I’m sure there’s something cool to see in Amsterdam, but beyond a long street and it’s offshoots known as De Wallen, I can’t recall much.

You see, De Wallen is Amsterdam’s Red Light District and as a 19- 21- and 22-year old, I didn’t spend much time doing anything in Amsterdam except drink a lot of alcohol and stumble in and out of strip clubs, live sex shows and hash bars.

If you read my stuff before, you know I’m an alcoholic, and there was nary a night back then when I didn’t finish without being double the legal intoxication limit. Today, I have negative thoughts about the legalization of marijuana, and I’d be a massive hypocrite to espouse them too loudly considering I probably smoked even more than I drank back then. So we’ll just leave those aspects of my Amsterdam excursions alone for now.

I’ve mentioned before that I hold no ill will toward the pornography industry. Trying to fight the industry seems pointless, especially since so much of it comes to us digitally from overseas companies. There’s no reason to fight Penthouse or Playboy…they’re imploding on their own, just like your local newspaper.

I’ve been working on a book with a brilliant therapist out of California, Tony Overbay, over the last several months. I’m hoping we’ll have it ready to shop around sometime in October, and that you’ll buy at least 5 copies.

One of the themes that we’ve been exploring — that I never gave a lot of thought to during recovery — is how pornography exists for the sole purpose of objectifying another person. When you think about it, unless you’re a biology teacher using it for demonstration purposes, that’s completely accurate. Nobody looks at porn and wonders how smart that naked lady is or if that naked guy recycles.

I Think I’m Turning Japanese/Big in Japan

Twenty years ago, I lived in Tokyo, Japan, for about five months. I was working for a newspaper called Stars and Stripes that went to armed service members in the Pacific Theater. I won’t tell the long version of the story, but suffice to say, a white, English-speaking 22-year-old who was half decent looking and open to new experiences can be very popular in Japan.

I ended up befriending several American baseball players who were over there. They liked to spend a lot of money and party hard after their games. Most of them were in their late 20s, still hoping some American team would come calling, or in their early 30s, understanding their best days were behind them and this was the last stop of their professional career. I think I served as a mascot of sorts for them. I had the combination of naive, deer-in-the-headlights fanboy and…nope, I was just an amusement to them, but that’s cool. I played my role.

The guys I knew played on the Nippon Ham Fighters. I still don’t know what that means, but I prefer to believe it’s not about engaging pigs in battle. When these guys were in town, it meant three-to-five days of non-stop partying and they always started at a strip club. They’d buy me plenty of private dances and have me run the tips for the girls from the table to the stage. I was kind of like a young Henry Hill in Goodfellas, but since it involved pro ballplayers and beautiful naked women, I obliged with a smile.

When I returned from Japan, I had a hankering for strip clubs. I’d never visited them in the northeast before, but after being treated like a VIP in Japan, it seemed like the kind of thing that would be cool to have a few miles from my home.

Born in the USA/Proud to Be An American

In Japan, I’d come in with the ballplayers, be immediately ushered to a VIP area and be doted on all night. It totally played to my need to feel special. I think the Dutch called it narcissism. Not sure what we call it here. I realized quickly that I had nothing to do with any of that special treatment when I got back to the US. Whereas the strip club in Japan was a 2-3 hour start to a night of fun, here it was the only destination, and I didn’t go with anybody else, much less millionaires who could play flipsies with their own baseball cards.

I only went to the strip club in Maine a couple of times. It was so pathetic. Instead of beautiful women from around the world in a well-kept place with a $50 cover charge, it had a $3 cover charge, looked like it had last been remodeled in 1978 and featured a bunch of average looking women wearing too much black eye makeup and sporting plenty of stretch marks and cellulite. Nothing against mothers or chunky gals, but the Japan club wouldn’t have employed any of them.

There was no VIP section and looking at the clientele, it wasn’t famous people and high rollers. At the Japanese club, I met members of the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs (who were in for an exhibition game), and members of the group Bon Jovi. I wasn’t even going to run into members of a Bon Jovi cover band at my local strip club.

The guys there were probably an average of 45 or 50 and just seemed beaten by life. The girls seemed beaten by life. The DJ was beaten by life, as were the bartenders, waitresses and guy who watched the front door. Seeing the women who would drag their feet across the stage under the guise of dancing, the whole thing was just sad. I didn’t want to objectify anyone here, but it still wasn’t for the right reasons.

I Can See Clearly Now/Redemption Song

I can see how someone would get addicted to going to strip clubs if the experience was always like mine was in Japan, but with the depressing scene in the Maine club, I would rather stay home and find porn on the computer. I think it’s been 18 or 19 years since I went to that strip club the last time.

It never occured to me that those were a form of pornography, but now that I think about it, I went there with the sole purpose of seeing good looking women naked. It’s also made me realize that aside from the chemicals I could put in my body, Amsterdam was little more than an exercise in extreme objectification with an in-flight movie. Watching people perform sex acts in front of me wasn’t about anything other than flicking the dopamine receptors in my brain.

I’m now starting to recognize just how much I objectified women (and men) in the past. Just because they are wearing bras and panties doesn’t mean the Victoria’s Secret catalog isn’t porn. If you’re not shopping for underwear, and barely notice the clothes, it’s porn. If you’re at a Hawaiian Tropic bikini contest, let’s be honest, you’re not there as an aficionado of low-SPF results.

If you’re watching a movie mostly because you’ve heard it’s sexy and had scenes that may appeal to your more prurient interests, how is that not porn? Why do you REALLY watch female (or male) Olympic beach volleyball? I highly doubt it’s your American pride, especially in those Brazil vs. Sweden matches.

I know that nature has built us to notice the attractive people. It’s part of the whole mating/furthering the species thing, but we’ve taken it to levels far beyond nature needs. We’ve always lived in a world where sex sells, and that’s not going to change, but how you personally analyze and view the world can evolve.

If you’re driving down the street and see a good looking person walking by, what thoughts go through your head? How long do you look at them? What body parts of theirs do you pay special attention to as you pass them? Do you slow down for a longer look?

I had a therapist at a rehab who once said that you’re allowed to think anything for three seconds because it’s involuntary, but beyond that, you’re making a cognitive decision to continue with the thought. That fourth second is conscious objectifying.

Where are you come the fourth second?

11 comments

  1. Ha! A 3-second rule that isn’t about eating food that fell on the floor. 😊

    I now know that my husband has apparently struggled mightily with objectifying women for years. Not just women he watched in porn. Women he would see on the street, waitresses, even friends and neighbors. I can’t imagine walking through my day pondering every guy I encounter as a possible piece of ass. More significantly though, I can’t imagine dumping all of the men who fell beneath my piece of ass standard into the “throw away” pile. That seems to be what my husband did with women in the prime of his acting out. If they fit his objectification profile, fine, but if they didn’t he could barely give them the time of day. Unfortunately, his standards were so warped that he ended up treating a lot of really good, decent women like crap in his day to day interactions with them. He put a lot of effort and attention into the wrong people, mostly because he wasn’t really looking at them as people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, while I never acted out with other women in real life, I can understand how there’s a formula of who he’d hook up with that defies traditional logic. There’s something about a certain type of woman — I think the Dutch call it “skank” — that is a) fully willing to be objectified and b) willing to do it behind the club near the dumpster right now that makes them attractive for the criteria of the moment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. The Dutch derived it from the Latin: gynoskankotic. 😉

        To be clear, after reading back my comment, I’m not complaining that he didn’t hook up with more women. I’m just pointing out that the kind cashier at our grocery who is 350 pounds with a bad case of acne is just as deserving of a nice word and a showing of kindness as the surly tatted up tweaker-looking chick at the gas station that more fit his profile. But he would never SEE the first woman…. he could be standing in front of her and he would look right through her as if she didn’t exist. Or worse, be overtly rude to her.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, I’m sure she has a pretty face and is super-nice, but to pretend you’re attracted to someone who you’re not attracted to seems dishonest, even within the confines of an affair. Would it feel better if he hooked up with the cashier, or a supermodel?

        Like

      3. Both would be bad, but I think what I mean is that in the midst of his acting out he couldn’t even be nice to a woman (in an every day encounter that all of us have dozens of times a day) who didn’t “fit” his profile. They ceased to exist as people. And those who fit the profile? He went overboard with them hoping for some kind of gratification. He didn’t really care about them either, he just objectified them and hoped for a “hit” in return.

        The delivery guy may not turn me on or be my cup of tea, and I definitely don’t want anything from him other than my pizza, but Ill still be nice to him, look him in the eye, and maybe ask him how he’s doing or wish him a good night.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I have the same issue with Thai massage parlours. How good the massage was going to be was never a consideration when making a booking. It was based on if and what extra services wout be provided. Objectifying women is part of my addiction. I apply the 3 second rule all the time. It helps if I use other tools to combat my fantasies and lust

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Although I was taken to strip clubs on several occasions in my younger days, I never got any kind of thrill out of paying money to be sexually teased. I guess porn mags and flicks let me control of what I chose to be stimulated by. For some reason the women I ogled weren’t “real people” to me. Plus viewing porn was a lot more private than being in a public venue. Good article. Again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not to mention the beer is three times more expensive than it should be. I, too, would laugh at friends who said something like, “I think this girl really likes me.” It was kind of like, even if that’s true, ewwwww.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I like your challenge of what is defined as porn. If others used the same definition, I would imagine the already horrific statistics of self reported porn viewing would increase significantly. Earlier in my husband’s recovery from his porn addiction, our therapist advised me when doing check ins with my husband about his masturbation and porn usage, not to ask him “when was the last time you looked at porn? Or did you look at porn this week?” But rather phrase it as “have you looked at any sexually explicit or arousing images?” Because, apparently, our views of what might be considered porn could be vastly different. As you said, just because it isn’t Playboy……

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree wholeheartedly. I have no issue watching a film or TV show if it has a moment of nudity. What I can’t do is rush to the Internet and look up that actress on a nude movie scenes website that only shows the 8 seconds of nudity. That’s when it becomes porn to me. Porn, to me, is a concept, not a tangible thing.

      Liked by 1 person

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