Sandy is a fifteen-year-old high school sophomore who recently missed three days of school. She told her friends she had the flu because she was too embarrassed and ashamed to tell them the truth. Sandy had actually been to the doctor for treatment for Chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease. She got it by participating in group sex with her friends where she received anal sex. She initially said “no” to her boyfriend when he suggested they try anal sex; however, he was able to convince her when he showed her women in porn who appeared to enjoy it. She eventually gave into her boyfriend. Anal sex was very painful, but she wanted to please her boyfriend. Soon after, he used pornography to convince her to engage in group sex. She ended up having anal sex with several boys. That is how she ended up with Chlamydia. Your image of Sandy might be of a young woman with “loose morals.” However, she really was as a “good girl” with good morals. Sandy comes from a good Catholic family. She attends Catholic school, gets good grades, is on the field hockey and debate teams, and attends mass on Sundays with her family. So how did she get into this mess? The answer is Pornography.
As scary and shocking as this story may be, it’s one that I’ve heard several times. Many parents worry about the emotional and spiritual harm of pornography; however, it can be just as physically dangerous and the consequences can be devastating! The fact is that teenagers who use pornography are more likely to become sexually active earlier than those who don’t use pornography, and they are more likely to participate in risky sex. This includes anal sex, bondage, fetishes, gay sex and group sex, etc. The results are often physical injury and sexually transmitted diseases. Some of these diseases are incurable. It’s estimated that about 25% of young people between the ages of 12 and 19 have a sexually transmitted disease. With anal intercourse a person is 500% more likely to contract HIV/AIDS than with vaginal intercourse.
The fact is that Internet pornography has normalized deviant sex. Throughout the millions of websites where teens can access pornographic videos, men and women are often shown participating in deviant sex and appearing to love it. The scenes usually show one or more men using a woman sexually in very aggressive and even violent ways. In the beginning of each scene the woman might act as if she doesn’t want to have sex, but soon she is loving it and begging for more. In reality, she is anything but loving it. Many female porn stars need to get drunk or high before participating in such scenes. They couldn’t endure such physical and emotional pain and punishment if they weren’t. Pornographers also don’t show these women being taken to the hospital because of the injuries they have sustained from participating in such sex scenes.
For many teenagers, pornography is their primary source of sex education. This is because the sex education they are getting at home and/or in school is inadequate. They may learn about puberty, conception and birth, contraception and sexually transmitted diseases, but they learn nothing about God’s plan for sexuality and healthy relationships. They may be told that viewing pornography is wrong, but are not taught why is wrong and dangerous. Today, when teens have questions about sex or relationships, instead of asking a trusted adult, they often turn to the internet for information. This need for information, combined with their natural curiosity about sex, leads them to Internet pornography. People often confuse what’s common for what’s healthy. They believe, “If everybody’s doing it, it must be okay.” And so teenagers, both boys and girls, come to believe that because deviant sex is so prevalent on the internet, it’s normal and healthy. In fact, girls are five times more likely to have sex with multiple partners if they and/or their boyfriends watch porn. The effects of this sexual activity can be devastating. This is what happened with Sandy.
Pornography use not only leads teenagers into risky sex, it changes the way they view relationships. Many young men who are regular users of pornography don’t want to commit themselves to one relationship. They believe that true happiness in life can only come from having sex with multiple partners. They are adopting the Sexual Utilitarian Philosophy. This is the belief that it’s okay to use other people for one’s own sexual pleasure. They believe that women are there solely for their sexual pleasure. This is most clearly seen in today’s hookup culture where people are developing relationships solely for the purpose of having sex. This is often called “friends with benefits.” The Sexual Utilitarian Philosophy also fuels sexual competition among men. Those who can coerce women into risky and degrading sex acts are esteemed by their peers. Women in these situations believe that being sexual will lead to a committed relationship. However, this rarely happens and they just end up feeling used and exploited.
The key to protecting teenagers from the harmful influence of pornography is to educate them. Parents, teachers, coaches, youth workers, and clergy all must work together. We must teach teens about healthy sexuality and the dangers of deviant sex. We must also educate them about the dangers of pornography. This includes showing them how pornography can lure them into dangerous sex and a warped view of sexuality. All of their technology use must be monitored for their protection. We must also teach them about healthy relationships. The Sexual Utilitarian has led many young people to view relationships only from the perspective of what they can get out of them, not for what they give to them. Finally, we must teach our young people to live lives of strong moral virtue. This will protect them from using others and from being used. This, I believe, will protect teenagers from the dangers of Internet pornography and the dangers of our pornified society.
For more information on how to protect families from pornography, check out Dr. Kleponis’s new book, Integrity Restored: Helping Catholic Families Win The Battle Against Pornography.