Based on decades of research, marketing strategists know what few consumers come to realize, and that is: how powerful beliefs are in shaping human behaviors — and that beliefs can be altered subconsciously, without consent or knowledge.
How does it work? By associating carefully crafted ideas that spark emotions of pleasure or fear (or both), accordingly, with preexisting human drives (hardwired by nature), and repeating these ideas over and over.
This inside knowledge of how human beings learn and change can be beneficial. It is used by sports psychologists and professional coaches to train top athletes and Olympic champions, for example. And, it’s also used by therapists, consultants and coaches to help others break free of reactive or addictive patterns of relating, and other problem behaviors.
It is science, not theory.
Consider what happens however when this knowledge is used with little or no regard to people’s personal, relational health, and society as a whole.
This makes mass media a formidable force, sociologically speaking, when it comes to shaping cultural values, a top competitor for the hearts and minds of children and adults alike — previously mostly socialized by family, and in varying degree also the institutions of education and church.
Perhaps the most formidable category of mass media to ever enter the equation of what socializes and shapes men and women’s thoughts, beliefs, behaviors and relationships, is unquestionably the porn industry.
The motive of marketing strategists naturally is to sell products for monetary gain, and that in itself is good, no red-blooded American would deny this. As Pulitzer Prize investigative reporter for The Times reported, however, in his published research on the junk food industry, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, food companies intentionally design food to get consumers to get addicted so that they buy more, eat more, drink more, and are free to do so, with no concern for the public, and the lives destroyed, ended by food addiction.
Pornography may not be a new industry, however it has exploded as top money maker, thanks to the internet and easy access and availability. It’s also highly addictive, and among other damaging effects, is associated with erectile dysfunction.
In the last few decades the porn industry has increasingly not only permeated most aspects of society (fashion, entertainment, art, etc.) to successfully profit from selling sex (primarily to men), they have also made selling sex a multi-billion dollar industry that surpasses all others — topping the annual revenues of Amazon, Google, Microsot, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and Earthlink combined.
Influenced by porn, violence and sex on the screen have exploded, and we now have what appears to be the marriage of entertainment industries and porn, increasingly, the lines of what is porn and entertainment are blurred. Author Pamela Paul describes the process of How Porn Became the Norm.
So how is pornography a guaranteed block to healthy sexual relations in your couple relationship, that is, if the goal is to grow a secure, strong, enduring vibrant marriage or partnership? (Does not apply if goal is casual, brief sex encounters, sex for the sake of sex, etc.)
Emotional intimacy is a foundation for healthy sexual relations.
The first way pornography blocks the formation of healthy sexual relations has to do with its portrayal of sex-devoid-of-human-connection as a norm. Essentially, pornography sells the idea that sex is about performance, body parts, erection, orgasm.
This idea is appealing to men. Men are supposed to be “in control” in the relationship; they can control body parts, and they cannot control their wives, and their emotions!
Core beliefs regarding what it means to be a man or a woman in a couple relationship have everything to do with shaping the destiny for the relationship they form.
When watching pornography, it’s easy for men to forget that women in porn movies are not “real” women; they are often prostitutes or sex slaves, held at gun or knife point, forced to pretend that being beaten, violated etc is pleasurable.
Women in porn movies do not pressure men to be vulnerable, to emotionally connect, or to “work” together to strengthen and nourish a strong vibrant mutually satisfying relationship, they .
Wives and girlfriends on the other hand are “real” human beings, and unlike men, they have not been socialized to disown their human need for closeness, emotional connection. Women’s interest in sex often dwindles to the extent they feel treated like sex objects.
When it comes to sex, they are socialized to view women as objects for their pleasure. Good women want to make their men happy, bring them pleasure, and never complain. Real men make women happy by providing, but definitely are “supposed to” avoid the emotional stuff. It’s common for men to view women’s requests, demands for emotional connection, shared communication as signs of weakness, defect, proof of inferiority of the female sex.
They come prepared to fulfill their role of “fixing” this defect in their partners, and when they fail, they feel discouraged, inadequate, and like most partners (men and women), they blame their partner for not fulfilling them. Meanwhile, the more the emotional connection is absent for female partners, the more impact it has on their libido.
Pornography reinforces the idea that nothing is more important to men’s happiness than sex. Men buy into this idea, however there are costs. They are told they are entitled to sex, and expect their partners to meet their physical needs. They often feel cheated or rejected, or both, when they hear “no” to sex. As a group, men “expect” to be able to “fix” their “emotional” partners and stop them from whining, complaining about things that “don’t matter.” Besides, male partners are conditioned to view any complaints, requests as demands, criticisms and “controlling.”
Since more than 90% of viewers of pornography are men, this leads men to adapt norms that are worlds apart from women’s. (And since women are socialized to be nice and not hurt men’s ego, they often “lie” to men, telling them what they want to hear, to win approval, be treated as “normal,” to not disappoint, and so on.)
Naturally, this causes men to view their wive’s expectations for emotional intimacy, nonsexual affection, communication, etc., as not normal. As a result, men tend to treat and look down on their partners with scorn, perhaps as defective, inferior, weak etc, as they would another man who “whined” about emotions and communication!
Beliefs have the power to either empower or block men or women from one of the most essential experiences in life—the inner striving and capacity to find emotional fulfillment in empathic, authentic, compassionate connection to self and the partner, first and foremost, as human beings. Men are socialized from boyhood to not be anything like “girls” as proof of masculinity, and thus it makes sense that many men derive most all emotional fulfillment through sex.
They take no personally, think it has to do either with their performance, or that their wives are defective sexually, perhaps even lied and deceived them at the start of their relationship — a time when they were more responsive sexually.
Since women have different expectations for closeness and shared intimate communications, and so on, it’s not unusual for women to start feeling used. They want nonsexual affection, however, if it “always” leads to sex, at some point, they start to pull away from any touching and kissing.
Creating greater intimacy is about an inner energy partners bring to bedroom. It’s about a deep sense of emotional intimacy, a sense of security and trust in your love for one another, a comfort level to be yourself and to be loved and valued for who you are, as well as who you are in process of ever more fully becoming, and not a mere extension of the other’s wants, desires. In your partner’s arms, you feel totally safe from the world; and that feeling is present around the clock, even when you are not physically together — or having sex.
Continued in Part 2.