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June 27, 2017

Op-Ed: NCOSE Explains 'Public Health Harms of Porn'

TRUMPINGTON, D.C.—The National Center on Sexual Exploitation webcast another of its online video seminars on Facebook earlier today, this one titled "The Public Health Harms of Pornography Explained"—and unsurprisingly, their lecturer, NCOSE Director of Communications Haley Halverson, got pretty much everything wrong. Halverson began by asking her audience to "imagine a world where cigarettes are completely normal, where celebrities talk about how cool it is to smoke, where doctors say that is actually healthy for you, and where children are regularly given cigarettes, sometimes even in school." You know where this is going, right? Just substitute "porn" for "cigarettes" and you're in a world where you and even your kids can get lung cancer from porn! From there, Halverson expresses her problems with the accepted definitions of "public health crisis" that have already been laid down by the Centers for Disease Control ("a problem that is cause for immediate concern and action") and the World Health Organization ("a serious problem that needs to be addressed"), calling them "very vague"—so she supplies one of her own: "A serious, harmful problem that affects individuals or groups beyond their capacity alone to correct." Nothing vague there! But she's not talking about rampant poverty, the nuclear arms build-up or even Donald Trump; she's talking about ... porn! And who does she quote to support her (re)definition? Why, anti-porn zealot Dr. Gail Dines, of course! "We need to recognize that the pornography industry is not in this business to empower women, it's not in this business to be a champion of free speech; it's in this business to make money, and they're very good at it," Halverson said, apparently not understanding that the industry can do all three almost simultaneously. But apparently, the fact that an unnamed porn site (we're gonna guess PornHub) had "over 87 billion video views" in 2015 to her means that "this is a global problem in that pornography production is pervasive" and "harming people at an alarming rate." (You may not see the connection between the two, but then again, you're probably not an anti-porn zealot.) From there, we get the first of a series of anecdotes about how some mom was looking on the internet for something innocuous—"age-appropriate video games for her daughter"—and wouldn't ya know it? "... she was still exposed to pornography." (Funny; when we searched for "age-appropriate video games," all we got were ... links to age-appropriate video games—and how to avoid violent ones!) "This mother was doing everything right," Halverson claimed. "She was trying to take an active part in her child's online experience and she was looking for age-appropriate materials but she couldn't stop them from being exposed." (Apparently, mom's never heard of web filters ...) Then, after revealing that she attended a conference of clergymen where all but one admitted to having had a "problem with pornography"—the one who didn't was raised in Africa and didn't have internet access until his early 20s—Halverson got to the real meat of her talk: The harms porn does to "the brain, the body and sexual violence[?], and recognizing the fact that anecdotal research and peer-reviewed research is showing that these are serious harms." Of course, one could go to one of the NCOSE-related sites like FightTheNewDrug.com, EndSexualExploitation.org or PornHarmsResearch.com to look for that "peer-reviewed research," but what's there, if it's in fact "peer-reviewed" in some legitimate medical journal at all, falls into basically two categories: Studies that don't say what NCOSE says they say, or studies that could apply as easily to eating a hearty dinner or watching an exciting sports event as they could to watching porn—such as, to quote Halverson, porn's "addictive qualities, and it has negative impacts on users' brain structure and function... Pornography changes the brain, pornography conditions the brain and pornography makes the brain susceptible to addiction or compulsive use." (Yeah! How about them Red Sox, eh?) Take Halverson's report of a "study" involving female rats which were sprayed with "cadavorine, which is the smell of rotting flesh, and rats really don't like this smell; they usually run away from it." Well, turns out that when the researchers dumped a bunch of "young male virgin rats" into the same cage, lo and behold, the males didn't have a problem mating with the corpse-smelling females. But when they took those same corpse-smelling females and virgin males, and put them in with regular-smelling females and more virgin males, turns out the virgin males who'd previously had the "corpse" experience would fuck any females no matter what they smelled like, while the new virgin males who hadn't been previously exposed wouldn't fuck the corpse-smelling females! You can easily see how that relates to porn viewers, right? Right? Halverson's takeaway from that experiment? "We see that pornography is conditioning the brain to very violent material." Hunh? She also claimed that some other bullshit "study" found that "the user needs more extreme content over time in order to achieve the same level of arousal," which she said is "a hallmark of addiction, this escalating need for more extreme content or larger quantities of the content." Why? Because porn stimulates the production of the pleasure hormone dopamine—just like eating your favorite food, engaging in a stimulating workout (for those so inclined), or watching your favorite sports team at play, though of course she didn't make that addendum. But see, the "problem" is that there's so much porn available on the internet that users can click around a porn site all day and not see the same video twice—which somehow means they're "addicted"! "There have been brain scans of people who are compulsively using pornography and they show that they have increased pleasure stimulation in their pleasure centers when watching pornography than controls, than people who don't have compulsive pornography problems, and this is similar to drug addicts," Halverson claimed. "This is almost directly similar to heroin addicts in the ways that they have an increased anticipation as their dopamine spikes are conditioned to pornography and they're looking for what they know will come as they watch." Note how Halverson sneaks in the word "compulsive" in describing the porn users, as if all people who watch a decent amount of porn are "compulsive." In fact, someone who "compulsively" watches porn suffers from a condition known as "obsessive-compulsive disorder," or OCD, and people with that condition could as easily become "compulsive" about washing their hands, not stepping on cracks in the sidewalk ... or praying. It's the condition that creates the action, not the other way around—and anyone who knew anything about psychology would know that. But no; according to Halverson, porn is "linked to negative body image, sexually transmitted diseases and pornography-induced sexual dysfunctions"—and she's got the "studies" to prove it! Apparently, again according to "studies," there are some assholes out there who look at porn and criticize their partners for not looking like porn stars—though it's unclear if that criticism extends to women who might be described as BBWs or MILFs or GILFs or who have as many tats as Janine Lindemulder or who haven't had their tits surgically "enhanced"—the list of popular niche porn performer body types goes on. And of course, porn induces erectile dysfunction, especially among "millennials"—just ask anybody selling boner pills on cable TV or the web ... like former presidential candidate Bob Dole. And for those who aren't among the "26 percent [who] have problems with erectile function," there's the problem, again caused by all that porn on the web, of "higher sexual desire but lower sexual satisfaction," which is "a hallmark of pornography, where you have a craving but a dislike of what you're engaged in. ... We hear so often that pornography is what's liberating about sexuality, it's empowering, it's a way to engage in sexuality, to learn more, but what we're finding is not only is it harming individuals' body image or desire to engage romantically with a partner but it's also actually stopping the ability for so many people to even have sexual encounters and it's ultimately sex-negative." That might be true of the sexual repressives, deviates and eunuchs who populate the anti-porn movement, but most normal people, when they're having sex, like it—and want to have more, whether they watch porn or not. But Halverson saves the most outrageous charges for last, that porn is "very much linked to sexual violence in a variety of ways." "Pornography teaches that women enjoy sexual violence," she lied. "There's one study done a few years ago on popular pornography of the time, that found that 88 percent of pornographic scenes featured violence against women, and [in] 95 percent of those scenes, the women responded either neutrally or with pleasure, which is literally sending a message to anyone who watches it that women enjoy sexual violence." The anti-porn crowd has been quoting this "study," conducted by Gail Dines herself, for several years now, and anyone who's seen even a little bit of porn knows what crap that claim is. Sure, several videos will show the guy (or sometimes even the gal) slapping their partner's ass in the middle of fucking, and some performers like to put their hand on their partner's throat, both of which acts Dines considers to be "violent," but even in regular porn—not talking BDSM or other fetish porn—that's not uncommon—and yes, the partners generally do like that being done to them because for many people, that's a part of their sexual enjoyment and feels quite natural to them. But no way in hell is that or anything like it present in 88 percent of scenes! Yet, supposedly all this "violence in porn" makes its viewers violent as well, because, you know, "monkey see, monkey do"—and apparently these anti-porners like Halverson aren't much more evolved than apes—or they think porn viewers aren't. This also goes for their claim that people who watch porn are more accepting of rape because, you know, there's so much "rape" in porn. "Ultimately, pornography lies," Halverson lied. "It says that women are tools to be used and that men are inevitable predators that naturally, if you are a man, you must want to act this way towards a woman. ... Pornography is linked to increased verbal and physical aggression." No one who's ever seen even a little bit of porn could possibly come away with that impression—but putting forth such lies is how Halverson and her cronies fund their paychecks, so what do you expect? Ironically, Halverson makes a good point when she talks about how too many 9- or 10- or 11-year-olds are getting their sex education from internet porn, but the problem there isn't the porn; it's that these kids' parents and/or schools and/or churches are too uptight and/or chickenshit (and/or ignorant) to give them a real sex education, so the kids pick up their "knowledge" wherever they can. Take a hard look at yourself and your buddies, Haley, for the solution to that "problem." Oh; and guess what? "Studies show" that men who patronize (or in Halverson's term, "buy") prostitutes also watch porn! Ain't that a kick in the ass? Halverson also claims that hookers are seeing more violent johns, thanks to porn; that sex traffickers are shooting porn of their kidnapees and selling those scenes "over and over and over again"; and that the traffickers use those scenes to keep their slaves in line, threatening to show those videos to—who? (Halverson doesn't say)—if the trafficked women give them any trouble. And finally, Halverson claims that "women and men are exploited in the pornography industry itself." And how does she know this? Why, it's all right there in a New York Academy of Medicine "in-depth survey and interviews with pornography performers in Los Angeles [which] found that so many of them had experienced physical trauma while on set, that they frequently left the industry with [sic] fiscally insecure without making a lot of money, and that they were regularly exposed to substance abuse and other harms as well." (The study is apparently this one, which interviewed a whole 28 performers in 2008, so thanks again, Bill Margold; your legacy continues.) And guess what one alleged male performer allegedly told them? "If the women were completely sober, no alcohol, no drugs, I can guarantee you, most of them would probably have mental breakdowns." Wow! It's like holding up a mirror, isn't it? Bottom line, according to this idiot Halverson, "So it's important to recognize that even if one person is watching it and they're okay with their own sexual templates being distorted because they think they might not go out and harm someone else, by even watching these videos, they're engaging in and promoting the profiting from another person's sexual exploitation, who is vulnerable and could be looking for help or some kind of livelihood." And what's the solution to those "problems"? Why, join and donate to anti-porn organizations like hers, of course; browbeat elected officials into declaring that "porn is a public health crisis; and don't patronize any company on NCOSE's "Dirty Dozen list," which includes such villains as the American Library Association, Amnesty International, YouTube, HBO, Amazon, Cosmopolitan magazine and ... the U.S. Department of Justice? If your reaction to this is, "These people are fucking nuts!"—join the crowd!

 
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