Third Chapter – Escalation

07/30/2008

When dairy farmer Bob first got a copy of the centerfold calendar from the local plumber nearly forty years ago, he took it out to the barn and placed it in his corner workshop. Each month it revealed a new picture of a shapely woman, and Bob never flipped ahead to see what the next month had in store. Most years he gets a similar calendar, and when he retires next year, he’ll take the last one down from the workshop and possibly will never receive another.

Bob is an unusual exception. In today’s ‘remote control’ world men want to see all the pictures right away. Not all the pictures on a particular website, but all the pictures that exist. Someone said that with the TV remote, “men don’t want to see what’s on, they want to see what else is on.” Whether the man is holding a remote control or a computer mouse, the result is the same: Bob the dairy farmer, and his kind of casual response to pornography, just don’t exist anymore.

They say that laughter is actually a surprise emotion. I find that watching comedies on TV, if I can guess where the humor is going, I don’t laugh because I’m not really surprised. It takes some really quirky lines, a plot twist, or a truly funny delivery to make me laugh out loud. Laughter is partly surprise. There’s a parallel here between the comedic form of entertainment and the pornographic form of entertainment.

After a little while, the internet images can get stale, and the purveyor of porn is looking for something new. In a 1960’s hit song, Kicks, Paul Revere and the Raiders said it best

It’s gonna seem like kicks just keep gettin’ harder to find
And all those kicks ain’t bringin’ you peace of mind…

If porn is your drug of choice, you eventually will get to the point where you’re looking for harder stuff. That’s why some men’s tastes might skew towards something they weren’t expecting like masochism, or same sex sites, or what are called fetishes, which I won’t list here because if you know what that means, I don’t need to, and if you don’t, believe me, ignorance is bliss. Of course, not every guy goes that route, but the preponderance of evidence including the number of sites themselves, and the way that the visual sites are marketed would indicate that for the vast majority of men, tastes skew in only one direction: young.

Depending on the jurisdiction where you live, there is probably a cutoff age below which it is against the law to make, distribute and (in some cases) even view pornography with subjects below that age. This means that in the eyes of the law, there are only two kinds of pornography, relative to the ages of the subjects:

(a) legal

(b) illegal.

It’s that simple. For purposes of the rest of this discussion though, I want to use three terms relative to the subjects contained in visual pornography:

(a) adults

(b) teens

(c) children

while recognizing that legally, there is no difference between (b) and (c).

This creates a number of variables however, because the sites may represent themselves as one type but in fact be something else altogether. Thankfully (at least in one way) category (c) is the most clear which makes it less likely to ‘accidentally’ ‘stumble’ over such pages.

(At this point, it might be good to backtrack a few paragraphs and mention that in terms of child pornography, the laws in your area may make it a crime to not only produce, distribute or view, but it might even be a crime to seek child porn online.)

The blurring of the lines in categories (a) and (b) can include adult sites which do contain subjects who are 18 or 19, but are marketed as teen sites with the models made to look young; adult sites where the owners were duped because younger subjects showed up for photo shoots with fake identification; or actual teen sites (a few of which are produced by the teens themselves).

Our culture is infatuated with youth. From female tennis stars to pop singers, it’s not unusual to find the media spotlight on girls who are 14 or 15 or 16. Fresh faces. Healthy hair. No worries. They say what they’re thinking. They make good news copy and good cover stories.

The world of internet porn mirrors this fascination, along with the added male obsession about girls who are virgins, or reflect some kind of virginal quality before the camera. Either as front-and-center or as subtext we see innocence and, more often its related theme, the destruction of innocence.

I didn’t actually see much in the way of category (c) – in fact I think you have to be trying fairly aggressively to find child porn. One time a page popped up, and I admit to wanting to look further, but I didn’t want to even keep the address on my screen or in my history. So I wrote it down in pencil on a piece of scrap – all 50 characters, yes 50 because these sites are often buried deep in other sites – and needless to say, got some characters wrong. So that’s my only viewing of it. Another time I saw a site which was clearly on the edge of child porn, though the subjects were somewhat clothed (at least on the home page, which is all I saw). What surprised me this time was that the internet site made no attempt to mask the fact it was marketed at pedophiles. I was shocked to see the ages of the kids – all single digits – listed under their pictures. A page like this may have been a pedophile’s dream but it’s also a parent’s worst nightmare.

But while I don’t quite “get” the whole pedophile thing personally, I am not completely without understanding of those who skip category (a) entirely and move on to category (b), teen pornography. And once again, we find that there are two different kinds of sites:

(a) sites which basically involve pictures of teens or girls of 18 or 19 made to look like younger teens, posing for pictures or in shots made to look somewhat candid

(b) sites which clearly portray teens or girls who are undeniably under 18 or 19, often in situations where they are being exploited by an older adult (not a peer; those are rare) in various ways

Later on, when we look at the various types of sites on the internet, we’ll see other ways in which men’s tastes skew from the basic stuff to what the song would call, ‘harder kicks.’ The point is, you’re not just dealing with addiction here, but with an addiction that becomes increasingly insatiable.


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