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PREVENTING AND COMBATING THE DEVASTATING HARMS OF
PORNOGRAPHY, PROSTITUTION, SEX TRAFFICKING & SEXUAL SLAVERY
"What's Wrong With Casual Sex, 'Hooking Up,' and Having 'Friends with Benefits'?" (By An Ex-Porn Performer and Former "Proud Slut" Who Learned the Hard Way)

 

- By Vanessa Belmond - Ex-Porn Performer, Stripper, Camgirl & "Escort"

- Anti-Porn and Anti-Prostitution Writer, Speaker and Activist

- AntiPornography.org Volunteer

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In this article I'm going to focus on the topic of "hooking up." By this I mean one night stands, "friends with benefits" arrangements, and casual sex in all of its various forms. This sort of sex seems to be considered pretty harmless these days to a lot of people -- particularly young people. These people often think, "Well, it's not recorded," (most of the time, anyway), "no money is involved, and it's consenting adults. So there's no problem with it, right?" Wrong. 

I write about this subject from the perspective of someone who has really lived this sort of lifestyle to the fullest. In fact, I even used to call myself a "proud slut." I had many sexual encounters over the past decade, both with men and women, all with "no strings attached." Sometimes I didn't even know their names. I thought I was a new, "empowered" form of woman, a woman that used men just like they used me. I couldn't have been more mistaken.

But yet I managed to lie to myself (and everyone around me) for years, about how my promiscuity wasn't affecting me. I thought I was "just like a guy." "I can hook up and it's no big deal! It's all in good fun! Why not? I'm empowered!"

I laughed at people that thought of sex as sacred. I looked down on them and thought of them as prudes that were stuck in the 1950's. Now I know better. I'm done lying to myself, and I've had to face some harsh and sobering realities about how my former "career" in the porn industry and my promiscuous behavior damaged me. I'm also trying to make up for the damage done by sharing what I've learned so painfully, which I hope you will be open to listening to...

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"Hooking up" is all the rage these days, and some people say, "Isn't it a good thing to promote the idea that women can have their "fun," just like men?" In short, NO. But unfortunately, most people don't understand  this, (just like I didn't), and many people think of sex as no big deal, something that doesn't need to be done in the confines of a relationship. This is a sad and misguided view. I can see where those people are coming from, after all, it really doesn't seem like a big deal, does it? 

But thinking of sex in this way is so harmful. Having sex with strangers, and in "friends with benefits" situations, never leads anywhere good. (Or at least only very rarely.) It usually only leads to heartbreak, low self-esteem, sexually transmitted diseases, sadness and depression. When you sleep around just for "fun," you cheapen sex and you disrespect yourself. It may now be considered "cool" to not care, but the problem is (particularly for women), that even when you don't want to care, that you often end up doing so anyway. 

I'll share an example from my own long history of engaging in casual sex, and some other examples from my friends. My own example: last year I started "hooking up" with a young man just for the hell of it. My fiancé had recently passed away, and I figured that maybe a distraction would be good for me. Instead of dealing with my finance's death and coming to terms with it, I ran from it. So I seduced this new young man and had sex with him on multiple occasions. The sex wasn't even good, to be honest, but it gave me a false sense of "power" to "use him." 

Well, this young man ended up falling for me, and clearly wanted something more, and of course that complicated things. So I had to tell this sweet guy that I wasn't the woman for him, and see his sad face when I broke it off with him. For the first time I thought, "Maybe this isn't the right way to treat people." I still feel badly about how I treated him and hurt him, and how I did the same with so many others before him. 

It's a shame that our culture today endorses and sometimes even glorifies this type of behavior. If I had been responsible and not had sex with this young man, we would still be friends today. I should have valued a real friendship over the "friends with benefits" sham of a relationship.

These "friends with benefits" arrangements tend to go that way. It's next to impossible to avoid developing feelings for someone when having sexual relations with them -- particularly if it's on a regular basis. You can deny it all you want, but the fact is that it's natural for sex to produce feelings. Sex is something that connects people even when they don't want to "catch feelings." 

It often happens to men, but women especially tend to get romantic feelings of attachment and caring for people they have sex with, which is why the "friends with benefits" arrangement is often a bad deal for them. The bottom line is that no matter whether you're a man or a woman, treating people like sex objects doesn't just affect the other person -- it affects you too. 

In particular, though, I've known many women over the years who have engaged in casual sex, for whom casual sex always ended in disappointment. One woman I knew slept around quite a bit. On the surface she seemed to just be a very sexual person that didn't want a relationship. The reality was that she did in fact want a relationship, but felt that "since men only wanted sex anyway, why not just give it to them?"

If this woman had gotten to know these men she had sex with first, and maybe went on a few dates with them and then decided whether she wanted to become sexually intimate with them or not -- based on whether or not they were compatible and sincerely liked each other as human beings -- she most likely would have found a decent guy who cared about her. But because she slept around so much, she became known as someone to go to for easy sex and nothing more. Maybe it's not fair, but any guy worth being with just wasn't interested in her.

This is one of the big problems I have with the relatively recent "sex positive" movement that preaches that women can sleep around just like a man. They can't. Men and women are wired differently, and most men are simply not going to look at a girl that frequently "hooks up" as relationship material. Sure, guys might pretend like it's cool (after all, they have something to gain from that!), but ultimately most guys don't respect women that indiscriminately have sex with random people that they hardly know. No matter what anyone says, the majority of men just don't want to have a serious relationship with women that they hook up with.

Many men I have talked to see women in two categories: the "sluts" that they take home for the night, or call when they want someone easy to have sex with, and the women that they respect and pursue for actual relationships. Fair? Probably not. But no amount of complaining about it is going to change the fact that men have different wiring and see things differently than women. (And yes, education of these young men can and will definitely help their attitudes, but it's still not going to resolve the inherent problems that result for both men and women from engaging in meaningless casual sex.)

The unfortunate reality is that a woman will hook up with men thinking that she's showing how "advanced" and fun she is, and the men she's hooking up with will think of her as nothing more then a hole. A toy to play with for the night. 

Of course that's a generalization, it isn't always like that. But the vast majority of the time, that's how it goes. I've seen so many women over the years try to play the "proud slut" role, just to end up getting their hearts broken and dreams crushed. I've seen many of them sleep with men, hoping deep down that maybe the man would want something more. The men  almost never do, and if it does happen to grow into something more, it's often not a long lasting or stable relationship. Fair or not, many men don't want to have a relationship with a  woman that slept with them within hours of meeting them.

But still, many young and so-called "sex positive" women claim that engaging casual sex is just fine, and even fun and liberating, as long as both parties consent to it. Well guess what, there's nothing "positive" about sleeping with a stranger or "friend" that has no respect for you. (And by the way, just because they might say that they respect you, in order to make you feel better about having casual sex with them, doesn't mean that they really do!) Chances are the sex won't even result in much emotional or physical pleasure for the woman involved, let alone an orgasm, since the majority of women don't orgasm easily, and these guys who use women for casual sex usually don't care much about doing what is required to sexually satisfy their "hook up" partners.

Studies have shown over and over again that women gain the most sexual and emotional pleasure while engaging in sex with people that care for them -- not when they are just engaging in mindless, emotionless "stranger sex." I never needed a study to tell me that, because most of the time when I'd ask my friends how the sex was with their latest "conquest," the answer was "eh" or "so-so."

Does it sound "positive" to let men use your body for their own sexual release, and then throw you out? Because that's exactly what hooking up is. Promoting this type of behavior is damaging to women, not empowering. Being truly "sex positive" should be about respecting your body, not treating your body and other's bodies as sex toys to play with and then toss out.

I had another friend, a pretty young woman that was known as a "party girl." She slept with both men and women, and thought she was "just having fun." But even with that attitude, she still often ended up heartbroken when a "friend with benefits" stopped returning her calls, or told her that they didn't want to take the relationship further. She tried so hard to be emotionless, but she couldn't help falling for some of the people that she slept with. 

I'm ashamed to say that I actually had a contest going on with this friend at one point, which consisted of "who could sleep with the most people." It seemed funny back then, but now I get embarrassed when I think of it. All of the people who knew about our contest probably laughed at us, (not with us), and called us degrading names behind our back. Sure, they encouraged us and had sex with us, but I highly doubt that they had any respect for us. Both men and women are not going to respect someone that doesn't have respect for themselves.

But there are more negative consequences to casual sex than just emotional harm, or a ruined reputation. There are STDs and unwanted pregnancy to worry about too, which often happen because some people are just too drunk or caught up in the moment to use protection. (Keep in mind that you can still contract STDs and get pregnant even with precautions. Protection is far from a guarantee.) I heard a story once from one friend who was a "swinger," meaning he and his wife regularly went to "swingers clubs" and had sex with various random people. He had just found out that a female friend they used to "swing" with contracted herpes. This friend was devastated and had no idea how it had happened, since she always used condoms. 

The thing with herpes is that it's a skin disease, and can still be spread even when a condom is used during intercourse. It can be spread through oral sex and through protected sex, because the sore isn't always directly on the genitals. Sometimes these sores are barely noticeable, so you can never be sure that the people you hook up with are clean. 

Regarding pregnancy, I have met quite a few women who ended up getting pregnant by men they didn't know, and didn't know what to tell their child. I knew one girl that had three babies by three different men. None of these men were men she knew well, and none of them stuck around to help her out with their child.

Does it seem like I'm being judgmental about how people have sex? If you're anything like the way I used to be, it probably does. If I had read something like this a few years ago, I would have laughed and thought something like, "She obviously hasn't met me! I'm having a great time 'sampling' all kinds of people. What a prude. She just couldn't handle it." 

Well, I've realized that I wasn't happy back then. I thought I was because I distracted myself with meaningless sex, sex for money and partying. But when I finally started facing the truth about my behavior, I felt ashamed. Ashamed that I treated myself and my body with such little regard. Ashamed that I used people for sex and let them use me. I wasn't happy -- I was covering up depression and extremely low self-worth. 

It's simply not empowering or positive to seek attention from strangers for your sexuality, (or even from people you know), or to sleep with people that don't care about you. Letting people just use you for shallow pleasure and using them back is not any way to live.

But you know what really IS empowering? Respecting your body, and who you share it with. I'm not saying that sex is bad, quite the opposite. Sex is a beautiful thing, and should be shared with someone who cares for you, and someone who you care for in return. Someone that respects you and knows you as a person, not just as a "hole" or "random slut". 

Don't you want more for yourself? You deserve more --everyone does. I'm not saying that you have to wait until marriage. Just think carefully about who you sleep with! Why "give it away" to some random guy from a bar? Why not go out with someone a few times, and at least get to know them before jumping into bed with them? I assure you that sex is so much better when it's with someone who cares about you on a personal level. Please, love yourself and love your body. Treat your sexuality like what it is, something special to be shared with a person you connect with. I guarantee that you will feel so much better about yourself if you do.

REMEMBER: You are special, treasured, and worth something better than one-night stands and fake "friends with benefits relationships." Now that's REAL "sex positive" thinking.

NOTE: I share my own story and experiences out of love, not judgment. I hope anyone reading this who engages in casual sex, or who might do so in the future, thinks about what I've written, before you go ahead and "hook up" with a stranger.  I had to learn so many painful lessons the hard way, and I hope that other girls and young women will hear my story and not have to learn that way too. :)

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Please feel free to read more of my writing about my life and about the harms of pornography, prostitution, stripping, and related issues. Click HERE.

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At AntiPornography.org we are working to prevent and combat the devastating harms of pornography, prostitution, sex trafficking and sexual slavery, as well as all other forms of sexual exploitation, through public education and advocacy. We are:
 
 
Anti-Censorship, Pro-Free Speech, Nonreligious, Anti-Banning

Anti-Sexism, Anti-Exploitation, Anti-Slavery, Anti-Violence ~

Pro-Education, Pro Safe, Healthy, Respectful, Equality-Based Sexuality 

Pro-reasonable regulation of the pornography industry for the health and safety of the performers.

*Please see FAQ for more information on all of the above.  Thank you!

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RESOURCES, FRIENDS, SUPPORTERS AND ALLIES:

NOTE: All those marked with * are friends, subscribers or followers of AntiPornography.org at Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or one of our other social networking websites, or have demonstrated support for our work otherwise, such as providing content for this website or linking to us or to one of our blogs and/or social networking projects. Also please note that the below list is a work in progress and that it is not complete. Please share any errors, omissions or suggestions here. Thank you!


WOMEN AND GIRLS FOCUSED RESOURCES:  

(For family, children, men and addiction focused resources, please scroll down.)

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ANTI-PORNOGRAPHY ORGANIZATIONS GROUPS AND WEBSITES:  

*Culture Reframed      Pornography FAQ      *ResistPorn Culture (UK)     No Porn Pledge     *Against Pornography

*Anti-Porn Feminists (Anti-Porn London)    Men Against Porn / Prostitution / Patriarchy     *The Violence of Pornography (Graphic) 

  *No Porn Northampton    Playboy: Talkin' Trash     *Girls Against Porn      Bin the Bunny      Stop Patriarchy

*JoinPornBusters YouTube Channel    The Price of Pleasure Documentary Film Website  

*Come Back From Your Fantasy (Sex-Positive Anti-Porn Feminist Tumblr, by young feminist Kelsey Ruane)

*Make Love Not Porn (Not technically anti-porn but shows differences of porn vs. real life.)

Somebody's Daughter   *Fight the New Drug  *pornTRUTH   

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'ANTI-PORNOGRAPHY ACTIVIST INDIVIDUALS, AUTHORS AND FILMMAKERS:  
 
 
 
 

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ANTI-PROSTITUTION/TRAFFICKING/SEXUAL EXPLOITATION/ABUSE SITES, ETC:
 
 
The above channels are AntiPornography.org pjts with MANY videos & helpful resources! 
 
 
 

Polaris Project     Breaking Free     SAGE (Standing Against Global Exploitation)  

The Lola Green Baldwin Foundation    Stop Demand Foundation  Genderberg

*SCASE (Scottish Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation)    Our Voices Matter   

*CAASE  (Chicago Coalition against Sexual Exploitation)  StopTraffickingDemand.com

*BSCC (Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition)  Beauty from Ashes   *Not for Sale Campaign 

New York Anti-Trafficking Coalition   Coalition for Action on Sexism and True Equality

*Is There Something I Can Do?  *StAT (Stand Against Trafficking)  *Stop Slavery Here

*Artists United for Social Justice  Freedom & Justice Center (For Prostitution Resources)

Donna M. Hughes, PhD  (Dignity List)   Chicago Coalition for the Homeless  

Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault    Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault

California Coalition Against Sexual Assault 

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FEMINIST, WOMEN & GIRLS ADVOCATE ORGANIZATIONS & GROUPS, ETC:

*Equality Now    *The F-Word    *Off Our Backs     *Women for Women International

     *Global Fund for Women  *London Feminist Network  *Feminist.com

*The National Organization for Women (NOW)    Feminist Majority Foundation  (FMF)

*Feminist Campus   Ms. Magazine  *Safe World 4 Women   *Women's Law Society

*WomensLaw.org   *U.S. Department of State's Office of Global Women's Issues  

*SIGI.org  *GlobalSister.org  FeministGifts.com  *The Date Safe Project  *VAWNet  

*No Statute of Limitations   *RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) 

*The National Domestic Violence Hotline  *Guard Yourself Now  *UK Feminista

Chicago Foundation for Women    *The Women's Media Center  The F-Files

*Free Girl Foundation  *Girls Fight Back   *The Girl Effect   *Girls for Gender Equity   

*Girl Fest Hawaii   *Rain & Thunder    Daughters of the Sun - A Youth Leader Project

*Biting Beaver  *No Excuses / No Mercy   *RadFem Hub
 
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MEN AGAINST SEXISM, VIOLENCE, SEXUAL EXPLOITATION  & ABUSE, ETC.

NOMAS (National Organization of Men Against Sexism )    *Men Can Stop Rape     *My Strength Campaign  

*Men Stopping Violence      *A Call to Men UK       *The White Ribbon Campaign (CA)  

  *Reclaiming Sex From XXX       *Byron Hurt       Jackson Katz   

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MEDIA, FREE SPEECH, & OTHER ORGANIZATIONS, GROUPS & SITES:

 *Media Education Foundation Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press

Miboda Agency

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MESSAGE BOARDS AND FORUMS FOR HELP, INFORMATION & SUPPORT:

There are MANY anti-porn groups and pages at Facebook.
 
Just search GROUPS and PAGES for "anti-porn," "antiporn," "anti-pornography" & "antipornography" and similar terms.
 
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FAMILY, CHILDREN, MEN & ADDICTION FOCUSED RESOURCES:   

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ANTI-PORNOGRAPHY ORGANIZATIONS, GROUPS, AND WEBSITES: 

*National Center on Sexual Exploitation      *Pornography Harms      *Enough Is Enough      ProtectKids.com     

*Pornversations - College tour of an ex porn performer and an ex porn addict    Protect Young Minds

 National Law Center  for Children and Families    *Traffic Control, the Movie     Maryland Coalition Against Pornography   

It's Time We Talked      Utah Coalition Against Pornography       BraveHearts       Diamond Heart Foundation

Report Online Child Pornography/Exploitation at CyberTipLine.com or 1-800-843-5678

*Darkness 2 Light    *XXX Church    Department of Justice  ThePornTalk.com  

Social Costs of PornographyConference Videos   Papers   Report of Findings

*Safe Eyes (InternetSafety.com)  *Convenant Eyes   Internet Filter Review     *Women for Decency     AntiChildPorn.org

Say No to Pornography Pakistan - Let's Wage a War Against Pornography Blogspot

Canadians Addressing Sexual Exploitation  (C.A.S.E.) (Canada)

CANADA - List of other anti-pornography and related Canadian organizations

(Scroll down on above link to get to the list of organizations)

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ANTI-PORNOGRAPHY ACTIVIST INDIVIDUALS, AUTHORS, AND THERAPISTS:  

*Pat Trueman  (Founder of Pornography Harms) Pamela Paul  (Author of "Pornified")

Dr. Jill C. Manning (Author:"What's the Big Deal about Pornography? A Guide for the Internet Generation")

Dr. Judith Reisman   *Dr. Robi Sonderegger

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ANTI-PROSTITUTION/TRAFFICKING/SEXUAL EXPLOITATION/ABUSE SITES, ETC:  

*Shared Hope International     Free the Slaves

*IJM Institute (International Justice Mission)   *Global Centurion   *Live2free

*ECPAT - USA (End Child Prostitution & Trafficking)  *Beyond Borders (ECPATCanada)

*T-Stop (Texas Sex Trafficking Obliteration Project)   *Love146 NYC Task Force

*End Slavery NT (End Slavery in Tennessee and Beyond)   *Chab Dai Coalition

*Justice and Care (South Asia)  *Rock Against Slavery   End Demand

Overexposed, the Movie   Call and Response, the Movie    *Nowhere2Hide

CASEY (Community Against Sexual Exploitation of Youth. Canada)   

 
 

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OTHER RELATED ORGANIZATIONS, GROUPS, WEBSITES & CAUSES:

*Parents Television Council   *Web Wise Kids   *InternetSafety.com

*ClearInternational   *Cyber Safety Book  (Ken Knapton)   *Optenet PC

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PORNOGRAPHY ADDICTION AND COMPULSION HELP AND SUPPORT:  

*PornAddictionHelp YouTube Channel - AntiPornography.org project with MANY videos & resources!

*Inner Gold    *Fight the New Drug   *Compulsion Solutions   The Mindful Habit

*Porn Game Over    MeadowCrest   Your Brain on Porn    HealthySex.com (Wendy Maltz)   Reboot Nation

Sexual Recovery Institute    *Just Be Well    *No-Porn.com  No-Porn.com Message Board

*Impulse Treatment Center (Sex Addict Treatment - Don L. Matthews)   *Covenant Eyes   *Stepping Inward

*Mindful Recovery   My Porn Addiction Story - Porn Addiction Help from a Former Addict

Porn Addicts Anonymous  Porn & Relationships Q&A (By "Porn Trap's'" Wendy Maltz)  Addicted to Internet Porn

Porn Addict Hubby  (Relationship Rescue for Wives & Girlfriends of Internet Porn Addicts)

Partners of Sex Addicts Resource Center    The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH)

Don't Reward Bad Behaviour - Guidance for Partners of Porn Addicts  Desert Solace

Petra Bueskens of PPMD Therapy (Australia)   PPMD Therapy Facebook   Guilty Pleasure

QuitPorn Group Text Hotline - "To become a member and join our group text community, start by texting QUITPORN to 23559"  Twitter: @QuitPornHotline  YouTube: QuitPornTextHotline

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LOOKING FOR A SEX OR PORN ADDICTION THERAPIST OR COUNSELOR? 

Check out this very helpful directory of over 1,000 entries in the United States!

http://www.abattleplan.com/counselors-therapists-sex-addiction-directory/

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ACCOUNTABILITY SOFTWARE:

Saavi Accountability -- The only online accountability program that works with all online addictions. It is also the only program that sends notifications instantly via text message to an accountability partner so that they can be supportive when an individual needs it the most at the point of weakness, while they are accessing the online content. The software was created by a young man (26) who overcame his addiction and is trying to help others.  

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ADDICTION MESSAGE BOARDS & DISCUSSION FORUMS FOR HELP & SUPPORT:

No-Porn.com Message Board

Porn Addict Hubby Discussion Board  (For Wives & Girlfriends of Internet Porn Addicts)

NOTE: There are MANY anti-porn and porn addiciton discussion groups and pages at Facebook.

Just search GROUPS and PAGES for "porn addiction", "pornography addiction", "sex addiction", "anti-porn," "antiporn," "anti-pornography" & "antipornography"

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For more than 50 personal stories documenting the harms of compulsive and/or excessive pornography use and/or pornography addiction please see our "Porn Harm Stories" page.  Thank you.

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NEED HELP WITH PORN ADDICTION?

CHECK OUT THE MINDFUL HABIT!

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OTHER HELPFUL FAQs & Q&As: (By other anti-pornography organizations, etc) 

*Gail Dines Q&A     *Against Pornography FAQ    Pornography FAQ - By Pro-feminist Michael Lovan

  *Shelley Lubben Q&A (Ex-Porn Star)    Prostitution FAQ at Genderberg      Fight the New Drug FAQ   

(Note: The No Porn Northampton FAQ is in the bottom half of their sidebar. In addition to the usual questions about pornography it addresses questions and concerns about activism against sexually oriented businesses such as "adult bookstores.")

AntiPornography.org's "Frequently Asked Questions & Responses to Pro-Pornography Arguments"

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Shared Hope International specifically focuses on fighting the demand for commercial sexual exploitaiton, including addressing pornography as a very significant demand factor for sex trafficking. 

Please see their excellent report on this issue:

Pornography: Creating Demand for International Sex Trafficking

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"Pornography is a marketing device for sex trafficking: It normalizes degradation and violence as acceptable and even inevitable parts of sex, and uses the bodies of real women and children as objects. The difference between pornography and erotica is clear in the roots of the words themselves -- porne means females slaves, eros means love -- so pornography, like rape, is about violence and domination, not sex. Millions of lives depend on our ability to separate pornography from erotica, and to disentangle violence from sexuality."

Gloria Steinem, 2006

For information about Gloria Steinem's important work of fighting against the harms of pornography, sex trafficking and other forms of sexual exploitation and abuse, including videos and an audio interview, please see our page on Gloria Steinem. Click here.

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For more information on how pornography fuels prostitution and sex trafficking, please see our page on Pornography and Trafficking.  Click here.  Thank you!

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YOUR HELP IS NEEDED. PLEASE DONATE IF YOU ARE ABLE TO.

Please remember that it is not up to AntiPornography.org, the other organizations listed on this page, the government, or "someone else" to do the entire job of fighting against the devastating harms of pornography, prostitution, trafficking, and other forms of sexual exploitation or abuse. It is an enormous job and the responsibility lies with each and every one of us to do our part as part of the bigger team of those who are choosing to be part of the solution of creating a more just and humane world for everyone, rather than be part of the problem.

So thank you in advance for whatever you are able to contribute to the cause, whether in the form of a tax-deductible donation or your actions. What you do does matter, so for the sake of all those across the world who are being exploited and abused, and for the sake of the future of humanity, please do what you can to create a more compassionate and safer society for all.

Thank you for whatever you are able to give or do to help create a better world for everyone, especially for women, children and future generations.

 YOUR SUPPORTIVE ACTIONS & YOUR DONATIONS ARE VERY MUCH APPRECIATED. 

THEY CAN AND WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

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THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT! IT'S VERY MUCH APPRECIATED AND REALLY MAKES A DIFFERENCE!

 

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