By Aaron Gaglia (@GagliaAC)
The question of government regulation is one that sparks much debate between people of all political persuasions. Internet pornography is an excellent example of this. The question of whether pornography is inherently harmful to viewers and whether the porn industry is inherently exploitive and degrading to women is very controversial. Though most would agree that certain types of pornography such as child pornography and violent pornography are harmful and unacceptable, they are readily available on the internet. The internet is where otherwise upstanding citizens fuel their criminal desires. That needs to change. Violent and child pornography are already illegal, but they need to be better regulated. Though I do not claim to have a solution to this problem, I want to look at the problem from a different angle in order to expose the harm that unregulated obscenity has on a society. I propose to you that internet pornography is our society’s secret life—it’s a secret life that slowly consumes its users and then leaks into one’s everyday life.
All throughout human history people have had secret lives. People have always had secret sins, obsessions, and perversions. Yet the keeping of a secret life used to require movement and human contact. If one wanted to have extra-marital sexual relations, they had to actually commit adultery with another person; if one had taboo desires, one either had the choice to act on them or deny them–there was no intermediate choice.
Now with the advent of technology, namely the internet, an intermediate choice now exists. In order to satisfy one’s taboo and evil desires, one does not need to victimize another. All they need to do is turn on the computer. In the isolation of one’s room, a person can victimize, degrade, and exploit another vicariously through internet pornography. One’s perversion stays at a psychic level; no blood is on his hands. He just goes on with his normal life, without the consequences or effects of actual criminal activity, right?
No! The information that we dwell on and entertain in our thoughts forms how we think, perceive, and act. One cannot continually find pleasure from watching a woman be raped (whether simulated or real) and maintain a respectful view of women as equal people. That is a blatant contradiction. Deriving pleasure from watching acts of violence, hate, and degradation toward women is inherently hateful and degrading and will affect one’s everyday life. It seeps into one’s life and society in subtle ways, whether through evil thoughts against women or rape jokes. And this eventually forms a society in which taboo sexuality and objectification becomes increasingly mainstream. I’m not saying that individuals who watch it will inevitably become rapists or murders; rather I’m saying that it leads to a desensitization towards violence against women and sets the stage for a society where aberrant sexual behavior becomes more and more normalized. It creates psychologically damaged people who go down roads they never planned to go down. Tragically though, it does lead some, like Ted Bundy, to rape and murder.
The prevalence of internet pornography coupled with the prevalence of sexual violence and sex trafficking is not just a strange coincidence. Pornography creates a society where these things can sadly thrive. We must see internet pornography for the evil it is and do something about it.
In practice, our government must demonstrate that violent and child pornography is not only illegal, but also harmful and will not be tolerated. The government needs to find a way of cutting off access to it, criminalizing those who produce it, and rehabilitating those victimized in it. We must stop believing the lie that our secret life is separate from our regular life. We must put to death society’s collective Mr. Hyde once and for all. Regulating all pornography that includes children or that employs violence, whether real or simulated, is a good first step in slaying the monster of pornography. May we, as a society, choose to expose this lie and change at both an individual and societal level in order to protect women and restore human dignity.
For more information, here is a link to some statistics about pornography.