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What is so bad about pornography anyway?

| Friday, October 28, 2016

It’s a fair question to ask — after all, we live in what many would call a sexually liberated society. We are told not to feel guilty or ashamed about seeking pleasure and fulfilling our desires. So what could be so bad about pornography that it still remains such a taboo topic? Is it simply the remains of a once puritanical culture? Should we just get over it and publicly endorse it as just one more instance of sexual expression? After all, we might not talk about it openly, but is it not true most people look at porn behind closed doors?

The authors of this letter think that we should indeed talk about pornography, that we should not keep turning our backs to this subject. We also believe that pornography is in fact a very bad thing, not because we believe in sexual repression, but rather because we believe in sexual freedom. We believe that pornography is hurting us all by taking the beauty of human sexuality and distorting it into something that is neither beautiful nor free. Our sexuality is nothing to frown upon; it is actually one of the greatest aspects of our humanity. It is a beautiful expression of romantic and intimate love; a love that can even result in new life. Pornography takes this away from us. There is no intimacy, no love, no shared experience. The pleasure one may get from pornography is merely the result of looking at a variety of strangers on a screen, which completely detaches the experience from any kind of love. And this is not without greater consequences. Pornography teaches us to be selfish and to desire only our own satisfaction. We become conditioned to expect pleasure without commitment; there is no need to give back or form a bond with another person. Instead there is just emptiness, a need to satisfy an ever-increasing craving for what is nothing more than a self-induced chemical high. Pornography may not be inhaled or injected, but its effects are as addictive as any other drug. This is not liberating, on the contrary, it is enslaving.

The most dangerous thing about pornography is that we are all so vulnerable to it. It preys on our most basic desires, desires that are not only natural and beautiful, but also incredibly strong. It is no wonder that an industry that takes advantage of these passions has managed to spread so far. That is why we need to talk about it, to name the problem and recognize that pornography affects us all. Only by getting the issue out in the open will we be able to see as a community that pornography cannot truly satisfy our need for authentic sexual love. We need to create a culture that celebrates and lifts up a view of sexuality in which real love may thrive.

The week of Oct. 31 is the national White Ribbon Against Pornography week (WRAP week). This year Notre Dame is joining the fight, with events hosted by the group Students for Child-Oriented Policy, the Gender Relations Center and the Center for Ethics and Culture among others. We encourage you to join us this week, to attend the events and to start the conversation. We are all affected by pornography, and only by working together can we take a stand against it.

Benjamin Swanson


Luis Erana-Salmeron


Oct. 26

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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