I read a post today about how a teacher was suspended because her students had pornographic pop-ups on their screens in computer class. Somehow, the legal system managed to make her the scapegoat. Leave it to the legal system. It disturbs me a bit that the blogger’s attitude was one of cynicism: “the internet has already corrupted your kid’s morals, get used to it.”
While I laugh at the stupidity of the legal system in this case, I also sigh with concern about the conclusion. Have we really come to accept our sexualized media? Can we not see the potential for damage here?
I once heard someone say that pornography rapes the mind. I think that’s true. Men have visual memories. I’ve discovered since being married that women experience emotional “pop-ups” that are beyond their control. Men, likewise, experience visual pop-ups. We can’t help that. God hard-wired us that way. So, when we see an image on the web, on a commercial, or in the window of Victoria’s Secret as we walk through the mall, it sticks with us, and can resurface at any given time with no warning and with potentially devastating emotional effects. Let’s say you’re having sex with your wife and suddenly remember the girl on the site you were looking at a few hours ago, for example. No one else need ever know: you suffer emotional ramifications. Most men don’t talk about it. Even the “accountability groups” that our Christian subculture has invented don’t invoke honesty, because men can become numb and de-sensitized to it. Their bodies can do things in disconnect from their hearts. Women think that’s disgusting, and, honestly, so do a lot of guys. But it happens. We’re made that way. We can’t help it. If we’re exposed to the influence, we function differently…just like alcohol.
When I think of pornography, though, I also think of the women that pose and act for it. I doubt many of them even recognize the damage they are doing to themselves. It holds an illusion of power, certainly. But what really happens to the mind and spirit underneath? The self-esteem? Do they suddenly value themselves so little that they want men to desire them physically as their only sense of self-worth? What happens underneath that happy and seductive facade? What sort of desperation? I’ve never gotten a tattoo because I know if I wake up the next morning and don’t like it, I’m screwed. What if a woman poses today, and hates herself for it in two weeks or two years? Too late. It will never be off the internet.
Pornography does the same long-term damage to adults that it does to children. The difference is that adults are able to justify it to themselves, to say it makes them feel powerful, to say it only fills a physical need in their lives. Child pornography is illegal, and correctly so. It is enforced with vigor by law enforcement agencies in the United States. It seems to me a small step to make adult pornography illegal, as well. Recently, officials in a foreign country (I can’t remember which one, and I can’t for the life of me find the article to link to…sorry) sentenced the man responsible for the majority of their online pornography to an enormous prison sentence. I think they have the right idea. A recent survey says that 42% of 10-17 year olds have seen pornography online, typically by accident. That fact that it can happen by accident turns my stomach. Make it illegal for those who put it out there to do so. Enforce it vigorously as we do against those who take advantage of children. Our society will improve as a result.
Pornography at its core is deceptive and opportunistic. It takes advantage of everyone’s basic urges, the urges that Scripture tells us should not be in control. It takes advantage of the way we were created, and uses it for evil. It has brought many men down, and it has done invisible damage to many women. I wonder how long we will continue to allow it do so. Our cynical resignation to the status quo is just unacceptable.