Coalition highlights harms of pornography (The Washington Times)
By Cheryl Wetzstein
Thursday, May 15, 2014
The Washington Times
The “XXX” factors have become “ick” factors, says a coalition that seeks to tell the public about how pornography is harming women, children, men and society.
Morality in Media, PornHarms.com and the Leadership Institute are among the major groups sponsoring a Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation 2014 Summit this weekend in Tysons Corner.
The event, described as the first national conference in 27 years on the harms of pornography, will assemble researchers, academics, legal experts, addiction professionals, nonprofit leaders, technology mavens and ministry leaders in a two-day conference that begins Friday.
A panel of experts said Thursday at the National Press Club that pornography is implicated in acts of sexual violence, harassment, infidelity, divorce, and unhealthy views of sex and relationships.
While moral and spiritual arguments have long been used against pornography use, there are now years of social science research and other evidence that show that it is harmful, said Dawn Hawkins, executive director of Morality in Media and PornHarms.com.
“We all believe that we all have natural human dignity, and pornography violates that,” she said.
Morality in Media and the Leadership Institute are among the major sponsors of the summit.
Pornography use is a public health crisis, and should be responded to in the same way the country stood up against cigarettes and tobacco, said psychotherapist Mary Anne Layden, who studies sexual violence and addiction.
Wresting power from the multibillion-dollar pornography industry will require a “Gulliver strategy” — “tie them down, piece by piece, with legislation,” said sociology professor Gail Dines, author of “Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality.”
One legal approach is to require pornography actors and actresses to use condoms during filming to prevent spread of disease, said Ms. Dines, adding that a Los Angeles law is causing some businesses to rethink staying in that city.
Another law is to simply require pornography producers to have, on file, documentation that everyone associated with their productions are at least 18 years old, said Ms. Dines.
The industry says obeying a law like this is “too burdensome,” she said, but if enforced, laws like this can be used to block children from being brought into pornography.
According to a May 13 article in San Francisco Weekly, Kink.com, a web site for people who like bondage, domination and sadomasochism, is working with allies to stop a California bill that would require condoms to be used in all adult film productions in the state. The current industry standard is to allow performers the option to use condoms, but not require it.
Free-speech advocates, who have long opposed anti-pornography efforts, say that most erotica is protected by the First Amendment.
The National Coalition Against Censorship, for instance, says on its web site that pornography is legal unless it is deemed obscene by a three-part test.
The test says that, as a whole, a work (1) must appeal to a prurient interest in sex, as judged by contemporary community standards; (2) portray sexual conduct, as defined in law, in a patently offensive manner; and (3) lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
Under this legal definition, “most forms of sexual expression” are protected speech, at least where adults are concerned, the coalition against censorship said.