I recently read a great blog post from “husband,” a user’s guide about How Porn Works discussing a book titled Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain by psychologist Williams Struthers. In the blog post, “Huz” begins by stating that “Over 25% of all Internet searches performed every day are for porn-related images, videos or websites.” Yikes!
This blog post, Struthers’s book, and plenty of other resources discuss how men crave intimacy and how pornography is a shortcut to that desire for visual and sexual stimulation. Hearing this from so many sources, I believe that pornography is incredibly tempting to men.
What I haven’t ever understood is why women pose for it.
Why are so many women willing to take off their clothes and expose themselves in sexually titillating ways? After years and years of women fighting for the right to own property, to be educated, to vote, to garner some respect, etc., why would any woman willingly become an object of ogling to be picked up and discarded at will?
I started reading stories of ex-porn stars, looking for clues to why anyone would enter this seedy world and publicly expose their most vulnerable parts. I came upon some patterns:
Abuse. Quite a few women who have posed and participated in sex acts for the camera experienced sexual abuse at the hands of family, friends, or strangers. They received a message early on that they were there to be taken, used, and mistreated sexually.
Unstable family background. Most of the ex-porn stars I read testimonies from had incredibly unstable families. They simply didn’t have anyone to teach them their worth or to protect them from abuse or help them heal if it did occur.
Need for money. Oftentimes, women began with stripping and moved to porn or prostitution. The porn industry, in fact, offered better money, so why not? they figured.
Connections to the industry. Someone they already knew suggested getting involved in porn. A friend or acquaintance took them to a set, introduced them to a filmmaker, or touted the advantages of working in the porn industry.
Attention. Now this one struck me. Many of the ex-porn stars related that – at first – they enjoyed the attention. These women liked the idea of getting male attention and being considered beautiful.
Glamor. Having your name known, signing autographs, and attracting larger attention seems glamorous. Porn actresses feel like Hollywood movie stars at times.
What also became clear from these women’s stories is that the porn industry led to more abuse: Often, they experienced forced sex acts, STDs, and mistreatment. It led to further instability: They were used by others to make money and not cared for or listened to.
They did not end up financially better: The money was often gone quickly, as many porn stars abuse drugs and alcohol to keep going.
Moreover, the attention and glamor are illusions. There is nothing glamorous about acting out sexually for someone else’s benefit and a wad of cash. A prostitute is a prostitute, no matter how good the camera work is.
What disturbs me as much or more than these stories, though, are the many women who are not in a porn industry but willingly take off their clothes for any reason or no reason at all. Plenty of gals post nude or scantily-clad images of themselves for freebie viewing on the Internet. Teen girls send suggestive or nude images of themselves to teen boys. Why are they engaging in this behavior?
I think the Attention category comes into play here. God has designed women such they we want to be beautiful and cherished by men. He has given woman a natural bent toward wanting a man’s eyes to hold her in his gaze.
Satan is so very happy to pervert that.
He perverts women with broken hearts to seek the wrong attention of men willing to pay for and praise sexual stimulation. He perverts men with broken hearts to seek the visual stimulation of women willing to pose for attention. In the end, the attention and stimulation each gets is a twisted, inadequate substitute for what God intends with sexuality.
Some people selling or giving away sexual images are purposefully evil in their intent, and some are broken human beings in need of a different message and healing.
Why do women pose? For the same reasons, I suppose, that we continue in any sinful and self-destructive pattern:
- We have a hole in our lives and are looking for something to fill it.
- We don’t know our own worth in God’s eyes.
- We aren’t willing to let go of our selfish desires and surrender to God’s provision.
- We allow ourselves to be led astray by others.
I wish I could take some of the women I read about in my research into my arms and describe how beautiful they are as daughters of God. And for those men who look at pornography, I would ask them to think about why women pose and what painful experiences they have endured and continue to endure.
Pornography is not a benign business. Many of these women have already suffered in their lives, and they continue to do so. May God bring healing to those ladies who find their way out.
For another heartfelt post on this topic, see Intimacy in Marriage’s My Love Letter to Pornographers.