The first thing I noticed was the age. Eight years old. That’s the age of my oldest daughter.
Except it’s not just teenagers. It’s eight-year-olds. And if you are inclined to think that the immersion happens only because of lax parenting or troubled kids, you couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, the excess of pornography and the ease of accessibility kids have to it is what is making troubled kids.
Here’s a heartbreaking sample of what this licentiousness we have culturally accepted as “harmless free speech” is doing to the normal development of young boys:
As [one young man identified in the study as “Q”] told me over several conversations, it wasn’t just porn but rough images on Snapchat, Facebook and other social media that confused him. Like the GIF he saw of a man pushing a woman against a wall with a girl commenting: “I want a guy like this.” And the one [a second teenage subject identified as] Drew mentioned of the “pain room” in “Fifty Shades of Grey” with a caption by a girl: “This is awesome!”
Watching porn also heightened Q.’s performance anxiety. “You are looking at an adult,” he told me. “The guys are built and dominant and have a big penis, and they last a long time.” And if you don’t do it like the guys in porn, Drew added, “you fear she’s not going to like you.”
“Q” is 15 years old. Though it was two decades ago, I remember having social anxieties about girls I liked, but it was nothing like this. And though I am sure it will bring the objections of those faithful adherents to the religion of secular materialism, it’s not supposed to be like this, and it’s not okay that it is like this.
There was more:
“I think social media makes girls think they want something,” he said, noting he hadn’t seen porn more than a handful of times and disliked it. “But I think some of the girls are afraid.”
“It gets in your head,” Q. said. “If this girl wants it, then maybe the majority of girls want it.” He’d heard about the importance of consent in sex, but it felt pretty abstract, and it didn’t seem as if it would always be realistic in the heat of the moment. Out of nowhere was he supposed to say: Can I pull your hair? Or could he try something and see how a girl responded? He knew that there were certain things — “big things, like sex toys or anal” — that he would not try without asking.
“I would just do it,” said another boy, in jeans and a sweatshirt. When I asked what he meant, he said anal sex. He assumed that girls like it, because the women in porn do.
“I would never do something that looked uncomfortable,” Drew said, jumping back into the conversation. “I might say, ‘I’ve seen this in porn — do you want to try it?’”
Two things stood out at me from this small passage. First, we can pretend differently if we want, but the massive increase in sexual harassment accusations and sexual assault claims in our culture is not the result of empowered females. It is the result of an increase in permissiveness that has blurred the lines of sexual ethics. Notice Q commenting that, “oh sure I’ve heard about consent, but it seems like what a girl really wants when she says no is for you to do it.”
You can preach the importance of consent until you’re blue in the face, but if you are simultaneously flooding young people’s minds with a porn culture that models the exact opposite, you’re spinning your wheels.
If the #MeToo movement doesn’t become the most vocal and vociferous enemies of legal porn in America, they are ultimately a futile, and perhaps fraudulent cause.
Secondly, look at the last statement by Drew. In a hypothetical sexual encounter with a teenage girl, he would say to her, “I’ve seen this in porn – do you want to try it?” Notice there is no stigma associated with the viewing of porn. Drew feels no compunction or awkwardness about telling a girl he is about to have sex with that he is a porn watcher. It has become not only desensitized to our youth, but utterly normalized. That alone is terrifying.
Job righteously proclaimed in the pages of the Old Testament,
“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman. For what is our lot from God above, our heritage from the Almighty on high? Is it not ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong?”
That ruin and disaster doesn’t always come in the form of Biblical floods and burning sulfur raining from the sky. Sometimes it comes wrapped in the name of free speech, delivered straight to your child’s iPhone.
Our culture won’t survive what it is doing to itself. Our children won’t survive what it is trying to do to them. If we want them to be spared by taking the vow of Job, we had better model it ourselves.