Just How Harmful is Pornography?

Last week, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) prepared and directed a symposium in the Capitol on policy recommendations on sex trafficking, sexual violence, child exploitation, and pornography. I attended this event.

“America is suffering from a sexual exploitation crisis. Sex trafficking, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, pornography, etc. are issues significantly impacting American citizens, families, and communities,” states a NCOSE representative. “This necessitates that our federal government address the full spectrum of sexual harm.”

Many speakers presented their different topics throughout the afternoon, including a couple of activists speaking on pornography addiction and its link to sex trafficking.

An emphasis was placed on the dangers of pornography in the lives of everyone, especially of our youth. Pornography is fueling human trafficking. It’s an endemic reality. In fact, it has recently been found that porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter…combined!

According to Shared Hope International, pornography is the primary gateway to the purchase of humans for commercial sex. The reasoning behind this becomes clear when we think critically about what pornography is, who is making it, and how it affects its consumers.

Many women and children who are being sexually trafficked are also being used for the production of pornography. Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), sex trafficking is defined as “the recruitment, haboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.” This perfectly describes the realities of the porn industry.

Through its consumption, pornography further creates a demand for prostitution and, therefore trafficking, due to the shared experiences of bought sex and sexually using another individual as an object. As such, it increases demand for buying individuals as sexual objects in the flesh and stimulates the viewer to act out on other live individuals the specific acts that are sexualized and consumed in pornography.

Dr. Gail Gines, a profesor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College, said “we know that trafficking is increasing which means that demand is increasing. This means that men are increasingly willing to have sex with women who are being controlled and abused by pimps and traffickers.” She continued, “As an academic, a sociologist, and a mother, I believe it is the way men are being shaped by society…The biggest sex educator of young men today is pornography, which is becoming increasingly violent and dehumanizing, and it changes the way men view women.”

As long as American men are being trained to think that violent, disturbing pornography is acceptable, an enormous clientele for sex trafficking is being created every day in homes, college dorms, and apartments across the nation.

So, what can we do?

Raise awareness, educate yourself and others, and protect the vulnerable.

As Dawn Hawkins of NCOSE says, “Let us look for solutions that encompass and address the seamless connections between all forms of sexual exploitation.”

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