Brock Turner got off with an extremely light sentence (three to six months in a county jail instead of two years minimum at a state penitentiary) for three felony counts of sexual assault, but the deeper question no one is asking is WHY are so many U.S. male college students becoming rapists? I believe that Brock, and the judge who sentenced him, are disturbing products of our pornified culture, and it’s important that we help our kids and those in our sphere of influence see the connection.
Some studies show that one-third of women have experienced unwanted sexual contact in college. The term “rape culture” is frequently in the news. But no one ever connects the dots between rape culture and porn culture. Porn culture normalizes rape culture. Pornography fuels rape culture.
And it starts much earlier than college or even high school. It begins as young kids in elementary school and middle school start to view it. [Don’t miss the proactive suggestions at the end of this post–we CAN be informed and powerful influences on our kids, family, friends and community!]
What is Rape Culture?
Let’s first define “rape culture” and then connect the dots from porn culture.
Lynn Phillips, a Lecturer with the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Communication Department gives us an academic definition:
Rape culture is a culture in which dominant cultural ideologies, media images, social practices, and societal institutions support and condone sexual abuse by normalizing, trivializing and eroticizing male violence against women and blaming victims for their own abuse.
In other words, especially in our media and with our youth, our society is okay with men sexually exploiting women and then blaming the women themselves for being raped.
What is Porn Culture?
Porn culture is a culture where the often violent sexual exploitation of women and children portrayed in media images, music, and the written word is both accessible and acceptable and is normalized as a form of sexual education for teens.
There’s a whole lot of evidence that porn culture is fueling the rape culture on college campuses.
Connecting the Dots Between Porn and Rape Culture
Here’s how I connect the dots between early porn consumption and the increase of rape in our society. There are more, but these are 10 reasons why kids grow up to be rapists in college:
- Kids are impressionable and have access to rape-glorifying pornography and video games (like Grand Theft Auto). Rape porn is one of the most popular genres of porn available.
- Kids can easily view a steady diet of violent, sexually exploitative pornography for free. Even at many public libraries. Definitely on social media. Many kids say they can get around internet filters. (That’s why we recommend accountability software like Covenant Eyes or other products over straight filters.)
- Child on child sexual abuse is skyrocketing, with many seeing it as a product of exposure and imitation of pornography. Donna Rice Hughes, CEO of Enough Is Enough explains,
”Children often imitate what they’ve seen, read, or heard, and studies suggest that exposure to pornography can prompt kids to act out sexually against younger, smaller, and more vulnerable children.”
Here’s a story of a girl who viewed pornography and then acted out sexually on her cousins. I wrote Good Pictures Bad Pictures after hearing the tragic story of an older brother, addicted to porn, who sexually molested his siblings.
- More and more teens are sexting, with boys pressuring and coercing girls to send them nude photos. Boys are also sending unsolicited pictures of their private “packages” to girls. Sexts have become the new social currency among teens.
- Studies show the obvious–kids who consume a regular diet of pornography suffer more mental health problems and are more prone to engaging in risky sexual behavior.
- Young boys (and girls) who search for porn on the internet see psychopathic, violent behavior towards women. Before boys have ever been sexually aroused by a real girl, the sexual template in their brain is mapped for degrading violent acts towards women.
- Women are portrayed in pornography as enjoying the abuse they suffer. Men who watch pornography regularly are less likely to view rape as a serious crime. Want proof? Read this eye-opening paper from Dr. Mary Ann Layden, Director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the Center for Cognitive Therapy Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania
- Gail Dines explains the connection between pornography and rape in her presentation at the first annual Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation summit. She said this:
Rape is not a form of deviance. Rape is over conformity to society’s [pornified] messages.
(In other words, we shouldn’t be surprised by the increase in rape or shocked when we hear stories about young perpetrators like Brock Turner. Or judges who return six month sentences to convicted rapists.)
- Rape on college campuses is a growing, horrible epidemic. A recent Harvard study determined that one in four women experience sexual assault on campus. It’s higher on some campuses, with some schools like Yale reporting that one out of three women are sexually assaulted. In fact, in 2014, President Obama launched an “It’s On Us” initiative to reduce rape by educating young adults about consent. Sadly, date rape has become a common danger for young women. Drugs are put into drinks to knock girls out so they can be raped without the ability to fight back. Have we connected the dots?
- Pornography normalizes rape and kids who spend years consuming it are more likely to see nothing wrong with it. In fact, a recent study completed by The Barna Group called “The Porn Phenomenon” found that:
Among the 1188 adults surveyed, 46% of those who use porn replied that images of ‘sexual acts that may be forced or painful’ are not ‘wrong.’ Only 50% of participants ages 13 to 25 think it is wrong to view these images of violent porn.
It’s hard to imagine the pain of rape unless you’ve been through it. My heart goes out to all people, both men and women, who have been sexually assaulted. But my heart also goes out to the perpetrators who were deceived by pornography into believing that rape is normal, acceptable and expected male behavior. One mother of a young girl who was raped by her 14 year old male babysitter told me that her (the mother’s) real healing began when she realized that her daughter’s perpetrator was a victim, too.
A lot of people are outraged about the sentence Brock Turner was given. Many are crying out against our rape culture. But what we need is to connect the dots and be as outraged against the root of the problem, pornography, as we are about the result, which is rape!
These attitudes begin as early as middle school as boys use violence against girls, scream obscenities at them or bully them via social media or messaging apps.
Parents, here’s what you can do
- Teach your kids the purpose of sex. Don’t just explain the anatomical facts of sex. Teach your kids early about the loving, edifying and beautiful purpose of sex. Answer the question “What is sexual integrity?” for yourself and for them. If you don’t, the media will. Read this blog post to help you get started on your definition of sexual integrity.
- Arm your kids from an early age with the information they need to reject the addictive, objectifying and degrading images of pornography. Start with our FREE Quick Start Guide for Proactive Parents.
- Explain that pornography is dehumanizing and objectifying. From Good Pictures Bad Pictures: “Watching pornography can lead you to believe that people are objects to use instead of real human beings with feelings. We know that everyone has feelings and wants to be treated with kindness…”
- Teach them why pornography is harmful. Read 21 Powerful Reasons to Warn Your Kids about Porn.
- If your kids have viewed pornography, don’t freak out. Remember, pornography is the enemy. Kids can deal with rejecting porn better than they can deal with disappointing or freaking out their parents! Read this to help lift your relationship instead of lose it. Then download our FREE SMART Plan for Parents Guide.
- Stay informed and vigilant. If you haven’t already, subscribe to Protect Young Minds and get the vital information you need each week to raise porn-immune kids. If you’re already a subscriber, THANK YOU! Please share Protect Young Minds with your family and friends.