Does pornography really affect us?
I was sitting in a major shopping center musing about the debate over porn, when I heard a line that arrested my attention. A young man approached a girl standing nearby and said (in an arrogant tone), ‘Let me touch your boobs’. It was hard to focus on what she said in response as I was quite taken aback with his demand. Now, I’ve heard guys yell out, ‘Show us your t…’ but this was on another level. Why? He was no more than 14 years old.
Both conservatives and liberals need to have an open mind when porn is being debated. Having an open mind simply means being willing to accept facts that may not support our prejudices. The first thing we need to objectively look at is this: are human beings affected by visual imagery? The award winning BMF advertising agency (they make commercials for the major breweries, Coke, Red Cross…) would argue that visual imagery does more than get our attention; it causes us to act.
The multi-million dollar advertising industry depends on the fact that human beings are affected by visual stimuli. In 1982 sales for ‘Reese’s Pieces’ (confectionery) were floundering but in June of that year sales suddenly tripled and distributors could hardly keep up with demand. Why did people start buying bucket loads of Reese’s Pieces? It was all because the product was seen for a few moments during Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster ‘ET’. Visual imagery affects the way we think and act. So what about pornography? Is it somehow exempt?
To prevent ambiguity, porn requires some explanation. Firstly, it cannot be defined in a scientific way. Reducing it to simply ‘the disrobing of a human body’ is quite inadequate. Such a naturalistic definition would put National Geographic in the same league as Playboy, and some of Michelangelo’s paintings at home in an adult book store. To understand what porn is we must move past the physical world to the realm of intent…
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