How Quitting Porn Gave Me A Newfound Respect For Women

How Quitting Porn Gave Me A Newfound Respect For Women


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I never considered myself a misogynist, but several years ago, during my senior year of college as I headed to yeshiva, I began taking on a number of wonderful Jewish observances. It was at that time that I learned about shmiras eynaim, the responsibility of Jewish men and women to treat their eyes and ears as input sources into their bodies, the holy instrument that God gave them. Included on the list of “don’ts” is looking at the opposite sex (other than your spouse) with the intent of extracting pleasure.

I stopped watching pornography and racy scenes in movies and then had a profound revelation: guarding my eyes was helping me to appreciate women as human beings. (Who would’ve thought?) The whole world around us is designed to exploit our evolutionary, natural attraction to the opposite gender, and it is young women who pay the price for this on all levels. In Gary Wilson’s “Your Brain on Porn,” the author explores the trend of young men learning about normalized sex acts from pornography and then asking their partners to try them. Even if they didn’t watch out-and-out pornography, young men and women take cues from television shows, movies, and popular novels.

It had been a few months of me practicing this, with many slip-ups and recoveries, but the change in my thought process had been radical. I had been raised in a very feminist household, and I had no idea that I had been sneakily socialized to view sex as consequence-free and to view the human female form as something to admire, even if my “admiration” was just a stolen quick glance on the subway at a plunging neckline.

I came to appreciate the women in my life on a whole new level. Of course, I had always valued women’s viewpoints and done my best to be respectful and sensitive, but once I realized that the next person I would date would be with the sole intent of getting married, I was able to change my view of all of the other women I interacted with. In retraining my eyes, I retrained my brain, and I exited the state of near-constant flirtation and ego-boosting that came from the hookup culture that I had been living in.

Then came the final shock. Someone sent me a folder of pictures of pornographic actresses (fully clothed, mind you) before and after they had their make-up artists do their magic. The photos were shocking and upsetting. I saw normal people, with the odd bit of acne and fatigue transformed into the object of desire for the intended viewer. In the eyes of these women, I could see sadness.

While there are certainly women who express feeling empowered by their jobs in this line of work, there is ample evidence that women in the pornography industry are often the victims of abuse, stalking, deceit, manipulation, and unwanted sexual relations. These photos woke me up to the fact that it’s all fake. It’s a complete fabrication. TV, Movies, Pornography, it is all made to sell, not to moralize. It undercuts our culture, it undercuts our humanity, and plays on our most base, animal instincts.

Judaism was my foray into exploring the corrosive effects of pornography, but I’m not the only man who has taken the “red pill” on this issue. A huge online community called Fapstronauts exists on Reddit, full of men who were experiencing early onset erectile dysfunction that was remedied by quitting porn cold turkey. Numerous men have left testimonies – their main contention is that abstinence from pornography has helped them regain their natural interest in real relationships based on respect, and that their girlfriends and wives loved the new respect and focus that they felt.

The Jewish focus on guarding our eyes is the starting point in reversing one of the most destructive aspects of modern culture that we face today- exposure to unhealthy, exploitative representations of women that dupe men and endanger women. Let’s capitalize on the energy of the #MeToo movement and learn to challenge ourselves, our friends, and our culture on the monster that has subverted the interests of all involved.

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