Monday, February 27, 2006

Innocence and The Swimsuit Issue

A few weeks ago, Sports Illustrated’s annual Swimsuit Issue was delivered to my door. This weekend, I finally got around to flipping through the high-gloss photos of high-gloss women who all seem to suffer from a rare genetic condition that causes all body fat to be stored in the lips and breasts. As a good American male, I find such proportioning to be rather appealing.

Of course, as a good Christian boy, I also felt a little shame ogling these women. It’s that sort of thrill-meets-fear guttural feeling I first experienced many years ago when I got a hold of my first Swimsuit Issue. Back then, in the pre-Internet era, the Swimsuit Issue was as good as it got for most of us thirteen year-old boys. Oh sure, a few guys could steal Playboys from their fathers, but most of us just had to wait for late Winter when the bathing suits came out.

Looking back, I realize that the late 1980s might as well have been the 1950s for all the innocence I and many other boys had. Access to so-called adult material was still highly restricted and our parents didn’t really have to do much work to keep pornography out of our hands and away from our eyes.

That just isn’t the case now. Anyone who has the savvy to find this blog has almost certainly accidentally (or purposefully) come across pornography on the Internet. Heck, just possessing an e-mail account practically guarantees you’ll see images so perverted that it’s hard to imagine anyone would find such junk appealing.

I won’t debate what negative effects viewing pornography does or does not have on youthful minds. But I do believe parents should be able to limit their children’s exposure to such images. As a father of a two-year old boy, I’m already fretting about how to keep him from diving into the huge pool of porn festering at the bottom of the Internet.

My sincere hope is that filtering technology will be bundled standard into all PCs and that the technology will be nearly fool proof. But I probably should face the fact that, for my son and his friends, the Swimsuit Issue will never hold the kind of joy and excitement that it did for my generation. Who ever thought that the Swimsuit Issue would become a symbol of innocence?


Anonymous Winston said...

Well written piece. It took me back to when I was growing up in the innocent 50s. The first Playboy I saw was - WOW! Within a very few years the wannabees, the knock-offs, all wanted to go one better than each other. I think the first was Penthouse, followed by a dozen others, ending with the trashy Hustler. Playboy soon seemed tame, even mainstream for a while in late 60s - 70s. From where we are now with internet porn, the possible directions we could go are truly frightening. Legislation is not the answer since so much of it originates offshore. Filtering is not a complete answer since users are so lax and uninformed on the "how-to". Filtering at the ISP level is considered by many to be a first amendment violation. Probably only a carefully crafted combination of these, plus a few other elements, could be somewhat effective. Now, who is smart enough to do it?

4:40 AM  
Blogger step314 said...

I's say you are too concerned. True, there is too much pornographic rubbish on the internet. An obnoxious thing about such rubbish is that, being visual, it comes at one all at once. Once glanced at, it might have some sort of undesirable deceptive effect. But I'd say that most of the disgust that comes from encountering something gross and pornographic that really you would have preferred not to have seen is from a feeling that you have been violated. However, you have not been violated, at least not in the important sense. Sodomy, when it is committed against oneself has an addicting quality that can make it hard to identify as being a dangerous violation. Accordingly, people have evolved emotionally to be very inclusive in their definition of depravity so that they better might view actually having been abused as that, even in the case the abuse is addictive or invidiously pleasant or controlling. People who are genuinely screwed-up have an unfortunate tendency not to view their situation as in fact being screwed-up. By way of compensation, upon having been exposed to pornography or other phenomena vaguely like getting sodomized, people have evolved to tend to view the situation as violating sordid abuse against themselves, and feel themselves screwed-up by it; this tendency towards inclusive definitions and superlative responses makes reaction against the real abuse more often appropriate.

Of course, it is not good to view oneself as screwed-up if one is not, and I'd say such is the real danger from pornography; viz., a child sees something he'd rather not, and then thinks himself screwed-up from it whereas he's still innocent as snow (it's not like an image is going to have some magical fouling property). Although pornography probably ought to be such that it's hard to stumble upon, yet making a big deal about its evil in a way only makes it more dangerous to children.

2:57 PM  

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