Tag Archives: Matrix

The Porn Matrix 3 – Fall of The Establishment

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.

The Porn Matrix

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!

The End

<*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.

 

 

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Commentary on Media

The Porn Matrix 2 – Sustaining The Evil Establishment

In the previous post, we saw what the Porn Matrix is and how one gets recruited into becoming part of it by consuming pornography. However, consuming pornography is not the only way one could get recruited but it is perhaps the most common. Various ways of getting recruited involve all that result in strengthening the Porn Matrix. This post shall explore how the Porn Matrix is sustained and made to continue having the negative effects it has. As we shall see it is primarily sustained by those recruited via consumption of pornography, but others sustain it as well.

The Porn Matrix

Gaze and the Imagination: The Life Blood of The Porn Matrix

“You don’t need a celibate body, you need a celibate mind” – Barry Long

Whereas science likes to talk about porn in terms of (embodied) Dopamine rewards within the brain, a more familiar language is Lust. Lust is not an activity like a process of Dopamine reward, instead Lust is a state of the a person’s psychology. Our perception of the world, or our respective realities, are then necessarily shaped our psychology. We know from recent science that our sense perception is not as accurate as we perceive but it is in fact the brain that makes them accurate (through error correction processes). The brain is in control of the outcome of perceptions of our senses, and we know this when people hallucinate without sensing anything but their brains convincing them they have. Regardless of the lens through which we claim to view/understand the world, it is our psychology that ultimately colous it. This leads to the questions as to whether our psychology does not contradict our professed beliefs. On the other hand, the role of our psychology in shaping our reality may provide insights into this culture of pornography; The Porn Matrix.

Imagination is one of the most potent abilities at our disposal which we may put to good use or not. What is the relationship between images and imagination? In its flamboyance, imagination could cause an image to appear, while in its modesty it could embellish an image to suit our psychology e.g. when we simply look at some people and feel we don’t like them because we have a judgement against the way dress. We constantly imagine things. Which means that even as one stares at an image in front of them, the imagination gives it the final touches, which may not be far from the objective image if the psychology holds no strong feelings towards the image. However if a person’s psychology is dominated by any one state, that state would take control and affect all that one perceives. That state could be the sate of lust.

Our brains are quick to identify danger and even get us to react involuntarily by preparing to avoid it. This is what happens when a person feels scared; it is the heart/brain preparing us to react to safety. There is a part of the brain (Amygdala) that responds to this emotion by “short circuiting” the brain so that actions (like running away or jumping) instantly happen; without going through the rational/deliberating part of the brain for evaluation. Similarly, a lustful psychology with lustful imagination creates a short circuit on the brain so that any image of the opposite sex is automatically reduced to an image of sexual arousal. Does it ring a bell to the charge that men are animals (on heat)? This explanation on imagination is not based on any concrete science, simply my explanation to the observation. Not only that porn consumption restructures the brain physically, there are many genres of porn which are specifically targeted towards enhancing the imagination to be a pornification software i.e. to make many things sexual. A common example is the sexualization of women such that to men, every woman (modestly dressed or not) is a sexual object. This is more than objectification of women, it is the pornification of men, it is the Porn Matrix.

Now let us revisit the ayah concerning lowering the gaze  (Q24:30-31). Given the reference to sexual organs, “gaze” here appears to also mean a lustful gaze. The English word gaze is a good translation of the Arabic since it is almost always translated as such. To gaze implies looking, often intensely, with eagerness for a long time; and dictionaries agree with this. A popular hadith instructs us not to look more than once at a sexually arousing image. We could take the first look to be simply a look (as in: let me have a look), and subsequent looks to mean looking intensely or eagerly for an extended time i.e. gazing. The hadith seems to be telling us that we are not sinning by looking, but by gazing. Gazing is deliberate and full of imagination, in this case lustful imaginations. Taking the verse and the hadith, we see that (lustful) gazing itself is the major sin. A sin resulting from a lustful psychology, leading to a befitting imagination.

The Messenger of Allah (Peace & Blessings of Allaah be upon Him) said: “O Ali, do not follow a glance with another, for you will be forgiven for the first, but not for the second.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 2701; see Saheeh al-Jaami’, 7953)

Some images are arousing with little or no imagination, whereas other images require some imagination. Therefore, for those determined, a Hijab is just an obstacle that requires more imagination. I recall listening to one person bragging about how he can see through Hijabs (with imagination not x-ray vision). Not to talk of those with fetishes about Hijab; meaning those who get sexually aroused by seeing the most decent dressing. This begs the question: what is the role of the Hijab or any decent clothing in presence of someone in the Porn Matrix i.e. seeing the world through lustful imagination? Is Hijab then about men and their wild arousal or about the woman sacrificing her feminine appeal to be treated and respected for other than her sexual appeal? Porn consumption certainly makes one excessively lustful and imaginative, as we mentioned earlier that there are porn genres that essentially train the mind to be imaginative in everyday life. What about the argument that Hijab is a deterrent to rape predators? A psychology counselor’s testimony in a Muslim country says otherwise, because the rape predator is likely conditioned by Porn Matrix which does not discriminate between those in Hijab and those not.

Frankly it is disappointing when the best argument men give against “slutty” dressing is that they could provoke rape, such that many a times when rape does happen the victims are blamed, while the porn induced action of the man is embarrassingly excused. It is even more disappointing when this argument comes from women! A little insight into the porn minded (lust and imagination) can get us to start putting the blame where it is rightly due, and perhaps feel sorry for the attention seeking “slutty” dresser whose moral agency is broken like a phone with broken screen. In fact some are of the opinion that the injunction to where “Hijab” and cover their bossoms (or cleavage according to some translations) must be understood within its social/cultural significance, not only its sexual significance. The social significance is that the act of covering is a mark of status, protection by someone powerful/principled (as this would be relevant in Pre-Islamic Arabia), and decency which is a message understood by even the most uncultured in a society.

An ex-porn consumer expounded on the fetish and perversion in Internet Porn. He wondered if porn were a person and he asked Porn what it means for something to be sexual, Porn wouldn’t have a clear answer. This is because Porn is not really in the business of sex, but focused on sexual arousal (hence Arousal Addiction), which means anything that could lead to sexual arousal is sexual. He said Porn would answer: choking a woman is sexual, raping a woman is sexual, slapping a woman is sexual. And I add: a woman in hills is sexual, a woman in red is sexual, a woman in blue is sexual, a black woman is sexual, a Chinese woman is sexual, an Arab woman is sexual, a woman in wig is sexual, a woman in uniform is sexual, a woman in Hijab is sexual… basically anything goes and it is open season. All it takes is for a Porn producer to have this “genius” idea, make a few movies out of it and be sure there would be Porn Consumers seeking new things who will come across this and add to their fetishes. Remember we learned in the previous post that in the Porn Matrix, novelty trumps nudity i.e. Internet Porn consumers are constantly seeking new varieties of pornography, as long as it is something they haven’t seen before.

In all of this, it is clear that lustful gaze and imagination are vital to the sustenance of the Porn Matrix. What happens if we take control of our psychology and make it less lustful?

 

Marriages as Arena for The Porn Matrix

What is seeking a solution without acknowledging the underlying problem but an exercise in futility. Unlike drug abuse, which we are beginning to acknowledge as a major problem (in Nigeria), consumption of pornography doesn’t seem to leave obvious traces in the demeanor or behavior of the consumer, nor is it the best vice to brag about among friends because it is considered a pathetic attempt at the brag-worthy vice of illicit sex or unfaithfulness. Many Muslim marriages suffer from this cancer which sucks the energy, the patience and perhaps even the blessings from the marriage. A number of accounts have mentioned how Muslim women have had to take up these issues with “scholars” seeking solutions to their marriages’ (husband’s) helplessness. Fatwa and public counselling sites, as well as online forums for Muslims, are indicative of the ackknowledgement on the porn issue in the Muslim community. I don’t know the extent to which it is a problem in Nigeria and to what extent it is being tackled. I suspect it is because many in my generation (the Internet generation) have married, so we shall take a leaf from other documented experiences elsewhere.

Emotional Wedges

  • Small Lies
  • Loss of time
  • Unaddressed sexual insecurities

Sexual Wedges

  • Skewed Expectations: Spouse has to compete with the Dopamine high attained while watching pornography
  • Objectification of Women: Spouse is emotionally blackmailed to perform porn fantasies even if unpleasant (not to talk of how the disappointment of Muslim husbands is an implicit threat with polygamy)
  • Focus on Male Gratification: Focus on male gratification is self serving and uncharitable which goes against this hadith: “And when the one of you makes love (has sex) it is a rewardable charity. ” (Muslim)
  • Regular Marital Relations Becomes Less Stimulating: We have seen this as the effect of high flow of Dopamine in the first post

An interesting revelation is that some (Muslim) sisters share porn videos especially prior to marriage which they use as a form of sex education. As was pointed out in the first post, pornography and sex education are different especially in their purpose; the former is to arouse, the latter is to educate. Certainly the material from either could be used for the other purpose. Therefore there are two sides to this: the producer of the content and the consumer. The producer of sex education is to make the content educating without sexual arousal as much as possible. The consumer on the other hand must approach the material with the mind/intention that they are seeking education. Remember that pornography is categorically prohibited in Islam. When pornography serves as sex education before marriage which actually de-educates about real sex in order to maximize arousal, coupled with the effect of being desensitized by pornography, what could that lead to in the marriage? What is to become of the sexual relations of a marriage built upon and maintained on values of pornography?!  This is a marriage that is simply a stage for the Porn Matrix.

 

Sex in Front and Behind the Camera

In Front: Advertising

Give me a minute of your time and I can sell you a hot afternoon tea in sunny Gwagwalada (a hot location in Nigeria of mythical temperature). This would be a sale’s person I would watch with caution. It is not impossible to achieve, as impossible as it sounds, as long as two ingredients are available; attention and association. If only one thing can offer both, then sex is capable. Sex in advertising has saved many companies the effort of convincing the customer; why convince when seducing is cheaper? Sexually suggestive images and language are used to catch the attention of the potential consumer, then by taking advantage of the brain’s associative prowess the product is advertised explicitly with an implicit sexual promise. And how does it feel? Your brain simply feels it likes the product as if getting it would give you pleasure (as if an unsaid promise would be fulfilled). Not withstanding the sexual image may have nothing to do with the product. Of course the sexual intensity of the content varies from very faint to in-your-face; what matters is that the advertisers do so purposely.

All of this is primarily driven by the reigning consumer culture… World class advertisers as a matter of advancement in their profession understand that sex is easy to be sold with many products. They even study sex and human psychology to understand that there are at least 3 aspects of sex which could be capitalized for successful marketing; the biological, the emotional, the physical. That is what is meant when we say “Sex sells”.

When sexuality is used in advertising, certain values and attitudes towards sex are necessarily ‘sold’ along with a product. In advertising terms, this is called “the concept”. The message may be that “innocence is sexy” (as used by Calvin Klein when it uses young people in provocative poses), or that link pain and violence with sexiness and glamour (as used by Versace), or that women enjoy being dominated, or that women come with a product (e.g. in the advertisement for Budweiser Beer), or that the use of a certain product is naughty but legal, or that use of a certain product will make the user more attractive to the opposite sex, and many other messages. (Wikipedia)

Even I have had an ear for these use of sex in local (Nigeria) advertisements e.g. cliches of a beautiful woman using soaps, or the husky successful young chap, or chocolates like Galaxy always sexualized adverts. Then local radios promoting themselves: “you can do it in the car, you can do it in the kitchen”, “tune to us because everyone’s doing it”, “we are like a good skirt, short enough to keep from getting bored, and long enough to cover the subject matter”.

Another example is how people use sex to advertise themselves. I can honestly say that I have met many girls who dress “slutty” but when you talk with them you get the impression their sluttiness is simply their cry for attention; they mean no sexual advance and would be just as devastated if violated sexually as any Hijabi would. They are quite confused, in a psychological crises; seeking attention at high cost, and getting it the tested and proven method of using sexuaity. Nevermind they rationalize it with claims of female independence and freedom of expression; appreciation of the history of western feminism, or a session of psychoanalysis, would easily give them away. The same applies to all the “slutty” music divas who basically sell sexual arousal not music. So do we take them as evil; like we do already? We could look at it another way and see them as broken, seeking for help, craving for attention; we end up feeling sorry for them, for being recruited into this Porn Matrix as agents by taking advantage of their psychological insecurities. Perhaps their evil is in the arrogance of their rationalization.

“This is the main hall, not your practice space, get back in your place, we mask this face, your fans only use you to masturbate” Jean Grae (The BBQ with Eternia)

 

In Front: Porn Media

Even the legal definition of pornography makes it clear that pornography may be masqueraded in other artistic expressions, but make no mistake for it is simply to arouse sexually. Some could argue that nudity itself does not constitute porn and that it may be art, but that would depend on the social background which may or may not serve the function of porn to viewers. The point is that the goal of sexual arousal in porn media content overwhelms the art/activity that has been used as a cover for it. As a result porn videos are the most unrealistic of sexual relations; either in its settings or its duration or its standardization of reaction to an experience that is perhaps unique to every couple. These have consequences as we shall see.

Being aware of this unrealistic depiction, and keeping in mind Arousal Addiction, the Internet Porn industry is constantly exploring new genres, not to depict reality more accurately, but simply to offer something different, something new for sexual arousal. There is even a genre called “reality” as if to tell it’s critics: okay since you want something from reality, here you go, come and join, we can act reality for you, as long as we keep you clicking for sexual arousal. A contradiction that escapes many. There are many strategies to keep the consumers consuming, apparently even the critics of their unrealistic-ness.

 

Behind: Child Porn and The Exotic

An efficient market in an unethical capitalism reacts to the demands of its customers, their every whims regardless of ethical implication, as long as it is profitable. The Internet Porn industry no doubt is a booming industry worth billions of dollars. For an industry that is based on arousal addiction, it goes to great lengths to satisfy the customer. The result is the concoction of ever new genres of porn which even to regular porn consumers seem outrageous… at least at first before their brains learn (forming new connection) how to derive arousal from it. Take for example the two genres of: child pornography driven by fetish about child innocence, and race genres driven by fetish about the exotic.

Despite strict laws against child sex in many countries, child pornography flourishes in these same countries. Perhaps the illegality of it all adds to their excitement/arousal because it is dangerous. We are not here to rationalize the perverted mind but to sympathize with the child victims. The child is taken advantage of (period)! I believe this is obvious enough and requires no explanation. Every child looks to their future, not by scrupulous planning and strategizing but by a psychological (if not spiritual) connection to the adults they have in their lives. For as long as the porn does not involve obvious physical coercion, we have to accept the explanation that the child is deceived by an adult that has been entrusted with their trust. How innocent children are, scarred by deception, betrayal and exploitation that only the most evil and perverted mind may conspire. Think of the girl who thought she was on an adventure with an “uncle” only to be violated in front of a camera, she might even have dreams and illusions of becoming a movie star.

The other genre (race genres) looks not into domestic lives but across borders to lure their games with the promise of a brighter future. How many females have been smuggled into a country where they are most vulnerable due to their illegal residency status, with the ever sweet honey of a better future only to find themselves as sex slaves awaiting their next act in front of the camera. Think of the countless women exploited in this situation, when their moral compass is broken.

Why do the perpetrators go through with these cruelty and inhumanity, and capture it for sharing or selling on the Internet? Because there is demand for their products. Because someone is on the internet right now not aroused by the regular stuff and is seeking novelty. Because someone is clicking their way to new stuff, because the producers of different genres gamble that perhaps they can have one more consumer of their products even as they are quite aware they are loosing some to other genres… all these reasons disregard the traumatized girl and the exploited immigrant!

What did the Prophet have to say about this? A young man once approached the Prophet asking for permission to commit fornication.

Hearing this request, people nearby started to rebuke him and advised him not to ask such things. The Prophet then asked him, “Would you like such permission to be granted so that another man may lie with your mother?” The young man said, “Absolutely not!” The Prophet ﷺ then said, “Neither do others wish that.” The Prophet then asked, “Would you like such permission to be granted so that a man may lie with your daughter?” The young man replied, “No, absolutely not!” The Prophet ﷺ then said, “Neither do others wish that.” The Prophet then continued asking, “Would you like such permission to be granted so that a man may lie with your sister?” The young man replied “No, absolutely not!” The Prophet ﷺ again reminded him, “Neither do others wish that.” The Prophet then asked, “Would you like such permission to be granted so that a man may lie with your aunt?” The young man replied, “No, absolutely not!” The Prophet ﷺ then gently reminded him, “Neither do others wish that.” Thereupon the Prophet placed his hand upon the young man and prayed, “O Allah! May you forgive his sins, purify his heart and make him chaste.”

 

Culture and Language in the Porn Matrix

Given the relationship between sex and advertising, it is easy to see how appeal to sex could feature in any activity that involves us trying to draw attention to ourselves; attention being the first goal of advertisement. This would cover a large chunk of our activities; or other people’s activities if they want our attention even if briefly. Let us look at three cases from recent and common experiences; Fifty Shades of Grey, Sex Metaphors and “Daren Farko”.

The novel Fifty Shades of Grey (The first of a trilogy) is basically porn; a deviant one at that. No I have not read the book but I have heard from those who read it, and among these are those who don’t think porn is really wrong. Literature readers whom I respect their opinions seem to unanimously agree that unless one approaches that book with porn in mind, the book fails to give the reader anything new accept in deviance of the sex . Even those who thought the author wrote well, admit the deviant sex is the dominant theme of the book. Simply check out reviewers of the book online and this is what one gets.

The first few chapters of book one set the scene…naive, bookish girl meets attractive, billionaire CEO and lust ensues. The rest of book one was sex. Explicit sex. And at first it was “steamy.” But I quickly found myself wondering when it would end. I read it all, though in reality, I could have skipped entire chapters and really missed nothing. (Book reviewer on Amazon.com)

Al Vernacchio has taken it upon himself to bring awareness on metaphors used to describe sex are focused on male gratification and competition (e.g. first base and second base in baseball) rather than mutual gratification and variety on cravings (e.g. sharing a pizza). These are “values” that porn preaches and Porn Matrix considers truth. Even if it cannot be concluded that porn caused the use of these metaphors, porn itself aims for the same, which means it may not be from porn, but what matters is that it supports the Porn Matrix establishment.

“Daren Farko” means “the first night” in Hausa. Meaning in this case the first night after wedding. This is from a conversation I was privy to, where a groom to-be brags about how he would make the bride “suffer” that night. To this he received some applause from the attention he bought, so expensively. Three things happened there which may be rooted in the Porn Matrix. The first is bragging about his sexual prowess… did I mention that he intended to use a performance enhancing drug? The second is the focus on female domination which results in focus on only male gratification. Third is the violent language for sexual intercourse. These are signatures of the majority of porn. This is Porn Matrix thriving! When we put together this groom-to-be and our discovery that brides-to-be share porn videos as sex education, we see there is an underlying pressure, if not anxiety to the quality of sexual performance with one’s spouse, especially the first time. Should there be? Certainly, the unrealistic standards set by the Porn Matrix makes it inevitable to lead to these results. I read somewhere that a couple should give themselves at least 6 months before they can understand each other’s sexuality. Take it easy and give yourselves abundant time. Don’t worry about your first night, matter-a-fact do nothing on your first night, worry about the rest of your life. Caving into the pressure of performance, or domination, is promoting and sustaining the evil Porn Matrix!

Next post, we shall see how to bring about the fall of the Porn Matrix establishment.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Commentary on Media

The Porn Matrix 1 – The Recruitment

Welcome to an illuminating journey, which is dark and grim because it brings our attention to the darkness that is cast not by our shadows nor by the absence of light but by our own projections. It is illuminating because it is informative and we know that even in darkness to the perceiving eye, a map is a good guide, if not better, until we can train our eyes to see through the dark and have the reliability of map.

What follows is a talk given to a small group of Muslim Audience at MIUF so references are biased towards a Muslim sources. Since the discussion, one or two issues have been added to reflect the concerns of some Muslims that were raised, at least in Nigeria.

The Porn Matrix

If you are a fan of the movie The Matrix, then you shall hopefully find what follows interesting as well. The Porn Matrix is analogous to the The Matrix which is an illusory reality but which has real effects. Neo (the hero of The Marix) discovered the truth that their reality was simulated by machines because he understood machine language, being a computer programmer. Hopefully what follows shall provide insight into the mind workings (language) of pornography in creating The Porn Matrix where many of us reside in without realizing. Like Neo, understanding the language of pornography shall hopefully set us free. May the rebellion succeed!

Definitions and Clarifications
For any word so widely used, and thus widely believed to be understood, we should clarify these words precisely because many think they understand them. My experience is that the more people claim to understand a thing, which means it has been accepted into the vocabulary of common sense, then the more the need to clarify the meaning.

Pornography (aka Porn): Pornography is the portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purpose of sexual arousal. Pornography may be presented in a variety of media, including books, magazines, postcards, photographs, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, film, video, and video games. The term applies to the depiction of the act rather than the act itself, and so does not include live exhibitions like sex shows and striptease. (Wikipedia)

Masturbation: Masturbation is the sexual act involving the self-sexual stimulation of the genitals for sexual arousal or other sexual pleasure, usually to the point of orgasm. The stimulation can be performed using a hand or fingers, as well as everyday objects or a sex toy. (Wikipedia)

Sex Education: Sex education is instruction on issues relating to human sexuality, including human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual activity, reproductive health, emotional relations, reproductive rights and responsibilities, sexual abstinence, and birth control. (Wikipedia) There is a tradition of sex education in Islam which may be different from the prevalent “secular” types especially when it comes to use of language or images or even the selectivity on who gets taught  etc.

Pornographic Content: The outcome of pornography, made with the intent of pornography i.e. sexual arousal.

Pornography Consumption: The intake of pornographic content for sexual arousal through the senses (not necessarily stimulation). The focus of this will be on Internet porn.

Pornification: The projection of sexuality on non-pornographic content (i.e. “to make something sexual in character or quality”), leading to sexual arousal on a thing that may not be sexual. Porinification is the logically follows from Pornographic Consumption.

Porn Matrix: An alternate social reality, existing in parallel with our shared social reality (which is the product of consensus based on shared unadulterated experiences), where Pornography Consumption and Pornification shape this reality by projecting sexuality as defined by values pornography promotes (even while at odds with our shared reality). It is a delusional reality with consequence in our shared reality. These “values” of pornography are not necessarily only acquired through pornography consumption but even when acquired otherwise, and then projected to our shared reality by pornification, it helps to strengthen the Pornographic Matrix and therefore the same effect as Pornographic consumption.

 

Statistics

What follows is an excerpt to whet your interest on how much of a problem pornography may be today.

Muslim states actually held 6 of the top 8 positions for searchers intending to seek access to sex related sites. The complete top 10 were:
1. Pakistan
2. Egypt
3. Vietnam
4. Iran
5. Morocco
6. India
7. Saudi Arabia
8. Turkey
9. Phillipines
10. Poland
Even more disgusting were the statistics for various animal sex terms, where Pakistan once again led the field across most areas. A suggestion for them to rename their nation as Pornistan would not be out of the question, as they were the country that produced the most searches for sexual terms for the animals pigs, donkeys, dogs, cats, horses, cows, goats, snakes, monkeys, bears, elephants, and the generic term animal.
Saudi Arabia was the only country to generate more searches than Pornistan for an animal, coming in at position 1 for ‘fox sex’. They also finished second or third for a good number of the above mentioned animal terms. Other muslim countries to register top 5 positions for those terms were, in order of prominence, Iran, Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Morocco and the UAE.
Other interesting statistics were Turkey ranking number 2 for ‘child porn’, and arabic being the language used 2nd most for searches for ‘gay man’, ‘gay sex’, and ‘gay girl’. Egypt led the pack when it came to ‘fat sex’ and ‘bird sex’, Indonesia was first for ‘homo sex’, and Saudi Arabia up front, or should I say back, for ‘ass sex’. Pornistan also led the searches for the terms ‘children sex’, ‘sexy child’, ‘sexy children’, and ‘rape’.

It is fair to note that some have responded to this revealing statistics as perhaps a move to show the moral deprivation of Muslim majority country, that the statistic may have been calculated in a way to exclude powerful western countries because google trends is not the best measure of porn consumption. This may be true, which may change the rankings, but it doesn’t change the data and perhaps even relative rankings, at least based on google searches.

 

Motivation: A Problem for Men or Women
On a lighter note, a researcher(s) who wanted to carry out a study on Internet porn had one major obstacle: there was no control group! This is because almost all males within the required age range were consuming porn so they could not compare those who do from those who don’t, only those who do a lot from those who do a little.

Is porn a problem for Men or for Women? While the above story gives a hint, pornographic consumption should not be confused with masturbation even though the two can be associated in practice. Based on concerns expressed over the Internet, Internet porn appears to be a man’s psychological issue leading to social and economic consequences, while to women it is mostly those social and economic issues that leads to personal/psychological issues; a full cycle from man to woman. The effects of Internet porn typically starts with a man who alters (social and economic) reality which in turn affects women as the victims of this alteration since women interact with men. That is not to say women don’t consume porn as men do, because there are in fact genres suited for them, women are simply not the majority. Either way, it is a problem for both men and women; husbands and wives, boys and girls, for as long as the two sexes coexist.

 

Position of Islam on Pornography and the Limitation of Legal Deductions

A survey of different Muslim groups shows that prohibition of pornography is one of those few things Muslims can boast of achieving consensus. It is also important here to differentiate between pornography and masturbation because the latter is one area with only slight disagreement on its legal position. Because pornography is often used as a means to masturbation, the two could be conflated; so make no mistake, pornography is prohibited in Islam!

However we should also be aware that a legal prohibition is mainly what it sounds like, a legal prohibition. If legal prohibitions were sufficient to motivate Muslims not to break the prohibitions, Muslims would have certainly been the most pious, if not progressive people in the world today, especially with the proliferation of Fatwa on the internet. There is a gap between Islamic legal rulings on social/economic issues and strategies to avail us from them. There is also a smaller gap with coming to a deep understanding of issues; this trait is unfortunately pervasive. Nonetheless legally positioning pornography, or any other matter, may be a good start.

This talk hopes to quickly pass the legal deduction aspect (which is not contested) and focus primarily on gaining understanding, sharing insights and even pointing to strategies/ways to avail ourselves of porn. But we shall not pass without mentioning at least one scriptural reference that is used in arriving at the legal prohibition:

Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms… (Q24:30-31)
قُل لِّلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ يَغُضُّواْ مِنۡ أَبۡصَـٰرِهِمۡ وَيَحۡفَظُواْ فُرُوجَهُمۡ‌ۚ ذَٲلِكَ أَزۡكَىٰ لَهُمۡ‌ۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ خَبِيرُۢ بِمَا يَصۡنَعُونَ (٣٠) وَقُل لِّلۡمُؤۡمِنَـٰتِ يَغۡضُضۡنَ مِنۡ أَبۡصَـٰرِهِنَّ وَيَحۡفَظۡنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلَا يُبۡدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنۡهَا‌ۖ وَلۡيَضۡرِبۡنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَىٰ جُيُوبِہِنَّ‌ۖ

And come not near unto adultery. Lo! it is an abomination and an evil way. (Q17:32)
وَلَا تَقۡرَبُواْ ٱلزِّنَىٰٓ‌ۖ إِنَّهُ ۥ كَانَ فَـٰحِشَةً۬ وَسَآءَ سَبِيلاً۬ (٣٢)

“Amongst the lowest grades of people before God on the day of judgement, is the man going to his wife (and making sex) and she going to him: then either of them divulging their common secret.” (Abu Said)

“Let-not the one of you fall upon his wife like a beast (camel) falls. It is more appropriate to set a messenger afore the act” (ref)

 

Thesis
My argument in what follows is that by consumption of pornography we are consumed/recruited into the Porn Matrix where our reality is shaped by the Porn Matrix (i.e. persistent pornification) and we end up suffering as a human social group psychologically (emotionally/spiritually), physiologically, socially and economically regardless of who does the actual consumption; because while the Porn Matrix is a delusion, when people act according to the reality of the Porn Matrix, they do so in our shared reality with real effects e.g. the psychopath whose twisted reality sees no fault in killing a person, kills a person, then the consequence of their action is not in their twisted reality but in the shared reality where “normal” people share.

 

Recruitment Phase 1: Rewards, Habits, Fetishes, Perversions… Sliding Down the Pit
The brain has the ability to make us acquire new skills, cultivate habits and learn. It also has the ability to make use feel good about our actions by rewarding us with release of “feel good” hormones, not by rational justification. Different parts of the brain have been scientifically observed to be associated with particular activities and emotions; notably through intricate connections between the parts. Brain cells are connected to each other via neurotransmitters. The stronger the connection between parts associated with particular activity or emotion, the easier that activity or emotion is to the person. Frequency of connections firing up results in strengthening the brain connections which leads to the cultivation of habit. Therefore when we form habits, there is usually an underlying physical change in our brains to facilitate that habit. Synaptic Plasticity is “the ability of the brain to change the strength in connections between the neurons (brain cells) in response to experience”.

An important neurotransmitter, Dopamine, is associated with the particular abilities of the brain mentioned above. Dopamine is released at moments of heightened pleasure and the result is that connections, being made at that time of pleasure, are strengthened (both new and old connections). Dopamine makes us feel good when released/fired that we want to do more; this is why you want more ice cream after your first mouthful taste. This is how pleasure seeking leads to rewards in the brain which leads to habits… and could even lead to addiction especially in the case of drugs. Sexual arousal from pornographic images causes Dopamine to be released, which strengthens the brain connections associated with pornographic images. This is how the habit of porn is literally built!

Another thing the brain is good at is making associations. For instance we know that rats in the lab have been conditioned to feel pain even when no pain is inflicted on them because a certain sound has been made everytime they were inflicted pain. From daily experiences we know of traumatic experiences, even minor ones, where we dislike things simply because we associate them with something that happened in the past e.g. people who once suffered a car accident while it is raining are likely to feel nervous when they are in a car and it is raining. In cases of watching porn, there are notable features of the scene that may not be arousing to the person at the time. The brain in the state of heightened pleasure could form new associations between the sexual pleasure and the notable feature; this is one explanation of how fetishes are made. E.g. watching a sex scene with a woman in red hair may cause the watcher to associated red hair with sex; fetish for red hair.

What about perversions; the deviant and appalling sexual acts associated with pornography? What else but an unsurprising corollary of an act that is itself deviant; leading to extremes of deviant practices. “Extreme” having any useful meaning only to those outside the practice because all those engaged in the practice can only be relatively deviant or “soft” compared to others. Unintended brain associations explains habits, sexual fetishes and perversions, especially with the excessive want of pleasure quenched through hyper stimulation.

In addition, Dopamine which is a instrumental in the mechanism of reward leads to non trivial consequences when it is released in reaction to pleasure. It locks the person in a cycle of cravings and binge (excessive indulgence), then craving for more of the activity, then more Dopamine… and so on. The effects of this are three:

  • Numbed pleasure experience,
  • Hyper reactivity to sex/porn,
  • Weakened will power.

If consuming pornography has lead one to be rewarded by their brains leading to a habit, then one has been recruited into the Porn Matrix. If one goes even further to cultivate fetishes and perversions, then one has indeed become an agent of the Porn Matrix!

 

Recruitment Phase 2: Addiction or Not

Philip Zimbardo reveals that we are not only getting addicted to substances as in the case of “typical” addictions. We are now in an age where we are getting addicted to stimulation/excitement, thanks to hyperstimulation made easy by the Internet. This is no accident as addiction to stimulation is not limited to porn, but most endeavors today that fall within the trinity of consumerism, capitalism and entertainment. Zimbardo calls it Arousal Addiction. We don’t simply want more, we want different! This he has attributed to excessive porn consumption, among others like excessive Internet and gaming. A notable side effect is that men are now incapable of intimacy with their spouses, who are real unlike the fictitious and fantasy porn characters they are used to watching. It is in light of this realization, that Cindy Gallop has launched a campaign “Make Love not Porn” after dating many young men and being fed up with their delusions from porn; “Hardcore pornography has become sex education”.

A relevant fact about pornographic addiction is that “addicts” do not suffer withdrawal syndrome. Pornography’s claim to addiction is contested, mostly rejected. In fact, even if porn qualifies as addiction, it is a behavioral (not substance) addiction. More specifically, this would fall under the category of Compulsivity, which is known to manifest in sexual acts.

Compulsive behavior is defined as performing an act persistently and repetitively without it leading to an actual reward or pleasure. A major cause of the compulsive behaviors is said to be obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). The main idea of compulsive behavior is that the likely excessive activity is not connected to the purpose it appears to be directed to. (Wikipedia).

The insight from this is that some compulsive porn consumers don’t really get the pleasure they seek but they do it anyway just like the OCD patient would clap their hands three times whenever someone sneezes, for no apparent reason but the compulsion to do it. A classic example of compulsivity is seen in gambling which even the “addicts” are aware of its negative influence yet they feel compelled to do it.

This type of compulsive behavior is characterized by feelings, thoughts, and behaviors about anything related to sex. These thoughts have to be pervasive and cause problems in health, occupation, socialization, or other parts of life. These feelings, thoughts, and behaviors can include normal sexual behaviors or behaviors that are considered illegal and/or morally and culturally unacceptable. This disorder is also known as hypersexuality, hypersexual disorder, nymphomania or sexual addiction. (Wikipedia)

Sexual Arousal Addition

Some evidences of arousal addiction have been shown by Gary Wilson that novelty trumps nudity; because arousal goes down when men are shown nude images of the same type but arousal spikes up when men are shown equally nude images of different type. In fact of all the activities on the Internet, pornography consumption has the most potential to become addictive! Furthermore Arousal Addiction has been has been wrongly diagnosed as ADHD, social anxiety, depression, performance anxiety which happen to be only symptoms of Arousal Addiction, not the disorder itself. These symptoms lead to unproductivity in other activities (from learning the Qur’an, to balancing work with family, to learning new skills). Given the proliferation and interest in productivity tools/apps these days, I wonder if there is a correlation between porn consumption and productivity tool consumption. The bottom line is that these symptoms could disappear if the arousal addiction is taken care of, which means we would be generally more productive in our lives if we didn’t consume porn. This is good enough reason for the ambitious.

Why is addiction relevant here, or rather which aspects of addiction are relevant to this discussion. The first is as mentioned above, that there are no withdrawal symptoms/syndrome as in the case of substance addiction; only compulsivity. The second is that the addiction/habit can be traced physically to the brain, which learnt the habit, which can therefore be unlearnt via Synaptic Plasticity!

Here is a trivia for you: A study showed that religious people are more sensitive to pornography by their likelihood to believe they are addicted to porn (even if their viewing is “modest”), and to point out that it affects their lives negatively. An obvious corollary. On the other end, the non-religious are probably typical with regards to addiction which is denial. We could assume there is such a thing as addiction to pornography in so far as the “addicts” believe so. The reaction of the religious may seem more prudent however it may also hide a measure of helplessness. Does that do more harm or good to the religious? The key is to see it as the behavioral “addiction” it is which is treatable by a number of methods; the most potent though not abundant is will power. (cognitive behavioral therapy is successful with internet addiction, acceptance and commitment therapy etc.).

Pornography “addiction” may have the following effects:

  • Tolerance; ethically desensitized by pornographic images. Think of movies and violence, then think of cognitive dissonance
  • Self-deception: making excuses for continuing to consume porn
  • Loss of willpower: willpower which we have found to be the simplest solution to arousal addiction if only strong enough
  • Distortion of attention; every habit takes time away from other this

Having these effects due to consumption of pornography means one has been recruited and enlisted as an agent of The Porn Matrix! Next we shall see how the Porn Matrix is sustained.

Leave a comment

Filed under Commentary on Media