Republican Party takes anti-porn stance – but is it hypocritical?

July 22 01:47 2016 Print This Article

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It merited only one paragraph in the 2016 GOP platform, but the party’s stand against pornography is drawing commendation from all sides, not only conservatives and Catholics.

“I would argue, surprisingly, that this is the most progressive piece in the platform,” Gail Dines, a professor of sociology at Wheelock College and founder of Culture Reframed, a group that educates about “pornography as a public health crisis in the digital age,” told CNA.

The 2016 GOP platform calls pornography a “menace” and a “public health crisis” that especially hurts children – language not used in the 2012 platform. It further acknowledges the link between child pornography and human trafficking, which the 2012 platform also noted.

The U.S. Catholic bishops already warned of the danger of pornography in a pastoral response issued in November, “Create In Me a Clean Heart.” They called porn a “grave sin against human dignity” and noted its recent “exponential” proliferation thanks to the internet.

“Everyone, in some way, is affected by increased pornography use in society. We all suffer negative consequences from its distorted view of the human person and sexuality,” the bishops wrote.

They pointed to such consequences as the moral degradation of persons involved in the making and selling of porn, the objectification of women and children, human trafficking, wrecked marriages, and widespread addiction.

Others are speaking out against pornography, however, and they may not be Catholic or even conservative.

Dines said that “pornography is a public health crisis of the digital age.” She said the anti-porn stance “is in keeping with the 40 years of empirical research that we have that pornography has enormous social, psychological, cognitive, and sexual effects.”

“It’s a bipartisan issue,” the National Center on Sexual Exploitation stated to CNA.

They noted that “since 2011, at least 24 studies have found that pornography has negative impacts on the brain, including decreased brain matter, as well as reduced impulse control and decision-making ability.”

Other consequences of porn use, they added, include “increased verbal and physical aggression, the incidence and severity of rape perpetrated by batters, acceptance of rape myths, risky sexual behaviors among adolescents, behaviors associated with higher incidence of STIs, and increased cases of sexual dysfunction.”

Yet, as Dines noted, “there’s a backlash against defining porn as a public health issue,” partly because some just don’t understand just how much of a problem it poses.

Studies have reported the average age of children first viewing pornography is right at the start of the teenage years, she said. “I think it’s been a mass abdication of responsibility on the part of adults who refuse to understand how pornography is harming our children. And we better get going on this, because it’s only going to get worse.”

Although the GOP laudably included this matter in its platform, it also showed “hypocrisy” in nominating a presidential candidate who has made statements of a “misogynist,” Dines said.

Trump has shown “distaste and disregard for women,” she reflected, pointing specifically to his controversial statements about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and the presumptive presidential nominee for the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton.

“There is, absolutely, hypocrisy here, which makes those of us in the feminist anti-porn world somewhat cynical,” Dines continued.

There needs to be bipartisanship on this issue, she added, noting that Democrats “have been very quiet on this.”

“This is going to take enormous courage on the part of the politicians to go up against this multi-billion dollar industry,” she said.

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