Interview about pornography
Interviewer: I am a strong proponent of the laissez-faire approach when dealing with matters of what pornography is and isn't; of the attitude of let the buyer beware....and if you were old enough and knowledgeable enough to participate then you were old enough to consent.
Danute: Since I'm a psychotherapist, my approach is less hands-off. My basic question is always, "Are you interested in
exploring what underlies your sexual inclinations?" I disagree with the "old enough to consent" comment. Age and
knowledge or experience are no indication of one's ability to consent. Just as many people "say yes" when they mean no
as people who "say no" when they mean yes.
There is a way of telling the difference: there are two levels of communication going on during sexual interactions, just like there are two levels when actors are playing improv. One level is the truth within the role that is being enacted, and the other level is what the actor really thinks and believes. Sexual interactions involve "acting" for the purposes of investigating an archetypal dynamic of which one has been unaware but by which one's life has been deeply affected. Each sexual attraction involves an archetypical story by which much of an individual's life direction has been unconsciously influenced.
An absolutely wonderful quote from Camille Paglia describes it exquisitely, "Moment by moment, night flickers in the imagination, in eroticism, subverting our strivings for virtue and order, giving an uncanny aura to objects and persons, revealed to us through the eyes of an artist.... Every attraction, every pattern of touch, every orgasm is shaped by psychic shadows." I love how the artistic impulse always "gets life" long before academic understanding catches up with those marvelous insights.
Interviewer: I would draw the line on imagery which involves pain, degradation and humiliation.... but then some people are very much into that. Where do you draw that line?
Danute: I don't draw lines with perversion. I work with what some call "sexual deviance" to help better understand why it makes no sense to condemn or restrain. I don't decide what's right or wrong in perversion. I try to help clarify the symbolic aims of sexual yearnings. The latter are always brilliantly designed to address a psychic wound, no matter how salacious. Once an individual accepts that the bedroom can be a stage for symbolically enacting deep psychic needs, one can drop the morality issue entirely. When the pressure of guilt is freed up that way, the risk of doing real harm to another or to oneself is immensely reduced, if not eliminated altogether.
Interviewer: I would strictly draw the line at anything which harms or involves children.....
Danute: I draw the line at acting against anyone's will. Children, as well as a surprising number of adults, can't freely protest and therefore have little capacity for authentic consent. You can't be rationally willing to submit yourself to something you don't understand, even if it does attract you. In that case, it's the responsibility of the sexual "initiator" to watch for the interests of his/her sexual object. Here, each tries best to draw his/her own line...and only succeeds according to his/her capacity for empathy and compassion. It's always dicey.
Interviewer: I would consider pornographic, anything which depicts violence or hatred....much of what permeates our media, culture and entertainment abounds in this stuff. Personally I find that more insulting to my senses than seeing nudity or people engaged in sexual activities....
Danute: Pornography has a purpose. If you condemn it, perhaps you don't know what it's aiming at. Most people who haven't thought about it believe that pornography aims at corruption. Actually, it aims at retrieving repressed psychic content for the purpose of bringing healing and integrating through erotic symbolism- of some traumatic experience that was originally split-off from your consciousness.
If your body responds to it, despite your moral or ethical reservations, then pornography can be extremely useful, provided it is used with enough consciousness for it to be more than a senseless addiction, and of course with enough care to not traumatize an innocent bystander.
If a particular pornographic image doesn't arouse you, then you have no wounding in the area being symbolized through that particular erotic theme. Therefore you have no use for that particular type of pornography, and you remain quite indifferent to it. The more you protest, however, the the more likely you are denying your body's experience because your mind is too alarmed about the "unacceptability" of the present erotic theme. It is all the more important for you to explore that particular issue, failing which you can certainly expect it to bite you in the back, down the line, during a 'weaker' moment when your ego is off guard, for instance under the influence of alcohol... When your body is truly quite indifferent to a particular pornographic image, then your mind is much less repulsed, because you are truly not engaged or hooked by it in any serious way. However, the more intent you are on demonizing pornography, the more likely it is that your sexual repression is on high alert, in which case you have some serious issues that are pressuring for resolution. It takes a lot of courage, and even moral fortitude to investigate the shadow (wounded) side of your personality by opening up fully to whatever erotic inclinations might grab you.