Friday, June 10, 2016

Influence-za Beside Affluenza

Ok. Never say never. Or don't count your chickens before they hatch. Or whatever the cliche would be. I wasn't saying good-bye. I just didn't know if I had anything really to write about. How many opinions can people read on the kid in the gorilla enclosure, the presidential race, or the brutal Stanford rape? Well, you're getting another musing on the rape case. But a different aspect of it. I can't talk to the lunacy of the sentence. The asswipery of that judge. The implications of the short sentence and asswipery of said judge on others not speaking out about their own rapes because seeing all this- why bother? I'm not going to talk to any of that because it's all been said. And honestly- it's so grotesque and wrong, it hurts my currently fragile heart.

Somehow, probably watching an episode of SVU, the subject of porn and kids having access to it came up between B and I. He was saying that when he was a kid- probably pre-teens or teenagers, he and his friends would come across some bad porn on Beta and all go watch it at another kid's house when they found themselves without parental supervision there. It was very crude, old porn though. Not really attractive people, not quality in any sense of the word. But this was all that was out there and it was pretty scarce. Maybe someone would find a magazine their dad had stuffed somewhere and bring it back to the rest of the crew.

I remember riding my bike to the library in New Milford one day, when it was on my side of town, and walking into the Young Adult aisle. There were too older girls there looking at a porn magazine. They showed it to me. I had to be around nine or ten. They stuffed it back behind the books somewhere and that was the only time I saw it. I'm sure there must have been some porn on VHS in my parents house but if there was, I never came across it as a kid. I remember seeing a Playboy once, but my father didn't read much. I highly doubt that was a subscription.

Our access to porn as kids and teens was very little. Not because our parents were squeaky clean. Rita used to call me at college when she worked in the video store to tell me whose parents rent porn. Can you imagine that now? Renting porn? Having to go in a little back room, pick a movie like Debbie Does Dallas, and bring it to the check out? To be checked out by Rita? That gives me a good chuckle. Never will I forget asking my mom what she was doing one night and she told me, annoyed, that she had to stay late to organize the adult room by fetish.

Back to my conversation with B, the Stanford rape case came up. B was saying that he wonders if anyone is talking about how having such easy access to hardcore porn affects kids these days. That when he was one of those kids seeing porn on Beta, either his mom knew they were seeing it or she just wanted it known if he did see porn, that isn't how women want to be treated. She said to him in her fluent Brooklynese voice- "You know, porn is fine, but that's not how women want to be treated. All thrown around like that." B said that always stuck with him. Porn is not representative of how you're supposed to treat women.

Kids seem to get smart phones around the age of ten, at least around me. In some towns, or areas, I'm sure it's earlier. I assume that means unlimited access on Safari or whatever the browser is, when using the phone. I don't know what kind of parental controls you can have. E has an ipad, but he's not allowed to use Safari or YouTube and he hardly ever is allowed to use the iPad at all. We don't have a desktop or laptop for him, so his access to the internet in general is very limited at the moment, at seven and a half years old. But the kids who do have their own phones can probably look up whatever they want. I doubt most kids are looking up porn. I do know that I have friends who told me their kid watches YouTube and got to something they shouldn't have by accident. I'm giving the kids the benefit of the doubt, because I know what I've stumbled upon unwittingly when looking something up. I'm going to assume that most kids in younger age groups come across porn or porn-esque things accidentally.

However they get there it's there. Weird porn, hardcore, trafficked kids, rape or snuff stuff- it's all out there at the click of a button. It's just so easy. So, you take a rape case like we've seen with Brock Turner. He blames drinking and promiscuity. The culture of drinking and promiscuity on college campuses. We all blame him. I don't really care of the culture of anything. He did what he did. There is no excuse. While there's no excuse, in talking to B, I'm wondering how much certain factors contribute to someone like Brock's idea of what sex, being a man, being a promising athlete all are that gave him the confidence to rape.

Clearly his parents, or more so, his father, didn't bother to teach him how to treat women. I say "clearly" because of his father's statement to the courts that he shouldn't be judged on twenty minutes of action. He said it. I'm not putting words in his mouth. When you discount rape to "twenty minutes of action", that is very telling. Telling of nothing good. Nothing I'd be proud of teaching to my own boy. Ok, check mark next to just a lack of parenting on that subject.

What about the roll of porn though? I'm not against porn. This is not the subject here. If adults want to watch porn, have at it. I've known people that I like very much, over the course of my careers, who work in the industry- directors, producers, actors. By choice. They aren't trafficked or doing it against their will. They're adults, happy and successful in their chosen career. Mazel.

There are those people though, who aren't doing it because it's their chosen field. There is dangerous porn, illegal porn, and rape porn. As adults who grew up before all this at-your-fingertips-technology, we know the difference between old, unrelateable, porn and the porn of today with girls who look like girls these boys go to school with. Girls that look like they're enjoying being dragged around, donkey punched, or taken against their will.

B asked me if girls ever did what he and his friends did. Like, find a Beta (he's five years older than I am) or VHS porn, sit around in a group and watch. I just looked at him like, "seriously?". No. We didn't. We played truth or dare. We dared each other to "french Nikki Six on that poster". We talked about boys we had a crush on and wanted to kiss. But my friends? No, porn. Maybe other girls were finding and watching it but no one that comes to mind. B said how that just speaks to a huge difference in how young boys and young girls think about sex. We're all curious, having been a young boy, he said that young boys are curious. "Oh, that's where you stick it. That's what you do". He thinks they were around thirteen to fifteen - Moped age.

Hard to get a hold of Betamax porn is where they got their ideas of what sex looks like. What happens if you're watching a lot of porn, like they can now? If that's where their ideas of what's ok to do or what girls like, come from, if no one, like parents, are telling them different? If they can watch it daily in any fetish they can dream up or just come across?

Another point he brought up was video games in comparison. We hate when E is on the iPad because he's so zoned in that he gives us attitude. He's not even playing games that people consider aggressive gaming like Grand Theft Auto. It's been said that certain games make kids more aggressive. Well, if that's true, I'd have to think that if guys are watching rape or violence porn, it's going to carry over into their lives when sexual situations come up. 

Again, it's no excuse. Rape is rape is rape. Playing video games doesn't cause violence. Watching porn doesn't cause someone to rape. I'm not blaming porn. I'm just saying that these things being so readily available and often watched, just adds to the culture of acceptance of certain behavior. I think it can definitely desensitize people to the idea of what constitutes rape. Look at all the adults who try to re-define what rape is when they're trying to get their son, friend, brother, etc out of rape charges. It just seems to roll off the tongue to blame the woman, school, culture. People take the bait too. Slut shaming happens every day. We're desensitized to a lot because of what we see every day- from using the curse words never allowed back in the day, on network tv today, to gun violence in schools. It happens so often, it feels like it's all in one ear and back to the Kardashians. 

We need to figure out how to be proactive if these things are out there. What can we do to change things? Change the way women are viewed by boys who are in partying, drinking, low inhibition scenarios. How do you get someone's bell to go off when they find themselves in these situations to prevent them from doing such horrific things?

It's not just- "get rid of porn!". That's like preaching abstinence as teen birth control. It's there. Same with technology. It's here to stay. Now what? Communicating with our kids about the embarrassing or difficult topics is a huge. No one WANTS to do to have these conversations. I read on message boards - my kid asked me where babies came from so I said she came out my belly button. Or, he found a tampon and asked what it is so I said a special band aid. We can't be afraid to talk to our kids as early as they ask. Not overload them with information they don't ask for, but give them the information they do ask for in age-appropriate ways. And sorry, we have to talk about things like porn. Violence and/or rape porn. The difference between healthy sex and not healthy sex. Because it's going to come up. We can't have parental controls on our kids friends devices. If in the 80's there were kids watching porn on Beta, they're certainly going to try it on smart phones. We can't ignore that it's out there and just hope they never see it. I can't even count how many moms I've heard say- "I looked through his history and was shocked at what I found!"

I want my son to know to be one of those Swedish kids who saved the victim. But I don't want there to be a victim in the first place. I have him watch the news with me. He's seven and he knows things I wish he didn't have to know. He knows that you always stick up for people who can't do it for themselves. He knows that he is always to be protective- not chauvinistic, but protective, of girls, if they are in situations where it seems they need protecting. I just don't want him to be desensitized- to violence, to wrong doing, to I don't know what. I know I don't want him to ever think rape is okay. And I just don't think selling him a "no means no" line is enough. I don't know what IS enough. I suppose this is out loud brainstorming.

We don't know if this guy Brock was an avid hardcore porn watcher. Or any kind of porn watcher. B and I just happened to be musing on what makes a kid think that behavior is okay. Besides parenting. Besides the affluenza buzzword. Yes, both of those factors are true. We all know if he was a same age kid of color, on scholarship for coming from less money, he'd be fried for this crime. I'm just also interested in all the other things that shaped his feelings that he was entitled to violate someone like that. He's appealing his joke of a sentence, which means he still feels entitled to his freedom- freedom from repercussions or remorse. He has a mother and it looks like from a family photo that he has at least one sister. I guess, also, as a woman and a mom of a boy, I need to make some kind of heads or tails of how he got to thinking that was acceptable behavior.

Not that I feel like my kid could do something like that, but when you hear of things like this happening and how justice is often not served, even when you have the eyewitnesses and proof, you feel helpless. The only power I have is to be able to teach my son right from wrong and how to respect his fellow humans- male and female. I can't make violence porn go away. I can't police the internet. The police can't police the internet. So, I feel like I need to understand the mind of a person who does this, to proactively make sure I do whatever I have to do to make sure my son understands that this is never what girls want.

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