Op-Ed: Porn is a Problem

The November 2013 issue of Make It Better included a column by our Sex & the Suburbs Editor, Marjie Killeen, entitled “So Your Husband Watches Porn—Don’t Freak Out.”

Reader Betty Tessien wrote a thoughtful and extensive response that we thought appropriate to share with you as an Op-Ed. We also think it is important to include our response, which you will find in a letter below.

Pornography may not have anything to do with the partner, your article said. It may be enjoyed together, it said. But I wish there would have been more homework done for this story.

Pornography [usage] won’t lessen because someone watches it with their spouse. And it doesn’t make the real thing better.

Perhaps nurses or police officers or those involved in society’s ills could have the chance to tell of the connection that often comes from pornography. The sad truth is that pornography too easily can become addicting, as well as lead to other problems.

The organization She’s Somebody’s Daughter notes:

“Pornography is an illusion, but the insidious impact it has on the way women are treated in our culture is very real. Fifty-one percent of U.S. adults surveyed believe that pornography raises men’s expectations of how women should look and changes men’s expectations of how women should behave.

“Studies have shown that pornography actually rewires brain chemistry. This is of particular concern as young children and teens are being repeatedly exposed to images of cruelty, violence and misogyny at a time when their young minds are most impressionable.

“Pornography also plays a role in the exponential increase in the number of trafficking victims. A relatively small percentage of women enter into prostitution and pornography by choice. Too many are trapped or coerced into the industry—including 70 percent of trafficking victims who are trafficked into the commercial sex industry—a strip club, pornography, an escort agency and street prostitution.”

Cambridge University scientists say that compulsive porn users show the same kind of changes to the structure of their brains as those addicted to alcohol or drugs.

A few years back, Dr. Mary Anne Layden, a sex-abuse expert and psychotherapist at the University of Pennsylvania who has testified before the U.S. Senate on the dangers of online porn, addressed a forum on sex trafficking at Parliament House in Sydney.

In an article entitled “Online porn addiction turns our kids into victims and predators,” The Sydney Morning Herald reported Layden as saying that in her 20 years of experience treating sexual violence victims and perpetrators in the U.S., she “didn’t have one case of sexual violence that didn’t involve pornography.”

Layden also explained that the “dramatic increase” in child sexual predators is a direct result of and proportionate to the increase of Internet pornography. The Internet is “piping (pornography) 24/7 into homes in harder and more pathological forms in a venue children know better to use than adults.”

Layden elaborated that increased online pornography helps to “normalize pathological behavior,” raising the belief that “it is common, hurts no one, and is socially acceptable. The female body is for male entertainment; sex is not about intimacy; and sex is the basis of self-esteem.” And just as with other addictions, Layden claimed, the more one consumes pornography the more one’s appetite for it grows.

Despite its legal legs, the porn industry, in fact, aids and abets sex trafficking. Porn fuels trafficking and vice versa. As noted by She’s Somebody’s Daughter:

  • “Pornography drives the demand for sex trafficking.”
  • “Trafficking victims are exploited in the production of pornography.”
  • “Pornography production is a form of trafficking.”
  • “Pornography is used as a training tool with sex trafficked victims.”

“When some people hear about sex trafficking in America they usually think of Asian and Eastern European women being brought into the States, but it’s actually 10 times more likely for an American girl to be trafficked inside the U.S. Further, almost 300,000 American children are at risk for trafficking into the sex industry, according to U.S. Department of State statistics.”

In July, the FBI conducted raids in 76 cities, arrested 150 pimps and rescued 105 children from their sexual and abusive rings—the youngest of whom was only 9 years old.

The National Geographic investigation highlighted how it’s not just career criminals in red-light districts who are luring down-and-out minors to sexual slavery. There is a growing swell of U.S. traffickers who are wealthy, “upstanding citizens” in suburban and rural America. Recently, someone from Glenview was arrested for this.

The FBI reports on its website that “not only is human sex trafficking slavery, but it is big business. It is the fastest-growing business of organized crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world.”

To say the least, I am very disappointed in the slant and direction of your article.

Pornography doesn’t make it better.

Betty Tessien, RN

 

Editor in Chief’s Response:

Betty, we understand your concerns and thank you for writing such a thoughtful letter in response to Marjie Killeen’s recent Sex & the Suburbs column. Marjie shares your concerns. “I am absolutely against the sexual exploitation of anyone,” she tells me. “In fact, one of the main goals of the column is to give women information that empowers them… Porn is a huge, controversial topic, and [due to column constraints] I had to narrowly define the scope of my piece.”

She goes on to say, “All three women therapists were consistent… They recommended that women try to understand why and how their husband uses porn rather than react judgmentally… My column was based on their professional opinions, not my own.”

The intent of Marjie’s piece was to honestly address a question that she had been repeatedly asked to cover by her readers. It was in no way meant to justify or promote the porn industry, but simply to deal with a very real problem in the lives of some married couples. I think we all can agree that pornography can be exploitative, and that its proliferation on the Internet is cause for alarm.

Julie Chernoff