The process of dismantling censorship began during the late 1950s. It gathered stream during the 1960s and by the beginning of the 70s it seemed like most of the barriers had come down. There was resistance but at the time it didn’t seem likely to be all that disastrous. It was a classic example of the workings of the slippery slope.
In 1967, President Johnson established the National Commission on Obscenity and Pornography. The commission came to the conclusion that pornography was pretty much harmless. Given the amount of pornography around at the time, and the type, this conclusion might well have been quite reasonable. I’m inclined to think that girlie magazines and similar material really were pretty harmless. The trouble is that old slippery slope. The commission could not have predicted the explosion of hardcore porn in the US from the early 70s onwards, the rise of home video at the end of the 70s and the later advent of the internet, all of which changed not only the type of pornography that was around but much more crucially led to dramatic increases in both the quantity and the ease of access.
While I admit that pornography today is a problem I’m actually much more concerned by the ways in which porn has seeped into the mainstream popular culture. The relaxation of censorship allowed pop culture to become incredibly sexualised. While you still have to make a conscious effort to seek out pornography pop culture is inescapable. This has consequences when it comes to children. The average 13-year-old girl is very very unlikely to go looking for internet porn but she is going to be exposed to pop music, to popular movies, to TV, to the social media culture. All of which are awash with sexuality, mostly of a fairly unhealthy variety. Take your daughter to a Disney movie and she’ll be exposed to homosexual imagery, and this in a movie clearly aimed at children.
It’s not so much the explicit content that is the problem, it’s the attitudes. Young women are being encouraged not just to behave sexually like men, to behave sexually like homosexual men. As explained in a recent horrifying post at The Knight and Drummer Teen Vogue is encouraging your teenage daughter to explore the wonderful world of anal sex. Sexual perversion is being normalised and while porn has played a part in this it’s the mainstream pop culture that is doing the greatest harm.
I do have some sympathy with the idea that maybe censorship should not have been relaxed anywhere near as much as it was but any attempt to reintroduce meaningful censorship will be futile unless it targets that mainstream popular culture.