The Misnomered Mormon “War on Masturbation” Video

BYU War on Masturbation2
Geoff Openshaw

Geoff Openshaw

BYU-Idaho's "War on Masturbation" video isn't about masturbation. It's about pornography addiction. Why is the Internet so confused about this?

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]trange things are afoot in the world of viral videos.  BYU’s Housing and Student Living office has created a new video called “Wounded on the Battlefield” that likens pornography addiction to wartime injury with the simple plea to “never leave a soldier behind.”

You see, it is (apparently) a problem at BYU-I and (likely) a problem elsewhere that roommates know of each other’s struggles, addictions and poor choices, but take little, if any, action to help one another. We know how it is, brethren. It’s not like anyone in Elders quorum openly discusses his problems with porn. We have created a taboo that has stretched all the way back to our homes and relationships with people we should be able to trust and confide in. You wouldn’t leave a wounded soldier on the battlefield, so why do you leave your friend or roommate alone with his (or her, dangit!) suffering and weakness?

However, the rest of the media is reporting this video as a “War on Masturbation” video. The problem, of course, as Flunking Sainthood‘s Jana Riess points out, that masturbation isn’t mentioned anywhere in the video. Ever. Perhaps it is assumed that one does not watch porn for mere visual stimulation, but still. There is no war on masturbation declared, merely a cry to help one another. But there is battlefield footage that looks like it was filmed in someone’s backyard. So there’s that.

I’m not defending the video in and of itself. I think it’s slightly weird, but I appreciate the point it’s trying to make. We should help each other. We can use all sorts of adages to make this point –  “Friends don’t let friends look at porn,” or New York City’s, “If you see something, say something,” or “BYU Strong” (sorry Boston).

Also, what’s with the opening scene where a dude is sitting there looking at porn with his door wide open before his roommate walks in, sees what’s up, and quickly leaves? I’m not condoning any poor behavior, but would anyone have their door open? Is that how one looks at porn – in plain view of others? If so, that would seem to render moot the counsel we receive to keep computers in public areas.

Still, it appears that the Internet is missing the larger point of the video and has decided that the Church wants to liken masturbation to being in battle. To reiterate, it’s talking about porn, not the old low five.

And of course, there’s no indication that women have any issue with porn. It’s a guy thing.

Lastly, we could get into a whole discussion on what defines “addiction.” Jana Riess says it better than I ever could: “‘Addiction’ seems to be defined here as ‘any guy who looked at porn EVER while in college.’ Conflating experimentation with addiction is hardly helpful to people who actually do suffer from addiction.”

Great job, Internet!

Check out the video below and share your thoughts.

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