50 Shades of Cray

I’m typically a pretty chill person. I’m nice to people. I like to make people feel comfortable around me. If I say something that could be perceived as offensive, I’m quick to do damage control and offer my deepest regrets.

However, that’s a different shade of Fatima. That’s the non-pregnant me. Fat, aching, hormonal Fatima is a force to be reckoned with.

Seriously, I’ve become a monster. When I’m not out terrorizing the innocent, I just appear guano crazy.

For instance, I was shopping for maternity clothes at Ross. While flipping through the clothing on the rack , I catch in my periphery a woman who appears to be staring at me. A little socially awkward, I don’t look at her, but just strum up some conversation about how surprised I was to find some cute maternity clothes. She wasn’t amused, and kept staring and smiling.  Freaked out, I scooted to the end of the rack. I decided to be bold and look at her in a way to let her know that she’s creepy.

She was in fact a picture of a woman, a model, that was placed at the end of the rack in such a way that it looked like she was some big headed stalker.

Naturally I felt like a babbling moron, but fortunately only one person witnessed my one sided conversation with a poster.

Then there was the time I was watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood with my daughter, and cried the whole episode because it was about the arrival of Daniel’s new little sister. I sat on the couch with tears billowing down my cheeks. Big sister didn’t help because she just climbed in my lap and patted my leg. She takes very good care of me on crazy days.

The pinnacle of my craziness came when I was just innocently waiting in line at Starbucks trying to decide on whether or not to subject new baby to a few milligrams of caffeine or just go with a low fat steamer. Then I felt it. Someone’s breath on top of my head. I turned slightly to see if maybe it was air blowing out the vent. No. Instead it was a man that was about a foot and a half taller than me staring straight ahead with a book tucked under his left arm. I turned back around and took a step forward, trying not to infringe on the personal space of the patron in front of me because people who do that are as welcome as an abscessed molar.
He stepped up closer. I looked him in the face and gave him a district frown. Lurch kept looking forward.

Now I’m a small woman, but I don’t take kindly to being run over. So when I stepped up to place my order, and he scooted up so close that he was kind of standing beside/behind me, crazy pregnant me was unleashed. I whipped my hair back over my shoulder, slammed my wallet on the counter and asked him “have you seen 50 Shades of Grey? Because you’re about to see 50 shades of crazy if you don’t back off my heels.” Dumbfounded, he looked like he didn’t know whether to open his butt or scratch his wallet. I ordered a hot herbal tea, and was gone.

I pretty sure that my filter is busted, and that I’m not going to make it to end of this pregnancy without getting into a knock down, drag out fight with someone. It’ll probably some poor bystander who just glances at me, and because I don’t want anyone looking at me, he’ll get body slammed.

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My Beef with 50 Shades…

Warning: this post contains strong opinions about explicit material. There are no images in this post.

I was recently disturbed when I read the phrase “50 Shades of Grey baby boom.” This suggests that a book is forecasted to trigger a rise in the population.

I read somewhere (I’ve scoured the internet trying to find it, but it was probably in print so I can’t cite it) that this woman “actually wanted to have sex with her husband” after reading the book and it led to their conception.

Ouch? How would you like it if your husband said “I really want to have sex with you now that I’ve watched this video.” Conjecturing that he wouldn’t want to have sex with you otherwise, talk about hurtful.

Becoming recently pregnant, I spend a lot of time on pregnancy/birth forums trying to soak up as much as I can  and finding sanity in the fact that I’m not alone in the way I feel about certain things.

I was scrolling through, and this woman was lamenting about how awful and depressed she was because her husband would not even touch her. She was seven months pregnant and felt that in her mind her husband found her disgusting and would not even look at her.

At this moment, I wanted to pat her on the back and say, “he’s probably just concerned about your health and the health of the baby, he doesn’t want to hurt you.”

But I continued to read, and she broke my heart when she wailed about how he would just go into another room, watch some porn and take care of business.

She was devastated because she did not feel adequate enough for her man.

Many other women ardently shared her pain. One woman’s boyfriend had enough gall to tell her she looked ridiculous in her lingerie. She was only five months pregnant, and he too would resort to pornography before even looking at her.

Most women get riled up at the thought of their companions watching porn. They feel abandoned, hurt, and cheated on as one writer so bitterly admitted.

So if women in general feel so betrayed by their partners for watching porn, why is it OK for women to read porn?

Some people may not think of certain literature as porn, but the dictionary has something else to say.

Pornography defined:

1 : the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement

2: material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement

3: the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction <the pornography of violence>[1]

Pornography has the same effect on your brain as a drug would. Your brain is malleable and can be molded and moved by ever forming connections.

A vital role for dopamine is in pleasure experience, reward, and learning. Drugs such as cocaine target the dopaminergic system to release great amounts of dopamine which results in experiencing a “high,” often leading to addiction. A number of studies have implicated dopamine in either the anticipation or the direct experience of pleasure. Depending on the brain area, dopamine can be released either prior to or during the moments of heightened pleasure. When released, dopamine strengthens and reinforces the new connections that are being made in the brain while an activity is undertaken.  This in turn acts to encourage the individual to repeat the activity again so they can feel that pleasure once more

How is this relevant to pornography? As the images are displayed on the screen, an arousal takes place and the dopaminergic system is triggered just like it would be by drugs such as cocaine. The newly formed connections in the brain from watching pornographic images become greatly reinforced by the massive amounts of dopamine being released. Rather than going into short term memory, where these images can be forgotten after the screen is turned off, the dopamine reinforcement ensures they’re moved into the long-term memory stores where they can be stuck in replay mode in the person’s mind. The troublesome fact about this is that the more something is recalled, the more it solidifies it in the brain. [2]

By continually stimulating your brain with pornographic images, you are constantly drawn back to it, and over a short amount of time you can form an addiction.

Another aspect of the addiction that makes it scientifically legitimate is the changes that occur in the brain when one engages in activities involving pornography. When an addict looks at porn, testosterone, dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin are released, creating what Dr. Judith Reisman refers to as an “erototoxin.” The chemical change, which causes the person engaging in the act to have a temporary feeling of euphoria, becomes a necessity for the person to function. Like any other type of addict, porn addicts become trapped within their disorder, and the difference between casually watching pornography and being an addict hinges on the chemical makeup of the brain. [3]

Not only can porn damage your way of thinking, which in my opinion is similar to actual brain damage, it can damage your relationships.

It damages your relationship by removing the action of love. Sex is sacred. It is something that is transcendent. If you bring in images of others doing the deed, it can distract you from your partner. It can cause you to rely on outside stimulation to just make it through. It strips this aspect of your relationship from true intimacy by forging in your brain a fantasy, something that is not real.

Why would you prefer an obsessive fantasy over your husband when you can be far more creative together than any perverted piece of trash that likes to the disguise itself as wholly satisfying?

Sex without intimacy will never be wholly satisfying.

The 50 Shades books have been rightfully deemed “mommy porn,” but why is getting off so easy? If we were to start calling porn sites “daddy porn,” would that make it less wrong?

No it wouldn’t. There is no double standard. If you have a problem with your husband preferring pornographic images over your sexy self, you should have a problem with indulging yourself in the exact same thing. Just because it does not contain pictures does not mean that the pictures are not being drawn in your mind.

There are plenty of things that you and your partner can do to stimulate your sex life that do not involve porn. Remember the old days, take time for each other, look at each other, hold each other, openly talk to each other about e v e r y t h i n g. Do not fall prey to the lie that you need to have porn to improve your sex life. There are other ways.

If you or your partner struggle with this, there are many things that you can do. You can seek counseling (especially in cases of addiction), get a site blocker that requires a password, you can seek out accountability partners. There is hope. Your brain can be re-wired. You can have a wholly satisfying experience with your partner.

You always want to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, that’s the golden rule after all. So if you shutter at the thought of your husband watching porn, think about how he might feel if you preferred a fictional, fantastical relationship over him.

[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com

[2]http://www.suhaibwebb.com/ummah/men/how-watching-pornography-changes-the-brain/

[3] http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/345