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March 01, 2011

Comments

Robin Goodfellow

I agree with you on this.

You never confront someone like this.

You go to someone with more authority first (some you know is on your side, too), and sound them out. She should talk to her mother, I think. If her _mom_ is as upset as the girl, and it's a situation where the father won't remove the media/atone, stronger repercussions should ensue.

I think we can't allow ourselves to vilify people, and the daughter is having a hard time doing this.

Sarah M

wow. Horrible to the max. So many things wrong with this....

Sarah M

Shanna

There is a huge difference between not mentioning dad's crappy ability at hiding porn and playing part in covering up rape/domestic abuse. We don't know actually know what was the content of the porn. (a lot of amateur porn labeled teen sex actually contains 18+ girls who just look young). Now then, I'd say if the child who wrote in is scared/worried, there might be something, say more telling going on that they neglected to mention. (Daddy comes into the bathroom when I shower is considerably more worrisome then Daddy watches porn, or even, Daddy has ACTUAL child porn instead of fully developed but possibly underage porn)
Confronting him over it like suggested is a decent way of dealing with it. It's better then completely ignoring it (best case scenario, dad sucks at deleting/hiding porn, he remedies this in the future).

Lisa

Shanna, I couldn't disagree more. Can you really say that you would advise your preteen daughter to confront her dad about child porn? And I really don't think it matters whether the girls in the video are children or if they just look like children -- that seems far beside the point to me.

I guess I just can't get behind this idea that the weight of confrontation should be put on the child. I don't think that being bad at hiding porn is the problem here -- I think it is use of child porn. Are we so liberal now that even child porn is subject to debate, as to whether or not it is *really* a problem?? Maybe I am being affected too strongly by my personal bias, having been put in adult situations at a young age, but it is just really hard for me to imagine that if your own daughter was confronted with this situation, that you honestly think that the best thing to do is for her to go to her father, alone, and confront him about it. Am I just way out in left field here?? I mean, I understand making devil's advocate arguments for the fun of it, but CHILD PORN. CHILD PORN. Kids having sex on video. Is this really no big deal?

Lisa

I guess another part of my point here is that "fully developed but underage" people are still children. That point can certainly be debated, but to me, if you're not yet an adult, then you are a child.

Robin Goodfellow

The content was labeled teen. 18+ is the legal age to perform in pornographic material.

It's easy to read it as child porn, but just be aware that it's not necessarily the case.

Though if a daughter ever said to a father "I'm disgusted/disappointed in you for looking at this, daddy"... it would effectively cut into him like a knife, and if it didn't make him not want to look at it again, he's not a good father.

Lisa

Robin, point taken. I guess I could have teased out my explanation a bit more to say that (1) the possibility of underage porn being used by the Dad is downplayed, which I find disturbing (which would not so much be the case if the movie is 18+ teens), and (2) apart from the exact nature of the pornography that the writer discovered, advising a child to confront their father about pornographic material, to me, is just completely inappropriate. My argument is that innocence should be protected until someone is older, and that children should not be advised to mediate situations of an adult/sexual nature. I think that a conversation should take place between the child and the mom, and then between the mom and the dad. If the dad wants to come back later and address it by way of apology to the daughter, that would be appropriate, but I just think that putting the weight of the confrontation on the child is too much. Maybe I am being overly influenced by my own experience, but I don't think so. What does everyone think?

dangermom

I'm betting that Prudie assumed that the video was labeled 'teen' but performed by legal-age people. I agree with you, though, that it was rotten advice. Going to her mother would make more sense, but I'm betting further that P. thought it would be best to keep it between the two of them.

I'm so sorry for the awful situation you were put into as a teen. The adults around you completely failed you and the other girl.

G

I'm aware that this is slightly off topic from the issue of advice given to the girl. But I feel as if its relevant in showing how "big of a deal" early exposure to pornography can be to children. This should be taken very seriously considering two younger children live in the house as well.

I'm the daughter of an alcoholic absent father and my mother had some major pain caused by TMJ (jaw issues) when I was a child. My mother admitted to me recently that she did a bad job during these times. I've also talked to my dad face to face about his absence et cetera. Here's the thing; I was born in 1982 and in 1987-88 is when my mother first started getting bad headaches. This lasted until about 1990-91 when an oral surgeon figured out what the problem was and she had surgery. My mother is distant regardless of her medical issues so whether or not it was the main cause of me being left alone all the time as a child is debatable. What did I do with all this time alone? I danced in my backyard with my boom box and I was in tons of activities. I don't remember much of these times but one memory sticks out. In 1991 Beauty and the Beast came out on VHS. I wore the tape out, watching it every day and re-watching some of the musical numbers over and over again. I have vivid memories of running through my back yard throwing grass seeds down pretending I was Belle feeding chickens singing "I want adventure in the great wide open..." I was 9 it was innocence and brings a smile to my face just to think of it. Fast forward one year 1992. I'm sitting in front of the TV watching "Real Sex" on HBO. I can pin point this moment as the moment my mind changed about what it meant to be a woman. A woman who gets attention from many men and women too for that matter. I wanted attention from my parents, but at the age of ten I'd no idea I was lacking because that was my life. I figured everyone lived like that. I didn't even fully understand the meaning of the word attention. When I looked up these dates I was blown away, it's very clear to me now how being exposed to pornographic material as a young child had a profound effect over me that's lasted until now. In 1991 I was Belle from "Beauty and the Beast" in 1992 I was Miss Nude FL from "Real Sex." Most if not all of my pretending and imagination play from this time on was based off things I saw on that show. I saw every single episode until I was older and realize that "Real Sex" was considered soft core. I moved on to more X rated material. My story goes on and on with many more events that effected my sexual behavior over the years. But this to me was the most interesting because it was the turning point. I can remember many episodes from that show and I can also remember in what ways I acted them out while being left alone as a child. Goes to show early exposure to pornography can have lasting damaging effects on children.

Stacy

Thanks for sharing, G. I hope you continue heal from those experiences. Hearing stories like yours really motivates me to make effort to be more present to the kids and to protect them. Now I'm going to end my computer break and go join their play!

jeni

Lisa, love this post! Excellent.

The only comment I have is I think there's no excuse for porn regardless of any factors; it's dehumanizing and disgusting. But then that takes a lot of theology of the body to explain.

Lisa

Jeni, I agree, but I wasn't going to take the argument there just yet ;D You would be surprised the wrath that a person can incur by simply claiming that porn might be a negative thing.

Shanna

I'm one those kids who saw ACTUAL CHILD PORN on their fathers computer. So yeah, "teen" porn which is 90% of the time 18+ isn't that big of a deal. There's a huge difference between fully developed but possibly underage and undeveloped. I mean, they are not even in the same ball-park. And while there's a lot of legal gray and moral gray area surrounding pornographic images of teenagers (for good reason of course) calling "teen" (again, usually 18+) Child Porn, tends to lessen the stigma of it. (It becomes less, *Shudder* child porn and more "wait, what kind exactly" child porn)

I'm not arguing that porn is something kids should watch (it isn't) but, as someone who saw occasional clips (aside form the actual kiddie porn) when younger, and occasionally watches (adult, consensual) porn, it's pretty darn insulting to hear how "damaged" and horrible I must be.

Lisa

Shanna, I am looking over the comments and I don't see anywhere that someone has called you names or said that you are damaged and horrible. I did say that I think that porn can be a negative thing, and I do believe that. Even for adults who watch adults. I understand that my point of view is not shared by everyone, nor even by most people. As I wrote in a previous post, it seems to me that people forget that everyone involved -- the viewers, the actors, etc. -- are real humans with human dignity. I don't understand why we think it's all right to exploit each other this way, regardless of who is consenting to what. Again, I know this view isn't held by everyone.

While there may be differences in the content of child porn and "teen but possibly underage" porn, I think that it is folly to say that the appearance of the person in the pornographic material is the important part, rather than their actual age. A person might "look legal" at age 14 (or age 17 and 364 days, or whatever you want to say)-- is it all right to film them having sex with someone, and then sell it, just because the child has the breasts and figure of a 20 year-old? I don't think so. While I don't think that porn at any age is healthy, the law does protect people under 18 from being featured in pornographic materials, and the law matters more than how sexually mature someone appears to be. I am not sure if I am misunderstanding what you are saying here, but it seems like you are arguing that child porn is somehow less bad if the person/people featured in it have reached some measure of sexual maturity rather than being, say, preadolescent. I would argue that they are equally harmful.

Lisa

And I am sorry to hear about your experience of seeing child porn on your father's computer. It sounds terrible to me. Really, and aside from any debates we are having, I am really sorry that that happened to you.

Emily

As far as I can see, no one has called Shanna 'damaged' in this or in previous blogs--although she definitely has a history of calling other people names.

But since you brought it up, I do feel that thinking child porn is "no big deal" is itself indication of emotional damage.

Lisa

Emily, I see what you are saying, but I think it's important to recognize that a person and their opinions, as expressed here, are separate things, and I wouldn't want to make assumptions about Shanna's personal self just by the comments that have been posted on the blog.

I have been thinking about this, wondering to myself how we could come to a point of debating about whether it *really* matters if teen porn involves underage people or not, and it seems like, taking into account the personal experience that Shanna has recounted, that she might be feeling anger that I would talk about child porn, teen porn and adult porn without the visceral, personal knowledge of each of these, and the effects that they have, much in the same way as I feel offended if someone who has never set foot inside a church of my denomination starts telling me all about what I believe and don't believe, and why it's wrong, when half of their facts are incorrect anyway. If this is part of the anger that is showing itself in the dissenting comments posted here, then I want to clarify and say that I do not know what it's like to be exposed to child porn, nor any kind of porn at a young age, and I have had very little exposure as an adult, all of it due to channel surfing in the wrong direction after midnight, and then quickly realizing my error and switching out of the porn channels. So I do not have any personal idea of the feelings that come along with being exposed to pornographic images as a child, so I can't speak with authority on what it feels like to an individual, nor about how those emotions might lead me to think and speak about pornography in general.

But here's the thing -- a person isn't required to have personal experience with a moral problem to believe that it is a moral problem. I believe that murder is wrong, although I have never murdered anyone nor had personal experience with murder. And I believe that porn is wrong, even though I have never been exposed to it as a child nor sat down to watch it as an adult.

So Shanna, if you are angry that I would presume to make statements about a hurtful situation that I have never personally experienced, then by all means call me out on that. Offer your thoughts on what it really means to you as an individual. But simply arguing against every single point on this blog, just for the sake of arguing, doesn't get us anywhere. Arguing in favor of porn made with underage teens who look legal doesn't get us anywhere. I feel like you have some great things to say, and I want to hear them, rather than getting caught up in the minutiae of you trying to contradict every single point that anyone makes and accusing me of enabling a rapist. The girlfriend of the boy I had to remove from the theatre wasn't being silenced, the boy was being removed for her protection. The point is that I was forced to do the removing and protecting, as a very young person, and the weight was too heavy for me. It sounds like you had a lot of heavy weight put on you, too, and I hope that we can get past the anger and really talk about the issues of modesty that come up here in this community.

Candra

I've been reading Dear Prudence for a while, and I have to say, I too am disgusted by her blatant support for both pornography and teen alcohol use. Multiple times have I seen her give a wife, saddened by finding her husband has been using porn, the advice to "buck up" and get over it. I'd say that her advice is wisdom of the world in most areas.

Lisa

Candra, a lot of my problem with the column is that she seems inconsistent -- so much of her advice is actually good -- for instance, telling bridezillas to calm down, encouraging people to get over petty disagreements, advocating marriage for couples who are having children together, and even acknowledging that women approach relationships more seriously because of our shorter reproductive phase. But then when it comes to porn, her best defense of it is that it is common. Sort of like, well, all men do it, so you can't beat it, so stop trying and calm down. I just wonder what happened to make her advice about porn be so passive, when so much of what she suggests is proactive.

Shanna

For legal purposes, I believe that any pornographic material featuring people of any gender below the age of 18 to be considered child pornography. The law should be this way so that when it is applied against someone exploiting the fully-developed but underage teens has no wiggle room. That said, there's a lot of amateur porn out there of teenagers messing around and being stupid with the internet. There is a difference between teenage stupidity and adult manipulation, and I am weary of punishing teenage stupidity to the degree we punish adults. I think that this, this being the dear prudie letter and the debate in general, is in essence based far more on context and other nuances that change and vary from each instance. I am not interested in having the police arrest two naive teenagers for posting a video to x-tube, I am interested in the police arresting a "couch-caster" who purposefully goes after teenagers. While legally I view any pornographic material featuring people under 18 to be child porn, in "real" life, it's more complicated. Age is hard to verify in video, some teenagers look much older, some younger. I don't think it's right to, say, condemn/call a person who watches "Wild Teen Sex" a pedophile, because it cheapens the term, even more so then popular use has already. There is such a huge difference between being sexually attracted to a prepubescent child and a mid-to-late adolescent, nearly everyone would condemn being sexually attracted to a prepubescent child, but most people have experienced being sexually attracted to an underage teenager. When in popular usage child porn is used to describe both pre-pubescent and fully developed teenagers, it conflates the two. (an in-between term or slang would be great. I don't think it exists though). This not a black and white matter.

I cannot recall calling anyone on here names, if I have, then I apologize, and will watch myself a little closer in the future should I comment. I don't see in the published text anything of mine that said you were an enabler of rape, and I honestly do not remember what I could have typed that would not be published, it sounds like it was a very hard situation, and certainly not one anyone should have been forced into, especially as a teenager. Your comment about it is very clarifying, as in the initial post, your account sounds very much like a cover-up that you did not have a say in.

Lisa

Shanna, thank you for your response. When I said that I was being called an enabler of rape, I was referring to this comment that you made, which made me seem like an active participant in enabling the abuser/rapist: "There is a huge difference between not mentioning dad's crappy ability at hiding porn and playing part in covering up rape/domestic abuse." I only assumes that "playing a part in covering up rape/domestic abuse" was aimed at me and my actions. But your most recent comment clears up your position.

I think we will obviously just not agree about the importance of treating all child porn in the same way, and that's all right. Just some food for thought -- you make this statement: "There is such a huge difference between being sexually attracted to a prepubescent child and a mid-to-late adolescent, nearly everyone would condemn being sexually attracted to a prepubescent child, but most people have experienced being sexually attracted to an underage teenager." I agree with your statement, 100%. However, I think that an important distinction is glossed over: there is also a huge difference between feeling a twinge of sexual attraction to, say, a 16 year-old, and searching out videos of 16-year-olds having sex, to watch while masturbating. Sorry to get so explicit, but when we talk about porn, that is what we are talking about. And I will always think it is wrong for someone to watch a video of a child and fantasize about that child (even if that child is 17 and looks 25) while masturbating. I can't imagine anything that anyone could say that would make me feel like that activity falls in a moral gray area.

Shanna

Thank you, I'm glad we've reached a sort of understanding.
We could probably agree that any porn under 18 is morally gray.
The difference is I'm more likely to find it between 10-50% gray, and you view it more in the 80-90% range.

Lisa

I appreciate the conciliatory words, and I agree that it is nice to find common ground, but I want to make sure I do not misrepresent myself here -- aside from and in addition to the content of my original blog post here, my personal belief is that all porn is wrong, always. I know that I am not joined by very many people in this belief, but it is my firm belief. I also have to say that I do not see child porn as a "gray area," a term that is usually applied to situations in which right and wrong are not clearly marked, like for instance telling your best friend you like her haircut when really it looks awful, because she had a terrible day. Or going to war with a country and then accidentally bombing civilians in what was supposed to be a precision operation to take out a military target. To me, porn and child porn especially is 100% wrong. I am not confused about my stance there.

What I will say is that I do not think that people are inherently evil or that people who use or make porn are inherently evil or should be called names or denigrated. Everyone is in a particular place in their life journey and I make too many mistakes to stand in judgment of anyone. But I do think that pornography, as a thing, is wrong. Most especially when it involves children or teens (whose sexual identity is not fully developed and therefore especially vulnerable to harmful/unhealthy influences) but even when it involves only adults.

Cheers, and please do continue bringing the debate! :) I wouldn't want to write in a community where everyone agreed with each other.

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