Parliament Says Porn Effects On Public Health Should Be Addressed – Canada

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Pornography’s pervasiveness on the Internet is well known.

A Conservative member’s motion to study the health impact of pornography won rare unanimous support of all parties and members in the House of Commons.

Northern Alberta, Member of the Parliament, (MP) Arnold Viersen, the driving force behind M-47, told the House that “as a first-term MP, the impact of violent and sexually explicit material was not an issue I expected to bring forward when arriving here a year ago, nor was it on my radar.”

But women’s and children’s protection agencies across Canada deluged the former auto mechanic with materials and entreaties to do something about what the London Abused Women’s Centre called in a supportive letter, “a global public health crisis.”

The motion calls for the Commons Standing Committee on Health “to examine the public health effects of the ease of access and viewing of online violent and degrading sexually explicit material on children, women and men.”

Viersen told LifeSiteNews he could have asked that the Justice Committee examine the issue, but that committee can only recommend changes to the law or perhaps censorship of the Internet, an issue he was loath to raise. “I didn’t want to go down that road,” he said. Concentrating on the health implications was a good way to ensure all-party support and also to stress public education rather than legal restrictions.

“I believe strongly in parental rights, especially to education,” he said. Ultimately, he wants the same kind of widespread condemnation of pornography that has already occurred with smoking.

“Gradually the scientific evidence became known about smoking’s impact on the heart and the lungs. Now that kind of information about the health impact of pornography on the user is also being discovered,” he told LifeSiteNews. When pornography’s harms become thoroughly exposed, he hopes that Internet providers will restrict porn use voluntarily.

Pornography’s pervasiveness on the Internet is well known. As Viersen told Parliament:

In Canada, the average age of first exposure to sexually explicit material for boys is 12. Sexually explicit websites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined, with PornHub, the largest free site, alone receiving over 21 billion visits in 2015. Thirty-five percent of all Internet downloads are sexually explicit. Globally, this sexually explicit material is a $97 billion industry. Almost 90 percent of mainstream sexually explicit content features violence against women. Sexually explicit material has become the primary source of information about sex and is a significant factor in influencing the sexual behaviors of children and adolescents.
Let that sink in for a moment. A $97 billion industry that makes up 35 percent of all internet downloads, that is easily accessible with the click of a button and that primarily features violence and the degradation of women is the primary sexual educator of our youth, starting from age 12.
As a result, boys and girls are taught that violent and degrading sexual behavior is acceptable and expected. This has an impact on the physical, mental, and emotional health of many young Canadians who will grow up to be fathers, mothers, doctors, teachers, and legislators.

Viersen presented letters of endorsement from many organizations such as the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime. Its executive director, Heidi Illingworth, cited the American Academy of Pediatrics, which references “thousands” of studies that connect “exposure to media violence with a variety of physical and mental health problems for children and adolescents, including aggressive and violent behavior, bullying [and] desensitization.”

In a second letter, the London Abused Women’s Centre, a self-described feminist shelter for female victims of male violence, argued that pornography teaches boys that “there is no such thing as consent, and when a girl says no, it really means the boy should disregard her needs and do it longer and harder.”

Kamal Khera, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of health, announced the government’s full support for the motion and revealed that “in 2015, Cybertip.ca, Canada’s national tip line established to report suspected cases of child sexual exploitation on the Internet, received 38,000 eports of child sexual abuses online. This was a dramatic increase of 342 percent over the numbers reported in 2011, just four years earlier.”

But a blogsite called Mind the Science Gap summarizes the data as inconclusive in terms of proving that violent pornography actually causes viewers to engage in violent sex or that pornography affects behavior at all. Nonetheless, the site, prepared by public health master’s students as a project, reported that research showed “watching pornography … did not affect condom use but that people who watched more pornography tended to have more sexual partners, more extramarital affairs, and were more likely to pay for sex.”

Moreover, another study of “quantified patterns of sexual behavior” in 304 of the most-watched pornography scenes found  “88 percent of scenes contained physical aggressive behavior (such as choking or spanking), and 49 percent contained verbal aggression (mostly name calling). Almost all (94 percent) of aggressive behavior was directed towards women. … Only 10 percent of scenes contained behaviors that were considered positive (e.g. laughing, caressing, and the phrases “making love” or “I love you”).

The same website reports some research is being done to show the positive impact of pornography; the premise of this research is that pornography frees people from the alleged anti-pleasure dogmas of centuries past. But those views are evaporating as the evidence mounts. In a recent “Open Letter on Porn, two of America’s leading marriage and relational therapists, Drs. John and Julie Gottman, described a workshop on couples therapy where pornography was prescribed to reignite sexual appetites in couples — especially after childbirth had chilled it in the wife.

But the Gottmans were not convinced. The evidence to the contrary is in: Pornography destroys intimacy by drawing partners away from each other, perhaps because it may be a “supernormal stimulus” that renders the quite normal sex appeal of a real life spouse ineffective, and because pornography is so readily available while real-life spouses are not.

Finally, the Gottmans noted, “Many porn sites include violence toward women, the antithesis of intimate connection.”

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