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Porn: a new angle

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the question was posed: Has porn become the norm? On Thursday night, Michael Leahy, a recovering sex addict, addressed approximately 200 UM students at the Gusman Concert Hall about the effects of an ever-growing sex-saturated society.

“We are totally saturated with sexuality in our culture and yet nobody is talking about it,” Leahy said, introducing the scope of the discussion. “We are going to take a very close and personal look at the effects of the sexualization of our culture; not just pornography, but the pornographic attitudes, behaviors, and content that comes at us day to day.”

The format for the 90-minute multimedia presentation entitled “Porn Nation-The Naked Truth” included a series of seven- to 10-minute video conversations with advertisers, former sex addicts, counselors, psychologists and even an ex-Playboy Playmate, concerning how the media uses sex to sell and the unfortunate repercussions such actions have on those who watch. From its role in influencing the incidence of rape and eating disorders, porn, Leahy claims, affects women differently than men-for men it’s a means of arousal but for women it becomes an expectation.

“I learned through pornography basically that the value of a woman is based on the sum of her body parts, that women wanted to have sex all the time, and they were their to serve my purposes as a sex object and pleasure toll,” Leahy said, describing the perception he got from porn when he was addicted.

The problem Leahy finds today is that the message being sent and received hasn’t changed from when his addiction began 20 years ago. As a result, Leahy considers the impact technology is making on the availability of porn and the aim of the $12 billion-a-year porn industry in targeting women and couples, as the modern cause for the rise of “sex syndrome,” or as he defined it, “the increased compulsivity for pornographic material as a result of increased exposure.”

Following each video segment Leahy candidly revealed more and more about his personal struggle with sex addiction. He went from having married “the love of his life” and having children and a successful career in the information technology field to nearly committing suicide because he lost it all.

What saved Leahy? He described to those who remained after a four-minute intermission how he was able to build and solidify a spiritual relationship with Christ.

“I don’t know any way that I could possibly be where I am at today without giving my life over to God,” Leahy said.

Austin Gehm, freshman, who considers himself a “half sex addict,” attended the lecture and thought the overall message was positive, although he did not relate to the spiritual aspect of Leahy’s story. He said he would change the way he used porn and was not worried about the effects of porn use later in life.

“Heck no. I love watching porn and I’m pretty good at controlling stuff like that,” he said.

Others like senior Brady Bradshaw, a member of the Campus Crusade for Christ, the organization who sponsored the event, agreed strongly with the message.

“I don’t appreciate the media sexualizing me and making me feel like I have to look a certain way,” Bradshaw said.

For more information on the issues discussed, visit www.bravehearts.net, the website for the organization Leahy founded to help students build lives of sexual integrity. To participate in a sex survey to see if you exhibit behaviors related to sex addiction, visit www.mysexsurvey.com.

Paul Fajardo can be contacted at p.fajardo@umiami.edu.

February 15, 2005

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The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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