Generation Rapist: Is online porn making boys violent?

Credit: Thinkstock
Credit: Thinkstock

Jared Watkins, a 23-year-old in Washington, DC, doesn’t have any illusions about men’s sexuality: “Most men my age watch porn. We’re the first generation that grew up with porn so easily available to us. Pornography is starting to get more violent, and we feel disgusted with ourselves for watching it, but many of us are confused about their disgust, because they think this is what real sex is like.”

Indeed, today’s boys watch porn growing up – and a lot of it. According to new surveys, the average boy now starts viewing porn at age 11 – even boys as young as seven now watch it. What they see is often hardcore.

“Sexual curiosity is healthy, but we’re raising our boys on violent porn,” says Carleton Hendrick, a Harvard-educated psychotherapist in Massachusetts who has treated hundreds of teenagers. “Thanks to the internet, porn is now boys’ primary sex educator. They watch it on their computers, on their phones, their tablets and their friends’ computers. With the average viewing time per week being two hours, it means they see thousands of images that tell them that cruel, violent sexual acts against girls are permissible, even desired by girls. It’s having staggering consequences on our boys, and by implication on our girls.”

Todd Spaulding, clinical director at the Oxbow Academy in rural Utah, treats such boys. “Ten boys can look at porn, and you can’t predict whether they’ll become abusers,” he explains. “But the reality is that they can watch anything online, including sadistic and cruel sex. This sex is objectification and dehumanization of girls. Their attitude becomes, ‘You’re an object and therefore I can do whatever I want to you’.”

Oxbow treats 40 boys at the time in its residential program; it’s not even a drop in the bucket, as Spaulding acknowledges. That’s where Neil Irvin comes in. As executive director of the group Men Can Stop Rape, Irvin teaches young boys across the United States – and now abroad – about healthy sexuality.

“I’m a math and history teacher by training,” he says. “Teaching sexuality is as important! We show boys what can happen to them if they use drugs or pornography. We help them understand healthy sexuality and give them male role models they can talk to when they meet a girl they’re attracted to.”

Without programs like Irvin’s, do we risk raising sexual predators, and women willing to accept violence? Candida Royalle, a pioneer of the feminist ‘by-and-for-women’ porn genre, believes the risk is exaggerated: “While some standard porn can be described as sexist and at times degrading, it’s not particularly violent. And while it may model sexual behavior that’s not sensitive to what women want, for the most part it’s not promoting violence.”

But, observes Hendrick, girls are growing up with the idea that they have to subject themselves to boys’ porn-style desires: “Many girls even go on porn sites to see what boys really want, even though it hurts. Girls are outperforming boys academically and succeeding at every other level, but in order to please boys they sexually degrade themselves.”

Boys and sex: Preventing rape

Two million boys have attended Men Can Stop Rape’s school program, the Men of Strength club (MOST). “We send 100 selected boys invitations saying, ‘You’ve been nominated as a leader of your school’,” explains Neil Irvin. “Then the boys are invited to a meeting with pizza and a cool movie.” MOST’s leaders then tell them that not everyone will be invited to join. “That makes them want to be selected,” explains Irvin. “The members get special access to things. That makes the program cool.”

Keep red flags down: How to prevent your son from developing an unhealthy porn habit:

1. Talk with your child about sex very early. Teach him about good touching, bad touching, secret touching.
2. Set boundaries. The more internet access you give your kids, the more they’ll access harmful content.
3. If he exceeds his internet privileges, confiscate his computer or iPad. Don’t try to be his friend, even if being strict results in his saying he’ll punch a hole in the wall.
4. If your son watches porn, talk about it. Don’t vilify his attraction to girls, or even to other boys, but explain that it’s not healthy to keep viewing such websites. It will be an uncomfortable conversation, but it has to be!
5. If your son develops a pornography habit, ask why he feels excited about porn. Don’t take “I don’t know” for an answer. Explain that sexual attraction is a good thing, and why you don’t want him to get it through watching porn.

Source: Todd Spaulding, Oxbow Academy

 

Q&A: “Watching porn impacts men’s behavior” — Chyng Sun, Producer of new documentary “The Price of Pleasure”

Metro: Does pornography affect viewers’ behavior?

Sun: Almost all men watch porn, but the majority don’t rape. But I’ve surveyed thousands of college students around the world, and my research has found that men who watch a lot of porn tend to look at women they meet as a sum of their sexual parts or imagine having sex with them. They’re also prone to anti-women attitudes. And watching porn does influence men’s behavior. For example, many men want to ejaculate into a woman’s mouth. Women don’t want to do it, but porn movies tell men that women do want it. I asked a group of men about the sexual acts they most wanted to do. The top choice was ejaculating on a woman’s face and anal sex. “Every porn has it, so I want to try to, and women seem to enjoy it,” they said. The same attitude is true for spanking. Men are making violence invisible by thinking that women enjoy it. If women enjoy the violence, where’s the violence?

It’s a grim reality…

Yes, and there are new things that we recognize as sexual violence. For example, if a guy wants to gag his girlfriend and she says no, and he says, come on, maybe you’ll like it, and she agrees – is that violence? The sexual act called ATM is also common and very degrading. But I have found in my survey interviews that deep down men understand that women don’t want to do it. Ejaculating into someone’s mouth means you’re dominating that person.


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