Pornography

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

Re: Pornography

Postby daverupa » Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:22 am

AnonOfIbid wrote:Why preceptually single out porn?


Probably related to the title you gave this thread.

How does it run afoul of trade in humans? Humans, in pornography, are treated as (sexual) objects, not as suffering persons, just as in slavery humans are treated as (work) objects, not as suffering persons.

How does it prevent brahmavihara practice? By training oneself to see another human as a mere vehicle for one's lust instead of with compassion and equanimity.

The Samyutta Nikaya selections here offer details on whether and how it applies to everyone, the final concern you expressed to my earlier post.
Last edited by daverupa on Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Pornography

Postby Dan74 » Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:31 am

Can one take poison "non-harmfully"?

Obviously not. You can take less, you can drink lots of water to minimize the harm, but it's still going to be bad for you (and for others).

Many of us have looked at porn or still look at it. I think it's best to leave the judgmental holier-than-thou attitude about this and just take an honest look. Is consuming pornography a wholesome activity conducive to practice? Obviously not. Should it be on top of the list of such unwholesome activities to be abandoned? Depends.

Like the example with poison above, the way one consumes porn can vary widely - from compulsive addictive behavior involving violent imagery to an occasional browse. So the harm involved is going to vary widely too.

And of course consuming porn is not an isolated habit (no such thing) but ties in with many other aspects of one's life, relationship, etc. It's a big subject but I will just say that once we make a serious commitment to practice the emphasis and the orientation begin to shift from self-gratification of all sorts to letting go of all that's unnecessary and harmful and to benefiting ourselves and others. Porn is like scratching an itch - it fans the flames of passion, the urge to have more pleasure and pleasure of different kinds and so it runs counter to the spirit of Dhamma. In the long term it is bound to cause obvious suffering but it does damage in a more subtle way already in the short term.
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Re: Pornography

Postby Nibbida » Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:36 am

AnonOfIbid,

It's not my habit to intrude (furthermore I hope my meaning won't be lost or misconstrued...) but in my experience, Retrofuturist has been very even-handed and very low on the judgmental scale. I can't read others' thoughts, but if I had to hazard a guess I'd say your adverse interaction with him so far is more a matter of misunderstanding than malice.

Pornography is one of the more perplexing issues in modern interpretations of the dharma. I'll respond to your other posts on cannabis and antidepressants on those other threads. An underlying principle behind the ethics of Buddhism can be said to be not harming sentient beings, oneself and/or others. On one hand, pornography done by consenting adults and viewed by consenting adults doesn't seem to fit that description. If a person wants to view it an engage in that as a form of sexual activity, I'd have a hard time saying that it's unacceptable when sex with a partner is acceptable for a layperson. Buddhism doesn't seem to have a "thou shalt have sex only to procreate" rule that Christianity does. Further, many people may not be involved with an intimate partner for whatever reason, so maybe pornography provides an acceptable outlet. If we're not observing the monastic precept of celibacy, it's hard to say why not.

On the other hand, the porn industry is rife with problems like drug abuse, sexual addiction, histories of sexual abuse, etc. In many ways, it could be seen as exploiting people who are in a vulnerable position. While legal, it has a scuzzy side to it.

From Eric Schlosser's, author of Reefer Madness:
Some women are drawn to the sex industry because they're exhibitionists who love the sex and the stardom. Most are attracted by the money. One well-known porn star put herself through law school by acting in hard-core films; others have saved their earnings, invested well, and then quit. But many are drawn to the industry by drug habits and self-loathing. For these women, hard-core videos become a permanent record of the most degrading moments of their life.

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/biztech/articles/970210/archive_006163_6.htm

The other downside of pornography is that it is intensely stimulating and can very easily be used as a drug, as a way to numb unpleasant emotions. Many people do develop addictive patterns of using pornography. Sexual pleasure activates many of the same brain areas and releases many of the same chemicals as addicting drugs. So it's not hard to imagine how that could (but not necessarily inevitably) turn into a pattern of abuse. The potential for self-deception is large.

So of course I have no "answer" for you. There is no clear cut answer to my thinking, but porn is a tricky issue. I have no interest in passing judgment on others, but to me this is at least a topic to approach with caution.
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Re: Pornography

Postby chownah » Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:52 am

AnonOfIbid wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:How can one "use porn" without engaging in craving?
. How can one breathe, eat, make love, etc... without craving? Why preceptually single out porn?

I think your view that people are perpetually singling out porn is inaccurate.....you started the thread and gave it one narrowly defined topic...namely "Pornography"...so you have singled out porn...not others

Personally...I don't ascribe to the view that pornography is trading in humans....it is trading in pictures, videos, texts, etc....whateve form the porn is produced in....I personally don't think that the Buddha had anything specific to say about porn...I think the Buddha taught that it is our attachment to things that is the problem....so...if one is attached to porn then I guess one should be aware of that and use that awareness to penetrate (pun intended) their experience...maybe when indulging in porn one should focus on how hard it is (pun intended) to stay mindful.....

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Re: Pornography

Postby andre9999 » Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:05 am

While it's not specified explicitly, I would think pornography is included in the seventh precept.
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Re: Pornography

Postby AnonOfIbid » Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:23 am

I'm starting with you, Nibbida, because your "non-answer" is the best ANSWER.
Nibbida wrote:... Retrofuturist has been very even-handed and very low on the judgmental scale. I can't read others' thoughts, but if I had to hazard a guess I'd say your adverse interaction with him so far is more a matter of misunderstanding than malice.

probably, as long as it's agreed the misunderstanding goes BOTH WAYS

Nibbida wrote:Pornography is one of the more perplexing issues in modern interpretations of the dharma.... On one hand, pornography done by consenting adults and viewed by consenting adults doesn't seem to fit that description. If a person wants to view it an engage in that as a form of sexual activity, I'd have a hard time saying that it's unacceptable when sex with a partner is acceptable for a layperson.... On the other hand, the porn industry is rife with problems like drug abuse, sexual addiction, histories of sexual abuse, etc. In many ways, it could be seen as exploiting people who are in a vulnerable position. While legal, it has a scuzzy side to it....The other downside of pornography is that it is intensely stimulating and can very easily be used as a drug, as a way to numb unpleasant emotions. Many people do develop addictive patterns of using pornography. Sexual pleasure activates many of the same brain areas and releases many of the same chemicals as addicting drugs. So it's not hard to imagine how that could (but not necessarily inevitably) turn into a pattern of abuse. The potential for self-deception is large....So of course I have no "answer" for you. There is no clear cut answer to my thinking, but porn is a tricky issue. I have no interest in passing judgment on others, but to me this is at least a topic to approach with caution.


I basically agree with this, with one addition. Harmfulness is difficult if not impossible to measure, but it has to start with the individual. Porn in and of itself is not harmful. The harm comes from how we behave in to relation to it. Saying the PRECEPTS forbid illicit sex, and pointing to canonical texts, is a NOT a HELPFUL/SKILLFUL response.
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Re: Pornography

Postby AnonOfIbid » Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:28 am

Dan74 wrote: Many of us have looked at porn or still look at it.

Really? That's hilarious.
Dan74 wrote:In the long term it is bound to cause obvious suffering but it does damage in a more subtle way already in the short term.

It's not obvious at all.
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Re: Pornography

Postby AnonOfIbid » Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:30 am

:clap:
chownah wrote:
AnonOfIbid wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:How can one "use porn" without engaging in craving?
. How can one breathe, eat, make love, etc... without craving? Why preceptually single out porn?

I think your view that people are perpetually singling out porn is inaccurate.....you started the thread and gave it one narrowly defined topic...namely "Pornography"...so you have singled out porn...not others

Personally...I don't ascribe to the view that pornography is trading in humans....it is trading in pictures, videos, texts, etc....whateve form the porn is produced in....I personally don't think that the Buddha had anything specific to say about porn...I think the Buddha taught that it is our attachment to things that is the problem....so...if one is attached to porn then I guess one should be aware of that and use that awareness to penetrate (pun intended) their experience...maybe when indulging in porn one should focus on how hard it is (pun intended) to stay mindful.....

chownah


:twothumbsup:
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Re: Pornography

Postby AnonOfIbid » Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:31 am

andre9999 wrote:While it's not specified explicitly, I would think pornography is included in the seventh precept.


5's enough for me at the moment, thanks
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Re: Pornography

Postby Dan74 » Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:35 am

What are you looking for in this thread, Anon?

As it progresses it seems more and more likely that retro was right in his initial comment - you have your views and you are looking for support rather than being open to other views.

As to effects, here's some stuff:

Written by Chris Diggins, professional counselor (LMHC). You can check out his practice and blog by visiting Relationship Counseling Seattle.

Pornography is sometimes viewed as “normal” or an “art form.” A person might say, “What’s wrong with it?…I am not hurting anybody….everybody does it.” Those who promote, want to use, or can’t stop using porn, often have this perspective.

Here are some of the harmful consequences:

1. Porn often leads to more harmful sexually addictive behavior; e.g., compulsive masturbation, fantasy, promiscuity, exhibitionism, soliciting prostitutes, pedophilia, and rape. The user tends to gravitate toward the type of porn most being observed.

2. Porn by its very nature isolates an individual-making him more intent on satisfying selfish needs even at the expense of his marriage, family, financial stability, and career.

3. Porn stimulates a very powerful sexual desire followed by sexual release, most often through masturbation. Unfortunately, the release provides only momentary satisfaction, then an escalation of the behavior is required in an attempt to maintain a high level of sexual arousal.

4. Porn has the ability to control the user where he cannot stop. The fantasies occur more frequently as the addiction progresses.

Of the two pleasure centers in the brain, one is high impact, thrilling pleasure stimulated by pornography, erotic fantasies, or new sexual encounters. The other is a steady, less intense pleasure realized by walking on a beach, making love with a long term partner, helping a child with homework, experiencing deep feelings (painful or pleasant) and sharing them in a significant relationship.

A man doesn’t have to act out in dramatic ways to create harm in his life. Satisfaction can be achieved in small ways and still be detrimental. A beginner gets tastes of the high impact pleasure and slowly starts to integrate fantasies, images, and desires into everyday thoughts and behaviors. Even if he does not graduate to more involvement, this infiltration will still have a negative impact.

Supermodel Christy Brinkley’s family was destroyed by pornography. She and her husband, Peter Cook, had viewed porn together and considered it harmless. Then she discovered he had been masturbating via a web cam over the internet and had an affair with his 18 year old secretary whom he had groomed for sex since she was 15. She then pursued a public divorce trial to openly display his shameful behavior. In the settlement she was awarded full custody of the children. These severe consequences are just one example of what can happen to people.

People who stimulate the high impact pleasure center too often rarely get enough satisfaction. Porn can generate this type of pleasure with little effort. Once a man is hooked, he will have an extremely difficult time transitioning to healthy, more stable pleasure.

In my psychotherapy practice, couples enter therapy where the man has been caught using porn or acting out sexually. His wife is shocked, dismayed, and extremely angry about the betrayal. More often than not, they both believe it is about willpower and if he could only stay away from the computer, the prostitutes, or the porn, everything would be okay. They fail to realize that the sexual behavior is the symptom not the problem.

This is not like a substance addiction where a user can avoid a drink, a pusher or a drug. This compulsive behavior is lethal, since a man cannot simply avoid erotic thoughts. Especially in our culture, provocative images are everywhere. The underlying problem is that he is addicted to high intensity pleasure and does not know how to experience pleasure from everyday, ordinary life situations; such as, spending quality time with his family or having intimate talks and sharing with his wife. Frequently, neither partner knows how to enjoy these simple pleasures, therefore, it is not just the man who needs therapy. The marriage needs an overhaul where both have to address emotional issues.

I inform the couple, “this unfortunate, painful event can be used to open your eyes and turn your marriage around…you can end up with a wonderful marriage, one you never knew was possible. Yes, your husband betrayed you and he is responsible to repair the damage done to you…and his behavior is indicative of a person who is unhappy, bored, anxious, even depressed in his marriage. He did not know what to do to address his unhappiness. If he is so unhappy that he is willing to endanger his marriage, then more than likely you also are in an unsatisfying marriage….at some point you both will look back on this and the porn will no longer be an issue…in fact you will even be grateful that he got caught.”

The couple needs to learn to replace the depression, loneliness, anxiety and the high intensity pleasure with the everyday pleasures of delight and wonder for their marriage and their family life.

With the clinical evidence rapidly mounting against pornography use, the question remains: how can couples explore intimacy and their sexuality with suffering the negative effects of pornography?

Psychologist Edward Donnerstein (University of Wisconsin) found that brief exposure to violent forms of pornography can lead to anti-social attitudes and behavior. Male viewers tend to be more aggressive towards women, less responsive to pain and suffering of rape victims, and more willing to accept various myths about rape.1

Dr. Dolf Zimmerman and Dr. Jennings Bryant showed that continued exposure to pornography had serious adverse effects on beliefs about sexuality in general and on attitudes toward women in particular. They also found that pornography desensitizes people to rape as a criminal offense.2

These researchers also found that massive exposure to pornography encourages a desire for increasingly deviant materials which involve violence, like sadomasochism and rape.3

Feminist author Diana Russell notes in her book Rape and Marriage the correlation between deviant behavior (including abuse) and pornography. She also found that pornography leads men and women to experience conflict, suffering, and sexual dissatisfaction.4

Researcher Victor Cline (University of Utah) has documented in his research how men become addicted to pornographic materials, begin to desire more explicit or deviant material, and end up acting out what they have seen.5

According to Charles Keating of Citizens for Decency Through Law, research reveals that 77 percent of child molesters of boys and 87 percent of child molesters of girls admitted imitating the sexual behavior they had seen modeled in pornography.

Sociologists Murray Straus and Larry Baron (University of New Hampshire) found that rape rates are highest in states which have high sales of sex magazines and lax enforcement of pornography laws.6

Michigan state police detective Darrell Pope found that of the 38,000 sexual assault cases in Michigan (1956-1979), in 41 percent of the cases pornographic material was viewed just prior to or during the crime. This agrees with research done by psychotherapist David Scott who found that “half the rapists studied used pornography to arouse themselves immediately prior to seeking out a victim.”

The Final Report of the 1986 Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography lists a full chapter of testimony (197-223) from victims whose assailants had previously viewed pornographic materials. The adverse effects range from physical harm (rape, torture, murder, sexually transmitted disease) to psychological harm (suicidal thoughts, fear, shame, nightmares).

The Facts on Pornography

A day-care director, now serving three years for three counts of first-degree sexual assault, confessed the he had “started picking up pornographic materials occasionally, going to bookstores … no one knew, not even my wife … now I do recognize fully the shocking facts about pornography and how it will draw you into its clutches away from God into sinful fantasies …”

Multiplied incidents like the above graphically illustrate how the $8 billion-per-year porn industry has carved inroads into American life:

Nearly 900 theaters show X-rated films and more than 15,000 “adult” bookstores and video stores offer pornographic material, outnumbering McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S. by a margin of at least three to one.
Each year, nearly 100 full-length pornographic films provide estimated annual box office sales of $50 million.
Approximately 70% of the pornographic magazines sold eventually end up in the hands of minors.
About 1.2 million children are annually exploited through child pornography and prostitution.7

1 Pornography and Violence Against Women, 1980.
2 “Pornography, Sexual Callousness, and the Trivialization of Rape,” Journal of Communication, 1982.
3 “The Effect of Erotica Featuring Sadomasochism and Bestiality of Motivated Inter-Male Aggressions,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 1981. 4 Rape and Marriage, 1982.
5 “Where Do You Draw the Line?” 1974.
6 “Legitimate Violence and Rape: A Test of the Cultural Spillover Theory,” 1985.
7 Henry Boatwright, Chairman of the U.S. Advisory Board of Social Concerns.
Last edited by Dan74 on Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pornography

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:43 am

AnonOfIbid wrote:Porn in and of itself is not harmful. The harm comes from how we behave in to relation to it.

Arsenic in and of itself is not harmful. The harm comes from how we behave in to relation to it.
Heroin in and of itself is not harmful. The harm comes from how we behave in to relation to it.
Alcohol in and of itself is not harmful. The harm comes from how we behave in to relation to it.
AnonOfIbid wrote:Saying the PRECEPTS forbid illicit sex, and pointing to canonical texts, is a NOT a HELPFUL/SKILLFUL response.

If that's really your view, why are you posting to a Buddhist forum?
:thinking:

:namaste:
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Re: Pornography

Postby AnonOfIbid » Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:55 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
AnonOfIbid wrote:Porn in and of itself is not harmful. The harm comes from how we behave in to relation to it.

Arsenic in and of itself is not harmful. The harm comes from how we behave in to relation to it.
Heroin in and of itself is not harmful. The harm comes from how we behave in to relation to it.
Alcohol in and of itself is not harmful. The harm comes from how we behave in to relation to it.
AnonOfIbid wrote:Saying the PRECEPTS forbid illicit sex, and pointing to canonical texts, is a NOT a HELPFUL/SKILLFUL response.

If that's really your view, why are you posting to a Buddhist forum?
:thinking:

:namaste:
Kim


CLINGING to, GRASPING for, CRAVING, DESIRING, etc... porn CAN BE harmful IF one acts on them. You can say, "The porn made me do it!" but would anyone believe you?
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Re: Pornography

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:57 am

Greetings,

Clinging, grasping, craving and desire are the acts themselves .

The objects of clinging etc. are secondary to the act of clinging itself.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Pornography

Postby AnonOfIbid » Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:58 am

[quote="Dan74"]What are you looking for in this thread, Anon? As it progresses it seems more and more likely that retro was right in his initial comment - you have your views and you are looking for support rather than being open to other views.
[quote]

You don't know what my views are. What are you looking for in replying to this thread, Dan?
Last edited by AnonOfIbid on Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pornography

Postby AnonOfIbid » Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:02 am

Dan74 wrote:What are you looking for in this thread, Anon?


Are you familiar with the notions of Socratic method for arriving at "truth" the "nature of reality," civil debate, intellectual discussion, where people engage you INTELLECTUALLY without wasting time determining your "motives," "agendas," "reasons," etc.... Is that so much to ask?
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Re: Pornography

Postby AnonOfIbid » Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:04 am

Dan74 wrote:What are you looking for in this thread, Anon?

As it progresses it seems more and more likely that retro was right in his initial comment - you have your views and you are looking for support rather than being open to other views.


You don't know what my views are. What are you looking for in replying to this thread, Dan?
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Re: Pornography

Postby ground » Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:06 am

AnonOfIbid wrote:Can one "use" it non-harmfully?


I wonder what might be called "non-harmful" about conditioning oneself to attachment and sensual pleasures in the context of the Buddha's way?
From a worldly perspective you may certainly find arguments in favor of pornography like e.g. sexually enriching a boring relationship.

Kind regards
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Re: Pornography

Postby AnonOfIbid » Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:18 am

TMingyur wrote:
AnonOfIbid wrote:Can one "use" it non-harmfully?

From a worldly perspective you may certainly find arguments in favor of pornography like e.g. sexually enriching a boring relationship.
Kind regards

:smile:

How many folks would consider looking at naked or sexual pictures or videos of their spouse as a pornographic act? Would it bee harmful?
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Re: Pornography

Postby andre9999 » Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:26 am

The Socratic method doesn't just mean asking random questions.

The Buddha said many times that his concern was reducing suffering. Many Buddhists' primary concern in their practice is reducing their suffering, and anything unrelated to that goal is simply not a concern.

So in your opinion, how does looking at porn reduce the watcher's suffering?
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Re: Pornography

Postby AnonOfIbid » Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:28 am

The second citation is too old to be relevant/useful/helpful. The first citation does not help me personally (i'm married and we do not watch porn as part of lovemaking). I also question the second citation's general utility in light of other comments I've made here.
Dan74 wrote: As to effects, here's some stuff....
Last edited by retrofuturist on Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Lengthy verbatim quote of Dan's earlier citations removed
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