Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Porn through the eyes of a marriage counsellor

Albert Gaopelo, a senior marriage counsellor at Olorato Marriage Counselling is resolute that pornography is a hot issue among Botswana couples. The relationship therapist is not crying wolf. His daily grind involves cleaning up after the erotica which is sweeping through Botswana marriages and relationships like a blue streak – pun intended.

“Pornography is a problem, there is usually a thin line between addiction and most people usually tip over and become addicted”, he explains.

While the offending party in the relationship may claim that their pornography use is simply recreational, the other partner often feels differently. The discovery of pornography use can feel very similar to an extramarital affair for some. For wives/girlfriends it shatters the comfortable notion that they are the only one that their partner would want to be with physically. All of a sudden, the woman on the screen becomes “the other woman”. Even a man who swears that what he sees on the internet has nothing to do with his love for his partner, he slowly numbs himself to what used to be normal. This affects how he views his partner and eventually affects his sexual performances and appetite as he moves away from a natural sex life.

Gaopelo explained that, “Once addicted, one tends to prefer it than their partner, some people see it as equivalent to cheating. Now and then we get such issues here, you find that a couple will come in with one of them being in the dark, the man indulges in porn in secret then becomes distant in the relationship. For some couples, one partner tries to introduce it to the relationships with the intention of spicing things up but it ends up causing problems when the other partner starts questioning the intentions; why now? Why does he want us to do this? Does he watch this all the time? He wants to turn me into something else.”

Gaopelo’s conclusion matches up with that of the boys in blue. The Botswana Police Service (BPS) issued a public statement six years ago expressing concern about “the growing trend in which some individuals or groups exchange or distribute pornographic or obscene material on social media.”

Assistant Commissioner Christopher Mbulawa disclosed that BPS “was inundated with notifications from Interpol general secretariat regarding some Batswana or persons resident in Botswana who were internationally listed for possession, manufacture and distribution of child pornography on the Internet.  The BPS also identified some culprits that were involved in these activities. The list had been growing by the day and this caused a concern to the police.”

Indications are that the Botswana Police Service has been unable to stop the blue streak.  Deputy Botswana Police spokesperson Near Bagali last year disclosed that they have roped in Facebook to probe rampant distribution of child pornography by users of the social media network in the country. Bagali also expressed concern about what he called a growing trend in which individuals or groups distribute pornographic material on social media.

It is not difficult to understand why the police are losing the war against porn.  Since pornography’s migration from magazines and videos to a digital format, it is readily accessible, easily kept private and anonymous. Women at times view porn, yet men are still by far the biggest users.

Gaopelo who is at the coalface told Sunday Standard Lifestyle that “this issue tends to be swept under the rug but it is very much present in relationships. It affects relationships majorly especially if a man indulges too much in pornographic material he tends to detach emotionally in the relationship.”

A majority of porn movies often depict a power imbalance between men and women. Men are usually in charge and use verbal aggression while women are submissive and obedient. From our interview with Olorato Marriage Counselling, this porn movie script tends to play out in real life sexual relationships of couples who are hooked on blue content.

Gaopelo, who was speaking from his experience with couples who call in because of the pornography problem explained that, oftentimes men who are addicted to porn treat their partners “in a somewhat demeaning manner because sex to him has become a tool since he is emotionally unavailable in the union.”

The stereotypical pornography user is a single man who surfs the internet each night, signifying the idea that pornography is for people who don’t have a partner—that it’s the ultimate solitary pastime. Nonetheless, that is the furthest thing from the truth as both men and women engage in viewing porn. Porn claims to be an expert in intimacy. In reality, it drives one further and further from the true intimacy people crave.

Gaopelo explained that, “for women, it leads to them having low self-esteem. A woman sees herself as not matching up to her husband/boyfriend’s expectation/comparisons in terms of the women he sees in that pornographic material.”

Porn is always available and always inviting. It doesn’t criticize, isn’t dependent on “feeling close” and never has a headache. When a guy engages in this type of sexual outlet, his sexuality becomes centred on his immediate needs. It has been speculated that men turn to porn as a way of lifting their mood about their difficult home life and that the porn then becomes an easier route to sexual satisfaction than being with their partner, so they disinvest in the relationship. Although pornography addiction can happen for both men and women, it is most often the man who is involved. Excessive pornography use is quickly becoming an accepted addiction. While not all pornography users will end up addicted, most are at risk for the negative effects it can have on a relationship. Because of the convenience and popularity of the internet through multiple mediums, it is easier than ever to access pornography without anyone noticing and therefore harder than ever to keep a relationship safe.

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The Telegraph September 30

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.