Women & Pornography

For the Female Porn Addict: What Delights You?

“Why do women watch pornography?”

I get asked it often at speaking events, usually by older women or baffled men. For so long we’ve said porn is a man’s issue and have ignored the issue(s) women have with it. So, when I share about my own struggle with pornography and the fact that I’m not alone, some people struggle to understand why.

Why would a woman watch something that is so degrading toward women? Why would a woman gain arousal from something that is blatantly unrealistic? Why would a woman consume a product that often glorifies rape and contributes to sex trafficking?

My question in response is: Why would a man do those things?

It’s not “because he’s visually-wired.” That’s no excuse for any of those things and it’s certainly not a reason.

For the women who struggle, though, here’s what I want you to ask yourself: What delights you?

What brings you joy? Not specifically about pornography but life in general. It’s a question I’ve been thinking about a lot lately and I think it’s really important for you to ask yourself.

Perhaps it “meets a need” for male attention.  Perhaps it’s a source of arousal. It might be a way to cope with trauma or try to find understanding for what happened to us.

We might be drawn to pornography because we enjoy the rush of the “forbidden” or the opportunity to live vicariously through the screen.

There’s no one thing that draws every woman (or man) to pornography.

People are drawn into it because they find pleasure in it, whether that pleasure is the presence of sexual release or the escape from pain. One way or another we crave it because it speaks to something in us, causing us to lean in, to listen, to desire it.

That “leaning in” or inclination toward something is the idea of “delight.”

If, for instance, you found sex absolutely repulsive and disgusting, pornography probably isn’t going to be appealing to you. It might be a curiosity, but it’s not going to bring pleasure. You won’t delight in it.

If you delight in social justice causes then the fact that pornography can contribute to things like human trafficking matter to you. You won’t delight in pornography. You’ll delight in taking it down.

So what do you delight in?

I thought of this recently as I keep trying to figure out how to conduct this circus I call my life. I’m off-balance most days. Marriage takes hard work and intentionality. Managing our home takes time and effort. Writing not one, but two books simultaneously takes a great deal of focus and patience, especially when I want one to be traditionally published and can’t lock down an agent.

But what brings me joy?

I thought of that and I thought back to my time while using pornography. You know what my answer would have been? Nothing. Nothing really brought me joy. Even pornography didn’t bring me joy. I didn’t delight in pornography. I used it to escape life. It was, in a sense, a drug for me. I could pretend I wasn’t me, pretend to be that woman on the screen, pretend men wanted me and that I was some free-spirited sexual vixen.

So, really, my delight was in escaping. It had been that way since day 1 when I stumbled upon adult chat rooms and realized I didn’t have to be me. I craved escape and pornography, masturbation, and fantasy were the doors I used.

What’s fascinating to me is that delight in escape can still be an issue for me. I find more delight in helping others and loving my husband well. I’m drawn into that. I delight when things get done and my life looks like it’s put together. When I get overwhelmed, my tendency is still to escape.

I just choose different doors.

I sit down and read a book for hours on end. I take a nap when I’m really not tired. I force myself to stop and have a cup of tea. I cook. I go for a walk or binge watch shows online. I like adventure and spontaneity, because they are ways of escaping the humdrum of every day life.

Is there anything intrinsically wrong with those things? Of course not, and I’m not trying to equate hours of watching pornography with going for a walk. They are not the same.

What’s important here is figuring out what’s drawing you or driving you into pornography.

Perhaps pornography is meeting a need, or maybe it’s covering for an unmet need. Underneath all of it, if pornography or sex were removed completely from the equation, what would delight you? What would you chase after?

This is more than just “what makes you happy?” Goodness, all sorts of things make me happy. Puppies, smiling babies, bubbles, sunsets on the beach, cookies… but I don’t necessarily delight in those things. Yes, they make me smile, but I’m not personally on the hunt for every adorable puppy in a ten-mile radius.

This is digging down deeper than “happiness” into the core of who you are. Your personality, your gifts, your talents. If you’re an artist, you might delight in creating art, and inability to do so or people’s rejection of it, may cause you to turn to something like erotica. If you’re an extrovert, you might delight in being around people and when you aren’t, sexting fills a void of being desired and connected.

Pornography itself does not make you happy, but it can speak to a deeper need that you might not even realize you have. Recognizing that need could actually be a vital step in helping you break free. So ask yourself, “What do I delight in?”

 


If you’re a non-Christian or opposed to things of faith, here’s your opportunity to exit the chat.

This came up for me because I was thinking about the idea of God delighting in us.

Revelation 4:11 in the King James says that God created all things for His pleasure. In Psalm 147:11 it says that the Lord takes pleasure (delights) in those who fear him.

In Psalm 1:2 the Psalmist shares the attributes of a righteous man and says, “…his delight is in the law of the Lord…” That word for delight is the Hebrew word “chephets.” It means pleasure or desire.

You know, honestly, most days I can’t say that my delight is in the law of the Lord. I don’t lean into it. I see everything that needs to be done and God gets shuffled to a side in pursuit of other delights. It’s hard for this type A personality to feel accomplished when the sink is full of dishes and I’ve got two unfinished manuscripts still staring at me. Saying, “Well, at least I made time to God today” seems almost ridiculous. It shouldn’t, but it does.

My life philosophy is not “If nothing else gets done today, at least make time for God” but it should be.

And when it isn’t, those are the days I find myself easily overwhelmed and sprinting for an escape. Years ago, those would have been the days I laid in bed “sick” looking up pornography. Now, those are the days I spend watching Netflix or curling up for a nap, and still nothing gets done.

Knowing what you delight in is important. The next step is making sure your ultimate delight lines up with where it’s supposed to be. Our delights can change. That’s how we get addicted to things- our pattern for pleasure changes. That means we can change it back. Let that fact bring you hope.

It’s a daily (if not moment-by-moment) struggle for me. I need to constantly remind myself to lean into the right things, the best things, not just the “satisfy my type A personality” things.

Recently I’ve been listening to a song by Francesca Battistelli called, “As Good as it Gets.” I love the chorus.

“You take my eyes off of the future
You lead my heart out of the past
You are the promise here in the moment
Where I find my rest
You are as good as it gets”

For someone who delights in escape in search of some place “better,” it’s a good reminder for my heart that God is as good as it gets.

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