In the name of freedom, porn is trashing our lives

Source: RNS

(RNS) After last month’s spectacle of armed policemen forcibly undressing a Muslim woman on a beach in Nice, France, I wrote a column titled “When did modesty become a dirty word?,” arguing the positive, Islamic case for modesty of dress and behavior for men and women.

The backlash was vociferous. I was accused of seeking to limit individual — and specifically sexual — freedom.

So is Islam against “freedom”? Does Islam regard sex as sinful? Far from it. The Quran declares celibacy to be an unhealthy man-made institution, and the prophet of Islam declared marriage as constituting half of one’s faith. He further described sexual relations between spouses as an act of virtue in God’s eyes.
But it is no secret that Islam disapproves of many practices of today, from premarital sex to pornography. Indeed, the Quran commands Muslims to shun indecency, whether committed openly or in secret. The prophet forbade exposing one’s nakedness to anyone other than one’s spouse or looking at the nakedness of others. The Quran further warns those who “love that immorality should spread” increase suffering in society.

These teachings may seem alien to a society in which 90 percent of boys and 70 percent of girls have viewed pornography, with 1 in 3 boys viewing it “too many times to count,” having begun at less than 10 years of age. Scientific research however, is rapidly catching up with Islamic teachings, confirming its warning that pornography is bad news for society.

Indeed, the effect of pornographic consumption on the perception of rape is just one among its many disturbing consequences. One study split 120 men and women into three groups: heavy (4.5 hours), moderate (2.25 hours) and no exposure to nonviolent pornography, over a six-week period. Thereafter, participants were presented with the case of a rape of a female hitchhiker. Males in the heavy exposure group recommended around half the jail time for the rapist as compared with the no-exposure group (49 months to 90 months, respectively); a similar significant difference was noted among women (77 to 143 months, respectively). The authors described this as the “trivialization of rape” and attributed its effect to the depiction of women in pornography as always sexually interested. The same study found that support for women’s rights declined in men, from 71 percent to 25 percent, between the no-exposure and heavy-exposure groups, respectively. The study further demonstrated that males in the heavy-exposure group displayed significantly greater sexual callousness toward women, as determined through questionnaires. Indeed, objectification of women has known dehumanizing effects.

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