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This is Not Your Father’s Pornography

I have been confronted by many professionals and lay persons over my career and have been asked the same question over and over. "Why do you make such a big deal out of pornography?  I saw it when I was growing up and I am not a pervert." The excuses and apologies are varied and numerous. I have heard everything from it is art, to why shouldn't we display our bodies (after all. God made us and he doesn't make horrible things.)?

 

I have read articles stating that no harm comes from pornography, and in some cases that it is actually helpful to marriages (to add a spark to the relationship) and to a person personally (at least he is dealing with his sexual urges in a non-violent way). I have even heard several persons that went to therapists' to get help with a pornography addiction, only to have the therapist tell them that pornography use was normal and healthy.

 

All of this reminds me very much of the addiction model in substance abuse. While working in New Mexico, I had the opportunity to attend a conference in which the DEA ( Federal Drug Enforcement Agency) and the New Mexico State Police Narcotics Unit presented. One officer stood at the front of the class and said, "You may have heard that Marijuana is not harmful or addictive. In truth, when the first research in the 1960's was done on the effects of Marijuana, these were the findings. At that time, there were no ill effects, nor did they find addictive qualities in the Cannabis. But, if you believe this today, you are naive and gullible." He then talked about how over the past 20 -30 years that the marijuana growers had refined their products. He stated that the marijuana produced today was on average 500 times more powerful than those plants that were tested in the 1960's. He went on to say that marijuana today was not only more powerful, but far more addictive and damaging to the brain than ever thought possible in the original studies. He concluded his presentation on marijuana by stating "this is not your father's marijuana!" I think this sentiment bears repeating for all forms of addiction, and especially pornography!

 

I attended a church service where a leader of that church stated that he hated to talk on the subject of pornography because there was a time in his past when he could not even go into a barber shop without picking up a copy of Playboy and reading it. This church leader was elderly, and again the message came to be repeated, "this is not your father's pornography."

 

In the 1960's when Playboy magazines were first being printed, what fell in the realm of pornography was far more conservative than it is now. At that time, there were some limits set in regards to what was acceptable in the magazines and what was not. Since this time, we have had an ever growing increase in the production of pornography. Movies and videos have begun to portray more and more graphic images of sexuality. Deviant sexual acts have become mainstream and skirt the boundaries of illegality. To illustrate this point, we need to know most Internet pornography websites today are sites that have access to every kind of pornography (except child pornography) including those dealing with rape scenes or situations and those that portray images of girls that are "barely legal" (sites that have 18 year old women dress like young girls, and portray the message that they are much younger than they are). Also the sites deal with deviant Paraphilias and sexual perversions like coprophilia (sexual arousal to feces) and sado-masochism (sexual arousal to pain inflicted on self or others).

 

In recent years we have learned from the media, about the information that has been kept from us by tobacco companies regarding the addictive nature and destructive properties of tobacco. We have also learned about the efforts of the gambling industry to associate smells with the excitement of slot machines, in an effort to make normal every-day smells bring up the memory of gambling. With this m mind, it should be no surprise that the pornography industry has many tricks up it's sleeve to addict and enslave the minds of it's consumers.

 

One such technique that is important to note is the "continuum of severity, or developmental sequence" that is associated with addictions. In drug use, it is important to note that most young people start off with tobacco cigarettes and then move to marijuana cigarettes (the "gateway drug") and then up into the hard drugs such as cocaine, heroine and LSD. This is important because most addictions happen before age 19. When there is a continuum, there is a time frame associated with this. That is to say for a teenager to move to the use of heroin from tobacco, it might take a period of 3-8 years.  At any time during this continuum, a young person can decide that they do not wish to go further and stop either going up the continuum or quit substance use all together. Due to the brain chemistry, once a child goes beyond the age of 19-21 years old (for first use), it is much more difficult to become addicted to substances.

 

A similar continuum used to exist in the world of pornography. A continuum or gradation of pornography exists from underwear advertisements all the way up to hard core and sexually deviant pornography (children, animals, urine, mutilation, rape, etc.). The process used to be a continuum that a person would have to move up like that of drugs. This process might go like, underwear ads, pin-up calendars. National Geographic or pictures of nude paintings. Playboys, Hustler and up.) The advent of the Internet has changed all of this.

 

We now have the ability to access all of the forms of pornography from stories to deviant sexual acts all from one web page. This almost guarantees addiction in a rapid and straightforward process. There is no longer the stigma of having to go to a convenience store and ask to buy a magazine from behind the counter, or going to an adult bookstore where many people can see you. This can be accessed from any room, in any building that has a computer and phone access. It is no longer secluded in a dark place in a garage, it can be accessed from an office (or with the advent of Palm Pilots, laptops, Internet ready phones and wireless modems) or anywhere in the world (including parks, cars, libraries or even Churches).

Another tactic that pomographers use is the lure. They have written, or had written, viruses that will allow an e-mail that you open, not only take you to the pornography site, but also to access all of the addresses in your e mail address book, and mail them this pornography site in your name.

 

Another tactic is to name sites with names that will capitalize on typographic errors, sound alikes or popular name sites that will take you to a pornography site (e.g. whitehouse.com, pokeymon.com, Bame.com) . All of these have been, or are pornography web sites. The most devastating thing about these sites is that once a person has logged onto them, they cannot get out of pornography sites through normal methods. It automatically links you to site after site. There is not an end to the flow of pornography. A magazine has an end, but not the Internet.

 

Much of the technology that has been developed for use on the Internet has been funded by the Sex Industry to distribute their product faster and to a wider market. For example, the most used part of the Internet is the World Wide Web, but it is only a small part of the capability of the Internet. There is Telnet, FTP, IRC, Usenet Newsgroups in addition to the WWW (World Wide Web) that are parts of the Internet. Why have they not become as popular? Simply because they are not visual. We instinctively like and are drawn to color and pictures. The WWW is based on pictures and what better medium for reaching a massive audience. The streaming video technology was funded in large part by the Sex Industry.

 

There has been little that can be done to stave off the tide of pornography on the Internet. Some legislation has been passed (in a couple of different laws) stating that pornography companies that were registered in the United States needed to have a way of warning consumers about the explicit nature of the sight, and state that if the person accessing the site is under 18 years old that they need to exit the site. A few companies took this literally and developed ways of verifying a person's age and identity, but most just put up a page that stated something like this: This site contains sexually explicit material, if you are under 18 please press here. If you want to view more, press here. This obviously allows full access to whoever wants it, including your children.

With all the resources of a multi-billion dollar a year industry waging against us, what chance do we have? We must be aware of all this information! We need to know what our children are looking at, and how to combat this.

 

There are several commercial programs available to filter the Internet (see resource list), but with over 500 new pornography sites being developed per day, there will always be a gap in the coverage. There are also filtered Internet Service Providers (ISP's) that are a good alternative to the commercial software, but nothing will ever take the place of vigilant, aware parents and good supervision.

 

So, here we are with something that used to be downplayed in severity and in effect becoming the epidemic of our modern society. No indeed, this is not your father's pornography.

 © 2013 The Institute For Research And Treatment Of Addictive Disorders