“Mommy Porn”– The Answer for The Desperate Housewife?

I’m taking on a heavy topic today, folks. One that’s serious. Some might say that as a Christian writer I should stay away from such a topic, but I think differently. There’s a growing trend in publishing that can’t be ignored. We’re losing readers, faith-based writers! We need to figure out why and what we can do to encourage readers to pass by the books they’re choosing and choose ours instead. It’s a timeless battle, but one that’s come to the forefront with the emergence of new technologies.

I’m talking desperate housewives– not the TV show, but the real women. The ones who are, according to our society, unhappy and unfulfilled at home. And how do they find happiness and fulfillment? Sex. Just ask any one of the very promiscuous characters on said TV show. Or the studies that show that unhappy homemakers are increasingly turning toward gratification in the form of fiction.

Welcome to the digital age– the age of eBooks, huge increases in self-publishing, and the rapidly growing markets of fan fiction and erotica.

The numbers of straight-to-eBook self-pubbed erotic novels are apparently attracting huge numbers of women, so say the number crunchers.

Why? Because it’s easier for women to hide their “guilty” pleasures now–they can download them straight to the eReader of choice. No more public judgement from cashiers at the bookstore or hiding a saucy cover from curious eyes.

Don’t believe me? Here’s just one of the gazillion articles that’s been published recently about this surge in numbers.

We aren’t talking about light romance here, either. No Nicholas Sparks story where the couple might end up in bed together but the details are left to the imagination. Nope, we’re talking about a serious, descriptive, pornographic novel that leaves very little to the imagination.

But what’s the attraction? Why are women drawn to these stories? It’s not the stellar narrative, because stellar narrative and craft aren’t what these authors are going for.

Take Fifty Shades of Grey for example: Started as Twilight fan fiction. Self-pubbed eBook trilogy. Drew huge numbers. Contracted for world-wide printed and eBook release. Sold movie rights. Considered a phenomenon. Erotic fiction based on some fantasy about a restricted college student and a billionaire with fetish for abusive sexual exploits. Rave reviews from swooning readers, negative reviews from other authors, critics, and industry leaders for lack-luster writing and weaknesses in all areas.

Yeah, I haven’t read these books. I have no desire to do so. But I have read several articles about the books because I’m curious about the label given to them and books like them– Mommy Porn.

According to analysts, women, specifically “mommies” between the ages of 20-45, are eating these books up– using them the same way a man might use porn– to create sexual fantasies.

And since it’s my blog and I can be honest, I have to tell you– this phenomenon really, really disturbs me.

As if we needed more reasons for marriages to fail, for women to feel devalued, for women to forget and ignore the very reasons for which they were created, more reasons to create negative views on what sex is and how it is to be treated in a loving, Christ-centered relationship.

As if the “world” needed more ammunition against the institution of marriage.

As if teens and young people needed more ammunition against the very idea of a healthy relationship that could lead to marriage.

Yeah, I look at this whole phenomenon as an attack on marriage and positive relationships between men and women. Here’s yet another example of how we, as a society, are valuing sex over everything else in a relationship.

It’s been this way since the dawn of time. As a history teacher I can tell you honestly that nothing makes the world go ’round like sex, money, and religion. And sometimes you can combine all three and discover that they are behind some of the world’s greatest events and most powerful people.

It’s a war long waged. And it seems like it’s taking down some of the ones who had been able to avoid it before. Now, thanks to eReaders, any shame is hidden, so more women are indulging.

And what is this indulgence doing?

  • Creating an unrealistic view of sex in a relationship. For a long time, many have argued that romantic fiction creates an unrealistic view of “happily ever after” and actually harms relationships by giving women an unrealistic view of men. Although I don’t agree with that argument, I do think that erotic fiction is dangerous– it gives women a view of sex as completely the opposite of what it should be, as it was created by the Creator.
  • Reinforcing the idea that sex outside of marriage is acceptable, even encouraged. We should be instilling in our young people the idea that sex is perfect within a marriage only, as it was designed. How can we do that when parents (“mommies”) don’t believe it?
  • Encouraging women to “sleep around” to find the right guy. We have enough of this in our society as it is.
  • Encouraging women to believe that they are sex objects before anything else. If “Mr. Right” in the book is only right because of how he performs in the bedroom, something is very, very wrong.
  • Encouraging women to fantasize sexually about someone other than her husband.
  • Opening the door to sexual addictions, no different than an addiction that someone might have to pornographic photographs.
  • Putting the emphasis of the relationship on sex. Again, we have enough of this in our society as it is.

I have more thoughts on this topic which will make themselves known in future posts, like how we as faith-based writers can combat this growing phenomenon, but for now, I want your thoughts.

Share with me: What do you think the “Mommy Porn” phenomenon is about? Why are women drawn to these erotic books? Are housewives really so desperate?

 

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27 Comments

Filed under Marriage, Romance, Writing

27 responses to ““Mommy Porn”– The Answer for The Desperate Housewife?

  1. Jennifer, Mommy porn isn’t limited to erotica. Secular novels are becoming more and more graphic. Some of my favorite others write scenes that cause me to skip the pages because the events are not what I want to find myself reading. I bagged up my secular novels because I’m feeling convicted about what I was reading.

    Erotica is a fancy name for porn. Plain and simple. And when women get caught up in that genre, they’re creating unrealistic expectations that can affect their current and future relationships with men.

    I applaud your courage in posting about this! We try to guard our young men against the dangers of porn, but we need to remember that porn isn’t gender specific.

  2. Lisa,
    You are so right! Many, many novels (just like movies, music, and all forms of entertainment) are becoming increasingly more graphic. Like you, I don’t want to read it. But even more worrisome than the non-Christian reading this junk is that I know church-going Christian women who are reading it, and it concerns me.
    Porn isn’t gender specific. Sometimes I think women think they are “immune” from the dangers of porn, but they.are.not.

  3. wendypainemiller

    Lots to think about here. Got into a conversation with some fellow “dance” moms who were reading 50 Shades. It always makes me wonder what gets the ball rolling with books like this.
    ~ Wendy

    • Yeah, I think that’s exactly what I’m trying to figure out. What is it that attracts readers? What is it that makes them want to read it, and even more, allows them to enjoy reading it?

  4. cynthiaherron

    Jennifer, thanks for this courageous post! I think a lof of books today are porn, but are peddled as something else so people will feel “okay” about what they’re reading. I think as Christian authors we must be in tune to the very real needs of women, including sexuality, but keeping in mind that our words should be Christ-focused and God-directed. In other words, I think we should be brave enough to approach the elephant in the room without turning the subject of sex/porn into a circus. It definitely needs addressed.

    This was a knock-out, fantastic post!

  5. jessicarpatch

    First, I’m confused. How is it Twilight fan fiction? I read the first chapter on Amazon because I heard all this buzz about the writing. It wasn’t that great to be honest. And nothing happened other than them meeting in the first chapter either. He was intriguing, she was a clumsy ditz–maybe that’s where the Twilight comes in. But even if it wasn’t erotica, I wouldn’t have purchased it.
    Like Lisa, I’ve had to skip pages and toss out authors I love b/c their scenes became raunchy. And that’s a shame, because their stories are great!

  6. What a brave and much-needed post, Jenny. I’ll admit to being somewhat ignorant to the erotica genre, but its growing popularity definitely concerns me. Thanks for being a positive voice in a dark world.

    • I was ignorant about it too until I kept seeing all these article popping up about the huge surge in numbers. I find it so, so sad. Like I said above, I think many women think they can’t be addicted to porn– that it’s just a man thing, but I think erotic fiction is dangerous for a zillion different reasons.

  7. you know, about two years ago or so on Kindle, there was this surge of freebie reads called Naughty Nooners. NO JOKE!! unabashedly nasty-titled, and they were in the top 100 for weeks on end. interesting the article that you quoted quoted this blogger from divamoms.com who indicated that this surge in erotica has revived not only book sales but reader’s marriages. amazing what a difference in perspective a christian would have.

    love it when you get on your soapbox, girl.

    • Lol. Well, I won’t disappoint. I love being on my soapbox. I am consistently reminding myself to tone it down. 🙂 Have you noticed how many yucky titles are listed on the free section of amazon titles? I clicked on one that had tame cover art, not knowing it was x-rated until the first page popped up. Holy.Moly. I wanted to wash out my eyes and my brain and that was only from the first few sentences.

  8. ipotoproject

    This is an interesting conversation between Timothy Keller, John Piper and D.A. Carson concerning pornography. Since it is three guys covering just one question raised by Piper, they specifically mention men but if one listens to their sermons, their basis for the struggle of pornography is not restricted to males.

    I bring this video to attention because about a minute or so in Tim Keller brings up a critical point. The draw of pornography is that you are finding fulfillment in something rather than your justification in Christ. He says that many turn to pornography because that person doesn’t like themselves. I would add another view, that the person is also valuing their needs above their spouses (mentioned later in the video). Instead of focusing on the Gospel, the person has become self-focused and has idolized their own desires above the Father’s will. To preach the Gospel to yourself continuously is the only remedy to overcoming sin (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me Philippians 4:13). So for men and women to run to Playboy or 50 Shades is not something that should be defining us; it should be our identity as the Beloved of Christ that we find our rescue. The depth of the darkness of pornography is hidden only as far as the Church keeps it tucked away. We have to run to Christ (through accountability and constant communion with Him) in order to overcome pornography (especially if its been a struggle for years). It’s a “secret” sin that the world has no problem discussing (sit at any high school lunch table) but we talk about generally (lust) in church. Sin hides in generalizations.

    There’s my soapbox haha

    This is a big topic Cougars For Christ at CSU has been concentrating on over the past few years. It’s deadly and has plagued our media and minds for too long.

    • I couldn’t agree more. I’m tired of many churches “glossing over” specific sins. We live in a day and age where we need to call out in specificity. Give people the understanding of who we are meant to be in Christ. It’s slippery slope we find ourselves in, but I hate to think that we’d lose one person who needs Jesus because of our fears of mentioning things that are uncomfortable. Hence this post. 🙂

  9. Casey Herringshaw

    Jennifer, really, really good post. I love straight forward tell it like it is posts and I think you did that really well here.

    I am actually not familiar with the movement as “mommy porn”. Our world is FILLED with this trash and everywhere you turn it’s slapping you in the face, it’s why I quit watching NBC’s SMASH. I stay safe in Christian fiction because I don’t want to read the immoral stories that overflow our markets.

    But I do know I read a book once that had been given me by a Christian author and was actually quite surprised at how explicit it got. More explicit than I liked and explicit for the wrong reasons. Merely to arose the senses and not giving a true point of value to the story. I think to include the immoral, the author HAS to have a really good reason and then show the reader how wrong the characters’ were. Our market. 😉

    Really, really good post!

  10. essenseofebony

    Happy Thursday Jenny,
    Near the end of the school year the 50 Shades trilogy swept through my school in a tidal wave. Ladies were talking about the books at lunch, reading them during testing week as hall proctors (on Kindle, of course). And I have read all 3 books personally. (Explicit content aside, the writing is some of the worst I have ever read, and I have read supermarket romance novels before, so that is saying a lot), and I think that the appeal of the books to women is something that needs to be addressed. Even with the bad writing, there was something about the story between Anastacia and Christian that was interesting to develop. And for me, it was because I was in a relationship with a guy like Christian (not the kinky stuff) handsome, aloof, and broken. I loved him and wanted to save him. I couldn’t and didn’t and got my heart broken in the process.So to see-even in a book- a “good girl” win over a bad boy just felt good. But for a lot of women, the book is an escape, especially if she is feeling lonely or unloved or undesirable by her husband. I’m single, and at times I do find myself feeling lonely. I have great friends, a great job and family who love me, but I would like to experience a husband and companionship in that area as well. And for the women who are so drawn to these books, they are feeling the same way. Swept up in laundry, trips to the ballfield, the cheerleading gym, cooking and cleaning and PTO leaves little room for romance and even less for passion. These books give them that passion. So for a few hours a day they get to forget about the mundane responsibilites as a wife and mom and be swept away to exotic locales with their handsome lover. The saddest thing of all, is that they would probably love to have those intimate moments with their husband, but he’s not available. And I feel like this is one of those things that the modern church needs to find a better way to address, instead of treating it like an elephant in the room. A Christian couple should be able to go to their pastor on how to bring back the joy of intimacy into their marriage without feeling ashamed or like they are being sinful, so many of them can’t so they make a trip to their adult bookstore. I said all that to say, that the root of the problem seems to be a lack of fulfillment in the area of intimacy, and there is an opportunity for Christian writers if they are willing to go there, and blaze a trail where passion, courtship and romance are displayed beautifully in a Godly marriage, the way it was meant to be enjoyed.

    • Ebony– I think the fundamental difference between my view and yours is the definition of intimacy.

      Intimacy is not sex.

      It can come from sex and can certainly be encouraged by sex, but it is not sex. It’s not dirty or something to be ashamed of or hidden.

      True intimacy is brought about in a healthy, Christ-centered relationship, and the relationship presented in these books is anything BUT healthy.

      If women truly want to find an escape and feel “loved”, there are plenty of other books, both main and CBA market, that can provide that without giving women and unrealistic view of what intimacy should look like.

      • essenseofebony

        And I probably could have used a better word. I know there are a lot of ways to be intimate with your spouse/companion but some people just lowest common denominator it. Case in point, a girl I knew complained that her husband didn’t “spend time with her”. I assumed she meant they didn’t have date nights, or go walking in the park together. Nope, she meant something totally different. I’m working on finding a more godly centered group of single girls to hang with, but it’s tough.

  11. Tania Maria

    Hello Jennifer

    As I was doing some research on ‘mommy porn’ I came across your post. I respect your opinion but find it a tad narrow minded and full of slippery slopes.

    I don’t read mummy porn. I just don’t have the need because I consider my sexual life fulfilling enough. I should add to this that I am in a new relationship. But I look at my friends, most of them devoted Christians, who are hooked on it. They are in long term relationships where their sexual life can’t be qualify as the most exiting one by their own accounts. So mommy porn offers them the needed escape. Sure they should be able to speak with their husbands about this. But what if the husbands don’t care or even have such issues as impotency? In order to not fully renounce to their sexual needs they turn to this kind of literature. Is that really wrong?

    Men watch it, women read. Why? probably because women have better imaginations. I bet you a good dollar that many of our good Christian men are watching porn as I write this. Does that make them bad husbands when instead of waking up their sleepy wives entertain themselves? I have just read that research shows that men who watch porn are less prone to cheat.

    You say that as a Historian you know that since the dawn of time nothing makes the world go ’round like sex, money, and religion. All three aspects are such that can be either good or bad to the Human Spirit depending on how they are applied.

    Exploring through literature the sexual fantasies is something that it’s far from being evil. The need for sex, adventure and feeling wanted are all part of human nature.

    Your bullet points under the heading “And what is this indulgence doing?” are full of slippery slopes. Mummy porn is all about the fantasy. Women should be free to fantasize about their neighbor, their colleague while reading such literature. Would them doing this mean that they agree on cheating? Of course not. To a mentally healthy woman this would be a way to let steam out. Most women will never materialize such fantasies because they know about consequences.

    By nature women seek love and protection on a relationship. This is part of our biology as potential mothers for the survival of the species. Men seek to ‘spread the seed’. Don’t forget that humans were living on trees not so long ago. So to say that women would ever naturally put the emphasis of a relationship on sex after reading mummy porn is like saying that everybody who reads Adkins will actually follow the diet.

    The worse was linking mummy porn to sexual addictions and comparing it to somebody having pornographic pictures. I certainly hope you mean adult pornographic pictures! if that’s the case, sure, it can be compared. But again the link between viewing sexual arousing imagery and sexual addictions is not different than linking love for chocolate to obesity!

    I wish the veil of hypocrisy around (mummy) porn would vanish. There is nothing wrong or sinful about watching or reading porn.

    Greetings from The Netherlands.

    • Tania– Thank you so much for your comment! However, I must disagree with just about everything you said.

      Porn is detrimental to a marriage. Whether it’s an addiction to photographic pornography, literature, or just a casual “flirtation” with porn by a man or woman, it destroys relationships through all of the reasons/issues I mentioned above.

      I do not believe Mommy Porn is okay or should be acceptable. Whether you are a Bible-believing Christian or an atheist, this type of material will be detrimental to any relationship because it promotes an unhealthy idea of intimacy and unrealistic expectations of relationships.

      I’d like to refer you to a great marriage blog that often touches on this topic– it’s called To Love, Honor, and Vacuum. Check it out. The author has some fantastic thoughts on this issue and I concur.

      • Tania Maria

        Hello Jennifer

        I will definitely explore this Love, Honor and Vacuum blog to see if I can find answers to my main question: What is a moral christian woman to do when the passion in her marriage is gone, her husband is uninterested in sex but otherwise a fantastic man and she is not ready yet to renounce to her sexual desires?

        I will also continue my research on the psychological side of mommy porn which until now I have found contradicts the conservative Christian way of thinking.

        Peace!

    • Tania,

      I believe the root of the disagreement comes from the opposing views over the basic meaning of marriage. As a bible believing Christian (like Jennifer), marriage is primarily to bring glory to God by covenentally loving one another as Christ showed His love for us and the Father. There has been a shift (most apparent by the recent supreme court rulings) for marraiage to be seen as a mere social construct. While it is that, it is much much more! Marriage is meant to bind two people, for them to become one much like the Father, Son and Spirit are one.

      This foundation is necessary to the argument because the bible directly speaks against any idolizing in our lives. By committing to our spouse only and giving to them sexually as they give to us, we honor God by fulfilling His purpose for a covenental love. If either spouse (or both), use another person or object for their lust, they are:

      1. Idolizing their needs above God’s commands
      2. Committing adultery

      I noted that you mentioned your sex life was fulfilling and that was why you didn’t read this “mommy porn.” While that sounds great on the surface, there is a foundational issue with that logic. What if it wasn’t satisfying (either from your husband becoming injured or from lack of intimacy), would that justify finding another avenue to have sexual pleasure? If so, that reduces your husband’s identity to a sexual object whose worth is found in whether you are “satisfied.” Like I stated earlier, biblical marriage is meant to be so much more! As for your Christian friends that partake in porn, they are wrong. I say that as lovingly as possible over the Internet. If they are Christians, have them read this post please. There is much more hope and happiness for their marriage if they would love God first and seek to glorify Him. Without understanding Jesus’s love and sacrifice, I know how easy it is to justify being selfish. But when we look at the life, teachings and commands from Christ, there is nothing better than seeking God. I hope this clarifies some of the Christian perspective.

      • Tania Maria

        Hello Mr. Ramsey

        I think the question you ask is a fair one: what if I wasn’t satisfied with my current partner- would that justify finding another avenue to have sexual pleasure? As a psychologist, I say ‘absolutely yes!’

        Do I believe that it would make me immoral? Not anymore.

        I grew up in a very orthodox Catholic family where I was pretty much told what you just wrote above. I know what the Bible says. I have also learned to realize that it’s about the Message of Love and not the literal truth. The Universe was not created in 7 days and I don’t believe that God is a ‘Him’ up there waiting to pass judgement on us mortals just trying to do the best we can in this world at Judgment day. But that’s a different discussion.

        What I want to say is that I grew up feeling ashamed of my sexuality where the world ‘masturbation’ was equal to an insult. In reality masturbation is a gift from God. It creates all sorts of positive physiological reactions in our bodies. For men, it’s even imperative they do it. And nobody has gone yet blind because of it.

        Coming back to the other valid questions you pose: Would me seeking another sexual pleasure venue reduce my current partner’s identity to a sexual object whose worth is found on whether I’m satisfied? Absolutely not!

        Human relationships are way more multidimensional than this. And trying to seek one’s happiness while loving the other person is far from being selfish. Nobody is perfect. When we love somebody we take the complete package adjusting ourselves when and if needed. My friend whose husband is just unable to satisfy her sexually has found a way to be happy in her marriage thanks to mummy porn. He’s comfortable with it, and she is happy again. As a couple they rejoice in their spiritual intimacy, the gift God gave them with their beautiful children and most likely will make it together until they die. Just like me, she managed to break away from the traditional belief that enjoying one’s sexuality is equal to a sin.

        Greetings from The Netherlands

        • Tania– I’ll have to state that I agree with what Matt said above– the fundamental argument here is the view of marriage as God created it. Sex outside of marriage is wrong. Seeking sexual gratification outside of marriage is not okay. God created sex inside of marriage to be wonderful, enjoyable, and very, very far from being a sin. It’s how we act — and with whom– that can lead us down the slippery slope. When we cling to the idea that our needs are more important than our relationships, we’ve lost the entire point of intimacy and instead turned to selfishness.

          Sex is not intimacy.

          Intimacy can be achieved through sex, but it is not the singular means to it, nor is it the primary means.

          I applaud you for seeking answers to your questions about the use of mommy porn or any other means of sexual gratification outside of marriage. I encourage you to continue to seek those answers, and also to evaluate the idea of intimacy as God created it.

          Let me ask you a real question as one woman to another– how would you feel if you discovered that your husband/partner was using porn to achieve sexual gratification instead of coming to you? How would it affect your relationship?

      • Matt– I heart you. 🙂 Brilliance, my brother.

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