CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Paying the Price of Porn

Dec 2, 2003

In late November the Sexpo experience again came to the city of Melbourne. The four day exhibition is put on by the porn industry. It is primarily an assortment of strippers and porn stars and sex club owners, with a touch of “lifestyle” exhibits thrown in to make it look respectable. It first began in Melbourne in 1996 and now features in most capital cities on an annual basis.

This year former Democrats’ leader Don Chipp was at the launch of the Melbourne Sexpo, waxing lyrical about the benefits of pornography. He argued that censorship of pornography leads to political censorship and then to totalitarianism.

His understanding of politics and history leave me somewhat bewildered. I didn’t know that when we sent our sons overseas to fight for our freedom, we were really fighting for the right to visit peep shops and strip joints. I didn’t realise that when we took on Hitler or Saddam, it was so that the porn industry could get rich while many were entrapped by the downward spiral of addiction to pornography.

This point was highlighted by a recent juxtaposition of articles on the issue of porn. Just a day before the papers were reporting on Chipp and his rousing speech on what freedom is all about, child protection experts were warning that Internet porn is creating a new generation of sexual predators as young as six.  As reported in the Melbourne Age, (26/11), these experts were reporting a huge increase in kids under ten sexually abusing other kids. Almost all of these cases were due to kids browsing porn sites on the Internet.

The Child At Risk Assessment Unit at the Canberra Hospital said there was a “dramatic” increase of such cases, and that Internet porn was a major contributing factor. This is in line with American research which demonstrates a firm link between sexual predators and Internet porn.

Earlier this year a survey conducted by the Australia Institute found that nearly 40 per cent of teenage boys had deliberately sought out porn sites on the Web.

Yet Don Chipp seems to think that if we tighten up on this kind of material, our freedoms are at jeopardy. But one has to ask, what about the freedoms of an eight-year-old to not be sexually molested by another eight-year-old? Because adults like Chipp think it is so vital that we are all able to enjoy any and every kind of sleaze and smut, we are putting a generation of young people at risk.

And it is not just our children who are being destroyed by porn. The Age also featured another article recently, entitled “Addicted to Porn” (22/11). Reprinted from the Guardian in Britain, the article spoke of the very real soul-destroying damage porn is doing to adults as well. The article was quite forthright in showing how sexual addictions are destroying men, families and relationships.

“Pornography,” says the author, “is a lie. It peddles falsehoods about men, women and human relationships. In the name of titillation, it seduces vulnerable, lonely men – and a small number of women – with the promise of intimacy, and delivers only a transitory fix.”

One man, addicted to porn, even in his 15 years of marriage, says “Porn is like alcoholism; it clings to you like a leech.”

The author continues, “Lost in a world of pornographic fantasy, men can become less inclined, as well as increasingly less able, to form lasting relationships. In part, this is due to the underlying message of pornography. Ray Wyre, a specialist in sexual crime, says pornography ‘encourages transience, experimentation and moving between partners’.”

One porn user puts it this way: pornography “brings intense disappointment, precisely because it is not what I’m really searching for. It’s rather like a hungry person standing outside the window of a restaurant, thinking that they’re going to get fed.”

And porn is not a victimless crime. There is a very real dark side to pornography. There is a clear link between viewing pornography and sexual violence. While every porn user does not become a sex offender, almost all sex offenders were porn users.

Perhaps the most notorious example was US serial killer Ted Bundy. Before being executed for his crimes in 1989, he made these revealing remarks: “It happened in stages, gradually . . . My experience with . . . pornography that deals on a violent level with sexuality is that, once you become addicted to it, and I look at this as a kind of addiction like other kinds of addiction, I would keep looking for more potent, more explicit, more graphic kinds of material. Like an addiction, you keep craving something which is harder, harder, something which gives you a greater sense of excitement, until you reach the point where the pornography only goes so far . . . It reaches that jumping-off point where you begin to wonder if, maybe, actually doing it will give you that which is beyond just reading about it or looking at it.”

Of course groups like the Australian Family Association have been making these sorts of warnings about pornography for years, but it has been politically incorrect to do so. Thus it is surprising, and encouraging, to see mainstream media outlets finally begin to tackle the issue realistically and honestly.

But in the light of all this, we still have the civil libertarians, arm in arm with the porn merchants, telling us pornography is a victimless crime, that it in fact is good for us. So we have Don Chipp, along with the Eros Foundation, passionately extolling the virtues of porn.

Once again, we find radical individualism trumping all other concerns, be it the community good or the well-being of children. And in the mean time, the porn industry is laughing all the way to the bank.

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