The Avon River
I’ve been in this line of work since the Clinton administration, and so a lot of prospective stories have passed across my screen. Some awesome, many lame, most entirely forgotten. But some stick. I remember one girl, who wrote a personal account so honest and bleak that I never see a photo of the ducks on the Avon River without thinking of her.
She was from a Christian background and she married her first boyfriend while they were both still in their early 20s. Her mood going into marriage was full of joy, love, commitment – and lust. They were both virgins and she couldn’t wait. But sex wasn’t what she expected. It was kind of cold, full-on, aggressive. She started to wonder if her new husband was a virgin after all. And then a few short weeks into the marriage, it stopped. There was no sex at all. Her husband closed off from her completely and it was on a holiday in Christchurch, on the banks of the Avon, that he told her he wanted out of their new marriage. She was broken.
They went to talk to a pastor at their church. They went together and got no answers. They went separately and the truth came out. Her new husband had a hardcore porn addiction. Real sex paled in comparison. He wanted to leave his wife and go back to his porn – and he did. I can’t imagine the pastor was impressed.
My editor at the time was a woman in her 50s who wore pearls and used Creme De La Mer. She said that the young writer of this story was a prude. She said: “Why doesn’t she suggest they look at it together?!”
That was how people talked about internet porn then – in the late 90s. Like it was a fun way to spice things up. And I’m sure it is – I mean, it can be. But we now know that it can be a horrible addiction, entrapping people at a young age, detracting from real sex with real people, and sometimes making it an impossibility.
Philip Matthews writes about the powerful cultural force that is porn on page 12.
And as for our young Christian bride? She used a pseudonym, but I still remember her real name and I just Googled her. OK, I stalked her Instagram. She’s fine – looks happy, and it seems she’s constantly travelling all over the world. No posts from Christchurch.