How Our Pornified Culture Produces Harvey Weinsteins

Katherine Blakeman,

If reports are true that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted many women over his lifetime in the movie business, what is it that drove him to do so? The larger question is, why are sexual assault and sexual harassment so prevalent in our society, so much so that the Weinstein scandal incited a #MeToo social media campaign generating over 12 million posts from women all across our society?

It is an important question, the answer to which could change culture and save lives. I would argue that men who sexually harass or assault women are products of our pornified culture, one that teaches boys, and girls, that a woman’s value lies predominantly in her sexuality. Some men valiantly resist our pornified culture’s influence; others run to it.

Thankfully, I never met Harvey Weinstein in person. But we are fooling ourselves if we think that Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, and their ilk are the only men in America whose behavior has not been influenced, and their sexual templates warped, by a culture that glamorizes sexual predation, rape myths, and the Playboy lifestyle.

And we are blind if we fail to see how drenched our country is in pornography and hyper-sexualized images, mostly of women.

weinstein_small How Our Pornified Culture Produces Harvey Weinsteins Culture

I don’t know whether Harvey Weinstein consumes pornography, but let’s consider how prevalent porn use is in America and how it affects behavior and relationships.

Young children are now exposed to hardcore (mainstream) pornography at an alarming rate, with 27% of older millennials (age 25-30) reporting that they first viewed pornography before puberty. A nationally representative survey found that 64% of young people, ages 13-24, actively seek out pornography weekly or more often.

A meta-analysis of 46 studies reported that the effects of exposure to pornographic material are “clear and consistent,” and that pornography use puts people at increased risk for committing sexual offenses and accepting rape myths. A 2015 meta-analysis of 22 studies from seven countries found that internationally the consumption of pornography was significantly associated with increases in verbal and physical aggression, among males and females alike. And fraternity men who consumed mainstream pornography expressed a greater intent to rape if they knew they would not be caught than those who did not consume pornography.

In conversation about how widespread pornography use is, my friend recently said somewhat hyperbolically, but tellingly, “Katherine, the Internet is porn.” Given Internet pornography’s ubiquity and instantaneous accessibility in our culture, it is likely Harvey Weinstein was not immune to its pull.

But Weinstein, his scandal, and corrupt Hollywood culture should not be the main topic of our national conversation. They should merely springboard the search for solutions to our nation’s cultural maladies and the repercussions for women of many men’s attitudes of sexual entitlement.

We are inundated with hyper-sexualized images of women on magazine covers during every trip we take to the grocery store. Simple, often unrelated, Google or YouTube searches instantly produce sexually graphic images. Even children are not immune from exposure to sexually graphic content at home or on school-issued computers and devices.

That’s why my place of employment, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, has called on Google’s YouTube, Amazon, Twitter, and other mainstream companies to stop facilitating and mainstreaming sexual exploitation. Did you know Amazon sells books featuring collections of eroticized child nudity and pimping and sex trafficking how-to manuals? It would be naive to think this has no impact on individuals or on our broader culture.

My fear is that the opportunity to take the discussion deeper, to investigate why so many men sexually objectify women, to question what drives their attitudes of sexual entitlement, is going to slip by, like sand through our fingers at the beach.

We fail to see the connection between our pornified culture and sexual assault at the expense of present and future victims of sexual abuses. It is not enough to take out our frustrations on Hollywood and Harvey Weinstein, or to express our solidarity through social media campaigns. We must wake up to the fact that our pornified culture makes predators out so many people who might otherwise have led constructive, healthy lives.

Please, let’s not let that happen.

  • The reason this is a problem is because marriage has broken down but women still expect to be able to impose the same expectations on men to risk socially and initiate relationships. It’s a role a men didn’t ask for and which women make it as incoherent and contradictory as possible. The very same behaviors which makes an unattractive man a “creep” and potentially a “harasser” are considered a sign of confidence in a guy they find attractive. It’s somehow men’s job to read women’s minds and know if they are attractive beforehand. Men, of course, have to do this, or else they literally will never achieve things which are basic for everyone’s emotional, social, and psychological well being. Isn’t it time to start asking serious questions about women’s contribution to this problem? Or is it too emotionally satisfying to blame the big bad menz and play hero for the damsels?

    Consider that as recently as the early 1980s, most people were married by their early 20s. Fast forward today when singlehood is extended, for many indefinitely. What that means is a society in which a ballooning portion of the male population is stuck in this position navigating women’s incoherent sexual psychology for years on end. On the one hand, society will tell them that morality and the law demand they behave in exactly the ways that will make them unattractive or invisible to women, and we’ll go on pretending that somehow women make no contribution to this problem.

    The fact is that courtship is high investment for men because women go about all this in the same way they did 50 years ago, even after it’s no longer sustainable. The result is a society full of men who consciously or subconsciously begin to resent women. Even if you think that’s awful and terrible, it’s just the way it is. This is what sexual liberation looks like.

    Many people reject this analysis by invoking all the comfortable excuses we provide women so that they can disregard any and all criticism of their own role in producing our gender norms. The first is the time-tested “you’re not entitled to sex.” This a strawman argument which is intended to get us to avoid questioning women’s expectations. It’s why you can basically reject any argument out of hand if the person making it is using the term “entitlement” without irony. If you just flip the genders and consider the decades we spent blaming men for women’s anorexia, for instance, you get a sense of how ridiculous and, quite frankly, egregious this double standard is.

    But putting that aside, it should be obvious that we’re not actually talking about “sex.” That’s really a cop-out, since somebody who couldn’t “get laid” couldn’t have a wife and children or anything resembling a normal life. If you think we’re talking about a small irrelevant fringe of socially stunted losers who should “man up” and hit the gym, consider that there are an estimated million “grasseaters” in Japan. They’re men who don’t get jobs and leave their parents house since a 20 year recession on top of the strong independent womyn’s move into the workforce decimated their ability to play bread winner. It’s basically a disaster. They’re invisible to women and thus have no real investment in Japanese society. The problem is so bad that Japanese economists and demographers are starting to ask what happens to these men as their parents begin to die and there is no longer anyone there to take care of them.

    In Norway, it is now the case that 26% of men fail to have children while only 13% of women do. And this even when researchers can show that when young both men and women expect to have families, but it’s twice as likely not to pan out for men. The only way that statistic makes sense is if average women are sharing a smaller pool of above average men. More than 1 in 4 who arguably have no future, no meaningful investment in their society, possibly unable to achieve things which are basic to emotional and psychological well being. And if they’re basic for the individual, they become basic for society when we aggregate those individuals.

    What kind of politics and culture result from such a society, one wonders. Oh wait, we don’t wonder, because to do so would mean we’d have to seriously evaluate the consequences of the sexual revolution and that might mean taking women’s ideas and politics seriously.

    The reason men go on behaving this way is because they don’t know how else to behave. They’re invisible if they don’t dominate and risk socially and monstrous harassers if they do. If they’re powerful and confident, they’re oppressors who are responsible for everyone’s suffering, and if they’re weak or respectful, they’re invisible or unattractive losers. If they’re successful, they’re privileged, if they’re failures, they’re losers who deserve what they get. I can go on all day listing these double standards, every single one of them is an example of the world women have created.

    The patriachy didn’t create it. It wasn’t father Christmas or an illuminati conspiracy. It’s just women who did it. Nobody made you do it. It’s just you.

    The upside to all of this is that it’s finally reached a breaking point. It’s now the case that men who, even just 5 to 10 years ago, would have joined the chorus of virtue signalers over a scandal like this now feel little to no sympathy for the women involved at all. I certainly don’t. Sure, the behavior might have been terrible, maybe their complaints are justified. But I just don’t care anymore. I can’t even make myself care about it. I see no reason to if women aren’t going to entertain a discussion about this miserable set of expectations they force on us. Either they stop doing this or we return to traditional monogamous marriage. But, as ever, women think they can have it both ways so the misery continues. Let’s see how long we can go. I have a hunch it isn’t much longer.