Tag Archives: sexual assault

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

 

Why I Need a Sexual Assault Reality Check

Last week I accidentally discovered a disturbing online video that sarcastically demeans the sexual assault awareness training we use at the University of Montana. It features a very creepy man. In my experience, it’s rare to see and hear someone who is CLEARLY misogynistic. I may be going out on a limb here, but it appears that a very creepy misogynistic man made this video.

Despite his creep factor (did I mention he was creepy?), he makes a point in the video that I’ve heard before. It goes something like this: During sexual encounters it’s the woman’s responsibility to say “No” in a way that is clear and explicit and unequivocal. If this message isn’t delivered and received, then the sexual encounter can or should continue.

Now, I’m all for women speaking up. That’s a good thing. But for me, the problem of this message is the assumption that because males are built to want and need sex, they’re basically unconcerned with how their partner is feeling and in the absence of a clear and unequivocal message, should simply proceed toward intercourse.

This assumption—that men don’t care how their partner is feeling—seems wrong to me. In my limited experience (myself, my friends, my clients), I’d conclude this: Although most men want sex, they also want their partner to want sex. Maybe I’m going out on another limb, but I think most men prefer their sexual partner to clearly and unequivocally say “Yes!” about having sex.

What I’m getting at is this: In the absence of a clear and unequivocal “Yes!” maybe men (and women) who want to have intercourse also have an obligation to COMMUNICATE. This communication could involve a verbal check in (e.g., “Are you okay?”) or some other creative means of determining whether consent is happening.

I know this idea is probably unrealistic. Some media messages imply that communication during sex is a turn off. Other media messages suggest that men could suffer from blue balls or that they’re not able to turn off their sexual drive once aroused. These are counter-arguments to a communication solution.  And if you throw a little alcohol or other drugs into the mix, the issue of clear consent becomes substantially less clear.

But I wonder if we might agree on one thing: Consent is a bigger turn-on than a verbal or nonverbal “maybe.”

And so to both my male readers, I’d love your answers to the following multiple-choice questions (and I’d love your feedback too, if you feel so inclined):

1.   Which of the following do you find to be the biggest turn-on?

a. When my sexual partner says no.

b, When my sexual partner says nothing,

c. When my sexual partner says maybe,

d. When my sexual partner clearly and repeatedly says “Yes!”

2.   Which sexual situation would you most prefer?

a. A woman who is drunk and only partially conscious says she wants to have sex with me.

b. A woman who is stoned out of her mind says she wants to have sex with me.

c. A woman who is clean and sober and wide awake says she wants to have sex with me.

Thanks for reading and you can let me know your thoughts via private email (johnsf44@gmail.com) or by posting on this blog.

 

Hey — We just got a grant to help prevent student assault at the University of Montana — Very cool.

I’m just writing a note here with a link to a news story with video about a new grant we just got in the Department of Counselor Education. Although it means more work, it also means more work for the good of the campus and for the good of women and men who suffer from assault. Yeah. I guess I’m saying this is a difficult topic, but it’s a place where there’s room to do lots of good stuff.

Here’s the link:

http://www.abcmontana.com/news/local/UM-Receives-300K-Grant-to-Prevent-Assaults-on-Campus-171259111.html

 

Sexual Assault Prevention at the University of Montana

Hey. I’ve got a letter to the editor in the Montana Kaimin out today. I even managed to work in some profanity appropriately geared to college students:). Check it out at: http://www.montanakaimin.com/opinion/letters-petsa-and-personal-responsibility-1.2906452#.UFtDo665W1w

The past two days (9/19 & 9/20) the Missoulian has run articles about an organization named Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE) and their criticism of the University of Montana required Personal Empowerment Through Self-Awareness (PETSA) video series designed to reduce and prevent the incidence of sexual assault. In particular, SAVE has complained that the U of M PETSA video series is not evidence-based. Being a scientist, this was of concern and so I immediately checked the SAVE website and discovered that SAVE is an organization that is not even REMOTELY related to evidence-based programming for sexual assault prevention or anything else. Their entire raison d’etre is to protect men from being falsely accused of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. Their website includes internal inconsistencies and videos that (unlike the PETSA series) have not been vetted by anyone other than the organization itself or other “believers” that men are somehow unfairly targeted.

SAVE claims to only be interested in the truth and scientific evidence. And they say U.S. law have evolved to the point that ANYONE can be convicted of sexual assault or intimate partner violence? Now, being male myself, I’m all about fair treatment for men and so this places me in a precarious position. If I oppose SAVE, am I opposing my own best interests?

Well . . . I’m going out on a limb here to say the SAVE folks are just plain wacky. They say they are only after the truth and that they support evidence-based approaches, but there is ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE that changing laws to make it harder to prove sexual assault would result in a safer and less abusive environment in the U.S.

Although I think it’s important to acknowledge that false allegations happen and it’s important to address these false allegations through legal means, instead of sticking to the facts, SAVE relies on rhetoric and sensationalist debunking of a few incorrect statistics to lead people to believe that false reporting is the rule and not the exception. This phenomenon—when someone accuses someone else of perpetrating something they’re doing themselves—is referred to as projection.

My first big concern is that the Missoulian, in reporting this as news, has given SAVE a semblance of validity that it doesn’t deserve.

My second big concern is that the hard working creators of the PETSA videos will be criticized based on hysterical accusations from an organization using political rhetoric framed as science. Based on viewing 2 SAVE videos online and comparing them to the PETSA production it’s obvious that PETSA is vastly more evidence-based than SAVE – Talk about blatantly false allegations

http://www.montanakaimin.com/opinion/letters-petsa-and-personal-responsibility-1.2906452#.UFtDo665W1w