It looks like women have dodged a major speeding bullet for the most part. According to Brigham Young University, 72% of people who visit pornographic websites are men. Pornography can lead to problems in real-life relationships, feelings of guilt, and long-term addiction.
However, women face a much more subtle speeding bullet that often hits them before they know it. Some women call it being sensitive. Others call it being a super-fan or a “Twi-hard.” I call it girl porn.
Chick lit and chick flicks can cause women to become addicted to emotional pornography, or girl porn. These forms of entertainment fulfill women’s emotional needs for a short amount of time until they emerge into the real world. Women usually don’t realize this, and most of the time, women who read chick lit or watch chick flicks don’t suffer from this addiction. I assume the people who make these forms of entertainment don’t purposefully play on women’s emotions, either.
Don’t get me wrong – I love chick entertainment. One of my favorite movies of all time is Pride and Prejudice with Kiera Knightley, and I’m guilty of reading most of the Nicholas Sparks books. I often catch myself wishing real life was like that and have to realize that it’s just a movie. These books and movies, though, can become real issues for some women if they’re not careful. They can become emotional girl porn.
Emotional porn can have serious consequences and addictions, and just like real pornography, where 28% of visitors to pornographic sites are women, men can become addicted to emotional porn, too, just not to the extent that women are.
There are no studies or statistics on this, but I’ve seen it in my own life and with many of my friends. To use one example, the biggest and most obvious girl porn addiction I’ve seen are the Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer.
On the outside, Twilight is a good fantasy romance. A girl named Bella falls in love with a brooding boy named Edward Cullen, who happens to be a vampire. She gets torn between the brooding vampire and a friendly werewolf and eventually ends up on the brink of an epic battle among fantasy creatures. The men who love Bella are completely and totally devoted to her, and nothing she does or says can make them fall out of love or stop doing everything for her. It’s any girl’s dream. On the outside, this looks like any other harmless teen fad. Girls and women buy glittery “Team Edward” t-shirts and line up to see the movies days in advance.
But when one of my roommates started reading Twilight last year, I started to see a darker side to the harmless teen fad. She would literally lock herself in her room for hours, days on end, and read. She read the books three times in six months, and each time, she would disappear for whole afternoons. If it was a matter of school or Twilight, Twilight won every single time. She went to the midnight showing of the most recent movie and reread the books yet again.
This was bordering on obsession. I’m a fan of the Harry Potter books, and when I read them, it was hard to put them down, but neither I nor any of my friends who read these books would read them that many times or for that long. Yet my roommate is just one of many girls I know who have the symptoms of the “Twi-hard” fan. This made me start to wonder exactly why Twilight sucks so many girls in.
Twilight, like many examples of chick flicks and chick lit, revolves around one girl. In the first eight pages of the first book, the only description of Bella that’s offered is what kind of shirt she’s wearing. The rest of the books don’t elaborate much on what Bella looks like, either, except to emphasize how average she is. She doesn’t have a very unique personality, despite the fact that she does an exorbitant amount of complaining when things don’t go her way.
Girls, insert yourselves into Bella’s shoes.
The appeal of Twilight and other such entertainment aimed at women is that the protagonist could be anyone. It’s easy for girls and women to put themselves in the position of the main character by emotionally identifying with her. And the fact that these protagonists have at least one, and maybe more, ultra-sexy, ridiculously devoted men running after them only sweetens the deal. What woman wouldn’t want that?
This is why so much of chick entertainment is emotional porn, and why women obsessively watch and read it. But what’s the big deal, really? If my friends want to waste hours of their lives reading Twilight over and over again, they should be able to do it, right?
But I think this addiction is comparable to real pornography. It can affect relationships and outside activities, and suck away money and time. Many men complain that their wives are too obsessed with the books. One woman even wrote into an online advice column to complain that she didn’t understand why her husband was upset when she bought an Edward Cullen pillowcase and blanket. This obsession with emotional pornography comes between many husbands and wives, and sometimes, the roles are reversed and the women feel ignored by their husbands because of a similar addiction to emotional entertainment.
This story and many like it tell me that unhealthy obsession with girl porn could possibly lead to problems for younger women in the future, too. No real man is as sexy, devoted, or faultless as the men in girl porn. This could lead to girls growing up with unrealistic expectations about men – whether they realize it or not – that could jeopardize their future relationships. Just like I sometimes wish the boy I’m taking to a date party was as charming as Matthew McConaughey in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, girls can set themselves up for disappointment if they lose themselves in a fictional world. They have to emerge from the perfect world of fiction eventually, and that might be a painful awakening.
What’s the solution? I’m definitely not saying we should do away with chick entertainment like Twilight. That would rob me and many other women of hours of enjoyment and of many movie nights with friends. However, I do offer a word of caution to women and girls who find themselves spending excessive amounts of time and money on chick entertainment. Stop, back up, and consider if what you’re doing is dangerous. Real men don’t sparkle in the sunlight or stay devoted to you no matter how many times you reject them. Life has enough heartbreaks of its own without the added emotional disappointment of girl porn.Powered by Sidelines