Here’s a thought: even if the core of a message is legitimate and supported by facts, how that message is delivered sometimes matters more.
How often are consumers turned off by a product because of poor messaging? Here’s an example: Carl’s Jr., the restaurant. Some people have been too deterred by their objectifying, hyper-sexualized ads to even think twice about trying one of their burgers.
Raising awareness about the harms of pornography is an educational movement that benefits society—unlike this example of degrading advertising that does just the opposite. But consider how that same principle could apply to this movement.
Porn is an emotionally-charged, sometimes controversial, and definitely personal issue. That’s a fact. If we’re not careful, the way we talk about porn’s harms can turn people off to learning, preventing them from truly listening to important facts that are vital for their health and happiness in today’s pornified world.
Tips for sending the correct message when talking about porn’s harms
Here are a few basic guidelines for how not to sound like a jerk—consequently unintentionally driving people away—when talking about the harmful effects of pornography, but rather, inviting them to consider before consuming and spark positive change and constructive dialogue.
Get informed, and get comfortable with that info.
It’s tricky to talk about the harmful effects of pornography in a healthy way without knowing the facts yourself. Find out what the research says and what it doesn’t say. There are mountains of resources at your fingertips, so get to learning!
This well of information will help you know what pieces to share when addressing an individual person’s unique questions or concerns.
Have empathy for porn consumers (even if they don’t think consuming is unhealthy).
Those consuming porn likely fall into one of two categories: they either want to stop but aren’t sure how, or they don’t care to stop due to a lack of understanding about how porn is harmful.
Whatever their unique circumstance, empathy shouldn’t be contingent upon how we perceive their desire to change, or lack thereof. We know the harms of porn, and we genuinely feel for those who are consuming—whether they understand the impact their habit has or not. Replace judgment with empathy and allow yourself to connect with the consumer as a real person. Because, after all, they are a real person.
Acknowledge common ground.
On what points do you agree? That minors shouldn’t be looking at porn, or that sex trafficking isn’t acceptable? There’s always common ground on which to build a conversation. What angle are they approaching the issue from?
You never really understand a person until you consider things from their perspective. What context do they come from? What’s their story with porn, leading up to this moment? This conversation is only a snapshot look into this person’s life, who’s likely more similar to you than different. While it may not be possible to know what life is really like for someone in every aspect, we can try. This shift in perspective can help us see those who struggle in a more healthy, genuine way.
Where can you connect on a similar level with them, and let them know you’re talking to them as an equal, and someone deserving of compassion?
Remember that everyone is impacted by porn in some way.
Even if you’re not impacted by porn in the same way someone is, there’s no doubt that it has impacted your life in one way or another. So from that standpoint, we’re all on a level playing field.
Take some time to consider the impact porn has had on your own life or in the lives of those you care about. Rather than turning on each other, we should unite to fight the common enemy—the porn industry and the harm it brings to individuals, relationships, and society as a whole.
Remember, it’s possible to be kind and persuasive.
Sharing your point of view doesn’t have to lead to a heated argument, and being loving to someone doesn’t have to be conditional on an agreement. Kindness has a way of drawing people in and helping them actually think about and internalize what you’re saying. Aggression causes people to automatically go into defense mode, preventing them from processing what you’re saying and, instead, keeping their guard up.
Be very clear in letting the person know you don’t judge them or see them differently if you disagree, but that you care about their health and happiness. Be bold in sharing the facts you’ve learned but create a space where they feel okay to be vulnerable and listen—not a battle zone.
Remember to stick to the science.
While opinions do matter, the fact is that everyone has one, and they’re usually wildly different. Using opinion as the focal point in a discussion about porn’s harms can be unproductive. Science heavily shows how porn is harmful, so use it. Research has the ability to cut through opinions and point to something more solid and universally agreed upon. So, speak to it. Share it.
This movement is a global movement with diverse Fighters who come from all walks of life because we can unite on facts that can’t be disputed or dismissed based on subjective opinion.
Aside from not sounding like a jerk, it’s equally important to genuinely not be one at all.
All of these tips can help you sound knowledgeable, yet respectful and kind. But let’s take it back to something that’s even more important: your motives. Why are you out to talk about porn? Is it to prove everybody else wrong, while you show everyone how right you are?
Or is it to give individuals the unique chance to hear information that they might not hear otherwise in our porn-obsessed society, regardless of if they agree with you or not?
While it may take some time to change the way you perceive those who struggle with porn or see things differently than you do, keep working at it. In short, don’t just act like a kind human, try your best to be a kind human to everyone, not contingent on whether they’re nice to you or agree with you. Treat others like fellow humans, too. After all, isn’t remembering each of our humanity and why it’s worth fighting for at the core of our message and mission, after all?
Change the world, one conversation at a time
Porn damages and dissolves human connections—so why should the way we share this message do something similar?
When we actually become informed, kind, persuasive Fighters who know the facts and are comfortable talking about the science behind this issue, our sphere of influence grows exponentially. We’re authoritative on this subject because we know the science, but we’re also inviting because we care about the people we’re talking to. Their health and happiness—not us being “right”—is our ultimate goal.
Join with us as we break down barriers that can keep us from connecting on a real level. Become a source others can go to when they have questions or are seeking help. Your influence could be the turning point for someone who needs to hear this message.
Resource tip: Let’s Talk About Porn
We know porn can be difficult to talk about, and that’s something we’re trying to change, as an organization. We’ve just released our newest conversation-aiding resource site, Let’s Talk About Porn. Here, you’ll be able to find all of the tips you need to successfully navigate a meaningful conversation about porn with your partner, child, sibling, parent, friend, or your neighborhood mail person (aka a stranger).
Let’s get talking about porn! Click here to start your conversation adventure.