Slaying Dragons; or, Porn

*This has been several weeks in the making. In this post, I'm going to handle a huge topic with as much tact as I can muster, but there's a line between causing people to stumble and showing just how far that line stretches. This is an unbelievably dark topic, and this reads as an exposé (sort of), but I've been working a while on forming my thoughts on this, which are here presented for you. *

Let's see. Where to start.

#1) If you're a boy and you tell me that you do not currently/have not in the past fought the great dragon of Pornography, you're probably lying. And saying that you're not lying is usually exactly the thing that people who are lying say. I get that some are fortunate to not have dealt with this, but for the sake of argument, let's assume it's fairly universal.

#2) I've been reading a bat-crap-ton of articles about this in as many places as I can find, and they all point to the fact that, while not quite as many girls fight with it as boys, a staggeringly large percentage of them do. Yes, I'm including 50 Shades of Grey here.

#3) I'm seeing already that I need to define some things first.

Some working Hamilton definitions, and implications therein Pornography: n, material that depicts stuff specifically designed to sexually arouse you. I originally intended to make it far more broad than that, but I think that for the purposes of this entry, the definition above will do just fine.

Addiction: n, A behavior or attitude that in any way, for any purpose, controls your actions or thought life. This one hurts me a whole lot. I believe addiction to be necessarily detrimental: everything, everything, in excess is dangerous.

It's impossible to think about the first word here without thinking about the second. They go hand-in-hand, and I believe that's a thing that's needing to be explored for a second.

It's cooler in the dark

It's worth noting that, were it not for the enormous market for it today, the Pornography industry would be squashed immediately. I hypothesize that a thorough scrubbing of the Internet and the print world to rid us of the stuff would be fairly easy to carry out. We know exactly where the majority of it is produced. Heck, we have conventions for it. If Pornography were viewed as anything remotely resembling a threat, it could be wiped off the planet easily; but it is entirely too lucrative an endeavour. Millions make a living from producing it. From distributing it. From starring in it. It's justified and defended and celebrated in shadow; it's browsed and viewed and trafficked enough to keep entire advertising industries in business; it's responsible for a great number of technological advancement in filmmaking and photography and technology in general.

Just for a few examples, you can thank pornography for the current state of any online credit card transaction tech, any kind of online memberships (think Facebook, SunTrust, my Church's Discipleship website), blooming 3D technology, DSLR innovation, Piracy protection, the DVD industry, the technology that lets you track where your stolen iPad has turned up, etc. As soon as the prospect of new technology pops up, the innovators are most often producers of Pornography.

So, let it be said that Porn isn't going away, probably ever. And that makes the exorbitantly addictive quality of it (I won't even waste your time reasoning you to this conclusion) all the more troubling: think of a society full of people addicted to heroin able to download more of it for free, with nary a social consequence at all. Indefinitely. As often as they'd like. As often as they have time.

Flashlights

Craig Gross, the founder of XXX Church, makes the awareness of and combatting of the influence of Pornography his business. His organization has developed computer software, support groups, and even porn convention ministries which they attend with boxes full of Bibles, and wearing "Jesus Loves Porn Stars" tshirts, and he regularly appears in debates with famous Adult Entertainment executives about every aspect of the industry: from legality to morality, and everywhere in between.

This is him, talking about what he does: "I deal with people who indulge their bodies with sex. I’ve done it for 10 years with XXXchurch.com, helping people caught up in porn addiction."

I've taken something from him in my research for this post that I think is a key to coaxing the great Dragon out into the open where we can get a good shot at his scaly neck: Craig Gross is exposed. He's made no bones about how his business is centered around porn, though on the opposite end of the spectrum from others who are in the business of it: he treats with compassion everybody involved, from actors to addicts.

He talks openly about pornography, about the necessity of accountablity, and about how crucial it is to shine the light of Jesus on every bit of its shadowy frame, which I've come to believe is one of the keys to defeating it. Light, especially the Light of the World, will slay beasties that thrive on darkness.

Indeed, this mentality is catching on. If you saw social media for any longer than 12 seconds before the Super Bowl, you probably came across a plethora of articles linking the sporting event with one of the largest sex trades in the country. Their message wasn't "grab your pitchforks," it was "share this with everybody you know, because the more we can force this thing into the light, the more chance there is to stop it."

In the shade of the smokescreen

On the day that I am publishing this, I was sitting in Starbucks, reading the newspaper, and there was an article about how Georgia is trying to pass legislation prohibiting "Revenge Porn," or, the publishing of private intimate pictures and videos by ex-lovers after breaking up. It introduces a terrifying reality: just how big this thing is that we're dealing with.

When I talk about the Porn industry, it's easy to envision the professional studios, the technology innovators I mentioned earlier, the struggling actors and actresses convinced that this is their break, etc, because that's the narrative we see play out in everyday life. But goodness, that is not even the tip of the Dragon's wing. That's the face that's slapped on the rotting insides; the oily slime atop a sea of acid.

There's the portion of pornography that is all too excited to show itself to the world and announce, "hey! We're the porn industry! Look over here! You can't stop us!" because it knows that there is something worth distracting from. It's an abrasive smokescreen.

The first layer is the one directly beneath the surface, and it's the start of the stuff that is quite literally impossible to regulate: it's the thing the Georgia legislation is attempting to fight, for it is from amateurs. Often consenting adults (for there are rules against child pornography, even on the anonymous internet - and it's easiest for these producers to just comply with it than it is to go through countless countermeasures), this first layer is accessible with a two-word Google search and could fill libraries with its slime. All someone needs is a video camera and they can be an instant pornography celebrity. But goodness, that's not the end.

The seediness reaches a bottom floor pretty quickly on the open web. There are enough safeguards to protect minors and steep enough penalties for child abusers to keep the internet from stooping only so low (keep in mind that in no way whatsoever am I condoning even this level - but there is a definitive line between generally consenting adults and the stuff that comes later). Where things get increasingly and exponentially more problematic is in the Deep (read: Dark) Web.

The Dark Web (as I'll refer to it from here on out) is something far more sinister than its slightly more exposed cousin, because it operates under the cloak of total anonymity. That's right. Here's how it works:

- Users download a specifically coded browser called Tor, which, in essence, pings their IP address (the address of their particular computer or device) through countless relays across the world. If someone tries to pinpoint where their computer is located, they'll get simultaneous results in Russia, China, Istanbul, the US, England, etc., essentially making them impossible to track. They're now on the web with basically perfect anonymity. - Specially designed pages on the internet are accessible only by people using this browser; while normal browsers access pages with addresses ending in .com, .co.uk, .net, etc, the Tor network ends in .onion, and the pages use encrypted addresses which resemble random letters and numbers. - From here, the darkest parts of the Open Web look downright calm. On the Dark Web, anything imaginable by human depravity is available: drugs, hitmen, humans for sale, child porn, you name it. You pay for services using untraceable BitCoins, you navigate pages as someone in twenty places at once, and you become a part of the largest black market on the planet, through which you are free to do with almost no threat of consequence.

This is terrifying.

At The Cost Of Your Soul

Free is a dangerous word to use here, almost as dangerous as the content itself. It's true: much of the content produced by this seediest of underbellies costs little to nothing and the threat of discovery is negligible, but I'd hardly say it's free. In fact, I'd argue that sex slavery is the most prevalent slavery in History, in that those who are trapped into providing it are just as numerous as those pining to get it.

According to numbers from 2009, roughly $3,000 is spent on porn globally every second of the day. It is a $13 billion industry in the United States alone.

And these are just the figures of people who have paid for it.

On one streaming site alone (no entry fee required), new video uploads can reach up to 250,000 views on the first day alone. Each. And there can be 20 uploads a day. On one site out of hundreds.

I don't think I can even comprehend the broadness of this Dragon's wingspan, because I'm only talking about pornography on the Internet; I am not even factoring in DVD sales, porn conventions, print materials, novelty store items, human trafficking, or any of that. I'm not even talking about Dark Web materials. This is what you can access right this second from your smartphone.

Once upon a time, you had to take a wagon to a slave market to inspect and buy them. In public. Now you don't have to even show your face or your wallet, and in the process, two slaves are created. This should break your heart.

"Free" Drugs, and a Secular response to a Secular argument

Here's the naked truth.

Heh.

Porn rewrites the pathways in your brain. Literally, sexual release stimulated by pornography affects you the same way slamming heroin would, and people itch for it all the same.

The problem: the drugs are within you, sort of. It's about dopamine release, triggered by fulfilling an urge that is basic to humanity. "Sex is in human nature," say the purveyors of the industry. "A sex drive is as common as the need to eat. And besides, it's not hurting anyone."

Indeed.

Marital Infidelity,
the cause of more than half of Divorce cases,
“a higher tolerance for abnormal sexual behaviors, sexual aggression, promiscuity, and even rape[...] men view[ing] women and even children as ‘sex objects,’ commodities or instruments for their pleasure”,
putting real-life relationships and even jobs at risk, and
betrayal, loss, distrust, devastation, and anger
are pretty harmless things.

We have no problem telling people they eat too much or drink too much alcohol or spend too much time watching TV or spend too much money on brand-name mustard when the generic stuff is the exact same, but when it comes to sex, that's your right and your Divinely-instilled drive, so God forbid you condemn the use of it as you wish. Wear what you want, enhance your sexuality, enlarge those breasts, learn tips to wow your man/woman in bed, because sex is thoroughly normal (and this is just the Cosmo in the checkout aisle at WalMart, right next to the laser pointers and the two-for-one Snickers bars).

I therefore ask you, with the above-described industry braying its blackened scales, is this what a "normal, natural" thing gets us?

So now what?

I don't know how to talk about this without a broken heart, because it's the clampingest trap in the world, and every day new people are being grabbed by it while age-old addicts get regripped stronger.

How do you fight something that is potent as long as memory is? Take away all of the heroin from a heroin addict and they'll have a really crappy couple of weeks, but they can't pull more heroin from their mind, no matter how hard they try. But porn emblazons itself on the brain and knows only the limit of the imagination.

The only way to fight it is to get a new mind. And I know no program or rehab that can do that for you. The renewal of the mind can only come from the One who programmed it in the first place.

Here's the very amateur Hamilton's prescription for getting out. Because I know that someone reading this needs to get the hell out. Literally.
1) Find Jesus.It's hokey sounding, I know, but you'll have to trust me on this one.
2) Develop a broken heart for all of those in the industry. Don't see pornstars or pretty people, see people who need Jesus. Or as people who feel like they don't have another option. Or as someone's daughter.
3) Tell somebody. I don't care if you tell someone you know or not. I don't even care if they know your name. Go to the XXX Church confession boards. Send me an email (I promise, promise, promise to be 100% confidential). Do not fight the Dragon alone.
4) Get accountable. XXX Church has software that is completely free that will monitor all of your internet activity and send suspicious sites in an email to whoever you pick to receive them.
5) Turn on the light. Porn is like mold: it thrives in the darkness. It grows behind closed doors. If we exposed it rather than consumed it, what kind of revolution would that incite?

This has been super long, and I'm done writing, I promise. But I'm not going to have a witty conclusion because I'm not done doing something. I've been increasingly burdened for sex slaves, producers and consumers, alike, for too long without action. If you have a similar desire to get something done, talk to me; I'd absolutely love to get you on board or in contact with someone to team up with or anything. Let's make tshirts.

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.