Hey Cameron Diaz! Wanna Make a Real Difference?


Dear Cameron Diaz:

For many years you’ve been a positive and happy highlight on the silver screen. You’re smart, funny, and beautiful, an excellent combination. From your use of sperm as hair gel in There’s Something About Mary to this week’s debut of Sex Tape, you’ve given us twisted, off-beat, and edgy hilarity. You help all of us be a little less uptight.

But as a psychologist, I’m also aware there are lines that we’re better off not crossing, which brings me to my point.

In a 2011 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live you exclaimed, “I love porn!” At the time, it seemed all in good fun—and completely consistent with your irreverent, quirky self. However, since then, I’ve come to view public declarations of loving porn as less than harmless.

Lately I’ve been reading pornography research and have discovered some very disturbing facts. As we’ve known for decades, there’s porn, and then there’s PORN. We need better ways to define this vast array of sexual material.

Because you were once a Charlie’s Angel—dedicated to saving the world from all things evil—I want to share with you what behavioral scientists are finding about the darker side of porn. Viewing more porn is associated with:

• Engaging in sexually aggressive acts (including rape or sexual assault)
• Becoming depressed, anxious, and stressed
• Functioning more poorly in real social interactions (and ironically, becoming impotent)

Research also reveals that young boys who view lots of porn are more likely to be sex offenders. And here’s the most disturbing thing I’ve discovered. Over 80% of pornography includes violence towards women. Within this violent category, a common motif involves a man having anal sex with a woman and then having her perform oral sex, so she tastes her own feces. This illustrates why we need to make distinctions between porn that is fun, educational, or artistic, and porn that is just plain destructive.

Here’s one last thing I didn’t know. The porn industry is GARGANTUAN. It hardly needs your endorsement to survive (http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=132001). This week, the industry will make hundreds of millions of dollars on films with substantially less plot than Sex Tape, and my best guess is that you wouldn’t intentionally endorse most of these plots.

Although I don’t know you personally, I have trouble believing you “love” the sort of porn that denigrates women, contributes to impotence in young men, or increases sexual assaults. This leads me to a suggestion for how you might help people understand the differences between acceptable and destructive porn.

What if we planned a tour of the late night talk shows to discuss the stark differences between artistic, gently consenting porn and violent, degrading, and damaging porn? This is a discussion our culture desperately needs, and you could take the lead. With this simple, educational message you could save thousands of people from harmful sexual relationships, or no real sexual relationships at all!

Your legacy could include people not only saying, “Cameron Diaz was talented, beautiful, and smart,” but also “After the letter from that psychologist from Montana, she became an amazing role model for healthy and fun consensual sex.”

Thanks for listening and let me know how I can help!

Sincerely,

That psychologist from Montana

 

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9 thoughts on “Hey Cameron Diaz! Wanna Make a Real Difference?”

  1. A necessary conversation! Thanks John! Where are our youth learning about sex? About being healthy sexual beings? How do we teach? Converse? And why does so much of the media show aggressive sexual assault???

    1. Thanks Melissa. Excellent questions. The lack of sex ed in schools, plus the accessibility of internet porn is a very bad combo, IMHO. I hope you’re well and feel free to share this as you wish.

      Best,

      John

  2. You raise some important issues around pornography. I think most people are appalled when they hear of a news story where a woman is treated violently. What most don’t consider is the prevalence of porn and the fact that “Over 80% of pornography includes violence towards women.” When more people embrace our moral obligation to treat all women with respect and demand an end to portraying abuse in movies and video games, perhaps even the porn industry will change.

    1. Hi Kathy.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I do think we need a national discussion on this because, as you say, porn is simply just disempowering for women and girls and that needs to change.

      Have a great day and share this if you like.

      John SF

  3. The distinction I think you are seeking is between pornography and erotica. Many years ago, Gloria Steinem in an article called Pornography and Erotica: A clear and present difference” http://communication.illinoisstate.edu/jaglasc/com128/readings/steinem.pdf said that erotica is all the stuff that arouses sexual interests – art, stories, images, etc. but porn is a subset – that which contains significant power differences between the persons involved. One is naked, the other clothed, one restrained the other the restrainer, on a child the other an adult, people and animals, etc. While there is always the exception (ie BDSM voluntary power exchanges and play acting) I have found the distinction most useful It matches how we feel about port – it is ungly, repulsive, disgusting.
    Ed

    1. Hi Ed.

      Thanks very much for providing this clarification. I think you’re absolutely spot on. And thanks for the citation. One problem is that individuals like Cameron Diaz will say things like, “I Love Porn” but not make the distinction to which you refer. What that means to me is that many others, like me and Cameron, need to be educated on the difference. But I wonder if it’s too late for that as hollywood has just moved into happily referring to the whole darn area as “porn.”

      Thanks again!

      John SF

  4. Hi John-
    Thanks for your thoughtful remarks on this very vital topic. As counseling professionals we need to call out the negative effects of porn on relationships, self-concept, sexual attitudes and particularly adolescent and young adult development. We need to call it out for what it is, both disrespectful and dangerous….You have done so in your blog. I hope your thoughts can serve as kindling to light a fire under the rest of us. Thanks,
    Rich

    1. Thanks Rich!

      Now could you give your buddy Carmen a call so we can get to work on this? She hasn’t contacted me yet . . . and so I’m still waiting.

      Seriously, I very much appreciate your support and comment.

      Best,

      John

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