A young woman in college recently shared with me that every boy she knew, including the Christians, looked at pornography. From her perspective, these young men learned early that pornography was “no big deal”. “Everybody looks at it”. In some instances, a parent may have even given their teen a Playboy magazine to help them “learn” about women. In most instances, however, kids heard the following from their parents about pornography:
Did you hear that? I didn’t.
The majority of kids hear absolutely nothing about pornography from their parents. It’s called the radio silence approach to parenting. Parents, for the most part, are leaving the important job of sex-ed to the culture, the media, peers, the Internet and the school system. Unfortunately, the free availability of pornography, the popularization of pornography, the cross-marketing between the pornography and media industry, combined with the sexualization of brands marketed to teens and young adults have provided a quick education to children that pornography is a healthy, normal part of adult sexual life and well-being.
When pressed about their radio silence approach, many of the parents I have spoken with fear that their kids are already involved with pornography. Some tell me they feel powerless in the face of the pornography tsunami. Countless numbers of parents have told me that they simply don’t have a good response in the event their kids ask them why they should stay away from pornography. Unfortunately, far too many parents have bought into what writer Naomi Wolf dubbed the “porn myth”, i.e. that porn liberates and empowers men and women as sexual beings. I read Naomi’s essay six years ago, and several of her main points have remained with me, including that:
- Pornography doesn’t whet men’s appetites—it turns them off of the “real thing”
- Men see fewer and fewer women as “porn-worthy”
- Women worry that, as mere flesh and blood, they can scarcely get, let alone hold, a man’s attention
- Women simply can’t compete with the women in pornography
- Pornography lowers a young women’s sense of her own sexual value and her actual sexual value
- The women depicted in pornography have no real sexual needs; they are downloadable and extinguishable at will and are fully submissive and tailored to fit a consumer’s specifications
- Pornography has not liberated sex, rather, it has commoditized sex; with continued use, we crave cheap imitations rather than the real deal
- People are not closer because of pornography, but farther apart
- Pornified men and women are lonely—young women and men no longer know how to find each other erotic in face-to-face relationships
- Young men and women have lost the meaning of mystery and sensuality
Wolf’s observations have been echoed countless times in the lives of the young men and women I have worked with, in the stories of singles, married couples… individuals young and old. Wolf’s second iteration, Is Porn Driving Men Crazy? highlights the increasing body of scientific evidence regarding the addictive nature of pornography and how pornography is contributing to male impotence and premature ejaculation. The scientific evidence, the anecdotal, observational and cultural evidence of pornography’s negative impact provide a strong counter to the porn myth. The consequences are significant and the arguments against pornography’s use extend well beyond “because God says so”. If you are a parent, I would highly encourage you to read and consider both of Wolf’s essays, along with the substantial body of evidence regarding the social costs of pornography on children and the adult society at large. If your kids are asking you the hard questions, you should be prepared to give them the hard facts. Pornography is not just harmless fun, and if you are taking the radio silence approach to addressing pornography in your home, chances are, your kid will be another victim in pornography’s wake.