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Sex, selfies, social media and self-service

Everybody’s talking about it and everybody’s doing it, or at least that’s how it looks, and not just in the West.

Gone are the days of not kissing on the first date and saving sex until marriage. We are now living in a day and age where we find ourselves in a fast-paced society, where absolutely anything goes.

Less thought goes into the consequences of one’s actions, instead there is the mind-set that so long as you’re not hurting anyone you should be able to do what makes you happy.

The problem with this thought process is when you cross the line of doing what makes you happy but at the indirect expense of someone else’s happiness. So, what do I mean by that?

On a broad scale, quite simply I’m referring to prostitution. When a man purchases the sexual services of another, he’s fulfilled and happy, but the same realistically cannot be said for the prostitute.

Having personally visited the Red Light District in parts of Asia and engaged in conversation with foreign men in the Philippines, there are some deluded individuals who think they are helping the women.

They have honestly convinced themselves that exchanging sex for money puts food on the table and a roof over these prostitutes heads, which in a way it does, but whilst also putting them at risk of contracting STDs or becoming pregnant. Instead a more appropriate alternative would be a no-strings-attached financial gift, payment towards an education etc.

From my experience, having worked with victims and survivors of the sex industry, they do not choose to be there. In fact, they are often there because of a lack of choice.

These men and women are talented actors and actresses in my opinion who have no choice but to lie so that the customer can get the full experience.

But is it really an experience? When we use a term like customer this makes it sound more transactional, that the man is purchasing a service or product. The reality however, cannot be shrouded in pretty terms because prostitution is not a job. Prostitution is paid rape and the customer is a rapist.

It is evident to those at least in the anti-trafficking world that society is normalising sex on screen and not just in movies, but also through social media platforms.

NCOSE

Having volunteered with NCOSE at their D.C. headquarters and also at their Global Summit, I listened to academics and scholars talk about the harmful effects of pornography consumption. This is notwithstanding the fact that pornography is often not a victimless crime particularly when we think about child pornography and human trafficking. It’s all about supply, demand and content.

The common misconception is that adult film stars love for sex is what entices them into the pornography industry. The reality is much less sexy, because the likelihood is that they were victimised sexually at some point in their life, often during their childhood.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) refers to any traumatic experience in a person’s childhood such as abuse. Statistics in the U.S. reveal that at least one in three females have experienced sexual abuse at some time in their lives.

The effect of repeated childhood sexual abuse can sometimes leave the individual believing that their value is in giving their body sexually, and when we relate this to their existence in the sex industry it is often viewed by them as empowerment because what was taken for free now has a price tag attached. Such men and women are victims.

Pornography is destructive to participants and viewers alike. Men and boys are struggling to relate to females sexually because of their inability to separate pornography from reality, and their desire to emulate what they see on the screen.

Videos are becoming increasingly more degrading in nature where the women are hit, strangled, raped and spat on.

Consumers want each new video to push the bar, where their wildest fantasies are portrayed on screen. It is not all an act however, because when the female is being suffocated, she is crying real tears and is not enjoying herself. When the cameras stop rolling some of these women have reported having STDs, and not in their genitals but in their eyes. This makes you wonder if this really just the hazard of the job?

Marriages have been destroyed because of a husband’s pornography addiction. Not only because of unreasonable sexual expectations, a lack of sexual interest in their spouse, but also the financial impact.

This, however, is not just a male problem because women and girls are also consuming pornography, some of whom want to emulate what they see by being raped by their boyfriend. It has even been reported as a problem that exists in the church with some pastors struggling with this addiction. Clearly, no one is immune from the grip of pornography once they become entangled.

Even more worrying are studies that have revealed boys as young as 10 are addicted to pornography. They likely stumbled upon it innocently but developed an appetite for it which eventually spiraled out of control.

One of the major problems that arise with excessive pornography consumption is that it can lead to erectile-dysfunction.

Help

Now, help is available and not in the shape of a pill. However, it starts with acknowledging that you have a problem, sincerely wanting to change and taking the practical steps towards freedom. It serves no purpose being in denial about the extent of the problem, nor is there any reason to be ashamed.

Pornography is known to be debilitating. Pornography addiction is a real problem. One great resource is Covenant Eyes that monitors your activity and sends a report to someone you are accountable too, it also has a feature to block pornography and inappropriate search results.

There are also other apps that can help you get back control of your life. You may also want to consider getting counselling to help you work through your addiction and any past trauma.

One final word of advice, don’t be hard on yourself if you slip up. You’re human so that is to be expected, instead, take each day as it comes and focus on your successes.

The writer is a human rights advocate and author of CYKAS: Can You Keep A Secret? E-mail: Juanita.headley@changingcases.com 

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