I’ve been avoiding writing about some very important topics well within the realm of this blog for a long time. Why? Because every time I start to put the words down, I have the most sickening feeling inside. Tears turn into sulfuric acid and when I try not to let them out they drip into my stomach and rip at my guts.
I keep thinking surely it’s about to stop. Someone is going to stop it. But no one is stopping it, it is only ramping up into a greater frenzy. These are a few headlines and signs that told me I have to write about this:
- Newsweek says the demand for prostitution is growing.
- The Good Men Project is hosting a raging debate about pornography and dishonesty in intimate partner relationships.
- Friends on Facebook are making their status updates about reaching out to men addicted to substances from hard drugs to alcohol to sex.
- And the absolute killer for me this morning in my own local newspaper: Assistant public defender arrested on child prostitution charges
I am not about to stand up for prostitution. I am not one of those people who views it like the overly-made up saloon workers from Gunsmoke just exercising their right to operate an atypical business. If that is your image of prostitution, you need a wake up call. Read the link to the last bullet point above, and you will have a nauseating insight into what prostitution is today. If you think joking about pimps is funny, you have no idea what you are talking about. None.
It’s past time for some frank talk about denial. Men receive and appear to deserve the preponderance of blame for what is happening all around us, but no one is immune. Plenty of women confess to using Internet pornography and there have been some high profile stories that became criminal cases of women putting their own children on the Internet and selling them to strangers for sex.
This is not about whether or not using pornography to manage your sex life is right or wrong. That is a very complicated subject beyond this blog with so many twists and turns one could devote his or her entire life to it and never be done. This is about facing the consequences of going down this road and dealing with it.
Being fascinated with looking at other people naked is pretty much ancient news. It’s human, it’s normal, it’s no big deal. Looking at other people having sex, while it’s not for everyone, is also something that is an established attraction for many human beings. So far, nothing is really way out there, right? It used to be that this interest had a fairly limited range of opportunity that kept it in check, so becoming obsessed with it was unlikely. It had a place, that place was limited, and while it was omnipresent as a lurking interest it was a controlled if powerful instinct.
Enter the Internet.
What if a common but heretofore controlled human instinct were entirely unleashed in terms of access and frequency? And what if that instinct could be harnessed to fuel an insatiable appetite that would drive an economic engine so powerful and lucrative that it would be limited only by your imagination and willingness to take new risks?
Wonder no more. Welcome to the brave new world of online sex for money.
The “brain on sex” has been compared by neurologists to the brain on cocaine. We are due for a serious conversation about what is happening to people’s minds in this new equation. People on cocaine are not renowned for their thoughtful philanthropy and intimate relationships. They are marked by paranoia, aggression, and singular focus on their addiction, usually to the exclusion of any concern for or awareness of the destruction they are wreaking on themselves and others.
The sex we are dealing with here is not Hugh Hefner’s sex. There are no cute bunny ears and people over 18 years of age. Frankly, one of the reasons I have not written about this is I do not really want to get into it. It’s too upsetting. As generally as possible I will say that I’m not sure I can even call it sex. It is pornography. It is self-gratification by the violent degradation of and dominance over, and in some cases killing of, submissive others. And there is no more available “submissive other” than a child.
Right about now, you are thinking, whoa, slow down there lady. I just pleasure to “porn.” I’m not hurting anyone. You are crazy.
What is crazy is the refusal to step out of a compartmentalized way of thinking in order to see what is as plain as day. We aren’t just on the slippery slope, we are on a slope covered in grease wearing Olympic skis.
There is an old joke, “Everyone who drives faster than I do is a maniac, and everyone who drives slower than I do is an idiot.” That attitude applies in many areas of life, not just driving. We all look to our own “normal” to judge other people’s behavior. But the trouble with this is that there will always be drivers going faster and slower than you do. Don’t look to the outlying extremes, just look at yourself.
Believe me when I say, I am a typical person. I am no better than anyone else and I am keenly aware of that. Because I have lived in denial at certain points in my life, I recognize its reliable hallmarks easily in others. They look something like this:
- I can’t tell my partner about that because he/she would freak out.
- I’m not doing anything wrong, no one is getting hurt.
- It’s not illegal, so leave me alone.
- What I do is my business.
- I wish everyone would stop being so judgmental and irrational.
My call today is for all of us to step outside of the bubble and look critically at the roles we have in why selling children on the Internet is now an everyday occurrence — and by officers of the court at that. We need to be more open about how we have allowed a generally safe and productive human interest to be twisted into a cash machine that grinds up marriages, partnerships, careers, and children’s lives. It starts with doing one of the most difficult things to do — admitting that our choices are not necessarily benign just because we didn’t intend to hurt anyone.
We need to embrace the reality that what we intend to do really has nothing to do with what is happening. You can be religious, or atheist, or agnostic about it, but we need to stop talking about intentions and start talking about results. The result of what is going on now is an utter nightmare barreling along at an alarming rate. It is screaming in the headlines.
Will we listen?