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My recent column titled "So Your Husband Watches Porn? Don't Freak Out" for Make it Better Magazine has caused several upset readers to write letters to my editor. The readers felt that normalizing any kind of porn use is the same as supporting porn addiction, sex trafficking, child slavery and the exploitation of women - heavy stuff. You can read the original column by following this link:
My editor asked me to respond to the criticism, which I did, and I'm sharing those thoughts with you here:
1) Porn is a huge, controversial topic, and due to the constraints of my column, I had to narrowly define the scope of my piece. I asked three local experts the question - If a woman discovers her husband is watching porn, what does it mean for their relationship and what should she do? I chose this question because it's one women have asked me - frequently - to address. In over four years, this is the first time I've written about pornography. Given how prevalent it is in our society, it seemed time to do so.
2) All three women therapists were consistent in how they answered my question. They recommended that women try to understand why and how their husband uses porn rather than react judgmentally. They also voiced that the process of talking about porn (and perhaps sharing in it) could build intimacy between the couple, especially compared to outrage, shaming and rejection. My column is based on their professional opinions, not my own. I was actually surprised that they were so aligned.
3) Porn CAN be addictive and, like any addiction, can be destructive to the addict and his loved ones. If porn interferes with the deeper sexual connection sex therapist Barbary Whitney spoke of in my piece (see below) it's not a good thing.
Northbrook Clinical Social Worker and Sex Therapist Barbara Whitney says a critical question to ask about porn is “Does it promote and enhance a deeper sexual connection between you and your partner, or does it interfere with one?”
4.) I am absolutely against sexual exploitation of anyone. In fact, one of the main goals of the column is to give women information that empowers them to explore their sexuality and enjoy it on their own terms - especially in long term relationships.
So that's my story and I'm stickin' with it. And hey, not all the reactions to that column have been bad. Just two nights ago, I met a group of lively women at a local restaurant. "She's the sex columnist," one woman said, recognizing me from a Make it Better event. "She's the one who wrote the column about porn."
Yep, I'm the one. I walked over to their table to greet them.
One of her friends said, "I pulled that column right out and gave it to my girlfriend. She's been having a lot of issues with her husband. It was so helpful."
That was very gratifying to hear.
I do understand that pornography can be a disturbing topic, but it's here, it's in our world, so we might as well deal with it. I appreciate those letter writers for adding to the discussion, because talking about it is how we women figure it out. Together.
I'd love to hear your comments.