June 21, 2010

EIE Featured in Washington Times: Pornography Polluting U.S. like Gulf Spill


By Cheryl Wetzstein

Original story can be found here: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jun/21/wetzstein-pornography-polluting-us-like-gulf-spill/?page=2

The geyser of oil escaping the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig offers a metaphor for another sickening substance spreading through our land.

Imagine that the oil is hard-core pornography.  Imagine that its spewing stream includes images of women being gagged, women being called cruel names during sex, multiple men penetrating one woman.  Imagine these images seeping inexorably into every family's home. Imagine that the brown pelicans drowning in oil are people sinking into unshakable pornography habits.  Imagine that the geyser(s) of obscene pornography have been spewing for more than 15 years, and still no one seriously tries to cap them.

These metaphors are mine, but they are drawn from the claims of a growing number of social scientists, medical professionals, human-trafficking opponents and child-safety activists.

Illegal adult pornography has "flooded and polluted the Internet," Donna Rice Hughes told a Capitol Hill briefing last week.

Since the mid-1990s, children have been "spoon-fed" pornography with "free" teasers to pornographic websites, while today, there is "portable porn" with hand-held Internet-accessible devices, said Mrs. Hughes, president of Enough is Enough, an organization that promotes Internet safety for children.  Parents are the only line of defense, because the nation's anti-obscenity laws are not being enforced, she added.

Speakers at the June 15 "Pornography Harms" briefing, sponsored by the Coalition for the War Against Illegal Pornography, covered many bases:


• Young males find pornography irresistible because they have immature prefrontal brain cortexes and "mirror neurons." This combination means that when they see something happening in a video, they think "they" are the ones doing it, explained Dr. Sharon Cooper, a pediatrician who has treated sexually deviant youth.

• Pornographic images are used to groom, lure or seduce young people into sexual bondage, said Laura Lederer, president of Global Centurion, an organization dedicated to ending child sex-trafficking.

• Men who use pornography undergo subtle changes: They disconnect sex and emotion, become dissatisfied with their wives and girlfriends, and become more accepting of affairs, said psychotherapist Mary Anne Layden, who directs a sexual-trauma program at the University of Pennsylvania.

• Pornographic images have been accepted in mainstream media, with shock jock Howard Stern's lewd programming and tween idol Miley Cyrus' "S&M" bondage clothing discussed as normal, said Wheelock College sociology professor Gail Dines, who has studied pornography for 20 years. Adult pornography has moved far beyond images of coy, smiling, naked women, added Ms. Dines. Today's female porn performers are subjected to "body-punishing sex acts," she said. "I cannot believe how brutal [pornography] has become so quickly."

• The industry is like "modern-day slavery," said Shelley Lubben, a former adult-pornography performer who founded Pink Cross Foundation to assist other performers leaving the business. Female performers frequently get drunk or high before going on camera, so substance abuse and addiction is rampant, said Ms. Lubben. Sexual infections, especially herpes, are more common than reported.

What should be done?

Enforce the anti-obscenity laws, said Patrick Trueman, former chief of the child exploitation and obscenity section at the Department of Justice. Neither Bill Clinton's nor George W. Bush's administration aggressively enforced these laws, he said. Now the task falls to the Obama administration.

The adult industry did not have speakers at the June 15 briefing, so they couldn't reply to charges about their products. Their responses are needed.

In the meantime, there is little relief for those who would like to surf the Internet without running into raw images of human flesh. Internet filters can act like temporary containment booms, but as the Gulf oil spill shows, there's no real hope of a pollution-free environment without some skimmers and dispersants.

Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.