A new study coming out of the University of Surrey in the UK indicates that participants identified more with the comments of real life rapists than with the harmless comments found in men's magazines. For the full article, please click on Can You Tell The Difference Between a Men's Magazine and a Rapist?
The exploding information sharing platform TED had a conversation this past week (see conversation here at TED Conversation) that I was watching closely. What I found disturbing -- more than the cited statistic that the average age of a boy's exposure to hardcore porn is now only 11 years old -- was the desire for parents to continue to use porn as a way of positive sexual education for their children. Of course they're going to experiment, so why shouldn't they know how to make themselves feel good as long as it's consenual?
So when I read about adults identifying more with the comments of convicted rapists rather than these educational magazines about liberating sexuality, I become seriously concerned.
1. The reality is: our hyper-sexualized culture has become so demanding that we have whatever kind of sex we want, when we want it, that we have lost focus. Instead of evolving or being liberated from the oppressive Victorian Age, we are descending into a kind of animal frenzy with a thin veneer of justification on top of us.
2. Porn is not educational. It is still largely male-centric: that is, women are still the objects and men are still the consumers. Despite what liberated feminists believe, or want to believe, women are still glossy pin-ups for guys to get off by. We haven't evolved nearly as much as we would want others to be. And despite what liberated feminists declare ("Well I know plenty of smart, sophisticated, learned, intelligent sex workers!"), I have yet to met a sex worker who fully loves her choices, or even sees her role in society as a choiceto begin with. Granted, I have not met every sex trade worker in the country, but I've met and known enough to be convinced that prostitution and porn are not black/white choices, if choice as we know it even enters the picture. (and by 'liberated feminist', I'm using a term LFs use to declare that they are women fully embracing all forms of sexuality, and that expressions of such sexuality must be engaged in to be fully woman... fully human... any suggestion to the contrary is seen as oppression. Please do not confuse this rather lopsided form of feminism with other uplifting, spirit-serving forms)
3. If people are struggling to have conversations with kids about sexuality and are turning to porn for it, what is lacking in our churches and spiritual circles where there ought to be a better chance for truth and a fuller scope of relationships? I understand movements like the Family Movement or the Purity Movement, but parts of me wonder: if we declare "what is a family" or "what is pure" so starkly, are we effectively creating an elitism without considering the ramifications? Are kids looking at porn not just for curiousity, but because they are scared to share their questions in spiritual circles for fear of being branded a sinner or given a bunch of theology that might just... kill their spirits? I hate porn. I hate it with a passion. I hate what it's done to our kids, our communities, and our families. But if a girl loses her virginity and is told "You're not pure anymore", I get almost as equally disturbed. Since when did sex determine purity? I thought that was the Spirit's work... the reaction of our churches has sometimes been as fanatical and puritanical as porn has become hardcore and extreme.
4. In this hyper-sexualized culture, I know we need to draw attention to the realities of porn -- that it is selfish, deceitful, oppressive, and crude. It does nothing but take, take, take and has nothing to do with equality, liberation, or rights. But I need to say this too: as big of a part that porn plays in the sex trade, are those wanting to stand in abolition truly wanting to end sex's big dollar grip on our lives or... are we still drawn just to the sex aspect of it?
I can testify truly that to find volunteers to be advocates for those caught in labor trafficking are suddenly much harder to find when the sex aspect is less involved. Why is that? Are we all voyeurs at heart? I'd like to think not, but I can't help but wonder. Some days, I hate sharing the reality of sex trafficking having met people who use such a ministry to get the juicy goods. There are many people of great character who are not as such, but yes... I have met those who kind of fall away when the sex aspect is diminished.
5. I hardly think returning to the Victorian era is any kind of answer. Being prudes or uptight people when it comes to sexual dialogue only pushes the porn agenda further -- then it really does become a viable option of learning. What are ways we can engage our kids with truth and love while exposing porn for what it is: abusive, addictive, oppressive shit that has destroyed millions of lives?
When men's magazines and rapists are both giving the SAME MESSAGES... do you think the violence is going to stop? Do you think the lust will? Do you think the trafficking will?
Oh but I forgot... women choose this lifestyle as fully liberated women who deserve the equal respect of the sex trade. Men have needs. They all look so happy in those mags... bars... hotel rooms...