Recently, while working on a blog on grandparent visitation and doing research for an upcoming lecture on the concept of “psychological parent,” I had the opportunity to reread the case of Marquez v. Caudill, 376 S.C. 229, 656 S.E.2d 737 (2008). Marquez involved a custody and visitation dispute between stepfather and maternal grandmother in which mother had committed suicide and biological father of one of the children was a non-presence.
Both stepfather and grandmother had their “issues.” In affirming the family court’s award of custody to stepfather the Supreme Court noted the family court’s finding that “Stepfather has shown poor judgment by … visiting pornographic websites.” Despite stepfather’s pornography consumption, the Supreme Court affirmed the family court’s award of custody to him.
Nothing in the Marquez opinion would indicate that stepfather’s “visiting pornographic websites” was done with the children present or that the children were exposed to this media. Nothing in the opinion indicates that stepfather was spending inordinate time visiting these websites and that his pornography consumption was interfering with his parenting responsibilities. Instead, it appears, that stepfather’s mere consumption of pornography was considered noteworthy by our courts, as though watching pornography somehow made stepfather a suspect parent.
Which leads me to ask, what planet are these judges from? One of my favorite Jon Stewart quips was a plug for a The Daily Show series devoted to evolution. His tag line was, “Evolution! Man versus monkey: One’s a poo-flinging masturbator and the other’s a monkey.” This quip shows keen insight into the male thought process when it’s unleashed from our culture’s “civilizing” influences. As the Broadway musical Avenue Q celebrates, the internet was made for porn.
My experience as a family law attorney and as a male in our culture indicates that there are two types of men: those who admit to consuming pornography and those who lie about it. Making online pornography consumption, in and of itself, a fitness issue isn’t going to stop men from consuming pornography; it’s simply going to turn male custody litigants into liars.