A panel evaluates porn’s contributions to abuse and violence.
Pornography is the public health crisis of the digital age.
This is what a panel of experts concluded at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s Capitol symposium as they discussed the harmful ramifications of pornography. Specifically, they evaluated pornography’s influence on sex trafficking, child exploitation and sexual violence.
“This is not only a public health issue, it is a social justice issue,” said Cordelia Anderson, founder of Sensibilities Prevention Services. “It’s not the sex that’s the problem, it’s the violence. It’s not the nudity that’s the problem, it’s the novelty.”
The panel identified ways pornography contributes to violence against women. According to a 2010 study published in Violence Against Women, nearly 90 percent of 304 pornographic scenes evaluated by experts included physical aggression including spanking, gagging and slapping. Recipients of these violent misdemeanors were most frequently women.
Additionally, multiple studies were cited indicating increased rates of behavioral violence and aggression against women and children among men who view pornography.
But pornography is a more serious issue than many initially perceive. Melissa Farley, executive director at Prostitution Research and Education, compared pornography to prostitution and sex trafficking.
“The same kinds of violence against women are perpetrated in pornography, prostitution and trafficking,” Farley said. “Disconnecting trafficking from prostitution and pornography normalizes most of the sex industry.”
Farley said pornography is a business enterprise — the industry documents sexual assaults of individuals and then makes a profit from those misdemeanors as a result. But because pornography is legal, it is more difficult to tackle, expose and take action against the offenses than those of prostitution and sex trafficking.
Furthermore, these violent images are reaching increased demographics and influencing cultural attitudes and behaviors.