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Is What I Look At Anyone Else's Business>

by JoAnn Hibbert Hamilton

Sometimes I hear someone say, "What I look at is really only my business. It doesn't hurt anyone else."

Yes, I guess it is their privilege to look at pornography if they choose, but it is not true that what they look at does not affect other people. Any counselor will testify that pornography use is a factor that breaks up many marriages, which in turn hurts wives and children and even society because so many single women need extra tax dollars to support their families.

Why do we have an increase of sexual harassment in the work place? Why is sexual abuse in families on an increase? Why did a seventeen-year-old youth do inappropriate acts with his girl friend? As he so plainly put it, "I never would have done to my girl friend what I did if I had not seen pornography." Pictures teach.

In my last article was research data as to the harm done because of soft-core and hard-core pornography. We need a greater awareness of what exposure to this is doing. Most people do not start pornography use with hard-core material. Generally they see something that stirs sexual feelings and so they search for more.

Let me share an example: I am aware of a place of business where the manager tells embarrassing sexual jokes to women employees. This is a form of sexual harassment. There are also other complaints from women at this business about this manager, but no one complains because they need their job. This man says he doesn't care what his little boys see. Anything is okay with him. This manager was born innocent, but somewhere has become desensitized to sexual images, and so he has no understanding about how offensive he really is or how offensive his store is to people with children. Is his exposure to pornography hurting others? It certainly is.

Rory Reid, MSW, a counselor who specializes in working with sexual addiction said in a letter to Women for Decency, January 25, 2003, "I recognize that requests made by your organization to cover provocative magazines in stores has been met with some controversy. Arguments have been made that the material in question does not constitute pornography or that it isn't harmful. I see things differently."

"First of all, as a former therapist with the Utah State Prison Sex Offender treatment program, I observed that provocative magazines, even ones that only imply sexual overtones, can act as triggers for individuals struggling with issues related to inappropriate sexual behavior."

"Magazines that promote the exploitation of a man or woman's body in order to sell a product are also harmful for other reasons. Some of these reasons are very subtle. Material that promotes the objectification of men and women gradually desensitizes society to behaviors that are unhealthy and inappropriate. Some of the magazines I see in the grocery stores and elsewhere often depict behavior that promotes a fraudulent message about human sexuality. This in turn, creates unrealistic expectations in the minds of men and women about how things 'should be.' These unrealistic expectations then foster problems in relationships as one or both partners become frustrated when expectations are not met."

"One of the greatest tragedies is when children are exposed to these magazines just because they 'were shopping with their parent(s).' Parents that take their children grocery shopping should not have to consider the risks of being exposed to inappropriate material, in all places, at the checkout stand. This is obviously an unavoidable location since everyone must pay for their merchandise."

We need to understand this issue, speak out so business people realize that we will shop in "family friendly" stores and be aware that what our neighbor's children see will be passed on to our children.

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