Childrearing

Public Porn Is Even Worse When You Have Children

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I remember the first time I ever saw a television in a car. It was a long time ago — like the late 1990s — and I was headed to a Washington Redskins game out in Landover, Maryland. Traffic was awful and we were just creeping along behind a vehicle that had what appeared to be a television above the back seat. We realized at some point that it was a television. And, well, that the people in the SUV were watching graphic pornography. We laughed because we were employees in a car with our boss and there was little else to do.

Pornography has many downsides, of course, but mostly those downsides are felt by the individual using porn and his or her lovers and family. But public porn brings up a whole host of other issues.

I realized how powerful images are when my four-year-old returned from a single trip to the shopping mall (we go maybe four times a year) and put on make-up (using markers), a bikini top underneath her shirt, her hip new jeans and dug out her dress-up shoes. I was intrigued and she said she wanted to look like the woman on the poster. I knew exactly what she was talking about (although I don’t remember the company that was advertising). There was a huge poster in the food court where we were eating and she just kept staring at it. And the woman had a bikini top creeping out underneath a button down shirt, jeans and high heels. My daughter had not done half bad emulating it.

My method of avoiding television and advertisements to keep my kids from growing up to be six-year-olds who hope to sexy isn’t really paying off if it can be thwarted by one well-placed ad.

The last time I took a plane, a man across the aisle from me was just flat out watching pornography on his iPad. A gentleman seated near him told him to turn it off. He didn’t ask. He just told him to turn it off. The public porn watcher told him to mind his own business. The gentleman explained that he’d be able to do that as soon as he turned off his pornography. He started to stand up as if he was going to get physical. The porn user backed down.

The thing was that there were children seated not far from the porn user. It’s one thing to be a boorish man-child who is suffering from such low self esteem that he can’t even wait until he’s in private to watch his juvenile “adult” entertainment. But when the public environment includes children, that’s just going too far.

I would never have any problem telling someone watching porn or even graphic violence on a plane to knock it off if my children were around. But I don’t like that I’d even have to. And what about environments where I can’t exactly control things? What about our public library where, according to a neighborhood list-serv, some members of our community watch porn on the taxpayer-funded computers (a practice, I’m told, that the library has absolutely no intention of stopping).

The funny thing is that I’m not too worried about how my children would handle it as adolescents. By then, I hope they’ll know precisely how to process those images should they come across them. And they will come across them in this day and age. But when they’re toddlers or young children, those images can be even more confusing and harmful.

So word to the porn-addled: if your behavior makes Fred Willard like a genteel aristocrat — and it does — than maybe you should just keep the porn for the bathroom or somewhere else where kids aren’t likely to encounter it. And if you can’t, seek help.

(Photo: jwblinn/Shutterstock)

4 Comments

  1. Lastango

    July 27, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Perhaps the most societally significant aspect of public porn is how it came to be: gradually. We crept into this situation, one act of tolerance, one tolerated outrage at a time. No single bit was decisive. Often we cheered. What could be the harm in nearly naked Gay Pride marchers? It’s such awsome social progress — even the mayor is marching! Let’s go watch, and on the way home we can stop and pick up one of those cute thongs for little Suzie, and then see what’s for sale at Abercrombie and Fitch. The neighbor’s daughter is off from Harvard next week, I hope she tells us all about Sex Week. Must be ok… it’s a university-sanctioned event. I hope they taught her it’s wrong to judge what anyone else does, just like we learned when we studied about those awful days when people had to worry about what their neighbors thought.

    • Frances Locke

      July 28, 2012 at 1:10 pm

      I think it’s telling that you didn’t mention the St. Patrick’s Day parade or the Puerto Rican Day parade, both of which have their moments, but instead focused on the lbgt community.

    • Lastango

      July 29, 2012 at 10:15 pm

      “I think it’s telling that you didn’t mention the St. Patrick’s Day parade or the Puerto Rican Day parade…”
      I think it’s telling that:
      (1) you offer no specifics on St. Patrick’s or Puerto Rican Day. If you have something to say, say it. Don’t wonder why I didn’t.
      (2) you didn’t even try to defend the public display at a gay pride parade, and instead attacked the messenger while distracting attention away to other events.
      So here’s your chance. I await your ringing defense of pride parade, and your explanation of why you don’t think it has a negative influence.

  2. alicia kiner

    July 28, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Does common sense and common courtesy no longer exist? I have to admit, I’m amazed there are no comments suggesting it isn’t anyone responsibility to raise your child, because usually that’s the first thing you read. And frankly that whole idea pisses me off. Of course it’s not anyone else’s job to raise my children, but behavior is learned. From every person my child sees or interacts with. It truly does take a village. No that village is not required to make an effort towards my child. We need people to take an effort towards themselves and how they portray themselves to the world. People also need to learn shame. Because you know what, most people I know would be ashamed to be seen watching porn on a plane. No, there’s nothing wrong with porn, but it should be private, and definitely not viewed were people under 18 can see it. There are age disclaimers for a reason

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