Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pornography and Women

Pornography

This post has been a long time coming. I've thought about how to approach this topic tastefully, but well and thoroughly. In University I joined a Combatting Pornography group and a group for Women Dealing with Pornography. I was frustrated by how little the women around me knew or understood or would talk about pornography, especially as it relates to women.

So starting right at the very beginning: what is pornography?

DEFINITION
  • "Pornography depicts or describes the human body or sexual conduct in a way that arouses sexual feelings." (Let Virtue Garnish thy Thoughts, p 5).
  • "Pornography: Printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity." --Google definition
  • "Pornography: 1. The depiction of erotic [sexual] behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement. 2. Material (as in books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement. --Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  • Hardcore vs. Softcore pornography: Softcore pornography can generally be described as focusing on scantily clad women in suggestive poses. Hardcore pornography explicitly showcases sexual relations.

ORIGIN
  • Greek pornographos, adjective. Writing about prostitutes, from pornÄ“: prostitute + graphein: to write. --Merriam-Webster Dictionary

FOR WOMEN
  • Women are not as prone to use the type of internet porn we hear about, with pictures and videos of women. Women's weakness for pornography is, rather, in literature. Mass market romance, romance novels, grocery store novels. You've probably seen them, with pictures of steamy love-making underway on the front covers. Recent popular pornographic literature includes titles such as the "Twilight" series, and "Fifty Shades of Grey."
  • I also believe that pornography and sex education are intimately connected. Many people turn to pornography for sex-ed. "What does a naked man/woman look like?" "What does sex involve?" While I believe strongly in education, I also think that education can go too far, and that is exactly what pornography does. I remember a church leader once saying: "There ought to be something left to discover when you get married." And I agree. An awesome part of marriage is discovering and exploring your sexuality with a committed partner, in a relationship of total trust and fidelity.
  • Another snare for women is that we are very aware of/competitive about/insecure about our physical appearance. Looking at other 'beautiful' women, scantily clad or not, is a way to build a reserve of comparisons that we switch between trying to emulate or ridicule. It can also be a trap for some women who want to know if their body looks 'right.' "What do other women's breasts look like?" may not be a conscious question we ask ourselves, but it definitely is a reason many women don't look away immediately upon seeing pornographic material.

DANGER
The following several quotes are taken from an article in the Washington Times, which I feel did a very good job of displaying some of the dangers of pornography. Click here to read the whole article.

  • "Science has shown that the brain reacts and takes in images in a certain way and can be detrimental in the developing mind of a child. When a man or woman becomes sexually aroused, the levels of endorphins and enkephalin in the prefrontal cortex are at their highest. Whatever a person visualizes at that point — real or imaginary — his or her body glues to, hungers for and craves, and the adrenal glands imprint that image on the mind."
  • “The more pornography women use, the more likely they are to be victims of non-consensual sex,” said Mary Anne Layden, professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston. “The earlier the male starts using pornography, the more likely they are to be the perpetrators of non-consensual sex.”
  • “If a man or woman ejaculates to pornography on a regular basis they will actually attach to sex as object relationships as opposed to intimate relationships,” Mr. Weiss said. “So they will actually hunger for object relationships, creating over time what we call intimacy anorexia."
  • “If they’re an addict, they stop developing spiritually, relationally and morally, at the age of the onset of the addiction,” said Mr. Weiss.
  • When we abuse the body, we abuse the soul. There are very real and painful emotional and physical consequences of being unchaste. I should mention here that the meaning of unfaithfulness for me includes looking at pornography.
  • Do you really want to be a "filth consumer"?

MORALLY WRONG
  • Why it is wrong to get aroused from the display of Pornographic material: Pornography is a violation of someone's body through displaying or manipulating it. That is not ok because it is violating their personal temple. My participation in the violation of another's body is unethical.
  • The adversary tries to thwart the Lord’s plan of happiness by suggesting that physical intimacy is only for personal gratification. Pornography encourages this destructive and selfish preoccupation. -p.1 of "Let Virtue Garnish Thy Thoughts"
  • Television programs, pictures, movies, songs, and books often treat unchastity and infidelity as common, appealing, and humorous. Unchastity and infidelity are among the most destructive of acts, for everyone involved. They should not be taken lightly or made to be 'normal' or humorous.
  • "The standard remains abstinence before marriage and total fidelity in marriage." Elder Packer
  • "We...declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife." --The Family a Proclamation to the World
  • "Do not let your passions destroy your dreams. Withstand temptation. Remember the words from the book of Mormon: wickedness never was happiness." President Monson

COMBATING PORNOGRAPHY
When you are unsure about viewing/reading/visualizing/thinking about something, ask questions like these:
  • Does it invite the Holy Ghost? (or clean, peaceful feelings).
  • Does it make me feel edified or uplifted?
  • Is it aligned with gospel standards? (Compare it with the thirteenth article of faith.)
  • How are chastity, fidelity, and families valued?
That last question is a huge one for me. If what I'm watching or reading does not value family/is destructive to families, that is a clear and easily identifiable warning for me to put it down.

RESOURCES

INTERESTING ENDNOTE
When I typed pornography into Google the first auto correct it came up with was: pornography, the cure. Although society may not act like we need help, individuals in society are in fact needing, and recognizing their need, for help with this problem.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Letter to Baby, #2

21 October 2012
Lazy Sunday Morning

Dear Baby,

This morning was a special one, because it was the first time your daddy got to feel you move around! We were laying in bed just enjoying the long morning and sleeping in. I sort of groaned and Will asked me what was wrong. "Nothing is wrong, baby is just being really squirmy inside," I said. "Oh!" exclaimed Will, and he reached his hand over to my tummy. You continued to be quite squirmy, so he got to feel your little swimming motions several times. He asked me if he should poke back, if you'd be able to feel it. I said why not? So you two had a little round of peek-a-boo for while, Daddy poking and you poking back. He had a good laugh about that. 

Love,
Your soon-to-be Mother

Letter to Baby, #1

Dear Baby,
Someone told me that I should write letters to you. I don't take everyone's advice about baby stuff, but I have a few reasons for writing these letters to you. First of all I don't really want to post your ultrasound photos or my babybump photos on facebook. But I do want you to have them one day.

By the time you are born, my dear baby, our family will have been established for 2.5 years. Your daddy and I are very excited about you joining our family! I'll admit, though, that we're also a bit nervous. When you're born, that'll make us parents, and that is a big change for us!

When we first found out we were pregnant, we kept it to ourselves for a little while. Kind of like a sweet secret we could share just between us. Soon we made an announcement that you would be born, and I went to the doctor to get a look at you. Here is the first picture we have of you:

12 weeks
At twelve weeks you were still so tiny I couldn't feel you moving yet, nor did I look pregnant yet, so it was a surprise to see how wiggly you were! Through the ultrasound I got to watch you move around, and that was really neat for me. It made you seem much more real.

Here are two pictures from the ultrasound 6 weeks later. By this time I was getting a 'baby bump', but I hadn't felt you move around yet. Your dad got to come with you and I to this appointment, and watch the monitor while the doctor took a good look at you. It was so fun to see you moving around again! This time, the doctor mentioned that you were SO wiggly that she couldn't get some of the measurements she needed. That's when I thought this must be a trend, and you'd probably be a very active little person. The doctor also told us you are most likely a girl, though we'll have to wait until you're born to find out for sure.
18 weeks, #1
18 weeks, #2. I must say, baby of mine, you have a beautiful profile. :)

Here is a picture of me 5.5 months pregnant. I could feel you moving around all the time now, and  we're starting to think about things like making a bedroom for you, getting you clothes and diapers, and picking a name! For girl names, we have chosen Aurora or Emerald. Maybe Jade. Or maybe whatever seems right when you are born. For boy names, we like Thomas, 'Tommy', or maybe Timothy. We've thought more about girl names though. For some reason ever since we got married we've mostly talked about girl names. I guess we both just always thought we'd have a girl baby first.
Recently at Canadian Thanksgiving, your Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa Minchin gave us some baby furniture and toys for you. Grandpa Minchin just got diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and we're all praying for him. They are excited about their first great grandchild: you!

14 October 2012. 5.5 months/ 24 weeks.


Friday, October 19, 2012

My birth community/Tribute to my 'ladies'

Who is your support person? Who can you talk to about all your fears, excitement, plans and ideas? Who gets excited with you about everything baby? 

As a youth all I wanted to do was spread my wings and fly away. The more I'm away, though, the more I long for home and family. This became true yet again, being pregnant. 

My mom and sisters live far away, and though I would love to talk no end of baby with them, it is not really easy to do over the phone. You just can't get giggly over the phone. Ok, let me rephrase that. 'I' can't get giggly over the phone. 

My husband is of course my main man, and support person. I'm so grateful we're in this together. But if I talked to him all the talk I have to share about everything baby, even I would plead for mercy or tune it out eventually, as the listener. 

So it is with much gratitude that I acknowledge the women with whom I get to share all my baby everything with: the four women I work with. They have been awesome! They all could be my mother, and all somehow make me feel like an equal at the same time as mothering me.

They were among the first to know about this pregnancy, and never tire of asking me about it. They get excited when I walk in, give me knowing looks, want to feel my tummy, ask me about my plans, get excited about how much my baby bump has grown from week to week, don't let me carry the laundry basket, and in general fawn over me in the way I imagine my mother and sisters would if they were near. It seems silly to say, but I have loved every moment of it, and I'm so grateful for these ladies and how they've shaped the emotional overtones of my pregnancy.

Then there is Jenny. Jenny is a dear friend, and the one who really introduced me to natural birth. We've had many long talks about just about everything related to fertility, natural birth, and kids. And we just happen to be pregnant at the same time!

I am SO grateful for these wonderful ladies! And while I do talk with family about baby stuff, I'm grateful to have these women in my every-day life to make it that much more special.

Reflections on Sundays

Yesterday I was in an institute class (religion class), and the teacher asked if we like Sundays. The resulting conversation was fascinating to me, I guess because I'd never stopped to recognize how my perspective of Sundays has changed through the different seasons of my life so far.

My married-with-a-two-year-old  friend sitting next to me gave the expected Sunday-school answer, that she likes Sundays because it is a day to have all of her family together.

I'm sitting there thinking, with lots of enthusiasm, "I LOVE Sundays! Since I work Saturdays, Sunday is the only day I get to spend all day with my honey."

The other girl in the class, a younger university student, said with more hesitation that "it's a really busy day," meaning that it isn't really her favorite day. And I thought back to those crazy fun busy university days when I was single. Yeah, I had to agree with her. At that time in my life, Sundays were really busy. 

And then the teacher asked if youth love Sundays. And I thought back to my childhood and youth. The fights about what we could and couldn't do on Sundays, the activity stations my mom set up, the boring afternoons...

Ok so as a kid I probably wouldn't have said that Sundays were my favorite day of the week. As a youth I have some fun memories of watching 'church' movies or making treats on Sundays, but they still weren't my favorite day. And maybe they can't be for kids, who value time with friends as 'the most fun' or their 'favorite' thing to do.

What are ways you've found to make Sundays a special and enjoyable day for kids and youth, while still keeping it 'holy'?

Reflections on sleep

I love sleep.

And for the last couple years of my life, I've been doing a significant amount of it. I feel like right now I sleep as much as my body needs, and that feels great!

I haven't always cared so much about sleep, though, and I guess I'm thinking more about it now because of the warnings of sleep deficits that come with babies. So it got me thinking...

Yesterday morning I woke up and got out of bed feeling amazing. Rejuvenated, awake, happy, and ready to be productive. And I felt grateful, because mornings haven't always been so pleasant. Which got me remembering those other mornings...

...Groaning as the alarm goes off and rolling out from under the covers onto the floor to stretch or pray, or grope for my clothes in the dark. Stumbling to the bathroom and downstairs for some breakfast or something to wake me up. Being blinded by the bright lights when I turned them on, because I was always up before the sun. 

But I did it! I got up all those mornings, and rarely felt so negative about it as I often do now when I have to get up early. WHY? How was I happy about it?

As I think about it now, I think it was because being awake was more exciting than being asleep! As a kid there are always exciting adventures awaiting you.

As a teen, it was the prospect of making money from our early morning paper route that kept me motivated, or going to swim practice, or jazz band. Being with people and doing exciting things.  At the time, the drudgery of getting out of bed wasn't so much drudgery as just a means to an end to be dealt with as painlessly as possible. There were many high school and university days that I lacked sufficient sleep, but it was just more exciting to be awake.

I wonder what happened? Is my life not as exciting anymore?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Little men

"Jo's Boys" is the final book in the story of Little Women and the March family. The beginning is a bit dull, but then she starts marrying off the boys, and sending them on grand adventures. The Little Women series is among my favorite, up there with Little House on the Prairie, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and princess tales.

A couple of highlights I gleaned from the book this time:

"Kindness in looks and words and ways is true politeness." P.116

Speaking of young dating:
"Good lack! What are we coming to in this fast age when babes and boys make such demands, and want to play with one of the most sacred things in life?" P.157

Failure of the free market system

Birth.