Your Porn Is Making Me Crazy

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Yes, you.

We’ve got some talking to do.

If your leading lady has become crazy and paranoid, I have a few tips for you.
My brother and I were recently discussing the state of my sanity–always tenuous–when we veered into gender territory.

I’m a woman; he’s a man. By default, he looks at my insecurities and sees crazy written all up and down that wall. But my brother distrusts default mode.
Suspicious, he says in his Sherlock Holmes/Cartman voice. (Yes, my brother is awesome.)
Suspicious indeed, I say. But you don’t know the half of it.

The truth is that my brother’s reflex to dismiss my insecurities is more than just his own socialization. The more sinister truth–to my mind–is that women are socialized to be irrational.

That’s right, I said it. Left to socialization and our own love-infections for macho douche bags, women be crazy.

No? You think it’s having two X chromosomes that makes us this way?

As I’ve discussed in earlier posts, girls are brought up to lay their own well-being–intellectual, psychological, professional, emotional–at the feet of The Relationship Throne. That is breaking a basic law of mental health, i.e. treat your own well-being as a priority.

It’s not even remotely functional.

Moreover, girls–me included–are raised to view our self-worth as stock prices, set by a market (men) where we have absolutely no voice.

Patriarchy isn’t kind to boys, either–but at least they are raised to invest their self-worth in doing things. Run for office. Build a career. Start an investment portfolio.

Relationships are a mere percentage of a man’s sense of self-worth, and almost none of his agency springs from how his girl treats him.

Women?

*snort*

The only action women have been trained to take in a tough spot is to elicit male desire–akin to firing a flare–and then wait for rescue.

My brother looks around him and observes that most women lead “ill-conceived lives.”

That implies some conceiving actually went into that sucker, past the ring and the poofy white dress.

And that’s just not how we raise our girls.

But it gets worse.

In addition to my social training to think I’m really only worth something if I can catch a man’s eye, I’ve also been brought up to believe that it is my responsibility to meet my man’s every desire. 

Humanly impossible, you say?

Perfect, patriarchy says. Because there goes the time and energy that I should have invested in planning my own life.

So here’s the crazy of our female socialization: If I truly am everything–namely, a full and worthwhile woman–my man will look no further for anything, ever. Not candy corn. Not Spider-Man movies. And definitely not light flirtations.

Ergo, if he looks elsewhere, he must really be looking elsewhere. Ergo, I have failed in my relationship. Ergo, I have failed as a woman. Ergo, I have failed as a human being, and I will die alone.

But remember, women are socialized from first princess dress to last to operate in either-or fallacies and catastrophic thinking.

Does this mean that you, as a man, are responsible for retraining the brains of your female loved ones?

Absolutely not.

What it does mean is that out of basic human decency, you shouldn’t pour gasoline on that fire.

I mean, if your aunt was struggling with schizophrenia, you wouldn’t follow her around all day playing looped YouTube videos from behind curtains and armchairs–would you?

(Let’s pretend you answered no, and move on.)

So if you know–and now you do–that women have enough bullshit to battle in their own heads, why in hell’s good name would you add to our struggle against these frantic, crazy impulses by doing porn?

It drives us off the edge.

And here’s why:
Women are already primed to be inadequate for their male partners. But we’ve been socialized to feel that our value and identity is dependent on giving men everything they desire–in other words, to prove to all parties that we are not only responsible for male desire, but up to that responsibility.

Porn, on a certain level, is even more destructive than cheating because no woman can measure up to the carefully calibrated fantasies of addictive porn. Porn reprograms male desire and sexual behavior–even more dramatically and unrealistically than a new partner would. And women feel this. But why would we leave a porn addict? After all, he’s not really cheating.

So women whose partners are dependent on porn for sexual satisfaction become locked in a relationship that plays on all the fears that society has planted most deeply in us. Those fears deepen into full-on paranoia, and the woman takes upon herself the responsibility not only for the porn addiction but for meeting the unrealistic cravings that porn has constructed.

And that’s enough to make anyone irrational.

So next time you pull up that website, think carefully about the toll it will take on your ability to connect with a partner–and her ability to handle the insecurities she’s already fighting to manage.

This post was inspired by months of dialogue about Josh Hornbeck’s new play, Midnights at the Electric Blue Angel, opening November 7 in Seattle. For tickets and performance details, click here: http://m.bpt.me/event/886970

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