Event discuses dangers of porn

Mental health counselor talks on effects of living in ‘pornocracy’

Luis Arellanes | The Falcon
As part of this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Andrew Bauman discusses porn’s effect.Pornography makes up a multibillion-dollar industry accessible to anyone who has access to an internet connection, including students at SPU.

While some people may not see porn as a problem, Danielle Meier from SPU’s Office of Safety and Security (OSS) thinks otherwise.

Starting last year with the event “Pornified,” The Office of Safety and Security kicked off a four-part sequence of events they hope will help start a conversation on porn and its harmful effects on our society. The series will continue and finish in two years, one event per year.

“Here on campus, we’re hoping to get the message across that not only is this not healthy on a societal level, but it’s just not healthy in interpersonal relationships either,” Meier said.

As part of this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month, OSS hosted “Pornocracy: Power, Politics, and Patriarchy.” Pornocracy, Meier defined, is the idea of “the rule of porn.”

OSS invited mental health counselor Andrew Bauman to speak in Upper Gwinn on April 27 at 7 p.m. about the intersection between politics, relationships, sexual violence and our own sexuality.

For Bauman, having dealt with a porn addiction for 13 years earlier in his life, pornography was a way to escape his family pain and his own trauma. But he noted that his story “is not everyone’s story.”

It could simply start with curiosity, Bauman explained. Children are exposed to porn at a young age, and many parents aren’t actively conversing in dialogue about sex.

So, Bauman said, young teens who are new to the idea of relationships and sexuality are turning to porn to educate themselves.

And from there, the risk of porn addiction takes root with the potential to grow.

“You need more and more to get the same effect, to get the dopamine rush,” Bauman explained.

“Then images don’t suffice and I need real women. And then that’s not enough and then I need younger women. Sex trafficking. These are all connected.”

Bauman brought up a 2002 Ryan Burns study looking at heterosexual men who viewed pornography.

The study found “the more pornography the man consumed, the more likely he was to describe women in a sexualized, stereotypical, feminine way, to approve of women in traditional occupations and to value women who are more submissive and more subordinate to men,” Bauman said.

This reflects the repercussions of patriarchy, which Bauman defined as “a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.”

From there, sexual abuse and the silencing of women is normalized.

It’s all connected, Bauman said, and a key player in all of this is shame, especially in cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

“Shame keeps so many women silent,” he said.

Women tell themselves that if they felt pleasure as they were being harmed, it must be their fault. They start to think that maybe a part of them wanted it.

“No, no, no. It was violent. It was harmful,” Bauman insisted “It has nothing to do with your responsibility for being groomed or manipulated and taken advantage of to be harmed; it’s not your fault.”

Associate Director of Safety and Security Cheryl Michaels stood with Bauman, adding her own perspective as a woman about the negative effects of porn.

“[Women] look at each other, and we look at the imagery we’re given about what a woman is supposed to look like,” she said. “We see it transfer from pornography to the media, and we look at each other, and we’re like, ‘I don’t measure up to that.’”

In an anonymous Q&A session following Bauman’s speech, one person also asked, “What recommendations would you have for religious people who want to deconstruct sexual shame and foster healthy sexuality, but who still align with church values of abstinence from sex and masturbation?”

Some try to “white-knuckle” it and just tell themselves to try harder to abstain from watching porn, Bauman noted.

“That’s most of what the church is trying to teach us to do rather than to go deep and engage our shame, engage our stories, engage our bodies of sexual being,” he said.

It’s going to come at a cost, Bauman continued.

“There’s going to be a lot of pressure to keep you silent,” he said. “Own your truth even if it’s completely different from the truth of the church culture or your parents’ family culture.”

Bauman encouraged engaging in a healthy conversation about sex. Truth, honesty and authenticity, he said, are some of the best ways to fight addiction.

This article was posted in the section News.

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