Over the past two weeks, my newsfeed has been riddled with image after image of shirtless men posing as strippers in the recent film Magic Mike XXL. As the title suggests, Mike has got everything the ladies want: the dance moves, the perfectly sculpted body, and of course, we all know what XXL stands for.
You could almost label Mike (Channing Tatum) as the ultimate pin-up boy. He has it all. If there was an image of the perfect man's body, he'd probably be it.
This highlights the trend we are seeing more of in women's entertainment. Originally there were saucy novels like Mills and Boon, but then came 50 Shades of Grey, the original Magic Mike and now we have Magic Mike XXL. Is anyone else noticing a common theme?
Filmmakers and producers are no longer solely attracting women with a soppy emotional story between two lovers. More and more, we are seeing attempts at capturing what some would argue women want more of: the visual stuff.
This is not to say that chick flicks haven't targeted women's fantasies in the past. It is to say that women's fantasies have become less emotional, and more visual in nature as of late.
Keep your eyes out for the next chick flick that comes onto the screens. Notice whether it's a classic film about love and romance or whether there are trends towards sexual fantasies coming to life.
Yet, with the proliferation of Magic Mike XXL on my newsfeed and social media, it has made me increasingly perplexed.
If you were to survey the average woman today her opinions on pornography, you can get mixed responses. From talking to many of my female friends, you can also get flat-out disgust.
Many women are increasingly becoming in tune with the negative effects of porn and lust on their relationship, and numerous ladies have been deeply hurt when their husbands and partners have looked at porn. In 56% of divorces, porn is listed as a significant factor in the divorce.
Further to that, there are a whole host of negative effects that can result from watching pornography which include, but are not limited to:
- Individuals rate themselves less satisfied with their partners looks, sexual performance and feel less in love with their partner after being exposed to porn
- The more exposure one gets to porn, the less likely they are to be aroused with their own partner
- Multiple studies have found that even watching non-violent porn is correlated with men being more likely to use verbal coercion, drugs and alcohol to push women into sex
Here is my question:
Why is it that so many Christian women see it as excusable to hit the cinemas and see a veritable strip-tease in Magic Mike: XXL on a girls' night out, when we can see the damage that lived out fantasies have done in men?
If we reversed that situation and cinemas were screening a film about female strippers, would your man watch with your blessing? Wouldn't there be a public outcry? My mind flies back to the disapproval of so many Christian women at the proposed Lingerie Football League last year.
On a personal level, if my husband told me that he was headed out with the boys to watch 'Magic Melissa DD', I would be outraged. We need to think about our choices and how they affect others. Just as we expect our husbands and boyfriends to be mindful of us and our feelings, we need to be more considerate and discerning with what we watch.
When we watch films like Magic Mike, we forfeit any right to become outraged by our husbands' porn usage.
The deeper issue
The deeper issue at hand may explain why we make these kinds of decisions. As Christian women, we struggle to talk about what porn looks like for us. It makes us uncomfortable and it is everywhere.
Have you ever walked into a newsagent and noticed a ripped man shirtless in any one of the leading women magazines? Buying a magazine with a barely clothed lady on the front requires you to be over 18, but not so if that barely-clothed person is a man. Make no mistake; Magic Mike XXL is pornography because it exists purely for our sexual enjoyment and to see our fantasies come to life.
Perhaps we are numb to the effects our porn usage has on those around us. Perhaps we just feel we deserve a night out at the movies with the girls, and don't see it for what it is. Perhaps it's peer pressure. Whatever it may be, we need the help of the Holy Spirit to see a change of heart that will see us satisfied primarily in Jesus and nothing else, so that we can love like he loves us.
A girls' night out to see Magic Mike won't end with us feeling satisfied. Porn highlights the inadequacies we have as human beings. The inadequacies we have to satisfy our partners, to be satisfied ourselves, and ultimately, our failure to be satisfied in Jesus.
We will continue to see marriages break down and we will continue to see husbands' and wives' love grow cold for each other if we, as women, cannot talk about our porn usage.
Sarah Young is completing her Masters in Clinical Psychology and loves spending time engaging with young people. She spends her spare time writing songs, running and going on adventures with her husband, James.
Sarah Young's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/sarah-young.html