Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Mormon Church's "War on Pornography"

Gail Dines - Mormon ally
Recently, I noted that an effort was underway in Utah to outlaw pornography - even though Utah has the highest rate of  subscriptions to Internet porn sites in the nation.  Shortly thereafter, an op-ed appeared in the Washington Post that sought to argue that pornography is a "public health crisis" supposedly because porn encourages violence against women, etc.   It turns out that one needs to hear the rest of the story as Paul Harvey used to say.  The author of the op-ed, Gail Dines, is described in a piece in The Atlantic as a self-identifying radical feminist and “anti-porn advocate,” who sees male aggression under ever bush (admittedly, being gay, I don't exactly watch straight porn, but Dines' claims in the piece struck me as more than a bit extreme).  Moreover, she has been in league with the Mormon Church and its political puppets. Here are excerpts fro the piece in The Atlantic which looks at the bizarre alliance of these unlikely forces:
To sociologist Gail Dines, a self-identifying radical feminist and “anti-porn advocate,” these findings added to a body of evidence that she deemed conclusive. Dines believes that non-coercive pornography cannot exist in a capitalist society, where sex-based media will always lead to an industry that becomes a violent manifestation of structural inequalities. In The Washington Postthis weekend, Dines wrote a column that spread widely: “Is Porn Immoral? That Doesn’t Matter: It’s a Public-Health Crisis.” The divisive proclamation was occasioned by a bill passed last month in Utah declaring pornography to be “a public-health crisis.” The bill, like the phrase, traces back to Dines, who has spoken and lectured on the evils of pornography around the world. Dines made the same argument to legislators in the U.S. Capitol Building, at an anti-pornography summit. There she reached an unlikely confederate, a Republican state senator from Utah named Todd Weiler. A blonde, 48-year-old divorce attorney, Weiler returned to his home state to champion the bill. When the text of the bill made it to the Internet, Weiler recalls, it “went viral” and he was “immediately inundated with criticism.” This was, in part, over contentious claims being presented as simple fact, like “WHEREAS, pornography use is linked to lessening desire in young men to marry, dissatisfaction in marriage, and infidelity.” For facts and science, the senator directs me to a Utah-based group called Fight the New Drug. (The new drug is pornography.) The group’s “Facts” page offers much in the way of terse declarative aphorisms; such facts as “Porn hates families,” “Porn leaves you lonely,” and “Porn addiction escalates.”  The group denies a formal affiliation with the Mormon church, though as journalist Samantha Allen notes, its founders are all Mormon, and its facts rely on claims from Mormon author Donald Hilton’s He Restoreth My Soul: Understanding and Breaking the Chemical and Spiritual Chains of Pornography through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Olson and company sell the ideological argument as a “just the facts” approach. Less transparent than an openly ideology-driven strategy, the just-the-facts approach is rather a just-some-of-the-facts approach. Comparisons of drugs and porn have proven less clear-cut than suggested by the intuitive leap that all dopamine-based reward systems must be different degrees of the same thing. While drug abuse is perennially among the leading drivers of morbidity and mortality, the American Academy of Psychiatry has repeatedly deemed evidence insufficient that sex and porn addiction be recognized as mental disorders.  [R]esearcher Nicole Prause . . . found in another study that watching pornography did not seem to kill love, but rather increased people’s likelihood of being aroused by other media, and increased the desire for sex with their partners. The journalist Maria Konnikova recounted last year in Aeon that when Danish criminologist Berl Kutchinsky charted sexual aggression in the two decades after Denmark and Sweden legalized pornography, the crimes did not increase in step with pornography distribution, but actually declined. This suggested to him that pornography was an outlet for sexual expression less than a driver of problematic real-world behavior.  While Dines and others cite many correlations between pornography consumption and negative health outcomes, the causal relationship is rarely explicit. Making that leap is especially tenuous when studies rely on subjects recalling and reporting information about taboo behaviors and thoughts, a notoriously unreliable approach.

In my personal view, what really causes porn use is sexual dysfunction stemming from religious brainwashing that makes normal human sexuality into something vile and dirty that must be repressed. The resulting self-hate and sexual repression are the real triggers for porn use and fulfilling relationships.  Look no farther than the Catholic priesthood or the Bible Belt with its high divorce rate, high teen pregnancy rate, and volumes of false piety to see the fruits of psyche killing religious dogma.   

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