On May 16 and 17, a "Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation" gathered just outside of Washington, D.C., to discuss the serious "public health concerns" posed by…pornography.
Is it 1978?
Seems like it might as well be with this crowd. The conference—touted as the first national anti-pornography conference in 27 years—drew a mix of "family values" conservative types and anti-choice feminists, for a resulting flurry of fear-mongering and hyperbole.
Dawn Hawkins, executive director of Morality in Media—a group that's been quixotically crusading against pornography since 1962—told reporters:
"There's an untreated pandemic of harm from pornography. We know now that almost every family in America has been touched by the harm of pornography."
University of Pennsylvania professor Mary Anne Layden said pornography has played a role in every single case of sexual violence she has treated as a psychotherapist. Via Agence France-Presse:
"The earlier males are exposed to pornography, the more likely they are to engage in non-consensual sex—and for females, the more pornography they use, the more likely they are to be victims of non-consensual sex."
Gail Dines, a sociology and women's studies professor at Wheelock College, author of Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, and president of the group Stop Porn Culture, said:
"These degrading misogynist images… are robbing young people of an authentic healthy sexuality that is a basic right of ever human being."
According to Dines, taking down the pornography industry will require taking a page from anti-tobacco playbooks. "Tie them down, piece by piece, with legislation," she said.
Dines also referred to pornography as a form of "terrorism against women" and stressed menacingly that "the idea of it being a public health issue is that you have to come together collectively as a group."
"Youth are developing sexual problems because of their exposure to adult pornography," pediatrician and conference speaker Sharon Cooper told The Christian Post. "It's a very severe issue in our country."
Other conference presenters included a pastor leading a "million men" against pornography crusade; the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre's Ellen O'Malley-Dunlop, who believes "increasingly extreme" porn sites are driving surges in sexual violence; a neuroscientist who says he has "proof" of porn addiction; and anti-porn group "Fight the New Drug."