Part 1 here.
This article may shock some of you, but hopefully the shock is analogous to being charged with defibrillators, which is an act of life giving, or wakefulness, as opposed to the kind of shock one experiences with a fork and a power outlet. That being said, lets get into it.
Seven years ago there was a meta-study done on the role pornography plays when it comes to internet traffic, international revenue, and other interesting things of that nature. In 2005-06, all over the planet there were at least 28 000 people viewing pornography per second on their computers and there was nearly 100 Billion dollars (US currency) being collected in porn-industry revenue over the course of the year. The pornography industry made more than the revenues of all the top technology companies combined: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and some company called EarthLink. Also consider: StatsCanada estimated that in Canada alone, 18-34-year-olds (in 2005) had a 90% chance of being active internet users. I have a feeling that things haven’t changed much since then and if anything, they have continued their growing trend. I’m a writer not a scientist.
Naturally, this is my segue into how it all works for people of Generation Y and why it’s somehow worth noting. Seeing as how the majority of Gen Y’ers were young adults (or bumbling confused teenagers) at the time, chances are that they’re already familiar with the subject. Pornography is something to consider when it comes to the make-up of our collective perspective on reality. Like Part 1 of this article, it all filters down into some similarly distilled notion. Today, I’m talking about…
When it comes to sexuality, Hollywood and MTV have a fairly consistent proclamation about what constitutes your average sexual relationship. Today my fiance surfed Youtube on a whim to check out some of the latest music being released. She selected two music videos at random. It shouldn’t surprise you that they both depicted scenes of sex, one of them somewhat subtly, and the other so ostensibly that even the most ignorant of Jim Henson’s Muppets could put it together. Sex isn’t even taboo to my generation. Strike up a conversation with almost anybody near my age and you’ll probably hear their entire confused philosophy about sex before you can say, “Back in my day…” With the kind of familiarity and persistence that our peers and the media shoves down our throat, it’s no wonder we have such a fascination with carnality. Also, in case you didn’t know: pornography is a masturbatory aid.
I know. Somebody reading this just spat milk all over their computer screen.
Now, lets be clear: I’m not going to tell you that masturbation is bad (perhaps the only taboo of my generation is the topic of morality), but I am going to examine the psychology of such behaviour a little bit, and hopefully point something out to you that is worth some healthy cogitation. I’ll do this by painting a picture.
Imagine a young man. He’s tall, somewhat good-looking, a kind fellow, and he considers himself an exception when it comes to the treatment of ladies. He truly believes that he would never do anything inappropriate to harm a woman, and he considers all of the women in his life as equal to him in every way—he even upholds a few habits of chivalry. He holds open doors for men and women alike, he stands to greet them at the dinner table, etc.
Also, he masturbates nearly everyday, often to the tune of some strange woman he’s never met. She fakes an orgasm on his computer screen and tomorrow it will be a different woman, and the day after that will be a different woman as well. Does anybody notice something weird going on here?
See, there is a strange dichotomy going on here in the mind of this young fellow, and in the minds of so many people on this planet you and I both know. On the one hand, he truly believes that he is an upholder of virtue, a genuine guy who does his best not to hurt people in his life or treat them indignantly. On the other hand, he routinely objectifies human beings in order to satisfy himself, perpetuating and encouraging trends in an industry that consistently reduces people to mere pieces of flesh. This young man is no oddity in our culture.
“But Spencer,” you say. “The porn-actor willingly puts herself in that position. She has no qualms about undressing in front of a camera, so why shouldn’t the young man take advantage? He’s not hurting anybody, he’s not even physically touching her.”
Good question, I say. But let me answer your question with another question: If a child had no qualms about behaving the same way as this porn-actor you describe, would it still be okay to “take advantage”? If not, why do you think that is? Is it because it’s socially unacceptable to do so, that they’re not of the age to consent (an age that differs depending on what country you’re in), or is it something to do with the fact that whether or not the child consents has nothing to do with the wrongness of the act?
Hint: It’s the last one.
Unfortunately there are people in this world who use the same logic as what you describe, and we call them pedophiles. This in an intense comparison I’m making, but I’ve chosen to make it in order for some of you to understand. I’m not saying that you’re the equivalent of a pedophile for climaxing to regular porn (if there is such a thing as regular porn), all I’m saying is that there is something intrinsically similar about the psychology of it. Just because you view these human beings anonymously, that doesn’t make you an irresponsible participant. The anonymous member of the crowd who shouted for the death of Socrates is as responsible as the one man it took to poison him and send him walking.
I realize that the mass scale of pornography does not only affect my generation, its effects are wonderfully universal, but the fact remains that my generation is the internet-generation. Additionally, I’m aware that pornography itself has been around for quite some time. The point I intended to make when I started this article had to do with its mass scale availability through the internet, but I realize that I faltered from this somewhat. It’s hard to be succinct when there is so much to say. For this, I apologize. 1000 words just isn’t enough sometimes, but it is enough to start a conversation.
In sum: the widespread, instantaneously gratifying nature that we get from the internet pervades even our sexual desires, and my generation sees this unfolding in our culture from the front row.
The participant row.