to catch a predator

I’ve never seen the show “To Catch a Predator” and I don’t really know if I want to. If you haven’t seen it or heard much about it, here is a quick summary of the show. First, adults go online pretending to be teenage girls (and sometimes teenage guys), often 13 years old. They enter chat rooms and innocently begin conversations with men online. The “13 year olds” get to know the men online over time and eventually invite them over for a visit. Sometimes these men go to great great lengths to get to the homes of what they think are teenage girls. When they arrive an 18 or 19 year old woman lets them in, pretending to be a 13 year old girl. They then make some excuse to leave the room for a moment and the host of “To Catch a Predator” comes out… they’re busted. The host questions the predator for while and then when they walk out of the home, the predator is arrested. (sorry… long summary)

When I first heard about the show I was angry. I thought it was ok to set up these predators and arrest them, but I did not agree with putting the whole thing on TV. These men have problems and as soon as they are caught they are filled with immense shame and regret, often trying to hide their faces. I was mad that NBC was using these men to entertain the American public. I was venting my frustrations to Mike about the show when he pointed out that televising these predators being caught may deter others from ever trying to visit an underage teenager in fear that they are being set up. Perhaps it is ok to put these men on national TV…

Then this morning I saw a preview of tonight’s “To Catch a Predator” on the Today show. One of the predators they caught had seen the show several times yet he still decided to visit the home of a girl he thought was 13 to sleep with her. Apparently even the fear of being caught on national TV and going to jail is worth the risk to be with a teenage girl.

So now I have a new complaint about this show. There is a very very horrible double-standard in America when it comes to men’s sexuality*. On some TV shows you will find jokes and humor based on a man’s use of pornography. TV portrays porn as perfectly normal, acceptable, and something not to be ashamed of. I see it again and again, and if you don’t just watch for it, especially on sitcoms. Here are a few lines from a Friends’ episode, “The One with the Free Porn”:

Mr. Treeger: [notices that Joey and Chandler have free porn] Wow, hey. That lady is all kinds of naked.
Chandler: Yeah, Joey just pressed something on the remote and it just came on.
Mr. Treeger: Yeah, it happened to me once. I was just flipping through the channels and BAM. It was like finding money.
Chandler: Like finding money with naked people on it.
Mr. Treeger: Then I made the mistake of turning off the tv. I never got it back again.
[pause]
Mr. Treeger: And I’m sad.
Joey: [to Chandler] Why would he turn of the tv?

Throughout the whole episode the guys’ TV is on, even when people are over, because the guys don’t want to lose their free porn. Our media portrays porn as being perfectly acceptable and has even lost the stigmas as being sleazy or shameful, much less being thought of as damaging to society and men’s psyche/relationships.

So on one hand you have our media portraying porn as normal and on the other hand you have our media completely condemning these “predators” that pursue sexual relationships with teenage girls. Now don’t get me wrong, I completely agree that it is horribly wrong for adult men to pursue sexual relationships with teenage girls, but why the double standard? Why doesn’t America see that it is accepting the cause of the problem while condemning the outcome? It just doesn’t make any sense.

100 bucks that all these guys who are going after teenage girls on the internet are addicted to porn. (And challenge me if you think there isn’t a strong correlation between the pornography industry and seeking sex with under-agers.) We have made it easy and acceptable to go online and look at all the pornography we could ever want, so should we be surprised that there are so many men* (or women for that matter) who want to live-out what they see online? Should we be surprised when pornography pushes “barely legal” 18 and 19 year old girls and then “To Catch a Predator” catches hundreds of men seeking sex with under-agers?

I wish these men could find serious help instead of used as national entertainment and then sent to jail. I realize these men are struggling with serious addictions and temptations and probably feel shameful for their actions. I wish that society would stop telling these men that pornography is alright and then condemn them when they try to act it out. I pray that these men on predator can come away with some advocates, helping them overcome, instead of a nation full of enemies.

I am sure some of the men on predator have little conscience and should be condemned for pursuing young teens. But I think other men on the show are just your average guys sucked into a string of temptations, and one step after another they end up doing something really stupid, feeling both shame and temptation all along the way. I think these men should be stopped and arrested, but they also need grace. They need someone to help them overcome… they need someone who sees them as they truly are and can help them overcome the sin and shame in their lives. You know who I mean. Let’s just hope they find him, and find his grace and healing…

Worth checking out: www.xxxchurch.com (don’t be afraid of the “xxx”- it’s a perfectly safe website.)

So what do you think? Do you believe that pornography is to blame for sexual issues such as predators in our society? What would you propose we do about issues with pornography? How do you think Christians should interact or relate to sexual predators? (This one really comes down to what you think Jesus would do… ) If you are not Christian, I would especially love to hear your views on pornography and also on how to deal with sexual predators in our society.

* To all the men reading this, I don’t mean to place you in a bad light or stereotype you by any means. I know plenty of amazing guys who are fighting hard to keep sexually pure and I realize that only a very small percentage of men are “predators”. I do not mean to generalize men in this blog and disclude women, I am only speaking more about men because they are the group highlighted on the show To Catch a Predator.

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5 thoughts on “to catch a predator

  1. Maria,

    Here are my thoughts on these subjects.

    First, I have a hard time generalizing porn to be “bad” or “shameful”. The reason I say that is this. I think that you have to look beyond the presence of porn to the individual, and I think that is what you started to do later in your blog. I think the presence of porn has to be taken in context. What if it’s a couple trying to enhance their sex-life, or broaden their sexual horizons? I’m not trying to be graphic here, but what if it’s a single male (like fictional Joey and Chandler from FRIENDS) that’s not in a relationship but still has sexual desires and needs? Are they supposed to turn those desires and needs off because they’re not in a relationship? For those individuals, why is porn any different than a woman using a vibrator? What about the presence of porn in fertility clinics? I do not think that the presence of porn alone has to lead to sexual sin in one’s life. I think there are other factors to be considered. I know the common, widely held Christian view toward porn is porn=bad, porn=sin, porn=more sin; but I don’t believe this has to be true. What we need to be looking at is the addiction, and the ramifications that the addiction creates. You have to admit that not every person that looks at porn becomes addicted, or every person would become a sexual predator or be interested in relationships with teenagers.

    Personally, I am thankful for shows like To Catch A Predator, and when Oprah does her shows on catching predators. For someone not well-versed in these areas I have gained awareness about the issue from shows like these. Does the fact that they are on TV inherently mean that they are meant for “entertainment purposes”? For people to get a “kick” out of it? Or could it be that they are meant to educate the public about internet predators? It also educates parents to be aware of what their teens are up to when they are online. Even though the show To Catch A Predator simulates online teenagers, let’s not forget that that is a real issue. There are teenagers engaging in this type of behavior, and this informs parents on how to be aware of that.

    Sincerely,
    Stacia

  2. Stacia, I’m so thankful for your comment, and I have to say I totally agree with your first paragraph. I didn’t want to get into all my views on porn in my post or it would have become very very long. I just wanted to point out our media’s double standard in saying that all porn= good without considering the implications in may have. But I totally agree with you- especially in saying that all porn use leads to sexual predators/addiction/etc.

    I’m especially glad you commented on my post because there has been so much silence. I am surprised it took 123 views until someone was willing to say something. I said a lot of controversial things and no one else shared their views on the topic. I think a lot of Christians avoid talking about sex and especially void talking about issues of pornography and other sexually taboo topics. But I was sad that no one else decided to share their opinion on the issue.

    Finally, I’ve never seen the show so I don’t really know how much of an educational perspective they take, but if they are educating america on this topic, that sure sounds like a good thing to me.

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. Maria,
    I have to admit, it took me a while to write. It’s a very controversial subject, and I was afraid of getting into a debate with people. But like you, I wondered why there were so many viewers, but no one had written. So I decided to take the plunge in hopes that others might speak their peace. I know that it sparked thoughts for me, so it’s hard to believe that others haven’t had thoughts about this blog.

    Thank you for writing on this topic. How can we learn if we don’t share our ideas with one another? I love the interaction that blogging brings.

    Stacia

  4. Well done, it must have taken a lot of guts to post this.

    Okay, here goes. I’ve read the post and the comments on it and here are my views (please note they are just that, MY views, my personal opinion, nothing more).

    I think using being single as an excuse to watch porn really emphasises the over-importance we as a society place on sex. While we are all sexual beings, and our sex drive is a powerful thing, you don’t need sex to live. It’s not like air; you don’t die if you have to suppress your desires and urges if you don’t have someone. And I think charging up your libido with porn when you have no outlet is a dangerous thing that might make other sexual sin easier, even though it might not necessarily lead to it.

    My personal view is that sex is something intimate and beautiful that binds two people together. With porn you are bringing other people into your head and therefore into your bedroom. Granted, you might also do that merely by fantasizing about someone you saw on the street. You’re robbing yourselves of intimacy.

    Also, I don’t think being hooked on porn would be called addiction if it wasn’t harmful in the long run. Like any addiction, you always want more, and while it might be enough watching straight sex in the beginning, there’s a good chance you might get curious about what else is out there. Once again, I’m not saying this will happen, but there’s a good chance it might.

    Phew, there’s my 10 cents worth!

    I agree, thanks for writing, we need to talk about these things.

    Francois

  5. Francois,

    I am very grateful for your post.

    I guess I have a few new thoughts. My husband and I have had some very frank conversations on the topic of male sexuality in the past and I just finished reading a book on male adolescent development that addresses sexual development, and I’ve been thinking…

    Stacia, in your post you said that “I know the common, widely held Christian view toward porn is porn=bad, porn=sin, porn=more sin; but I don’t believe this has to be true.” I wanted to be open minded about porn, but is there really any redemption in it? Is there really anything good about it? For women (and men) in pornography it is greatly degrading… and many of the women who fall into the adult entertainment industry have gone through a lot of trauma and pain in their lives. Can looking at pictures that (in my opinion) oppress the ones depicted be a good thing?

    And for those looking at the pornography, is there anything redeeming about unreal sexuality? Is there anything good about delusional sexual relationships? Porn is sex that is simply not real…

    I have to agree with Francois. While affection, love, and touch are human needs, and we were created as beautiful and good sexual beings by God, we do not need sex.

    And I think there is a difference between being addicted to pornography and just viewing it from time to time, but I think both can be very harmful… There is no “threshold” of porn that suddenly becomes harmful. It is both delusional and degrading even if you just look once…

    Finally, and I have been trying to wrestle this one out… is it possible to view pornography (given that you find it sexually attracting) without lusting?

    Keep the feedback coming!

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