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The American Crusade Against Porn

About the author: Allison Leigh is a pornographer, producer, polyamorist, and professional kinkster. When sexuality is business, business is fun! 

Guns, God, and “good ol’ boys” – the United States evokes a certain image. With liberal coasts divided by a broad band of socially conservative states, the US has a reputation for being the redneck “man’s man” of the world; so why are so many states trying to curtail pornography? In this age where over 30 percent of data transmitted over the internet is adult entertainment, what effect would a moratorium on erotic images and videos have?

In a voice vote that has attracted much scrutiny, the Florida House of Representatives passed a resolution recently declaring porn a “public health risk” that “states a need for education, research and policy changes to protect Floridians, especially teenagers, from pornography.” It stands out in a bleak contrast to the same House’s overwhelming “no” to an assault rifle ban, a decision that was debated for a brief three minutes earlier that session, just days after a shooting at a high school in Broward, Florida that took 17 lives. Surely guns are more of a threat to public health than erotica?

Florida’s decision is not without precedent. In April of 2016, Utah passed a similar resolution through their legislature, and before that, the conservative state created the position widely referred to as a “Porn Czar” to oversee complaints and issues arising from erotic entertainment. Both Florida and Utah’s non binding resolutions could be considered challenges to the First Amendment decision reached in 1973’s Miller v. California, in which the Supreme Court found that erotic materials could only be restricted if they met three requirements applying community standards of offensiveness, with final say being given to the courts to determine if the work lacks “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”

Attorney General candidate and Florida Representative Ross Spano (R) said, “there is research that finds a connection between pornography use and mental and physical illnesses, forming and maintaining intimate relationships and deviant sexual behavior.” However, psychologists working in the field disagree; Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health associate professor Eric Schrimshaw told CNN that “...Evidence also suggests that it is not pornography in general that may be correlated with potential negative outcomes.”

Scapegoating porn and “porn addiction” as a catch-all for intimacy problems has become a commonplace topic amongst moral conservatives. However, the stigma against enjoying adult entertainment may prove to be far more harmful to the psyche. Research performed by Joshua Grubbs of Case Western shows that “seeing oneself as a porn addict is predicted not by how much porn one views, but by the degree of religiosity and moral attitudes towards sex.” Now, Grubbs has published explosive follow-up research, demonstrating that believing oneself is addicted to porn actually causes pain and psychological problems, in contrast to the idea that identifying as a porn addict is a step on the road to recovery.

Sexuality is an integral part of the human experience, and enjoyment of eroticism is a healthy part of that. Far from simply being a way to privately blow off steam, studies suggest that viewing erotic materials leads to increased arousability and higher sex drive throughout life, a fact that should surprise exactly no one who watches porn. 40 million Americans are self-described pornography users; in reality the number is likely far higher, skewed by social stigma against the habit. Erotica has been a part of human life since the Paleolithic era, and puritanical edicts like the ones from Florida and Utah do nothing for public health, save to damage our collective sexual psyche.

This post first appeared on



1. Anapol, Avery. "Florida House declares porn a public health risk shortly after denying assault rifle ban." The Hill. February 21, 2018. Accessed February 22, 2018.

2. Chen, Jason. "Finally, Some Actual Stats on Internet Porn." Gizmodo. June 01, 2010. Accessed February 22, 2018.

3. Domonoske, Camila. "Utah Declares Porn A Public Health Hazard." NPR. April 20, 2016. Accessed February 22, 2018.

4. Grubbs, J. B. "Perceived addiction to Internet pornography and psychological distress: Examining relationships concurrently and over time." American Psychological Association. Accessed February 22, 2018.

5. Howard, Jacqueline. "Is porn really a 'public health crisis'?" CNN. September 02, 2016. Accessed February 22, 2018.

6. Leigh, Allison. "The Key to Desire." MetArt Blog: The key to desire: how to unlock this life-enhancing drive. Accessed February 22, 2018.

7. Ley, David J. "Your Belief in Porn Addiction Makes Things Worse." Psychology Today. September 15, 2015. Accessed February 22, 2018.

8. "Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973)." Justia Law. Accessed February 22, 2018.

Members Comment (1)


JOHANNES BLT 9 months agoLifetime member

Allison Leigh's essays are the best! Yeah, the moral conservatives always seem to be able to spin the correlation data to fit their own paradigms. Reminds me of what a stats professor said when describing the dangers of misinterpreting cause and effect: "Whenever you see a fire, you also see fire engines; therefore, fire engines cause fires!"

Thank you Rose ... for the post, and double thanks for posting a picture of one of my favorites of favorites: Lena Anderson. I'm always hoping to see her again, but I think she's moved on to other venues.

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