By Teresa Tomeo
I always found it curious and — more to the point — hypocritical for “women’s rights” groups such as the National Organization for Women to say they care so much about the way women are treated, and yet they fail to voice loud opposition to the harmful effects of pornography.
How do you give a pass to a multibillion dollar industry that makes its living off what you claim to be fighting against, including violence against women and the continual exploitation of women?
I realize NOW is not exactly a bastion of morality when it comes to what it claims to do for the female gender; after all, it refuses to take a good look at what abortion is doing to women and society. But I guess I never thought that the porn issue would be seen as one so politically and emotionally divisive.
I speak to both Christian and secular crowds regularly. Regardless of denomination, political party or one’s basic belief system, I haven’t run across too many people who think the culture is not in dire need of improvement, especially when it comes to pornography and its powerful influence. I was hoping that, as with the topics of media violence and sexual content on television, taking a stand against pornography could be an effort that would bring diverse groups together. But we still have a long way to go in that area, according to one lone voice in the wilderness.
Gail Dines, a sociology professor at Boston’s Wheelock College and a self-described radical feminist, recently wrote “Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality.” We know that academics help set the cultural tone of this country, so having someone at her level trying to raise awareness could have a long-term impact.
Dines was interviewed earlier this month by The Guardian newspaper in her native Great Britain. She told the paper that this is a tough sell for her colleagues in academia and others in leadership positions who fall to the left of center politically. They either don’t want to be seen associating with conservatives, especially Christians, or they see pornography as part of a brave cultural effort to help us overcome years of sexual repression.
“Many on the liberal left adopt the view that says pornographers are not businessmen but are simply there to unleash our sexuality from state-imposed constraints,” she told The Guardian. “Trust me , I have interviewed hundreds of pornographers, and the only thing that gets them excited is profit.”
Dines’ book traces the history of porn in recent years, especially how it is becoming in- creasingly violent and sadistic, and also insidious in terms of its availability, which now includes modern technical devices such as cell phones and laptops. She raises great concern about the impact porn is having on women and on relationships.
And in reading the article, one gets a real sense of her frustration with those supposedly so concerned about women and women’s liberation issues.
The porn culture, Dines told The Guardian, “changes the way women and girls think about their bodies, their sexuality and their relationships. Every group that has fought for liberation understands that media images are part and parcel of the systematic dehumanization of an oppressed group. ... The more porn images filter in the mainstream culture, the more girls and women are stripped of full human status and reduced to sex objects.”
It’s too bad that the NOW’s of the world seem unwilling to speak out about this. Some people may never learn, and in the end, all of us — especially women — will suffer.
Teresa Tomeo is the host of Catholic Connection, produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 160.
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