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Mom debate: Should obscene content be scrubbed from the internet?

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Are pornographic websites destroying the American family?

National White Ribbon Against Pornography Week (WRAP) is meant to raise awareness of the harm caused by pornography. Is this a cause worth standing up for, or is it shaming and overregulating the adult industry? Two of our Parenting writers sound off on the issue.

Maria Mora: Porn isn't inherently harmful to families

I believe the adult industry has many faults, but I don't think pornography and exploitation of children should be married in the eyes of the public. The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) was founded by members of the adult industry to help efforts to stop child pornography. We can talk about the fact that it's harmful for kids to watch porn, but don't think that regulating the adult industry has anything to do with the predators who are out there.

It's a separate issue, and I think those who are uncomfortable with porn because of their personal values make a mistake in using children as a shield to denounce all adult content.

Adults have a responsibility to engage with porn in a responsible manner. Addiction is a reality for some, just as it is with substances like drugs and alcohol. In the context of relationships, porn can be a good thing or a bad thing, but the content itself isn't destroying marriages — it's the behavior of those engaging with it.

Parents need to monitor how their kids interact with the internet. It's never not going to be full of porn ranging from vanilla stuff to niche kinks almost everyone would find obscene. No one wants children to be exposed to this stuff, but you'll never be able to scrub the internet clean. I think the focus should be on monitoring software and filters that make internet access safe for kids and anyone who doesn't want to stumble across adult content.

The WRAP campaign claims to be all about children, but it's really about stamping out what a portion of the population finds obscene. Obscenity is far too subjective a concept. If you ask these people, all erotica and pornography should be wiped from our culture — and that's not a reasonable stance.

Mary McCoy: Porn is soul-sucking, and it needs more regulation

Pornography is the exchange of reality for fantasy, and I'm most concerned about it as a women's rights issue. Regardless of how she found herself in pornography, a female porn performer turns into tits and ass for the gawking masses. She becomes the exploit of the man or teenage boy on the other side of a pixelated screen, who is discarded as she ages for another barely legal woman who is willing to perform the latest sexual fantasy for her consumers. This is concerning in and of itself, not counting the research that the women who are most likely to work in porn or the sex industry are often financially vulnerable or come from a childhood home of abuse and neglect.

The danger of turning any woman into a fantasy is that she loses her soul. Not actually, of course, because that's not possible. She loses her soul in the eyes of the people who pay to consume her. And the men and boys who consume her become so enraptured by her fantasy that they forget there are real women and girls in their real lives who want to have real relationships, complete with dates and mortgages and maybe even a fun sex life — that's not warped by unattainable images and the erectile dysfunction and performance issues that often accompany porn usage.

Look, I get that porn is here to stay. I'm not stupid, and I know sex sells and that there's a lot of money to be made. I don't fault any woman for choosing to make a buck with porn (or not choosing, since pornography is rife with the risk of sex trafficking), but it badly needs regulation. The WRAP campaign is an important step, because it's starting where it matters most: our children. Our children do not deserve to be subjected to porn, and they deserve a fighting chance if they want to stop a pattern of fantasy before they turn into adults. The best way to do that is to regulate their exposure, and I frankly can't understand why anyone would be opposed to that.

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