A new report focusing on pornography’s “devastating impact” on society entitled “The Social Costs of Pornography: A Statement of Findings and Recommendations” has just been released.
The study has been embraced with relish by some groups that now feel vindicated in their long-standing anti-porno stance. From The National Catholic Register:
Sponsored by the Princeton University-based Witherspoon Institute, the report cites numerous social-science studies that confirm the often devastating impact of pornography on regular users, their families and society at large. It concludes with proposed guidelines for policy-makers, law enforcement, professional organizations and educators.
Experts and religious groups that have struggled for years to raise awareness about the destructive consequences of pornography use hope the news will contribute to a sea change in social attitudes.
I don’t think it comes as any surprise that porn is officially a link in the chain of what’s now commonly known as sex addiction (thank you so much, Tiger Woods). That being said, there’s also no doubt that pornography can be part of normal, healthy sexual relationships, not to mention the masturbatory lives of millions of people. I personally find porn kind of humorous—I tend to try to follow the storylines such as they are and wind up laughing so hard that tears are rolling down my face. However, I know a lot of people enjoy it. It’s sort of like role playing or light bondage or even oral sex—some people just aren’t into it.
I learned a valuable lesson from one of my students during my first year teaching. I thought I heard the kid say ‘porn’ and started doing the whole, “I don’t tolerate that kind of language in my classroom!” thing. He held up the new Korn CD, smirked, and said, “So what’s on YOUR mind, Ms. Loud?” Yup, not one of my finer moments, and honestly one I’d forgotten about until reading this article. Reflecting, it bothers the me I am now that I used to be the kind of person who would freak out at the word ‘porn’ (or the word ‘Korn’, which is even worse).
It’s noteworthy that the article crowing over this is from a Catholic-based organization. I was raised a Catholic and, while I think their masses are beautiful and the extensive knowledge of the Bible provided through religious education is a great base, it really bothers me how the religion as a whole tries to politicize everything from reproductive rights to stem cell research in the name of God. I have a very close personal relationship with my God, I know the Bible better than most people that spout half-truths as Christian fact, I’m not into porn, and this whole thing really pisses me off.
I mean, the article states:
“While the cultural shift in attitudes about the harm caused by smoking has been quite rapid, we’re not yet there on pornography. Too many people say, ‘I have a right to it. Everybody does it,’” reported Mary Anne Layden, director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Cognitive Therapy who co-authored the report with Mary Eberstadt, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.
How are smoking and porn remotely comparable? Smoking is explicitly dangerous for both smokers themselves and anyone they come in contact with. Porn is not. Smoking is a physical addiction that often requires medical intervention in the form of nicotine patches or hypnosis to overcome. Porn does not. Smoking causes permanent and irreparable physical damage. Porn does not.
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