“Muslims Talking Sex” Series: Porn, Is It Really that Bad? By Dr. X


GOATMILK continues  its original and exclusive series entitled “Muslims Talking Sex” featuring diverse Muslim  writers from around the world discussing a gamut of topics in their own unique, honest and eclectic voices.

Porn, Is It Really that Bad?

DR. X

February 10, 2010

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This may come as a surprise to the believing women out there: Men like sex.  Yes, even those guys with the big beards, the woolen cap, and the pants that are conspicuously above the ankles – they also like sex.  In fact, most men are programmed to like sex – even more than women.  If you doubt this, you can find numerous articles on the subject all over the web.  One of the many articles I found details research finding that men think about sex 13 times a day while women merely fantasize of Mr. McSteamy five times a day (hopefully not whilst praying).

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/6950545/Men-think-about-sex-5000-times-a-year.html

But we do not have to resort to such empirically inspired academic findings to establish this well-known fact.  You can ask any jihadi on the Afghan-Pakistani border about his motivations for engaging in his jihad.  Aside from a perverse and juristically inaccurate explanation that God desires war against all nonbelievers; the average jihadi never fails to mention the 72 virgins that are eagerly awaiting the soon to be exploded warrior.  The Western media, of course, loves to get these guys on tape.  I mean, promising celestial intercourse to induce someone to kill himself and many others, even as a fringe benefit, now that really is hilarious – and 72 virgins, the precision of the number is even more funny even after discounting for the anachronistic nature of the statement.  But we should not delude ourselves into thinking that this type of thought process comes from outside Islam.  The fact of the matter is, Islam, as din al fitra is surprisingly blunt about sexual desire, and thank God that it is.

If this is shocking to you, I suggest you actually read the religious texts of our religion (and not just selectively).  In fact, you can read the religious texts of other religions too.   Being religious and prudish is not necessarily correlated.  Being religious and graceful, modest, and chaste – that is piety.  For example Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism contain a significant amount of literature on sex – and it’s mostly good!  Unlike some of our fellow peoples of the book, Islam encourages sex, and in a famous hadith of the Prophet, we are told that sex with your spouse is actually a virtuous act which is rewarded by God.  According to the Old Testament, Solomon had several hundred wives and concubines; in fact, the Old Testament alleges that his preoccupation with his wives led him astray (let’s not even talk about the innuendos regarding the story of the Queen of Sheba).  From Hinduism we learn that sexual intercourse is a means of experiencing spiritual enlightenment, and the Kama Sutra is not merely the title of a pornographic video starring a Latina dressed in a burqa, rather it is an ancient Sanskrit text believed to be inspired by an individual who overheard the sounds of lovemaking between the God Shiva and the Goddess Parvati.  Obviously this trite survey of religious attitudes of some faiths towards sex is not exhaustive nor is it comprehensive, but I state these simple examples only to quash the irrational presupposition of religious zealots that believers are not, and certainly cannot be, sexual beings.  Au contraire my recently clubbing-turned-bearded friend, your newfound religiosity is admirable but still superficial, so please don’t assume that the natural inclination for sex should be suppressed because it is inherently bad or religiously regrettable.

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So yes religious people: sex is good, it’s natural, and carnal desire is nothing to be ashamed of.  It’s not that you do it; it’s who you do it with!

And this is where we hit a snag.

The problem is that sex is not easy to have if you are a faithful Muslim restricting your sexual desires for your spouse, especially since finding a spouse sucks (definitely no pun intended) more than dating the average Pakistani girl (but Pakistani girls don’t date – remember?).  Let’s be honest, guys usually want to have sex at age of 12-13, and since the average Muslim man needs several doctorates and a significant amount of money before your average Muslim father in-law would even consider him for his daughter, there is a growing glut of sexually unsatisfied Muslim men that must suppress their own natural and overwhelming inclinations for the sake of their faith.  If you don’t believe me, check out the posers at the ISNA lobby.  Furthermore, since it’s not particularly easy to find a concubine to possess with your right hand these days, most Muslim guys end up possessing something else with their right hands, and they do so while sitting in front of a computer screen.

The proliferation of pornography is not relegated to the Muslim community by any means.  It is ironic though, that as of today, according to Google trends the word “sex” is a search term most commonly searched for in places like Pakistan, India, Egypt, Indonesia, Morocco, Turkey, Malaysia, etc…  Here, in the West, where Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden have thankfully been unsuccessful in taking our cherished freedoms from us, pornography is protected by the first amendment and gradually becoming part of mainstream popular culture.  Yet, the most searched for terms emanating from countries with large Muslim populations are sexual in nature.  Could it be that Muslims are more sexually repressed than members of other faiths?  I don’t know, I guess it’s a close call between us and the Catholics, but the point is, for a tradition which came from a society where patriarchy and polygamy was the norm, where the primary religious text has been accused of promoting licentious and sexual images of paradise, and were a prophet has been revoltingly maligned as being a sexual deviant, Muslim majority countries are generally the least open to public display of highly sexualized media, and perhaps as a result, the places where internet searches are mostly likely to be for pornography.

So what really is so bad about pornography?  Seriously, is it really that bad?

Is it addicting?  Yes.  Is it gross?  Sometimes.  Is it better than real sex?  Depends.  Does it ruin marriages?  Sometimes.  Is it demeaning to women?  Probably.  Does it increase the likelihood of rape and other crimes of a sexual nature?  Inconclusive.  Is it haraam [Islamically forbidden]?  Hell yes.  Is it better than committing zina [fornication]?  Absolutely.

A fundamental axiom of Usul al Fiqh states that it is always better to commit the lesser of two offenses when faced with two choices that are both haraam.  But let’s not create a false dichotomy.  Most Muslim men are not faced with the choice of committing zina or watching pornography.  The prophetic advice is to fast in order to decrease sexual appetite.  But that only works for so long, and there are just so many beautiful women on the internet, and they are right there, waiting for you, in the privacy of your home, and they don’t get pregnant, they are always available, they are on demand, they do everything, and they don’t annoy you when you’re done.  Sound likes a win-win doesn’t it?

Here are my options: (1) I marry a girl that’s not-ugly, not totally insane and socially tolerable; (2) I act like a normal post-secular 21st century modern educated man and go on a sexcapade till I’m 35; (3) I work on number (1) and when that urge strikes, and strike it will an average of 13 times a day, I introduce myself to Palmela Handerson while surfing the web.  Guess what most guys choose?

I am not going to argue that pornography is a good thing.  It’s haraam, it has clearly demonstrable negative effects, and it’s sleazy.  But at the same time, men like beautiful women.  Even the prophet Joseph made supplication to control his sexual urges when put into a compromising situation.  So this tension will exist, and its natural, we can’t even help it!

Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet: Women and sons; Heaped-up hoards of gold and silver; horses branded (for blood and excellence); and (wealth of) cattle and well-tilled land. Such are the possessions of this world’s life; but in nearness to Allah is the best of the goals (To return to). [3:14]

Notice the order of things listed in this Quranic verse.  Women and sons (not daughters for obvious reasons), money, horses (read cars), and cattle/land (read source of money).  No, it’s not a coincidence that these themes can be found in most rap songs today – men like these things.  Imagine a guy in a nice car, with a beautiful woman next to him, driving to the bank to deposit some money.  He’s probably in a good mood, and I don’t blame him, because he has it all – doesn’t he?  And, most men, if they were forced to choose only one of those things, would choose the beautiful woman.  Freud established very early on that most human behavior is inspired by sexual urges.  Basically, the only reason I go to school to get the doctorates, the hoards of money, the horses, the cattle, etc… is to impress your father and to increase my chances of procreating and spreading my seed throughout the Earth.  So, fair in the eyes of men are women above all else.  Men have a natural instinctual desire to produce offspring (specifically sons), and until it recently became insanely impossible to find and marry normal women, there were generally a lot of good options.  Women, after all, especially in patriarchal antiquity and the days of jahiliya were fungible because they were all pretty much the same – nothing more than sexual chattel.  So what distinguished one woman from the next?  Generally, and superficially, her sex-appeal.  Ta-da!  So maybe men like watching pornography because they are sexually attracted to women to such a strong degree, that they simply need to be sexually fulfilled each of the 13 times they think about sex each day – and preferably by a woman with nice bosoms (24:31), shapely figures (33:59), and lustrous eyes (52:20).  No, this is not puerile testosterone driven rhetoric, this is – to borrow a phrase from Eaton, the destiny of man.

So let me get this straight.  I am a heterosexual Muslim man, I like beautiful women, and I cannot have intercourse with them because my religion prohibits me from doing so except within the bounds of marriage.  Anyone with common sense knows that sex is probably the dumbest reason to marry anyone.  Nevertheless, we have been told that apparently the angels curse women the entire night if they deny their husbands.  Why?  Because the poor guy has no other legal means of fulfilling his daily baker’s dozen of intrusive thoughts!  And worst of all, she probably isn’t even that attractive to him anymore, but he is stuck with her, because although his religion permits him to marry more than one woman, he has to follow Western Hellenized norms which were colored by Victorian era sexual mores (back in the day when naming someone Virginia was not a joke).  So I get screwed (pardon the pun) when I follow or fail to follow my religion.

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Lastly, do you know how many men have killed other men over women?  For god sakes, two empires went to war over Helen of Troy.  And what happens when one empire ravages the other?  Well let’s just say they don’t call it war booty for no reason.  There is one thing I have to say in order to be fair, the Quranic verse quoted above also contains a final clause about aspiring towards nearness to God.  Maybe that’s the real goal, that’s where my aim should be.  Less concerned with dunya, the nafs, the ego, the women, the money, the cars, and the cattle, and more concerned with my spiritual well-being.  Fine, I can buy that, I’m a believer, and I’m willing to follow the rules for the sake of pleasing my creator.  But can the girls please make more of an attempt?  Is that really too much to ask?  I suppose the guys can do better also.  And lastly, let me ask this question one last time: Seriously, is it really that bad to watch some porn?

GOATMILK is taking submissions for its “Muslims Talking Sex” Series at goatmilkblog@gmail.com . Entries must be under 1,500 words and shall be published at the discretion of the editor.

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10 thoughts on ““Muslims Talking Sex” Series: Porn, Is It Really that Bad? By Dr. X

  1. Dr. X brings up some good points… especially the last point about spiritual well being… I’d like to think that sex could also be part of that spiritual well being, especially since sex in Islam, between man and wife (and vice versa), is rewarded by God, since God knows its an important part of who we are as humans. But truth be told, its tough being a man and holding back the sexual urges…

  2. porn contributed to the ruination of my marriage. yes, it’s really *that bad.* when a dude becomes addicted to plastic pixellated women, then how can he manage to get it up for his wife when SHE actually wants it? it doesn’t happen, because he had already withdrew from his account twice earlier in the day.

    catch my drift?

    maybe the shuyukh will start generating some weird fatawa regarding porn being halal in this day and age, citing the pixellated women as men’s concubines.

    all i know is that things are probably going to get worse with all the advances in technology. isn’t there some movie where keanu reeves wears some weird helmet to have sex with a girl without any physical contact? i bet we’ll get to that point some day.

    and don’t forget boys, women like sex, too. just because some fancy schmancy article says that women only think of sex five times in a day doesn’t mean it’s any easier for us. we ladies have to lower our gazes for good-smelling hot office boy, you know.

    • Something that I think is always important to keep in mind: to have a heart that feels remorse and hopes for forgiveness from Allah is always better than one that doesn’t. So, when we legitimize something that we know to be wrong on the grounds that it is widespread, we open the door to contentment and ease with one’s self; this is no small matter, for religion begins and ends with displeasure with one’s self.

    • I’m divorced because of porn as well. He ruined our marriage and almost lost his job because of it. So no, I don’t think it’s a good idea. It teaches men to see woman as mere objects to use for sex. Is that the kind of husband you want to be, Dr. X?

  3. ^^^ Definitely true.
    If people partake in that sort of thing before marriage, they’re going to have twisted and perverse expectations once they actually have a wife. No one says its easy, but pornography is not, by even the slightest bit, an option.

  4. I think the problem I have with the article is that from various points of view, especially Islamic, yes it is that bad to watch some porn. You’re last paragraph hits the mark though focusing on the afterlife and knowing that the blessing is in the struggle. Yeah, i know its easy to say but hard to aspire to, but really speaking from an Islamic point of view we’re here for one thing: to worship Allah and work towards heaven.

    Also, speaking from a human rights point of view, I am not so sure many women work in pornography by choice. It involves a degree of exploitation and can involve human trafficking as well of women and even children.

    Also, agree with onsea wife. When she wants it he’s already maxed out somewhere else to a nasty “unreal” woman.

    Anyway, I think the overall problem regarding the fulfillment of sexual desire is not being able to find a suitable spouse which was addressed in the article. Perhaps this can be addressed in another article?

  5. This guy needs to get married first and then he will be able to answer his question himself as to whether porn is really so bad or not. 🙂

  6. I think that although this article is very honest about Muslim men’s sexual urges, it also attempts to rationalize pornography. Pornography is very, very dangerous for societies and marriages. My husband and I got married very young. With no jobs and no source of income, and very little financial help from our parents, our primary motivation to get married was quite obvious; we loved each other and wanted to be together physically. We both could have turned to alternative means to satisfy ourselves sexually, but we opted to get married and struggle through the rest of what life brings you when you’re broke and in love. Being in a marriage means turning on the adult – and not seeking easy/selfish solutions. I wonder what types of standards Dr. X has for women – speaking from my experience and the experience of my friends in similar situations, it is not that hard to get married once you understand 1) that there is no such thing as a perfect partner so just look for someone sincere 2) any marriage can work if both parties are mature and leave selfishness at the door and 3) marriage is hard work, but it is worth it to avoid haram.

  7. Pornography is not about sex, it is about power. It is about one party dominating the other. Pornography does not celebrate sex, rather it demeans it, it reduces it to its most animal aspect, and is a guaranteed, life long way to mess up your interactions with the opposite sex.
    While this is a very relevant topic, I find this article immature and confusing.
    Here is only a couple of reasons why:
    1) Helen of Troy is a figure from mythology and there is no real historical evidence that proves she ever existed.
    2) You state that pornography is very clearly haraam, then reiterate the question: Is pornography really that bad? I mean, why do Muslims insist on writing circular things like this which just throw even the fundamentals into question?

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