Friday, September 22, 2006

WAR PORN: U.S. Military’s Other Problem in Iraq

by PATRICK NOVECOSKY
National Catholic Register

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Pornography in the military has been a problem for decades. But not like today.
During World War II, GIs carried decks of cards illustrated with naked women and posted photos of “pin-up gals” Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth.
The Iraq War at its most extreme had Abu Ghraib and its photos of naked Iraqi prisoners.
Catholic author Patrick Madrid said his first thought on seeing the photos was that Americans shouldn’t be surprised: “The pornography chickens are coming home to roost.”
Today, pornography is sold at most base exchanges (BXs) in the United States. It’s part of a $57-billion-a-year worldwide industry. Porn revenue is larger than the combined revenues of all professional football, baseball and basketball franchises, according to the Internet Filter Review. In the United States, revenue from pornography ($12 billion a year) far exceeds the combined revenues of the three major television networks — ABC, CBS and NBC ($6.2 billion).
In Iraq, alcohol and pornography — including Internet porn — are banned for enlisted personnel out of sensitivity to adherents of the country’s dominant religion, Islam. But despite the prohibitions and blocking software on military computers, Father Mark Reilly, who served as a marine chaplain in Iraq this year, said increasing numbers of both men and women serving in Iraq have access to porn, and have become addicted.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been confronted as much face-to-face with men and women — in and out of the confessional — saying, ‘I’m addicted to porn and I don’t know how to get out of it,’” Father Reilly said. “They’re looking for a life preserver. It’s wrecking their marriages. Like any addiction, they lose control.”
British historian Joanna Bourke said that at their worst, pornography causes imitative behavior like the Abu Ghraib photos — made by and for porn addicts. “The abuse is performed for the camera,” she wrote in the Guardian. “These obscene images have a counterpart in the worst, non-consensual sadomasochistic pornography.
Rochelle Gurstein in The New Republic said that the Abu Ghraib photos “speak to the coercive and brutalizing nature of the pornographic imagination so prevalent in our world today.”
The conditions soldiers must endure make them more susceptible to porn addiction, said Steve Wood, president of the Family Life Center in Port Charlotte, Fla.
Wood, a convert who has written about breaking addiction to porn, said the worst conditions to fuel an addiction are stress, isolation from family and sleep deprivation.
“If some Marine was out there on the front lines and got wounded, vast resources of the United States would be mobilized to bring him to health,” he said. “Here, he’s in mortal sin, which endangers not the body, but the soul for eternity, and he’s suffering in silence. These guys are hurting — good guys who want to be good Catholic men and husbands and fathers — but get hooked on this and can’t find their way out.”
Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, who leads the U.S. military archdiocese, told the Register that chaplains’ guidance in and out of the confessional is invaluable.
“They can counsel — whether it’s one-on-one or whether it’s in the sacramental realm,” he said. “But chaplains have the added opportunity to speak publicly about it and form policy. They have access to the commander, who sets regulations, and I think most commanders are leery of the spread of pornography.”
Chaplains can help influence “what is sold in the BX, what’s allowed in a public space, an office or a barracks, and I think a chaplain can have great leverage here,” the archbishop said.
Wood, who served in the Navy during the late ’60s, said most pornography addicts have internal scars — usually from childhood.
“High numbers of people — both men and women — involved in pornography have been sexually abused as children,” he explained. “It could be an oppressive, cruel father or abuse when they were young, a breakup of parents’ marriage — the type of thing that could cause depression and/or internal struggles in any average person.
“When you start dabbling in pornography, it becomes like an aspirin relieving that internal pain,” he said. But a stronger dose of pornography will be necessary to “medicate” the next time.
The key to breaking the addiction, he said, is to first go to confession, then seek professional counseling for the internal pain and the addiction.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that any association with pornography is a grave sin. “It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense” (No. 2354).
Barry Marteson is so ashamed of his own pornography use that he didn’t want his real name used for this story.
“It’s humiliating and certainly one of the seven deadly sins,” said the Catholic former Marine.
Marteson was a child when he began looking at discarded magazines his father owned. Being a Marine in the 1970s didn’t help.
“Some of the guys just got back from Guantanamo Bay and were talking about ‘how great the chicks were’ down there,” he said. “All these guys were 18 and I’m 23. I knew better, but I like to be one of the boys, so we would get drunk and go out to the X-rated film parlors” and strip clubs.
Now Marteson’s son is serving in Iraq and is also dealing with pornography addiction. Marteson finally reached a point where he knew he needed help.
“It became really obvious five years ago that it’s bigger than me,” he said. “I was getting it in the house over the Internet and it was truly addictive to the point where I’m panicked. I’m screaming and I’m crying.”
After years of going to confession and spiritual counseling, he says he’s having some success. After a recent trip to the airport, he had some time to kill in an area where he used to frequent strip clubs. When he made it home without stopping, he said he knew he was on the right path.
“It was hardly worth writing home about, but I put a note in my book about it,” he said. “It’s grace. There was an incredible amount of grace. I don’t know that I want to cry, but I just feel giddy!”

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Does anyone understand addiction? Is it one of those PC things to make everyone feel better and never to blame for anything? Does it matter if the addiction is to something apparently harmless? Video games? Movies? Googling?
What a worry.

pornstudent said...

I think a lot of people are making too much of pornography. It's not a real addiction like heroin and alcohol. People keep on talking about it which makes more people talk about it and think they have an addiction.

Fathers, brothers, sons, mothers and daughters leaving their families for Iraq is what breaks up families. They are ordered to kill and see a lot of death. Psychologically, they will never be the same. Tens of thousands are crippled for life.

Porn is nothing.

Anonymous said...

As some who is addicted, I know how danderous it is, you just want more and more and more extreme forms.