Sin #3: Dehumanization of the Woman

(Warning: This section contains some objectionable language. Please see the Content Warning post for a more detailed explanation of why at times I felt this language was necessary)

You can already see how this one stems from the first two.  It deserves its own category, however, because one of the greatest deceptions is that porn is a victimless exercise.  It’s legal (sort of), the girls (women?) are paid, and it’s all consensual (we assume).  I say ‘sort of’ legal because there have been cases of underage girls passing themselves off as over 18 who have performed in the adult industry.  And no, Traci Lords is not the only one.

But even if we allow for these so-called justifications, that doesn’t eliminate the existence of the victims.  Most teenage prostitutes are runaways, girls who for whatever reason couldn’t stand being at home, and then meet up with a pimp who coaxes them, wins their hearts, and finally exploits and abuses them for profit.  Sometimes, these girls “move up” to the porn industry, but their pimps still collect the money.  Some porn stars do the work because they are addicted to drugs and can’t hold down a real job, but since they look so great (sort of, with a lot of make up sometimes) and are willing to do anything, they facilitate their own addiction by feeding ours.

And yes, sometimes they just want to do it, for whatever reason.  But it is a fact that most porn stars were abused in their childhood.  Some were abandoned by their parents (Jenna Jameson); some were thrown out of the house; some suffered sexual abuse from a relative, a parent, or maybe a stranger.  And don’t be too quick to brush over these truths.  No, this doesn’t excuse the behavior; no, they aren’t innocent in God’s eyes; but yes, He will forgive them as much as you or I when they cry out to Him to be saved, as some have (Shelley Lubben–see part of her amazing story in the excellent documentary Traffic Control, previously mentioned).

But don’t acknowledge this reality too quickly.  The fact that this common trait exists among so many performers, cutting across ethnic, geographical, national, and continental boundaries, ought to give us at least a moment of pause.  These women, as girls, were mistreated, viciously in some cases.  And this is what they ended up doing with their early adult lives.  How much of this was a well-considered career choice, and how much seemed like their best option, because it was all they felt they were worth?  I’ve read about strippers who describe themselves as being in financial trouble, and this is the only way out.  The only way.  Someone, somewhere, lied to them about what they are worth.  You are never in a situation where stripping is the only thing you can do for a job.  What if you broke your legs and couldn’t dance?  What would you do then?  You’d go find something else.  Because you can.  No, this isn’t the only work they can do, but it seems that way to them.  The work of the enemy.  He has a different set of tactics for these women than for us.

It’s Our Sin
So, what is dehumanization, and how is it our sin if we look at pornography, even just the “soft-core” stuff?  (And don’t forget, the swimsuit issue is in this category.  It IS as bad; it just doesn’t seem that way to our warped moralities.  David’s sin started by looking across town at a nude woman bathing at night in her house.  That’s pretty innocent, really, in comparison to most of what we have today, and look what resulted for him).

It is our sin because of what it does to our minds.  How we perceive women, what we think about them.  The message of porn is simple: The woman is a mechanical pleasure doll that may have a soul, but her well-being means nothing in comparison to what she can give to me.

If you have looked at the “hard-core” stuff for any length of time, you have inadvertently absorbed this message.  Think you’re immune?  Let’s look at the language that gets directed toward the women in these films (and forgive me for some of this language): slut, whore, bitch, ho, fresh meat, hottie, milf, hooker, chick, girl, pleasure doll. And consider the adjectives: filthy, slutty, tasty, dirty, bad, sick, nasty, hot, sweet, young, naughty.

These are certainly short lists.  You see words like these in the titles, and you hear the male performers (and the female ones too) say these words to the other girls.  You almost never hear complimentary words, such as lady, lovely, and beautiful, and you never hear any please or thank you.  There are no manners in porn.  It’s about what you’re gonna give me, and you’re going to do it hard, and get sloppy and filthy along the way, and you’re going to give it to me whenever and however I want it, you filthy fucking whore.

Again, please forgive the language.  But this is how they talk in these movies.  They don’t talk about love, or beauty, or pleasure.  They use words like plow, slam, bang, beat, submit, drill, hammer, slap, gag, and yes, the ever-so-creative f-word.  (A side effect of this is how stupid these people sound, using the same five words in the same situations every single time).  Finally, they use anything but the real names for all the parts of the body, whether male or female.  I don’t need to go into those for you to get the idea.

In other words, they don’t talk like people really talk during sex.  No self-respecting woman would ever let a man talk to her in this way.  And no man who loves his wife even a tiny bit would ever say things like this to her.  Once again, if you think I’m wrong, then it only shows how distorted you have become in your thinking because of porn.  I’ll make it real clear.  Telling your wife to “bend over and take it doggie-style, and let me plow your ass so hard until you scream” is NOT love.  You don’t love her if you talk that way to her. You don’t.  In fact, you probably hate her.  Don’t think so?  Read on, and you’ll see an example from the Bible that suggests otherwise.  And she doesn’t like hearing it either, even if she says she does.

The Woman as Animal
This is the dehumanization of the woman that this sin produces inside us.  We start to see her as the thing to make us feel good.  We see her as an animal.  All this language is put in place to help the viewer forget that this is a real woman being subjected to this brutalized entertainment.  She has a mother and father, possibly brothers and sisters.  She has a heart.  She has wants, needs, and desires, and her most unmet desire of all is to be loved, because she has never known the love of God, but only the exploitation and abuse of men and women around her.  Her soul cries out for it, but her enslavement only points her in one direction.

I love the movie Moulin Rouge (2001).  It’s not for everyone, but if you like this kind of film, it’s one of the few movies I’ve seen that presents genuine passion and love as stronger than selfish lust.  It is a magnificent work in terms of the performances, the creativity, the story, and the lavish set design, directed by Baz Luhrmann.  In an early scene, Christian (Ewan McGregor) has managed to secure an audience with top performer Satine (Nicole Kidman) at what is essentially a high-class brothel.  He wants to read his poetry to convince her to help finance a play his troupe is writing.  But she mistakes him for “The Duke,” a man who wants to purchase the brothel and perhaps give this performer her shot at being “a real actress.”

So she is ready to do whatever the Duke wants, because she wants to win his favor, while  Christian just wants to read part of his play.  Satine starts heaving, barking, moaning and screaming, pretending to be sexually aroused.  This is exactly what porn performers do.  They fake pleasure and arousal at the mere sight of a man, and his every touch causes an intense orgasmic moan of pleasure.  Totally insincere, yet totally alluring.  For the weak man, that is.  For the man who doesn’t know who he is.

Not like Christian, who tries to break through her cacophony with his poetry, but he can’t get her attention.  He stumbles over the words.  Her animalistic moaning and screaming get louder and louder, so much that it’s kind of unsettling to watch.  He kind of recoils at her rather unattractive and insincere attempts at erotica.  And then, just when we too start squirming in discomfort at her display, we have a moment that is one of the greatest I’ve ever seen in film:

Christian, as repulsed as any sane man would be at this sight and sound, covers his eyes and turns away.  And his poem becomes a song.  He breaks out in song, loud and clear, with a tone so pure:  “My gift is my song!  And this one’s for you.”

It freezes her.  She sits up, silent, transfixed, in utter and complete awe.  Christian looks her in the eye, and continues singing.  Christian believes in love, and in its power.  And he sings about love to her in a way so captivating that she never returns to the ravenous, disturbing entity she was pretending to be before.

Why is this moment so incredible?  Because true love (which he didn’t even have for her at this time…remember, he’s just trying to get funding; the words themselves have power) is infinitely stronger than anything the sex industry can even conceive.  Love gets shot down in the editing room, if it makes it that far.  Love gets left on the cutting room floor.

Love humanizes.  Love upholds, and inspires, and lifts us up out of our misery.  Love, even the sound of it, awakens Satine’s heart, and she leans toward it like a shivering homeless man toward a warm house.  This is the life she really wants, the kind expressed in these words and through this sound.

The film is profound, because the Duke does eventually find her, and he wants her with all his lust.  He represents the pornified man, the man driven by selfish desire who will do whatever it takes to have the pleasure of this woman.  She is not a woman to him.  She is a whore, a rag, a means to an end.  To him, she will satisfy all his cravings and needs.  He is deluded, as many of us are, that a woman can do all these things for us.  Indeed, the later ensemble performance of a dark version of “Roxanne,” originally by The Police, movingly expresses his lust and its cost for Satine.

But she is so moved by Christian’s genuine passion for love and art that she yearns to be with him rather than to keep being used by insecure rich men.  And so the story becomes a battle between Christian and the Duke over Satine.  But not over the possession of her, as in so many stupid love triangle movies.  They fight over her womanhood, over her life.  Over her identity–what kind of a woman will she be?  A lover, or a pleaser?  An animal, or a partner.  An equal, or a ho.  I can’t think of a single film ever made before or since where this is the central conflict.

Impotent to Love
A man inundated with lust and the imagery that comes with it is incapable of loving a woman in this way.  Because to a man who no longer sees the woman as an equal partner or lover, but as a pleasure doll, all that matters is what she can do for me.  That’s why some films feature two, three, or whole groups of men sharing the same woman.  Because that’s all she’s good for, so let’s all get it out of her at the same time, while the getting’s good (meaning, before she gets old).  Then she can go wash up and collect her paycheck, and sit in the bathroom by herself and think about the rush and how exciting that was.  Because of course, she loves it.  She loves cock.  She loves all these guys in her face.

I often wonder what a woman who experiences this thinks about when she sits in the bathroom afterward, cleaning herself up.  It can’t be good.  There is no way her heart isn’t full of injury, and she must have to fight like mad to keep that part of her hidden and dormant.  Being used doesn’t feel good to anyone.

If you are guilty of the sin of dehumanization, the first thing you must do is recognize it.  This is a major barrier to freedom, because even if you go a long time without actually looking at any pornography, what are you thinking about when you interact with women in your life?  How do you perceive them?  What does your heart ponder?  What are they, to you?  Are they there for you to look at, to get something from?

The Bible says to treat younger women like sisters.  I never had a sister (which by the way, I think makes it a little harder to succeed in some of these areas), but I understand that a brother and sister don’t ogle each other.  That’s considered weird, by most people.  To treat a woman like a sister is to consider how you can be a friend to her, and expect nothing in return.  In other words, love her.  Love, again in the Biblical, true sense.  Not the worldly, selfish sense.  The world doesn’t know what love is.  The world thinks sex is love.  The world had help coming to that conclusion.

Legitimized Deviancy
I want to finish this section with a passage in II Samuel.  Here, we see a picture of a man who sees the woman as a thing to be used.  A man who dehumanizes her for his own selfish gain, and that of his fellow man.  Men, when consumed with lust, like to reassure themselves they’re still normal by getting other men to do the same things.  That’s why they go to strip clubs together (surely not the only reason, of course).  It’s comforting to know that other people are the same as us.  I’m normal, because I’m not the only one who wants this.  It legitimizes their perversion.  It’s this kind of reasoning that has elevated some pretty sick fetishes into almost mainstream acceptance, such as bondage.  What? You prude, there’s nothing wrong with bondage.  Lots of people do it.

Like I said, mainstream acceptance.  Let’s see: I’ll tie up the woman I love, bound and gag her, make her wear bizarre and humiliating clothing, put her in an even more humiliating position, and then start slapping and whipping her.  And then, I’ll let her do it to me so it’s all equal!
Yeah, that sounds a lot like love.  Very loving.  But, but, but, what if it makes her feel good?  Or it makes me feel good?

When did our feelings become the final arbiter of right and wrong?  Lots of things make people feel good, like gambling, drugs, alcohol, and porn, not to mention sex with prostitutes, or cheering someone on to jump from the top of a building (I read a story about this in the paper…good ol’ enlightened Seattle).  If bizarre sexual practices are what it takes for you to feel good, it’s a strong indication that you have been violently twisted by pornography and sexual deviancy.  Seek help.  No matter what people say, it’s not good, and it’s not loving.  Porn is about making the woman be lower than the man.  Make her beg for it.  Make her take it.  She’s servile.  (Which is why it’s funny to me when they criticize the church for saying wives should submit to their husbands.  Our submission doesn’t leave the woman bound and gagged, stinking from her multiple users, holding back tears and forcing a smile).

Like A Virgin?
So, back to II Samuel 13, we have the story of Amnon, one of David’s sons.  Amnon had a crush for a girl named Tamar.  Except that it turns out Tamar was his sister (technically half-sister).  Here’s the introduction:

II Sam 13:2
Amnon was so frustrated because of his sister Tamar that he made himself ill, for she was a virgin, and it seemed hard to Amnon to do anything to her. (NAS)

It’s amazing how little some things change.  There is an obsession with virgins in the porn world.  Whole video series get produced and distributed that depict young teen virgins being broken for the first time.  Of course, it’s doubtful any of these girls were really virgins, but what does that matter? (Just like it doesn’t matter if they really are 17, or just look and act like it).  And in the sexual slavery business, the pimps want girls who are young because then they can assure their customers they are still virgins.  Most girls who are kidnaped for this purpose are sold as virgins a few times, as long as their pimps can get away with calling them that.  Men pay more for this.  Why?  What is the big deal?  Can it really be that much more pleasurable, physically?

No, it can’t.  Pleasure alone does not explain the much higher price.  The reason is because of the power they want to feel over the woman (or girl) in slavery.  I’m the first guy to break her.  I’m the man who did it.  I’m the first to be there.  It gives the man a feeling of superiority, as if he has conquered something.  It’s a distorted sense of masculinity.  It purports to build his self-worth, if only for a little while.  I recently heard a radio DJ talking about how confident he would feel after “having sex with a hot chick.”  He was referring to his upcoming visit to one of the legal (so it’s okay, right?) brothels in Nevada.  Self-confidence through a prostitute?  And this is on the mainstream airwaves.  Hmm.

Amnon was just like this.  He wanted his sister, and he wanted her before anyone else could have her.  And his obsession consumed him so much that it made him sick.  What’s a poor guy to do?

II Sam 13:3,5
But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David’s brother; and Jonadab was a very shrewd man.  Jonadab then said to him “Lie down on your bed and pretend to be ill; when your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and give me some food to eat, and let her prepare the food in my sight, that I may see it and eat from her hand.’” (NAS)

Porn the Enabler
Amnon is the addict.  Tamar is the porn star/slave/victim.  Jonadab is the porn-producer.  He’s the man who films the girls for everyone else to see.  He’s the pimp.  (Combine these two men, and you have Hugh Hefner).  He gets pleasure out of fulfilling the sexual desires of others.  The woman means nothing to him.  He himself has no sexual interest in her.  Notice here how his only motive is to get Tamar in bed with Amnon.  The idea of what Tamar (not to mention her family) might think of this doesn’t even enter the conversation.  Amnon just wants to get laid, and she’s the one he wants.  So let’s make it happen.  This is why I hate movies where the whole motive of the guy is to have sex with a girl.  Movies like American Pie (1999).  They perpetuate this absurdity that the woman is able to satisfy all that burns within the man’s heart, and much less, that she wants to.

The even more sinister part of this story is how they take advantage of Tamar’s willingness to serve her brother. The scheme here all depends on her coming to make food for him and to care for him in his illness.  This is how predators today often lure their victims.  They take advantage of some part of their character, usually a good or innocent part, put them in a situation for which they were unprepared, and then break them.  This story is horrible, as Amnon ends up raping Tamar, and later dies for it at the hands of her brother.

What would cause a man to take advantage of an innocent woman in this way?  Because he sees her as less than human.  She is a sexual slave, in his eyes.  She is only as good as the pleasure she can give.  How do we know this?  Look what happens after the rape:

II Sam 13:15
Then Amnon hated her with a very great hatred; for the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her.  And Amnon said to her, “Get up, go away.” (NAS)

Remember when I said you actually hate a woman if you treat her as a pleasure doll?  Here you see it in Amnon.  Immediately after finally having the woman he “loved” for so long, now he hates her.  He throws her out of the house.  All that desire, all that expectation, all that burning and longing and waiting and hoping and wishing to feel her and receive from her all the pleasure that surely must be latent within her–and it’s gone.  Get the hell out of my house, you tramp-whore.

Ignorance is Not Bliss
Surely, we’re not like this Amnon guy today.  Are we?  Okay, fine, I’ll admit that the sexual slavery stuff might be like this.  A guy goes to Thailand and pays ten bucks to be with a 14-year old, and she gives him oral sex that’s not as great as he’d hoped.  So he tells her, “that wasn’t very good,” and demands some of his money back.  The pimp-slaveholder refuses, so the guy leaves.  After he goes, the pimp-slaveholder beats the girl for failing to please the customer.

Yeah, that probably happens sometimes.  But only in third-world countries (as if that makes a difference).  Wrong again.  This kind of industry is quite prolific in the U.S. and in Europe.  When the Netherlands legalized prostitution, one of the unanticipated side-effects (unanticipated only to people deluded by the enemy about the true nature of freedom) was that the sex-trafficking industry increased, because they would send the enslaved girls to the Netherlands where they knew it was safe for them to operate.  Eventually, even this morally-ambiguous nation recognized its foolishness, and some restrictions were put back in place.  Fortunately, this modern day slavery has started to get some attention, even in the mainstream media.  However, they have yet to acknowledge the crystal clear link between porn addiction and sex-trafficking.  And they likely never will because porn makes so much money.

But I’m not like that.  I wouldn’t pay a girl for sex.  I’d never do that.  No way.  I imagine a large percentage of men who end up paying for it said that for a long time too.  Sin breaks you down, one brick at a time.  I know a couple guys who have paid for sex.  One, two, or five years later, those decisions weren’t doing them much good.  God restrained me from ever going that far, thankfully.  But unlike a man who believes the statements at the start of this paragraph, I know I’m capable of it.  If you deny that you are capable of certain sins, you have already given the enemy a foothold.  You beat it by bringing it into the open.  I am capable of this.  God help me and save me from it; help me to walk with you.

Besides, when you look at porn, you are doing this, just from a distance.  The girls are just as disposable.  You pay them, and then you rip them up in your mind.  When she gets too old, we find a new one.  She’s starting to sag.  She’s gained a little weight.  Her implants got messed up and her new ones aren’t as good.  She looks lame with her hair like that.  She doesn’t smile after the guy is finished with her.  She’s afraid of getting too dirty or slobbery.  I’m tired of her.  That one looks like dog meat.  She looks too fake.  Too tan.  Not tan enough.  Too fat.  Too thin.

Porn has no retirement plan.  Constantly, they market the fresh young talent, the new starlets, the tempting teen sex-crazy sluts.  This is how they market them.  These are their words.  Why?  Because when the girls can’t stand it anymore and quit, there’s no going-away party.  There’s no tribute.  You don’t give a tribute to someone you’ve used and abused for ten years, and paid them for it.  When the prostitute gets too old, the pimp doesn’t send her off with job suggestions, references, and severance pay.  He kicks her out on the street.  Even worse, if she gets pregnant, he’ll likely force her to have an abortion, or beat her until she miscarries.

The porn industry isn’t much different.  The girls just have a little more in the bank when they get kicked out (but not as much as we think…from what I’ve read, they only get a few hundred bucks for a scene, unless their name becomes famous.  Most of them aren’t extra-wealthy, by any standard).  The industry doesn’t care about them, and neither do the viewers.  If you are an addict, think about your favorite model or porn star from ten years ago.  Is she still around?  Do you ever give her a second thought, as you wade bright-eyed through the pages of photos and videos of all the new ones?  Maybe every now and then you do, but when you search for her, there’s nothing new.  I’ve seen all these pictures already.  She seems to just be gone.

But what really happened to her?  We never hear about this side of it.  What happens to the out-of-work former porn stars and models?  Where do they go?  What do they do for work?  We never find out, because no one cares.  They’re nothing to us.  They’ve served their purpose.

If the woman has been dehumanized in your mind, this is a serious spiritual wound, and it will take time to heal.  It will affect your current and future relationships.  It will affect your marriage.  You will have to tell your wife (or future wife) about it, because otherwise she won’t understand some of your behavior.  If you marry a good woman, she’ll help you and not condemn you, assuming you’re on the path to holiness, and not still double-minded in all your ways and getting tossed around in the waves of perversion that crash off in the distance.

We will learn how to re-humanize the woman in your mind and heart in a later section.