Jonathon Van Maren

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What to tell a dad who knows his son watches porn, but isn’t worried about it

Jonathon Van Maren Jonathon Van Maren Follow Jonathon

April 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Over the past several weeks in the Netherlands, I have been giving a number of lectures on abortion, pornography, and other aspects of the culture wars. At one event, I was detailing how pornography has largely transformed sexuality among young people, especially in regard to the sexually violent behavior that has now been mainstreamed. One middle-aged gentleman strenuously objected, noting that he had two sons, that they probably watched pornography, and that he was sure they would never do anything horrible to a girl. After all, he pointed out, don’t all people have the wherewithal to discern between fantasy and reality?

I responded by pointing out a number of problems with his question. First of all, if pornography has caused enormous numbers of young people to fantasize about sexual violence, isn’t that a problem in and of itself? Isn’t it also true that we have one brain, and that we don’t have a separate brain with which to court fantasy? And finally: Watching violent pornography is participating in sexual violence. In a movie when someone gets beat up or shot, they didn’t actually get beat up or shot. But in a porn flick when a girl gets choked, slapped, and abused, that is a real girl actually getting choked, slapped, and abused.

The final point I made was this: The reason pornography has been so particularly poisonous is that it has mainstreamed sexual violence. It has introduced choking, slapping, sadism, and masochism into our sexual culture not as some strange fantasy, but as a normal thing that people can engage in, regardless of who gets hurt. That’s why Fifty Shades of Grey sold 100 million copies while women’s groups protested that these “fantasies” were going to result in more women getting badly hurt. Sexual predators now use these porn storylines as excuses for their behavior. 

To give one of many examples, turn your eyes for a moment to Australia, where Plan Australia and Our Watch just released a survey commissioned from Ipsos. Titled “Don’t send me that pic,” the survey report was the result of collecting responses from girls aged 15 through 19 in all Australian states and territories. The survey stated bluntly that sexual abuse and harassment, especially online, were now “endemic,” and according to Melinda Tankard Reist, writing for ABC News Australia, “Sexual bullying and harassment are a part of daily life for many girls. Young people are speaking out more and more about how these practices have links with pornography—and so they should, because they have most to lose.”

Further to that, Reist noted, “Pornography is moulding and conditioning the sexual behaviors and attitudes of boys, and girls are being left without the resources to deal with these porn-saturated boys.” She also described her own interaction with students, and her experiences reflect my own: “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.” Those who doubt that this is the case, she continued, should simply ask the girls who are forced to live in this world: “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.”

When she asked girls about their sexual experiences, Reist writes, they responded to her in terms of whether the male enjoyed it. “Growing up in a pornified landscape,” she observed, “girls learn that they are service stations for male gratification and pleasure.” When asked how girls knew if a boy liked them, one teen replied that a key indicator was if the boy still wanted to talk after the girl provided oral sex. High school boys are known to promise a kiss in exchange for sex acts: “girls are expected to provide sex acts for tokens of affection.” Girls also reported that requests for nude pictures are virtually ubiquitous, and that they often simply to not know how to say no in a teen culture where it is normal. The boys, for their part, swap the imagery and not infrequently use them to humiliate the girls. Girls, in short, are expected to provide boys the means to destroy their lives.

Not surprisingly, young girls are also asking about so-called BDSM practices. “Many of them had seen 50 Shades of Grey,” Reist writes, adding: 

They ask, if he wants to hit me, tie me up and stalk me, does that mean he loves me? Girls are putting up with demeaning and disrespectful behaviours, and thereby internalizing pornography’s messages about their dismissive role. I meet girls who described being groped in the school yard…they tell me boys act like they are entitled to girls’ bodies. Defenders of porn often say that it provides sex education. And it does: it teaches even very young boys that women and girls are always up for it. ‘No’ in fact means yes, or persuade me.

The girls know that they are being compared to porn stars, and as a result requests for labiaplasty (cosmetic surgery for female genitals) have tripled in the past ten years for females under age 24.

Reist then quotes the director of a centre for domestic violence victims operating on the Gold Coast, noting that “porn-related injuries” in even very young girls were spiking dramatically:

In the past few years we have had a huge increase in intimate partner rape of women from 14 to 80+. The biggest common denominator is consumption of porn by the offender. With offenders not able to differentiate between fantasy and reality, believing women are 'up for it' 24/7, ascribing to the myth that 'no means yes and yes means anal', oblivious to injuries caused and never ever considering consent. We have seen a huge increase in deprivation of liberty, physical injuries, torture, drugging, filming and sharing footage without consent.

The evidence that pornography is devastating the minds of young people across the globe is increasingly impossible to deny. In Australia, a Senate inquiry is gathering evidence of porn’s impact on young people, and a symposium on the issue was also held recently. Emeritus Professor Freda Briggs recently noted that porn is turning children into “copycat sexual predators,” and the rates of children abusing children have climbed astronomically in the past few years. Perhaps even more shockingly, the Australian Psychological Society has estimated that adolescent boys commit around 20% of rapes of adult women, and a full 30% to 50% of sexual assaults on children. The impact this has on the lives involved is shattering and life-long.

The survey report concludes with some blunt and much-needed advice from 18-year-old Josie:

We need some sort of crack down on violent pornography that is currently accessible to boys and men. This violent pornography should be illegal to make or view in Australia as we clearly have a problem with violence and boys are watching a lot of pornography which can be very violent…This is influencing men’s attitudes towards women and what they think is acceptable. Violent pornography is infiltrating Australian relationships.

And that, in so many words, is what I mean when I say that pornography has mainstreamed sexual violence: It has made it normal. Girls are expected to accept sexual abuse, men are expected to perpetrate it, and pornography is driving the demand.

Another young father approached me at the end of the lecture for some more information. He had several sons, and wanted to know just how worried he should be about pornography. I asked him if he had a daughter, and he said that he did. I asked him if he would be comfortable allowing her to go out on a date, alone, with a young man who regularly aroused himself to the sexually violent pornography that is now mainstream among young men. He physically flinched, but that is what this boils down to: Girls and women having to navigate a landscape where young men have been raised on pornography that would have been difficult for our parents to find and impossible for many of our grandparents to imagine.

Pornography is destroying relationships and healthy sexuality, and we owe it to the upcoming generations to fix this—which likely means banning access to violent porn entirely. 

Jonathon’s new podcast, The Van Maren Show, is dedicated to telling the stories of the pro-life and pro-family movement. In his latest episode, he interviews Scott Klusendorf,  a veteran of the pro-life movement. In this episode, he tells Jonathon Van Maren that the “seamless garment" approach is “a threat to the survival of the pro-life movement" and that "I will fight it with everything that's in me.” You can subscribe here, and listen to the episode below: 

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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.