Richie Hardcore: Public Speaker & Activist
Trigger warning: The following podcast episode contains quoted graphic song lyrics to bring awareness to how porn influences culture. Listener discretion is advised. Meet Richie Hardcore! (Yes, that is his last name. No, he has not performed in porn.) Richie is a retired professional kickboxer and Muay Thai fighter from New Zealand. Today, he splits his time between training other fighters and his work as an activist, which includes public speaking against the harms of pornography. In this episode, Richie sat down with podcast host Garrett Jonsson to discuss how he came to understand the harms of porn, how pornography negatively influenced him personally, and how important he believes it is to talk to the youth of today about the lies the porn industry sells and encourage safe and healthy sexuality with a consenting partner. You can find Richie on Instagram (@richiehardcore) or visit his website, richiehardcore.com.
FROM THIS EPISODE
- Richie’s Website
- Richie’s Ted Talk
- One tenth of 12 & 13 year olds, say they’re addicted to porn according to a survey perfomed by NSPCC.
- Austrailian Femicide map
- Sherel Moody’s Twitter
- FTND’s Conversation Blueprint
- What Do Heterosexual Australians See in Pornography, a Cross Sectional Study.
- Australian Teens Report Seeing More Violence than Affection in Porn
- Jo Robertson Ted Talk
What is up, people? I’m Garrett Jonsson and you’re listening to Consider Before Consuming, a podcast by Fight the New Drug. Before we jump into today’s episode, we want to remind you of a couple things. First of all, #NoPornovember is right around the corner, and #RepTheMovement Day is on November 22nd this year. We just dropped some new merchandise, so go get your new merch for #RepTheMovment Day at FTND.org/shop, that’s FTND.org/shop. For more details on #NoPornovember and #RepTheMovement Day, follow us on Facebook and Instagram @fightthenewdrug, or visit ftnd.org.
On today’s episode, we sit down with Richie Hardcore. Richie was a professional fighter for many years, and now does a lot of coaching and also educating. He’s also passionate about educating individuals about sexual violence, the harmful effects of pornography, and sexual exploitation. During our conversation we talk about healthy masculinity, some of the benefits he’s noticed from living a life free from pornography, we also talk about pop culture, and so much more.
During the conversation, Richie quotes song lyrics that are explicit. Listener discretion is advised.
We hope you enjoy this episode of Consider Before Consuming:
Garrett: We want to welcome to the podcast, Richie hardcore and, uh, welcome Richie.
Richie: Hey, thank you Garrett. Thanks for talking with me.
Garrett: Yeah, no, absolutely. Thank you for spending time with us today and it’s pretty cool that we can connect because you are currently in…
Richie: New Zealand.
Garrett: New Zealand. I wish I was in New Zealand with you. That’d be pretty cool.
Richie: It’s a good time. There’s not a whole lot going on here, but it’s, you know, scenically beautiful and people are kind and the food is natural.
Garrett: I love it. That’s great. And we’re all the way across the world and we’re connecting. And so we feel fortunate to, uh, to have you on the podcast today. And just a, a little bit of backstory for our listeners. As we reached out to Richie, um, we, we requested that he come on the podcast and he’s like, “Yeah, absolutely.” But he did give us the warning that he’s like, “I swear a lot.” And he basically was asking permission if it was okay to swear. And um, of course we said, yeah, that’s up to you. Like you, you do you. And so rich, you just know, um, you do you man.
Richie: Thank you, Garrett. I’ll try my best to, um, be on best behavior.
Garrett: Okay. Sounds good. We can make up some like fake curse words for you.
Richie: I’m open. I’m open to suggestion. Yeah. Yeah. My mom would be real pumped if I swore less, so, so if we can help her out, that’d be cool.
Garrett: Okay. Well I actually watched your Ted talk recently and that was really cool to see and I saw that you weren’t afraid to, uh, to swear on the Ted Talk stages. So I think that’s a true part of it. That’s like your authenticity, right? Swearing is part of, it’s part of your authentic self.
Richie: I grew up with a dad who cursed a lot, you know, and then I kinda, I grew up in the gym, you know, I, uh, for the backstory, like I used to be like a professional kickboxer here in New Zealand and now I’m a coach and trainer and I’m just around dudes a lot and we’ve always kinda sworn, I suppose.
Richie: Uh, yeah.
Garrett: It’s in your blood.
Richie: [laughter] Yeah, it’s part of my DNA to go. Um,
Garrett: Speaking of that, Richie, I’m one of the first questions I wanted to ask. It was kind of related to your fighting career but also related to your last name. Like is your last name real?
Richie: Okay. So it’s actually, it’s actually my legal middle name. Like, so I changed it a by like deed poll when I was maybe 26 or 27 um, hardcore is actually a style of music that came out of the punk scene in the United States. And I used to do radio here in New Zealand and I did the show called Viva LA hardcore. And then Hardcore was also my ring name when I was fighting. And people just started using it as a nickname. Like, “Yo, what’s up hardcore?”, “How are you going, Hardcore?” And, uh, and I thought it’d be funny to change my name when I was in my mid twenties and I knit and I never thought that in my thirties I’d been an educator and activist around because it is mildly amusing when I step onto a stage or I go to school to talk about porn and I’m like, yo, I’m Richie hardcore. But just to clarify, I was never a porn star.
Richie: Because, because of my name, some people presume that.
Garrett: You know what’s interesting, that didn’t cross my mind. What was crossing my mind was the fact that you were a fighter and had that name. I didn’t even think about the fact that you also the hardcore pornography, I didn’t even make it that connection until you just said that.
Richie: I knew I never did either, but I was speaking in Australia earlier this year alongside. I’m a feminist educator and activist called Melinda Tank and she put a thing up on her Facebook. She was like “It’s really great to present alongside former porn star Richie Hardcore.” and I was like, I was like, “Yo, no, no, no. You got it all wrong. You need to change it.” Yeah.
Garrett: Oh, didn’t even think about that.
Richie: Yeah, I didn’t think about it either. But now I have to like put that disclaimer out there.
Garrett: Yeah. And you have to stick with it, cause that’s your name now.
Richie: It is my name. I mean I could always change it back, but I dunno. I’ve been Richie Hardcore for over a decade now. So…
Garrett: My vote, my vote is to keep it the same. It’s a good name.
Richie: Thank you Garrett.
Garrett: So I’m also interested, I know this doesn’t have to do with our topic on the, the, the harmful effects of pornography and how that is related to sexual aggression and sexual violence. But I’m, I’m interested in your fighting career.
Richie: Yeah. Yeah. So I started martial arts when I was 13 years old. I did TaeKwonDo for five years and I fought competitively in that sport until I started Muay Thai when I was 17 had my first Muay Thai or Thai boxing fight when I was 18 and then I continued to fight regularly for kind of 15 years. And while I never reached like an elite level, I’ve reached a pretty good level here in New Zealand and won national titles and South Pacific titles and competed here and competed abroad. And when I retired I’ve moved into coaching. So I’ve been coaching for uh, maybe over 10 years now. Um, yeah, I sort of coached and fought at the same time and now I just, I coach, uh, alongside my other work and it’s really rewarding and it allows me to, I guess I was talking to a friend of mine who’s also an, he’s an MMA coach and it keeps us youthful, you know, you’re always working with, with young people and helping them reach their goals. And it kind of co informs the work I do around sexual violence and healthy relationships because I’m aware of the pressures and the impacts that I guess the digital environment can have on young people because they’re talking to me about their real life as much as they’re talking to me about, you know, kickboxing and martial arts. So it’s kind of worked out kind of well really.
Garrett: That is pretty cool. So you kind of split your time between coaching, uh, martial arts and then also really you’re coaching other, your, your coaching youth and another way as well in regards to educating them on the harmful effects of pornography and, and, um, unhealthy masculinity. Is that correct?
Richie: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. It’s all kind of happened organically. Like I never had a plan that this is what I’d be doing with my time on earth. But yeah, people just started, I used to do radio here in New Zealand and I guess developed, uh, some degree of a public profile and people started inviting me to talk about what I knew about. Um,
Garrett: So how did you begin to, I guess, how did you come into the arena of talking about the harmful effects of, of,…
Richie: Of porn?
Garrett: of porn and domestic violence and sexual abuse?
Richie: Yeah, sure. Um, well, okay, so going back to being a late teenager, I listened to really politicize music. I was really listened to a lot of political punk rock and hardcore and, uh, hip hop. And it really started making me reflect about the world that we have grown up in, in the, in the, in what I was consuming. Cause then as a young man, like I did look at porn, I did consume all this sort of stuff that I talk about now is problematic. I went to an all boys high school, no one ever told me differently. Um, so you just sort of do what everyone else is doing. But then I started listening to I guess counter-cultural music and started hearing songs about feminism and women’s rights. And it really made me reflect on what I was consuming. I went vegetarian cause I didn’t want to hurt animals. So I started thinking like, Oh wait, where’s the porn that I’m looking at coming from? And I just started, um, looking online for information and I, and, and I started reading, um, you know, feminist literature and, and feminist academia. And it just really made sense to me. It made me wake up to the fact that what I’m consuming can have really negative impact on other people and then have a negative impact on me.
Garrett: Um, it’s interesting to kinda hear your realization of what occurred to, to help you realize what you were consuming did make a difference.
Richie: Oh, totally. When I, you know, when I started having longterm, uh, sexual relationships with a partner, like I remember one of them was like, this is concurrently, not all at the same time. You know, I didn’t have like several girlfriends at once. Um, but one of my other relationships, my girlfriend was like, “I feel like we’re in a porno when, when we’re making out.” And I was like, Oh. And I was really taken aback by that because, um, I guess I’d consumed so much porn without even thinking about it. The manner in which I connected intimately was, uh, shaped by what I’d been, you know, consuming, you know, like we are what we eat to some degree.
Richie: And, and if no one teaches you like that, sex is about more than the physicality of it. You can recreate that when sex can actually be this wonderful, fun, emotionally connecting experience, but a steady diet. I’ve come to understand academically now that I work in this space of, um, objectifying media can take all the, the, the really meaningful stuff out of a sexual connection.
Garrett: Um, is that when you started to realize that it was affecting your sexual template when she mentioned that? Or did you notice before then?
Richie: No, I, I think I might’ve noticed before then, but that really stood out to me. And so ever since then, I guess I’ve been on a journey of, uh, trying to develop an authentic sexuality. Does that make sense? I think a lot of us are exposed to this model of what sex is and isn’t without ever having had the opportunity to figure out who we really are sexually. And I see that day in and day out now that I, I work in this space and I talked with academics and educators and politicians in kids and before they’ve had a meaningful conversation about what good sex is, they’ve already consumed a lot of pornography, which is very, uh, literally wired them wide them to have that template like you’re talking about. And it doesn’t mean it’s going to be there forever. But I think it is kind of sad that kids or young people growing up never get to figure out who they really are sexually and emotionally before that model of porn is imposed upon them. Because whether we like it or not, where the kids are looking for porn, intentionally or not, they’re gonna encounter it because it’s so ubiquitous. So I think we really need to fortify them and inoculate them and give them critical filters by having meaningful sex education and consent education education about pornography so they aren’t necessarily gonna absorb and recreate what they consume it.
Garrett: A portion of our listeners are going to be parents right now and a portion of them are going to say that “My kid doesn’t look at pornography.” And uh, I just wanted to mention one study that kind of stood out as you were talking. It was done by the NSPCC. It was a survey and they said that one 10th in this survey, one 10th of children ages 12 to 13 consider themselves addicted to pornography. Do you find that kids are viewing pornography? Is it ubiquitous?
Richie: Oh definitely. Dude, I’ve never talked directly with the young person in person that has told me that they’re addicted to porn. But um, I’ve had a lot of…, actually when I first was interviewed by Fight the New Drug, that interference, super viral. I think the most viral thing I’ve ever done, I had people from all around the world messenger me. It was really overwhelming. And so many of them were like, “I’m, I’m a data department didn’t get porn. Um, where do I get help?” Where do I, how do I stop looking at this? Blah, blah, blah, blah blah. So that was a real eye opening experience for me because you read academic literature and you’re like, Oh yeah, porn addictions a thing. But when real people are asking for help, that’s when it brings it home. Do kids look at porn? 100% I actually been meaning to write a blog about this cause I spoke at a school a couple of months ago and you know I’ve spoken to thousands, tens of thousands of young people now at teenagers, adults too. And these young people, they knew the solutions to their own problems. They want an education about porn because they’re experiencing it or the boys this, this was a group of young girls. Boys are looking at it and expecting them to recreate what they’re consuming. There’s a real pressure on teenage girls to live up to the standards that are set for them, not just by porn but by porn culture as well. You know, like we have a pornified broader pop culture I think that we need to understand and talk about too. So yeah, it’s a, it’s a real feature and I’m not doing it from it. I’m not a, I’m not a like a, I don’t believe, I think, I guess I’m probably sex like I’m, I have, I think everyone should develop a healthy sexuality. I’m not looking at this from a, “Don’t have six until you’re married.” point of view.
But I am saying in my work that six is a really important part of who we are as human beings and is healthy. Sex in is not too healthy, sex in is good. Sex and there’s bad sex. And um, people can use sex, like they use drugs to escape from their feelings or for unhealthy forces of validation, you know, and um, and all that’s really damaging you can have lasting impacts in someone’s emotional health and mental health and physical health. So we need to do a much better job of protecting our young people from porn. So they, um, develop into being healthy whole humans.
Garrett: So in your opinion, which you, how do we do that? How we, how do we protect our kids? I think if you’re, if you’re a parent, you gotta, you’ve gotta you gotta you know, you said there a lot of parents like, “Not my kid.” um, I would challenge him.
I’m like, “Yeah, your kid knows way more about internet than you do, homie.” They, they, they’re so savvy with social media and Instagram and Snapchat and um, it’s not like just go to a porn site is how kids look at porn. Like people can look on blogs, they can look on Twitter or you know, it’s everywhere. So you need to have an honest, brave conversation with your young person or your young people. So when they do invariably encounter it, they’re not gonna take it as gospel. It’s kind of like a, a vaccination, you know, like when you get, you give a baby vaccination so they don’t necessarily get sick as they get older. I think it’s the same with honest conversations around porn and around six if you teach them what they need to know about that these things, they follow this likely to look in all the wrong places for the information that they need to know.
All young people only yelling, all young people have a natural towards sex. We’re biologically programmed to be interested in one to have it. And then we live in a broader culture, which is very sexualized. So if they don’t know about sex or like how do I give a blow job or how do I give my girlfriend oral sex, they’re going to Google these things and what’s going to come up isn’t necessarily some sort of neutral information source. Pornography is, and pornography is not neutral pornography’s often aggressive and violent. And um, we, we’ve sexualized a domination of women by men and those aren’t healthy messages for impressionable young people to grow up on. We really need to get that information in schools as much as we need parents to take ownership of the problem. And then I think, um, here in New Zealand we starting to look at more technological and innovations in law changes to make sure that we can limit access to pornography for young people.
Just like you can’t buy cigarettes or alcohol to 18 or you’re 21, we need to make sure. And the same thing happens with porn because at the moment there’s no age verification data. Everything is freely available on the internet. Uh, anyone of the smart phone or exists on the internet can look at whatever it is that they want to look at. Or even if they don’t, we’ll look at it. It’ll come across, um, you know, their email inbox or they’ll click on a link and go to some weird website. So ensuring that we have good public policy from a governmental downwards level or I guess in your country, state level, we might, you know, you’ve got different federal governments? Um, it is important. Making sure that any kid can’t just go and look up some messed up staff is going to help protect, you know, like protect protection through limiting access. That’s, that’s really important. So how does a person do that while you write your elected representative? You talk to your, I don’t know, their official news, wherever you might be listening to this. Write in to… you have a Congress, you have Congress people. We didn’t have a Congress and New Zealand. We’re a small country, you know, we would write out MPS, we have MPS and we have a pretty direct line to them. You know, you write an email or you start a petition or you, you do something to get involved in the political process to ensure that, um, we have a good sex education that’s meaningful and equivalent. Kids for the world that we live in now, the word that we want to live in by the world that we live in, and it’s not an ideal world, but sticking our heads in the sand isn’t going to make anyone better, happier or healthier. So we need to address the problems as they are, not as we want them to be. And then yeah, taking ownership of it ourselves too. So it’s like a top down with the policy and then bottom up with schools and families.
Garrett: We have in the United States we’ve had over 10 States declare pornography, a public health crisis or a, I guess not all States have declared a public health crisis. I guess the word I should use is that there have been over 10 States that have declared pornography a public health concern.
Richie: Wow. What does that look like? What, what, what was the basis for that? Cause that’s a big deal.
Garrett: Really what it is is just an acknowledgement. Um, so I guess one thing that it will do is it will provide, um, opportunities for more research to be done because you’re acknowledging that this is a concern and because there have been so many States that have gotten on board and there’s many more to come. So, um, but just takes time.
Richie: It does take time. Yeah.
Garrett: One thing I wanted to ask you regarding honest conversation is I think some parents are very scared to, and they’re concerned about having honest conversations with their kids because they, one of the concerns that comes up is, uh, I don’t want to spark curiosity for my boy or my girl. What would be your talk off to that, Richie?
Richie: Your kid’s probably already curious. [laughter] You know, like, I think of just pop music. Think of the music video our kids, kids look on, uh, look at, on YouTube. A lot of them are really sexualized. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but that, that’s how they are. You know, kids have got hormones and biology and you know, sex isn’t a bad thing. Um, but so I think all kids are gonna have a, a natural curiosity towards sex. And you know, most kids know about polling by the time they’re a teenager anyway. I think the average age of first exposure to pornography is 11 to 12 years old. Uh, going by the literature here in New Zealand. And it’s similar to the United States as far as I understand. And so I think that’s an unwarranted fear. I think. I think a lot of kids like I, so I often do this, I’ll go and speak in a high school and then we’ll talk to the parents in the evening, right? Like you have a public public meeting that anyone can come to and I’ll ask the kids a bunch of questions and they’ll generally know all the answers and ask the parents the same questions and they don’t know any of the questions.
Garrett: Oh, interesting. What are some of those questions? I’m kind of putting you on the spot, but do you remember any of those questions?
Richie: No, no, no. Yeah, for sure. So, um, okay. So I talk about how porn has shaped our, uh, our pop culture to some degree as well. So I break down a bunch of lyrics from like G-Eazy or post Malone about six and, and the way that we talk about six and look at some of the languages in those songs, cause this is like top 50 artists in Spotify, right? Right. And I’m like what does this word mean? Say can, can I be Frank with you?
Richie: So the word smashed, right? Like geez, he’s got this lyrics like slipped up with my aches and smashed again. And I asked the kids, “What does smash mean in this context?” & they’re like “Have sex with.”, like very matter of factly. You ask parents like what does this song talking about? They’re like “I don’t know, smashed? Did he like beat her up?”
Richie: And I’m like, “No. That’s how we talk about sex in day and age.” We, we really have turned sex into this aggressive violent act, you know, Post Malone… I’m not even saying don’t listen to these artists, but I am saying…
Garrett: Be awareness.
Richie: Be aware of what they’re listening to. Because when we talk about sex, like “smashed” or “I’d hit that” or “I’d tap that.” or you know, often you hear, “I beat the pussy up.” Like that’s a, that’s a real common phrase in, in music these days.
Garrett: Another one is “Slayed”.
Richie: Yeah. “I slayed that pussy.” “I killed that pussy.” And it’s like, yo, why are we glorifying such violent language about something as nice as sex? Do you know, we’ve, we’ve really, you know, or can again, can I be Frank here?
Richie: Like “I f***ed your main bitch” is like a common refrain in a lot of hip hop music. We’ve really, uh, weaponized sex, like I’m gonna have six. If you’re with my enemy, you know, like, Oh, that’s my enemies partner to hurt her, her or hurt him emotionally. That’s, that’s so messed up. And then we saw so many millions of people are getting these sexual gratification from pornography where all the research tells us we’ve sexualized aggression. So what is it going to lead to in real life? Well, I would argue that it would lead to, at minimum, very poor understandings of consent. Very poor understanding of what a respectful relationship is, so if you’re, if you’re worried about “oh, I’m going to spark curiosity in my kid about porn or about sex.” I’m like, “Yo homie, like that you’re way too late.”
Garrett: Like, wake up.
Richie: I’m like “You’re way too late.” You know, like that, that horse has left the gate, you know, you need to deal with things as they are.
Garrett: You work with kids in New Zealand and Australia, right?
Richie: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. I actually also got a couple of emails from some schools in America and I was like, “Yo, I would love to come to America. That would be amazing. I love America.” Um, but uh, yeah, I I visit Australia pretty regularly. Um, I’ve spoken at universities over there actually. Um, and uh, schools and I’ve spoken at music festivals. I just finished this insane tour with my dear friends in English heavy metal band called Architects who are very, very huge in the middle world. And the boys invited me to go on stage before there’s two bands to warm my bands. This is like, these are like sold out shows like four and a half thousand people, whatever, and talk about uh, gendered violence. And I was like “Are you serious?”
Garrett: That’s pretty cool.
Richie: Dude, it was wild Garrett. So I was very nervous and my anxiety, I’m quite an anxious person. I got super like these mad anxiety kinda attacks, but I did it anyway. And the feedback’s been phenomenal. Like phenomenal. I was flooded by messages from, sorry, flooded on Instagram by messages from people who had seen the talk or heard of the tour that were either really appreciative or they’d been through an experience of domestic violence or sexual assault. And we’re grateful that this conversation was being head because quite often the people who need to hear the sorts of talks that you and I are involved in, Garrett, I’m going to seek them out today. So, so, so how do we take the, uh, mountain to Mohammed as it were, if Mohammad is all going to come to the mountain. So the guys gave me a great opportunity and I was talking like 2,000 people, 3,000 people, 3,000 people for 9,000 people. And in just three minutes, you know, the people weren’t there for a lecture, they were there for a heavy metal concert. But we, we blew up this massive map, like huge, onscreen graphic of uh, the Australian Femicide map, which is a body of research by an Australian journalist called Sherel Moody. And every heart on the map of Australia on this map, you can go Google it. Like it’s an interactive map. Go on Google maps and you click on a heart, and every heart on the map is a story of a murdered woman, or child. Because in Australia a woman is murdered on average every week by her partner or former partner. And then like domestic violence is a, this is a huge problem. So that image alone was enough to make people go, Whoa, what is going on?
Garrett: It’s a eye opener.
Richie: It’s an eye opener. And so while I’m not saying looking at pornography makes you a violent person, I’m not saying listening to hip hop that is a misogynistic, makes you a sexist person. We do need to understand that our broader culture does contribute to shaping very negative ideas about women in particular. And also pushes men into these really limited boxes of what it means to be a man. You know, you have to be powerful and have money and have muscles. And I have heaps of shorties and do you know what I mean? Like w we, we, we, we construct the gender identity of masculinity in a very limited way. And then we wonder why suicide is such a huge problem for young men in particular. And when you can’t talk about your feelings because “That’s what girls do.” and pushes boys into this box there, that’s not healthy to be in. So anyway, yeah, I talk, I’ve talked to Australia a bunch of times and I talk here in New Zealand, like I’ve been to our parliament and I’ve been to 1,000,001 schools and yeah, I’m doing some really cool work with our ministry of social development right now about organizing workshop for athlete, because I’m in the gym all the time. Right? And that’s what guys hang out and talk about guy stuff. So how do you help trainers, um, know how to have a healthy conversation that doesn’t recreate all the bad ideas that we grew up with and perhaps can be a circuit breaker. So if a young man comes in the gym, “Well my girlfriend broke up with me.”, the coach doesn’t say, “Well how do you get over the last one, get on top of a new one.” Do you know like…
Garrett: Just perpetuating unhealthy behavior.
Richie: Exactly. Yeah, exactly. So if a coach and be like, all right, well should we talk about your feelings? This is how you go to a counselor or it’s all right to cry or don’t make yourself feel better by just going on like a promiscuous alcohol fueled rampage. Like, cause that’s not going to be good for anyone then that’s changing culture over time.
Garrett: Right. That’s cool. I, uh, one reason why I asked about the Australia thing was because I was looking at a study from Australia as a cross sectional study and it showed that in this particular study, maybe we’ll link it with this episode, it showed that in this, in necess study pornography, those being consumed, 70% of it showed men being dominant. And so, like you were talking about where we’re learning, we’re always learning. And if you go to like what Dr. Norman Doidge says about sexual templates they’re, they’re molded by our experiences and our culture and you’ve mentioned like Post Malone and lyrics happening in pop culture and then the pornography and being consumed as showing dominance and violence and aggression. And oftentimes that is a man against a woman. So yeah, it’s like it’s learned behavior and our kids there, their sexual templates are being molded by all these different things. And so for the listeners out there that are kind of hesitant to, uh, to approach this and have a healthy conversation and honest conversation with their kids, it’s like you need to, because you need to be a part of that molding process.
Richie: Right on Garrett. It’s 100% true because we’re teaching boys. Uh, I read a body of research as actually a good friend of mine that I work with here, Joe Robertson, she’s an educator and researcher around sex and pornography and she just gave this brilliant Ted talk. Brilliant. Like one of the best I’ve seen.
Garrett: What’s her name?
Richie: Her name is Jo Robertson. It’s not online yet, but when it is, when it is, I promise I’ll send it to you cause it’s one of the, it’s one of the best dude. Like it’s truly a great talk on pornography. It’s powerful and inspiring. But she talked about and the research that she’s conducted that pornography he’s not just teaching boys how to act. We’re seeing an increasing number of young women and girls look at pornography too because they want to know what to expect or what’s expected of them. So everyone is getting their roles shaped for them by, um, a really limited view of what sex and power dynamics look like. And I would argue and the research support, as you know, and as you’re talking about, it’s not always a a healthy model. I’ve talked to so many woman through my presentations who just take like sexual harassment and that’s just how it is guys pinching their butts at a club or wolf whistling at them or yelling stuff out of the car window at them or just that that daily sort of oppression for lack of a better word is something that so many women have grown up expecting because it is so culturally normalized. And then porn is part and parcel of that. And then porn objectifies women in particular, I’m not saying men aren’t victims of domestic violence and sexual violence too. They are and we need to acknowledge that. But predominantly the violence in the, in, uh, the, the, the, the, the power dynamics are asymmetrical in that to me and dominating woman or putting women down or being aggressive towards woman. And, um, so many women have just come to expect that. And it’s sad, man. Like I go into schools and, uh, took on a guidance counselor, like, yeah, this is Frank. But young girls are having anal sex at 14 years old and getting like very serious physical injuries and, and needing to go to hospital, get like surgery and stuff because they try to recreate the pornography that the boyfriends are consuming or getting their model from and, and they forget that porn is fake, man. My, those actors and actresses who are paid to do that and just because it looks like they like it, it doesn’t mean they do.
Garrett: Right. One thing I wanted to ask you was, because you are with youth so often, um, I wanted to know what your opinion was like what’s, what’s first base nowadays, Richie?
Richie: Oh, dude anal sex. I found a funny meme the other day and it was like, remember the days when they were there were first, second, third and fourth bases and like holding hands with someone. It’s a big deal. Well it’s all the reverse now on a day and age are like hookup apps and Tinder and Grindr and porn where everyone f***s on the first date because that’s what you do to be cool. And then maybe one day you might like get to know each other’s last name and hold hands. You know, like there’s so much, I’m not saying this from like a moral point of view. I don’t have a problem with premarital sex. I don’t think sex outside of marriage is necessarily a bad thing personally, if it’s done consensually and kindly and mutually pleasurably. But so much of our modern, uh, landscape is, um, someone using someone else for whatever reason. It’s incredibly sad. It’s just incredibly sad in a day and age where everyone’s got mental health problems and struggles and we’re increasingly lonely and disconnected. And then now sex, it’s just become this thing that we do and it’s so away and in transactional for one have a been a word. So people are expected to just like jump straight into, you know, hardcore sex scenes on the first date with someone that they met online. And then…
Garrett: I thought, I thought, I’m actually surprised that you said that anal was the, uh, first base. I thought you would say that sexting was first base.
Richie: Oh, okay. I’m sorry, I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m, I guess I’m being lighthearted. Well not lighthearted, but I’m being flippant there. Uh, yeah, you’re right. Yeah. sexting is a, again, that’s another huge part. I mean, it’s a whole different conversation. Um, I guess I was thinking in more literal terms, but yeah, you’re right. Um, again, that’s another feature of, of, of what young people were doing is this as big pressure to send nudes. I was at a school the other day, literally like three weeks ago, and a young man, 14, 15 years old, put his hand up and asked “Is it alright to ask for nudes?”, um, in front of all the other kids because it was so normal. Like he wasn’t embarrassed about asking that question. Uh, and we have new laws here in New Zealand and I believe you have in the United States and other countries around revenge porn because we know so many young people, in fact, all people of all demographics are sending nudes or sexually explicit images or videos to one another. But then they often, um, not mindful of that consent applies digitally as well. And then for those images on or the relationship will end. So they’ll try and hurt the other person’s feelings by putting it online. And again, like I’m not saying sexually explicit imagery between consenting adults who are, you know, adults, not children, um, is inherently a bad thing, but we need to be mindful of that is quite a lot of pressure on that for young people to recreate the media environment that we’ve created for them to navigate and it’s really damaging.
Garrett: Um, one thing I wanted to ask you, Richie, since you grew up, um, and you said you, you would turn to pornography, um, you mentioned how you had that girl that was like, Hey, she will, she woke you up in the sense of like, “Hey, this might be affecting you and it’s affecting our relationship.”, since kind of walking away from pornography since you’ve done that, what benefits have you experienced personally?
Richie: That’s a really big question. No one’s ever asked me that before. Um, thanks.
Garrett: For sure.
Richie: Okay. Hello world. I’m going to talk about some really personal stuff. Um, I guess I’ve had to learn how to connect with,…
Garrett: By the way, if you don’t want to say it, no problem.
Richie: No, no, it’s fine. It’s a good question. It’s a good, it’s a good question. I don’t care man. I cool. Like whatever you got. I’m going to have haters anyway. I don’t even care. You know, like, like if you’re going to talk about contentious stuff, you might as well just go all in I reckon.
Garrett: For sure.
Richie: Uh, I look at the world differently. To be honest, when I was young man is like as politically aware as I think I was, I still really objectify a women. I took a lot of, um, I was quite an insecure guy and I think I took a lot of, this is all retrospective learning. Looking back now, now that I’m in my late thirties, I just think I took a lot of, uh, validation from being with girls, attractive woman. And while I was never out in the clubs cruising, trying to pick up girls when I had some sort of flirtation or sexual attention from a woman, on some level it made me feel good. But actually what I was was lonely and insecure and I didn’t think very much of myself. And, um, I think porn taught me to objectify women to some degree and, and, and the longer I have been without porn the deeper I have come to, um, how do I say it? Appreciate women or value this. The other thing, I have this weird thing that might sound paradoxical to some listeners, but like women have always been my best friends. I’ve always had female friends more than guy friends. I’m kind of a sensitive dude and I like talking about a whole range of different issues that don’t always take place in the kickboxing gym, you know?
Richie: So I’ve always had a lot of close female friends. I’ve never just been like,…
Garrett: All the dudes.
Richie: Yeah, well I’m not trying to sound like, “Oh Hey look at me. I’m like, this sensitive new age guy.”
Garrett: Oh no. I’m just saying that instead of hanging with lots of dudes and being with the guys, you just connect well with females.
Richie: Yeah. I can link with the females. And so they’re more, I’d listen to their experiences about how their boyfriends were or the guy treated them. The more I reflected on the porn I was consuming and I that I was part of the problem, you know?
Richie: And it made me start looking at yeah, the way I had sex, and what sex meant to me, and the importance of sex. And um, the more I got academically educated about these issues, cause now I literally work for like the government talking about porn and sexual violence prevention. Right. Um, so, so I get to read all this highbrow stuff, but it’s all been part of my own personal unpacking of what I was conditioned with. Does that make sense? So that was parallel with my professional development, my personal development. And now I’m in a really amazing relationship with a really amazing partner. And, um, I guess when I think about it, like our sex, life is not the sex life I had when I was in my twenties. It’s, it’s about like how I know it’s about our hearts connecting more than our bodies connecting. Do you know, or as much cell bodies connecting because I know that sounds real. I know that sounds real corny, but it’s true. I never, I knew I never knew how to make love with my girlfriend and I love my, you know, when I was young and I was in the longterm relationship when I’ve had a couple of serious girlfriends and casual relationships, like I really genuinely loved or cared about those people, but I didn’t know how to express that with my body because I had this template of what sex is and it’s taken me quite a while. To be honest with you, Garrett, to unpack there and learn how to not just like make out but to like, I dunno, make love for one of the better terms.
Garrett: That’s really cool. That’s really cool. That’s amazing. I like to,…
Richie: Well, I don’t know…
Garrett: I think it is amazing. I think you were just about to say, “I don’t know if it’s amazing.” is that what you were about to say?
Richie: Yeah, I was like, “I don’t know if that’s amazing.” Some people out there must think I’m a freak. But I’m like…
Garrett: No, the reality is, I mean of course like you talked about the haters and it’s easy to criticize and condemn and complain and, and call names and be a pessimist. But the reality is, is what you did, that transformation of your template, your sexual template, the, the awareness that you have is amazing. And I think it’s for, it’s important for our listeners to hear, uh, what can happen as you start to be more conscious, you start to consider before consuming because a, you can see great benefits like you mentioned. So that’s, that’s cool.
Richie: I just think that if we can live in alignment as best as we can, then we’re going to be happier. Like, you know, like I said, I’ve been in like I’m a vegetarian for 20 years and I’m working on going vegan and I’m mindful of like, uh, what products I consume cause I don’t want my money to go to shitty companies and I’m not perfect with that. But I try, you know, and, and I think it’d be a, a gross hypocrisy for me to not reflect on pornography is part of that.
Garrett: Yeah. That’s, I like that. It makes sense to me. So, um, one thing I did want to mention was the name of your Ted talk. We’ll try to link that to the a episode. The name of your Ted talk is Unpacking Unhealthy Masculinity and Teaching Boys to be Better Men. So I think you’re a great example of that, Richie, because you talked about how you had to do some unpacking, right?
Richie: Yeah, massively.
Garrett: And then, yeah, teaching others to do the same thing. So that’s pretty cool.
Richie: Thank you man. I think if we all can heal our wounds or fill the gaps in our own knowledge and share that wherever we may be able to, that’s how society gets bitter. Like no one knows. We all don’t know what we don’t know. Right? Like I think there’s a real problem in like call-out culture and woke culture that quite often we attack people for being incorrect or not knowing the right stuff, but how people are gonna, um, spontaneously combust knowledge. You know, I think it’s on people who might’ve been doing the work or academically or personally to compassionately and kindly share. They knew information and understandings in a way that brings people into the fold and brings people into the conversation. It doesn’t just make them feel ashamed and bad. Um, and that’s, I guess what I’m trying to do the best as I can. I’m not perfect. I’m still learning. There’s still 1,000,001 things that I, that I don’t know, but I’m really happy to be on this journey and doing this work.
Garrett: Yeah, well you’re doing a lot and the world’s a better place because of Richie hardcore. So…
Richie: [Laughter] You’re kind, man. Thanks Garrett. You’re good for my self esteem, man. I appreciate you!
Garrett: Well, uh, let’s stay in touch, Richie. It was a pleasure talking to you.
Richie: Yeah, that’s really nice to talk with you to thank you for your time and your energy and Garrett, you’re, you’re, you’re reaching so many people and you’re having so many honest conversations with people, um, from all around the world. And I just want to acknowledge your, your, your, your work too, so, so thank you.
Garrett: And that’s the goal, that’s the goal. So we’re in it together.
Thanks for joining us on this episode of Consider Before Consuming. Consider Before Consuming is brought to you by Fight the New Drug. Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and non-legislative organization that exists to provide indidviduals the opportunity to make informed decsicions regarding pornography, by raising awareness on it’s harmful effects using only science, facts, and persona accounts.
As you can tell, Richie is passionate about educating youth on the harmful effects of pornography, if you’re a person who wants to discuss the harmful effects of pornography and sexual explitation in effective ways, you should check out the three part documentary, Brain, Heart, World. You can watch it for free by going to brainheartworld.org. Another great tool is our conversation blueprint, you can find that at ftnd.org/blueprint, that’s FTND.org/blueprint