This is perhaps the last of three posts. It has been a grim journey since the last two posts; the recruitment into Porn Matrix and its sustenance. However the reality is much grimmer, the reader has been spared some of these accounts only out of consideration for the reader. With the little we have explored so far, we are equipped to resist the porn establishment, to fight against the machine, to bring down the Porn Matrix.
- Porno is far bigger than rock music and far bigger than Hollywood.
- Americans spend more on strip clubs than they spend on theatre, opera, ballet, jazz and classical concerts combined.
- In 1975 the total retail value of all the hard-core porno in America was estimated at $5-10 million. Last year Americans spent $8 billion on mediated sex. (form here)
If there is one lesson from the previous posts (The Porn Matrix 2), it is that the Porn Matrix is most potent and has most effect in the minds (psyche) of people. Therefore the most effective strategy against it would be one of the mind; Jihad al Nafs (Struggle against the Self). We shall briefly go through some of the strategies that could be used to protect and to recover from the grasp of the Porn Matrix establishment. These are not exhaustive, and not detailed because links to some of these solutions have been provided for further investigation and application.
All men were not created at the same time nor were they exposed to the same experiences. Therefore some are ahead of others in this Porn Matrix. Some need to be protected from getting recruited while others need to be saved (by themselves or others) from the system because they are already embedded in it. So suggestions shall be divided into preventive and corrective strategies.
Preventive: Recruitment of the Young
Many who have consumed pornography, especially Internet pornography, remember their first encounter. It would usually be an opportunity that presented itself, perhaps not because one goes out of their way to seek it, but as simple as having the opportunity presented to you on a platter only for your curiosity or peer pressure to get the best of you. It may have been an advert on the internet one clicked, it may have been that it caught your eyes being sold cheaply, it could have been a friend’s copy etc. However your first encounter, imagine millions of others that are likely to go through the same situation as you, and very likely end up being recruited into the Porn Matrix.
Pornography has been around for centuries but never has it been so disruptive. This is mainly due to Internet porn and fast bandwidth which opened a never ending stream of pornography a click away. A study presented by Gary Wilson proves this point because young generation of porn users who started consuming porn on the Internet (not through magazines first) had a more difficult time reversing the effect on their brains compared to older porn viewers who were around before the Internet porn was in abundance.
So with a lot of our younger ones (12 years above) having unsupervised smart phones and other devices with internet capabilities, they only need to be curious enough to one day dare to make a “Google” search towards a sex video. And so it will begin. I don’t subscribe to denying them these devices but the usage should be regulated and supervised. There are many parental control applications for these devices which are not being utilized, some for laptops and desktops, and many online articles to help. Another strategy is to avoid creating an enabling environment e.g. privacy when idly browsing the internet because even if they don’t go to these sites an advert could drag them there. In fact, many boys have reported “boredom” as their trigger to consume porn, so it would help to keep the young ones busy even if it is with fun stuff. For privacy, perhaps avoid laptops and portable devices that could be used in a locked room, instead set them a desktop stationed in a common area of the house. It would be helpful if one is as tech savvy as the young ones so that they you can be one step ahead of them if you decide to monitor them etc. There are numerous ways to achieve non privacy and parental control, but these are not supposed to be lasting solutions, simply temporary solutions for minors. Eventually the young shall grow, and perhaps at that time they could be shown the “truth” about the Porn Matrix so that their understanding shall guide them.
Preventive: Communicate and Deal with Porn Habits Before Marriage
Perhaps the most common way women suffer from the Porn Matrix is by close association with men who consume porn. Given the prevalence of porn in how it affects our reality today, it has become a pertinent topic of discussion before marriage. Every bride to be should worry about this, just as she should worry about Genotype, blood type and diseases of a spouse; the porn habit is like a disease after all. Since it is unlikely the grooms-to-be will attempt to deal with these problems, which is probably their problems, the responsibility to bring it up is on the brides-to-be.
As convincing as it may be to the mind that a future under the dark cloud of porn is grim, culture may be a deterrent to many from talking about it with intended spouses due to the “appropriateness” of the topic. That is certainly an issue where a woman is considered “loose” were she to ever mention such topics. “How in God’s name does she know about it?!” they will insist, their minds making up the answers even before the question. Many would rather the porn elephant-in-the-room be hidden, tucked under the carpet, then close the doors and deal with the beast, or rather the beast deal with them. Hiding or neglecting a problem does not mean the problem goes away. There are a number of possible solutions to this, which I hope sisters (brides-to-be) would look more into and come out with better ones, while we work towards getting these cultures to realize and admit such relevant questions with the respect they deserve.
In the mean time, while the brides seek more creative ways to deal with this, a suggestion is to have a methodical approach to the courtship before marriage such that one has a checklist of issues to be ironed out, or investigated, before marriage; the checklist could include blood test, dealing with bad habits (including porn habits) etc. An attempt on such an approach can be found here. The benefit is that when there is a “checklist”, the bride is less likely to be considered “loose” for mentioning this issue; after all it is not her saying it, it is the checklist! Until we are able to discuss it as an issue without unjustified shame.
Corrective: Break Free from Addiction
Since the behavioral addiction of pornography is sustained by a physical restructuring of the brain, then the simplest solution is to reverse the structure since that is possible, thanks to Synaptic Plasticity. This is possible as we have mentioned that brain structures are sustained by repetition of actions associated with that structure then the simplest solution would be driven by Will Power which would destroy those perverted structures then create more useful brain structures.
Narrated ‘Alqama: While I was walking with ‘Abdullah he said, “We were in the company of the Prophet and he said, ‘He who can afford to marry should marry, because it will help him refrain from looking at other women, and save his private parts from looking at other women, and save his private parts from committing illegal sexual relation; and he who cannot afford to marry is advised to fast, as fasting will diminish his sexual power.” (Bukhari)
However knowing the limitations of the simple solution of will power, there are therapeutic solutions as well as ahadith, and some from other sages of the past; Muslims (Alghazali) and non Muslims (St Thomas Aquinas). I hesitate to include fasting (from ahadith above) here for two reasons: I do not have enough reason to claim that fasting would work for a case of addiction; if any effect, I would expect the fasting to be high quality such that mind body and soul deeply take part in the fasting, not the reckless normal fasting. Secondly fasting in the hadith seems to have have been subscribed as a preventive approach not corrective. With that taken into consideration; the following are possible ways to break free from Addiction (follow the links for more detail):
- Fasting; just to keep some Muslims happy 🙂
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; as with compulsive gambling
- Twelve-step programs; this is interesting because it involves calling upon a higher power e.g. God
- Medication; but I have reservations on these so let it be the last option
- nofap.org and other porn-recovery communities; nofap.org is an online community of ex porn addicts helping others to break free from shackles of porn.
- purifyyourgaze.com; the world’s first sex addiction recovery platform for Muslims… according to them anyway
Preventive: Protection from Recruitment
It also behooves the servant to endure pain and to experience affliction. The foremost affliction he can endure is hunger. In it are many benefits besides his being aware of the torments of the Hereafter. This is one reason why affliction became the mark of prophets and saints (which is) the greatest example they could set. Joseph (pbuh) was told: “You shall not hunger while in your hands are the treasures of the earth,” to which he replied: “I fear in being filled that I would forget the hungry.”20 Remembering the hungry and needy is one of the benefits of hunger, for it invokes mercy and (is conducive to) feeding (those in need) and showing pity for God’s created beings, because he who is filled is oblivious to the pain of the hungry. (AlGhazali: Abstinence in Islam; Benefits of Hunger)
For all the porn amateurs who are yet to be sucked into the perverted reality of Porn Matrix, the following should help.
- Fasting and avoiding excessive caloric intake (“Animal spirits” according to Hamza Yusuf)
- Recognition and awareness that the (effects of the) Porn Matrix is real; Neo had to know about the Matrix to rise up against it!
- Collaborating, participating and promoting anti-porn groups: some that have been mentioned above and others like the anti porn feminists, anti-porn activist, etc.
- Understanding/reflecting on implications of porn onto self; physiological, psychological/spiritual dimensions
- Understanding/reflecting on implications to others; spouse, family, ummah (economic and social). In line with the Prophet’s approach, imagine it is your sister (or someone you care about) in that child porn, imagine its your sister made a sex slave… how then could one support such industry even when one doesn’t pay. If we can understand this point, I’d be glad we venture into similar socio economic issues where exploitation/oppression happens everyday under our nose. It may not be sexual exploitation but it is exploitation, perhaps even worse. Unfortunately we, especially in Nigeria have been conditioned, to react to promises of heavenly reward and punishment, while numbed to basic ethics (and its philosophy). I bet if there was a hadith that says we get 10 sins for every porn video/image watched, we would react more, but we might feel no obligation to un-support this online prostitution for its ethical disasters, not to talk of social, economic and psychological impact… as if they are not all related. Do we not reason?! Is this mechanistic reaction to reward and punishment not what the brain does with dopamine to get us in this mess in the first place?! Are we not better than that?
Finally, and this applies as a supplement to all strategies that have been mentioned, Prayer. Neo was amazing in The Matrix wasn’t he? I bet he prayed!
<*Music and casting rolls*>
Some salient points worth remembering from the Porn Matrix trilogy is: Porn is forbidden for Muslims, Porn is most powerful because of its powers to alter the brain physiologically and psychologically, Porn harms men that consume it and women who don’t, Porn Matrix is a paradigm of thinking about the world with ethical implications (from advertising to reaction to rape), Porn Matrix is sustained by us in many of our “trivial” actions, there is a big economic interest behind Porn Matrix, the Porn Matrix can be prevented and overcome.