Why is no one addressing women watching porn?

October 9, 2010
By

The only time porn is brought up is in the Priesthood session. I’m positive a lot of girls grow up not even realizing that some of what they’re engaging in is wrong because it’s never brought to the attention of women, particularly when they’re young girls and teenagers. The YW manuals never once mention any such problems; the only chastity lessons they get are how to keep boys at arm’s length. Why is no one addressing this issue? Why do women have to wait until they’re already addicted before anyone will help them not be addicted? Why is it that when women see their bishops they’re often treated as freaks of nature because “that’s a man problem, not a woman problem”? Why isn’t the church educating bishops and stake presidents about the possibilities of this being a large problem for women as well and how to help them like they help the males in their congregations?

I agree with you that the church addresses this problem largely among the priesthood members. And, to their credit, it is a problem that affects more men than women. However, I also agree with you that it is not addressed among the sisters of our church. Here are some reasons that I believe might contribute to this:

  • It’s impossible for the Church to address every problem that arises for its members. I believe that they do their best to follow major trends and try to address these as they come up. There are so many different problems that surround the area of sexuality, I’m sure it’s difficult to address.
  • A major trend that has been a very real issue for the women of the Church of late is the rising frequency of clinical depression. I have noticed that the talks directed towards the sisters focus more on self-acceptance, not running faster than we have strength, self-esteem, etc. I’m sure that although the leaders recognize that there are inappropriate behaviors that women are engaging in, they would rather not add one more thing to the “guilt tank” LDS women are already dealing with.
  • I agree with you that in our culture in general (not just LDS) we tend to think of men as being more sexual than women. This is actually not the case at all. Our sexual templates (what turns us on) and drives may differ, but all human beings are sexual. I also agree that because of these perceptions, we tend to be surprised or excessively judgemental when we hear that a woman could be a sex addict or enjoys looking at pornography. Even women who have a higher libido than their husbands can be left feeling “weird” or inadequate. This is an area we need to become more comfortable addressing.

It’s important to remember that pornographic use does not automatically translate into pornographic addiction. Those who struggle with sex or pornographic addiction have a high likelihood of sexual trauma in their past. Remembering this can help us as members be more empathetic and understanding when these issues come up.

It is also important to be aware that some women who look at pornography do so because they feel pressured to so by their spouses as a way to liven up their sexual lives or legitimately enjoy seeing their spouses excited by the pornography. Therefore for these people, the use of pornography has more to do with the spouse than with their own desires. My findings have been that although this can create a sense of false intimacy at first, it is exactly that: false intimacy. And it then becomes a harder task to go back and recreate the true intimacy that couples want in their sexual relationships.

It is paramount for us as members to become educated about our sexual & cultural surroundings, relevant statistics, and negative trends so that we are better able to educate our children and react appropriately to friends and other members within our stakes and wards. We cannot always rely on the Church to do all of this for us.

MM readers:

What is your take on this question?  Should the church be addressing pornography use and women?

Do you agree with me that pornography use between couples results in false intimacy or not?

If a couple want to engage in watching pornography together should this be considered as part of their sexual repertoire and only their business – in other words, not needing a confession to a priesthood authority?

How would you respond if you knew of a woman who was a pornography and/or sex addict?  Would that surprise you?

If you are a woman, what perceptions do you have or have you felt regarding this issue?

I realize that this could be a sensitive topic with varying opinions, so please keep it civil.

Natasha Helfer Parker is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist and a member of the Church with 13 years of experience working with LDS members. Here she shares with us representative cases from her practice and insights she has gained from her work as a therapist. She blogs at mormontherapist.blogspot.com.

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62 Responses to Why is no one addressing women watching porn?

  1. MoHoHawaii
    October 9, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Here are a couple of thoughts:

    1/ There’s the old joke that “romance is to women what sex is to men.” To the extent that this is true (there’s a wide variation in individuals), you’ll see romance novels taking the place of the more visual forms of erotica favored by men. Because it’s less visual and also less focused on the sex act itself (and more on the tension of infatuation), romance genre fiction slips under the radar of what gets called pornography. But make no mistake: romance genre fiction scratches exactly the same itch as what the men tend to like. Women who don’t like romance genre fiction and who instead prefer more visually oriented erotic media are just unlucky– they happen to find themselves in a culture that finds sexual images less acceptable than romantic fantasies.

    2/ Sexuality is treated by Mormon culture very differently depending on whether you are talking about male sexuality or female sexuality. Male sexuality is considered to be a healthy (“red-blooded”) urge that must be channeled appropriately. Female sexuality is mostly ignored. Women are taught to dress modestly so as not to inflame the (normal, otherwise uncontrollable) passions of men. Women are taught to reject sexual advances that men might make. In all of the discourse about sexual topics in the Church there really is very little if any acknowledgment that women themselves are capable of sexual desire. Hence, it comes as a big surprise that some of them might seek out erotica for their own consumption.

  2. Epiginosko
    October 9, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    What? Women watch porn?? Well, it must not be a big issue because:

    A) We are told that women are generally not turned on as easily by pure visual stimulation – hence the need for foreplay.

    B) Since, according to Mormon Theology, Women really aren’t saved in the resurrection by their own efforts, but rather through the call of the Priesthood, their transgressions are far less important…as long as they keep their husbands happy, they will be fine in eternal life.

    C) What man would really be offended by their wife being aroused by porn? On the contrary…

  3. Sandy Mom
    October 9, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    There are definitely women in the church who have watch porn and/or are addicted to porn. I have three teenaged daughters, and one has had a serious problem with pornography. It began when she would to to a friend’s house after school to study; they kids got on the computer, and it all began. It has lead her to sexual indiscretions at a very young age. Thankfully, we are an open family and talked about her issues; we even got her advanced counseling to help work through some of her issues (NOT LDS social services!)

    I think that pornography is viewed as a problem for men (in the church) because much of the poronographic material focuses on the objectification of women. It makes logical sense that men are viewing that type of content. As one commenter mentioned, pornography is not always visual (movies via internet, pay-per-view, etc). Pornography has several different forms (erotica literature, for example). I happen to think that the emphasis is what I refer to as visual pornography because it is most prolific in society. It is that visual imagery that is near next to impossible to extract from your memory once it is in there; that is why I believe it is perceived as so dangerous.

    Pornography among teens is a bigger problem than I think anyone realizes or is willing to admit. I’m not just talking about a magazine between the mattress and box spring.

    With regard to marital relationships, in my opinion, what you do in your bedroom is your private business. I defintely don’t want my priesthood leaders asking me detailed questions about relations between me and my husband.

  4. Jen
    October 9, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    “What is your take on this question? Should the church be addressing pornography use and women?”

    I know they talk specifically to the men in Priesthood session about it, but when they talk about it in general conference aren’t they addressing anyone who has an issue with it? I feel that they are stating that porn is not OK for anyone, not just men.

  5. Will
    October 9, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    Epig

    I too agree it is rare for women to be visually stimulated; and, most men would be turned on by that. By where in the he** did you get B. That is just false doctrine, see the second article of faith.

  6. SUNNofaB.C.Rich
    October 9, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Yo, if you guys want me to write a few posts for this thing, I totally could. I’ve got a few ideas kicking around, one’s about how much of a rip off D.I. is and the other is about the asininity of God being gay or polygamous. My van is at the upholstery shop so I’m free for two days.

  7. Whitney
    October 10, 2010 at 1:39 am

    I thought comment #2 was sarcastic. Anyway, to address the question of whether it’s ok for a couple to use pornography together to improve their sex life–
    Well, the church handbook states that pretty much anything goes between husband and wife, *as long as* it is not degrading to either partner. I feel it would be ok for married couples to use erotica, but most things that we would call pornography do tend to be degrading to women–so I would feel degraded if my husband and I watched a porn flick and he was getting aroused by the unrealistic representations of female beauty and sexuality. Also, the making of most porn is certainly degrading to those who are in it.
    So basically, using erotica can be ok IMO, but there is so little of it out there that isn’t demeaning and degrading, so….

  8. October 10, 2010 at 7:21 am

    From President Hinckley’s earliest remarks about pornography to men, he was driven by letters from sisters who felt betrayed by their husband’s pornography usage. Hence the discussion in PH. It’s worthy of note that President Benson in the late 80′s spoke at a 12 stake fireside at BYU and spoke out against romance novels for women. But I’ve never heard anyone else do it since (except in general remarks to avoid time-wasting activities). But certainly Elder Holland spoke about pornography (and lust) to all church members in April 2010 conference. So the claim that this is never discusses is inaccurate.

    That said, morality lessons in which young women are taught simply to avoid tempting boys is not enough.

    There is an additional moral issue with couples’ watching pornography besides the suggestion that couples can do whatever they are mutually comfortable with in their marriage, and that is that someone sins in the making of pornography. Is it possible to have a righteous use of a product of transgression?

  9. October 10, 2010 at 8:00 am

    Marriage involves keeping covenants made to God and to one another with complete fidelity. I agree that what goes on between a husband and wife is private. However, watching pornography together invites a bunch of strangers into that bedroom. Strangers that are providing some kind of gratification by doing things that are sinful and degrading to themselves and others. So, somehow I think the church is talking about the intimacy between husbands and wives as private. Not you, your wife, and a bunch of actresses dressed up as the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.

  10. Dave P.
    October 10, 2010 at 9:53 am

    I’d just like to step back and take a look at the bigger picture as this is just one of many things that women are completely capable of doing and yet the focus is always placed on the men as the ones who are most guilty. Take for example domestic abuse between a husband and wife; I’ve read that at least have of the abuse comes from the wife directed towards the husband, yet people will not believe that that’s even possible. I’ve talked about why I broke up with my fiancee in several threads and one good reason that’s applicable in here is she was physically abusive. I won’t even get started on divorce courts as that will skew this away from the main topic even more.

    In short, the deck is stacked against us men as women as just as capable, if not more so, than committing the same sins that are associated with men.

  11. Maggie
    October 10, 2010 at 11:56 am

    I think “traditional porn” as we think of it is actually LESS of a problem for most women. Most women are not turned on by a photo of male body parts, hence Playgirl is no longer in production. In my experience, women’s porn has less to do with Playgirl magazines and erotica novels, and more to do with the obsession of weekly gossip magazines and celebrity culture . But the psychological harm in women/girls obsessing over fashion and celebrity magazines, comparing oneself to the airbrushed, emaciated, and likely photo-shopped model/celebrity on the cover and is rarely a topic that is discussed in the Church. In reading these types of magazines, blogs, etc, women tend to objectify and hypersexualize themselves, similarly to how “traditional porn” objectifies women for men. Women degrade and devalue themselves if they are not always “magazine-cover-ready”, with perfect hair and a perfect body. In short, women’s porn is fashion and gossip magazines and the obsession over celebrity culture and lifestyle, not the “adult” magazine stuffed under one’s mattress.

  12. October 10, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Me again, but I guess you can also call me “no one,” because we’ve been talking about and with women with porn/sex addiction at LDSR for a long time now. SA is in the popular culture about where it was with alcoholism back in the 1940s — it’s all about men, lots of people think that it’s about a lack of character, rather than an addiction/disease, and it’s more often made into a cruel joke as it is mentioned with any kind of sympathy. But, over the years, AA has helped enough people enough that the mainstream shows some grudging respect for the work that’s been done there. Perhaps I’ll live long enough to see the same thing happen to the much more prevalent occurring SA. Hard telling.

    Women with SA have an extra hurdle to jump in admitting that they like sex enough to be addicted to it, because good girls aren’t supposed to do that. It’s messed up and cruel, dumping another dose of shame on a shame-driven pattern, and making it very, very hard to ask for help.

    But I should clarify that porn is not only brought up in the priesthood session of conference. Pres. Packer was talking about it on Sunday Morning, among other things. And it’s brought up all the time with the youth when they talk about media of all kinds. I certainly think we could do with some more honesty/reality in discussing problems women face in their lives, but there hasn’t been a total absence of discussion of porn in the presence of women. Wasn’t it Elder Oakes or Holland who, after talking about porn, reminded the YW that they could effectively become porn in the eyes of young men based on how they dressed?

    So, yeah, if there are women who struggle with this reading this, you can follow the link on my name to LDSR and find some support there. Tell them Tim sent you, and I’ll be back there soon.

  13. Heidi
    October 10, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    @Maggie: What an extremely insightful comment. I really like your use of the word “hypersexualize” to describe what happens to women when they are viewed either by themselves or others as simply objects who are desirable or not.

    @TimB: To whichever elder said that, I’d reply that whether or not a woman is viewed as porn by a man has much more to do with the man himself than how the woman dresses. Her dress, IMO, reflects whether or not SHE views HERSELF as porn.

    (On an OT note) SunnofaB.C.Rich: I thought it was common knowledge that DI and Goodwill are not intended to be a places to find bargains but rather job training facilities, the vehicle of which happens to be used goods. After all, I’ve on multiple occasions seen items at those two thrift stores priced at the same or a HIGHER price than their retail prices. Surely the proprietors of these establishments cannot be ignorant of such extreme pricing anomalies. Of course it varies from place to place (for instance, IME the DIs in Utah have much better prices than the DIs in Idaho), but in general, if one really wants bargains one should go to yard sales or St. Vincent de Paul. When donating, one should donate to DI if one wants their items to support job training and put them on Freecycle or take them to St. Vincent de Paul if one wants to provide inexpensive or free goods to someone who needs a price break. It’s just a matter of which public service one wants their used items to support.

  14. Doug
    October 10, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    Most of the posters have made most of the possible points, so I really don’t have much to add. Suffice it that if the GA’s don’t hammer the sisters on this subject it’s because:

    (1) There’s been far less reports of sisters doing porn versus brethren. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t go on, just not as much is reported. Kinda like there IS domestic violence and abuse perpetrated by women against men, but more of the men hurting women gets reported than vice versa. You have to go on reliable data, not mere anecdote or supposition.

    (2) Regardless of how bad any particular subject is on either brethren or sisters, the brethren usually get generically called on the carpet, the sisters are usually not singled out. It’s part because we hold the Priesthood, it’s part because our overall temperaments lend us to getting an “arse-chewing” on occasion. And it’s been my experience that a sister will typically get dealt with more lightly when she transgresses than if a brother does same. It’s just the way things are done.

    Regardless, there’s never been any ambiguity that the Church does not condone the sisters viewing porn anymore than the brethren.

    Lastly, if for some reason a married couple elects to use pornography in their sex life…while I wouldn’t recommend it, IMO, it’s their call, and ideally it’d be no one’s business. If THAT was the circumstance, and things were reasonably well in their marriage, were I their bishop, I wouldn’t make an issue of it.

  15. October 10, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    13 — Sorta, yeah. I get your point, and I’m with it to a point, and then I’m not anymore. I know folks who can get a lust hit off of a woman no matter what she’s wearing. But I don’t, usually. If I’m going to get a lust pattern going, it’s going to have to do with clothing that accentuates breasts and makes them more visible — either a cleavage revealing top, or something in a bikini/halter/tank top. Especially if it’s something making nipples evident. Obviously, there’s a limit to what you can do to hide breasts, and I’ve never thought heroic efforts were necessary, but there are things that make them more attention-seeking, and it’s nice to see those things avoided, afaic. I was at college in the springtime when I really got started in my recovery (and when I was DFed), and the girls wearing their more revealing clothing was an additional challenge at I time I wasn’t really up to any challenges.

    But, returning from that tangent, my purpose in referencing that talk was to point out that, counter to the OP, porn is not only mentioned in the PH session. There is no way Elder Holland (I think it was him) was making such a point in a PH session.

    So I looked, and I didn’t find that, but I did find this talk by him from April conference of this year (http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-1207-16,00.html) where he says:

    Remember that those young wives said their husbands’ infidelity began with an attraction to pornography, but immoral activity is not just a man’s problem, and husbands aren’t the only ones offending. The compromise available at the click of a mouse—including what can happen in a chat room’s virtual encounter—is no respecter of persons, male or female, young or old, married or single. And just to make sure that temptation is ever more accessible, the adversary is busy extending his coverage, as they say in the industry, to cell phones, video games, and MP3 players.

    . (Hope that formats okay, and that the link doesn’t stick this in the mod queue) Which means Elder Holland can be called “no one” too. I feel like I’m in good company, now.

  16. Doug
    October 10, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    #15 – Excellent research!

    So you’re a “boob man”. To each his own. I get “riled up” over seeing a particular woman in pilates class that is “comfortably plush” overall, and well-endowed as well…and she always wears a low-cut tank. I make it a point to NOT set my mat near hers if I can help it; BUT, if I’m there first and SHE sets in my field of view…I must grin and bear it. Things like that at the gym, I just smile and turn it to something useful (harder work). It’s all I can legitimately do.

    This is NOT to say that a man (if he’s seriously scouting, he’d BETTER be single!) can’t “girl watch” w/o getting full of lust. There is such a thing as appreciating the beauty of Heavenly Father’s creation that is woman. Of course, if you recall your “Miracle of Forgiveness” (and readers know MY alternate title for that tome), SWK said that if a woman is modestly but tastefully dressed and her sweet face is adorned by her lovely hair, that’s all we need see…can’t go wrong with that standard.

  17. E. Black
    October 10, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    General authorities bring up pornography in the general sessions of conference as well, making the statement that it’s only brought up in Priesthood session inaccurate. Should they be bringing attention to the fact that some women have problems with pornography as well? I don’t see the reason to. By addressing the issue to everyone and saying that everyone can have this problem should suffice unless it comes to be a bigger problem for women than for men.

    Pornography, whether viewed alone or with others, is a counterfeit of all the lovely things God has given us to share with our respective spouses. It does nothing to solidify a relationship. Men, if you need to look at a naked woman to be aroused, you’ve got a wife and, believe it or not, she would probably prefer you looking at HER naked body than at someone else’s. Women, if you need to imagine your husband is some Fabio-esque adonis are you really growing closer to him? It’s this subtle but insidious divisiveness that makes pornography so potent a weapon against marriage and relationships.

    “If a couple want to engage in watching pornography together should this be considered as part of their sexual repertoire and only their business – in other words, not needing a confession to a priesthood authority?”

    I’m no bishop, so I don’t think my thoughts are fully supported by the kind of preparation a bishop receives, but I’ve always felt better after talking with my bishop about things, even if he says that it wasn’t that big of a deal. When in doubt, talk to him, and don’t look at it like some sort of “judge, jury, excommunicator” situation, but an opportunity for humble teachability.

    “How would you respond if you knew of a woman who was a pornography and/or sex addict? Would that surprise you?”

    It wouldn’t surprise me, at least not any more than how the statistics for porn addiction have surprised me. This isn’t something that only men deal with, even though it may be less frequent among women. And many good points have been brought up here: women may be indulging in pornographic consumption in ways other than the traditional visual method. I go by the checkout aisle and I see some of the things printed on magazine covers and I’m reminded just how blurry the line is among what society sees as “acceptable” and what isn’t.

  18. Doug
    October 10, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    #17 (E. Black) – Aside from your counsel (hear, hear, HEAR!), thanks for a description of hopefully FEW bishops…

    “judge, jury, ex-communicator”

    Thanks for adding to the repertoire…(grin)

  19. E. Black
    October 10, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    Repertoire?

  20. Doug
    October 11, 2010 at 4:32 am

    #19 – of smart-alecky quips related to Mormonism.

    Better a “smart-ass” than a “dumb-ass”

  21. Thomas
    October 11, 2010 at 11:40 am

    I’ve suspected for awhile that the emphasis on pornography is really a back-door way for the Brethren to discourage masturbation, which (because of the social climate which makes you out to be some kind of loonie if you oppose it — see, e.g., Christine O’Donnell) the Church is uncomfortable addressing directly these days.

  22. E. Black
    October 11, 2010 at 11:46 am

    @19: Oh, gotcha. Just let the record show that I consider “judge, jury, excommunicator” to be a misinterpretation of what meeting with the bishop should be (and has been in my experience).

    @21: It’s possible that for many that pornography and masturbation are strongly connected, so discouraging one involves discouraging the other.

  23. JaneNotMyName
    October 11, 2010 at 11:54 am

    @21 Threadjack apologies. What is the current policy? My sons are teacher age and they haven’t had any questions about this in bishops interviews yet. Have they stopped asking the big M question? What age does this come up or is it up the the bishop?

  24. Jen
    October 11, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    JanetNotMyName-

    I would talk to your bishop if you want to know that question. I think it depends on the bishop and I would definitely stay involved in knowing what he is asking your children.

  25. Jen
    October 11, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Sorry, if you want to know that answer…..not question.

  26. JaneNotMyName
    October 11, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    @24 I agree, I should just ask. We’ve had a couple of different bishops now and neither have brought up masturbation with my kids. I wondered if they are waiting till they are older, or if it’s just not part of the questions for youth anymore. Does anybody know what the official word is? Personally, I’m fine with them not bringing it up. My husband and I would rather teach these things to our own children. There is something that creeps me out a bit about a middle-aged guy asking my kids probing questions about masturbation. I do wonder if it’s still a pre-mission question? Is there a zero-tolerance policy? I thought someone here might know the official word.

  27. JaneNotMyName
    October 11, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    @26 Oh, and since the original post is about women, I wondered if the M question is ever asked to girls? I never had a bishop ask me about it. I’m good with that.

  28. October 11, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    The recent trend is that porn has gone mainstream in GC; porn, it’s not just for PH session any more. And personally, I’m not really keen on that change. I suppose if you wanted to warn women about porn, the RS meeting is the way to go. But it seems like it’s a little icky to bring it up in the regular GC sessions when we theoretically might have our kids there watching.

  29. E. Black
    October 11, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    I’ve never even heard of a bishop being that specific, neither in personal interviews nor when speaking as a group. The only exception I can even see a bishop bringing that up is if he’s helping a ward member– who has come to him with that problem– through a recovery process from addiction. Even then it would quickly lead to him referring to an expert on the matter.

  30. JaneNotMyName
    October 11, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    @29 Good to know. I think the question “Do you obey the law of chastity?” should be all they need to ask, unless as you mentioned, the person indicates that there is some problem. I assume that this is the same for both men and women. IMO masturbation doesn’t violate the law of chastity. I’ll have a problem if my bishop wants to discuss it with my kids. I do think that viewing pornography is a violation of that law.

    I apologize for not searching the archives before getting off on this tangent. I notice that there was quite a good discussion of sex education and masturbation here at Mormon Matters in August.

  31. Doug
    October 11, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    You wouldn’t BELIEVE what some bishops have asked. The GHI does direct them NOT to be invasive, but some put their own spin (they call it “inspiration”, I call it nosiness). Usually a bishop will confine himself to asking “Do you keep the Law of Chastity?” and NOT give the subject, especially a teenager, the third degree.
    A mother, especially IF she’s single, has every right to know what goes on in any counseling session with their minor child. Same for Dads. I’ve raised my older kids through their teen years as a single dad.

  32. All_Black
    October 11, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    “Why is no one addressing women watching porn?”

    Several reasons. 1- It would be creepy for an older man ie General Authority, to talk about porn viewing by female teens or YSA. He has to change and control his words by saying “church standards” or “law of chastity” and pray that the teen girl understands that it includes porn.

    2- Most men are ignorant of the fact that girls do look at porn, saving pictures of naked men or curiously looking at the guy with the massive ‘male member’ and so on. We men don’t hear about it from you girls that much. But our porn looking is generally out in the public , ie porn magazines in shops, most internet porn geared to male audiences etc. So why then would men talk about female porn watching practices when we don’t see you don’t it.

    3- the church is run by the priesthood. That includes writing handbooks for women and young women. although the YW board submits material to the curriculum committee, it is still a male priesthood adviser or the male general manager who ultimately decides what goes into these manuals. And then we are back to 2-

    For an inside look at why this is failing and why the message isn’t getting through to the curriculum folks, check out http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=3274 especially the letter response by the general young women’s president compared to the general managers response (who happens to be a man off course)

  33. October 12, 2010 at 11:39 am

    I think the assumption that most women who are watching porn are doing so because they are encouraged to by their husbands is a weird one. I was surprised by it. I always thought that when singles ward bishops talked about their members having problems with the Law of Chastity, they meant going too far with making out and watching pornography. It seemed to me that since sexuality is such a basic part of us and singles are the ones dealing with avoiding it for a while, they’d be the most likely ones to get involved in it. But I guess there’s a new perspective now. I just hope my future husband never ever ever ever asks me to watch porn “for us.” That’s ridiculous. I want to be turned on by him, not by other people, strangers who most obviously don’t recognize the sacredness of the sexual act.

  34. Heidi
    October 12, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    I share your feelings, Michelle. I’ve not posted about the porn-in-marriage question because when it was posed (and then seriously considered!) I started sputtering, “What in the? How could they even–? Seriously? Seriously?!” But then my brain imploded into an uncomprehending goop and I realized I had no words to express my astonishment so I didn’t say anything. But you said it pretty well.

  35. October 12, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    #33 and 34. I agree. However, I think this is a trend. There was an article in the WSJ last week called “Playboy TV’s New Proposition: Bring In Women – As Viewers” Apparently market research shows that men would get less hassle from their wives for subscribing to Playboy if they brought on more female or couples friendly shows. The article made the point that it isn’t a big stretch for women who watched shows like Sex in the City.

    “Playboy, which has long lived in some of television’s seediest precincts, is on a crusade to win over women with more female-friendly shows. The media company, hoping to broaden its appeal and revive its flagging television business, plans to introduce a block of “couples programming” to the pay channel Playboy TV early next year. Executives say they think Playboy can compete directly with HBO and Showtime in prime time….Dubbed “TV For 2,” the lineup will include both reality and scripted shows. One in production is a young-couples take on the “Real Housewives” reality series, but with cameras in the bedroom.”

  36. Doug
    October 12, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    #35 – the ULTIMATE in “reality TV”. Somehow I knew this was where it was headed.
    Cripes, it’s been going on ever since some sexually-frustrated Egyptian carved naughty heiroglyphs into one of the pyramids (Seriously, some Egyptologists say much of the carvings that we see are the ancient equivalent of “Kilroy was here”). There where sermons spewed forth by preachers in the Gilded Age about keeping the youth from the moral perils of the Nickelodeons (hand-cranked machines showing the pics giving a brief ‘moving picture’, some of which were ‘obscene’…quite a few saloons had one or two for their ‘gentleman’ patrons). Now the porn purveyors want to make it ‘family friendly’ much like the casinos operators did with Vegas. Can’t a guy go hang out with his buds in a seedy dive anymore and indulge his baser tastes?
    Seriously, it just shows how clever the adversary and his (hopefully unwitting) minions are in getting folks sidetrack. As if we don’t create enough problems on our own!

  37. October 12, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    This is a bit off topic, but it’s in a similar vein to your thread. I have another question regarding women and porn.

    How much influence does a woman really have as to whether or not her husband turns to pornography for sexual stimulation?

    Now, before anyone goes crazy and reminds me that a woman is not to blame for her husbands actions, I agree. A person chooses whether or not they will indulge their vices and even their spouses can’t rob them of their agency. But, how many of the men in the Church who either dabble or are addicted to pornography are married to women who are either sexually bland, frigid or guilty? Having struggled with pornography myself both pre and post mission, I can say from experience that my temptation to indulge in that sin again are strongest when my wife has been unfulfilling sexually.

    Why does the Church, especially when it takes the stand – like President Hinckley did – that pornography hurts women and hurts marriage, not address the influence that wives can have on how tempting porn is for their husbands?

  38. Jen
    October 12, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    “I can say from experience that my temptation to indulge in that sin again are strongest when my wife has been unfulfilling sexually.”

    It would be interesting to hear your wife’s side of the story. A good portion of women who feel close to their spouses and trust them have highly sexually fulfilling relationships with their husbands and vice versa.

    “Having struggled with pornography myself both pre and post mission,”

    Because there was no wife pre mission, I think it is safe to assume this is more about you than about what your wife is doing or not doing.

  39. October 12, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    That doesn’t really answer my question. Unless you’re trying to say women have no influence on how tempted their husbands are by porn without really saying it.

  40. Jen
    October 12, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    “That doesn’t really answer my question. Unless you’re trying to say women have no influence on how tempted their husbands are by porn without really saying it.”

    Well, if you were looking at porn before you ever had a wife isn’t the answer obvious?

  41. October 12, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    It’s not obvious at all. Besides, you’re taking a general question and trying to apply to my situation alone. I’m not asking if it’s my wife’s fault that I’m tempted to look at porn when she isn’t as sexually receptive as I would like. If I were, the answer still wouldn’t be that obvious. I’m asking if women can have more of a positive influence on their husband’s temptations by being more sexually available. I don’t know how to ask the question any more clearly than that.

  42. Jen
    October 12, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    “I’m asking if women can have more of a positive influence on their husband’s temptations by being more sexually available.”

    I would say yes and no. It depends on where the man’s heart is really. Is he looking for sex to fulfill himself or looking to bond with his wife and feel closer to her? Is he trying to play out his sexual fantasies by asking her to do things that may be uncomfortable for her or is he trying to make her feel loved and appreciated? I think a lot of it has to do with where the relationship is, but I also think even if a man and woman have a good relationship a man may still turn to porn if that is what he ultimately wants to do. I do believe that a good relationship built on trust and respect can help prevent a man from choosing to turn to porn, and I also believe that a good relationship (i.e. trust, love, kindness, respect) is the foundation for a good sexual relationship in a marriage and women generally want to be available to a man who treats her well.

  43. Heidi
    October 13, 2010 at 8:24 am

    “Why does the Church, especially when it takes the stand – like President Hinckley did – that pornography hurts women and hurts marriage, not address the influence that wives can have on how tempting porn is for their husbands?”
    @37: I think they realize how very badly that would go over. The church already takes enough heat for its issues regarding women: history of polygamy, women not holding the priesthood, lack of female clergy . . . add in there “And women, remember that you should put out,” and you’ve got a serious PR disaster.
    I also think they know how many women are stretched to the absolute breaking point. There’s been a big push for cutting women a break and encouraging them to cut themselves breaks. I think they’re compassionate enough not to add yet ANOTHER (and such a volatile) you-must-be-doing to the list.
    The potential for such a statement to be twisted and abused by horny men is astronomical. I think they realize that.
    Lastly, I’m not sure it’s true. This is yet another very good reason for them not to say it.

  44. October 13, 2010 at 10:57 am

    41 — I think there’s a small piece in that that is so, and a big piece in that that is denial. For those who don’t remember me from another thread, I’m a sex/porn addict, and I’ve done a lot of recovery time at ldsr.org (which stands for Latter-day Sexual Recovery). Just so you know where I’m coming from.

    We’ve seen lots and lots of addicts who prefer porn and feeding their addiction even when they have the potential for sex with their spouses, because they are seeking things from sex that go beyond what they can get from a healthy sexual relationship with a spouse. Some have had that healthy sexual relationship with the spouse, and sometimes not. Sometimes, the spouse has a very low sex drive, or has been traumatized sexually and hates sex. Sometimes, the spouse feels very hurt and betrayed by the addiction and no longer wishes to have sex with the addict. Sometimes, you have a dynamic of the spouse resisting, and the addict begging/badgering. It’s all very unhealthy. For them, the spouse may have issues of their own to address, but there really is no way that the spouse’s sexual availability is going to fix the problem.

    For me, with my recovery, I’m at a stage where I’m thinking having a spouse I could have a reasonable sexual life with would be enough that I would not be drawn to porn. But I’m not in a place where that can happen in the near future, so I have to keep working on myself. It’s a challenge.

  45. Doug
    October 13, 2010 at 11:17 am

    #41 – it’s not an issue of “fault” (e.g. sin) to be TEMPTED. Even the Savior faced temptation (of course, HE stood up to it).

    What you’re probably doing is walking the line between influence versus excuse as far as your wife’s bedroom failings, real or perceived, play the role. That is, sure, she may be less than your expected, AND, let’s even assume that any reasonable marital counselor trained to deal with sexual issues would agree that she has problems. STILL, for your own good you must SEPARATE the issues. That is, your wife’s shortcomings as a wife must not be allowed, however subtly, to justify your own weakness vis-a-vis porn. Many brothers and sisters do far worse in that they justify to themselves straying, to whatever degree, rather than having the guts to work out their marital problems or get a divorce BEFORE “playing the field” (been there, and unfortunately, done that).
    I think of one of my fave movies, “Major League”, where the Cuban slugger, Pedro Cerrano, frustrated with his inablility to hit a curveball and having repeatedly implored his Voodoo god, Jobu, to help him (a “born-again” Christian teammate suggested taking the Lord as his Savior to which Cerrano replies, “Ah…Jesus [Spanish pronounciation], Him I like very much…but He no help with curveball!), declares with an 0-2 count, “I stick up for you, Jobu, give you rum and cigars. You no help me now…I say (forget) you, Jobu, I’ll do it for myself”. He then clubs the next pitch way up into the bleachers to tie the game. Ultimately, we need to do what’s right for ourselves and it’s not selfishness to think that way.
    Remember that this terrestrial world and its inhabitants thereof (including you, your wife, myself, my wife, etc. etc.) are imperfect for many reasons. One I can think of is cited in Ether 12:7…”I give unto MEN weaknesses that they may find strengths”. It’s speculation but perhaps both your sexual appetites and your apparent propensity to hook up with a woman that in some ways doesn’t match up well may be YOUR weakness. You know better than anyone so judge for yourself. Regardless, you have the opportunity to find strength.
    This is why I believe that the Savior was married. Not that I necessarily believe that if HE was (or is) married that HE necessarily had to put up with what you and I have, but, see D&C 19:16-19. Somehow, I suspect that on Judgement Day those of us that faced marital and or chastity issues will face the One that knows all too well these things.

  46. anonymous
    March 30, 2011 at 4:37 am

    I cannot believe that there are no posts here after almost half a year! This is an area I’ve often wondered about and felt very left very adrift on. I am a single woman in my late twenties and I have struggled with a pornography and masturbation addiction since almost before I can remember. To this day I have never, ever felt the support of the leaders of the church directly in this matter. The shame and guilt I have felt because of these actions have fundamentally shaped who I am and how I react to others and I deeply wish that some church leader, man or woman, had somehow been instructed how to offer guidance and support on the subject to the young women of the church. I wish this had happened when I was young.
    I don’t know how much, if at all, acknowledgment that pornography is a problem for girls as well would have helped me. I would like to think that even knowing that there was some recognition that pornography was a problem for girls too and that somehow my Bishop would be prepared to help me deal with it… I just don’t know. I do know that this past year I have taken the initiative to turn my life around and finally conquer this most personally destructive disease. The most difficult thing I have ever done was to tell a man I hardly knew that I had masturbated since I was six. I don’t think he knew what to say or how to react. I came away with assurances of my Lord’s forgiveness and the miracle of the atonement but not with any earthly help or guidance on overcoming not just the physical and mental addiction but the emotional and psychological scarring that goes with it.
    The thought that I often have now that brings me some comfort is that all trials, even the self-inflicted ones, are things we go through for a reason. And if, someday, I can help even one single young woman overcome her self-loathing and guilt enough to approach her Heavenly Father and her Savior for forgiveness and aid then maybe all this – the self-inflicted pain, and loneliness, and loathing – will have had some purpose.

    • Natasha Helfer Parker
      May 6, 2011 at 6:43 am

      I just wanted to point out that childhood masturbation is quite common both in boys and girls and is not considered sinful – even within the Mormon faith. There is some interesting insight about this in “A Parent’s Guide” which you can find on lds.org. It isn’t until the adolescent years that the church expects its members to curtail this behavior. I also want to point out that outside of a traditional religion lens, the medical community sees masturbation (unless used compulsively) as part of normal sexual behavior (including the pediatric field).
      Please do not shame yourself with inappropriate guilt over sexual expression as a child.

    • Altochimp
      May 16, 2011 at 3:55 pm

       Wow its incredible to hear your story, I hope u overcome your problem – I think that represents the Beast of our nature – choosing good or evil, but to be sensual is carnal and I know this cause my heart grieves when I lust, and the Holy Ghost is never wrong

      But you are brave and no matter what if the Church can or cannot help u, its Still down to the Lord and the Saviour – Well done :)))

  47. Millie
    April 26, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Thank you for your post. I think it is very helpful! I think this topic should be addressed more. I’m glad you have found healing. Best wishes in your journey forward. I am single and in my early 30s. I was just kissed for the first time and from that point on, I’ve been struggling with a preocupation and curiosity with sexual things. It gives me strength to read others journeys and can help me avoid further mistakes. Thank you

  48. anonymous
    April 27, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    I found this and honestly wanted to put my two cents in.

    First, when the church addresses a problem to men then almost always it’s meant to be addressed to both genders. For instance, in the Bible it says “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from God” or something along those lines. Nitpicking about whether it’s better to say ‘man’ or ‘mankind’ or ‘everyone’ misses the point. Porn is bad. Simple as that. Doesn’t matter your gender, it’s damaging to the soul and I don’t need to have the church specify that my gender isn’t exempt.

    Second, bishops are human last I checked. It’s uncomfortable for a man to talk to a woman about her sexual addiction or problem. If it wasn’t, then there’d be a problem. I’m sure that every bishop who has a woman come in and try to talk about this is embarrassed.

    As an addict, someone who’s constantly fighting this, I KNOW I was warned as a teen in YW about porn use, and knew it was dangerous. I remember being warned against even watching Soap Operas, and 90210 (which was new at the time) which now obviously extends to Degrassi, Skins, and any other preteen/teen show that has sexual themes. The only gray area that I remember was the books and stories which I have seen addressed since then as being inappropriate. “No one told me” is a poor excuse.

    And yes, I agree it’s false intimacy. I was first introduced to porn by a boyfriend who wanted to do something ‘safe’ while building intimacy between us. I was in college and felt like I was stunted in growth for not having ever experienced anything sexual. This seemed harmless enough, so we chatted online and it went inappropriate. Later I found out some things about him that made me break up with him. Having experienced real intimacy with my husband, I know that what I had with that boyfriend was false.

    • SM
      September 13, 2011 at 1:05 am

      I don’t remember being warned about porn in YW, ever. It’s always been the “feeling” that sexual sins belong to men and prostitutes. If I had ever learned that women can be addicted to sex AND STILL be women, it would have changed my self perception a long time ago. I don’t hold it against the Church. I believe that the Church speaks on heavy trends, like Natasha said, and bringing up women sex addiction in a very public setting (i.e. General Conference) may cause more issues than it solves. However, I do wish it would be discussed in smaller groups, like Relief Society or YW, in not-mixed company. I Have confessed to many bishops and they have been wonderful with me- never judgmental, never indicating that they believed I was less than human because of my addictions. I have been very blessed with bishops and I’m very grateful, and if THEY’RE embarrassed, they should really think about the poor woman who is confessing. It is VERY difficult to be a woman, in this culture, confessing to a man. Again, I don’t hold it against the Church at all; quite the opposite. This beautiful Gospel is what is freeing me from my addictions.
      “No one told me” isn’t a poor excuse because it’s no excuse at all. I dont’ think anyone here was excusing their behavior because no one told them it was wrong. While it’s not an excuse, I do think being much more open about it in the Church would prevent or at the very least humanize the problem, so women could remember that tehy are still women, still human, and still worthy of redemption.

  49. Addedupon
    May 10, 2011 at 9:57 am

    FWIW, served as singles ward bishop and now do addiction recovery. 100% of the dozen or so women i have talked with about porn addiction also were coping with wating disorders, depression, self mutilation (cutting themselves), and suicidal inclinations. chastize me but i considered the porn issue far less important than the life threatening behaviors and dealt with it accordingly, i.e. they had to fix that to be temple worthy but i found myself almost unconcerned about it. don’t know why, but the women who sought repentance regarding porn, were not dealing with any sexual relationship concerns.

    • Addedupon
      May 10, 2011 at 9:59 am

      meant to say eating disorders

  50. Altochimp
    May 16, 2011 at 3:58 pm

     learn from our mistakes and move on, Forgive yourselfs, Youre not perfect – Let the Lord be the Judge

    …But avoid the dirt

  51. valkirisong
    May 25, 2011 at 5:17 am

    My Bishop gave his porn talk once a year and always opened with “Pornography is everybody’s problem.  I believe every man and every woman has problems with porn, and that is the assumption I automatically make before you come to my office.  There’s no shame in one’s susceptibility to porn, that’s why it’s addictive.  Shame isn’t the point – dealing with it is.”

    • Nicole Matthews
      September 12, 2011 at 7:09 pm

      Wow! I am so impressed with your bishop! I really hadn’t thought of it before, but it really IS everyone’s problem! I think we just see so much immodesty these days that When I’m walking down the mall and come to Victoria’s Secret, I just think “wow, I love that bra set”…not even realizing that huge poster is ‘soft’ porn.
      It’s everybody’s problem because although that gal in the bra set doesn’t turn me on, it certainly may turn on someone! And, what woman who has given her life and her body to raising children wants to have that gorgeous gal to compare herself to. (I know we’re not supposed to compare…). Worse yet, are the comparisons the men in your life could make! Haha!
      Anyway, that’s a long way of saying that I am so impressed with your bishop, starting the conversation and making it a safe place for those already ensnared, and giving a voice of warning to everyone else! =D

  52. Anonymous
    June 20, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Wow.  I’m so glad I found this article. 
    First off, I’ve been struggling with a porn/masturbation addiction since I was introduced by a friend when I was eleven. Now, I’m nearly 18, and I still have problems. While, I have never expressly heard anything from the brethren about porn and women who watch it, I realized that just because they haven’t expressly aimed a talk or declaration towards women, that doesn’t make it okay. I know that participating in pornography is bad. Plain and simple. 
    But, I also understand the addiction. For all my life, I’ve been taught to curtail all my sexual urges and to save everything for marriage, and I agree and understand why. However, masturbating was a release. 
    I would be thrilled if the brethren would talk about female porn addiction at least once. The whole issue feels so taboo and uncharted, and having some concrete guidance would be phenomenal. 
    However, I love what valkirisong quoted in their post: “There’s no shame in one’s susceptibility to porn, that’s what it’s addictive. Shame isn’t the point – dealing with it is.” 

    I love that, and I wanted to thank whoever opened this forum for discussion. 

  53. Bro Jo
    July 19, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    See “Dear Bro Jo” this Friday, July 22, 2011.  http://www.dearbrojo.blogspot.com

  54. glass ceiling
    August 28, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    They don’t ask women if they masturbate in Bishop’s interviews. However, men get this question from the time they are 12 years old. Men have prostates and sometimes need to flush it. So what is the reason that men get grilled with this question, and women do not?

    • SM
      September 13, 2011 at 1:15 am

      I’m a woman and in my 12 year old interview I was asked if I masturbate. Having never heard the term before, the bishopric guy told me what it was. I realized I was guilty but I lied.

  55. Guest
    June 6, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    The adversary is very smart and his snares can sometimes be predicted as long as you look back to his motives. He doesn’t just want the men of the priesthood he wants all of Gods children. If you think of it like this and compare the recent shift in pornography to appeal to women, mothers, and the female species as a whole you will see a common thread and that is the snares may change but the fact remains that he wants everyone not just men. They just happen to be the most established and recognizable target, for now. That may change The carnage left behind is still the same no matter the snare. Spiritual separation from God a loss of natural feeling for what is good. And bondage to addictive behaviors that only help to deepen the separation. Men and women both have weaknesses that the adversary can clearly see. The only way to beat this type of enemy is to accept our weaknesses and that they are not a secret to our enemy the adversary and then with faith in our Heavenly Father turn those weaknesses into strengths and then continue to do those things that will make us strong instead of weak in those areas. Its like caring for your physical body. Just because you once learned or even mastered what you need to do to keep your body healthy doesn’t mean that it still can’t be broken down with improper use. 

  56. Stephen
    September 21, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    My opinions are my own opinions and not the views of the church. My background is that I am male. I am a RM. But I have been a pornography addict for 12 years. I see my addiction as a big spiritual and psychological problem, and I am working to overcome it. However, I can also see the good of pornography use. So here is my response to these questions posed in this MM post.

    1) Yes. I think that the issue of pornography is not just a male issue. Though the majority of pornographic viewers are male, this doesn’t mean that females are excluded.

    2) This is a hard one. I think that pornogrpahy can give false intimate feelings. Sex is an act to express feelings for one another. So when we’re watching porn, we may ened up having feelings towards the porn actors/ actress (i,e. attraction towards their body shape or looks), or the sexual action taking place in the porn (that our spouses may not know or even be willing to try). However pornography can help teach us more ways to express ourselves sexually. I see sex as a language, and sometimes we just need a book or film to teach us how to use the language better and more creatively. However for this to work between a married couple, they must be openly willing to talk about what they like, what they don’t like, what they’re willing to experiment with, what they would like from one another.

    3) Hypothetically, if was allowed within the married life to improve sex life of one another (as I have discussed in the previous answer), the use of porn within marriage should be openly discussed with a Priesthood leader. One, so the Priesthood leader can give spiritual guidance to ensure that the viewing of porn is purely to enhance the sexual intimacy of the couple, and also that one spouse does not take it too far to become sexually addicted to porn and lose attraction the other spouse.

    4) It would not suprise me if a woman was a pornography addict. And, in my eyes, it would not make the person any less of a good or faithful person in the world. There are many many uderlying reasons as to why a person would become a pornography addict. The addiction is just the tip of the ice berg, the rest of the iceberg hidden underneath the water encapsulates a whole lot more than what we can comprehend.

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