March 31, 2014
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
An alleged gang rape by a University of Ottawa sports team and a separate incident of sexually malicious comments on Facebook has reignited concern about a "rape culture" on campus.
These incidents are but the latest in a series that includes the vile "rape chant" by male students at St. Mary's University in Halifax during last year's frosh week.
But the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada's policy analyst Julia Beazley wonders why "no one is connecting the dots" to the widespread availability of increasingly violent and degrading pornography called Gonzo porn on the Internet.
Catholic therapist Peter Kleponis, who specializes in men's issues and porn-addiction recovery, said in an interview that he sees a "big relationship" between pornography and the "violent, sexual aggression we see among young men today."
"The question is: where are they learning this? From Internet porn," said the Pennsylvania-based author of The Pornography Epidemic: a Catholic Approach.
Gonzo porn often portrays scenes "where you have one or more men who are brutally using a woman sexually," he said. This can include double, simultaneous penetrations, gang rape scenes or women "choking" from oral penetration by one or more men.
Young men looking at this begin to think "this is normal," he said. "So many of them have been looking at porn for so many years, the idea of straight vanilla sex is boring to them, so they need something more deviant and more intense."
Beazley who has researched extensively the links between pornography, prostitution and human trafficking, said the average age of first exposure to porn is 10 or 11. "At this age, kids don't have the capacity to deal with what they are seeing, but it is shaping them."
"Never before has porn been so readily available," she said.
Now kids have access not only through computers, but through smart phones, tablets and various gaming systems such as Xboxes, PlayStations and Wiis, she said.
Kleponis agreed, stressing portable devices and game systems are a more immediate course of porn than home computers.
"I don't think there is a male under 60 who has not been profoundly touched by pornography," said Peter Murphy, assistant director of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family.
Murphy agreed pornography has become "increasingly violent and degrading.
The understanding of the human person that underlies the porn culture is also the foundation of the rape culture, he said. Both cultures assume it is permissible to treat persons as objects.
"We should not be surprised to see this in a culture where porn is everywhere we look," he said.
"Someone looking at a pornographic image is only seeing the physical qualities and not seeing a person," Murphy said.
"It is inevitable that this is going to have a profoundly negative impact on relationships."
Kleponis said, "In our practice we talk about a sexual utilitarian philosophy, that (people believe) it's okay to use people for your own sexual pleasure."
Through porn, men are learning its "okay to get a woman drunk and get a bunch of guys together to rape her," he said.
Kleponis called porn "the new drug of choice." He outlined what he calls the "five A's" in relation to porn: it's affordable (that is, free), accessible, anonymous, accepted and aggressive in that "it can easily come and take your life without your even knowing it."
"It's the new crack cocaine," he said. Except unlike crack, with porn there are no "gateway drugs" gradually leading to it. First time exposure is generally to hard-core deviant porn.
Porn is so addictive because of its effect on the brain, Kleponis said. "Men are visually stimulated; it's the way we're wired."
A teenager undergoing puberty, with "raging hormones" and who is "interested in sex and relationships," is "going to go to the Internet" if they are not getting the proper education at home or school, he said.
Porn addiction must be treated like any other addiction, he said, with a full recovery program. His website, www.integrityrestored.com, offers a program to help people overcome that addiction.
Murphy said the Church should be more proactive in providing formation that helps people develop a proper sense of sexuality.
"The theology of the body is the answer, but how do we get it out there?"
The theology of the body helps a young person process what he or she has seen, he said. "Porn is sexuality taken out of context; it's reducing sexuality to mere images rather than to substance and human persons."
Formation in the theology of the body, he said, leads one to immediately recoil at the idea of a diminished understanding of sexuality and of treating someone as an object.
Murphy said he has heard of the pastoral advice confessors give to people with porn addictions. They tell them to "think about the fact this is someone's daughter, sister or perhaps even someday someone's mother."
"There is no such thing as a completely isolated, autonomous human person," he said. "Even if you were alone on a desert island you were begotten by someone."
The rape culture and porn culture are expressions of society's emphasis on radical personal autonomy which views the individual as "completely isolated and autonomous," he said.