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Chester County Press

Activist says mainstreamed porn is desensitizing younger population

02/09/2015 03:46PM ● By Richard Gaw

Photo by Richard L. Gaw Activist and lecturer Dr. Gail Dines delivered an address on Feb. 7 at the New Garden Township Building.



At the very start of her lecture on Feb. 7 at the New Garden Township building, Dr. Gail Dines, one of the country's leading activists against the proliferation of pornography in our culture, scanned over the audience of the more than 50 people in attendance and declared that it was safe to say that no one in attendance was younger than 35.

For the next hour, Dines introduced the audience to the world of modern-day teenagers and Millennials – generally, those between 18-30 years old – whom she said make up a generation inundated with hyper-sexualized images and immediate access to graphic pornography that is harming how young men view women and damaging how they cultivate romantic relationships.

"We grew up in a print-based culture," Dines said. "Today, young people are growing up in an image-based culture, where the images come at them and come at them. The problem is that we have very sophisticated producers of images, but most consumers – the kids – are what we call 'media illiterate.' They don't actually know how to analyze these images.

"We as adults have given up our children to the pornography industry and the porn culture."

Dines, a professor of sociology and womens' studies at Wheelock College in Boston, is an internationally acclaimed speaker and author, and a feminist activist. Her writing and lectures focus on the hypersexualization of the culture and the ways that porn images filter down into mainstream pop culture. Her work on media and pornography has appeared in academic journals, magazines and newspapers across the country. She is a frequent guest on radio and television and is a recipient of the Myers Center Award for the Study of Human Rights. Her latest book, "Pornland," has been translated into five languages.

In the point-and-click culture of immediate access and the freedom to do so, pornography has gone from the back room secrecy of peep shows to the sanctity of our homes. In the process, Dines said its damage is on the verge of becoming irreparable to both young men and young women, but that even our nation's most educated experts on violence are ignorant to see the connections between violence and pornography.

"Last October, I gave a lecture in Boston to social workers who deal with violence against juvenile boys and girls, By the time I'd finished, there was virtual mass hysteria in the room, because here were social workers whose job it was to stop violence against young girls, and not one of them had linked porn to that violence."

It's a direct link, Dines said. While younger women have been socialized to be "porn ready," young men have been influenced by the pornographic images they see on the internet. The result, she said, is creating an entire culture engaged in quick and tawdry "hook up" sex.

"Dating is over," Dines said. "The studies are showing that on college campuses, very few people date. The guys have been socialized on porn and thus want porn sex. They don't want commitment, or intimacy. What they want is quick sex and then move onto he next one and then the next one."

The key point where young men and women construct their identity today is through the media, Dines said. Showing several compromising photographs of Victoria Beckham, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and Beyonce, Dines said that our mainstream media has become an "assault of images."

"We are putting our young girls and our young boys in an impossible situation," she said. "We as adults should be arguing for the right of our kids to be able to create sexual intimacy and creativity and identity that's all of their own making, and not produced by the porn culture."

Violence against women is not a form of deviance, Dines said. Rather, men who become sadists and sexual predators and commit rape are over-conforming to the messages that they see through pornography. They are not born pimps or johns or porn users, but fully human.

"But it's the culture that turns them into that," she said. "Our sons deserve better than what the porn industry sets them up with. Our young women deserve more than this as well."

Dines said that our nation's young women are fighting an impossible battle in trying to resemble the models they see in popular media. "Only One in ten thousand women have the proper proportion to be a model. They're the abnormal, but in the media, we're the ones who are abnormal. The magazines all say, 'Love yourself, but what they're really saying is, 'Hate yourself,' because the more you hate, the more you spend. It's crucial to the economy that women develop a sense of self-loathing."

Pornography has not only become mainstream, it's a multi-billion-dollar industry, with on-line porn taking in $3,000 a second and accounting for 36 percent of all internet usage, Dines said. "Their business model is get customers for life, by luring in 12-year-old boys with free accessibility, and later, when they get older, a credit card," she said. "Because the boy associates relationships with hardcore sex, it desensitizes him to relationships with women. Romance becomes immaterial, and it gives him a corrupted definition of masculinity, that leaves him confused and traumatized."

Methods of defeating the porn culture, Dines said, are already underway. A newly-formed, non-profit organization called "Culture Refrained: Solutions for the Public Health Crisis in the Digital Age," offers a series of web-based programs that educate parents to teach their children about sexuality and pornography.

"We need to bring the top tier of educators all over the world, and begin building these web-based programs," she said. "We need to find a way to get all countries to approach this as a public health emergency. Our job is to pull together the stakeholders of the next generation – the educators, the medical professionals, the community leaders, the parents, the youth workers, the therapists and the activists.

"Either we act now, or we are about to lay waste to an entire generation of young boys," Dine said. "Our kids deserve it."

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail rgaw@chestercounty.com.

 


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