- The American Conservative - http://www.theamericanconservative.com -

‘Porn Literacy’ Class For Teens

The New York Times reports from the new frontiers of the Sexual Revolution: [1]

Drew was 8 years old when he was flipping through TV channels at home and landed on “Girls Gone Wild.” A few years later, he came across HBO’s late-night soft-core pornography. Then in ninth grade, he found online porn sites on his phone. The videos were good for getting off, he said, but also sources for ideas for future sex positions with future girlfriends. From porn, he learned that guys need to be buff and dominant in bed, doing things like flipping girls over on their stomach during sex. Girls moan a lot and are turned on by pretty much everything a confident guy does. One particular porn scene stuck with him: A woman was bored by a man who approached sex gently but became ecstatic with a far more aggressive guy.

But around 10th grade, it began bothering Drew, an honor-roll student who loves baseball and writing rap lyrics and still confides in his mom, that porn influenced how he thought about girls at school. Were their breasts, he wondered, like the ones in porn? Would girls look at him the way women do in porn when they had sex? Would they give him blow jobs and do the other stuff he saw?

Drew, who asked me to use one of his nicknames, was a junior when I first met him in late 2016, and he told me some of this one Thursday afternoon, as we sat in a small conference room with several other high school boys, eating chips and drinking soda and waiting for an after-school program to begin. Next to Drew was Q., who asked me to identify him by the first initial of his nickname. He was 15, a good student and a baseball fan, too, and pretty perplexed about how porn translated into real life. Q. hadn’t had sex — he liked older, out-of-reach girls, and the last time he had a girlfriend was in sixth grade, and they just fooled around a bit. So he wasn’t exactly in a good position to ask girls directly what they liked. But as he told me over several conversations, it wasn’t just porn but rough images on Snapchat, Facebook and other social media that confused him. Like the GIF he saw of a man pushing a woman against a wall with a girl commenting: “I want a guy like this.” And the one Drew mentioned of the “pain room” in “Fifty Shades of Grey” with a caption by a girl: “This is awesome!”

Watching porn also heightened Q.’s performance anxiety. “You are looking at an adult,” he told me. “The guys are built and dominant and have a big penis, and they last a long time.” And if you don’t do it like the guys in porn, Drew added, “you fear she’s not going to like you.”

Leaning back in his chair, Drew said some girls acted as if they wanted some thug rather than a smart, sensitive guy. But was it true desire? Was it posturing? Was it what girls thought they were supposed to want? Neither Q. nor Drew knew. A couple of seats away, a sophomore who had been quiet until then added that maybe the girls didn’t know either. “I think social media makes girls think they want something,” he said, noting he hadn’t seen porn more than a handful of times and disliked it. “But I think some of the girls are afraid.”

“It gets in your head,” Q. said. “If this girl wants it, then maybe the majority of girls want it.” He’d heard about the importance of consent in sex, but it felt pretty abstract, and it didn’t seem as if it would always be realistic in the heat of the moment. Out of nowhere was he supposed to say: Can I pull your hair? Or could he try something and see how a girl responded? He knew that there were certain things — “big things, like sex toys or anal” — that he would not try without asking.

“I would just do it,” said another boy, in jeans and a sweatshirt. When I asked what he meant, he said anal sex. He assumed that girls like it, because the women in porn do.

“I would never do something that looked uncomfortable,” Drew said, jumping back into the conversation. “I might say, ‘I’ve seen this in porn — do you want to try it?’ ”

Drew — who, remember, started down this path at eight years old — and his friends are classmates in a Porn Literacy class for teenagers funded by the public health service in Boston. The idea is to teach teenagers — boys and girls both — that what they see in pornography is not real life. It turns out that hardcore porn is where lots of kids are getting their ideas about sex, and how men and women should relate. The point of the course is not to discourage kids from watching porn:

Instead it is grounded in the reality that most adolescents do see porn and takes the approach that teaching them to analyze its messages is far more effective than simply wishing our children could live in a porn-free world.

Imagine that you are a 14-year-old today. A friend might show you a short porn clip on his phone during the bus ride to school or after soccer practice. A pornographic GIF appears on Snapchat. Or you mistype the word “fishing” and end up with a bunch of links to “fisting” videos. Like most 14-year-olds, you haven’t had sex, but you’re curious, so maybe you start searching and land on one of the many porn sites that work much like YouTube — XVideos.com, Xnxx.com, BongaCams.com, all of them among the 100 most-frequented websites in the world, according to Alexa Top Sites. Or you find Pornhub, the most popular of the group, with 80 million visitors a day and more traffic than Pinterest, Tumblr or PayPal. The mainstream websites aren’t verifying your age, and your phone allows you to watch porn away from the scrutinizing eyes of adults. If you still have parental-control filters, you probably have ways around them.

Besides, there’s a decent chance your parents don’t think you are watching porn. Preliminary analysis of data from a 2016 Indiana University survey of more than 600 pairs of children and their parents reveals a parental naïveté gap: Half as many parents thought their 14- and 18-year-olds had seen porn as had in fact watched it. And depending on the sex act, parents underestimated what their kids saw by as much as 10 times.

What teenagers see on Pornhub depends partly on algorithms and the clips they’ve clicked on in the past. Along with stacks of videos on the opening page, there are several dozen categories (“teen,” “anal,” “blonde,” “girl on girl,” “ebony,” “milf”) that can take them to more than six million videos.

In case you don’t know, “milf” is a category in which the sexual focus is on young men having sex with a mom.

I encourage you to read the whole thing. [1]It can be difficult, but you need to know about this. The horror in the piece is the realization you may have — well, I had it — that what these public health educators are doing makes a kind of sense. I have never watched porn — hard to believe, but it’s true — which was why a lot of what is described in the piece is so hard to read. It’s not titillating at all, but clinical in its descriptions. The idea of those kinds of filthy, defiling images entering into the imaginations of kids is enraging. What these educators are trying to do is to take away some of those images’ power.

What they’re doing is “good” in the sense that a public health educator teaching teenage junkies how to shoot heroin without killing themselves is good. The whole thing is evil to the core. We live in a degenerate culture that believes it has to teach its children that despite what they’ve seen on their smartphones, not all women like to be sodomized, choked during sex, or to have men ejaculating on their faces.

You can be against the classes, but that doesn’t make the fact that this is the poisoned lake in which our kids swim. This is a truthful, important exchange:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js [4]

Parents, you have to take away the car. And you have to be far, far more engaged with your kids, and their peer group. Read the Times story, and you’ll see the alternative.

You cannot avoid choosing. You might tell yourself that you can, but you cannot.

Let’s remember Alasdair MacIntyre’s lines:

It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age in Europe and North America and the epoch in which the Roman empire declined into the Dark Ages. Nonetheless certain parallels there are. A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead often not recognizing fully what they were doing—was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness.

This is the genesis of The Benedict Option [5]. I have no interest at all in defending a moral order that poisons the moral imaginations of its children with pornography, and that is so unwilling to stand against the tyranny of technology that it sacrifices its children’s minds and bodies to it. Y’all can go to Hell if you’re bound and determined to. We’re not doing that in my house, not if we can help it.

You bishops, priests, and pastors who are so worried that we Christians might not “engage” the world? What, exactly, do you offer to protect parents and children in your flock from this scourge? What are you leading them to do? Or do you prefer to rest in your banal pieties, and to allow those in your spiritual care to believe the same comforting lies?

This is a time for choosing. Choose to “engage” the Culture of Death by accommodating it, and you will die, spiritually. Resist it, and your soul might live. Help others resist to. Do not collaborate with it!

Live not by lies! [6] said Solzhenitsyn:

Things have almost reached rock bottom. A universal spiritual death has already touched us all, and physical death will soon flare up and consume us both and our children—but as before we still smile in a cowardly way and mumble without tounges tied. But what can we do to stop it? We haven’t the strength?

We have been so hopelessly dehumanized that for today’s modest ration of food we are willing to abandon all our principles, our souls, and all the efforts of our predecessors and all opportunities for our descendants—but just don’t disturb our fragile existence. We lack staunchness, pride and enthusiasm. We don’t even fear universal nuclear death, and we don’t fear a third world war. We have already taken refuge in the crevices. We just fear acts of civil courage.

We fear only to lag behind the herd and to take a step alone-and suddenly find ourselves without white bread, without heating gas and without a Moscow registration.

We have been indoctrinated in political courses, and in just the same way was fostered the idea to live comfortably, and all will be well for the rest of our lives. You can’t escape your environment and social conditions. Everyday life defines consciousness. What does it have to do with us? We can’t do anything about it?

But we can—everything. But we lie to ourselves for assurance. And it is not they who are to blame for everything—we ourselves, only we. One can object: But actually toy can think anything you like. Gags have been stuffed into our mouths. Nobody wants to listen to us and nobody asks us. How can we force them to listen? It is impossible to change their minds.

It would be natural to vote them out of office—but there are not elections in our country. In the West people know about strikes and protest demonstrations—but we are too oppressed, and it is a horrible prospect for us: How can one suddenly renounce a job and take to the streets? Yet the other fatal paths probed during the past century by our bitter Russian history are, nevertheless, not for us, and truly we don’t need them.

Now that the axes have done their work, when everything which was sown has sprouted anew, we can see that the young and presumptuous people who thought they would make out country just and happy through terror, bloody rebellion and civil war were themselves misled. No thanks, fathers of education! Now we know that infamous methods breed infamous results. Let our hands be clean!

The circle—is it closed? And is there really no way out? And is there only one thing left for us to do, to wait without taking action? Maybe something will happen by itself? It will never happen as long as we daily acknowledge, extol, and strengthen—and do not sever ourselves from the most perceptible of its aspects: Lies.

… Our path is to talk away from the gangrenous boundary. If we did not paste together the dead bones and scales of ideology, if we did not sew together the rotting rags, we would be astonished how quickly the lies would be rendered helpless and subside.

That which should be naked would then really appear naked before the whole world.

So in our timidity, let each of us make a choice: Whether consciously, to remain a servant of falsehood—of course, it is not out of inclination, but to feed one’s family, that one raises his children in the spirit of lies—or to shrug off the lies and become an honest man worthy of respect both by one’s children and contemporaries.

The lies Solzhenitsyn and other Soviet dissidents faced are not the same lies that we face, nor are the conditions under which we are called to resist. But they are still lies, and good men and women have the duty of resistance all the same.

The lie is that we have no choice but to surrender our children’s imagination to the smartphones, to technology, and to pornography. The lies are the things we tell ourselves to quiet our consciences while these pornographers are stealing our children’s hearts and minds. The lie is submission to what the political philosopher Augusto Del Noce identified as totalitarianism: the subordination of culture to politics. In our case, it is the banishing of all thought of resistance to technology and the values of achieving pleasure and a sense of well-being — resistance to this in the name of religion or a higher philosophy. The totalitarianism we live under today is not Soviet totalitarianism, but by Del Noce’s standard, it is totalitarianism all the same. What else would you call a culture that creates “Porn Literacy” courses for its children, to teach them how to more intelligently consume the pornography that the culture has decided that it cannot stop?
Vaclav Havel — an anti-communist dissident, but not a religious believer — once said: [7]

No evil has ever been eliminated by suppressing its symptoms. We need to address the cause itself.

In the case of which I speak, it will not eliminate the evil to criticize the Porn Literacy class. We need to address the cause of such a class.

More Havel (he gave this speech in 1984, when Czechoslovakia was still under the communist yoke):

Or the question about socialism and capitalism! I have to admit that it gives me a sense of emerging from the depths of the last century. It seems to me that these thoroughly ideological and often semantically confused categories have long since been beside the point. The question is wholly other, deeper and equally relevant to all: whether we shall, by whatever means, succeed in reconstituting the natural world as the true terrain of politics, rehabilitating the personal experience of human beings as the initial measure of things, placing morality above politics and responsibility above our desires, in making human community meaningful, in returning content to human speech, in reconstituting, as the focus of all social action, the autonomous, integral, and dignified human “I,” responsible for ourselves because we are bound to something higher, and capable of sacrificing something, in extreme cases even everything, of his banal, prosperous private life—that “rule of everydayness,” as Jan Patočka used to say—for the sake of that which gives life meaning. It really is not all that important whether, by accident of domicile, we confront a Western manager or an Eastern bureaucrat in this very modest and yet globally crucial struggle against the momentum of impersonal power. If we can defend our humanity, then perhaps there is a hope of sorts—though even then it is by no means automatic—that we shall also find some more meaningful ways of balancing our natural claims to shared economic decision-making and to dignified social status, with the tried-and-true driving force of all work: human enterprise realized in genuine market relations. As long, however, as our humanity remains defenseless; we will not be saved by any technical or organizational trick designed to produce better economic functioning, just as no filter on a factory smokestack will prevent a general dehumanization. To what purpose a system functions is, after all, more important than how it does so. Might it not function quite smoothly, after all, in the service of total destruction?

I speak of this because, looking at the world from the perspective which fate allotted me, I cannot avoid the impression that many people in the West still understand little of what is actually at stake in our time.

In our case: as long as our humanity remains defenseless, putting anti-porn filters on teenagers’ smartphones will not save anybody. The crisis is much deeper than pornography. Pornography is an acute symptom of a much more profound crisis.

Havel continued, speaking to a French audience:

As all I have said suggests, it seems to me that all of us, East and West, face one fundamental task from which all else should follow. That task is one of resisting vigilantly, thoughtfully, and attentively, but at the same time with total dedication, at every step and everywhere, the irrational momentum of anonymous, impersonal, and inhuman power—the power of ideologies, systems, apparat, bureaucracy, artificial languages, and political slogans. We must resist its complex and wholly alienating pressure, whether it takes the form of consumption, advertising, repression, technology, or cliché—all of which are the blood brothers of fanaticism and the wellspring of totalitarian thought. We must draw our standards from our natural world, heedless of ridicule, and reaffirm its denied validity. We must honor with the humility of the wise the limits of that natural world and the mystery which lies beyond them, admitting that there is something in the order of being which evidently exceeds all our competence. We must relate to the absolute horizon of our existence which, if we but will, we shall constantly rediscover and experience. We must make values and imperatives the starting point of all our acts, of all our personally attested, openly contemplated, and ideologically uncensored lived experience. We must trust the voice of our conscience more than that of all abstract speculations and not invent responsibilities other than the one to which the voice calls us. We must not be ashamed that we are capable of love, friendship, solidarity, sympathy, and tolerance, but just the opposite: we must set these fundamental dimensions of our humanity free from their “private” exile and accept them as the only genuine starting point of meaningful human community. We must be guided by our own reason and serve the truth under all circumstances as our own essential experience.

I know all that sounds very general, very indefinite, and very unrealistic, but I assure you that these apparently naive words stem from a very particular and not always easy experience with the world and that, if I may say so, I know what I am talking about.

The vanguard of impersonal power, which drags the world along its irrational path, lined with devastated nature and launching pads, is composed of the totalitarian regimes of our time. It is not possible to ignore them, to make excuses for them, to yield to them or to accept their way of playing the game, thereby becoming like them. I am convinced that we can face them best by studying them without prejudice, learning from them, and resisting them by being radically different, with a difference born of a continuous struggle against the evil which they may embody most clearly, but which dwells everywhere and so even within each of us. What is most dangerous to that evil are not the rockets aimed at this or that state but the fundamental negation of this evil in the very structure of contemporary humanity: a return of humans to themselves and to their responsibility for the world; a new understanding of human rights and their persistent reaffirmation, resistance against every manifestation of impersonal power that claims to be beyond good and evil, anywhere and everywhere, no matter how it disguises its tricks and machinations, even if it does so in the name of defense against totalitarian systems.

The best resistance to totalitarianism is simply to drive it out of our own souls, our own circumstances, our own land, to drive it out of contemporary humankind. The best help to all who suffer under totalitarian regimes is to confront the evil which a totalitarian system constitutes, from which it draws its strength and on which its “vanguard” is nourished.

Read the whole thing.  [7]

Again: the ubiquity of pornography is an acute symptom of a general problem. We are fools if we think this is something that can be managed by porn literacy classes. We are not much better if we think that pornography is something that stands alone.

MacIntyre:

A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium.

Think about it. Talk about it. Act on it. None of us can do this alone. But we can’t wait for somebody else to save us. We have to build the Benedict Option ourselves. Otherwise, this, from the NYT piece, is what we surrender our kids to:

Though none of the boys I spoke to at Start Strong told me they had ejaculated on a girl’s face, Gallop’s words reminded me of conversations I had with some older high-schoolers in various cities. One senior said that ejaculating on a woman’s face was in a majority of porn scenes he had watched, and that he had done it with a girlfriend. “I brought it up, or she would say, ‘Come on my face.’ It was an aspect I liked — and she did, too.”

Another noted that the act is “talked about a lot” among guys, but said that “a girl’s got to be down with it” before he’d ever consider doing it. “There is something that’s appealing for guys. The dominance and intimacy and that whole opportunity for eye contact. Guys are obsessed with their come displayed on a girl.”

If that’s not Weimar America, what is?

115 Comments (Open | Close)

115 Comments To "‘Porn Literacy’ Class For Teens"

#1 Comment By sara On February 9, 2018 @ 12:15 pm

First I want to point out that the porn literacy class was not fully capitulating to the situation as stated. The section where they went into great detail in explaining the industry and exploitation behind porn was specifically meant to turn the kids off of porn and was apparently pretty effective.

Next I’ll point out that smartphones aren’t the only problem. Kids have to have computers these days to do school work and they can access porn on them if controls aren’t in place or aren’t effective.

It seems to me that restricting access to porn and discouraging it’s use is a good strategy but that most studies seem to support the idea that restriction to information on sex is counter-productive. Kids need to learn about all of this and parents ideas about “age appropriate” often miss the mark. Do it too late and your kids will already be “educated”.

My sons are in their early 30s. Both had one 2 girl friends before they met their wives and with both one of those relationships became sexual. Both married in their late 20s after being in those relationships more than 5 years (and having sex before marriage). Not perfect but not bad either.

Both boys felt fine with talking to me about sex in detail through their teens and until now for that matter. I emphasized the importance of it, the emotional and spiritual aspects, warning them that doing it too early was damaging and explaining how promiscuity was damaging. We also talked about how important a healthy sex life is to adults and what that meant. One of my sons asked me how you french kiss and I demonstrated by kissing his forearm to give him an idea. One talked to me about his first sex experience when he wanted everything to be so perfect that his anxiety made him unable to perform. One came to me in his early 20s because he was afraid and confused because he thought he might have an STD. I mention these things to show how easily we talked about these things. But we also talked about all kinds of things in detail. After church we went to a restaurant and discussed the sermon in detail. I didn’t restrict them from “objectionable” TV shows but watched them with them which often prompted excellent discussions.

They were busy in high school as good students, active in multiple sports, involved in boy scouts in which their Dad and I were leaders, and themselves in leadership positions at school. I do think that kids who have interests that they enjoy have less time and reasons to be involved in more negative pursuits.

I’ve talked to my sons about porn, #MeToo (long before the current movement). Both were exposed to porn in high school and have watched it in isolated episodes over the years, usually when a friend wanted them to. Both found it rather off-putting, seeing it as unrealistic and demeaning to the women. Neither has ever felt a compulsion to watch.

I find it interesting that the aspect of violence and demeaning behavior to women as being important reasons that my sons we put off from porn and yet they seem to be primary aspects of most porn. Maybe if boys are taught to see women as fully human beings from a young age, they will find this aspect of porn disturbing as my boys found it. I’m surprised no one in all these comments have discussed it. I, like my sons, find it quite disturbing that apparently most men are turned on by it instead of disturbed by it.

We had a lot of talks about how much sin involves the warping of gifts God has given us and I discussed sex from that standpoint. Of all the gifts we are given collectively, it seems the most easily and broadly warped. But they found the idea that it was a wonderful gift but subject to much degradation very understandable and it apparently held them in good stead as they matured.

Parenting is complicated and difficult and what works with one kid doesn’t with another but I do think that with most, more information is better than too little and that if parents don’t listen to their kids, they shouldn’t expect their kids to listen to them. Also, if you constantly put across the message that you expect your kids to be perfect, you should expect them to hide from you as they grow through their teens. They can’t be perfect and so they will hide the ways that they fall short.

#2 Comment By sara On February 9, 2018 @ 12:37 pm

I would like to add this observation. God created us and this world and, as a consequence of this, many of the behaviors that are displeasing to him frequently have negative consequences. There are a lot of negative consequences to early or inappropriate sex for both boys and girls that are more inevitable than pregnancy and STDs – emotional and spiritual consequences. Discuss them with your kids. Outside of sex, discuss negative consequences that are “built in” to the design. Don’t just pin every single thing on obedience and pleasing God. Add to it the deterrents that He built into this world.

#3 Comment By Richard On February 9, 2018 @ 12:54 pm

I couldn’t bring myself to read the NYT article, but I wonder if it had a comments section. Sometimes you learn more from that then you do from the article. But, a thought occurred to me.

When walking with my kids outside I always admonish them to not step in dog crap, because, being kids, they don’t always watch where they’re going. That’s what youth are like. And that’s what grown-ups are for.

Kids are fascinated by poop, just as adults are fascinated by sex. Both are normal human functions.

My kids have never asked me why they oughtn’t step in the dog poop. It’s obvious why–because dog poop, despite its naturalness, is, in the wrong context, gross and disgusting and sticks to your shoe and soils you and smells particularly awful, which also ends up affecting everyone around you. Kind of like porn.

But if they ever did ask me why they oughtn’t step in it, I would explain why, for the above reasons.

I feel the same way about porn. Like dog crap on the street, it’s ultimately unavoidable in this world we live in, no matter how many “”Don’t Poop Here” or “Curb Your Dog” signs we put on the lawn or software we put on the computer (but those help). There are too many self-centered people out there who don’t care enough to clean up after their animals or care that they are polluting the community.

So, when they are old enough, I will explain to my kids that porn is like stepping in dog poop.

#4 Comment By Craig On February 9, 2018 @ 1:05 pm

This kind of story should be a wake up call for those libertarians and liberals who are enthused about having a no-limit, anything goes kind of society. Since it is published in a paper with a supposedly liberal bias and audience, at least it will be seen. Will it be heeded? I don’t know.

The Porn-Ed program might help a little, but clearly isn’t something that can stop the tide of a disfunctional culture. The only real cure would be a sea change in culture, which is unlikely to happen. The next best thing is to try to raise kids who can just say no, or at least know that a lot of what their seeing is BS. Perhaps raising kids in a Benedict Option setting will help with that. But even that is not going to be 100% effective.

#5 Comment By Lert456 On February 9, 2018 @ 1:06 pm

“Most millenials who are college educated won’t get married till their 30’s today. “

This is not a healthy trend. Foregoing parenthood until the 30s puts the woman in the position of trying to conceive when her fertility is waning, leading to an increased risk for birth defects and other problems. The research points to older parents as one of the risk factors for the increased rates of autism. Also, the IVF process can be a very expensive experience – and it often doesn’t work.

#6 Comment By Anne On February 9, 2018 @ 1:30 pm

Re Erin’s proposed anti-porn law: I have to laugh whenever I hear even conservative Christians claim there’s no way to legally ban pornography in the US, given the First Amendment, when in reality until recent decades virtually everything we’re talking about was held by US courts to be absolutely illegal. What’s more, theoretically at least, obscenity is still not considered protected speech or expression. The Supreme Court still uses guidelines determined by a lower court case in 1973, Miller v. California, to determine what is obscene. They include the old rule of thumb about having “no redeeming social value,” which means no literary, artistic or scientific purpose. Erin’s Law would have to include some provision exempting material for these purposes, or many of our most celebrated fiction writers and filmmakers would end up in jail.

The internet is really what’s made both enforcement and definition of what’s legal and not legal hard to determine. The only thing everybody seems to agree on is that children need to be protected from both production and use, with laws prohibiting the use of minors in the making or distribution of “adult” materials, or making such materials available to anyone under the age of 18. Filters on school library computers, for example, are required by law. Keeping such materials out of the hands of adults is much harder, even when they clearly meet virtually everybody’s standard of “obscene.” The widespread amateur copying and production of materials all over the world makes even targeting the professional “adult film” industry problematic. So much of what users, including kids, are seeing are just cheap knockoffs or copies of copies of original films, if not simply homemade videos produced in somebody’s basement.

The proliferation of pornography is as much the result of the sudden explosion of information technologies and the advent of the unregulated “worldwide web” as some decline in Western values or morality. Most countries, not just ours, are struggling to find ways to rein it in or filter it out, as it were, and that includes non-Western nations with values as diverse as Saudi Arabia and Communist China. In other words, Erin’s Law may be flawed in many ways, but the motivation behind it is neither parochial nor anachronistic. It’s a problem entangled with a lot of other problems (specifically human trafficking and prostitution) most of the world is trying to solve.

#7 Comment By Olga On February 9, 2018 @ 1:57 pm

It isn’t as crazy as it sounds. If your teen has a smart phone, they have access to porn. If you try to protect you teen and refuse to give them a smart phone and monitor their home internet, they probably have many friends with smart phones and less diligent parents.

So you need to talk to your kids about sex before they hit puberty. You have to talk about porn. You need to say what what porn actually is. It was created so men can get excited and masturbate. It is not a description of real sex. What is usually depicted in porn is usually unappealing to women.

They choose men with larger than average penis’. They choose women that are tiny compared to the average women. Most naked people look nothing like that.

Sadly, many teens turn to porn for sex education. If there parents treat sex like a forbidden topic, that is where they go to learn, so you need to tell them it is a bad source and give them better sources. There are many great books, videos and website that provide quality sex education.

You can share your own values with regards to sex included what you think is right and wrong.

When I was a kid, chances are most kids saw at least one Playboy or Penthouse growing up. Now, they can access thing that would horrify many adults. You have no choice but to talk about it.

#8 Comment By The Scientist 880 On February 9, 2018 @ 1:59 pm

Lert456,

“This is not a healthy trend. Foregoing parenthood until the 30s puts the woman in the position of trying to conceive when her fertility is waning, leading to an increased risk for birth defects and other problems. The research points to older parents as one of the risk factors for the increased rates of autism. Also, the IVF process can be a very expensive experience – and it often doesn’t work.”

This is the world that conservatives and modern tech has created. You can’t get a good job as an 18 year old. If you want upward mobility, you better go to college and if you want to be well off, you better go to grad school/professional school. People who marry young and have children have lower lifetime incomes.

[NFR: It is crackpottery to blame conservatives alone for this. In truth, both mainstream conservatism and liberalism have brought this about. Get out of your ideological bubble. — RD]

#9 Comment By TA On February 9, 2018 @ 2:40 pm

@Ben H

“The funny thing about topics like this is that you can tell which commentators have 37 open tabs of porn that they are going back to once they are finished defending “society’s” need for this healthful activity.”

I had to read this several times because I had exactly the opposite assumption. My general belief is that the people railing against porn most loudly are the ones furtively going back to their “37 open tabs”. (See: Ted Haggard, Larry Craig, too many others to list…)

#10 Comment By The Scientist 880 On February 9, 2018 @ 3:55 pm

“[NFR: It is crackpottery to blame conservatives alone for this. In truth, both mainstream conservatism and liberalism have brought this about. Get out of your ideological bubble. — RD]”

I’m seriously curious how Liberals brought this about? Republicans destroyed unions. Republicans are fighting to end collective bargaining for the public sector. Republicans won the economic wars of the 80’s for the most part. They have undermined public education and don’t believe in egalitarianism which is fine, but I fail to see how this is state of events is the fault of liberals.

Right to work laws lead to lower average earnings for states that have them. Carving up the safety net means you better get as far above the middle class as you can to insure you don’t become poor it tragedy strikes. Republicans made student debt non-dischargable. They wanted to privatize social security before the financial crash. Imagine where we would have been if that had worked? The point of not having social security invested in the stock market is diversification. You would be placing the one form of income people have in their retirement (The only real form for the majority of the public) at the same risk as all other forms of income. They would have correlation move in the same direction. It is a profoundly stupid idea because A) most people have zero knowledge or interest in the stock market and B) low income people are conservative to an extreme with money and would not tolerate even slight losses because of their lack of cushioning.

Republicans also got rid of pensions in the private sector and drastically slashed funding for hire education. The slashing of funding for higher ed is the main reason why most kids have school debt. Most kids do not attend private universities, they attend unselective state schools and the defunding of these institutions is matched very closely with their increase in cost.

Republicans are also against the CFPB and for forced arbitration which means the little guy gets screwed as the multi-national is the one who picks the arbiter and has a recurring relationship with them.

One thing that democrats are responsible for is the deregulation of the airlines under Carter. This has had a great impact on the cost of flights but a massively negative impact on middle America as the airlines made decisions of where to place their routes based on profit maximization. This means that middle American mid size cities are at a massive disadvantage and corporations based in these places pull up their stakes and go to the coasts and major inland cities where they can get flights internationally on a consistent basis.

On balance though, Republicans have done nothing to help young people in their lives which is why young people vote against the party by a 2-1 margin, a gab that was not present in 18-30 year olds in the 60’s through the 80’s.

Education is a mandatory for almost anyone wanting a life in the prosperous part of America, Grad school (and not in any humanities/ liberal arts field) is really what gives you the best chance.

[NFR: You were born in 1988. You were too young to remember how the Clinton years changed the Democratic Party, and the entire debate. Blair did the same thing with New Labour in the UK. I’m not “blaming” them; the public wanted what they were selling. Reagan and Thatcher were the true change agents, because statist liberalism had run aground. We live in democracies. I am old enough, barely, to remember how miserable the 1970s were, economically. You were born during the last year of the Reagan Administration, and you haven’t shown evidence of having done any reading in what conditions led up to Reagan’s election (or Thatcher’s in the UK, which came earlier). Anyway, I’m not going to let this thread on porn literacy turn into an argument on economics. So I am going to close off this discussion here. — RD]

#11 Comment By Gary On February 9, 2018 @ 4:00 pm

Let us first ask why any young man would get married in this day and age.

First society is clearly against him. The messages put out by mass media are that men are not needed. The job market stinks so it is going to take him longer to be financially secure enough to actually support a family. And most girls are raised up to look for a mate that has money so little attention is paid to character or values. And if that young man does happen to secure a career and find a woman to settle down with unless there is a pre-nup he is entering into a lose lose financial situation if it doesn’t work out.

A young man has more to lose than gain by entering into marriage. So it is either total celibacy, porn, meaningless sex with no intention of forming a real relationship or gambling away your future financial stability. Watch the new Blade Runner movie and you will see what kind of relationships we are headed towards. What agent K has with the make believe hologram is what we are headed towards. Sad but true. And we are doing it to ourselves.

#12 Comment By benedicto On February 9, 2018 @ 4:23 pm

I had to read this several times because I had exactly the opposite assumption. My general belief is that the people railing against porn most loudly are the ones furtively going back to their “37 open tabs”. (See: Ted Haggard, Larry Craig, too many others to list…)

Exactly.

I just came across this the other day. There’s now a whole forum on reddit dedicated to pastors being arrested, mostly for sexual offenses

[8]

Just pages and pages of it

#13 Comment By Ragged Clown On February 10, 2018 @ 8:19 am

I finally read the NY Times article to the end. I only agreed with about 70% of what it had to say but it’s still better than any other article I’ve read on the topic. The brutal honesty was shocking but necessary.

I know that “consequentialism” is a dirty word around here but I think the summary that I quote below is a good result and, in my eyes, makes the whole enterprise of porn literacy worthwhile.

But only a tiny number of students agreed in the postclass survey that “most people like to be slapped, spanked or have their hair pulled during sex,” compared with 27 percent at the start of class. And while at the beginning, 45 percent said that porn was a good way for young people to learn about sex, now only 18 percent agreed. By the end of the class, no one said pornography was realistic; just over one-quarter had believed that at the outset.

But what to do with this information?

It’s much too easy to assume a bright, clear line between “porn” and “not porn” but there’s really a broad spectrum that goes from sneaking a peek at the underwear ads in JC Penney to some of the more disgusting acts described in that article (I would have been perfectly happy never knowing what a Baker’s Dozen is, thank you very much) and the whole spectrum violates the moral codes of even a few decades ago.

That’s why I think comparisons to dog poop miss the mark. The first time your children see porn that is truly erotic, they will wonder why you were lying to them and they’ll wonder what else you lied about.

Definition of erotic
1 : of, devoted to, or tending to arouse sexual love or desire

It’s also why calls to ban the whole sordid business will inevitably fail and why the claim that you have never seen porn are hard to believe unless your definition of porn draws its bright, clear line very near the shallow end of the spectrum.

Up-thread slurs against liberals notwithstanding, it seems to me that the culture war that has been raging for the last few decades has made it too hard to compromise on even the things we mostly agree about.

I’m willing to bet that all but a handful of Ban It All conservative scolds at one end and a sliver (slither?) of All Porn is Harmless Fun libertines at the other would agree on some broad principles:

Porn is too easily available and ruins too many lives.
I mentioned before how easy and effective the “adult content” filter is on internet access in the UK. No need for government censorship or bans of any kind.

Here’s what my cell phone provider has to say about it:

In support of the UK government’s drive to improve internet safety, all new Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go services will have our internet content filter switched on by default. This is to make sure that only age-appropriate content is viewable. If you’re over 18, you can switch this filter off at any time

When I visited a site that contained adult content (it was Tumblr, if you must know), my phone told me that I’d need to remove the filter and gave me instructions. Turns out my life is better without Tumblr anyway. Thanks three.co.uk!

We can argue about exactly where the line should be drawn and whether Tumblr should fall inside or outside the line—let’s have that argument. But I don’t see why Comcast couldn’t do the same—or Google or Apple or Microsoft or Verizon.

A few people up thread said that this could never work in America (because America! or something; I didn’t completely understand the reasoning). I suspect that we’ve all got so used to fighting the culture wars for so long that no one wants to give an inch that might seem like weakness—even if it’s an inch that we didn’t want to keep any way.

Sex is best in the context of a loving relationship
I’d bet a lot of money that the ideal for the vast majority of people—liberals and conservatives both—is that 1) you meet someone special, 2) you fall in love, 3) you have sex, and then 4) you get married (in that order). Sometimes you don’t make it all the way to 4) on the first try but it’s still an ideal worth striving for.

That young people will fall in love and have sex is inevitable. What can we teach young people to make them more likely to be successful on this path?

It’s also inevitable that they will experience porn. Is there a way to guide young people so that they can be discerning consumers of porn (call it “erotica” instead of porn if it helps you overcome your instinctive disgust) that contributes to successful relationships rather than harming them?

I think there is and sex-positive education can help; and so can projects like the Porn Literacy project described in the New York Times article. Again, we can argue over the appropriate content of the syllabus but “Just Say No” isn’t working.

I fully understand that many folks believe—and most religions require—that sex is only valid within a marriage but, for better or worse, that ship has sailed.

There are also many at the other end who believe that young adults should sow their wild oats before they settle down. Actually, I bet there are plenty of people who find a way to hold both of these beliefs simultaneously or, more likely, claim that they believe the former while behaving as though they believe the latter.

I deeply believe that there is a robust centre that *can* hold and that can assert its moral weight if only it can find its voice. This is why, despite being a liberal by instinct, temperament and habit, I seek out moderate conservative voices like Rod Dreher’s and Ross Douthat’s and Andrew Sullivan’s even when I disagree with them on so many topics.

I think this kind of discussion is the only way we can protect ourselves from the illiberal hordes at either extreme of the political spectrum who wish to hijack our civilisation.

#14 Comment By Rick On February 11, 2018 @ 7:02 pm

The quest for porn is as American as apple pie. True story as a 8 year old I used to watch the split screen channel of the original broadcast cable services just to see breasts. No sound. A wobbling scrambled picture. No context.

It’s what we do. But here’s the thing as with any emerging reality there are good and bad aspects. Women are much more empowered sexually than they used to be and sites like tumblr allow them to express what they like through images. It’s “enlightening” in that what they like is often pretty damn intense.

That’s not bad thing. It allows for conversations. And let’s be clear porn sales as an industry are way down. There’s no money in it any more and that will continue. What will take its place is direct to consumer market one to one.

Over time porn content will just be recycled and over time it will lose the audience eventually. The lure of the industry will fade.

This is not the end times but a social correction that will die down just like the sexual revolution did. Kids of their own accord are delaying sexual activity, they’re not drinking as much, they do fewer drugs, and they’re more conservative in many ways.

In other words total stick in the muds and you didn’t have to pass laws, or create inane public service announcments or chastise. It was inevitable.

#15 Comment By George Olds On February 16, 2018 @ 5:10 pm

<iI have never watched porn — hard to believe, but it’s true

No. I believe it, Rod.