The White Ribbons Against Pornography (WRAP) campaign (WRAP Week begins today) started in 1987 as a result of one woman’s passion to eliminate hard-core pornography from her community. A local group tied to the national organization Morality in Media (today called the National Center on Sexual Exploitation) began in 1962 and adopted WRAP as one of its activities; I was part of the local group for a time. I innately knew pornography had a dehumanizing effect on children and women, something confirmed by Attorney General Ed Meese’s Commission on Pornography in 1986.

Previously, the 1982 Johnny Gosch abduction in West Des Moines deeply affected me. Shortly after that, I attended a John Walsh seminar. What he learned in his search for his son’s killer would curl your hair, it was that horrific. I remember Walsh talking about the practice of selling children on auction blocks to mostly pedophile rings and the turning of children into sexual animals because of extreme sexual abuse. He understood the connection between the use of pornography and sexual abuse of children.

Science has finally confirmed what should be common sense, that pornography harms the viewer and the victim in the pornography. Pornography has created an overpowering addiction for many men, women and children. As a result of society’s inaction, a culture was created where most children believe it is acceptable to view pornography without consequences.

Pornography, because of its availability, affordability, anonymous nature, and addictive quality, has grown exponentially, especially in the child pornography area.

According to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (endsexual exploitation.org): “Evidence supports the fact that child sexual abuse, prostitution, pornography, sex trafficking, sexual violence, etc., are not isolated phenomena occurring in a vacuum. Rather, these and other forms of sexual abuse and exploitation overlap and reinforce one another."

“For example," according to NCSE, "we know that child sexual abuse often predates an individual’s entry into prostitution, and that sexting makes adolescents vulnerable to revenge porn or sexual extortion."

We also know that pornography is used to groom sex-trafficked women and children to perform similar acts. Pornography addiction is a driver for commercialized sex. It is time our society decides that dehumanizing women and children is unacceptable behavior.

Dr. Norman Droidge, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst at Columbia University, found that “pornography creates the perfect conditions and triggers the release of the right chemicals to make lasting changes in the brain,” unbeknownst to the user. He also maintains that for addicts, moderation is an impossible task.

In his book, “The Brain That Changes Itself," Droidge discussed the chemical agents produced by the body described as excitatory neurotransmitters, or the reward system. The reward system of the brain becomes overused and then desensitized as one continues to view pornography, requiring more and more stimulation to receive the same degree of pleasure. This is its addictive nature.

Droidge has confirmed that “pornography causes the rewiring of the neural circuits” and some of those changes last a lifetime. “Pornography, by offering an endless harem of sexual objects, hyperactivates the appetitive system," Droidge wrote in his book. "Porn viewers develop new maps in their brains."

Because of its active visual process neurologically, pornography is difficult to overcome. Droidge found this cycle: curiosity turns to compulsion, going from soft-core porn to hard-core then to child pornography.

This same research found that when men viewed pornography often, they were less interested in their female partner. Dr. Jill Manning, a licensed marriage and family therapist, shared in 2004 testimony before the United States Senate how pornography affected relationships. Her research found that "56 percent of divorce cases involved one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.”

With sexual abuse of children so rampant, it’s essential to work toward zero tolerance for use of pornography. Today’s statistics are that one in four girls and one in six boys will be molested in their childhood (chauciesplace.org). Is your pleasure for the moment worth destroying another human being?

Let’s commit to zero tolerance for the use of pornography in order to protect the dignity of women and children. Utah, Virginia and South Dakota have declared pornography a public health crisis. Iowa and Nebraska need to do the same.

Wear your white ribbons and ask your attorneys general to enforce obscenity laws.

Next week: Jim Rixner

Linda Holub, of Dakota Dunes, S.D., has lived in the Sioux City metro area for more than 40 years. She and her husband, Dave, have four adult children. A certified life coach professional with a master of arts degree from Liberty University in Human Services, Counseling: Life Coaching, Holub is co-chair of the Siouxland Coalition Against Human Trafficking.

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