UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | July 20, 2024

Public acceptance of porn must change

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Working as a young attorney in Washington D.C. in the mid 1980s, Troy Rawlings, accompanied by law enforcement, broke down the front door of an apartment on a domestic abuse call.

What he saw that day would change his life forever. 

Sitting in the middle of the room, nearly naked, battered and crying, was a very afraid young woman. Scattered on the ground all around her were stacks of pornographic magazines.  

The abused woman was taken to safety, her husband was arrested, and Rawlings, citing pornography as the reason for the abuse, made it a goal of his to fight against the spread of porn.    

The war on porn is very real — taking place behind closed doors, with some of the largest corporations in America taking sides.

Using technology as its secret weapon, pornography companies have made the consumption of porn amazingly accessible and mainstream. 

The porn industry has been estimated as being anywhere between an $8 billion to $14 billion-annual industry. But there are countless other, seemingly innocent corporations that profit on porn. 

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation lists the top 12 U.S. corporations that profit from porn in its annual Dirty Dozen list. Included on the 2015 list are Hilton Hotels, Verizon, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Facebook, YouTube and CKE Restaurants (Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s). 

Each corporation has its own reasons for being on the list. For example, Hilton Hotels provides hardcore pornography movie choices with themes that include children, incest, rape, sexual slavery and extreme violence. 

Verizon has even defended child-themed, incest-themed and trafficking-themed pornography advertised on its mediums as being “a benefit” to its consumers.

The Dirty Dozen list has had its victories, though. Google was on the Dirty Dozen list in 2014 but has since changed its policy to prohibit pornographic ads and any ads that link to websites with sexually explicit content on them. 

Topping the Dirty Dozen list for 2015 is the U.S. Department of Justice for not enforcing obscenity laws. 

Pornographers hold to the claim that their practice is protected by the First Amendment.

However, as defined by the First Amendment penned by our Founding Fathers in 1791, obscenity is a form of speech not protected, along with hate speech and promoting terrorism.  

In the 1973 Supreme Court case, Miller v. California, the “Miller test” was established to determine whether something was obscene. 

It states that something can be deemed illegally obscene if “the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest.”

So what allows pornography companies to continue making porn?

Pornography companies have made porn such an accepted part of today’s culture that the “average person, applying contemporary community standards” sees nothing wrong with porn. 

Rawlings is now the Davis County Attorney and has been intent on reversing the tide of sexualization in the media, especially in Utah. In a speech at a Utah Coalition against Pornography Conference on April 18, Rawlings spoke of some of his victories. 

Rawlings took the American mall retailer, Spencer’s Gifts, to court for publicly displaying genitalia-shaped lollipops, sex toys and other sexually explicit merchandise in the Layton Hills Mall. Rawlings won the case, which forced Spencer’s Gifts to remove the merchandise from the Layton store and agree not to hire minors. 

The war is far from over, Rawlings said.

“I have received over 400 emails that I keep in a folder from girls and women that want me to do something about sexually erotic images displayed in malls from stores like Victoria’s Secret,” Rawlings said. “What many people don’t realize is that these corporations are very damaging to not only children, but to how our society views sexuality.”

Rawlings said the best thing the public can do in the war against pornography is making complaints and even boycotting corporations that profit on porn. 

“We need to let them know we will not stand for this,” Rawlings said. “The best thing we can do in this fight is to change the public opinion of porn.

Porn may be mainstream today, but so were cigarettes 30 years ago. Just as when the public opinion of tobacco changed when the health detriments of smoking were realized, the same thing is happening with porn — slowly but surely.