The Culture of Pornography & Committment Phobia
By John Mallon
© 1992, 2004 By John Mallon
Everyone today has heard of the problem of “commitment phobia.” That is, a situation where a couple goes out together for a long time until it seems that it would be logical to take the step of engagement and marriage; but one of the parties, usually the man, starts to claim that he isn’t ready yet, or can’t make a commitment. The woman, of course by now has made quite an investment already and can hear her “biological clock” ticking away. She would like to have children and the security of marriage, but he just gets cold feet—or a cold sweat—whenever the topic comes up.
The problem seems quite vexing but I think the reasons for it are quite clear: It is the logical outcome of living in a pornographic culture—a culture of of so-called “free sex” which has created a great deal of isolation, until it is basically a culture of masturbation. I will never forget the pathetic scene created a few years ago by a group of Boston College feminists led by a condom dispensing male professor when they attempted to disrupt a lecture by Professor Janet Smith who was speaking on the evil of artificial contraception from the context of the beauty of human love.
When Professor Smith spoke about the spiritual riches to be mined in the life of a marriage from periodic abstinence within a program of Natural Family Planning, this tragic mob howled, as if from the pit of Dante’s inferno, “What about mutual masturbation? What about mutual masturbation?” —as though they were being deprived of food and water. Nor shall I forget the desolate sadness and introspection on these women’s faces when Professor Smith went on to speak of Pope John Paul’s vision of the beauty of tender committed human love. They’d never heard it before. Up till then they’d been sold a bill of goods. (See The Observer of Boston College; January, 1990)
Without love, and without marriage, sexual activity is out of its workable context and becomes an insatiable addiction. The stages of psychological development freeze at the point an addiction sets in. That is why so many men in our society have remained in adolescence far beyond their teenaged years. Most men in our society have grown up with the idea that any form of sexual activity, including promiscuity, and masturbation, supported by soft-core pornography, is something good, something healthy, now that we’ve been “liberated” from all those old fashioned mores, and silly tales of going blind or growing hair on the back of one’s hands. Also, there is the matter of the exaggerated guilt which accompanies this subject resulting from poor pastoral practice—and then exaggerations about poor pastoral practice itself.
Be that as it may, the fact remains that the actions we perform play a large role in the way we are formed. Sex, by its very nature is the fountain of life, and the center of human union, union being the chief desire of the human heart. Therefore, any kind of sexual activity affects us profoundly to our very depths. This affects us in many ways, not the least of which are developmental, emotional, spiritual, and psychological, in the formation of our world view and how others fit into it.
So the man who begins a fantasy sexual life in his early adolescence, as so many men of today have, with the use of soft-core pornography, such as Playboy magazines, gets a habit deeply ingrained in his psyche linking a false idea of female perfection with an ideal fantasy harem. None of the members of his fantasy harem has any qualms about his fantasizing about another woman, and even seem to approve, because that is all the woman’s eyes in those photographs ever communicates. She is all approving, all understanding, and lovingly naked—for him. His stable of concubines is a big happy family who exist all and just for him. If one has rounder breasts, or another a cuter face, or another a firmer derriere no one minds! No one gets hurt or jealous. Hence he is free to always search for that more perfect woman—each month. But always has the old ones to fall back on and they never mind.
Now, translate this mindset, firmly formed, and deeply linked to this man’s patterns of needs into the real world of real women and real love affairs. At first he is all hearts and flowers, candy, cards, presents, dinner and dancing, until she starts to like it and believes he really cares for her—and he does. But can he commit to just one? To her alone? Or is he always scanning the horizon for something (as opposed to someone) “better”? Is he capable of truly loving a woman or merely addicted to adolescent romantic fantasy linked to sexual gratification—which is now unquenchable by one woman?
He will weep with sincere frustration that she can’t tolerate his desire for more and others. He is accustomed to the unquestioning sweetness and acceptance of his paper harem, and genuinely can’t ...
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