After 30 years and thousands of stories as a journalist, not much surprises me, and even less sends shivers through me.
A recent interview with two counsellors at Pacific Centre Family Services Association was a rare exception that had me shaking my head on the drive back to the office.
Hearing there are six-year-old kids addicted to porn and teens who can’t function sexually without watching sex on a screen will do that to you.
My first experience with what was considered prurient happened when I was seven. A nine-year-old at the park made a fortune selling peaks at a faded, grainy photo of a bare-breasted woman that he kept folded in his wallet between pay per views. I couldn’t justify the cost – a week’s allowance for me – but a friend assured me it was worth every penny.
What passed as mainstream porn such as Playboy Magazine in the ’60s remained relatively static until the ’70s and the debate over whether pubic hair could be shown. Anything in print more graphic in nature was mailed from Europe in a plain brown wrapper. A dead giveaway to postal workers, according to a friend who borrowed regularly from the hefty collection acquired by his buddy, the mailman. Blue movies, as they were called back then, were illegal, and required a 35-millimetre projector.
Then technology raised its affordable head with the dawn of the VCR, although they ran about $1,600 a pop in the early 1980s. Some locals may recall the firestorm when Red Hot Video opened in Victoria, or how they made as much from renting VCRs as they did renting tapes.
Well, today’s technology has blown the lid off porn at warp speed, releasing an X-rated genie to kids who can walk the talk on their phones with a couple of clicks. If what they watch is how they get their education on the birds and the bees, Mother Nature and the rest of us are in a heap of trouble. What’s available today is like giving a child the keys to a Ferrari before they can handle a tricycle.
Much of what’s available is a demeaning, disgusting portrayal of women as nothing more than pleasure machines. It accelerates from bad to worse times 10 when children don’t have a parent to sit them down and explain the ins and outs, someone to guide them through the minefield, someone to define the boundaries of fantasy, what’s healthy, what’s respectful, and why kids need to dip into that pool a toe at a time until they’re mentally, emotionally and mature enough to take that leap off the diving board. Otherwise, there will be consequences to be paid by all of us further down the road.
In the meantime, we can find comfort knowing there are women like Mia Golden and Jennifer Munro, who dedicate their lives to pulling as many kids as they can back from the edge of the cliff, extending a helping hand to children at risk. They continue to do their absolute best, despite the scarcity of resources available.
It makes you wonder how many more children will take that tumble before the rest of us plug in to the damage unfolding in front of us.
Rick Stiebel is a semi-retired local journalist.