Jonathon Van Maren

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The surprising ways porn is seriously hurting the pro-life cause

Jonathon Van Maren Jonathon Van Maren Follow Jonathon

I’m often asked whether I think pornography addiction has any implication for pro-life activism. Over the past few years of working full-time as a pro-life activist while also frequently doing anti-porn work, I’ve discovered that these two cultural scourges often merge—and that the widespread use of pornography in our culture has an often profound impact on pro-life activism. Here are five reasons why:

  1. Abortion and pornography are both inherently dehumanizing

With virtually every widespread injustice, we see that dehumanization leads to victimization. The abortion worldview dehumanizes pre-born human beings, with pro-abortion people denying that pre-born children are humans at all, and often referring to them as “fetal tissue,” “clumps of cells,” or even “parasites.” This dehumanizing rhetoric is used to strip away the humanity and personhood from the youngest members of the human family, and consequently, to destroy their lives in numbers that are as tragic as they are staggering.

Pornography, too, dehumanizes the participants and has been instrumental in creating a violent new ideology of sex over the past two decades. In pornography, women are sex objects to be used and abused by men, and subjected to the most barbaric tortures and twisted versions of sexual assault. The horrifying scenarios played out in porn, from gang rapes to other forms of sadism, are creating a new rape culture in which sexual assault is trivialized: after all, when the majority of pornography portrays violence against women, and the majority of the population is watching porn for recreation or entertainment, the impact on gender relations is going to be profound.

Dr. Gail Dines recounts in her book Pornland: How Porn is Hijacking Our Sexuality, how women in pornography are only referred to by vile epithets such as “whore” or “slut”—or, as she details in one particularly mauling chapter, a wide variety of other names too repulsive to repeat here or anywhere.

Dehumanization leading to victimization: In both the abortion worldview and the porn ideology, the same tragic trajectory is played out.

  1. Respect for women in the public square is plummeting

Any pro-life activist can attest to the fact that female pro-life activists are often subject to stomach-churning verbal abuse. My female colleagues have, in my hearing, been told they should be raped, told they are vile and ugly (they’re all quite beautiful, for the record), and called names that, I discovered in my research, find their origins in pornography. Pro-life activists from every part of the movement can attest to similar abuse. The shocking prevalence of the “c-word,” too, is a direct result of porn ideology. Dr. Gail Dines refers to mainstream pornography as “hate-speech against women.” In that vein, I think it’s fair to say that the “c-word” is to misogyny what the “n-word” is to racism. The verbal abuse men subject women to today in public would have been unthinkable mere decades ago.

  1. Porn ideology and abortion ideology feed off each other

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Abortion, trumpeted as a tool of female liberation, in reality freed men to use women without fearing the natural results of intercourse. I meet university students, who, in spite of relentless sex education beginning at a young age, are bewildered when I point out that sex makes babies. I hear things like, “What if my girlfriend gets pregnant by accident?” (What, did you trip and fall?), or: “My girlfriend got pregnant and I don’t know how that happened!” (Really? I wasn’t there and I’m pretty sure I know how it happened.) While abortion allowed people to treat sex as recreation (even if they did have to use their “reproductive organs”), the widespread use of pornography took things one step further.

Abortion ideology reduced pre-born children to disposable objects. Porn ideology reduces women to sex object status. With over 80% of males watching pornography, the view that sex and pregnancy have no inherent link is becoming even further entrenched—after all, pornography shows a manufactured fantasy rather than a real life situation. Children, when they do appear on the scene, are often unwelcome intruders into the sex lives of those who feel they have no right to be there.

  1. If men dehumanize the women they see, it’s that much easier to dehumanize the child they can’t see

Especially talking to high school students, the impact of porn use is becoming more readily apparent. It’s not hard to see why: If over 80% of men are systematically dehumanizing women and girls through the use of pornography, it’s that much harder to convince them that the pre-born are human, too. Most of them haven’t even given children in the womb much thought—and as I mentioned previously, they’ve already separated sex from pregnancy.

When we engage these students—the first boys and girls of the Porn Generation—the task can be more difficult than simply illustrating the humanity of the pre-born child to them. We must combat both abortion ideology as well as porn ideology, and fight dehumanization on two fronts. With many people, appealing to the role of men in standing up for the women in their lives and protecting their children is very effective. However, porn ideology is attacking the very role of men and everything good and noble about masculinity. In short, many boys no longer have any idea about what it means to be a man.

  1. Pornography is robbing the pro-life movement of men

It’s always a bit amusing to me when people say the pro-life movement is made up of old men. In fact, most pro-life organizations are made up primarily of women rather than men. I’ve found, time and time again, that the reason for this is the fact that huge numbers of Christian and pro-life men struggle with pornography. Many of them are convicted by the abortion issue, and many of them are truly passionate about helping their neighbors. But the guilt and shame from porn addiction cripples and castrates them, and when they confront themselves with the hypocrisy of standing up for women and children in public while participating in the dehumanization and victimization of women through pornography in private, they often choose to not get involved. The pro-life movement - and I would wager many other worthy causes - are robbed of many talented and passionate men by the scourge of pornography.

To conclude: Porn ideology and abortion ideology are interwoven to a much greater extent than people realize. While we fight abortion ideology in public, we must be sure to fight porn ideology in private, protecting ourselves from porn while also assisting those friends and loved ones who may still be fighting it.

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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.