or woman (including me!) can do to stop feeding into the porn saturated culture that we find ourselves in and clearly reject it instead.
- Stop focusing on being “sexy” when I dress myself
A was in church one Sunday when I received a compliment. A friend took a quick glance at my bright lipstick, form-fitting pencil skirt, and substantial heels, and said: “wow Jen, you look sexy today.” Great!, I thought. But for some reason I felt weird about it. I mulled that weird feeling over for a while before I realized what was going on. I was at church, for goodness sake. What was I looking sexy for? I tried to picture myself posed in any of the biblical depictions hung on the walls and found that I just couldn’t feel proud of my attire in that context.
We don’t have to be walking around half-naked to be buying into a pornography-saturated culture and to be displaying our approval of it for all to see. We do it when we opt to wear clothing (and makeup, hair, etc.) that is focused primarily on sexiness.
Alternatively, we can opt for clothing that not only displays how much we value this amazing part of ourselves that is our bodies, but also encourages others to respect us for our unique ideas, individual characters, and values. Our clothes can be a powerful symbol so why not use the powerful message we send through the way that we dress in order to influence the world for good? Ghandi did it, and so can we! So next time you reach for a pair of super uncomfortable, but super sexy heels, think: Who is it that is telling me to wear these blasted things? And what am I trying to say when I wear them?
- Be Wary of this Camera Happy World
We like to shake our heads at teenagers when it comes to this sort of thing– and it’s understandable; they are generally the camera happiest of us all. The endless selfies and duck faces make us a little nauseous and not many loving parents want their children texting or snapchating photos that have a likelihood of being used as currency among “friends” or as blackmail in relationships gone wrong.
But what about the supposedly harmless pictures adults are taking?
I was looking at a friend’s photography site the other day, and stumbled upon a section for boudoir photos. The idea of having a few super-hot pictures of myself had honestly appealed to me prior to seeing these, but now that they were staring me in the face, I was surprised to find that looking at them made me feel a bit disgusted.
I reflected a bit and got here:
When you take a sexual photo, regardless of who sees it, you become a sexual object- a trade-able good. Furthermore, when I am so appalled by the unrealistic expectations that porn sets up for femininity, shouldn’t I be crushing rather than serving them? Pictures can encourage the same lie pornography perpetuates. They are objects that represent a very small portion of a much greater truth. So why would I want to present myself through photographs as all sex- the other bits and pieces of myself- all those integral parts that make me Jen- suspiciously absent?
3. Be Genuine
When I think about raising my two little girls and teaching them how to be self-respecting, strong women, who don’t ascribe to the norms set by pornography, this word- genuine, is the one that comes to mind. I want my children to know that real-life love relationships are hard, and frustrating, and work. And that all those mundane aspects of loving someone make the blissful, transcendent moments that much more rewarding. And real.
I’m always on the lookout for ways to be more genuine. The tricky and beautiful thing about it is that it’s different for every person… but I’m hoping that by working at it every day, I can show my children how real life is more beautiful and amazing than anything the pornographic industry can invent.