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September 10, 2016

Pamela Anderson is Asking Us to Say “No” to Porn.

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Pamela Anderson, internationally recognized sex symbol, wants you to pledge to remove erotic media from your homes, your computers and your lives.

Why? Because according to a recently published commentary by Anderson and Rabbi Shmuel Boteach, erotic media are dangerous. If you choose to indulge, you risk embarrassing yourself in front of your peers, or worse, you’ll turn into a relationship-ruining loser with no control over your porn-flushed genitals.

Anderson and Boteach would like you to accept former congressman Anthony Weiner as the poster child of pornography perils.

If anyone still had doubts about the addictive dangers of pornography…behold the now-shattered marriage of Mr. Weiner and Huma Abedin.

Tastelessly co-opting the private lives of a hurting family to support their moral crusade, the authors offer Weiner’s sexual decision-making as evidence of a mythological pop-culture disorder called “porn addiction.” Despite that we have no evidence linking Weiner to unhealthy consumption of pornography, Anderson and Boteach believe his indiscretions are evidence enough to make overstated claims about the dangers of being a sexual adult.

Anderson’s moral argument against erotic media is an interesting stance for someone who has arguably built an entire career on its relevance, but I’m not bothered by that as some might be. Anyone may change their moral minds for their own reasons, although now that Anderson has publicly called for a ban on erotic media, her reasons seem relevant to me.

What does disturb me, however, is Anderson and Boteach’s attempts to twist their moral argument into a scientific one. Take, for example, the “terrifying” statistics from the American Psychological Association (APA) that the authors inappropriately and irresponsibly misuse. Anderson and Boteach claim that because men report a struggle to stop watching erotic media, they show signs of porn dependency. They go so far as to compare this struggle with the rate of cocaine dependence, a claim that even proponents of sex addiction reject as unscientific. Yet, despite that the APA report makes no connection between personal struggles with sexual health choices and drug addiction, Anderson and Boteach ignore the warnings the report writers do make about overstating the report’s findings.

The evidence of porn addiction simply isn’t there.

Anderson and Boteach claim erotic media is an experiment in “mass debasement” which has ruined relationships across the country. Yet, the APA researchers can’t conclude whether viewing erotic media in relationships is a cause of distress or a consequence of it. They don’t even know if it’s related at all.

Even if porn is related to relationship distress, Anderson and Boteach’s rules seem to be different for women and men. They argue that female viewers of erotic media do so more safely while male viewers of erotic media are repugnant. The majority of the commentary is written with male pronouns to be clear who is ruining the world’s relationships one erotic medium at a time. While ample evidence suggests more men than women view erotic media, there’s no evidence that men’s use is more or less damaging.

If it’s true, however, that women may view erotic media safely while men can’t (it’s not), then what should we do about it? Is erotic media for women only? Should we shame men as “losers” (quite the rabbinical thing to do, by the way) for viewing erotic media? Or should we educate men about the ethical use of erotic media in a way that enhances intimacy, relationships and health?

While it’s true that many people report problematic use of erotic media, the argument that it is addictive or unhealthy is completely unscientific.

The nation’s leading researcher on this topic is Dr. Rory Reid. No one has published more research on hypersexuality—a proposed clinical term that would enfold what Anderson and Boteach call porn addiction. Dr. Reid examined the proposed criteria for hypersexual disorder and, after a massively funded study, concluded that sex addiction or hypersexuality were not clinical disorders. This also applies to porn addiction, sexting addiction or any other ‘addiction’ that would tie itself to sexual health choices.

Perhaps the most dangerous part of Anderson and Boteach’s argument is what they didn’t say. The APA report concludes that it’s dangerous to make unscientific claims without evidence. Where is Anderson’s training in addiction psychology? What expertise besides religious or moral anecdotes does Rabbi Boteach offer?

Should we accept these moral passions without scientific scrutiny?

Moral arguments shrouded in scientific language cause shame. They bludgeon people deeper into isolation, limiting their ability to talk openly and carefully about their sexual choices because they’re too afraid of judgment. I see it every day in my work as a couple’s therapist. Anderson and Boteach have every right to make moral arguments about sexual behaviors. I may not agree, but I can respect that those decisions are grounded in their life experiences. It’s a wholly different monster to pretend those moral arguments are scientific or that they can apply to everyone, or at least to every man.

There’s no question that many women and men struggle to make consistently healthy sexual choices, like controlling sexual urges that put their health at risk or go against their own worldviews. These women and men need the kind of nonjudgmental help that doesn’t reach for the moral stomping ground of sex or porn addiction. They need help that relies on promoting sexual health, without the hurtful slander that oozes from people like Anderson and Boteach.

I’d like to call for a different kind of pledge.

I’d like Anderson and Boteach to pledge to take responsibility for their personal disgust of erotic media before asking the public to share that disgust based on the illusion of scientific evidence. I’d ask Ms. Anderson to provide a careful and thoughtful explanation for her moral reasoning without waxing scientific. I’d ask Rabbi Boteach to provide the religious framework for calling people losers in an effort to motivate them toward health. I’d ask that we all pledge to do our collective research before we rely on pop-culture icons to do our thinking for us.

Let’s pledge to advance sexual health and resist sexual shame.

 

 

 

Author: Mathis Kennington

Image: frcdc on Instagram

Editor: Renée Picard

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Emily Francis Sep 12, 2016 3:10am

I completely agree with you in the way that they are taking action to the cause. Belittling those who view porn as "losers" is ridiculous especially with Pamelas history in the matter. Fair enough its the past but thats how she became famous and is still famous, as a sex icon. The real issue is sexualising women as horny take anything men give to them individuals. We should be looked at as the queens that we are and treated with respect just as men should be treated with respect. Everyone has needs and not everyone has a partner! But they are losers for meeting their needs through media? The whole thing is being played so ridiculous and immaturely. Let the scientists with the reports be backed by charity and give help where its needed. Change the face of porn, and the views of men and women together.

Dr. Mathis Kennington Sep 11, 2016 4:41pm

Gambling is listed as an addictive disorder, and it’s a good point that you bring up. I’ll admit I’m less familiar with this research, so others could speak to it better than I. However, the American Psychiatric Association does provide an explanation for why they moved gambling disorder from its previous classification as a symptom of a mood disorder to its own classification. They cite the relevance of research and the negative disruption of gambling on people’s lives. They also talk about why things like caffeine use and video games can’t yet be classified as an addictive disorder. They don’t even mention sex or pornography. You can see the full explanation here: http://www.dsm5.org/documents/substance%20use%20disorder%20fact%20sheet.pdf Despite all of this, few people are actually calling for an end to all gambling. Or that people who gamble are losers. There’s a lot you’d say that I’d like to speak to. For example, I’m confused about your criticism of researchers (the smoking gun metaphor that I don’t really get) and your use of research to make your point. More importantly, your sources are a problem for me. Huffington post is a blog. I could find a million blogs that support my claims and we could have a link battle that wouldn't move either you or me. Covenant Eyes is a for-profit religiously based platform that relies on sex addiction to promote its software. So I don’t feel a need to speak to anything they push. Perhaps most disturbing to me is your use of “Fight the New Drug” as a source. This organization is a monster in the sexual health world, notorious for their fight against marriage equality. Their research director’s attorneys successfully sued the State of Virginia to make sure that LGBT people don’t have the same rights as heterosexual people. Their fight isn’t against pornography alone, but against any sexual expression that varies from their ideal. If this doesn’t bother you, then I’m wasting my time. You are absolutely right that porn consumption can be destructive. I grieve for your personal experience of this loss. Many people make destructive and selfish choices with pornography. They also make choices like this with Netflix. Or where they spend their time on the weekends. Or with Pokemon Go. Should we classify Netflix or Pokemon Go as addictions? We all need access to high quality care. Sex addiction treatment is not evidence-based. Treatment like Doug Braun-Harvey’s Out of Control Sexual Behaviors is evidence-based and does not rely on sex addiction language to achieve that. Finally, this is just an article. I’m the author. Narcissism is not a personality type or quirk, but a clinical personality disorder. I don’t understand how, in the same paragraph, you can both criticize me as being potentially narcissistic despite not knowing me and also call for more compassion.

Elephant Journal Sep 11, 2016 4:04pm

That someone could easily be you. :) We are reader-created! elephantjournal.com/submit

AllSheWrote Sep 11, 2016 1:33pm

Gambling has torn families apart. 10, 20, or 30 years ago it would have gotten you in deep shit if you were to undermine a spokespersons plight to bring awareness to the damage gambling addiction can do. And it seems like it's been forever that we've known and been aware of the dangers of gambling addiction. People have been admitting to it, asking for help, recovering from it, coming out and talking about their addiction for decades. Did you know that gambling wasn't classified as an addiction until THREE YEARS AGO? 2013 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition classified it under “'Addiction and Related Disorders' recognizing that gambling addiction is vastly similar to alcohol and drug addiction." With the information available online about the problems that excessive porn users face and all the lives that are negatively affected by it, I would think it would be safe to agree with the people with the life experience rather than the chicken shit research community scared to lose jobs or funding when big money internet porn mafia finds out. As soon as it is labeled as an addiction, all sorts of help and recovery therapists clinics and drugs are available. Then porn addiction becomes ugly in society, but an addict seeking help becomes beautiful. BAM! Millions of dollars lost in the internet porn biz... Researchers have suggested it for years! Anytime research uses terms like "suggests" "recommends" "may" "could" or something along the lines of "further research" even though they've presented the smoking gun, it is because they fear the smoking gun. But these guys... these guys LOVE SMOKING GUNS. Just LAST YEAR they called out all the pansy asses on their bogus bullshit! Hope they don't get shot! Link to actual report is below. "Conclusions This review investigated the current body of scientific knowledge regarding neural processes of addiction in relation to both broad areas of psychoactive substances and behaviors such as gambling, sex and internet use, as well as the available research supporting specific behavioral aspects and their subtypes. Most of the studies used neuroimaging measures, EEGs, or physiological measurements, although some studies used neuropsychological measures. The common thread was that they all used neural data to tie addiction involving behaviors Internet-related manifestation of addiction (and the subtypes) in particular, to the well-established neuroscience on “substance abuse”. The net result of this inquiry yielded a very large number of neuroscience based studies that support the application of the addiction model to addictive Internet-related behaviors." http://www.mdpi.com/2076-328X/5/3/388/htm Heavy porn consumers had a weaker connection between the striatum and the prefrontal cortex. So in all actuality it was proven... but with an escape route! "Whether watching porn leads to brain changes or whether people born with certain brain types watch more porn." What kind of NeurotoxedOut BrainBullshit is that? Hell they are looking at their brains, flippin find the brain types! Yea, I know. There are all sorts of variables there... But That's My Point! It's bogus. http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5418607 Dopamine is addictive. So I guess nothing is addictive really, just dopamine. http://fightthenewdrug.org/how-porn-can-become-addictive/ Neuroscience Speaks: How Using Porn Destroys Your Willpower "The porn-addicted brain has trouble thinking logically." Hardcore brain changes. Scary shit! http://www.covenanteyes.com/2014/02/28/hypofrontality/ I don't even have a dog in this race... But I really didn't see the direction this article was going until too late. It came across as narcissist. It physically hurt my soul as I have seen MANY people horribly affected by this addiction. That is just ME, I know my perception is just mine. Your opinion has been duly noted. I hope that someone will write about the cause in a more compassionate way soon. That is just my opinion.

Dr. Mathis Kennington Sep 10, 2016 11:19pm

Lisa Jo Buccola The nation's leading psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health professionals have already concluded that porn addiction is not a clinical disorder and doesn't exist. This decision was made before the latest version of the DSM. It wad based on careful study of all the research that exists on the subject.

Lisa Jo Buccola Sep 10, 2016 11:09pm

Dr. Mathis Kennington You need to do better research

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Mathis Kennington

Mathis Kennington is a couples therapist in Austin, TX. He teaches couple and family therapy at St. Edward’s University and is the author of many blogs that most people haven’t read. To connect with Mathis, visit his website, Twitter, or Facebook.