A defining feature of the West in general and Australia in particular is the sexualisation of everything. What was once the reserve of adult company has now become ubiquitous. Hyper-sexuality is now found everywhere, and our children are exposed to it just as much as adults are.
The pornification of our culture is now so widespread and pervasive that it seems like the genie cannot be put back into the bottle. But any caring society – certainly one concerned especially about the wellbeing of women and children – will not put up the white flag of surrender here.
The Canberra Declaration will continue to do battle in this arena, and insist that governments take responsible steps to protect our children and our society at large. And there is much that we need protection from. Pornography is harmful – extremely so. And we are becoming increasingly aware of this fact.
The moral and social environment can be polluted just as much as the physical environment can be. As to the former we commonly speak about things like “externalities”. This involves the downstream effects of a polluting factory and the waste products it dumps into a river. Others are adversely impacted by all this.
So too, the spill-over effects of pornography need to be considered. Even if you do not watch it or buy it, you will be greatly affected by those who do. Just as there is such a thing as passive smoking, so there is passive sleaze. It is not a victimless crime, and we all tend to bear the brunt of it.
So very tragic is how children are being increasingly drawn into this dark web. Ans it is not just that they are being exposed to hardcore and vile pornography, but they are acting out what they see. Consider this shocking information from a late-2017 news item
“Reports of children sexually assaulting each other have almost doubled in the last four years, figures show as experts blame the rise in the availability of online pornography. Police have received almost 30,000 reports of children committing sexual offences since 2013, with 2,625 – including 225 alleged rapes – carried out by under-18s on other children on school premises, including primary school playgrounds. Reports of so-called ‘peer on peer’ abuse rose from 4,603 in 2013 to 7,866 last year…”
But we need to put a human face on such stories. Here is just one case that should send shivers down the spines of every parent:
A teenage boy who sexually abused his half-sister said he was copying what he saw on a pornographic website, a court has heard. The 16-year-old, who cannot be named to protect his identity and the identity of his sister, arrived at the Central Criminal Court on signed pleas of guilty to five counts of rape and 44 counts of sexual assault, between September 2016 and January 2017. The court heard the teenager’s mother walked into her living room on 30 January 2017, to find her son who was then 14, inappropriately touching her daughter, who was then eight.
But adults can equally be harmed by porn. One clinical psychologist who works with sex addicts, sex offenders and their victims, makes a forceful case as to how damaging and addictive porn consumption is: “Pornography addicts are harder to treat than cocaine addicts; because with cocaine you can at least do detox.” She goes on to explain:
“There’s a difference between words and pictures. When somebody is speaking, words coming out of the mouth, like mine, right now, the people in the audience are thinking about those words and saying to themselves, ‘That’s just your opinion. Now, I may agree with your opinion or I may not agree with your opinion, but that’s just your opinion.’ Pictures don’t work that way. A picture is an event, because you can see it. And once you see a picture it doesn’t come in as an opinion, it comes in as something that happened. And it’s stored in your brain where you store other things that have happened. So you don’t challenge it. You don’t buffer it. You don’t say, ‘That’s not true.’ You saw it. You stored it in the place where you saw the other things.”
And it is not just conservative or religious types who are concerned abut the flood of porn and its damaging effects. Some time ago now Benjamin Spock said this: “For decades I was an uncompromising civil libertarian and scorned the hypocrisy involved in the enforcement of obscenity laws. But recent trends in movies, literature, and art toward what I think of as shock obscenity, and the courts’ acceptance of it, have made me change my position . . . particularly in view of other brutalizing trends.”
And even before that D. H. Lawrence said this: “Even I would censor genuine pornography, rigorously. It would not be very difficult. . . You can recognize it by the insult it offers, invariably, to sex, and to the human spirit. Pornography is the attempt to insult sex, to do dirt to it. This is unpardonable…”
Secular authors have even penned entire books on this, such as Pamela Paul’s Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families (Times Books, 2005); Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture (Free Press, 2005); and Gail Dines, Robert Jenson and Ann Russo, Pornography: The Production and Consumption of Inequality (Routledge, 1997).
We owe it to everyone – our children, our families, our men and women, and our society – to take a stand against the debilitating effects of the porn plague. The Canberra Declaration is committed to reversing the tide, no matter how hard it might be nor how long it might take.
And the war is winnable. It is already being won on various fronts. If we devote as much attention to putting a halt to moral and social pollution as we do to environmental pollution, the results can only be encouraging.
Team members from the Canberra Declaration coordinated Australia’s first Sexual Integrity Forum in Parliament house in 2005 and produced credible public policies on these many challenges.
But we need your help to continue the campaign to protect Australia’s women and Children. We need to make a stand against porn.
That’s why we ask you to read and sign the Canberra Declaration today.
One voice often cannot not be heard but when we join as a chorus, we can lift the roof. Together we can make a difference!