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At this point I’m utterly disgusted by almost everything I’ve read about the various sexual misdeeds of famous and powerful men. Yes, almost all of these accounts are merely allegations, but I’m finding the apologies of most of these men to be truly wanting and indicative of some guilt. Furthermore, the descriptions of the assaults and “come-ons” seem like they’re out of a teen boy’s fantasies with an odd commonality to them.

There have always been boorish men and sexual deviants. In some societies, they dominated the culture and in others good men kept them in check. In the flotsam and jetsam of the sexual revolution of the 1960s, good men are hard to find. As a culture, we have cast off any natural or supernatural authority over us and, instead, given ourselves over to our desires: “What I feel or want in this moment is all that matters.” There is a reason the Baby Boomers are occasionally referred to as the “Me Generation” and they are the ones who have largely shaped today’s realities.

When considering what is driving the barbaric behavior of these men, it seems as though there are two major factors. One, of course, is the sexual revolution and moral relativism of our times. The other, though, may actually be porn.

But is it really fair to single out porn as a major driver behind the violations of women by famous and powerful men?

As social media goes, I happen to be “friends” with a variety of people with whom I’m not truly a friend and barely an acquaintance. Such is the way of life in our connected world. While scrolling through my feed, a woman who serves in a fundraising capacity for a political campaign was sharing screenshots of texts she gets from some men who offer to help the campaign … in exchange for sexual favors. Here’s a portion of her post:

First of all, it doesn’t offend me when people find me attractive. Sometimes the feeling is mutual. But the expectation that campaign support entitles one to sexual favors… isn’t sexy. I get invited to a hotel room, asked for nudes, or otherwise propositioned literally every day.

Every day this boorish behavior goes on?!? How has it happened that such behavior is considered acceptable or even a turn-on to women? Here are screen shots of some of the texts she has received:

sexual harassment

Sexual Harassment political campaign text

Sexual Harassment text

When I saw these texts, I was honestly appalled that men would do these sorts of things. Yes, I’ve heard of “dick pics” and “send nudes”, but to be confronted with such behavior aimed at someone you don’t know truly reveals the depravity of our society. And then when you read about the alleged behavior of men like Charlie Rose, Harry Weinstein, Russell Simmons, and others, a pathology of sorts begins to appear. 

That idea of a pathology or commonality to this behavior brings me back to pornography. Some will argue that there has always been pornography and therefore it shouldn’t be considered as a factor. Sure, there has always been pornography of some type, but was it as readily available online, displaying innumerable sex acts and accessible by anyone? Certainly not.

The internet in its current form has only been around for a generation. We are in some of the greatest social experiments in the history of man. Think about it, how many “firsts” have taken place in the last decade or two? Hundreds? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? From Esquire:

…here’s the thing about the generation of 10-13 year old boys who came just after me – those born after, say, 1992 – and all 10-13 year old boys since: any one of them can see more naked women on their phone in 10 minutes than most grown men in history saw in their entire lifetimes. They can also, of course, see women performing acts most men in history would never have dreamt up, let alone witnessed. And unsurprisingly, in overwhelming numbers, this is precisely what they choose do. The government, slowly waking up to the issue, issued a cross-party report in 2012 that revealed one in three boys of this age had viewed explicit material online, with four out of five becoming regular uses by the time they were 16.

What we’re learning about widespread pornography use isn’t good, and it is quite likely detrimental to a healthy, flourishing society. From the BBC:

A tenth of 12 to 13-year-olds fear they are ‘addicted’ to pornography, an NSPCC ChildLine survey has concluded.

One in five of nearly 700 youngsters surveyed said they had seen pornographic images that had shocked or upset them, researchers found. The charity also says that 12% of those surveyed said they had taken part in, or had made, a sexually explicit video.

It says that viewing porn is ‘a part of everyday life’ for many of the children who contact its helpline. ChildLine has launched a campaign to raise awareness and provide advice to young people about the harmful implications of an over exposure to porn following the survey results.

One boy under the age of 15 told ChildLine that he was ‘always watching porn, and some of it is quite aggressive’.

He said: ‘I didn’t think it was affecting me at first but I’ve started to view girls a bit differently recently and it’s making me worried.

‘I would like to get married in the future but I’m scared it might never happen if I carry on thinking about girls the way I do.’

A girl, who is now 17, told the BBC that she was sexually assaulted by her boyfriend when they were both 12 years old.

‘He thought it was OK on some level,’ she said.’I felt dirty, confused, shocked.’

Dirty, confused, shocked. That sounds an awful lot like the girls and young women who are reporting their stories about Charlie Rose at PBS, Glenn Thrush at The New York Times, Russell Simmons at Def Jam Recordings, and all of the others.

Have these men, like the 12-year-old in the BBC article, habituated themselves to violent, pornographic fantasies and then acted upon them? Perhaps porn is not as harmless as some have led us to believe. Indeed, if it is true that porn can rewire your brain, cause you to be more violent, addict you, destroy intimacy between couples, wreck marriages, and so on, then we have quite a problem on our hands.

Here’s an account from Melinda Tankard Reist, an Australian who works on the topic and promotes the dignity of women:

My own engagement with young women over the last few years in schools around Australia, confirms that we are conducting a pornographic experiment on young people – an assault on their healthy sexual development.

If there are still any questions about whether porn has an impact on young people’s sexual attitudes and behaviours, perhaps it’s time to listen to young people themselves. Girls and young women describe boys pressuring them to provide acts inspired by the porn they consume routinely. Girls tell of being expected to put up with things they don’t enjoy.

Some see sex only in terms of performance, where what counts most is the boy enjoying it. I asked a 15-year-old about her first sexual experience. She replied: ‘I think my body looked OK. He seemed to enjoy it’. Many girls seem cut off from their own sense of pleasure or intimacy. That he enjoyed it is the main thing. Girls and young women are under a lot of pressure to give boys and men what they want, to adopt pornified roles and behaviours, with their bodies being merely sex aids. Growing up in a pornified landscape, girls learn that they are service stations for male gratification and pleasure.

Asked ‘How do you know a guy likes you?,’ a Year 8 replied: ‘He still wants to talk to you after you suck him off.’ A male high school student said to a girl: ‘If you suck my dick I’ll give you a kiss.’ Girls are expected to provide sex acts for tokens of affection. A 15-year-old told me she didn’t enjoy sex at all, but that getting it out of the way quickly was the only way her boyfriend would settle down and watch a movie with her.

How is the behavior of the boys these girls describe any different than that of the famous and powerful men who are being brought down by sexual assault and harassment allegations? Is it not reasonable to see a pattern of behavior taking place not only in America, but also across the world? What seems to be at the bottom of it all is our moral relativism and “pornified” society.

Is this wretched behavior, of girls “sucking a guy off” to get a kiss, the fruit of the sexual revolution and the shattering of traditional sexual mores? Are women really in a better place as a result? How many of these ladies have fought or argued for sexual license, but pine for a Mr. Darcy or a Mr. Knightley a la Jane Austen? 

I look at my daughters who are all under the age of 10 and worry about what the future looks like for them. Do I want them to think that they need to be a porn star to win the affection of a boy? Hell no. Do I want them receiving “dick pics”? Again, hell no. Do I want them to be assaulted and forced to watch or perform various sexual fantasies? Of course not.  

Going forward, I’m not sure how it will play out. For all of the talk of female empowerment, these stories of sexual abuse or assault or harassment almost always involve the woman, out of fear, doing something sexual that she doesn’t want to do. Many of these acts are already illegal, yet the men did them anyway … and almost got away with it for years and, possibly, decades. The natural, carnal dynamics between men and women are on display for all of us to see if we’re willing to open our eyes. 

Ultimately, we must ask ourselves what kind of society and culture we want. Do we continue down the path of an overly sexualized and pornified culture? One in which we tell everyone to feed their sexual appetites however they want, to fantasize all they want, but then say women should not be objectified or “service stations” for men? It doesn’t seem to work. All around us we can see the results of the sexual revolution and the rejection of traditional societal mores.

Or do we want a society that has a unifying ethic with cultural mores that urge men to control their appetites and to seek virtue? Is something like that even possible or desirable? Could we see the return of a Mr. Darcy or Mr. Knightely? We shall see. Pendulums do tend to swing.

 

 

 

This post Porn and Sexual Assaults: Is there a link? was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Devin Foley.


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