Jonathon van Maren

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Young people don’t need ‘porn literacy’ classes about Fifty Shades: Porn must simply be banned

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

February 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – On February 7, the New York Times published a long essay describing something that those of us who do anti-porn work are very familiar with: The socialization of an entire generation by Internet pornography, and how young people have taken their cues on sexuality from the porn that they begin to consume at an increasingly young age.

The young man the Times profiled, whom they refer to as “Drew,” was eight years old when he first encountered pornography. That is unfortunately extremely common. 

Drew recounts how pornography pervaded both his perception of the opposite sex, his interactions with them, and his expectations about sexuality. Many times, Drew and his peers found themselves confused—like with the Fifty Shades of Grey craze, for example. Was it okay to hit girls? Was inflicting pain on girls permissible, even desirable? Where was the line?

And of course, the girls were also being socialized by what they consumed—and were equally confused. What do the boys expect from us? Is this sexual violence thing normal? Do we have to do that?

Some of Drew’s peers related that they would “just do it” when it came to common porn practices like anal sex, because that’s what the guys in porn did. The guys in porn were rough and demanding, and that seemed to work for them.

Others, like Drew, were confused—and had the sinking feeling that maybe there was something wrong about it all.

In response to the ubiquity of porn, some schools are now piloting a “Porn Literacy” course, which helps young people interpret pornography and understand that it is not real life. That, apparently, is the best “sex educators” can do when trying to combat the influence of porn on sex.

Pornography is actually quite a bit more dangerous than the Times essay lets on. Geoff Rogers, the CEO of the US Institute Against Human Trafficking, announced earlier this month at a Justice Department Summit on Human Trafficking that he believes that pornography is partially responsible for driving the demand for human trafficking. While buying sex and trafficking girls and women is nothing new, Rogers noted, “the increasing insatiable desire for sex with children in our society is something new, and it’s running rampant in our society.” 

Rogers noted that a comprehensive approach to combatting human trafficking must, in his view, also include a strategy to keep porn out of the hands of boys and girls.

Reported The Epoch Times:

Rogers said the National Center on Sexual Exploitation has collected evidence from numerous studies that prove that pornography and our hypersexualized culture are driving the insatiable desire for sex and the purchase of sex, including that of children.

“Societally, we need to shift. We’ve got to grab hold of this and understand that as a society it is not OK that we have an entire young generation of kids growing up with ready access to hardcore, deviant, violent pornography,” Rogers said. “I heard one expert say it best—that pornography is one of the greatest unchecked social experiments that our world has ever seen.”

Rogers is correct.

One poll indicated that 56% of young men admitted that their porn tastes had become “increasingly extreme or deviant,” with only 21% of them saying that this fact bothered them. As children access porn at a younger and younger age, it begins to impact their development:

Again, from The Epoch Times' report:

"The perfect storm is here, where we have a young generation of kids that have access to hardcore, violent pornography on their cellphones at age 9, 10, 11,” Rogers said. “They’re growing up addicted to pornography; that’s shaping their sexual template. And at some point, they’re moving from visualization to actualization.”

It is high time that our culture dealt with pornography in a real and meaningful way. There is virtually no one who is claiming that pervasive Internet pornography is having a positive impact on our culture. When I debated a pro-porn professor on the radio on this subject, even she admitted that the vast majority of pornography was deeply damaging. The impact on the first generation to grow up with pervasive pornography is already beginning to manifest itself in sinister ways, and it is clear that we need to do far more to protect children from this material than we currently are.

But “porn literacy” courses are a castrated way to approach the problem.

Pornography is the problem, not porn illiteracy. Pornography is not going to be part of the solution. Banishing pornography from childhood will be the only effective antidote.

And so I think that the radical proposal of Ross Douthat—which is currently incurring outrage across the Internets—is a much better one. In the wake of the #MeToo movement and the growing mountain of evidence that porn is having a harmful impact on society, “Let’s ban porn,” he suggested in his New York Times Sunday column:

So if you want better men by any standard, there is every reason to regard ubiquitous pornography as an obstacle — and to suspect that between virtual reality and creepy forms of customization, its influence is only likely to get worse.

But unlike many structural forces with which moralists of the left and right contend, porn is also just a product — something made and distributed and sold, and therefore subject to regulation and restriction if we so desire.

The belief that it should not be restricted is a mistake; the belief that it cannot be censored is a superstition. Law and jurisprudence changed once and can change again, and while you can find anything somewhere on the internet, making hard-core porn something to be quested after in dark corners would dramatically reduce its pedagogical role, its cultural normalcy, its power over libidos everywhere.

That we cannot imagine such censorship is part of our larger inability to imagine any escape from the online world’s immersive power, even as we harbor growing doubts about its influence upon our psyches.

But in this sense porn also presents an opportunity to reconsider the tendency to just drift along with technological immersion, a chance where the moral stakes are sharpened to prove we don’t have to accept enslavement to our screens.

Feminists should take it. We should all take it. It is not only decency but eros itself that waits to be regained.

Exactly. Here is common ground that feminists, Christians, and people of common sense who don’t think that women getting choked or subjected to violence is healthy for the soul or for society, can set up camp on.

There is nothing good to be said about pornography, and there is no porn user who is better off for his or her habit. Let’s start treating porn like the cultural cancer it is, and having a discussion on how to root it out.

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Jonathon van Maren

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Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has been translated into more than eight languages and published widely online as well as print newspapers such as the Jewish Independent, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator and others. He has received an award for combating anti-Semitism in print from the Jewish organization B’nai Brith. His commentary has been featured on CTV Primetime, Global News, EWTN, and the CBC as well as dozens of radio stations and news outlets in Canada and the United States.

He speaks on a wide variety of cultural topics across North America at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions. Some of these topics include abortion, pornography, the Sexual Revolution, and euthanasia. Jonathon holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history from Simon Fraser University, and is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Jonathon’s first book, The Culture War, was released in 2016.