"Attainments are like the manna given to the Israelites in the desert -- good only for the day."
- Dallas Willard
Monday, August 12, 2013
". . . by and large our culture aims to pierce the eyes of men with visual images and pluck the hearts of women with sentimental ideals."
So writes Jason Johnson in his post The Truth about Emotional P__nography. Some excerpts:
So, if sexually-oriented p__nography says to men, this is what sex should be like with a woman, then emotionally-oriented p__nography says to women, this is what love should be like with a man. For example, women are led to believe that a young, good looking, physically fit bachelor can be both perfectly sensitive and staggeringly strong for 25 women who are pining for his affection (really for his ring). For weeks Hollywood producers portray a figurative man in a fantasy environment and catch millions of women up into a fairy-tale world that could not be further removed from reality. The point is not for viewers to fall in love with this character, but to fall in love with the idea of him, and to fall in love with love all over again in a highly glamorized way. Horse back riding on exotic beaches, helicopter trips to far away islands, penthouse suites at the most luxurious resorts. Like unrealistic depictions of physical beauty on a magazine cover, these are but airbrushed depictions of romance and love.I admit that I haven't thought about this in quite this way.
This is what love should be like with a man, so they say. Innocent fun on one hand? Maybe. Dangerously manipulative on the other? Absolutely. It's training women to emotionally operate in their imaginations. What happens when the real life of the single girl longing for love, the newly married wife surprised by the difficulties of being married, the tired mom feeling worn out and unfulfilled or the empty nester wondering where the passion went over the last 30 years - what happens to their souls as they sit on the couch engaged in a fairy tale story that in no way resembles their current reality? Comparison, disappointment , disillusionment, resentment. Always the case? No. Like pouring gasoline on an open fire? Probably. And when you play with fire someone eventually gets burned.
The goal of p__nography is to skew reality with fantasy and in the end cause us to ask one simple question: I wonder what it would be like if ___________? For men, the fill in the blank is obvious. For women, it's much more subtle. I wonder what it would be like if I was married to him? I wonder what it would be like if my husband was that emotionally available to me? I wonder what it would be like if he were that successful? I wonder...
The perfectly-sensitive-but-emotionally-strong, New-York-city-loft-apartment-living, physically-ripped-but-attractively-disheveled, care-free-motorcycle-riding, always-has-a-great-relationship-with-his-mother-and-sister-artist-type personified in most Hollywood narratives has become predictably boring...but powerfully influential. Fantasy skewing reality.
. . .
This is not a pass for men to not be the strong, sensitive, hard-working, physically healthy and emotionally available men God has called us to be. In so many ways we need to step up and do better. It is an appeal, however, for single women to understand that their potential future husband will be a fatally flawed sinner in desperate need of continual grace from them, and to current wives to not get lost in a fantasy to the detriment of the reality God has placed them in.
Both sexual and emotional forms of p__nography skew reality with fantasy and destroy lives, families and marriages. They exchange the truth of God for a lie and leave us naive to the seek-and-destroy tactics of the Enemy towards that which God has deemed beautiful and holy. The Enemy has gripped many men in the addictive vice of sexually p__nographic material - we are all very aware of those dangers. However, perhaps its time the Church became more vocal about the equally dangerous allure of emotional p__nography that many women are secretly suffering in submission to, or are simply more vulnerably susceptible to than they realize.
I don't believe he is trying to setup an equivalence between the male version and female version of this sin, and he explicitly isn't letting men of the hook. I've never thought of the sentimental ideals of women as "emotional p__nography", but I wonder if perhaps, not being female myself, I have underestimated the impact.
[Hat tip: my friend Marie]