Generation Z & The Mass Hypnosis Of Porn

Generation Z & The Mass Hypnosis Of Porn

Sometimes I wonder what the generation born in the first two decades of the 20th Century would make of this new-fangled millennium.

The majority of them entered a world without cars, commercial air travel, television or radio. The BBC didn’t exist, there was no electricity network and no telephone system. A letter might routinely take a week or more to travel more than a few miles and it would be nearly three decades before a publicly-funded health system was more than a twinkle in Nye Bevin’s eye.

There are a great many things that the war generation didn’t have and that we now do, but one commodity that wasn’t in short supply back at the turn of the last century is pornography.

That might seem surprising given the contemporary view of porn is that it’s very much a late-20th Century phenomenon. But if you can bear to sully your internet history, it’s clear that porn has been around since the mid-19th Century.

In fact, one might argue that porn has been around since the time of the Renaissance painters. While it may be artistically blasphemous to say so, it’s hard to imagine that there weren’t at least one or two gentlemen who didn’t schedule in a little ‘me time’ upon first viewing of a new Titian.

Perhaps somewhat controversially, our view is that there’s nothing wrong in principle with porn. Our fascination with the naked human form has been in evidence since time immemorial – just ask Adam and Eve.

On an objective, academic and therapeutic level, pornography is a perfectly legitimate way for many people to reconnect with their sexuality or to satiate a physical need that may not be satisfied in the real world of an intimate relationship.

The negative issues many of us have around sex as adults were actually sown in childhood. We heard messages that sex is a sin or that touching ourselves was not only shameful, but positively bad for our health (‘masturbation makes you go blind’, anyone?)

These messages run deep into our psyche and as a result we can end up feeling deep shame for being sexual. For these people, porn or ethical porn can be a permission slip to be sexual, to get in touch with sexual arousal and to make it all right.

We are social beings and when we see others doing something taboo it can make it more normalised.

Yet there is a genuine issue around sexual anorexia or sexual shutdown and for those who have closed the door on their sexuality for whatever reason, porn can be a temporary gateway to awaken dormant or repressed sexual energy and arousal. It’s not the long-term answer – but it can be a start.

To be totally clear: not all the porn is bad.

What’s wrong with bad porn is its rampant and perhaps inevitable commercialisation and extremism. And that’s why we should all fear for the sexual and emotional health of the millennial Generation Z.

Again, the briefest muddying of your browser will reveal any number of porn sites where you could, if you wished, watch virtually any act of sexual congress you might care to imagine. Almost without exception, the clips you watch will be crammed with advertising aimed at making you part with your money for exclusive access to even bigger, better and more ballsy (literally) video.

Let’s connect the dots here.

Advertising costs the advertiser money. The advertiser therefore expects their advert to be seen by more people. In order to attract more advertisers, the advertising platform (in this case a porn site) needs to attract more visitors than its competitors.

To attract more visitors, the platform must incentivise traffic through having the ‘best’ content. Having the ‘best’ content means playing to a kaleidoscope of different persuasions, proclivities and extremes.

So, what happens? Film makers ratchet up the on-screen jeopardy. The films become edgier, more outrageous, more shocking. Why? Because the audience is bored by routine.

Forty years ago, it might have been quite thrilling to watch a couple faking orgasm in a penetration-less stage show of what sex might look or sound like.

Now? You’ll see everything up close and in glorious technicolor.

Porn is the unreconstructed otherworld where #metoo never happened. By and large, sex in porn currently trends towards becoming an exercise in the objectification, exploitation and suppression of women.

If you want to find a video of a man in a gimp mask being abused by a stud-collared dominatrix, you’ll find it. But more likely and more routinely you’ll find a man abusing a woman – the only difference will be that the mask and the collar will be missing and the badly-dubbed enthusiastic shrieking of the actress suggests she’s enjoying her physical capitulation.

This is what passes for ‘normal’ sex in Pornworld and this can be the first introduction to sex and sexuality that a member of Generation Z has. And let’s face it – if your first visual representation of sex is anal sex in a porn movie then everything else is going to seem incredibly tame by comparison.

But it’s in the so called ‘tameness’ where we can experience sex that includes deep pleasure, whether or not we have an orgasm. It’s pleasure that makes us feel alive, revives and reenergises us, makes us feel on top of the world and fills us up with a concoction of feel good chemicals.

It’s pleasure that, for a moment or two, makes us forget all our stresses and brings us totally into the present moment. 

We can – and do – debate, criticise and rue the presence of ‘bad’ pornography all we like, but while there’s demand for it, people will continue to make it and make money from it.  It will continue to be uploaded and it will continue to be monetised.

The worry is in the effect it has on the viewer. Statistics now suggest that a person’s first interaction with hardcore pornography happens at the age of 11.

Eleven.

It’s no age. It’s a time when – spoiler alert – they have only just stopped believing their presents are delivered by a fat man in a red suit who somehow fits down their chimney on Christmas Eve. How on earth is that 11-year-old boy or girl supposed to understand that what they’re seeing is a gruesome caricature of what a real intimate relationship is really like?

Porn is a fantasy world of supersized plastic tits and now baboon butt implants, freakishly large dicks and questionable voice dubbing over acting that has more wood than the lead actor’s genitals.

It teaches the impressionable viewer that anal sex is as normal a part of life as tea and toast, or that the best way to get into the pants of a bored housewife is to turn up bare-chested in dungarees, brandishing a spanner and an oily smile, and offering to fix her plumbing.

And what they take away from this is a wildly unrealistic idea of what it might take, when they’re much older, to eventually have a fulfilling sexual relationship, as well as a false impression of the emotional journey that’s required in order to be able to connect with a potential partner in a place where mutual respect and trust are mandatory.

Back in the 70s, there was a thrill to finding a naughty magazine or two stashed behind the water tank in the loft, or the partially-charred pages of a discarded Readers’ Wives on the remnants of a woodland fire.

Now, porn is like technology. ‘New’ is nirvana, because if it’s more than a month old, it’s boring. Porn is addictive in that way. Ask any recovering addict or any sex addict in active addiction and they’ll tell you that you need increasingly bigger hits to find your high. Porn is no different.

The result is that we’re in danger of breeding a nation of numbed-out sex addicts who need to go to further and further lengths just to get their rocks off.

A lot of what we do involves the ‘de-hypnotisation’ of people or coaching people out of negative conditioning from their childhoods and the societal conditioning that reinforces those unhelpful messages and behaviours.

Porn is now a modern pandemic whose key symptom is mass hypnosis. What that means for us as therapists & coaches is that dealing with the effect on Generation Z is going to take another whole load of de-hypnotising and un-conditioning from a wholly pernicious trend that is now ‘technological’ and busy creating a generation of ‘erotic robots’ who know all the right show pony moves but are emotionally disconnected from sex itself. 

That challenge is why so many coaches and therapists to help with intimacy & relationship issues are now in demand.

Like all things done to excess, if you overuse porn it fuels a disconnect. It disconnects people from what real sex is, or at least what it could be.

It disconnects people from their bodies because they now see their own physicality in the context of the artificially constructed ‘ideal’ who always gets his woman or her man.

It disconnects people from other people, because we judge them on what we see on the screen and they couldn’t be more different.

Worst of all, it breeds fear of sex in young millennials because they know, deep down, they can never, ever live up – physically or in ‘ability’ to what plays in HD on their laptop.

That doesn’t just create potential issues around maintaining realistic expectations around intimacy – it also carries a very clear and present danger of developing body dysmorphia through the vicious process of anatomical compare and despair that we inevitably go through.

And the tragedy is the reason for that is they aren’t emotionally mature enough to understand that what they watch in the solitude of their bedrooms is as far from the reality of a real relationship that it’s possible to get.

And if all this seems a bit hysterical, the following quote from Jared – a 16-year-old lad who featured in an excellent but emotionally gut-wrenching Reign Ministries article on the subject – might add some clinical perspective:

“Do I think this has changed the way I see girls? Yeah. Sort of. I haven’t had a girlfriend and it seems weird to think about the girls I know doing the stuff I watch. No girls in school look like the girls in porn films which is okay. But, I love how girls look in porn.”

If that’s the future, then maybe we need to do something about the present, and we can start that by highlighting the really wonderful breakthroughs in the form of rising numbers of pleasure focused sex educators, sex coaches and programmes on mainstream TV more people talking about ‘real sex’. 

Once we know what real sex looks like then we can come to realise that sex is so much more than performance and orgasms. Great sex includes great communication, learning each other’s arousal patterns, erotic preferences, sexual styles, and what creates a sense of emotional safety for each other.

The thing is, real sex is messy and vulnerable and sexy and wild and joyful and many other things too.

When we have sex, we bring our whole selves and that includes our daily stresses, frustrations and resentments, as well as our desire to connect and share and enjoy pleasure so communication is essential. 

Bringing our whole selves to sex is when it can be a really beautiful, connected and magical experience.  Which, Paging Captain Obvious, we can be missing out on if relentlessly & obsessively knocking one out to a video on PornHub.

Our jobs as therapists and coaches is to provide a safe place where you can learn how real sex driven by great communication will always be better than the disconnected façade you see on a computer screen.

The issue with porn is that it’s got way out of balance.

The call here is to begin countering its negative effects by reinforcing the message that valuing real sex and being sex positive is the key to ending its social domination and right-sizing it so there’s room for us to actually connect with ourselves and others.   


Can We Please Just Stop Dating Our (Crap) Mum or Dad, Already?

Relationship therapy

More than just about anything else in the world, the very thought that our parents have had sex with one or another at some point – or with anyone else, for that matter – is guaranteed to ramp up the ewww factor for most of us.

To avoid hideous mental images that we can never, ever un-see, we furiously and deliberately ignore or disregard the one undeniable biological reality of our own existence: that our parents must have had at least one sexual liaison in order for us to be existentially able to have those disturbing visions at all.

And then we have to multiply that for every sibling.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say many of us might even secretly hope we could be adopted rather than face up to plain old DNA.

Which makes it all the more ironic that most of us who are or have been in a intimate relationship are likely to have been out with, or slept with, one of our parents.

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185 Little Reasons Why We Should Care More About Child Mental Health

Children's Mental Health

We’ve known for a while that child mental health is in crisis.

Earlier this year we discovered just how bad it has become, with the Office for National Statistics revealing that 5 in every 100,000 young people aged between 15 and 19 commit suicide each year.

To put that in perspective, there are 3.67 million people in the UK in that age group, meaning we can measure the appalling record of successive Governments’ policies on child mental health by the 185 body bags that find their way to hospital morgues every year.

If that sounds overly dramatic, it’s because it is.

Last month the mental health charity Mind called on Boris Johnson to deliver on six mental health priorities. Among them was a challenge to meet the existing commitment to schools and to make progress – through better funding – on prevention and intervention.

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Intimacy: Thank You For Sharing

Intimacy Coach

One thing we Brits have learned over the years is that it really doesn’t do to be airing our personal laundry in public. No matter what’s going on behind closed doors, we present an unflustered veneer to the outside world and plant a sign in the garden that reads: Nothing To See Here.

In relationships this is doubly true. An Englishman’s home is his castle, dammit, and regardless of the problems that might lie behind its portcullis, the façade is still an unmoving wall of brick and mortar through which no stranger should be allowed to penetrate.

Even when everything else is flaccid and unresponsive, a British chap – or chappess – must still be able to raise a stiffened lip in the adversity of popular perceptions about what it is and isn’t acceptable to share about one’s private life.

If that’s all true (and, for the most part convention, taboos and exceptions prove it still largely is) what must we buttoned-up Brits make of those free-thinking Americans and their outrageously liberal ways?

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We Need To Talk About Medication

Shutterstock 385546942

I’m a Hypnotherapist, which means I’m a big believer in recovering as naturally as possible from the knocks we take to our mental health as we go through life & building inner resilience & resources.    

I try to help people to do that by looking with love and compassion at what’s really going on under the bonnet of your subconscious & supporting people to make people better life choices. We’ve got a pretty good track record there – my Associates and I have some fantastic successes when it comes to helping people recover from bloody horrific childhoods and extremely difficult life circumstances.

But even though I believe passionately in what we achieve here at Zoe Clews & Associates, I’m also not foolish or dumb or arrogant enough to believe that what we do is the answer for absolutely everyone, despite what the one-session-fix merchants would like you to think.

Do you want to know the truth? Sometimes what we do isn’t enough. Sometimes life has given someone such a pasting that they need the kind of help that we’re just not qualified to give.

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Masturdating. It’s A Thing. It Just Might Not Be As Satisfying As You Imagine.

Zoe Clews & Associates Blog

There’s an awful lot of stuff that drifts into my inbox every day. Stuff that I probably signed up for ages ago – or, more likely – didn’t say no to when I should have done, most of which simply gets swiped to the bin.

But the other day, an email arrived with a subject line that caught my eye: 5 women on their “masturdating” rituals.

It came from Refinery29 UK, one of the few content platforms I do try to make time for if I can, by virtue of its ability to serve up thought-provoking articles that cause me to stop and reassess my world view.

And, let’s be honest, things don’t get much more thought-provoking than the notion of masturdating.

If you haven’t come across the term before (apologies for the unintended pun), then masturdating is the process of taking yourself out on a date, and it seems this is now an honest-to-goodness thing that many women appear to be enjoying on a global basis.

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The Mindful Menopause

The mindful menopause

Type ‘on average how long …’ into Google search and the four words that automatically completes the search inquiry are ‘… does the menopause last’.

The answer (from the NHS, just in case you were wondering which site comes top of Google’s results) is that menopausal symptoms last an average of four years from your last period.

Which is a staggeringly long time to be sweating through the night courtesy of an internal blast furnace , lurching from Dr Jekyll to Mrs Hyde in the blink of an unpredictable eye, struggling to sleep and piling on weight quicker than a baby Orca.

It’s enough to say that while there are a lucky few (and let’s be honest, they’re a don’t-know-just-how-lucky-they-are lucky few) whose bodies seem to effortlessly deal with what is pretty much the hormonal equivalent of a Hadron collider particle accelerator operating non-stop 24/7 for 1500+ days, the majority of the world’s female population find the menopause to be a very different experience.

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Is Romance The Victim Of Your Failure To Engage?

Red Heart

Love rests on two pillars: surrender and autonomy Our need for togetherness exist alongside our need for separation. Marriage is not the end of romance, it’s the beginning

Esther Perel

No-one who’s completely sane likes having a difficult conversation. There’s not much joy to be had in criticising the behaviour or commitment of someone else and a lot of us go out of our way to avoid those moments of confrontation.

Sometimes we can get away with that avoidance. Maybe, in the broad scheme of things, saying what you really think or feel serves no great long-term purpose, either because the issue is time-limited, or resolution will have no material effect on our lives.

But where there are problems between you and the person you’ve chosen to spend your life with, whether in marriage or otherwise, failing to be completely honest can have a really negative – or, if left unresolved, catastrophic – impact on the health of the relationship.

My work helps and encourages couples to stop avoiding the difficult conversations that keep a relationship healthy. Without them, unwanted resentment, anger, rage and blame slowly creeps into the relationship because neither person will say, I feel hurt when …  

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Do You Know The Value of ‘Brand You’?

Do You Know The Value Of Brand You?

Ask the owner of any successful business what their most valuable asset is and the smartest among them will give you a one-word answer: brand.

Brand is not a one single thing; it’s a collection of attributes – some physical, some material, some emotional – that together create the relationship that exists between a business and its customers and clients.

Any business that understands its market will invest in developing and defining its brand – and it will (or should) go to extraordinary lengths to protect it.

The reason is quite simple: a business’s brand represents the personality of that business, and personality is about values, ethos, ambition and loyalty.

If I asked you what brands you admire, there’s a good chance some familiar names would make the list.

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The Truth Behind The Triple Smackdown

The Truth Behind The Triple Smackdown

Here’s the truth about life. Sometimes it turns up wearing camouflage gear and a balaclava, armed to the teeth and hell-bent on hurting you.

Or at least, that’s what it feels like.

We all experience this at least once in our lives. And if it only happens once, then consider yourself fortunate, because it happens to most of us more than once.

This is the moment where everything seems to be going well and apart from the minor day-to-day issues everyone’s dealing with all the time, there’s not much to distract you from the rather pleasant job of enjoying life.

And then, suddenly, everything seems to go to hell in a hand cart in a very short time.

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Additional Credits

Video by Weeks360.

Photography by Liz Bishop Photography.

Production by Mark Norman at Little Joe Media and Joanne Brooks.

Hair by Jonny Albutt.

Make up by Olly Fisk and Nabeel Hussain.