In 2019, having values can feel… inconvenient. The age of social media activism has made it so easy to make bold statements, and even easier to avoid ever having to back them up. Professionally, I abhor pornography and the rampant normalization of sexual exploitation, and it is easy for me to take, maintain, and defend this stance surrounded by coworkers with the same goals and views. Personally, I feel the same as I do at work, but the environment outside of work is vastly different. It’s always easy to combat blatant sexual abuse, but the subtler examples of the ways in which pornography has seeped into our society, or the societal gas lighting that normalizes it in the first place? That, as it turns out, is significantly harder.
We published a piece on #FoodPorn in December about all the reasons why the trend of glorifying the epitome of something as “#____porn” is problematic, and barely a month later, Devour released a commercial for Superbowl Sunday equating their frozen meals to food porn. All too soon, the time had come when I had to decide how much battling pornography means to me, because I, unfortunately, am a lover of Devour.
I have to admit, I struggled. Was it really that important to abstain from purchasing the only frozen meals I’ve ever liked? Was sacrificing the convenience during my weekday lunches worth it? Haven’t they just been led astray by the societal winds that have been telling us that pornography is OK because it’s ‘normal’? After all, is it that big of a deal? In truth, the only answer that mattered was to the first question, and that answer is ‘yes’, it’s that important. Whether or not it makes a global impact, keeping our convictions aligned with our actions is invaluable. Who are we to demand change if we ourselves are not willing to be the first to sacrifice for that change? I really, really wanted to say that they’ve just been misled in order to continue enjoying their product. The truth though is that not only are they capitalizing on the popularity of porn – popularity which drives sex trafficking and further establishes rape culture, by the way – but they’re doing it in a way that showcases that they know porn addiction is a problem. Whereas #FoodPorn is meant to convey that something is the best of the best, Devour’s commercial paints a bleak picture of life with a porn addict. In a misguided attempt at humor, the commercial only serves to drive home what those of us who work with porn addiction every day already know: that porn addiction is real, it’s dark, and it’s hard on the addict and people who love them.
Does Devour care if they’re missing the $3 a meal from my weekly Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese? Probably not. In fact, there’s probably somebody in customer service who is unknowingly relieved that they have been wiped from my grocery list before I could start campaigning for a meatless version of my beloved entrée. What is for sure, however, is that every night, when the day is over and sleep is calling, my inability to stick to my guns isn’t keeping me from finding peace. I’m only one person, but that number builds quickly. If everyone who understands the tragedy of porn stands together in the face of the small things, maybe the big ones will become less and less normal. And, if nothing else, unlike all the products who use a public health crisis to make a profit, our integrity is not for sale.