Personal development meets porn-literate — Gunmetal grey.

To begin with, I’d like to acknowledge that porn is one of those subjects that fire people up— either for or against. Like many subjects touching “sexuality”, how people chose to live out their sexuality is a huge emotional trigger for many people. It is not surprising if you consider that Abraham Maslow put sex as a basic need on his pyramid of self-actualization and for those involved in energy work, we know that sexual energy flows from the root chakra up. When we start talking about sexuality, we are touching the very core of how we manage our energy, the very safeguard of our well-being in the world. When our basic needs are being threatened, we quickly put up very prickly guards to protect them. And when we do this, it also points to the fact that somewhere in the recesses of our being, we have some unconscious wounds needing our attention. I think it is safe to say that most people in our society today need some form of healing around sexuality.

When sexual energy gets locked in the root chakra, the energetic home for “safety” and “rootedness”, very visceral expressions of survival will translate into how we live or repress our sexuality. It will show up in how we emotionally react to it too. This is why some people will rail angrily against anyone trying to get in the way of their strategy to appease their needs, especially the basic needs of safety and comfort as they play out in sexuality. On the other hand, if other people shut something out with the same level of vehemence, it also expresses something. This is because sexuality also touches on questions of personal safety: safety to “be respected” and “be treated well”. Basically, how emotionally and viscerally we react to something reveals, in fact, our issues, our injuries. I believe that by acknowledging these more subtle dynamics, it actually helps us to have a more constructive conversation about porn. In other words, how we react to porn helps us learn something important about ourselves.

Furthermore, I would like to say that we are still in a long-standing period of healing our sexuality as a whole society that started with the rejection of “traditional” values, the rejection of the church and social movements in the sixties shaking up all conventions and embracing expressions of free love. With these societal shifts, sexuality is slowly being liberated from very dogmatic prescriptions. This means that people are undoing inherited belief systems that no longer serve them while searching for what actually does. Of course, you don’t necessarily find this overnight! It’s a maturation process. This is equally true for a society. One of the major blocks we have inherited is “shame”. Many people are currently working through blocks around “shame”, keeping things hidden, repressing their truth. This is why, in my opinion, we see explosions of sexual expressions on the internet. People posting photos or footage of their own intercourse because people want to express their sexuality, shamelessly, and by doing this, they also give permission to others to do the same. We are in fact, as a global community, shedding layers of shame inherited from institutions of patriarchy: religion, cultural practices, family dynamics, in which all kinds of messaging around sex and shame were conveyed. When shame is left unattended, it festers into various diseased expressions from the likes of integrity problems, obsessions and various forms of sexual violence, that will, of course, require care and healing too.

This shedding process is also happening via a plethora of workshops, conferences, radio shows, discussion groups, Facebook groups, you name it. Everyone is just trying to figure things out! How do we do this thing called sexuality in a healthy way? Some communities come together to collectively explore different types of sexual contracts, outside of mainstream values, in search of something new, closer to their truth, most notably in polyamorous and swinger communities. We are witnessing a societal effort to re-calibrate the pendulum of sexuality that had been swinging dramatically from repression on one side to lack of consciousness, on the other.

To add to the complexity of this modern day portrait, it is important to understand that many women today want to express the beauty and power of their sexuality. They no longer want to be confined to rigid roles nor to two-dimensional expressions of their feminine identity. They no longer want their sexuality to be controlled by the outside. They want to shamelessly choose how they express their sexuality in the world — and feel good about. They don’t want to be pigeon-holed in the whore/saint or good girl/bad girl dichotomies that fragmentize the wholeness of their sexual identities. Women want to reclaim entirely the power of their sexuality. And since there are many women out there, it also means that each one will express their sexuality in their very own personal way, and to further complicate things, this will most likely morph over time as they expand and change. We are all different and the ways in which we express our essence differs, and the route to this “wholeness” will be different as well. Some odd jagged turns and individual loops may be found along the way. And the same thing can be said about men. Currently, men are very much in the throes of searching for aligned ways of expressing their sexuality and masculinity so that they can feel good about themselves too. It is a reality sweeping across all genders. 

I find to lay that all out is important to better contextualize porn. On one hand, people seek porn as a way of “educating” themselves, looking for ideas, inspiration, permission. Many tweens turn to porn to see what “sex” actually looks like. On the other hand, people use it because they are attempting to meet some of their basic needs and this is the strategy they have found for relief. The good news about pornography is that feminist and pro women’s pleasure porn is being made now. The bad news is a lot of extremely offensive and denigrating porn still exists, including “rape” porn. Nonetheless, the important thing, as Caia Hagel puts it, co-author of Girl Positive, is to become “porn literate”. In her book, she makes a good case, with her co-author Tatiana Fraser, that the most empowering way of addressing sexuality with young people is by fostering a safe space for conversation where their experiences are valued and recognized, which by extension is also very true for adults. This way you build your sexual identity from the inside out in a supportive environment. Your voice counts. Your individuality is essential to the process and outcome. When chastising porn as “bad”, we find ourselves bogged down by the “shame” game once more. Therefore, these collective and supportive conversations allow for one to grow into oneself in a safe way.

Part of the porn-literate conversation, in my opinion, also needs to address the very powerful commercial interests behind the industry itself. The porn industry is grossing big bucks which can drive the industry in ways that don’t necessarily have people’s well-being at heart. According to Forbes magazine, the income distribution spreads out as such: Adult Videos ($1.8 billion), Internet ($1 billion), Magazines (1$ billion), Pay-per-view ($128 million) and cell phones ($30 million). Then, add on the revenue generated from pornography in video games. There are lots of vested interests in this cash crop. The bad news is that some of the biggest market earners are the most violent and dehumanizing scenarios, which obviously doesn’t help make sex more “connective” for people in real life.

I also think it is worthwhile taking a moment to think about the porn industry’s work environment. Some actors love their job. Sexual expression is a celebration for many people. When people show up as empowered individuals celebrating their sexuality, and do it in a safe and respectful environment, it seems to be a win-win scenario.

When the work conditions become exploitive, the negative side of the industry appears. Some of the shadow sides of the industry have been listed as the following: STDs, drug abuse, various forms of exploitation, manipulation and pressure tactics, physically damaging film scenes (which can result in anal and uterine damage), physical and verbal abuse, psychological trauma, physical exhaustion, dissociation due to the hardcore violence in some scenes, brainwashing, suicidal thoughts, and misleading actors into prostitution (amongst other issues) are some of the industry’s shadow by-products. In this type of disempowering environment, it is quite clear that connection is not happening on the film set, and chances are it won’t encourage it for its viewers either.

When watching porn that seeks to dehumanize, the consumer is invited to identify with the alpha muscle male brandishing his large genitalia as he aggressively comes to a peak. In scenarios such as these, we are getting a very skewed view of what a mutually satisfying sexual relationship would actually look like. It is a far cry from the plethora of techniques actually designed to pleasure women. Therefore, if someone decides to enact porn-induced fantasies on their sexual partner, they are not focussed on the real person in front of them, but a fantasy that is projected on them, and on the feeling of power they want to embody. This projection creates a wedge in the actual connection between the two partners. They are not really connecting to their sexual partner, but a body that can play a part in their imagination. The sexual partner will most likely feel this disconnect. Furthermore, since they are not really connecting to their partner, they can actually feel disappointed when the illusion ultimately fades away. Some porn-addicted men describe having trouble enjoying sex with real women because of their over-consumption, ultimately resulting in states of arousal exclusively when watching porn. This becomes a huge source of frustration and insecurity for them. Essentially, porn cuts them off from feeling any sexual connection and arousal with a real person.

I have heard people express that porn helps them in various ways. It helps them get over humps or shame blocks. It helps them and their partner get it on. When people manage to use porn as a tool to help them, again this seems to be a win-win situation. Conversely, others have talked about porn addiction and the need for seeking treatment. Psychologist and Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, Philip Zimbardo, talks about a “masculinity crisis” in his in-depth look into the lives of 20,000 young men and their relationships with video games and pornography. Young isolated men are “combining playing video games, and as a break, watching on average, two hours of pornography a week.”  Dr. Zimbardo has documented young men expressing that: “When I’m in class, I’ll wish I was playing World of Warcraft. When I’m with a girl, I’ll wish I was watching pornography, because I’ll never get rejected.” (www.independent.co.uk) His data reveal that: “It begins to change brain function. It begins to change the reward center of the brain, and produces a kind of excitement and addiction.” He also mentions that there is a growing problem of “porn-induced erectile dysfunction,” where “young boys who should be virile are now having a problem getting an erection.” I personally feel this points to deeper questions. Why aren’t these boys satisfied with their lives? Where does this void come from? Why do they turn to porn to “feel” sensations?

It should also be noted that people who consume a lot of porn also start having a distorted view of women’s bodies. They can no longer look at a woman’s body as simply natural. Various body parts, most notably breasts, ass and crotch, become instant triggers for them. Their eyes are always magnetized to these places as they surreptitiously get their hit. You can feel it when someone looks at you, or others, in this way. Suddenly, you are not an individual anymore but have become a body part that has triggered some fantasy. It can actually feel at times very uncomfortable and intrusive. From an energetic standpoint, they have pierced through your personal energetic barrier without your permission. This is why many women have started fighting for the right to reclaim their nudity without it being associated with anything sexual. Breasts are perfectly natural. In many traditional societies, women were topless twenty-four-seven. Now, women need to assemble in protest, baring their breasts, to exclaim that “Nudity is not sexual”. They are fighting to reclaim a safe space to experience their bodies as opposed to this hypersexualized porn mindset. 

But censorship is not the solution as Micheal Leahy, a recovering porn addict now on speaking tours, explains. “It isn’t about censorship. I’m against censorship, I’m not interested in morality discussions and I’m not here to tell anyone how to live their life. What I’m interested in is the facts, how pornography affects our brain chemistry, our physiology, our relationships. I very much bought into that whole porn culture. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it, I didn’t believe I was hurting anyone and yet eventually that lie would end up costing me a 15-year marriage, my two boys, and my career.” (http://www.vice.com/read/internet-porn-ruined-my-life)

Again, it just comes back to having a safe space to have a real conversation and talk about the real dynamics at play. I think Leahy’s contribution to the discussion begs the following questions: Why can porn engulf us? Why do we turn to porn for satisfaction? What needs are being expressed that need tending to?

When we avoid seeing the truth of our pain or hurt, in my experience, we start breeding non-realities to cope with our lives. In many cases, porn is a coping mechanism. But the thing to understand about non-realities is that they always shatter at one point. What do we find under these non-realities? We often find fear, rejection, anger, neediness, grief, abandonment, control, numbness, sorrow, pain, loneliness, disconnection, to name a few. Everyone has their own path to wholeness, but it seems more effective and more efficient to me to go to the root cause of our discomforts and try to heal that. Why waste all that precious time in non-realities? Of course, waking up to ourselves is a very individual process.

Julie Archambault is a writer and an Akashic Record consultant. Copyright© 2016 Snakeskinned Stories

Next in line — Fifty Shades of Connection: Sexual Vampirism.

Want to dig deeper? 

If you are interested in digging into any issues coming up for you related to sexuality —  fear, rejection, anger, neediness, addiction, abandonment, loss, grief, numbness, control, sorrow, guilt, shame, disconnection, helplessness, disinterest, amongst others — the Akashic Record is a tremendous resource to help shed light on the roots of your discomfort and pain. By setting up an appointment, you will experience the benefits of this revealing archeological dig into the depths of your very own soul. When we discover the root causes of your issues, if you are willing and able, we can release the blocks getting in the way of your global well-being. Once we release these blocks, you will feel a deep sense of relief, a deeper connection to yourself and a lot of things in your life will suddenly make a lot of sense! For an appointment, contact@glowingsnake.com. Looking forward to working with you! To learn more, go to glowingsnake.com.  

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“Julie’s readings never cease to amaze me, with her beautiful descriptions of what she sees, delivered with an un-ending patience; she always has me coming back for more! She has helped me reach an entirely new level in my understanding and in myself!”

Meredith MacKenzie, Edmonton, AB

FIFTY SHADES OF CONNECTION:

Follow the progression of this spectrum, from violently disconnected sex to blissfully connected. Every third Thursday of the month, a new shade is disclosed.

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THE BIG MARKERS ON THE SPECTRUM: 

1. Sexual assault: the antithesis of connection — Coal grey

2. Victimized  vs. empowered money-mediated sex— Paynes grey

3. Sex under the influence: deferring your power — Smog grey

4. Personal development meets porn-literate: the realities under the non-realities — Gunmetal grey

5. Sexual Vampirism — Campfire smoke

6. Decolonizing sex — Coal soot  (which can veil all previous shades)

7. Clear contracts:  from Genital rubbing to depth — Nimbus cloud grey

8. “Genital rubbing”— Stainless steel

9. Light and playful sex — Billowing cumulus

10. Hello Heart — Silver lining

11. The Groundwork for Co-creative Sex — mining silver

12. Showing up for Co-creative Sex — Pure Silver

13. Consciously cultivating connected-sex — Liquified silver

14. The ultimate marriage of eros, love, and sexuality — Blooming silver stardust