Fire Life

Is Porn Harmless? Part 2

By Anne Gagliano

Pornography is counterfeit sex. It is an imitation of something genuine, love-making within marriage, and put forth as a pleasing alternative. A satisfying substitute. But as is the case with all counterfeits, it is a lie forged with the purpose to deceive, to cheat, to rob. A pretended pleasure of great value that is, in fact, a worthless sham.

In my previous column, “Is Porn Harmless? Part 1,” I quoted Chief (Ret.) Stan Tarnowski as warning that pornography is a rampant problem in the firehouse today, one that is “…the #1 vice that challenges our firefighters to remain morally sound and morally courageous while on duty.”  I also wrote that porn is as addictive as any drug, and this is particularly alarming, as it is so readily available to anyone at any time.

But mostly, I believe hard-core pornography is harmful because of its impact on intimacy; many believe it is the most harmful addiction when it comes to marriage. There are three primary reasons for this: The first—porn creates a negative attitude toward intimate relationships—was covered in Part 1. The other two reasons follow.

 

Porn Numbs You

You may think that porn arouses you, stimulates, enlivens, but in actuality it numbs you like Novocain. The more you see, the more your sexual sensitivity is deadened, making it increasingly difficult to get stimulated. Normal marital relations become boring. Wives of addicts say that their husbands’ demands for extreme behaviors increase, sometimes even to the point of roughness. “Men are becoming desensitized to it and are therefore seeking out ever harsher, more violent and degrading images. Even the porn industry is shocked by how much violence the fans want.”  The things you see in porn are things you’ve never seen before and wouldn’t see otherwise. It becomes difficult to get these images out of your head; once you’re exposed, you’re never the same. What you believed would enliven the marital relationship has instead weekend it; what you thought would make you feel more alive has instead left you feeling empty and unsatisfied. Many husbands lose interest in their wives, and for 68 percent of couples in which one or more person was addicted to Internet porn, one or both lost interest in sex with each other. And pornography, in some estimates, increases marital infidelity by 300 percent.

 

Porn Trades the Truth for a Lie

Porn stars are a fantasy. Many are barely over 18, their images enhanced or air brushed. Many have had plastic surgery. As mere images on a screen, it is easy to imagine them as mindless or soulless, making them the perfect sex object. The variety is endless to the viewer; all shapes and sizes are readily available. For the addict, the fantasy becomes more appealing than the reality of a real flesh-and blood woman, someone who loves you back—your spouse. That is the lie of porn: It promises fulfillment but instead delivers emptiness and endangers true intimacy. Many users begin to isolate themselves, lie, and exhibit secretive behavior. They can become literally married to the Web, preferring to gratify themselves sexually alone, withdrawing from their partner altogether. It sometimes has the same impact on a marriage as an actual affair; wives feel lied to, cheated on, and replaced by the “perfect woman,” the fantasy—someone they could never be—willing to have sex in ways they will never want.

But here’s the truth: I’ve done a lot of research on this topic, and many of the stories and memoirs I’ve read have proven to be absolutely heartbreaking. The reality that exists behind the scenes, when the camera is turned off, is anything but “ideal.” And my husband Mike, a long-time firefighter, has gone to countless runs where he has witnessed firsthand the harmful physical and emotional toll in the real world. He’s seen up close and personal the distraught and damaged sex workers who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, suffering from eating disorders and other serious diseases. Their tragic stories and situations haunt him to this day; their reality is anything but appealing. Many end up walking the streets of his district, prostitution being the final job promotion. It is for these reasons and many more that I believe porn stars are to be pitied, not placed on a pedestal as a sexual ideal. And remember, firefighters, your sacred task is to protect and rescue and save lives; the badge you wear indicates you are “a shield” for the vulnerable. But if you’re watching porn at the firehouse, you denigrate this honorable profession by promoting the potential destruction of porn workers. The “heroic firefighter” becomes a willing participant in the infliction of harm.

There are many people in our porn-saturated society who think that porn is harmless entertainment. They often buy into the idea that porn stars truly are the insatiable sex-craving gods and goddesses they are portrayed to be. Regardless of all the overwhelming research and countless personal accounts exposing the dark reality of the porn industry, many still buy into the fantasy that the porn industry works hard to build.

Fightthenewdrug.org

Marriage offers so many wonderful sexually satisfying options that are healthy and loving and true. Porn promises everything but delivers nothing; it is a lie in every sense of the word. The lie of pornography or the truth of marriage—which will you believe? Which will get all your passion, erotic energy, and desire—a computer image or the flesh and blood spouse who has arms to hold you? Will you trade touch for a lonely fantasy?  Will you withhold intimacy and fail to meet that need in your spouse? And will you denigrate your calling as a firefighter and encourage an industry that destroys lives?  As husband and wife, you become one flesh based on a promise; remember, it is a sacred, joyous privilege to make love in a giving, intimate relationship. The more you look, the clearer it becomes: Pornography is anything but harmless. In words a firefighter can appreciate, pornography is a flaming lie.

 

References

1. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/02/gail-dines-pornography.

2. https://fightthenewdrug.org/10-porn-stats-that-will-blow-your-mind.

3. https://fightthenewdrug.org/?s=10+popular+ex-porn+stars+reveal+the+brutal+truth.

 

Anne Gagliano has been married to Captain Mike Gagliano of the Seattle (WA) Fire Department for 32 years. She and her husband lecture together on building and maintaining a strong marriage.