Just yesterday, I finished and sent off a pamphlet on pornography use that I hope you will someday soon be able to find in the back of a parish near you. It reuses information I gathered for Our Sunday Visitor and for my Christianity in Mass Media class at Benedictine College, but I also did new research for it.
In the process I found a strange phenomenon: As the pornography epidemic has reached greater and greater proportions, news organizations have been writing about it less and less.
Comment boxes may explain why pornography is no longer news.
When it was discovered that Osama bin Laden had lots of pornography to keep him company in his Pakistan compound, the com-boxes were filled with guys calling the story “irrelevant” and questioning why this was even reported. (Odd. Every other item in his compound, from his blanket to his jerry-rigged TV, was highly relevant.)
Another recent story about the clear link between pornography and divorce generated these comments:
- “Porn doesn’t lead to divorce, insecure women do.” (NB … I think when Dad is watching hardcore videos on the family computer, it’s the secure women who complain, and the insecure women who don’t.)
- “I love watching porn with my husband. Ladies, you are missing out! It can be a lot of fun.” (Um … I’m not sure if you can tell from under 20 words in a com-box whether someone is male or female, but that sounds like it was written by a guy.)
- “I recently discovered that my husband has a porn habit, which I think I could live with, except 95% of his porn stash consists of girls that look about 12 – 14. They are from legal, over 18 sites, but …” (I bet a lot of women who could “live with” the fact that a husband has a porn habit would have a hard time “living with” the actual content their husbands are looking at.)
I like one commenter who describes herself as a “liberal sociologist”:
- “Reading through the comments it’s laughable how men defend their pornography use while women are offended by it. Clearly different viewpoints¬. Is there a compromise possible? While seeing so many American men against marriage and pro-pornography, I wonder what the future holds. Will women — norm¬al women — be obsolete?”
The fact that 7 out of 10 men look at pornography probably explains why pornography isn’t news. It is defended because it is popular, not because it is good.
The sin of pornography has taken the same trajectory as the sin of abortion:
1. It begins as a shameful secret thing.
2. Then odd-duck federal judges lift legal restrictions on it …
3. … allowing businesses to promote it, using slogans (“free choice” or “free speech”) to defend it.
4. More and more people become complicit in it, repeating the industry’s mantras.
Confronted with suffering women the media looks the other way and protects sex and money. But Gallup’s recent poll has shown that we have reached another step in abortion’s trajectory.
5. A long, persistent education effort reminds people of the obvious about the sin.
Unfortunately, this process takes decades, and education on pornography has a long way to go. But efforts are underway.
Patrick Fagan and the Family Research Council put together a great summary of the research on pornography here.
Fight the New Drug is a great new effort at education.
True Freedom is a resource put together by Peter Kleponis for the Archdiocese of New York.
Unity Restored is the Arlington, Va., Diocese’s site.
Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, and editor of The Gregorian, the school’s Catholic identity speech digest.