Rod Dreher

Porn And Society

A teenager in her room watching porn on the internet on a laptop. (Photo by Robin Utrecht/NurPhoto) (Photo by NurPhoto/Corbis via Getty Images)

Hey, I’ve been away from the keys all day because I was traveling to Nashville this morning for a conference, and then gave a Benedict Option speech this afternoon, and then went to a great dinner with some Southern Episcopalians and fellow conservative travelers. The most fun people in the world, aside from Italian Catholics, are Southern Episcopalians and their allies. You have not lived until you have drunk wine and laughed with a Welsh historian who is fond of all things eccentric, and who finds the Megacolon at the Mütter Museum as delightful as I do. She has not yet read A Confederacy Of Dunces. I am going to have to find my way over to a bookstore in town tomorrow to buy a copy to send home with her.

But I have to tell you about something deeply shocking I learned tonight in conversation with one of the conferees. There’s nothing funny about this at all. It’s the kind of thing that makes me want to write a book called Benedict Option II: Head For The Hills!

I spoke with a man who works with victims of human sex trafficking. This is not a world I have paid attention to. He was telling me that it is much, much worse than people imagine, because of the Internet. Online pornography, he said, is destroying the hearts and minds of so many young people. He told me about a 13 year old girl in his church who came to the pastor and asked innocently if it was worth it to give a boy a blow job in exchange for a meal at McDonalds. She was holding out for Applebees, and wondered if it she was overshooting.

I asked if this was a poor girl. Not at all — this is a kid from a well-to-do, churchgoing family. This kind of thing was so normal that she felt comfortable asking for her pastor’s advice.

This is the culture that porn has created. He told me that Pornhub’s analytics show that 41 percent of its users are females. The idea that porn is something males do is totally outdated.

He said that in his line of work, he hears from fertility doctors — not one fertility doctor, but several — that they are having to teach married couples how to have normal sex. Normal, as in penis-in-vagina sex — this, if they want to conceive. These young people have been so saturated in pornography, and have had their imaginations so thoroughly formed by it, that the idea of normal reproductive sex acts are bizarre to them.

“This one doctor told me that she has to prescribe only doing penis-in-vagina sex exclusively for six months, so they can learn to feel normal about it,” he said. He wasn’t joking. He said that the first time a fertility doc told him that, he thought it must be a one-off thing, but he’s heard it from fertility docs from around the country.

When the Roman Empire collapsed, the loss of basic knowledge of how to do ordinary things was immense. The Oxford historian Bryan Ward-Perkins told me that it took western Europeans something like 700 years to relearn how to build a roof as solid as the Romans knew how to build. When you read about how the early Benedictine monks had to teach basics like gardening, metalworking, and the like to peasants in postlapsarian Rome, it’s not a joke. This was knowledge that everybody once held, until it was taken from them.

Can you imagine that people could forget how to have normal sex for the sake of having babies? It’s happening. This is the same kind of collapse of the very basic practice necessary to continue with civilization. My interlocutor said that so many parents these days have no idea at all what their kids are doing online, and how severely it is messing up their heads.

I like to think that I’m unshockable about the decadence around us. But I am naive.

We talked for a bit about how desperate ordinary Christians are for moral guidance from priests and pastors, and how they just aren’t getting it.

He also talked about how powerful sex traffickers are, and how young girls are being pulled into this world by the Internet. And he mentioned that so many parents are completely checked out on their children, and what their kids are exposing themselves to online, through their smartphones and computers. I tell you, it was like having the veil lifted. This man does this for a living, trying to fight this evil. It’s happening all around us, and people like me, we just don’t know about it.

Another man talked to me about how his little girls go to a public elementary school in his city, and he and his wife have just about had enough of the stuff they’re exposed to from the other kids, who get it from cable television. They’re looking for a way out. Note well, this is not stuff they’re getting in classrooms. This is stuff they’re getting from the culture in the heads of other elementary school students, who are exposed to it on TV.

I’m here to talk about The Benedict Option. But I’m learning a lot about why it is so very, very necessary. If I had it to write again, I would add a chapter about sex and pornography.

Meanwhile, American popular culture continues to drive us into the sewer:

HGTV featured a three-person couple, or “throuple,” for the first time on “House Hunters” Wednesday.

During the episode, titled “Three’s Not a Crowd in Colorado Springs,” partners Brian, Lori and Angellica (“Geli”) were moving to Colorado “in search of a home with a master bath that can accommodate three sinks,” according to a description on the HGTV website.

The house hunt had an extra layer of difficulty with only one week to “satisfy three very different personalities.”

“Lori and I got married in 2002, and we have two kids…” Brian explained in the episode. “I understood from day one, even when we were dating, that Lori was bisexual… and so we evolved to a point where we were comfortable having another woman in our lives.”

Geli said they met at a bar.

“I didn’t plan on being in a relationship with a married couple, but it just happened very naturally, organically” Geli explained.

Those poor children.

 

 

 

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