by Jack Taylor

With pornography now targeting 8-11-year-old boys, it is time to be more alert than ever. On International Women’s Day, 200 protesters, representing the 850,000 who signed an online petition, marched on the headquarters of Mindgeek. Based in Montreal on Decarie Blvd., the pornography supermarket provides an umbrella for 23 internet portals (i.e. Pornhub, Redtube, Gaytube, Sextube, Playboy, etc.). So much of this insidious plague infiltrates minds behind closed doors that parents, pastors and youth advocates are flummoxed on how to stem the tsunami.

Cathy Peters, anti-trafficking speaker and advocate since 2014, has been raising awareness about sexual exploitation, pornography and human sex trafficking for years and views the sex industry as “one large, growing, lucrative, toxic mix.” She considers the upcoming digital generation to be at risk and considers this to be one of “the biggest challenges of parenting today.” She is fighting the movement to legalize prostitution and says “a modern equal society does not buy and sell human beings.”

Despite being the subject of an FBI investigation over allegations that underage girls are beingfeatured in videos, the pornography giant has its advocates. Taylor Kohut, researcher in the Department of Psychology at Western University, has studied how pornography influences human feelings, behaviours and thinking patterns, and disputes the rhetoric of protesters as politically motivated. “I don’t think porn is inherently evil or exploitive or dehumanizing or degrading…” He says “there is no clear evidence that pornography causes negative attitudes toward women or sexual violence.”

Paige Letendre, executive director of REED (Resist Exploitation Embrace Dignity), signed the petition against Pornhub and disagrees with Kohut’s conclusions. She would support Peters’ citing of work by Gail Dines, Mary Anne Layden, Sharon Cooper, and Cordelia Anderson but says that even if we didn’t have those studies “we each know anecdotally in our own lives that the things we see, hear and watch, impact us… The advertising industry is based around this. Why would that be any different when we are talking about sexuality?”

She says, “one disturbing trend in recent years is the rise of sexual abuse of children, committed by other children who are confused by what they have seen in porn and are trying to replicate it (leading to the need for extreme medical intervention in some cases). Some studies have also suggested a rise in PTSD found in young boys after being exposed to porn due to the violence. To suggest that what we are exposed to and how we learn about sexuality does not impact our behaviour is not only naïve, but it fails to recognize us as holistic beings with the capacity to grow and be shaped by our experiences.”

Peters speaks not only to city councillors, police, churches and community organizations, but to high school and university students. She says her concern is that not many youth know what love is. “When I tell them porn harms and porn kills love they understand… and they tell me that no one has told them this. They admit that ‘everyone is watching porn’ and that this is the avenue for sex education.” She calls on parents to educate themselves through http://fighthenewdrug.org with its data, statistics and research. “You can Google, The Truth about Porn and see some important information. Agencies such as ProtectYoungMinds.org and the National Centre of Sexual Exploitation address these concerns and provide tools and resources for parents,” she adds.

Pornhub has a special section devoted to sex education and one third of teen boys are said to get their information on sexual experience from this avenue or from peers who have used this portal. Increasing domestic abuse may be tied to the increasing violence and graphic expectations of partners displayed in porn. Porn is often about control. Letendre says, “we know from survivors of the sex trade the levels of violence enacted on women in prostitution, and we know from sex buyers that watching porn was, for the vast majority of them, their entry point into the sex industry. What we have heard from sex buyers is that they developed desires that were beyond what their partners would do (because most are in relationships contrary to what many think), so they paid to be able to carry out the acts on someone else, that they had come to desire from porn.”

The Sunday protest in front of MindGeek headquarters was organized by Laila Mickelwait in her role as director of Exodus Cry (devoted to the abolition of sex work). Some of the protesters came from as far away as London. The pre-COVID action was the last protest the pornography giant would see for some time. With COVID-19 locking everyone to their computers, the rates of pornography consumption have skyrocketed. This is an important time for parents to be more vigilant than ever.

REED’s director, Letendre, states that she would encourage the church to “think about pornography not just as a public health issue or relationship issue, but also as an issue of seeking justice – something that is so key to our calling as followers of Christ. I think we need to recognize that porn is sexual exploitation and is inextricable from the issues of prostitution and sex trafficking and be willing to speak that truth to power.”

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Jack Taylor
Author: Jack Taylor

Jack Taylor is the pastor of Faith Fellowship Baptist Church in Vancouver. He is the author of a number of books, including the recent series, The Cross Maker, and a regular contributor to the Light Magazine. https://lightmagazine.ca/2019/10/the-cross-maker-series-by-jack-a-taylor/