By Fr. Anthony Aneke
Generally, Pornography can be classified in these two forms, according to Fr. J. Brian Bransfield, namely, Conventional and Internet Pornography. Conventional pornography consists of pictures, films, photography, drawings, narratives, or stories as found in books, magazines, and videos. Here, it is good to make the point that a magazine always has a last page. Also, a video of course will always have a last frame. These individual formats are always limited.
Simply put, Internet pornography is any form of pornography accessible over the Internet, primarily through the websites or Usenet groups. It consists of downloading, retrieving, sending, trading, buying, selling, receiving, or storing sexually explicit photographs, films, conduct, videos, streaming videos, subscriptions to porn sites and archives, instant messages, as well as entering sexually explicit chat rooms, arranging to meet persons online for sexual acts, masturbating while online, and trading sexually explicit pictures and text through cellular phones, an activity known as “sexting.” Such activities are often preceded by explicit electronic flirtatious behaviors including types of role-playing and creating a fictitious online personality. Four million pornographic web sites have virtually no last page, but are linked together in a seemingly inexhaustible supply of pornographic content. Pornography, once thought by society to be a problem, is now an industry and a lifestyle.
PORNOGRAPHY: 4 LEVELS OF USERS
The contrast between Conventional and Internet pornography becomes clearer when we study the four general groups as they relate to the phenomenon of conventional pornography. The first group consists of those people who, as they grew up, were aware at some point of the phenomenon of pornography. For this group, sufficient personal boundaries were in place such that no attachment to pornography developed. They remain removed and distanced from any fixation or attraction to the use of pornography. For example, although they were aware of pornography, and perhaps even curious about it, they did not take the risks associated with buying or keeping pornography. Their own personal boundaries and life experiences were such that they would never even think about going to an adult bookstore.
A second group consists of persons who became aware of pornography and experimented with the viewing and use of pornography earlier in life. Circumstance, curiosity and poor personal boundaries intersected and yielded to further exploration of pornography. Such persons may have heard pornography referenced in sexually explicit jokes, received pornographic e-mails or ads on the computer, pursued curiosity brought about by R-rated movies, found it in the family home, or experienced some measure of peer pressure to buy it or look at it. Such factors set the context for experimentation through viewing pornographic magazines and videos. Factors such as a negative social network, early sexual trauma or lack of a nurturing home life may intensify and augment circumstances that present risk for exploration of pornography. At the same time, at the person’s growth and maturity advanced, they realized the mistakes and indulgences of immaturity were improper. At times, they may periodically regress to indulgent patterns, which they recognize as morally wrong. They make recourse to the life of grace in the sacraments and seek the strength to return to the life of virtue. Pornography is not a fixation for such persons, but its nature and use is not foreign either.
A third group consists of those who, having become aware of pornography, have developed a pattern of regular and frequent use. They may experience a binge in which they stop for a time and then use pornography a great deal. Science tells us that such use can open and activate neural pathways in the brain that habituate the behavior. Recurrent use may be punctuated with extended periods of nonuse but are often followed by intense periods of frequent use. They experience pornography as enticing and have established a pattern of use that is somewhat common and recurrent.
A fourth group are the compulsive users of pornography. The habitual experience of use of pornography at this level is almost daily. They are willing to go to great lengths to obtain pornographic material and maintain such in a collection. A significant amount of their time is devoted to pornography. Although binging is possible here. The use is very regular and involvement heavy.
The boundaries between the four categories of persons are marked by the fact that those in the earlier categories are strengthened by virtue at least to the point that they are not willing to take risks to obtain conventional pornography. If one were to buy a magazine or rent an adult video, the clerk may recognize them, the material may be found, and the risk is enough to deter habitual use. The person avoids the risk not merely out of fear of punishment, but out of a real desire not to lead others to sin and to follow that which is morally beautiful and good.
Shifting from conventional pornography to Internet pornography, each group has faced the pressure to move to the next level of vulnerability: those who before would hardly even think of using conventional pornography, are more curious about Internet pornography; those who were curious about convention pornography are now, with the availability of the internet pornography, thinking about it more often; those who were in the intermittent binge pattern with conventional pornography are now, with internet pornography, prone to be more compulsive; those who were compulsive with conventional pornography are now, with internet pornography, likely to be in an avalanche. The classification of user is often a continuum: from the curious to the casual, to the chronic to the compulsive. To be continued…