Porn is not just naked women (9 March 2010)

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Dear Editor

Kent Solomon implies is his letter "Its Freedom of Multi-choice not Multi-chaste", that there is no scientific consensus on whether porn is harmful. Clearly he is blissfully unaware (as most people are) of what is available out there. Granted, I do not expect him or anyone else to have actually watched some of the genres of porn that I am about to mention (I certainly haven't!)
 
When most people hear the word porn they think of it as referring to photos of naked women or of two people consensually having sex. However, what is becoming more and more mainstream would shock even the most liberal minded of people.
 
Robert Jensen, a journalist and researcher from the University of Texas, USA (see A Cruel Edge: The Painful Truth About Today's Pornography)  purchased DVDs from from what was broadly representative of the 11 303 new hard core titles released in 2002, according to the Adult Video News.
 
There are films with names such as "Gag Factor" - an explanation of which is not wise in a family newspaper.
 
The fact is that much of mainstream porn today contains depictions of the performers being psychologically (being called derogatory names) and physically harmed (the harm of which is often real as opposed to acting). In many of the films, Jensen says, you can see the expressions of pain on the performers' faces. There are often depictions of women being urinated or defecated on. Many of these such films only receive an X18 classification from the Film and Publications Board - in other words it can be possessed and distributed.
 
Many so-called 'porn stars' commit suicide within a few years.
 
It hurts to know that that no matter who you are as a woman, you can be reduced to a thing to be penetrated and that men will buy movies about that, and that in many of those movies your humiliation will be the central theme. It hurts to know that so much of pornography that men are buying fuses sexual desire with cruelty.
 
It is for this reason that many anti-porn researchers have recommended a harm-based definition of porn for law reform, one which criminalises any graphic, sexually explicit material that subordinates, degrades or violates. I however, would go much further than that in a legal definition of porn because, as a Christian, I believe anything sexually explicit takes what God meant to be special, sacred and private and twists it into something lewd and that this contributes to our hyper-sexualised culture - one in which rape, teen pregnancies and STDs are the norm.


Taryn Hodgson

Africa Christian Action

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