Culture Reframed’s Founder Writes Op-Ed Piece on ‘Why Porn is a Public health Crisis’

By December 14, 2016News

Why Porn is a Public Health Crisis

By Gail Dines

Originally published in Public Health Post November 28th, 2016

It was not that long ago that domestic violence (DV) was seen as a private family issue, rather than a public health problem of enormous magnitude that has myriad effects on the social, psychological, economic and, of course, collective health of society at large. Thanks in large part to the feminist movement, which worked to build public awareness about the multiple harms of DV, health professionals drawn from a number of areas of specialization now understand DV as an issue that requires both prevention and intervention.

We have now reached a similar tipping point with pornography.  As the evidence on the harms of pornography piles up, it has become clear that we can no longer sit back and allow the porn industry to hijack the sexual and emotional well-being of our culture. Extensive scientific research reveals that exposure to porn threatens the social, emotional and physical health of individuals, families and communities. These impacts highlight the degree to which porn is a public health crisis that undermines women and children’s human rights, rather than being a private matter. But just as the tobacco industry argued for decades that there was no proof of a connection between smoking and lung cancer, so too has the porn industry, with the help of a well-oiled public relations machine, denied the existence of empirical research on the impact of its products.

Using a wide range of methodologies, researchers from a number of disciplines have shown that viewing pornography is associated with damaging outcomes. In a study of U.S. college men, researchers found that 83 percent reported seeing mainstream pornography, and that those who did were more likely to say they would commit rape or sexual assault (if they knew they wouldn’t be caught) than men who hadn’t seen porn in the past 12 months. The same study found that porn consumers were less likely to intervene if they observed a sexual assault taking place. A recent meta-analysis of 22 studies between 1978 and 2014 from seven different countries concluded that pornography consumption is associated with an increased likelihood of committing acts of verbal or physical sexual aggression, regardless of age. A 2010 meta-analysis of several studies found “an overall significant positive association between pornography use and attitudes supporting violence against women.”

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