Maybe you’ve been in this situation before. You’ve just read something new about the porn industry, like how porn fuels the demand for sex trafficking or pressures teens into sexting. It’s not just at the forefront of your mind, but feels like it’s burning through your brain. It’s important and you want to share.
At your weekend or holiday catch up with friends, social gathering meeting new acquaintances, or chilling at home with your family, bringing up your passion for uncovering the harms of the porn world may seem out of place. So how do you do it?
Firstly: check out our interactive conversation blueprint site called “Let’s Talk About Porn.” It’ll take you through a step-by-step guide in talking to virtually anyone about porn.
We turned to some members of our organization’s staff and other involved Fighters to get some answers. Let’s see what they say.
Deliver the message with love
Sometimes opportunities to share your views arise in unexpected places. Like this story from one of our staff writers:
“At a wedding this past weekend, I was seated at a table with five people who weren’t aware of Fight the New Drug’s movement. When asked what I do, I said something like, ‘I work for an anti-porn organization. It’s actually not religion-based at all, but research-based… The field of neuroscience in the past 5 years or so has covered a lot of ground when it comes to sexual addiction and the negative effects porn has on brain function.’”
Pretty good response right? Then again, maybe it’s easier for nonprofit workers or activists to talk about porn because they have an easy opportunity to bring it up whenever someone asks, “What do you do for work?”
In a social setting, that question is almost guaranteed to come up.
What if you aren’t working directly in this field? Sharing a cause you care strongly about can sometimes come off as judgemental or awkward—which is the last thing this organization is about.
How the message is delivered is important to how it is received, and porn is an emotionally charged, personal, private, and even controversial topic. With this in mind, we turned to those heavily involved with this movement to pool a few suggestions of how they talk about porn outside of their work with FTND, wherever they are.
Imagine you’re at school with some friends who are going on about a few videos they shared with each other and watched. This could be your moment to simply say, “I don’t think it’s cool or healthy to watch porn,” and then see what happens.
Even for some who have been with this movement since the beginning, speaking up has been a challenge. Their awkwardness might be perceptible, and so confidence is key. It is definitely intimidating to bring this subject up to anyone, but as long as you stay calm and remain willing to listen and discuss, you’ll nail it.
Here’s what someone involved with our organization said about discussing their work:
“Before, I was uncomfortable telling people what I wrote about. The conversation was very by the facts or numbers. Now, it’s become more human. I feel like it shouldn’t be something we walk on eggshells talking about. It’s a reality, and it’s affecting huge amounts of our population. If this were about any other topic, we wouldn’t be so weird about it.”
If you don’t yet feel like you’re ready to change the conversation in person, social media is a good place to start. There are even ways you can make a stand without saying a word.
Consider your audience
Who are you talking to? If you are wanting to bring this topic up, is it to friends, family, strangers in the grocery store, or acquaintances at a holiday party? Tailor your conversation starter to them.
Family and friends you know well, so they will likely be more open, honest, and willing to listen. Those you’ve just met are a different story. Many of those involved with our organization found a good approach was to be casual, but not to discount the importance of the topic. One suggested looking for a point of interest:
“A lot of the people I come in contact with I could safely categorize as concerned about human rights. They are also most likely to believe that people should be free to do whatever they want to do as long as it’s not hurting anyone. To them, watching porn is acceptable because it falls under that category. When I bring up porn’s direct connection to sex trafficking, it turns their logic upside down. Suddenly porn isn’t so harmless after all.”
Talking about porn may not seem like the right time to be funny, but a little light-hearted humor can help.
Here’s what one involved Fighter said about introducing the cause to her squad:
“I understand it’s sensitive and there’s definitely the need to approach it as such, but we need to be open about it. Honestly, now it’s become kind of a joke with my friends and family because they say I somehow manage to make every conversation come back to porn. But even the jokes help to release some of the awkwardness….
“I usually disarm them with some humor, which is very important when it comes to heavy topics! If I’ve told them about this movement I love and they ask, ‘What organization?’ or ‘What cause?’ I’ll say, ‘How much time do you have?’ with a laugh.”
Don’t worry about being laugh-out-loud hilarious. Stick to staying relaxed and joking in your own voice.
Why it matters to you
Sharing the facts about the harms of the porn industry is crucial to the conversation, but beyond the research, consider including a bit of yourself. Why does this matter so much to you, personally?
“It’s important not to talk about this movement as some distant uptight theoretical push. You have to make it personal,” one dedicated Fighter suggests.
“Every listener will respect that you are involved because of your personal story. Be ready with a brief account: ‘I actually got involved with this organization because I went through a difficult breakup with a partner who slowly started preferring porn to me,’ or ‘I care deeply about this work because I think it’s a blind spot in our generation’s campaign for human justice. Child abuse and sex trafficking get a lot of their robust momentum from the porn industry, and I think more people need to be discussing this’… I think it’s really important to express everything in a tone that says, ‘Hey, this is my thing that I’m in love with and love doing. You’re free to ask me any questions, and if you disagree, that’s okay too.’”
Be prepared for questions
Okay, so you’ve successfully introduced the topic in whichever setting. According to our staff and Fighters, it’s possible you’ll get one of two responses. Good news is, it likely won’t be a hostile or angry retaliation. Everyone agreed that they’ve never experienced such a response when bringing porn into a face-to-face conversation. Instead, expect either a blase “oh cool” and segway to another subject, or lots of follow-up questions.
Whichever tactic you’ve chosen to adopt from the suggestions above, stick with it. Also, consider this experience from one of our writers:
“The immediate follow-up questions were a bit defensive, but I responded to each question in an open manner that addressed the positive ideals we can all agree upon, rather than the negative, more charged statements. For example, when someone asked, ‘So you’re saying that modern erotica like Fifty Shades is bad? Don’t you think women, whose sexuality is more emotionally driven, need to find satisfaction and written erotica can help them with that?’
“This was my response: ‘Well, it’s interesting. I’m not sure written erotica actually helps women that much, because it does what visual porn does—lets your brain create bold fantasies that bring you pleasure, and your brain learns to need that type of fantasizing to get turned on. And then it becomes more difficult to relate sexually to a real-life partner because he doesn’t fit into these extreme fantasy experiences. So a girl probably will have a harder time emotionally interacting with a real-life sexual partner, which is what really makes her satisfied.’
“Everyone thought that conceded the point because I was still arguing FOR women finding sexual fulfillment.”
Spot on. There are two great points in this story. The first, know your stuff. Feeling confident to answer questions may require more reading until the words are your own.
Finally, be kind. Understand that not everyone will agree with you and some may not even care, but remember that porn affects our entire culture and thereby each one of us.