Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Porn Nation

Northfield Publishing, Chicag0 IL, 2008


America is no longer a nation within which pornography is a seedy industry relegated to the back streets of her cities. It is not even a nation within which pornography is a peripheral kind of entertainment, available for those who want to occasionally stop and take a peek. No, in the words of Michael Leahy (lay- hee), America, is a Porn Nation.

This book is a quick read and well worth a few hours of investment, especially for parents and pastors. It is divided into three parts.

Part-One is basically a brief auto-biography of Leahy's life. He sets the stage in early childhood and then discusses his fist exposure to porn as he was shown a topless woman on the back of a playing card by some peers in his Christian school. He continues his story as it relates to pornography and his increasingly promiscuous lifestyle as he descends, and then spirals out of control. This part of the book reads like a gripping novel that ends in sorrow as Leahy finally looses his family. But it really doesn't end there. Part one sets the table for part two and three before he completes his story at the end.

Part-Two proves to be the meat of the book. Leahy begins this part with a chapter entitled "The Perfect Storm". Here Leahy describes three societal storm fronts of pornographic deprivation now converging on America. They are: The Hypersexual Media, Enabling Technologies, and Sociosexual Pathologies. Leahy looks at the convergence of these three fronts as the desensitizing effects of pornography take an increasing toll on the hearts and minds of society.

To understand Leahy's forecasts, it helps to understand his definition of pornography which is anything that is intended to arouse. Although Leahy's threshold for pornographic is different than current cultural standards, Leahy makes the case that this difference is not based on an objective line, but rather is evidence of a culture's deteriorating standards. This is most evident in TV programing designed to sell advertising, and in advertising itself. The result is an increasingly sexualized society which paves the way for another more insidious threat that has crept in.

To be sure, while the old-line pornography industry, with its seedy venues and residual stigmas, does still exist. This older image of the industry also aids the new industry by creating in the minds of most the illusion that it remains a "dirty old man" kind of business located down town. Yet, the new and real marketplace for the this thriving trade has become the home. It is in this marketplace that Leahy's three "A's" of affordability, availability, and anonymity are made available via the Internet and open the door wide for millions who would have otherwise not entered this world. Gone are the once stifling barriers that kept pornography on the back streets of its cities and out of the lives of families. Here, under the surface and neatly out of sight is a literal flood that has bypassed old barriers and washed away established concepts of decency. This kind of radical change necessarily promises multiplied future ramifications as a sex soaked society, increasingly pathological in its ideas of normal sexual behavior, brings up its next generation. While, to Leahy's credit, he attempts to not be the "alarmist", he does wonder what such consequences of our current path will ultimately be.

Leahy considers himself an icon for sexual addictions who speaks on college campuses across America giving talks as well as participating in formal debates with Ron Jeramey, a porn star. This interaction gives him insight into the sexual attitudes of that next generation, a generation he calls "generation sex". It is in this lot that he is exposed to the cutting edge of new ideas about sex, and where he finds what he calls the "New Pornographers". These new pornographers are young people, even minors, who understand all to well how to use the new and inexpensive technologies and networking readily available to them for the production, consumption and distribution of their own pornography for their own use. Tyler Clementi is a recent example of these new technologies. Clementi earned national attention recently when he jumped off the George Washington Bridge after a film of him having sex in his dorm room was posted to Facebook. Interestingly, unlike the old pornographers who produced their smut for profit, these new pornographers are motivated by other reasons such as celebrity status in their peer groups, or just getting noticed. With the old barriers of modesty, cultural mores, and inhibitions destroyed, the clouds seem to be gathering.

Leahy interweaves statistics into this part to demonstrate the seemingly exponential changing of trends in our attitudes toward sexuality so far. There are adequate references for anyone interested in further research.

The first half of Part-Three is dedicated to those who are themselves addicted to pornography. Working from the credibility he has gained by his own recovery path, he offers a strategy to others. He starts by pointing out the necessity, first and foremost, of being honest with self and admonishes the addict to not straddle fences. It is better, he says, to do nothing rather than to attempt to live the lie that is preventing wellness. For Leahy, he fought desperately to have his addiction and his family too, but it was ultimately the loosing of his family, and his serious contemplations of suicide that followed that finally caused him to "choose life" and to, in his words, "get well". It was in his attempts to write a suicide note to his two boys that Leahy made this choice. Leahy points out also that in the recovery process, accountability within a twelve-step program are of prime importance. He analyzes several twelve-step approaches and makes some recommendations.

The last half of this part, is however dedicated to pointing out a life available beyond "the program". As with all such addiction programs, he admits that the program itself can simply take the place of the addiction. He points the reader ultimately to Jesus Christ for a life that extends beyond "recovery" and to abundance. The book concludes with the completion of his biography and his ultimate reconciliation with those he hurt.

My Thoughts

When I purchased this book I was expecting an analysis of America's porn problem. While part two does focus on this, I ultimately got way more than I bargained for. Leahy's story is compelling as he quickly draws you into his own world of sexual addition. I found myself on the verge of tears a couple of times as his story meandered through the book. Unlike most non-fiction books, this style added an element of entertainment (for lack of a better word) that makes it a page turner. It is able to hold the attention of those not normally drawn to non-fiction, as the reader joins Leahy in his journey to redemption and reconciliation. This book, I feel, will give readers insight into the new world being inherited by their children as well as into the temptations and trials that plague most people to some degree living in a sensual society. For a hosts of reasons such as denial, desensitization, naivete, repulsion, embarrassment or shame--to name a few--the right people don't seem to be talking much about this new and intrinsic detrimental element that is upon us in our new nation; our porn nation.

5 comments:

christian soldier said...

since I live next to the porn making 'capital' of the US-I see its 'workers' everywhere-

and-your FEMA $$$ helped re-build the porn businesses after the 1994 earth quake here-
Fun .....Grrrrrr.
Carol-CS

Craig and Heather said...

It's true our society's become saturated with sex. And we have become sickeningly desensitized.

There is something incredibly disturbing about seeing infant/toddler clothing that looks like something a prostitute might wear. Why would any parent want to present their young child to the world in that way?

And, as the door to the mystery of human sexuality is more widely thrown open for public consumption, it seems that we hear more and more of the acceptance of hideously perverse forms.

May the Lord grant Christian parents the discernment and courage to stand fast in the rising flood of smut that threatens to drown our culture. And, may He see fit to protect the hearts and minds of our children, as well.

Heather

Dan said...

CS, re. FEMA $$ = shame!

Heather

There is something incredibly disturbing about seeing infant/toddler clothing that looks like something a prostitute might wear. Why would any parent want to present their young child to the world in that way?

I was in a photography studio in a department store once that had some of their work displayed. Included was a picture of a, perhaps, ten year old girl, complete with makeup, alluring clothing and pose. I mentioned to the lady working there that I couldn't believe that her parents would allow that and that they would display it. She became noticeably offended. As far as she was concerned, a girl-or parent- oughtto be able to dress how they want. What they don't seem to grasp is that there is a price to pay for these "freedoms" in the currency of victims.

Still, even if there was no such danger in our world, the fact that parents would be a willing participate in the degradation and dishonoring of their daughters speaks to how far we have come as a pornographic society... and it is, as you say, disturbing.

As you know, this sort of thing doesn't just involve the girls themselves but even the toy dolls that are being marketed, and worse yet, making a profit. It is sickening.

Joe said...

What passes for normal behavior on TV would have been scorned in a mainstream magazine 50 years ago.

It has gotten to the point that there are almost NO TV writers who have the ability to effectively write on any subject other than sex.

Is it any wonder that we are becomming (or have become) Porn Nation?

timothymatters said...

I think the Hebrews faced the same problems in their day, only the sex was under the guise of Baal worship. There are probably the same underlying themes in that pagan cult, and our culture today: become a better you by buying into our philosophy of life.

May the gospel take hold in our hearts, as well as the hearts of those in the nation.