Pornography is a scourge of Western society. Most Americans, including Catholics, have their heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich, pretending this plague doesn’t exist or that “it’s not that bad.” David Horsey says in his article Internet porn is an experiment in dehumanization: “It is not fashionable or cool to suggest that there is a problem with porn. Comedians such as Bill Maher make fun of conservative religious people who suggest that there is. Feminist objections get dismissed as harangues of sexless harpies. Libertarians defend the pornographers’ right of free expression. But common sense and a growing body of evidence suggest that there is a negative cost being paid that only begins with the sex trafficking and exploitation undergirding the lower depths of the porn industry.” (The LA Times, December 15, 2014; emphasis mine) An example of the sobering, research-based findings:
- 40 million Americans regularly visit pornographic websites (1 out of every 8 people)
- Pornography was a $2.84 billion industry in the United States in 2013
- 25% of search engine queries are related to pornography
- 1 in 3 viewers of pornography are women
- the average age of a child’s first exposure to internet pornography is 11
- 70% of men aged 18-24 visit pornographic websites in a typical month
The film version of Fifty Shades of Grey opened in movie theaters this weekend. It was, of course, purposely done to coincide with Valentine’s Day. But did you know that most of the interactions in the book between the characters Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey fit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s definitions of emotional abuse and sexual violence? (Intimidation/threats, isolation, stalking, humiliation, forced sex acts/contact against a person’s will, including using alcohol/drugs or intimidation/pressure) That Ms. Steele shows classic signs of a victim of abuse? (E.g. altered identity, entrapment and disempowerment; ‘‘Double Crap!’’ Abuse and Harmed Identity in Fifty Shades of Grey, Journal of Women’s Health, volume 22, number 9, 2013.) Almost as a side-note, the authors cite two works that note similar abuse patterns in one of the most popular book series of all time, the Twilight Saga. (Borgia DN. Twilight: The glamorization of abuse, codependency, and white privilege and Collins VE, Carmody DC. Deadly love: Images of dating violence in the ‘‘Twilight Saga.”) Same-sex couples are not immune to abuse, e.g. Pam Elliott’s 1996 groundbreaking study, Shattering Illusions: Same-Sex Domestic Violence.
This stuff is not going to go away simply by denying it or wishing it weren’t here. The battlefield is one soul at a time, one day at a time. Parents: you must protect your children; no one else can shield them as effectively you can! Talk to your kids and educate them; use resources such as Net Nanny (www.netnanny.com) if you suspect a problem. Don’t allow the porn industry to continue to be American children’s primary “sex educators.” If you or someone you love has a pornography problem or a sexual addiction, there is help. “Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.” Go to Confession. See a counselor or therapist. Go to a 12-Step group like Sexaholics Anonymous/SA (www.sa.org). Get an accountability partner through Covenant Eyes (www.covenanteyes.com). Start an online program like Reclaim Sexual Health (www.reclaimsexualhealth.com). Start today! (Because Sunday is the most popular day for watching porn.) Don’t give up! Don’t give in!
— Fr. Carl