Parents, Porn Isn’t the Problem

If porn were the problem, we’d all be in big trouble. Because there’s more porn out there than ever.

And there’s more porn hysteria than ever. It’s a PornPanic, fed by a 24/7 machine of “morality” groups, crime shows, right wing talk shows, misguided neo-feminists, and everyday wives and husbands whose relationships are struggling while porn sites prosper.

For example, America just finished WRAP—White Ribbon Against Pornography Week. (It used to be Pornography Awareness Week, until porn retailers started using it as a marketing slogan to increase sales. Now that’s guerrilla theatre worthy of Paul Krassner.)

Like all anti-porn efforts, WRAP’s goal is to scare people, especially parents, about the monster stalking the nation—porn—and the damage it supposedly does. Last week, co-sponsor Morality in Media (MIM) presented a typical creative mix of fact and fiction:

* MIM Facts:
Porn is almost everywhere, lots of people consume it, and many couples with poor sexual relationships contain a man who looks at porn.
Yes, those are true. So?

* MIM Fictions:
Men who look at porn commit sexual violence against women and children; men in terrific relationships get seduced away by porn; most porn portrays violence; looking at porn makes men think bad things about women.
No, those are lies. Not opinions—lies.

Anti-porn forces are particularly dangerous when they talk about kids’ exposure to porn. There is NO evidence that seeing naked breasts or couples having sex is bad for kids; there’s even less evidence that seeing pictures of such things is bad for kids. Four generations of European children have spent every summer at topless beaches and seen sex on TV, and they’re not any worse off than our kids, who are obsessively shielded from even glancing at nipples.

So—parents, is porn a danger to your kids?

No.

Unless kids are told that they’re bad or endangered if they stumble onto porn, seeing it won’t hurt them. If they’re really young they’ll ignore it; middle-schoolers will quickly get bored with it; older teens will get titillated or turned off, and get on with the rest of their cultural lives—celphones, tattoos, fashion, and that noise they call music.

Here’s what dangerous to your kids:
* Kids being told their sexuality is bad
* Kids being told they shouldn’t talk about sex
* Kids being told that God or Jesus or you know and judge their sexual fantasies
* Kids being told that condoms don’t work
* Kids being told there are lots of bad people out there who want to kidnap them and touch their private zones

These dangers aren’t theoretical—they’re real. They lead to shame, guilt, anger, confusion, and dread. And those lead to unwanted pregnancy, fear of intimacy, inability to communicate, and a belief that sexuality is a problem that’s going to undermine their lives.

And they lead to one more danger: parents who don’t want to talk to their kids honestly about sex, because they feel panicked about the whole subject.

There are predators out there, people who want to hurt others. Fortunately, there aren’t very many. Of course, when CNN, FoxNews, night-time TV dramas, and your local paper focus obsessively on sex crimes, it’s hard to remember that there aren’t that many.

And it’s hard to remember that the rate of sex crimes in the U.S. has gone down every year since 1993.

It’s scary to think that most adults who sexualize children are known to the kids. They’re not strangers standing on street corners with candy. And they’re not in internet chatrooms posing at teens.

They’re people trusted by both parents and kids.

It’s so scary to think about this one fact, that most parents would rather focus on scary strangers—who pose very little real threat at all.

Actually, it’s not kids who are the most vulnerable here. It’s scared parents who are the most vulnerable to being hurt by strangers—like the anti-porn, anti-sex people behind WRAP, who make their living lying to and scaring parents.

Scaring parents out of nourishing their kids with information, reassurance, and protection from anti-sex propaganda—now that’s really dangerous.


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