Friday, September 5, 2014

Sucks for you, Jennifer Lawrence!

The recent explosion of nude celebrity photos across the Internet has launched more than one uncomfortable conversation. The women who took and posed for these pictures did indeed commit a tragic and irresponsible mistake, but the question of who to blame is tricky. Some folks have claimed these women deserve just what they got and that they were “stupid” to take the photos. Others, especially men, have continued the dirty work of gleefully spreading these images to all four corners of the digital world.

My mind can’t help but wander back to the story in the Gospel of John, where Jesus tells the crowd who is about to stone to death a woman caught in adultery “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Jennifer Lawrence and her partners in porn, so to speak, are not the only ones among us who have indulged in a naked selfie or other sexual act that would horrify your grandma. I also don’t think these women intended for their compromising photos to become public, just like we never intend for others to discover our own private sexual fantasies. The difference between Jennifer Lawrence and us is that we just haven’t been “caught” yet, if you will, and because we’ve gotten away with it and she hasn’t, we can smirk and point our fingers and say “Ha! Sucks for you!”

Yes, it was irresponsible for these women to take those photos, and it was even more irresponsible for them to keep them on a device that could be easily hacked. But now that their shame has been exposed to the public, we can only offer scorn instead of mercy. Perhaps we think these women don’t even deserve mercy, so our jealousy finds a niche in criticizing and scoffing at their downfall.  They’re big stars, after all; they have lots of money, lots of lovers, lots of things we will never have. Serves them right that something finally knocked them off their high cloud—now we don’t feel so bad.

But this isn’t the end of the story. We can’t blame these women as much as we must blame our culture and what we’ve been demanding these women to do in our sex-saturated film industry. We’ve exacted that if you’re female and in Hollywood, you have to be a sex symbol above all else. Your hair must be immaculate while the rest of your body must be lean, gleaming, and hairless. Your breasts have to be huge and your thighs have to be tiny. You must kick butt in a crisis and be submissive during sex scenes, of which there must be at least 3 per film. But when these female stars reveal their bodies off screen, we scream at them for being sluts and bitches. Is it any wonder that these woman are confused? 

We can half-condemn Jennifer Lawrence and her peers by saying that they should know better than to take naked selfies--hell, we got a talk about that in 9th grade. But we can also say that perhaps they really don’t know any better, because they’ve been told by their fans and the movie industry that the only thing they have going for them is their breasts and bottoms. What did you expect?

This is why porn is so devastating, and why the men who constantly seek it out are destroying themselves, their future happiness, and the entire society. Not to pin the blame entirely on men—there are plenty of women who view porn too, which is an even more twisted testimony of how sex is has lost its dignity.

Dignity and sex? Sounds like an oxymoron. Nothing could be more humiliating than having someone see you completely helpless, exposed, with all your flaws glaringly present. It’s fearful and embarrassing and uncomfortable. That is why the sexual act should be consummated within the bond of a solid, loving marriage. There is something very powerful and also very humbling about being naked, because you are placing yourself entirely into the trust of another human being. Real sex takes a lot of love, not a lot of vodka so you don’t feel it. Real sex reveals the dignity of the human body and the purpose of the male and female body together. 

 I feel that many women and young girls today have become so conditioned by our pornographic culture that we think men won’t even sneeze in our direction unless we take our clothes off. Even worse, when we do take our clothes off for our husband (or, in some less ideal cases, our boyfriend), we are paralyzed by the fear that our body won’t be good enough for him. After all, if the only female bodies he’s seen are gyrating Barbies on nudeTube, how will he respond to my very human and very imperfect figure? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked in the mirror and been filled with subtle dread about how my husband will react when he sees me naked for the first time. All I can imagine on his face is a look of utter disappointment that I’m not the gorgeous Victoria’s Secret model he’s always dreamed about. I’m afraid I won’t be able to satisfy him sexually. I’m afraid he’ll have to force himself to put up with my inexperience, my plainness. I’m afraid I won’t be able to keep him. 

I can’t say this enough: this is how porn has poisoned our culture. The biggest lie about porn is that it doesn’t hurt anyone, but the extent of these wounds, though perhaps invisible at first, is unimaginable. By bowing to the god of lust, you deprive yourself of ever having a real relationship with a real human being. You are enslaved to a fantasy that only exists for your pleasure. Sure, the orgasms might be more intense, the feelings might be more poignant, but in the end you are still alone, pathetic, and empty, and your marriage and future relationships will be even more lonely, pathetic, and empty because you’ll be comparing your wife or husband to the sleek chimera that’s dominated your mind for years. And yet we rant and rail against the “rape culture” while spending millions going to see “Fifty Shades of Grey.” We create “fapping” forums while young girls are brutally raped and then smothered to death as the rapist crams their underwear down their throat. Where does it all come from? Porn. And unless we are willing to give up our self-induced orgasms and sultry fantasies, the violence will only become much, much worse.

There is one particular episode of Hawaii Five-O that sticks out to me because it deals with the brutal rape of a girl and the lack of support she receives from her family and community. “You wanted to be raped. You were asking for it,” the girls father snarls. The girl becomes so scarred by the experience that she will barely let Steve and Danno even come near her as she sits crying in their office. The situation has only intensified today. To a woman, every man, even a close friend, is a potential rapist. Every man must be carefully watched, his actions considered, to make sure he isn’t slowly trying to take advantage of her or trying to lull her into a false sense of security and then jump her. Men are no longer people; they are predators. Sadly, the good men (and there are many) get thrown into this category as well.

We can't damn Jennifer Lawrence and her peers for what they've done, because, in a sense, we've made them do it.

Break the cycle. Stop drinking the poison, stop goring deeper into the wound. Your future husband or wife will be eternally grateful.  


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