Monday, October 29, 2007

Art Or A Public Health Crisis?

I was flipping through the news channels today and heard someone say that they think that the infusion of pornography into mainstream culture has reached “epidemic” proportions. I have to admit that I was staring at the TV thinking they “think” it is an epidemic?!?!

Well I think it should be classified as a public health crisis. How did I come to this conclusion? Let’s see, when it comes to smoking and alcohol (drunk driving), everyone knows that its harmful not only to the one doing it but also to those around, second hand smoke and other drivers on the roads. But when it comes to pornography it’s as if we have on blinders as to the effect it has on not only the men but also the women and on the family and society.

Many argue that pornography is just another expression of art. Its not and anyone arguing on that platform does not have a clear understanding as to what art is. We can define art as the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others. With that said, why is it that the man or woman indulge in watching it alone, in the dark, hiding? If its art and something to be shared why watch it alone, in the dark, out in the open, why not share the ‘experience’?

We need to call pornography what it is, its lewd, crude, objectifying, self indulgent and it’s a distortion not art! The distortion is the objectifying of men and women for their self indulgent desires, it’s sexualizing our kids, destroying marriages, families and the society as a whole. The pornography industry won’t tell us that more than 50% of divorce cases are as a result of one party’s obsessive interest in pornography via the TV or internet.

Pornography, especially internet porn, wreaks havoc on society because it is easily accessible, anonymous, and addictive. Not only do pornographic pop-ups infiltrate cable channels and internet sites, but its the ability to view the material in the privacy of your own home removes any shame associated with the act. Tragically, most viewers buy into the illusion that this pornographic fantasy world is merely entertainment. They have little understanding that this addiction is detrimental to their own physical, spiritual and emotional well-being.

I remember this time I had a little cousin over and I trying to get to the Disney website to check something. I made a typo with the url and I was shocked and horrified that there was a porn site with a url so close to Disney! And I’m sure that there are countless others, that’s how easy it is to stumble across these sites.

Pornography separates the sexual act from the intimacy of spouses and places it on display for pleasure and profit. It perverts and strips the conjugal act of its meaning. In addition, those involved in the act exploit themselves and those who view the material. Respect for the gift of sexuality diminishes along with the reverence owed to the dignity of the human person.

Simply put, pornography exploits for pleasure and profit. And, this pornographic mentality is infiltrating our daily print, radio, and televised media in ways we don’t even recognize. For instance, when flipping through fashion magazines, almost every advertisement exploits a certain feature of a woman. We all know the ads for Victoria’s Secret over-sexualize women and use obvious pornographic poses to sell their products. Similarly, an increasing number of network television programs like Desperate Housewives or Sex in the City are known for their provocative portrayal of sex and sexuality.

This messaging is very dangerous, especially for women today. It not only objectifies the women in the ads or programs, but subconsciously convinces us that we must exploit or objectify ourselves. As a woman, I have to be aware of these advertising ploys and guard my heart and mind from objectification. The same should go for a man. In addition, we need to educate and safeguard our families against the addictive accessibility of pornography, which seeks to undermine the inherent dignity of the human person.

So is it art or a real public health crisis? You decide. You know what gets my vote.