Pamela Anderson just wrote an anti-pornography op-ed for the Wall Street Journal

Posted September 12

Pamela Anderson, known for her work as a scantily clad lifeguard on the "Baywatch" TV series, wrote an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal that calls for people to “take the pledge” and stand against pornography.

Anderson, along with conservative Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, wrote the opinion piece in response to the recent sexting scandal involving Anthony Weiner, who was ousted for sexting someone other than his wife. He even sent photos with his child in the camera’s shot.

“And if anyone still doubted the devastation that porn addiction wreaks on those closest to the addict,” they wrote, “behold the now-shattered marriage of Mr. Weiner and Huma Abedin … From our respective positions of rabbi-counselor and former Playboy model and actress, we have often warned about pornography’s corrosive effects on a man’s soul and on his ability to function as husband and, by extension, as father. This is a public hazard of unprecedented seriousness.”

Anderson and Boteach wrote that pornography addiction often makes men into lesser fathers, husbands and workers, overtaking their lives. She wrote that sexting and other sexual habits serve as "risk-free distractions from the tedium.”

These men, she wrote, also have “less satisfactory intimate lives with their wives or girlfriends as a result of the consumption.”

Children are also potentially at risk, since today’s youngsters have been raised in an “environment of wall-to-wall, digitized sexual images … They are the crack babies of porn."

The national media hasn’t responded well to the opinion piece. Esquire’s Sarah Rense called the opinion piece “ridiculous,” adding that Anderson and Boteach’s choice to only use Weiner as their lone example is a major flaw in the article.

Rense also said that although pornography addiction is real, sexually explicit material also can be beneficial for couples.

“It's important, especially as consumption and access increase. But until that research gets published, let's cool it with the Porn-pocalypse talk,” Rense wrote.

Similarly, New York Magazine’s Claire Landsbaum denounced the article. On the “crack babies of porn” line, Landsbaum said that it “sounds scary and all, except there’s no scientific evidence porn addiction — a popular conservative scapegoat — actually exists.”

But Landsbaum and Rense both ignore the overwhelming amount of evidence that shows pornography addiction is a real thing. In fact, a study from the University of Cambridge found that pornography addiction mirrors that of drug and alcohol addiction.

Specifically, the researchers found that porn addicts react to porn cues in the same way that drug addicts react to drug-related cues.

“Compulsive porn users craved porn (greater wanting), but did not have higher sexual desire (liking) than controls,” the study said. “This finding aligns perfectly with the current model of addiction, and refutes the theory that 'higher sexual desire' causes compulsive porn use. Drug addicts are thought to be driven to seek their drug because they want – rather than enjoy – it. This abnormal process is known as incentive motivation, which is a hallmark of addiction disorders.”

Outside of just addiction, pornography has been linked to a number of negative health effects. A study published earlier this year called “A Meta-Analysis of Pornography Consumption and Actual Acts of Sexual Aggression in General Population Studies” found that sexually explicit material can create aggression issues for men and women.

“Consumption was associated with sexual aggression in the United States and internationally, among males and females, and in cross-sectional and longitudinal studies,” according to the study’s abstract. “Associations were stronger for verbal than physical sexual aggression, although both were significant. The general pattern of results suggested that violent content may be an exacerbating factor.”

Similarly, Arkansas psychologist Ana Bridges and other academics in New York and Virginia conducted a study in 2014 that found pornography can also harm our real relationships with people we love, according to The Washington Times. By studying 487 college students, the researchers found that fantasies shown in pornography sometimes make couples less intimate and may affect how often viewers compliment their spouses.

Some efforts have been made to help curb the pornography addiction. The state of Utah recently called it a “public health crisis,” hoping more funds will be provided for research and development on how to fix this issue.

Similarly, Fight the New Drug is an organization that has worked to educate people about the harmful effects of pornography in order to stop its expansion.

Project Know works in a similar light, helping people understand potential signs that they’re addicted to pornography. Signs of addiction include feelings of being unable to stop using pornography, or experiencing cravings to view pornographic material. Hiding pornography use from a spouse or loved one may also be a sign.

“If left untreated, porn addiction can lead to broken or troubled intimate relationships, feelings of shame and guilt, problems with work or school, job loss, financial troubles and divorce,” according to Project Know. “Many porn addicts also suffer from other mental health issues, such as alcohol or substance use disorders, and mood disorders, such as depression. If you or a loved one displays any of the signs and symptoms listed above, professional treatment for porn addiction may be helpful.”

Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.


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