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Current Posts

Author of The Pornographer's Daughter providing commentary on pornography, life and much more.

Filtering by Category: Addiction

Pleasure Principle

Kristin Battista-Frazee

As a teenager, “the pleasure principle” to me was a Janet Jackson song and I didn’t realize it also defined our drive to seek pleasure and avoid pain.  This principle explains well why porn is so popular and that people can act a certain way or buy things they can’t afford. One could argue that our country slid into a recession egged on by the banking and loan industry encouraging the pleasure principle. Corporate executives who commanded outrageous salaries and indulged in lavish lifestyles are really no different than anyone else. Would you turn down a pile of cash to make your life easier? That would be a hard call. Seeking pleasure is inherent in all of us. The cruise vacation I went on last month on Royal Caribbean’s largest ship, the Oasis of the Seas, is a great example of the pleasure principle that is so engrained in our culture. Everywhere on this ship the message is “you’re on vacation” and offers the ability to feed your whims for immediate gratification. Now I understand why Newt Gingrich insisted on taking his cruise vacation to Greece last May. He said it gave him time to think, and while that may be true, I’m sure he did other things too. It would have been a whole lot easier if he said he needed a vacation like anyone else.

Temptations are endless on a cruise. If you have an addiction problem, be forewarned, this vacation is not for you.  There is the casino, so if you have a gambling problem you’re out of luck. If you struggle with sex addiction, of course, on the ship you have access to wide selection of pay-per-view porn available on the TV in your state rooms.  If you’re a food addict, this would be a bad vacation for you, at several locations there is an unlimited supply of food. Even at the pool, children clamor around ice cream machines to pull the lever for unlimited amounts of frozen yogurt to come tumbling out on to cones. You have to pay for alcohol beverage so if you’re an alcoholic who hates paying for drinks, you might fare okay. Or you could just smuggle alcohol in your suitcase. (Here’s a really good product to do that by the way, Rum Runners.) 

Everywhere you’re encouraged to eat, drink, sleep (or stay awake all night) and have sex in excess. Strangely the only place this ship curtailed some excesses was the afternoon matinee of the less bawdy reversion of the Broadway play Hairspray.  The show was good but many may have been disappointed in the watered down version of this production.

In stark contrast to all the pleasure seeking on our cruise, I couldn’t help but notice the people who work at Royal Caribbean and that their lives were not about seeking pleasure but struggling to earn a living. Sure they had good jobs, but they sacrificed to have those jobs too. Our head server in the dining room, for months at a time, left her eight and half year old son with her mother in Croatia to serve our meals. Our room attendee wanted to be an architect but had to leave school because the tuition was too expensive.  The beach attendant in Haiti, who delivered my beach chair, probably makes one of the highest salaries in his whole village, and I couldn’t help but wonder about his living conditions at home since the earthquake. I’m grateful for the wonderful vacation but these observations made the experience feel wrong on some level. I guess I’ll always be a social worker at heart.

The desire for pleasure is a driving force for all us and I think necessary to live a fulfilling life. But those who greedily seek out pleasure with disregard for others will ultimately pay the price. Whether it’s the guy at the next table in the casino who will gamble away his life savings, or corporate executives who greedily accepts their salaries despite the disparity among the people they employ, ultimately striking the right balance in seeking pleasure will keep us sane and peaceful. For me, life was so much simpler when the pleasure principle was just a Janet Jackson song. By the way, she’s still awesome and I love this video. Take a look!

Food Porn

Kristin Battista-Frazee

 Foodporn

Foodporn

This country is obsessed with food as is evident from the success of the Food Network, Internet sites and magazines which are dedicated to featuring decadently prepared meals and desserts. I have to confess, I even look forward to my friends’ posts and pictures on Facebook about their tasty fare (that means you Chip Mautz). All these outlets provide us steady access to food porn and best captures our sinful high caloric desires, just as porn encourages our sexual fantasies. Now that it is the holiday eating season, it’s interesting to see how our relationship with food goes into overdrive. I’m convinced the holidays are not just about spending time with loved ones but to pig out. From now until the start of the New Year, we meticulously shop, cook and travel for food pimped out with extra butter, whipped cream and chocolate. We watch the Food Network with more intent and experience many nights of feeling uncomfortably full, followed by the guilt for eating too much. As an Italian, I’m all for the eating and I love sausage stuffing, raviolis, Christmas Eve dinner of seven fishes and pizzelle cookies. This makes the holidays memorable for me and seems no different than the cravings of porn around Valentine’s Day that make this day more fun and exciting.  I’ve noticed everyone handles the excesses around the holidays differently, and as much as I indulge, I also strike a balance with my eating habits. I read the “Food Porn” column in the Nutrition Action Newsletter (my mother-in-law would be proud) which is a great source of information about healthy food. Every month I flip to the back cover and look for the big thumbs down picture to check out what not to eat. They pan the really bad stuff like TGIF’s frozen appetizers, which is warranted because that stuff shouldn’t even be considered food, but sometimes they bash a delicious treat and, for better or worse, this maligning peaks my curiosity.

Like recently the newsletter dissed Cold Stone Creamery’s Churro Caramel Crave with the fried dough smothered in vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and caramel. It sounds great and I can’t wait to try it despite the “Food Porn” warning. But I know you can’t eat ice cream everyday without health consequences and that’s why I’m not 300 pounds. It raises the question, when does our holiday eating, a shopping spree, one too many drinks at a party or watching a porn flick become a problem?  It’s sometimes difficult to make the distinction and while it’s not bad to indulge, for some people it’s just too hard.

Those who struggle with addiction can’t easily have their favorite things, and this time of year can be torturous for them.  While we are celebrating, they face their temptations and struggle to maintain balance and sobriety.  I think this article, Conquering Food Addiction, sums up a reasonable philosophy that can be applied to all kinds of addictions. Michael Prager, author of “Fat Boy, Thin Man,” said, “When I found out I had an illness, I took responsibility to make it better, I have no respect for people who use [their addiction] as a crutch."  I think this is so true, although I know it’s sometimes hard for people to take that first step to seek help.

So while you’re eating that extra piece of pie and indulging in the things that make life and this holiday season just that much more enjoyable, the old saying “everything in moderation” (and this includes porn too) still holds true!

Check out @foodporn on Twitter

The 'Everything in Moderation' Myth

Anthony Bourdain; No Reservations Food Porn Episode

Is There Still a Witch Hunt Against Pornography?

Kristin Battista-Frazee

My father once said, “It’s a witch hunt and I’m one of the few people who knows what those unscrupulous, publicity seeking authorities are doing to free speech in this country.”  This was a quote of his from an article that appeared in The Inquirer Magazine in 1977 and he was referring to his indictment on obscenity charges for distributing Deep Throat.  His words are just as relevant today. Recent letters urging Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute pornography distributors have made me wonder if it’s possible to prosecute today’s porn industry with the same fervor it was subject to in the ‘70s.  The latest letter was signed by 43 Senators on April 4th and seems to echo a letter sent by Reps. J. Randy Forbes (R-Virginia) and Mike McIntyre (D-North Carolina) back in February. This all comes shortly after the John Stagliano indictment and his acquittal in July 2010, which was the first serious legal action against porn in over 25 years.

Although these proceedings got me speculating about the possibility of another witch hunt going after porn, I concluded it’s unlikely we’ll see another obscenity case like Deep Throat again and here’s why.  History seems to be a good predictor of the future and in the last 35 years no one has successfully prosecuted obscenity to thwart the spread of pornography.  Not one single win.  In these types of cases the argument to protect free speech has been effective and endured because of an underlying fear that banning porn could lead us down the wrong path of limiting our liberties. I also think those who vigorously stood up against pornography unknowingly created a tipping point that made porn culturally acceptable and consequently turned it into a multi-billion dollar industry. Raising such a fuss obviously inspired everyone’s ogling curiosity.

Also, anti-porn advocates typically use incoherent arguments to state their case against pornography. They rely on unfounded claims and scare tactics to make people believe pornography inspires horrible crimes, and this obvious deceit undermines any credibility for their cause. If research were available to prove porn harms people, like the kind that proves smoking causes cancer, then this debate would be very different.  

Lastly, the Obama Administration has more important problems to deal with than America’s libido. Terrorism, the war in Afghanistan, revolutions in the Middle East, and let’s not forget the myriad of domestic problems: reducing the deficit, homelessness, lack of healthcare, hunger, taking care of the mental health needs of our veterans returning home from war.  These pressing issues crowd the top of most voters’ agendas.  The insidious danger of porn isn’t even on the list.

But the recent letters from legislators do highlight a problem that’s worth talking about — pornography addiction. There is a body of research that supports that a person can become addicted to pornography just like food, gambling, drugs, alcohol, shopping, etc. The April 4th letter notes pornography addiction will be listed in the next version of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and in my opinion it rightfully belongs in this bible of mental health disorders.

Pornography addiction can be a serious problem. But I would emphasize here the word “addiction,” not “pornography” and suggest that this is truly a mental health issue and not a case of a specific type of media egging on aberrant behavior in normal adults.  To scapegoat porn will not solve the problem of addiction (which some even see as a physiological problem). What troubles me most is the fact that legislators who sign letters calling for legal action against porn could instead use their influence to provide adequate funding for addiction treatment and research. But the real services needed are consistently underfunded, and the chosen path is grandstanding to the conservative reaches of politics on this polarizing and “sexy” social topic. It’s a sad commentary about how Washington works.

I’ll always wonder why porn is still cast as such an evil in society and why we keep having these same conversations over and over again.  The “witch hunt” against pornography, I suspect, will forever remain a threat.

Senators ask Holder for more pornography prosecutions

So Are We Pornified or Not?

Kristin Battista-Frazee

I had trouble reading Pamela Paul’s article The Cost of Growing Up on Porn in the Outlook section of the Washington Post blasting the evils of pornography. Just like Paul’s book, Pornified, the anecdotal one-sided stories presented as fact don’t convince me pornography damages relationships. We simply just don’t know whether or not it’s harmful.  I was incredulous about the lack of available research on both sides of this issue. I agree with Paul that researching the relationship between men and pornography isn’t easy and also that the University of Montreal’s School of Social Work study with only 20 subjects was hardly enough of a representative sample to prove pornography is not damaging.

I believe pornography is not damaging because of my personal family experience. But this is just my opinion and I would not assert this as fact. I can only provide the same subjective information that Paul offers from the emails she received from porn users and interviews she conducted about its influence.  So as Paul offers her opinion, here are a few of my own for whatever its worth.

We need to broaden the type of pornography users that are referenced in these discussions. The Montreal University study appears to attempt this by including people in their research that were not pathological in their use of pornography. Only engaging those who have an underlying addiction problem will not provide us answers about the effects of pornography. There are many happily married, faithful and respectful men that view pornography. Let’s not make general characterizations about pornography users to malign them. Also there are many women who enjoy pornography and several that have leadership roles in the adult industry. We need to engage their perspectives too. Check out Carly Milne’s book Naked Ambition. To continue to portray women as victims of pornography is just wrong.

We should understand there is good porn and bad porn in the world. The bad porn that teeters on the edge of just too much, like the type Max Hardcore peddles, just shouldn’t exist in my opinion. The high quality, good pornography that is out there should be left for consenting adults to decide on its use.

Its tough living in a free country and we have lots of choices and decisions about how we conduct our everyday lives. The availability of pornography is a consequence of the liberties we all enjoy. We should be able to handle this.

I was raised during the 1970s and 80s when pornography was not as readily accessible as it is today, so I say bring on the studies. Let’s just agree for now that we don’t have enough information to decide if pornography is good or bad.

Is Pornography the Chicken or the Egg to Broken Relationships?

Kristin Battista-Frazee

A study, The Effects of Pornography published last month by the Family Research Council claims that pornography “is a major threat to marriage, to family, to children and to individual happiness.” Studies like this often claim pornography is addictive and the cause of failed relationships but rarely does it mention that treating addiction to would curb ones abuse of pornography. I don’t doubt that if someone spends long periods of time away from their family watching pornography it will have a negative impact on relationships. But the mere existence of pornography doesn’t explain why relationships fall apart. Relationships also deteriorate if someone is addicted to drugs, alcohol, shopping, work, gambling, and food. Should we ban these things from society? Addictions are tricky, elusive and not easily defined. It is puzzling why one person can have a glass a wine and someone else needs to drink an entire bottle. Or why some can recreationally or therapeutically use pornography without a problem and others can not. The degrees of addiction are still being discovered. A person’s inability to have insight about their problems or access to appropriate treatment services here in lies our greatest challenge.

Addiction is a serious undertreated problem in this country.  Addiction to drugs alone afflicts more that 25 million people [1]. Although free self-help groups are a critical resources to help people with addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling, overeating and pornography, access to professional treatment for addictions is difficult for the under insured and uninsured. These services are also chronically underfunded.

So instead of blaming the destruction of marriage and relationships on the existence of pornography we should take a harder look at the addiction aspect of this debate. Let’s raise awareness and not stigmatize those who seek help, assist people to get access to treatment and stop blaming the “IT” and start recognizing the totality of the problem in failed and unhealthy relationships.


[1] http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/substance-abuse