Training In Use: The Pernicious Effect of Sexualization and Pornography
by Jonathan E. Hart, LPC
Sex is everywhere in our culture. It’s almost impossible to watch TV, read a book, or even drive down the street without seeing sexualized images of both men and women. Simply put, sex sells. Sexy bodies attract the eyes and trigger desire. When paired with a product, the desire for sexiness is conflated with the desire for the product. We will buy the product to obtain the sexiness.
What eventually happens is that the sexy body in the ad or in the TV show or movie becomes just that: a body. Not a person. This is known as “objectification”: a person becomes an object or a thing to be used. The person does not matter. Their story does not matter. Their dreams and desires do not matter. Only their body matters.
Nowhere is this more plain and painful than in pornography. Pornography trains the one who views it to use the parts of the person in the image for their own gratification. If this picture doesn’t “do it for me”, swipe to the next until I find one that does. In our imagination, the viewer envisions using and being used just as the pictures suggest or demonstrate. Again, the person does not matter, only what I can do to them, or what they would do to me.
One does not need to be a porn user to use people sexually. When we look at an attractive person and focus on their parts, we are using them visually and mentally. It becomes habitual and even reflexive.
Men, in particular, are visually triggered (women are, too, but generally less so). Even respectful, honorable men who have never used porn often find themselves looking before they realize it. People who have used porn for any length of time are simply more susceptible to this due to the training in use that porn provides.
In my next blog, I’ll explore what it takes to challenge objectification and the habit of using people with the eyes and mind. –JH