The Evolution of an Anti-porn Star. By Dawn.

I was sexually abused in conjunction with a man's porn use. From the ages of six to nine, this man used me as his masturbation tool and semen receptacle while he looked at women in pornographic magazines. He gave me cartoons from Playboy to read when I wasn't with him, and had me focus on the pictorials while he molested me or jerked off onto my body.

It took a lot of study, reflection and healing to accept that I had been groomed to accept this exposure, this abuse, this devaluing of women and children, as normal.

It took intimate involvement with porn users to see the damage done to men by pornography.

As a young adult I chose to ignore pornography, thereby ignoring my discomfort when exposed to it. I accepted as fact that most people use it, enjoy it and think of it as harmless, and that my freaky feelings about it were simply the by-product of an abnormal childhood. I fell for the lie that few people have negative experiences with porn. When I hit my thirties, I finally started making connections between porn and its effects on my life and those around me.

After my divorce, I started seeing a man who seemed like my soul mate: passionate, intense, lover of music, appreciative of my cooking. We moved in together, and for a time he seemed so open, especially sexually. He would share his sexual fantasies with me and liked hearing mine.

As an extension of this, he brought porn into our relationship, sharing his favorite Penthouse pictorials with me. I tried to enjoy it, and actually did find one pictorial somewhat artistic, in spite of its hint of brutality. But as I looked through the magazine, saw the torture/rape cartoon fantasy, the girls in the back page ads who looked underage and under extreme domination, I grew more and more uncomfortable. Yet I still felt "out of line" asking him to stop using. In my confusion, I asked him to switch to Playboy because, as everyone knows, Hefner's rag is oh-so respectful of women.

Our relationship ended when I found his pictures of a 13 year-old neighbor in her bikini, blowing him kisses and lolling around on our couch. He said his 7 year-old son took the pictures, but for some reason that he was never able to articulate, he kept them for himself. I should have clearly seen the connection between the young looking girls in Penthouse, his voyeuristic tendencies and this "accidental" collection of photos of a barely clothed and barely teenage girl, but I didn't. We fought and I gave in to the argument that I am overly sensitive to signs of possible sexual abuse due to my past. But
I still could not have him as my partner any longer.

Something was beginning to seep through my consciousness. I didn't see any reason to disbelieve the general consensus that porn is nothing more than eye candy. Just because I felt more and more mental anguish when confronted with pornography, how could I impose MY sickness on a man I cared about?

Now, for the last two years I've been with a man who was addicted to internet pornography. He awoke at 5am to rush into the computer room to "read the news" for an hour or more before he got ready for work. First thing after arriving home in the evenings he would rush to the computer room to "read the news" (again?) or check his mail (specifically, from his circle of pornographer friends).

The computer room is inconveniently located in the farthest corner of the house, on the other side of the garage, and is very private. Once hidden away back there, it was next to impossible to drag him out for anything. Even if I could, he would go back in there throughout the night, particularly if he'd just seen some really cute woman on TV. He stayed in that room long after I went to bed, often staying up until 1, 2, 3am. Always "working on some programming" or some other very important, very intense, very un-interruptible work. If I suggested sex he was often too "tired," but sometimes he'd agree then rush to the computer room and come out with a hard-on. Hmm.

All this time he wavered between denying all porn use and downplaying how much of it he consumed.

So I tried to overcome my discomfort by making it a "couples thing," and suggested we find porn we could use together. Our tastes didn't mesh, so I tried to find things I could enjoy while he was enjoying himself. Sure, I liked some of what I saw, but that stuff made it hard for me to stay tuned in to my boyfriend. I was seeing men who were far more attractive than he is, and my body reacted to that. But I prefer real men to pictures, and I never found the satisfaction I was looking for. I was hungry for a real body to touch, a real person to listen to me, talk to me, touch me.

I ventured further into the porn scene when my boyfriend hooked me up with newsgroups and their stunning array of image files. I began to stumble across things that seemed more and more vile. There are whole genres of porn which are becoming increasingly popular and mainstream in which women are reviled, sometimes so horribly that they break down in tears during production. Men meet in discussion groups, reviewing these scenes with pure glee.

Finally it was beginning to dawn on me that pornography is not an appreciation of human sexuality, but a worship of human desecration and always a revocation of our need for intimacy.

It took about two months of this searching to reach the conclusion that porn cannot be a part of my life. Still hanging onto my indoctrination, I felt like a prudish killjoy. Thing is, I've always loved sex, so why is it that anti-objectification and anti-vilification is said to be anti-sex, anti-man and anti-fun?

I educated myself with books about the sex industry and sexual addictions, both from the feminist perspective and from the users themselves. My boyfriend had spoken out so hatefully against Andrea Dworkin, that I looked her up online. Before this, I had no idea who she was, but I've since found out that Penthouse and Playboy spend a great deal of time smearing her in their magazines, which is where my boyfriend received his misinformation. As I soon discovered, Dworkin is a brilliant political thinker. I started reading passages of her writings to my boyfriend. It became obvious even to him how smart she is and slowly his opinion of her has changed for the better.

Finally I found the courage to tell my boyfriend he had to choose between the pornography or me. I wanted him in my life, but not if it meant denying my self-worth and my right to a deep emotional attachment with a man. He came awfully close to making the wrong decision. We almost broke up over it. He first tried the old strategy of putting me on the defensive: I was the one with the problem, you see, I was blowing it out of proportion. Maybe I was jealous, too emotional. He repeatedly called me delusional and obsessive. Meanwhile, he was getting an average of less than 4 hours sleep a night due to his addiction.

Then a funny thing happened. He actually decided to give it up. Maybe it was fear of losing our relationship, or maybe Dworkin made sense to him. I'm not sure what the key element was in his decision, but now he's well on his way to freeing himself from pornography's death grip.

It wasn't easy. He began to have physical withdrawal symptoms: heart palpitations, severe shortness of breath to the point of feeling suffocated, inability to concentrate, a raging hard-on, and an almost uncontrollable urge to look at naked women. He tells me that it is harder to quit porn than smoking. The addiction is very real.

He now realizes the importance of women standing up to their men and their use of pornography. He has told me that women should stop putting up with it, and maintains that men will listen only when powerful and outspoken girlfriends and wives force them to, and if they can be shown how this stuff harms MEN. Now that I've seen this damage up close, I understand the need for broadcasting that message to the world.

Interestingly, a positive side effect has been an increase in his energy levels. He gets a lot more done now, and his creativity is way up. Most importantly, he feels closer to me, enjoys sex with me more, and more often. In fact, a few weeks ago he looked up at me after sex and said so cutely, "I feel so close to you right now, and kind of vulnerable." It scared him - he had never felt that way before. I said, "That's what sex is supposed to be like within a loving relationship. That's intimacy."

He's had to change his whole way of thinking about sex and relating to a sexual partner. He seems to be learning that sex doesn't have to be done like it is in the movies, and has been more open to exploration and creativity in our intimacy. Now he is interested in learning more about the effects of pornography on the male brain. It's making him angry to know how powerful pornography really is. We are still struggling through the process of figuring out how to break this addiction.

That addiction affected my sexuality, too. It doesn't feel good to have a sex partner who needs to rush off to look at porn in order to get into the mood to have sex. My body image suffered. And, frankly, I became so depressed dealing with this issue that my sex drive has begun to suffer. That has been a recent development, and I feel certain that I will recover my energy as my depression lifts. I am beginning to feel better already. I also became very distrustful of him after so many months of his cover ups and outright deception, but I'm slowly becoming less wary. It was his addiction, but it affected us both.

I really feel for anyone who finds themselves in the same predicament with their partners. It is very difficult to build a loving, caring, open relationship with a person who wants to use pornography. It is very much like being with a drug addict. As sad as it would have been for me, I was willing to walk away from the relationship if he continued to use pornography at the rate he did.

So I say educate yourself as much as possible, learn all that you can about the scientific research and the findings that feminist groups, mental health experts and even government agencies have been reporting. Make sure you have a good support system of friends and family who will care for you during the turbulent times. I couldn't have done it, I don't think, if not for validation of my pain and worries from my loved ones.

This experience is hurtful, but tolerating pornography in your life is much, much worse! Lastly, be prepared for the fact that he just might choose the pornography over the relationship. This is so very sad. Many a relationship has been sacrificed to pornography. Please remember that you deserve to be happy and to have healthy relationships. Make no apologies for the fact that pornography will have no place in your life.


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