Seeing Through Porn’s Illusions


September 5th 2023

#275: Seeing Through Porn’s Illusions

Let’s pulls back the curtain on pornography and explore the truth about the men and women involved in the industry. 

We often see these individuals as people who simply love money and sex, but the reality is far more complex.

Through real-life testimonies and research, we discover that those in the porn industry may be dealing with addiction, desperation, past abuse, and various other factors.

Josh encourages us to see beyond the facade and recognize these individuals as whole people with hearts, souls, and families.

By shifting our perspective, we can resist the harmful allure of viewing others as sex objects and find true joy in relating to one another.

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Join us as we uncover the truth about pornography and how it impacts our perception of those involved.

The importance of seeing people instead of sex objects

– Lust vs love
– Recognizing people as individuals
– Changing perception and treatment of others

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does recognizing the difference between love and lust impact our perception of people in the porn industry?
  2. What are some common assumptions or misconceptions about men and women in the porn industry, and how does this episode challenge those beliefs?
  3. How does hypersexuality contribute to the experiences of individuals in the porn industry?
  4. In what ways does past abuse play a role in the lives of men and women in the porn industry?
  5. How can we shift our perspective to see the men and women in porn as real people rather than objects?
Transcription: Seeing Through Porn’s Illusions

Josh Glaser [00:00:00]:

You. If you’ve listened to this podcast for any length of time, you’ve probably heard me talk before about the importance of really recognizing that when we’re looking at porn or lusting, one of the important pieces on our journey towards sexual integrity is beginning to see people. Instead of sex objects, lust sees objects that are either for our consumption or they’re in our way of what we really want or feel what we want. But love sees people. Lust takes for selfish gratification. Love gives for another person’s good. There’s so many different contrasts between love and lust like this. But in this podcast, I want to help to pull back the curtain a bit on pornography.

Josh Glaser [00:00:40]:

We’re going to look at porn together. More specifically, we’re going to look at the real men and women in porn. We’re just going to take a quick flyby because what we’re shown is not what reality is. It’s not the truth about them. And once we begin to recognize the truth about them, then it begins to change our own perception about how we want to treat them. Pornographers want to put them up, to put porn actors and actresses up as though these are people who love the money they make when they perform in porn and they’re people who love sex and that’s it. And so we get to just enjoy people who love sex and love putting their bodies in front of a camera for all the world to see. But that’s not really the truth about men and women in porn.

Josh Glaser [00:01:31]:

I’ve read so many testimonies of people who have come out of that industry who’ve actually expressed like, yeah, if you had asked me then while I was in the midst of that chaos and that pain, I would have said exactly those things. I like the money and I like sex. I’m doing this in my own volition. I want to be here. This is my choice. But the truth was I was deeply hurting. I was deeply addicted, I was deeply desperate. So let’s look at this for a minute.

Josh Glaser [00:01:54]:

Matt Fradd in his book The Porn Myth, says this I think this is so good, just kind of to combat the idea of that. There’s this hypersexual person who just enjoys being in porn. He says, let’s be clear, hypersexuality is not an enjoyment of sex or an enjoyment of lots of sex, right? So if this are really hypersexual people, he’s talking about the condition of being hypersexual, he’s like, that’s not fundamentally what it is. It’s not just an enjoyment of sex. Sexuality is not merely thinking about sex a lot. Hypersexuality is an obsessive pursuit of sexual pleasure. Clinicians believe hypersexuality can be caused by a wide variety of factors such as personality disorders, sexual addictions, obsessive compulsive disorder, impulse control problems, or past abuse. And some research has suggested that men and women in porn, especially women in porn, suffer from past sexual abuse at a higher rate than the average population does.

Josh Glaser [00:02:52]:

Often a hyper. This is Matt Fradd. Again, often a hypersexual person uses sexual pleasure as a way to find emotional stability. So even if the men and women in porn are there because they’re hypersexual, what Fraz getting after here is that hypersexuality itself is not the whole story. There’s a problem that is causing someone to be hypersexual. There’s a reason why. It’s addiction. It’s desperation, it’s obsessive compulsive disorder, it’s a personality disorder.

Josh Glaser [00:03:21]:

It’s impulse control problems or it’s past abuse that they’re acting out through engaging in these risky behaviors on porn. So that’s thing number one. Thing number two, let’s talk about these real people. Some of you have heard me share the story. It was a revolutionary moment for me. I’ve actually had a few of these where I felt like God pulled back the curtain for me and helped me to see a real person. You remember in Luke Seven when Jesus is eating at Simon, the Pharisee’s house, and an immoral woman comes in and washes Jesus’s feet with her hair weeps at his feet? Which would have been a scandalous moment for a Middle Eastern woman at that time to let her hair down and be that close to a man’s feet in that way. That was a provocative moment.

Josh Glaser [00:04:08]:

They would have seen that through a lens of scandal. And Jesus’question to Simon, who’s busy judging Jesus and judging this woman for this interchange jesus’question to Simon, is simon, do you see this woman? Simon, do you see this woman? And I think there have been some moments for me, and I encourage you, pray, ask Jesus to open your eyes, to be able to see the men and women in porn, to see real people. I still do this sometimes when I’m out in summer or I go to a gym on a regular basis and work out. And sometimes there are women there that are dressed in ways that I can see their bodies pretty clearly, and sometimes that’s fine, and I can still see them as a whole person and appreciate who they are and appreciate their fitness and appreciate their beauty and have a conversation. But there are other times where my flesh wants to get in there and see them just as sex objects and just focus in, zone in on certain aspects of their body and even kind of run a storyline in my brain about who they are and what they’re wearing and what that might mean and all that stuff. The craziness of lust, the craziness of sexual addiction. And in those moments, what I try to do and usually I’m successful at, but not always, is to even pause there. Like, I’ll stop in the middle of my workout, bow my head, and just say, jesus, give me eyes to see.

Josh Glaser [00:05:33]:

I can’t see that person right now. I want to see a real person. And all I’m seeing is this illusion of somebody else that’s not real. I want to see a whole person with a heart, a soul, a family. And usually when I do that, when I take the time to do that, my perspective changes and I can begin to see a more whole person. Enough so that either I can choose to intentionally look away and not misuse that person or even to look at them and appreciate them and to see a human being in front of me. And there’s so much more joy in that, by the way. There’s so much more joy in being with another human being than there is with being with a sex object because nobody’s created to relate with a sex object.

Josh Glaser [00:06:16]:

No one’s created to be a sex object. There’s actually real joy in seeing people the way that God has made them to be. So what is the truth, what is some of the reality about men and women in the sex industry being exploited in the sex industry? So just a few I want to read from. There’s a woman named Harmony Grillo who’s actually now a social worker, but she used to act in pornography before becoming an anti pornography advocate. And she writes this in her book. She says, in some ways, for me it felt like a history of sexual abuse and rape groomed me for the sex industry because being sexualized and objectified was normalized. So what she’s saying there is that I had been sexualized in my life. I’d been raped, I’d been sexually abused.

Josh Glaser [00:07:00]:

And so it had become normal to me to be treated like a piece of meat, to be mistreated this way, to be sexually exploited. And so she described being sexually abused and raped as grooming her for her experience in the sex industry. Now, as somebody who used to look at porn regularly, that sends chills down my spine because what she’s saying there is that the sex industry was like being raped, it was like being sexually abused, it was like being sexually used. And I had been groomed to do that. She goes on to say, the sex industry I’ll read the whole thing again, sorry. In some ways, for me, it felt like a history of sexual abuse and rape groomed me for the sex industry because being sexualized and objectified was normalized and therefore familiar to me. In the sex industry, being a sexual object is a job requirement. It’s a job requirement if you’re in the sex industry you are used to, or you make yourself used to, or you’ve been groomed to be used to being treated as though you are nothing more than a sex object.

Josh Glaser [00:08:12]:

I also read A Reddit String where people were asked questions about the reality of porn. And one porn star wrote, and I think even porn star is a misnomer. I don’t like to refer to people in pornography as porn stars because I think it kind of props up this idea of the hypersexualized, just happy go lucky person who loves sex. But this person wrote, we lie to you. We’re selling a product, the sex, the persona, whatever. Like actors do, press tours, everything a porn star or another king of sex worker does on another I’m sorry, another kind of sex worker does on social media is advertising to convince you to buy. So she’s explicitly saying, like, look, all this stuff that we’re saying about how much we enjoy it is just hype to get you to buy the product. So we tell you we love it, that we’re all a happy family, that we think you’re great, and thank you for supporting us.

Josh Glaser [00:09:08]:

Anything to make you click and pay. We are paid, she says, to lie. And behind the scenes, it can be very pressurized. If you even let a little bit slip, that makes things sound less than 100% happy go lucky sluts. It’s incredibly stressful if you experience a scene you don’t want to do but can’t really tell anyone because people get pissed off when you ruin their fantasies for they don’t believe you because of the lies the industry sells that were all about sex all the time. And she’s just being candid. She went on to write, there’s so much abuse, drug abuse, emotional blackmail. Rape is more common than anyone wants to acknowledge.

Josh Glaser [00:09:45]:

And one of the things that made me quit and get intense therapy was the knowledge of how many rape scenes are real. Men, women. I don’t share this with you to shame you. I don’t share this with you to make you feel badly. But people are people. There’s no such thing as a sex goddess or a sex god. There’s no such thing as a man or woman who just loves sex and is happy go lucky about it. Sexual exploitation wounds a soul.

Josh Glaser [00:10:16]:

Paul says in one corinthians six, and this is the word of God, it is truth that he or she who sins, sexuality sins against their body, their own body. So a sex worker, somebody in the sex industry is sinning against their own body day after day after day. It’s beating their bodies up to perform in this way. And it’s true for men and women, but I think it takes a greater toll on women, but nonetheless true for men, too. I’ll end with this one final story, and I’ve shared this before, but it was so profound for me. Years ago, Diane Sawyer did a primetime exclusive following around a woman named Michelle Sinclair. And Michelle was, at that point, a young, upcoming, quote unquote, porn star. And her stage name was Belladonna.

Josh Glaser [00:11:05]:

Beautiful girl is what it means in Italian. But Belladonna also is a poisonous flower. And in one of her very first scenes, I think she was 18 or 19 years old, so she’s just a kid. But one of her first scenes, she’s literally raped on camera. Because what’s happening to her on camera is not something that she ever agreed to. She did not agree to it. And yet the other performer for Performers went ahead and did it anyway, and the producers and cameramen just kept on rolling. And when they were done, the producer or director, whoever it was, threw a towel at her and said, Get cleaned up.

Josh Glaser [00:11:43]:

And this is so common. And she wept. She cried. Afterwards, she left. She went home, vowed never to go back. But then she did go back, and she’d had a couple episodes of that where she was just crying about this. And meanwhile, Diane Sawyer’s camera crew is following her around, and they’re kind of witnessing some of this stuff, and she’s describing this stuff to them. And at some point in the interview, Diane Sawyer notices this, and she comments about it.

Josh Glaser [00:12:06]:

She asks the question. She’s like, you know, you’re describing these horrible things that have happened to you, and yet you’re always smiling. What’s that about? And Michelle continues to smile, and she says coily, she says, with kind of a coy tone in her voice, almost flirtatious, because I like to hide, she says. And Diane Sawyer, like a great counselor, presses there, and she’s like, Why? In essence, she’s asking, what are you hiding? What’s real behind the smile? And then she waits, and there’s this kind of pause, this uncomfortable pause. And Michelle continues to smile. And for a moment, though, her smile begins to crack a little bit, and she looks off camera at her mother, who’s sitting there watching the interview. And then she says, I like to hide because I want people to see how happy I am. And here in the interview, her voice cracks, and she begin and a tear starts to form in her eye, and she wipes it away.

Josh Glaser [00:13:05]:

She’s like, I want people to see how happy I am, and yet I’m not happy. I don’t like myself at all. And then she wipes her face. She wipes a tear from her face. And then she shakes her head a little bit and smiles and looks back at the camera again. So what happens in that moment? And it’s just profound. The persona, the mask she’s wearing cracks for a moment, and the real little girl in there is crying out. She’s like, I’m not happy at all.

Josh Glaser [00:13:39]:

I don’t like myself. I don’t like what I’m doing. But then the persona takes over again, the mask. She puts the mask back on, and she wears it again. Now, that scene provoked a lot of attention from anti pornography people who are advocating for against pornography, like myself. I mean, not at the time, but now. And she came out publicly and said, no, I was having a bad day. I’m embarrassed.

Josh Glaser [00:14:04]:

I wish I hadn’t cried. And she continued in the porn industry for, I think, over a decade after that and may still be involved, even producing now. But I don’t believe her. I don’t believe her. I’ve read too many stories. I think that was the real Michelle coming through in that moment. It certainly seemed real in the moment, and it changed my perspective on what happens and how the happy go lucky, that perspective of I like to hide, I like sex is just a mask that people are wearing. Now, what do we do with that? I want to encourage you two things.

Josh Glaser [00:14:41]:

One, I want to encourage you to keep praying. Lord, give me eyes to see. Help me to see real people. I’m just seeing an object. I’m just seeing a porn star. I’m just seeing whatever the persona is they want me to see. But I want to see who you see. You ask Simon, do you see this woman? I’m telling you, I don’t see her or I don’t see him.

Josh Glaser [00:15:01]:

Help me to see the real person you see. I personally think that Jesus loves that prayer. And then secondly, I want to encourage you to continue to practice that reality. Think about these people. They’ve got a life that’s much bigger than porn. What else is true about real people’s lives? What do they go home to at the end of the day? How did they get here in the first place? What kinds of things must have preceded them to reach a point where they’re performing such intimate acts with strangers in front of other strangers, for pay, on camera, for even other strangers to use at their own will? It’s just rough. So practice truth. Practice thinking about the real people, you know, and what would have led them there and what they need from that place.

Josh Glaser [00:15:43]:

So pray for eyes to see. Practice thinking with a sober mind about what’s really happening. And then third, begin to pray for and as you’re able advocate for men and women who are caught in the sex industry. They need us. And if not Christian men and women, then who? So start to pray for them. Advocate, lord, rescue them from where they are. Lord, we do pray. Give us eyes to see, give us sound minds to perceive what’s true.

Josh Glaser [00:16:12]:

And Lord, we pray for the rescue of men and women. Lord, forgive us for the ways that we’ve used them, believing the lies and using them for selfish gratification. And Lord, would you give us eyes to see and hearts to truly love them and actions to follow. Lord, we pray it for their sake. We pray it for our sake. We pray it for your glory in Jesus’name. Amen.

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