“All the best intentions and efforts cannot compete with the world biggest department of education: pornography. If we don’t address pornography’s conditioning of boys, which trains them to accept rape myths — that “no” in fact means “yes” — and which normalises aggression, coercion and domination, [girls and young women] don’t stand a chance.
“The porn industry is a mammoth dispenser of sexualised violence and misogyny; it is the world’s most powerful sexual groomer. Boys see girls as something to act-out on rather than fully engage with … the porn industry takes pre-existing harmful codes of masculinity and entitlement and turbo-charges them.”
Research, some of it quite recent, backs up Melinda’s words. Viewing pornography can lower men’s relationship satisfaction – and lead to increased rates of relationship breakdown and divorce. When a male is addicted to pornography, his partner is likely to experience body shame, reduced intimacy, and pressure to perform unwanted acts.
In short, pornography teaches violent attitudes and behaviours to both adolescents and adults. It is effectively a rape manual. And as Melinda says, it is the major sex educator of Australian children. The majority have viewed it from their early teens – on their own smartphones or those of their friends.
If you have been a long-time FamilyVoice supporter, you probably already knew this. Our founding chairman, clinical psychologist Dr John Court, did some key research in the early 1970s.
He found serious flaws in an earlier Danish study that claimed pornography “reduced sex crimes”. He went to Denmark in order to personally inspect police crime reports from before and after legalisation of pornography in that country.
He found that minor sex crimes did indeed go down after porn, especially hardcore porn, became freely available. No surprise there – most such crimes were no longer illegal!
But serious sex crimes such as rape increased significantly.
So what is the answer to this very serious problem? Merely telling school children to stay away from violent pornography, as some “experts” advise, doesn’t appear to be working!
Peter Stevens, our FamilyVoice Victoria Director, is taking a different approach. For some years he has been urging federal MPs to back legislation mandating a “cleanfeed” internet service by all providers.
This would mean that service providers would block harmful content including pornography, gambling, suicide and terrorism promotion unless adult customers specifically request it. The legislation would mandate age verification software to prevent access to those sites by those under 18.
“A ‘cleanfeed’ system would not be foolproof,” Peter says. “But it would be a big step in the right direction.
“We’ve received positive responses from government members, but we are still waiting for real action.”
Nevertheless, the recent accusation that he raped a 16-year-old girl in Sydney in January 1988, when he was 17 and both were participating in a national debating competition, is just that: an allegation.
The baying mob of journalists at his press conference on 3 March had to be seen to be believed. The rule of law, and the time-honoured legal principle that an accused must be presumed innocent unless proved guilty, flew out the window.
The Attorney-General strenuously and categorically denied the allegations made in the 33-page letter. He stated, again and again, that the alleged event never happened – pointing out that he was just a teenage boy at the time.
The presumption of innocence is fundamental to our society. Abandon it and our society would degenerate into mob rule. Anyone – you, I or any of our leaders – could have our life destroyed by a single unproved allegation. The Salem witch trials in Massachusetts in 1692-3 tragically resulted in nineteen people hanged merely based on allegations.
Australia has a rigorous justice system for testing allegations. First, a matter must be reported to the police, who assess whether there is enough “admissible evidence” to warrant prosecution.
For evidence to be “admissible” it must be first-hand knowledge, not (second-hand) hearsay. One difficulty with the allegations against Christian Porter is that the alleged victim tragically took her own life on 25 June 2020 and cannot now give evidence.
The allegations are contained in a detailed, but anonymous letter apparently from the now-deceased woman, sent to several politicians by the deceased woman’s friends. Since the friends did not witness the alleged events, the allegations are essentially hearsay.
While she was alive, the woman refused to make a statement to the police, who would require her to swear or affirm that the statement was true. Furthermore, two days before she took her own life, she asked the police to drop the complaint, for medical and personal reasons.
Notes made by Christian Porter’s accuser, as featured in a dossier containing her rape allegations
As a student, the complainant was said to be a brilliant debater. Sadly, over subsequent decades she suffered from long bouts of mental illness, including a bipolar disorder. This can be associated with delusions.
Extracts of the dossier containing the allegations, published in The Australian, are rather strange. The complainant says she only really understood her memories “once my Sydney-based psychologist Katie Thorncraft referred me to The Body Keeps Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma (Van Der Kolk).” Bessel van der Kolk is a defender of discredited repressed-memory therapy.
On 2 March 2021 the NSW police closed their investigation. We may never know the whole truth.
But as the Bible says in Deuteronomy 19:15, “One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offence he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”
Christian Porter is entitled to be presumed innocent.