Sunday, 7 August 2016

Changing Attitudes To Pornography

For most of my life, mainstream culture in the English-speaking West has been highly accepting of pornography. Mass media near-universally portrays its production and consumption as benign, even positive. I read a respectable parenting book advocating that parents deliberately introduce pornography to their sons in a controlled manner. Those of us who label pornography as unhealthy have been marginalised as anti-sex, anti-joy prudes who seek control over others for envious or selfish reasons. Even just avoiding it oneself is viewed as slightly pathological.

Things seem to be changing, in some parts of NZ culture. Over the years the NZ Herald news site has run quite a few stories, on and off, on the damage done by addiction to online porn. It seems to me that these stories have been increasing in frequency. More interestingly, in the old days almost every author felt required to include some disclaimer along the lines of "I'm no prude, but ---". (No-one wants to appear guilty of that greatest of sins!) Now I often don't even see those disclaimers anymore.

I hope we reach the point soon where most of the culture can take the online porn problem seriously. It's difficult to tackle for so many reasons :-(. Technological development is rapidly outpacing the culture's and our brains' ability to adjust; we're still coming to grips with the effects of ubiquitous access to images and video, but VR porn is just around the corner. Some of the groups most opposed to porn --- the traditionally religious, and some decidedly anti-religious feminist groups --- find it difficult to cooperate. (On the flip side, porn proponents contain an unholy alliance of "boys will be boys" conservatism with anything-goes modern libertinism, who have no trouble at all cooperating!) A lot of the opposition to porn has been crippled by an attraction to blanket censorship that is ineffective and has dangers of its own.

I'd like to see more client-side tools to help people control their exposure to pornography. That includes hiding clickbait links to temptation as well as actual pornographic content. I'd like to see better education from parents and in schools about the harmful effects of pornography. I'd like to see, across the cultural spectrum, recognition that the way some men view women as primarily sex objects is a huge problem, and pornography is partly to blame. I think we may be slowly moving in the right direction, at least in some places.

1 comment:

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