Monday, December 28, 2009

Also from the Department of Not Quite Getting It

While searching madly for blog fodder earlier, I came across this on the San Antonio Current's website: Toddlers and porn: shit happens?

Unsurprisingly, I agree with the general thrust of the blog. When I was young, we understood precocious sexual knowledge to be a sign of sexual abuse. Undoubtedly, our society's continued sexualization has led to it being commonplace; still, I think it's a bad sign.

This is my sticking point:

The unanswered question in my mind is how these five-year-olds know the world “porn” to begin with. Older demographics searching skin online used the word sex. Have we become that saturated by cumshots, glory holes, and latex that porn is now the talk of the romper room? Is it a blip? An aberration? Data planted by Norton’s to sell more “family-friendly” filters? I don’t know.

While I reject the cruel morality of Dr. Laura and her talk-radio clones, I’m still backing a longshot — apparently my whole point in this world wracked by gender injustice, new colonialism, and rampant environmental racism. So, as a champion of seemingly hopeless causes, I find myself hoping nonetheless that our kids (and I’m of the age where I can claim one of my own) will still be able to grow up and into healthy sexual identities despite it all.

It is not so much the silliness of phrases like "environmental racism" that gets to me. It's this: Greg Harman asks an incredibly important question--how do 5-year-olds know to search for porn to begin with--without realizing that the publication he works for is part of the problem.

See, when I first clicked on the blog post to read it, this was one of the right-hand ads:

(Well, not this exactly; the real thing is animated. The pole appears, and then the cowgirl swings around/down it, and then the words appear.)

To be fair, this ad doesn't appear every single time. I'm on the Pistolero's computer right now, and I don't know how to do a screen capture on a Mac, so I didn't get it right away. I navigated away from the page, and when I returned it took hitting refresh a few times to bring the ad up so I could capture it.

Still, my point remains. Where do kids find out about porn? Geez, I dunno. Where do they find out about pole dancing?

The Current is, emphatically, not a publication aimed at children. However, it is also not a publication I feel comfortable reading anywhere near my children. A huge number of the ads in the print edition are for "gentleman's clubs" (a term which, by the way, I object to being applied to titty bars), and there's always more than one for one of the local porn emporia--typically Adam and Eve and the Adult Video Megaplexx.

I would never imply, of course, that it's anyone's job but MINE to shield my children from these influences. What I am saying is that a whole blizzard of things of this sort now exists, and it makes my job as a parent that much more difficult. The Current is free, readily available, easily accessible, and sometimes covers hugely important stories that the mainstream press completely ignores. That last part means that I still pick it up approximately monthly. It would be nice if I could take it home and read it in the same room as my kids, rather than having to make sure I read it when they're not around.

In truth, the Current has always been a source of bottom-of-the-barrel sexuality. I've been reading it since I was a high schooler, so since the mid-1990s (though, of course, I wasn't reading it when I didn't live here, so I missed its decline from a truly alternative news source to a Bush Derangement Syndrome-afflicted hive of lefties trying to out-liberal the folks in Austin). The porn store ads have always been there. The titty bar ads have always been there. The personals have been cut, but the ads for escort services and massage "therapists" remain. Our society has undergone a definite coarsening, and the Current has been in the vanguard.

How do five-year-olds find out about porn, Mr Harman? Mostly, they have uninvolved parents who allow them unfettered access to ads they should never see. But also, misguided liberals have worked to entrench crudeness in our society in the name of rejecting "cruel morality." While parents are the last resort, the sort of folk who work for the Current have made our job more difficult than ever before.


peter said...

My kids are 12 and 10 and we don't allow them unsupervised access to the internet. How in the world could a child 7 or younger search for porn in the first place? What kind of parent lets a 7 year old child get on the internet to search for porn in the first place?

Albatross said...

"... wracked by gender injustice, new colonialism, and rampant environmental racism."

Yeah, I stopped reading Harman's words at that point and just skipped to see what you had to say. "New colonialism"? Please. Let me know when any of the countries we've sent troops to actually start paying tribute or taxes instead of taking our financial aid. Then you can argue "colonialism".

As for The Current itself, yes, that publication has slipped from a cool alt-weekly into a tired, predictably rabid newspaper that disdains anything even approaching the center, much less the right. Today's Current, at best, is college revolution literature loaded down with booby ads. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I've just lost interest over the years and don't read it near as much as I used to.

Dave said...

Let's not forget the constant bombardment of TV commercials for boner pills and Bob the Enzyte guy. Aside from the exposure in media (print, TV, Hip Hop), I suspect many 4 and 5 year olds being raised by less than adult parents come into contact with porn by simply pushing the "play" button on mommy and daddy's DVD player, hoping for a nice SpongeBob cartoon and getting something entirely less wholesome.

These are the same idiot parents that take the 2 year old to the front row of the heavy metal concert with no worries about the tender eardrums.

Great post.