The moral absurdity of mainstreaming ‘mummy porn’
Since the mainstream film release of Fifty Shades of Grey, one of the most demeaning expressions bandied around the mediasphere is “mummy porn”. Those two words should never sit side-by-side. While “mummy” conveys an image of tenderness, safety, purity and sacrificial love, “porn” represents the very antithesis of all such things.
This common marketing ploy of making something unpalatable appear harmless, even acceptable, is one of the primary ways pornography has been mainstreamed in society. And “mummy porn” is just the tip of the iceberg.
Our culture has become so hypersexualised that what would have been taboo decades ago is now considered common practice. All it takes is a bit of word play for the mainstreaming process to begin. Pole dancing, anyone? It’s no longer confined to strip clubs. Due to some clever re-branding, pole dancing is more commonly referred to as “pole fitness” or “vertical dance”, and children as young as five are taking classes. And thanks to Fifty Shades of Grey, sexual violence is dressed up as “kinky fun”, and sadomachism supposedly equals empowerment.
Another important component of the mainstreaming process is the use of celebrities and popular media to normalise and endorse porn culture. Celebrities are channeling their “inner stripper” in movies, music videos, magazines and social media with more ease and regularity than ever before.
According to pop stars Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga, presenting a prostitute-like version of yourself to the world is not degrading. It’s liberating. As long as you are in charge of your own objectification, there is no shame. Only empowerment. After all, don’t women have “the right to be sexy”? Better still, claim that you’re “gender-fluid” (identifying as either male or female depending on how you feel), and you can legitimise all kinds of sexual perversity. Such logic demonstrates just how quickly moral absurdity abounds when we try to domesticate sin.
According to pop stars Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga, presenting a prostitute-like version of yourself to the world is not degrading. It’s liberating.
Perhaps the greatest accelerating force in the cultural mainstreaming of pornography has been the Internet. Anyone with a computer or phone can obtain sexually explicit material with little effort or chance of being detected. There’s no need for underground “adult” bookshops or dark movie theatres. The Internet has revolutionised the choice of pornography available that can be consumed in the privacy of one’s home.
Given porn’s ubiquity and availability, it can be easy to justify indulging in it. Typical responses might include:
“Everyone’s using it, right? So it must be OK?”; “I only look occasionally”; “I don’t search for the hard-core stuff ”; “It’s a fitness magazine…with a few sexy bits”; “But this is an award-winning TV series. There’s a bit of sex…but it wouldn’t be historically accurate if they left it out”; “I’m not being unfaithful to my wife”; “Porn will only enhance our sex-life”; “This music video clip is a bit raunchy, but I love the song!”; “I know this book is erotica, but it’s on the New York Times’ Bestsellers’ list”. And a typical justification I hear many Christians use is, “How am I meant to engage with the culture if I don’t watch/read/listen to [X]?”
Of course it’s vital that we understand and engage with the culture, but at what cost? Where do we draw the line? Does what we see and listen to draw us closer to Christ, and strengthen our relationship with Him? Or are we letting our hearts, which are deceitful above all things (Jer. 19:7), entice us into sin? The normalisation of porn is a big problem in our culture. But let’s not add to it by offering our own rationalisations for why we can dabble in sin too.
Madeleine Turner attends Ashfield Presbyterian Church