April 6th 2019

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY The NSW election and our incredible shrinking farming sector

SOCIETY The pervasive and pernicious online porn epidemic

CANBERRA OBSERVED Coffers are full but Treasurer will take spending cautiously

OPINION Judge treats Cardinal Pell to a spot of 'open justice'

NATIONAL AFFAIRS NSW Liberals re-election gives a boost to Morrison

ECONOMICS The Great Dragon uncoils all around the globe

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS President Donald Trump: an unlikely promise keeper Part 2

REFLECTION On the conviction of Cardinal Pell

FICTION Orange Years: The Japie Greyling Story

TERRORISM Lessons from Christchurch

ASIAN AFFAIRS Xi's imperious play prompts U.S. to repair Asian friendships

YPAT Getting with the program: one young person's story

MUSIC To market, to market, to sell a good song

CINEMA The LEGO Movie 2: Building a world

BOOK REVIEW A template for living alongside the world

BOOK REVIEW Catholic Maryland and early tolerance



THE BUDGET Take your tax cuts and be merry, for tomorrow ... is another day

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The pervasive and pernicious online porn epidemic

by Chris McCormack

News Weekly, April 6, 2019


  • The link between online porn consumption and the scourge of rape and murder in this country somehow escapes public scrutiny
  • The U.S, porn industry churns out 11,000 videos each year
  • The use of porn coarsens men’s attitudes towards women

After the Christchurch massacre, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for social media companies to restrict extremist views and content being posted online. The footage of the shooting is grotesque, but just as pernicious is the effect that increasingly violent and degrading sexual acts present in pornography, so easily accessible online, have upon all of society.

Despite its adverse effects being well documented, online pornography seems to escape any public scrutiny. Why is no one questioning the link between online-porn consumption and the horrific acts of rape and murder of young women in this country? A former girlfriend of Adrian Bayley, who raped and murdered Jill Meagher in Melbourne in 2012, told police that Bayley used her computer to look up rape pornography.

Bradley Edwards, the West Australian man accused of murdering three women and sexually attacking two others in the 1990s, when arrested in 2016, was found to have a “meticulously” maintained catalogue of almost 4000 porn websites he’d visited and extreme pornographic material depicting the rape and torture of young women and a movie which closely resembled one of his alleged crimes of rape. The trial judge did not allow this evidence to be used in court because he considered it irrelevant.

Online porn is immediate and does not discriminate on the basis of age or sex. Even if a child (or adult, for that matter) is not looking for it, online porn is only a click away. Additionally, pornographic content that was once the domain of XXX video stores is now filtering down into the mainstream media.

Telstra research shows that 68 per cent of children aged 3–17 have a smartphone and they spend an average of 21 hours and 48 minutes on them a week. Thirty-six per cent of all internet traffic is porn. Fourteen per cent of boys use porn daily and 20 per cent of boys in their late teens are addicted to it.

Worldwide porn industry sales generate more income than Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft combined. While Hollywood makes 400 films a year, the American porn industry makes 11,000 films a year. In the highest selling porn videos in the U.S., physical aggression occurs in 88 per cent of scenes, of which 94 per cent is perpetrated against women.

A 2012 University of Sydney study of porn users by Dr Gomathi Sitharthan and Professor Raj Sitharthan revealed that 43 per cent of those surveyed started to view porn between the ages of 11 and 13, and 47 per cent spent between 30 minutes and three hours a day watching porn. They found excessive users had severe social and relationship problems and had often lost their jobs or been in trouble with the law as a result of their addiction.

Some users proceeded to viewing more extreme and often illegal material. About 20 per cent of participants said that they preferred the excitement of watching porn to being sexually intimate with their partner.

A 2007 review of research on the matter by Jill Manning demonstrated that children exposed to pornography may become obsessed with acting out adult sexual acts that they have seen; and children under 12 years old who have viewed pornography are statistically more likely to sexually assault their peers.

Dolf Zillman and Jennings Bryant conducted a series of studies in the 1980s of young adults exposed to pornography that demonstrated the following changes in attitude compared with the control group:

  • Male subjects demonstrated increased callousness towards women.
  • Subjects considered the crime of rape less serious.
  • Subjects were more accepting of non-marital sexual activity and non-coital sexual practices such as oral and anal sex.
  • Subjects became more interested in more extreme and deviant forms of pornography.
  • Subjects were more likely to say they were dissatisfied with their sexual partner.
  • Subjects were more accepting of sexual infidelity in a relationship.
  • Subjects valued marriage less and were twice as likely to believe marriage may become obsolete.
  • Men experienced a decreased desire for children, and women experienced a decreased desire to have a daughter.
  • Subjects showed a greater acceptance of female promiscuity.

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers stated that “obsessive interest in pornographic sites” was cited as a major reason for divorce in 56 per cent of cases, second only to “met new love interest over the internet”, at 68 per cent. This makes a lie of the oft-heard claim by pornography advocates that pornography helps spice up marriages in peril of breakdown due to boredom.

Ted Bundy, the US serial sexual murderer executed for his crimes in January 1989, the night before his execution explained his addiction to pornography in a radio interview: “It happened in stages, gradually … My experience with … pornography that deals on a violent level with sexuality is that, once you become addicted to it, and I look at this as a kind of addiction like other kinds of addiction, I would keep looking for more potent, more explicit, more graphic kinds of material. Like an addiction, you keep craving something which is harder, harder, something which gives you a greater sense of excitement, until you reach the point where the pornography only goes so far … It reaches that jumping-off point where you begin to wonder if, maybe, actually doing it will give you that which is beyond just reading about it or looking at it.”

Journalist Edward Marriott, in a 2003 article in The Age, writes: “Access to internet pornography has never been easier, its users never younger, and the heaviest demand, according to research published in The New York Times, is for ‘deviant’ material including paedophilia, bondage, sadomasochism and sex acts with various animals.”

Professor Freda Briggs (now deceased), foundation chair of child development at the University of South Australia, in a submission to the 2016 Senate Inquiry into Harm Being Done to Australian Children through Access to Pornography on the Internet, maintained that child sex offenders used pornography to seduce targeted victims.

“There is international evidence that some children become addicted to downloading pornography and rape younger children … clearly we are paying too high a price for adults’ right to view whatever they wish regardless of the consequences for young people and society.”

One measure the Federal Government could adopt is requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to offer network-level filters that block online porn. An “opt-in” system was introduced in Great Britain in 2013 and between 6 and 40 per cent (depending on the ISP) of customers took up the filter by June 2015. An “opt-out” system for Australia would be a more effective measure, whereby the default setting was that porn was blocked and users had to nominate unlocking the filter.

Anyone who argues that porn has no harmful effects is either ignorant or disingenuous. The Australian Government must act now to stop ubiquitous online porn resulting in violence against women, family breakdown, increased crime rates, sexual grooming and, as we are seeing, even in sexual violence between very young school children.

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Last Modified:
April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm