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Author of The Pornographer's Daughter providing commentary on pornography, life and much more.

Filtering by Tag: Addiction

Is There Still a Witch Hunt Against Pornography?

Kristin Battista-Frazee

My father once said, “It’s a witch hunt and I’m one of the few people who knows what those unscrupulous, publicity seeking authorities are doing to free speech in this country.”  This was a quote of his from an article that appeared in The Inquirer Magazine in 1977 and he was referring to his indictment on obscenity charges for distributing Deep Throat.  His words are just as relevant today. Recent letters urging Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute pornography distributors have made me wonder if it’s possible to prosecute today’s porn industry with the same fervor it was subject to in the ‘70s.  The latest letter was signed by 43 Senators on April 4th and seems to echo a letter sent by Reps. J. Randy Forbes (R-Virginia) and Mike McIntyre (D-North Carolina) back in February. This all comes shortly after the John Stagliano indictment and his acquittal in July 2010, which was the first serious legal action against porn in over 25 years.

Although these proceedings got me speculating about the possibility of another witch hunt going after porn, I concluded it’s unlikely we’ll see another obscenity case like Deep Throat again and here’s why.  History seems to be a good predictor of the future and in the last 35 years no one has successfully prosecuted obscenity to thwart the spread of pornography.  Not one single win.  In these types of cases the argument to protect free speech has been effective and endured because of an underlying fear that banning porn could lead us down the wrong path of limiting our liberties. I also think those who vigorously stood up against pornography unknowingly created a tipping point that made porn culturally acceptable and consequently turned it into a multi-billion dollar industry. Raising such a fuss obviously inspired everyone’s ogling curiosity.

Also, anti-porn advocates typically use incoherent arguments to state their case against pornography. They rely on unfounded claims and scare tactics to make people believe pornography inspires horrible crimes, and this obvious deceit undermines any credibility for their cause. If research were available to prove porn harms people, like the kind that proves smoking causes cancer, then this debate would be very different.  

Lastly, the Obama Administration has more important problems to deal with than America’s libido. Terrorism, the war in Afghanistan, revolutions in the Middle East, and let’s not forget the myriad of domestic problems: reducing the deficit, homelessness, lack of healthcare, hunger, taking care of the mental health needs of our veterans returning home from war.  These pressing issues crowd the top of most voters’ agendas.  The insidious danger of porn isn’t even on the list.

But the recent letters from legislators do highlight a problem that’s worth talking about — pornography addiction. There is a body of research that supports that a person can become addicted to pornography just like food, gambling, drugs, alcohol, shopping, etc. The April 4th letter notes pornography addiction will be listed in the next version of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and in my opinion it rightfully belongs in this bible of mental health disorders.

Pornography addiction can be a serious problem. But I would emphasize here the word “addiction,” not “pornography” and suggest that this is truly a mental health issue and not a case of a specific type of media egging on aberrant behavior in normal adults.  To scapegoat porn will not solve the problem of addiction (which some even see as a physiological problem). What troubles me most is the fact that legislators who sign letters calling for legal action against porn could instead use their influence to provide adequate funding for addiction treatment and research. But the real services needed are consistently underfunded, and the chosen path is grandstanding to the conservative reaches of politics on this polarizing and “sexy” social topic. It’s a sad commentary about how Washington works.

I’ll always wonder why porn is still cast as such an evil in society and why we keep having these same conversations over and over again.  The “witch hunt” against pornography, I suspect, will forever remain a threat.

Senators ask Holder for more pornography prosecutions

So Are We Pornified or Not?

Kristin Battista-Frazee

I had trouble reading Pamela Paul’s article The Cost of Growing Up on Porn in the Outlook section of the Washington Post blasting the evils of pornography. Just like Paul’s book, Pornified, the anecdotal one-sided stories presented as fact don’t convince me pornography damages relationships. We simply just don’t know whether or not it’s harmful.  I was incredulous about the lack of available research on both sides of this issue. I agree with Paul that researching the relationship between men and pornography isn’t easy and also that the University of Montreal’s School of Social Work study with only 20 subjects was hardly enough of a representative sample to prove pornography is not damaging.

I believe pornography is not damaging because of my personal family experience. But this is just my opinion and I would not assert this as fact. I can only provide the same subjective information that Paul offers from the emails she received from porn users and interviews she conducted about its influence.  So as Paul offers her opinion, here are a few of my own for whatever its worth.

We need to broaden the type of pornography users that are referenced in these discussions. The Montreal University study appears to attempt this by including people in their research that were not pathological in their use of pornography. Only engaging those who have an underlying addiction problem will not provide us answers about the effects of pornography. There are many happily married, faithful and respectful men that view pornography. Let’s not make general characterizations about pornography users to malign them. Also there are many women who enjoy pornography and several that have leadership roles in the adult industry. We need to engage their perspectives too. Check out Carly Milne’s book Naked Ambition. To continue to portray women as victims of pornography is just wrong.

We should understand there is good porn and bad porn in the world. The bad porn that teeters on the edge of just too much, like the type Max Hardcore peddles, just shouldn’t exist in my opinion. The high quality, good pornography that is out there should be left for consenting adults to decide on its use.

Its tough living in a free country and we have lots of choices and decisions about how we conduct our everyday lives. The availability of pornography is a consequence of the liberties we all enjoy. We should be able to handle this.

I was raised during the 1970s and 80s when pornography was not as readily accessible as it is today, so I say bring on the studies. Let’s just agree for now that we don’t have enough information to decide if pornography is good or bad.

Is Pornography the Chicken or the Egg to Broken Relationships?

Kristin Battista-Frazee

A study, The Effects of Pornography published last month by the Family Research Council claims that pornography “is a major threat to marriage, to family, to children and to individual happiness.” Studies like this often claim pornography is addictive and the cause of failed relationships but rarely does it mention that treating addiction to would curb ones abuse of pornography. I don’t doubt that if someone spends long periods of time away from their family watching pornography it will have a negative impact on relationships. But the mere existence of pornography doesn’t explain why relationships fall apart. Relationships also deteriorate if someone is addicted to drugs, alcohol, shopping, work, gambling, and food. Should we ban these things from society? Addictions are tricky, elusive and not easily defined. It is puzzling why one person can have a glass a wine and someone else needs to drink an entire bottle. Or why some can recreationally or therapeutically use pornography without a problem and others can not. The degrees of addiction are still being discovered. A person’s inability to have insight about their problems or access to appropriate treatment services here in lies our greatest challenge.

Addiction is a serious undertreated problem in this country.  Addiction to drugs alone afflicts more that 25 million people [1]. Although free self-help groups are a critical resources to help people with addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling, overeating and pornography, access to professional treatment for addictions is difficult for the under insured and uninsured. These services are also chronically underfunded.

So instead of blaming the destruction of marriage and relationships on the existence of pornography we should take a harder look at the addiction aspect of this debate. Let’s raise awareness and not stigmatize those who seek help, assist people to get access to treatment and stop blaming the “IT” and start recognizing the totality of the problem in failed and unhealthy relationships.