An Open Letter to Pornographers

Dear Jane & John Doe Pornographer,

I want you to know right from the beginning, I’m not writing this to condemn you, judge your choices, or make fun of you. I’m not trying to stoke any fires or come across as some condescending jerk with an agenda. I promise that’s the last thing I want to do, because I want you to hear me. I want to be as sincere and honest as I know how to be because I’m going to ask you do something so incredibly insane, you’re going to think I’m either crazy or hopelessly optimistic. It sounds nuts, I know, but please hear me out.

I’m asking you to stop making porn. No, I’m begging you. Please stop. Here’s why.

Porn kills things. It kills innocence. It kills normal brain biology. It kills relationships. Whatever is to be gained from porn in the moment it damages all the moments after. I’m not going to make this crazy appeal to you on the basis of religion, politics, agendas, or the Constitution of the United States. I’m leaving all that stuff out. Instead, I want to appeal to your humanity, to our shared humanity. I’m asking you to stop making porn because people–fellow humans–are suffering, something has to be done, and you, YOU, have the power to do something about it.

Now more than ever, porn is changing the way its users see people. It’s rewiring brains, and not in a healthy way. After looking at your product, every person met in real life is instantly ogled and judged on the basis of their “hotness” and/or their potential to provide sexual satisfaction. Porn users ogle people, sometimes discreetly, sometimes not. Judgments are made. Fantasies are played out. All right there in their heads. This is not how humans are meant to see one another, nor how we are to compare ourselves in the mirror. And based on what I’ve just written, you could interpret this as a never-ending demand for your product from which you stand to profit outrageously. But if left unchecked, porn will continue to damage us until we are all affected, moreso than we already are.

You could argue that it’s just those addicted to porn who are affected; by this logic, why should a liquor company stop making whiskey just because alcoholics exist? But I think this comparison is apples-to-oranges. People can’t carry alcohol with them 24/7, and it’s much more difficult for young kids to get alcohol than it is to access porn, even accidentally.

No, I’m not just talking about the typical user here. I’m talking about all the people with whom the the porn user interacts: their families; their kids, the people at the supermarket; the people in churches; the people at airports,schools, and offices; the people who take care of all our children; the people who run the country; the people in hospitals (doctors AND patients). The ripple effect is tsunamic. We are all affected by porn whether we directly look at it or not. You and I both know a person’s sexuality is not the sum total of who they are, yet because of how much and how available porn is, that’s how people are being perceived. It’s starting younger and younger, and it’s only getting worse.

I promise I’m not trying to be an alarmist, but porn has mutated into something much bigger than anyone ever imagined, and has done so much faster than anyone ever thought possible. As a result, our culture is overdosing, no one wants to talk about it, and it’s killing us. Did you know that Sex-Before-Kissing is a thing modern teenage girls in Australia have to deal with when interacting with the porn-addicted guys in their lives. In no way can this be considered normal or healthy for anyone. People are not porn viewers anymore. They’re porn users. So I’m asking. Please, stop. Make humanity stop cold turkey. You have that power.

Marriages are being shaken to their core, and in far too many cases, crumbling because of porn. What’s crazy is that everyone who’s married these days can remember back to a time when there were no smartphones. Married people are having to learn to deal with this new phenomena and it is very, very difficult water to sail. This is not just me, a nobody blogger, talking. An entire movement has started to recapture the hearts and minds of people, especially young people, who’ve been clobbered by what porn has done to them. Celebrities by the truckload are speaking out against porn and its effects, many of them have been affected personally. Time magazine has added to the discussion with a ton of articles, including this cover piece. There are even studies done exploring the links between porn and brain function. So I’m asking. Please, stop. Do your part to help humanity heal by stopping porn production. You have that power.

But the real damage is happening to the kids/teenagers who’ve never known a world without smartphones and tablets and always being a few taps away from the some of the most graphic things humanity has ever produced, things that were never meant to see the light of day, if happen at all. Because of how popular and powerful smartphones have become in the last ten years, I don’t have to tell you that porn is more available now than at all other times in human history combined. And these kids and teens don’t know how to tell the difference between fantasy and reality. To them, it’s all real. And it’s rewiring their brains such that every future relationship will be corrupted before it starts. This is bad for humanity. Their inability to discern may not be your fault, but it’s the reality. Smartphones are not the problem. Apple and Google are not the problem. Porn is the problem. I live in constant fear of the first time my kids will be exposed to graphic porn. I used to think it was a question of “if.” Now I know better. According to these stats, the average age of first exposure is eleven years old, and if that’s true now, I don’t see that number going up anytime soon.

Unless you listen to me. Unless you stop producing porn. Please, I’m begging. For all of us.

I know there are arguments in America for freedom of speech, and while I certainly believe you are within your legal rights to produce porn, I’m humbly asking you to waive your rights in the interest of making our homes, schools, jobs, and countries free from this monster we’ve created. Please don’t jeopardize the ethics of all for the legal rights of some. Just because something is available, or even legal, does not make it good for humanity.

It’s not going to stop with legislation. It’s not going to stop with sermons. It’s not going to stop with Google writing better code to crack down on searches. It’s going to happen when your heart decides to stop making it because you’ve become convinced that porn damages people, participants and users alike. Because it does. And it will. So please, give that little voice in your heart and head a chance, the one that’s been telling you for years something is not right with this. Listen to it.

To the actors/actresses/amateurs, I don’t know what circumstances led you to make pornography. It could be any number of reasons, and I fully acknowledge than not all of would you would claim to be “victims” in some way. (Of course, there is the possibility that you may actually be a victim even if you don’t feel like it. Just saying.) But I hope to speak to some of you here.

To those of you who wanted to get out of your small town and had dreams of becoming a professional model or actor/actress, you are being lied to and used. This is not the way to achieve those admirable dreams. You are so much more than your body. You are a real person, with feelings, thoughts, ideas, hopes, dreams, and somewhere along the way you were taken advantage of. Your flesh is not currency. If you have ever looked at what you were doing, or what was being done to you, and asked yourself, “How did I get here?” I want you to know you can get out. You are not powerless. If you’ve ever had to mentally “check out” during a scene because somewhere inside your heart you knew it was hurting your soul, I’m begging you to listen to your instincts. People weren’t made to do what others are asking your body to do. My sense is that you thought you knew what you were getting into, but at some point the game changed and you felt like you were in too far to back out. Please do not believe this. You can back out. There is always a way.

To those of you who found a way to get attention from people or gain power over people through porn, or to become self-empowered, please hear me when I tell you what you are seeking will leave you emptier than before you found it. If you already know this to be true, please listen to the voice in your head telling you that you were meant for more. No, having sex on camera is NOT the only thing you will ever be good at, or the only way to be taken seriously. No, the porn community is NOT the only community who will give you respect (only as far as you are useful to them, by the way). And yes, you do have other options. Everyone wants to be accepted, loved, and some of us want to be famous. Your current profession/hobby is not the way to achieve any of those things. Just look at the facts: how many talented, famous, mainstream movie or tv actors came from a porn background? Not too many. (Here’s the top ten, by the way. All due respect, there are not any household names on the list.) The odds of playing professional sports are better. Not only that, but you can expect your average porn career to last six to eighteen months. That is a very big gamble to “make it big” and the buy in is very, very expensive. Trading on your sexuality doesn’t make you strong, or professionally appealing. It makes you hurt.

To those of you with any kind of sexual abuse in your past, I’m so very sorry for what was perpetrated against you. Whatever you’ve been told, it is not your fault, and I’m asking you to please disagree with any messages you’ve heard that says it is your fault. Please seek out counseling to work through the psychological trauma that’s been done to you. It was wrong, it was evil, but you are not powerless. You do have a choice. Here is a good place to start searching for counseling resources in your area. Choosing a life of porn will not heal what needs healing in you.

To those of you who are “just in it for the money,” I have no doubt it’s highly lucrative. But first, trading your humanity for some cash is not worth it. Your body parts and what they can do are not the sum total of who you are. They are not your identity. Second, you are getting pennies compared to what the producers are getting. You may get a few hundred thousand if you’re one of the lucky ones, but yours is a billion-dollar-a-year industry. Billion. That’s 1,000,000,000. They’d have nothing without you, and this is how they treat you? No, the answer is not to march in and demand more money, because to them, you are replaceable. They will not pay you more when there are fifty others willing to do the same thing. The answer is to leave it all behind. You are not a product. You are not a commodity. You are not an asset. You are a person. Your humanity, your sensitivity, your attitude, your heart, these are all worth so much more than what you are getting paid. It may require hard work, but you can make it.

To those of you who just want to “do something crazy,” or feel pretty, or impress your boyfriend, please don’t do it this way. What you are filmed or photographed doing will exist forever, even if the file is deleted. This is triple-true if it’s posted online somewhere. Posting is a virtual guarantee that someone(s) will see the videos and photos of you besides the person you intend.

To those of you who got into the industry because you just really enjoy sex, please know that your enjoyment is something built into who you are. Humans are wired to enjoy sex. That part is fine. But there are some pretty astounding things that change inside the brain when people have multiple sexual partners, in both men and women. If you haven’t read up on the hormones oxytocin, vasopressin, and dopamine, check  this out (feel free to skip down the “The Brain and Sex” section.) Also, here are two hypothetical situations that really caused me to think about “imprinting.” I hope it’ll cause you to think as much as it did for me.

There’s a million other reasons why you started doing what you’re doing, but whatever they are, please, I’m asking you to find another way, for all of us.

To the Directors/Crew/Producers, I can say this no other way: what you do hurts people, and it hurts you. Sometimes it hurts immediately. But it always hurts in the long run, in ways you may never see. I’m no psychologist, but I don’t want you to hurt, or to become so desensitized that it no longer affects you. At some point you were doing your job and something you shot/edited/lit/recorded caused you to pause and wonder if this was okay. But you pushed that voice down, and now you may not be sure if you even have that voice anymore. I assure you, you do. It’s part of your humanity. It’s in there. Please listen to it. Get out. Remove yourself from the culture of your work environment, because frankly, you need a break. Your industry is unhealthy in so many ways, and I want you to be healthy. There are so many ways to make your own non-porn movies these days, it’s staggering. Web series are only the beginning. So please quite your porn job and go write and direct the legit screenplay you want to write. Create something that’s actually beautiful instead of something hurtful masking as beauty.

I don’t know if this post will make any difference at all. I don’t even know if who I’m hoping will read it will do so. I do know we are inherently selfish creatures who always want to feel good. Because of this, I know there will always be a market for porn. I know that we all have things we hope no one will ever know and a thousand other dark things about humanity I wish we could change. In some ways we’re making progress as a species. In other ways, not so much. Still we fight, because life finds a way. We defend against the things that hurt us, because that’s what human lives do. But these fires can never be fought well, let alone won, as long as the gasoline of porn is coming out of the fire hose.

But what if it did change? What if you were part of a movement that stopped porn. I know it sounds crazy, but just go with me for a second. What if you were part of something so radical, so unbelievable, so mind-blowingly epic it goes down in the history books as one of the all-time great contributions to human history. Gutenberg, Watson & Crick, Abe Lincoln, and YOU. You could do that. That could be you. You have that power. That’s a story you could tell your grandkids one day, and be proud doing so. I sincerely hope they get to hear it. So please, for your grandkids, for teenagers today, for marriages, for my kids, for the good of us all, reconsider what you’re doing to us. Find the courage to stop making porn. Humanity will thank you.

Sincerely,

Duncan

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