Dr. Yaniv Efrati at Bar Ilan University has been talking to Israeli teenagers for quite some time about sex.
In a 2011 study, he and two research partners compelled religious teens to watch pornographic images to see if and for how long they felt bad about themselves afterwards. The researchers (and Ynet), in classic soft-porn fashion, only revealed documentation of the 80 interviews, but intimated that the statistics are forthcoming.
And now, in 2012, Dr. Efrati strikes again. This time, he surveyed over 500 11th and 12th graders from across the sectorial spectrum in Israel (i.e, national religious, haredi, and secular) to determine how much porn they consume. This time, a decisive stat: ONE IN THREE TEENAGED RELIGIOUS AND HAREDI GIRLS SURF FOR PORN! That’s twice as much as secular girls. (Insert lewd insinuation about how haredi girls do it twice as often here.)
I am dubious about the conclusions one can draw from this sample and this leering stat – but it does tweak the SEO, doesn’t it?
I await the next study that demonstrates that, in reality, the secular girls consume FAR MORE porn that haredi girls.
Nevertheless, it further drives home the point with which I concluded a piece I have written for Zeek magazine about the haredim and the internet. It is a quote from Dovid Teitelbaum’s open letter to the Ichud HaKehillos in honour of the Asifa:
Filters sound good, but they are not the solution. A filter is only as effective as much as the person using it wants to be filtered.
And haredi teen girls, like their teen male counterparts, do not want to be filtered. They, like their secular counterparts, need a compelling, affirmative reason not to consume porn. (Incidentally, secular and haredi teen boys consume porn in equal degree.)
These haredi teens are also in need of a compelling, affirmative reason to remain within the fold in an appropriate manner and to support the institutions of their community to the same degree as their parents. This “crisis” of confidence sounds an awful lot like the “crisis” of modernity that swept across Western Europe in the eighteenth century… (For more, see Chapter 6 in End Of The Jews.)
This Bar Ilan study comes on the legs of another study that determined that six of ten Jewish babies in America’s biggest Jewish community – New York City – are born to Orthodox families. (Cue ominous music to accompany panic of liberal Jews afraid that their liberal bastion is being overrun. Also cue giggles of an excited Michael Medved.) What both studies do not address is the long term. What does it mean that twice as many haredi teen girls are consuming porn? Will they, or the six Orthodox-born babies, remain within their folds when they hit adulthood? Maybe. Maybe not. But even if they remain within their fold, they cannot do so without irrevocably changing it.
This “problem” is not one of technology, even though the gedolim at the Asifa argue that technology is at fault. But, even more important, technology, in the guise of filtering or firewalling, cannot fix this “problem”. This “problem” demands a very low-tech solution: a sound idea.