Porn Addiction IS No Laughing Matter

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It’s just five days since The New Mrs D was released and I have already had some wonderful feedback from readers, most saying they completely associate with her. One Amazon reviewer sums it up nicely:

It is so refreshing to have a main character who isn’t perfect, who is always struggling with weight, self-esteem issues and pants that keep rolling down (due to muffin tops and not sexual behaviour).’

However, yesterday I received an email from someone, who I must point out has NOT read the book, which has led me to sit down to write this blog post today.

The New Mrs D tackles the difficult, mostly unspoken about subject of porn addiction in a work of comedy fiction. The person emailing me asked why I would think porn addiction, which has blown up like a bomb in society, with many innocent people getting hurt every minute of every day, is something to laugh about. I will not name this person; it was a highly personal and confidential email from someone whose identity I am happy, indeed – determined to protect.

But I did feel a need to answer this question, lest anyone else should be misled into believing that this is what my book seeks to do. In fact, its purpose is far removed from making light of the subject. My reason for writing it was to bring the issue to the fore.

Editors called it ‘a laugh on every page’, ‘hilarious’ and ‘very timely in the year of the new Bridget Jones novel’. Yet no one wanted to publish it. They said it was ‘too close to the bone’ and an ‘icky’ subject. One editor said she just didn’t believe anyone would marry a man like that.

I didn’t just decide to pick something controversial to sit down and write a comedy novel about; I felt it needed to be addressed. All of my research and experience has shown me that plenty of people have and do marry men like that. Plenty of people live with porn addiction in their relationship on a daily basis, slowly letting their self-confidence reach the point of shut down without ever telling anyone what is happening, purely out of shame. They think it is their fault. Or, that in some way it makes them look bad for not being able to cope with what is fast becoming acceptable in modern society – the sexualisation and objectification of women in everyday media outlets. I would go as far as to say it is probably more people that each of us know than we realise.

How many people reading this post have been in some way affected by a partner’s porn addiction and never told a living soul? How many people reading this are thinking, ‘pah! Like it’s a real problem?’ Naturally, there are people on both sides of the fence.

What would you think if I told you of women that have left a room in tears after what to most people would seem a harmless, everyday advert, featuring a perfectly toned woman in a state of undress, appears on the TV? Does that sound excessive and neurotic to you? Then you have never been the partner of a porn addict. To the partner of such a person, every picture like this becomes – to their mind– a potential trigger to the addict. Think, ‘sparkly glass of wine in front of an alcoholic’. And you are the grape juice in the dull glass beside it.

The question on whether this is really a problem is an interesting one. In ‘The New Mrs D’ it most certainly is, as the partner uses porn instead of making love to his wife. He, in fact, is unable to make love to his wife but can reach ejaculation whilst watching porn. An editor who wrote a feedback report on my manuscript asked the question, ‘would porn use really cause a sexual dysfunction?’

Norman Doidge of The Guardian wrote a very interesting and revealing article on the Brain Scans of Porn Addicts. It told of how ‘scan images show that watching online “adult” sites can alter our grey matter, which may lead to a change in sexual tastes.’ He concludes with this story:

‘In her book, Bunny Tales: Behind Closed Doors at the Playboy Mansion, Izabella St James, who was one of Hugh Hefner’s former “official girlfriends”, described sex with Hef. Hef, in his late 70s, would have sex twice a week, sometimes with four or more of his girlfriends at once, St James among them. He had novelty, variety, multiplicity and women willing to do what he pleased. At the end of the happy orgy, wrote St James, came “the grand finale: he masturbated while watching porn”.

Here, the man who could actually live out the ultimate porn fantasy, with real porn stars, instead turned from their real flesh and touch, to the image on the screen. Now, I ask you, “what is wrong with this picture?”.’

Porn addiction in a commercial comedy novel may be considered by many to make uncomfortable reading. Bringing the issue of what many people consider virtual adultery is, I grant you, different and edgy. I believe difficult subjects can be made more palatable and accessible to a wider audience in works of commercial comedy fiction. It is not easy and it is a work that has taken me almost two years to complete in the hope that I have handled it sensitively.  But what if I can help people to be able to say out loud, ’actually, I hate this porn culture we live in’? What if I can trigger conversations about matters that were once kept behind closed doors?

In my search for publication, I was asked if I would remove the porn addiction element. In edits, I was advised to try altering the age of the protagonist to a woman in her thirties (Mrs D is in her forties) and maybe consider changing my name to a male pseudonym; anything to make its subject more comfortable and marketable.

I wanted to write about a real person, in a very real situation. I also like to make people laugh and offer something different in an increasingly androcentric world.

The comedy part of my novel is not around the subject of porn addiction, it is around a women’s

Wonderful review from Amazon Australia
Wonderful review from Amazon Australia

life altering honeymoon alone in Greece where she discovers a lot about herself. I sought to speak to women, empower and educate them. It follows the laughter, tears and moments of clarity in the life of the partner of a porn addict. If I’d have removed the porn addiction element of the story, The New Mrs D may well have been published traditionally. I chose not to, because then my reason for writing the book in the first place would have been lost.

I’ll let the readers decide if I did her – and this very timely subject – justice.

You can buy The New Mrs D HERE. And please do come back to tell me your thoughts.

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16 thoughts on “Porn Addiction IS No Laughing Matter”

  1. A very interesting topic. I have been the ”victim” of a stalker on Twitter who is addicted to porn (he RTs addictively a couple of very hardcore female friends’ blog posts) . It was clear, from comments he made upon first tweeting, that he was exposed to porn from the age of 8, and his sexual interest and view of women seems to have been set by this. As you quote, teenagers exposed to porn often find it difficult to have sex with ‘normal’ women as they are used to the fake world of the porn film. That you deal with this topic in a humourous way is all to the good! I’m guessing you don’t give the guy a good time? My stalker was quite happy to ‘betray’ his wife by making explicitly sexual comments to me on Twitter, flirting heavily with numerous other females, posting blogs of naked women, and boasting about his weekends away with one of his porn writing ladies. These men degrade women by their cavalier attitude, and do us all no favours. If your book empowers even one betrayed and unhappy women, then you have achieved a great deal!

    1. Thank you Carol, that is the way I see it too. I think as a culture we are too accepting of objectifying women in everything and I also have had a few dubious tweets. I hope you reported them. I read a quote from a woman somewhere who said she felt her partner now saw her real, live naked body as ‘bad porn’. Very sad indeed. It’s time for a shift. I worry how my sons and daughters will grow up being exposed to so much of it. The pop music industry is the worst as this influences young people so much. Pop culture has exacerbated the issue and in the same way, has the power to help change it.

  2. I’ll be honest and say I thought the word addiction was wrongly placed. Surely it’s a matter of will power. Until a friends marriage broke up because of this very subject and her husband’s increasing use of prostitutes. She was heartbroken. However I think humour has a way of reaching people with a message so I wish you the very best of luck with the book.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    1. Thank you. I know women who have left their husband’s for this reason and told everyone that it was for another reason because they feel ashamed; like somehow it’s the result of their own lack of self esteem or inadequacies. The book follows a woman with a very common question. ‘Is this enough of a reason to leave?’

  3. Good for you for sticking to your purpose in writing your book, and not letting your dreams of publication entice you away from telling the story you wanted to tell.

    1. Thanks Amy xxx I think what saddens me also in all this is the notion that people can and will assume that a comedy writer couldn’t possibly take a very serious issue and deal with it with any level of sensitivity and intelligence. I hope that I have.

  4. Do these critics/publishers/editors live in a plastic bubble of unicorns and rainbows? It’s astonishing how anyone these days cannot believe in such a thing as porn addiction.

    Porn is used on a daily basis to desensitize society to make it more permissive to accept the next level and the next and the next. Even the seemingly harmless images of children at play in swim suits, which become skimpier, are to lull society into not paying attention as ads begin as innocent, move on to provocative, then become downright pornographic. By the time that happens, people don’t see the difference between a fully clothed little girl running on the beach and one who is topless with skimpy bikini bottoms rolling around in the wet sand. It’s, as you stated, altering the grey matter bit by bit.

    I’m glad you didn’t change a thing! Those suggestions would have 1. Changed the issue entirely, and 2. Made it into a male joke against prudish wives. I couldn’t work with someone who wanted that. It seems that person who completely wanted to alter your book has their own demons and your words hit too close to home. Good for you for standing your ground!

    1. Thank you. I do think the key problem for the decision makers in all this is the word ‘addiction’. Because many people struggle to believe porn could be an addiction but it is very real and a timely subject. I guess had I approached it in a serious work, it may not have been met with such sceptism. But without bold work, there is no innovation. Without innovation, we find nothing new and exciting… and we don’t move mountains. I do hope to see a shift in both publishing and society because, as you rightly point out, virtual reality is taking over. I was late replying because I was up in the Scottish Highlands on holiday and on returning, my eldest daughter posted a photo on her Facebook labelled, ‘me kayaking in The Atlantic’. Someone commented underneath, ‘you can do that without a GTA game controller?’ Point made 🙂

      1. Oh, what a beautiful time you must have had! One of these days, I will get over my fear of flying over the ocean and take my daughter to Norway to learn about her heritage.

  5. I don’t understand why you don’t have a publisher, Heather. I just bought and read The New Mrs D and it’s really good. Very warm and funny but also intelligent and insightful. I left you a review on Amazon – it’s just being processed by them at the moment.

    1. Denise, thank you! I was so happy to read this and that you also took the trouble to leave a lovely review. Indie publishing is so hard – much harder than I ever dreamed it was going to be – so the reviews really do mean a lot. But even more than that it’s so lovely to read women say, ‘yes, I get her’ and ‘I relate to her’. Right there… that means the world because I think that is what publishers universally didn’t believe. This is so kind, thank you! I have to now just get my head down to write something else and keep hoping to be discovered. It’s feedback like this that keeps me plugging on xxx

  6. I look forward to reading The New Mrs D. Do you have an opinion regarding whether porn should be banned? I know that in Sweden it is a criminal offense to pay for sex and there is considerable debate concerning the effectiveness or otherwise of the legislation. I don’t know whether porn is banned in Sweden (I suspect not) but, based on that country’s outlawing of paying for sex one could argue that prohibiting porn would be in line with the country’s position on prostitution.

    1. Hi there Drew, sorry for the late response, my blog comments exploded in the last few days and I’m now trying to answer them all.
      The honest answer is I don’t have an opinion on the banning of porn altogether; it’s a difficult one. I did a lot of research for my book because I wasn’t setting out to attack the porn industry and I’ve tried to make this very clear from the outset. But I wanted to address what it does do within relationships and also, when it becomes a compulsion and a replacement for a normal, sexual relationship – that’s the key difference here. There are so many people living with this in their relationships and feeling destroyed by it.
      I know there are cases where it has helped and enhanced people’s love life’s when used in a mutually agreeable way. On the other hand, there are terrible stories about the treatment of women in the industry too. The fact is, I can’t claim to have enough knowledge to argue for its prohibition, it’s a HUGE subject. However, I do think better regulation – as with prostitution – would be good as a starting point.

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