opinion

Porn and Pedophilia: Cause and Effect?

Stephen Yagielowicz
Recently, Morality in Media President Robert Peters called into question the efficacy and integrity of the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP), a non-profit agency primarily funded by donations from the legitimate adult entertainment industry —and an association which I'm proud to be a member of and whose mission I have helped support for more than a decade. Oh and in the interests of full disclosure, my wife is the association's membership manager — so when I see the association attacked, especially so unfairly, I can't help but take it a bit personally.

You see, I know the association's founder, its CEO, and its dedicated staff members personally; and I've seen first-hand how they strive against incredible odds to do the right thing by serving on the front line in the war against online child pornography. And while ASACP CEO Joan Irvine has already publically responded to Peters' claims, I feel I must comment on his assertions and some of the larger issues they bring to light.

In his 24-page missive entitled "'Adult Industry' Is No Friend of Children or the Family, Despite ASACP Effort to Curb Child Abuse and Label Smut," Peters seeks to minimize the great work done by ASACP to protect children and its industry-leading proactive response to Congressional demands that the adult industry self-regulate, in the form of the Restricted To Adults (RTA) website label.

In his letter, Peters goes to great lengths in an effort to concoct an association between the legitimate adult entertainment industry and the heinous crime of child sexual abuse, often referring to "pornography" (an ancient, legal and constitutionally protected form of expression) as "obscenity" — a term denoting illegal materials — and inferring that there is no distinction between legal adult materials and illegal imagery depicting children in sexually explicit situations.

Questioning the credibility of the industry at all levels and comparing ASACP to the mafia, Peters neglects to mention that ASACP is likely responsible for more actual CP site closures than any other NGO — all while drawing questionable statistical references and mischaracterizations into the mix — and missing the fact that tens of thousands of people employed in this industry have families of their own and do indeed care about child abuse — and find repugnant the notion of it being part of their professional lives.

Reading Peters' remarks, one gets the impression that viewing even softcore adult fare will inevitably lead to child molestation — in much the same way that the 1936 movie "Reefer Madness" tried to claim a single puff of a marijuana cigarette leads to murder. While the movie's makers no doubt took their prohibitionist ravings quite seriously, the film today stands as a comedy classic, ridiculed by modern, enlightened viewers. As is the case with adult, a little education goes a long way when dealing with zealots and the agenda-driven propaganda that they pander.

For example, the fact that a child molester also owns legal adult pornography isn't necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship anymore than is the fact that a very large percentage of pedophiles are active members of their church and often involved with youth ministries, 'troubled teen' counseling, and the like. Does this mean that religion or community service inevitably leads to child molestation? According to Peters' logic, the answer would be "yes."

Peters however must realize that the only way to advance his censorship campaign is to muddy the waters so that clear-thinking Americans will not have a full grasp of the facts, figures and scope of the adult entertainment industry he is targeting.

The short course is that there are a handful of major players both here domestically and internationally, including publically traded companies — and you'll find that most of these organizations are in fact ASACP supporters. These entities are not operating in the shadows and account for billions of dollars in revenues. Joining this group are hundreds of smaller to mid-size companies, and thousands of lone, independent operators trying to make ends meet by operating an adult website "part time" after their daily 9-5 jobs.

Add into this mix countless hobbyists, couples and other "amateur" producers of erotica — along with a small but headline-grabbing slice of organized crime operations, based primarily in the former Soviet Union — and you will start to have an idea of where porn comes from, and the problems faced by those who would condemn it.

What Peters isn't telling his readers is that the legitimate companies have no ties to the trade in images of child sexual abuse — a fact that the Department of Justice knows well — and that the involvement of the ASACP in locating illegal websites and analyzing their traffic and billing systems has all but eliminated the crime of commercial child pornography from the Internet.

Peters also isn't telling his readers that today the vast majority of non-commercial child pornography is currently being produced by and for the children themselves; using the cellphones and digital cameras their parents purchased for them, to share images of their budding sexuality amongst their lovers and classmates. Sure, some might be able to draw a correlation to the normalization of porn consumption and the apparent glee with which today's teens expose themselves in this manner, but "normalization" is really the word to describe the phenomenon of technologically enabled youth sharing what was once limited to whispers between the boys and girls in the schoolyard. The distribution of the "gossip" may indeed be more widespread and graphic, but this all goes back to the old "Guess what Suzy and I did last night!" boasts behind the barn… And that is a normal part of growing up.

In fact, according to the NCMEC, at least a quarter of the children they've identified in adult material initially produced and distributed the images themselves.

Parents or Pornographers: Who Should Protect the Children?
If parents can't control what their kids use their phones for, how can they control what their children see on the Internet?

Well, for one thing, they could take a little responsibility for the process and ensure that their home computers contain filtering software that is activated and up-to-date and they should also not allow unsupervised Internet access — and that means no computers in children's bedrooms; only out in the family room for all to see.

For our part, legitimate adult entertainment websites are labeled with the Restricted To Adults tag, which works hand-in-hand with parental control systems to make parent's Internet safety tasks easier for them to accomplish.

Citing one of my previous articles which discussed how RTA is in use on more than 3 million web pages accounting for more than 3 billion daily visits (figures which have grown since then), Peters used a reported figure which estimated that there are 421 million adult web pages as "evidence" of RTA's ineffectuality at preventing a child's unauthorized access to adult materials.

While I'll grant that RTA-labeled pages account for a minority of adult Internet sites, and in fact will not appear on the "worst" or most offensive of them, this should not be used to show that the industry isn't taking action; but to illustrate the complicated scope of the problem of promoting Internet safety and the realities of the de-centralized nature of the companies producing adult entertainment and how the best of the breed is working to make a difference.

Far more effective than any technological solution is parental supervision: but just as parents of previous generations often relied on television as a babysitter, today's parents view the Internet in much the same way — perhaps even naively assuming that it's just "other people's kids" that are up to no good online.

And here you run into the most formidable problem faced by adult website operators trying to keep children off of their websites: a technological solution will not stop a determined visitor.

The simple fact of the matter is that most teenagers are far more technically savvy than their parents and may easily defeat filtering and other solutions meant to keep them from age-inappropriate content. While content access control systems, otherwise known as "filters," are a great way of preventing "accidental" exposure to adult materials on the Internet — especially if the site is equipped with an RTA label — filters, just like most age verification mechanisms, are easily thwarted. For example, children can often get by age verification simply by lying about their date of birth; while most teens need to show their parents how to turn a filter on or off...

The upshot to this is that while filtering prevents innocent visitors from stumbling upon adult material, a hormone-driven older teen will simply be unstoppable — even resorting to "borrowing" mom's credit card — if his curiosity gets the better of him or her; making direct parental supervision the only truly effective way to protect children online. But most parents are too busy to bother, and Peters is more than willing to provide adult as a scapegoat for what is really an issue of parental responsibility.

Peters also seems to want his readers to believe that adult website owners actually want underage visitors. While I'm not too certain how many business owners are among his audience, you don't need to be Donald Trump to know that most kids don't have credit cards or a willingness to pay for porn. Older teens also represent the largest percentage of "hackers" and otherwise malicious users who are only good for causing problems and losses for an adult website. Just like the convenience store near a school might limit a student's access due to theft and damage concerns, so too do legitimate adult website operators try to keep this menace at bay.

It's really just two sides of the same coin: Peters wants to keep porn away from kids (and adults, too, apparently); while the online adult entertainment industry wants to keep kids away from porn. Understanding the duality of this will show impartial observers that while both entities are working towards protecting children; our industry does it without keeping adults from the material they are legally entitled to. Perhaps we can find enough common ground between us to do some good, as far as the children are concerned.

And that's my problem with all of this: if Mr. Peters is truly motivated by a desire to "protect the children" then I wish he'd focus his passionate energies on encouraging parents to be just that — parents — rather than trying to taint our industry wholesale; using the bad apples rather than the overall orchard, to drive his point.

I'd welcome Mr. Peters getting to meet some of the players in the legitimate adult entertainment industry so that he might have a clearer picture of who we are — and that's the foundation of better understanding.

Related:  

More Articles

educational

S2S Postbacks: Getting Ad Stats in 1 Place

Juicy Jay ·
opinion

Tips to Master Customer Subscription Retention

Cathy Beardsley ·
opinion

A Primer on How to Integrate Paysite Processing

Jonathan Corona ·
educational

Trademark Ruling a Victory for Adult Products, Services

Marc Randazza ·
profile

Q&A: Rich Girls CEO Cristina Enriches Cam Models

Alejandro Freixes ·
profile

Q&A: LiviaChoice Embraces Grand Camming Destiny

Alejandro Freixes ·
opinion

Refined Protocols Reduce STI Risks for Performers

Eric Paul Leue ·
educational

Camming 101: Establish Boundaries to Keep the Fantasy Alive

Steve Hamilton ·
profile

Nikki Night Forges Cam Model Excellence

Alejandro Freixes ·
educational

Ethical Camming Inspires a Cultural Revolution

Mia Saldarriaga ·
Show More