The Porndemic: Limbic Capitalism
The issue of sexual assault has been at the forefront of the public mind of late. This is largely due to the shocking revelations of a study released in March that claimed 86% of women aged 18-24 had experienced sexual assault in a public space. A previous study in 2014 found that 33% of women across the EU had suffered physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. The difference in these findings is probably more to do with methodology than with anything else. However, whichever study paints the more accurate picture, there is clearly a crisis in sexuality that cannot be solved by simply setting a curfew for men and it would be a fruitless exercise to attempt to change the current culture without first addressing the problem of porn among young men.
A survey conducted in 2020 found that men across western European countries consumed, on average, 70 minutes of porn a day – while 2.2% of respondents consumed more than seven hours. More shocking still is the level of consumption by children and young teenagers. In Australia, research shows, 93% of adolescent boys have been regularly exposed to pornography, and children as young as seven are exposed to it due to availability via online devices. The pandemic and subsequent lockdown policies have exacerbated the problem and have been instrumental in the rise of the platform ‘OnlyFans’ which has been used by many ‘sex workers’.
The porn industry is an example of ‘limbic capitalism’. The historian David Courtwright has coined this term ‘to describe a technologically advanced but socially regressive business system in which global industries, often with the help of complicit governments and criminal organisations, encourage excessive consumption and addiction. They do so by targeting the limbic system, the part of the brain responsible for feeling…’ Consumers are trapped in damaging cycles of behaviour the consequences of which are only now becoming clear. Much of the male population is now exploited by the sex ‘industry’ – though clearly not as much as many of the women ‘working’ in it – and it is having terrible effects.
The consumption of pornography has many perverse consequences. In fact, there is pretty strong evidence that porn consumption and sexual assault are closely linked. Studies show that porn makes many consumers more likely to support violence against women; to believe that women secretly enjoy being raped; and actually to behave in a sexually aggressive manner in real life. The aggression may take many forms – verbally harassing or pressuring someone for sex; emotionally manipulating such a person; threatening to end a relationship unless ‘favours’ be granted; deceiving or lying to another about sex; or even physically assaulting them. The campaign everyone’s invited provides yet more testimony to the effect of pornography on relationships between the sexes.
There has been little recognition of the destructive impact pornography has on the perception of what is appropriate sexual conduct. The sex industry debases and exploits women. Men are wholly capable of having fictitious and ‘satisfying’ interactions with women where the concept of consent and rejection are entirely absent. The issue of sexual assault can never truly be tackled unless we can solve the problem of pornography. Most men living in western Europe and the USA do respect women and that it is a mark in some measure of how advanced and humane our civilisation is, but the prevalence of porn is a sign of decadence and moral decline. Women must be treated with the dignity that is theirs as fellow children of God, and not as mere objects for sexual gratification.