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William Struthers and Dawn Hawkins – On Harms and Hopes: A Look at the Myriad Injustices of Pornography

Pornography is powerful. Our contemporary culture has been ‘pornified,’ and this has shaped our assumptions about identity, sexuality, the value of women and the nature of relationships. One way to consider this is to look at how sexually explicit and suggestive images activate the brain and what impact this has on our sexuality. By better understanding the effect pornographic images have on the brain and the biological realities of our sexual development, we will look at ways we can instead cultivate faithful sexual perspectives and interpersonal relationships.

William M. Struthers, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology at Wheaton College where he investigates the clinical and neurological issues surrounding compulsive pornography use. Dr. Struthers is the author of Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain (2009) and is internationally known for his advocacy work against pornography. His lab research interests are in the neural mechanisms that underlie behavioral arousal and the processing of novel environments. His professional memberships include the Society for Neuroscience, Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience, Association for Psychological Science, and International Neuroethics Society. Dr. Struthers has also been named a Visiting Research Fellow to Biola University’s Center for Christian Thought in 2014 for his work on the impact of sexual exploitation on spirituality, and is part of the Oxford Interdisciplinary Seminars in Science and Religion: Bridging the Two Cultures of Science and the Humanities. Dr. Struthers married his wife in 1993 and they have been blessed with three children.

Yesterday’s pornography is today’s mainstream media. The content and reach of today’s pornography have created an unprecedented and unregulated social experiment. Never before have so many children and young people been exposed to such violent content, which by default has served as their sex education. Science and research is catching up with the concerns of many and is now showing a wide range of harm caused by pornography. For many, repeated exposure and use is correlated to problematic sexual behaviors that can lead to divorce and sometimes sexually aggressive and violent behaviors. Pornography feeds demand for child sexual exploitation and prostituted/trafficked women and children. Research is also showing correlations to violence against women, increased STI rates, and increased sexual dysfunction among young men. This presentation will discuss the impact of pornography on individuals, relationships, and society and then will propose practical steps for protecting against the onslaught of harm and curbing exploitation in our culture.

Dawn Hawkins is a passionate defender of human rights who has dedicated her life to fighting against societal harms that threaten the dignity of others. Her energy, creativity and mobilization skills have revived the anti-pornography movement. As Executive Director of National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), Mrs. Hawkins has developed a national strategy uniting conservative, women’s rights, child advocacy and religious groups, including a bipartisan political leadership, to work together raising awareness of the pandemic of harm from pornography. Her initiatives have lead to sweeping policy changes for targets such as Google, Verizon and the Department of Defense. She is a graduate of Tufts University and currently resides with her husband and two children in Virginia.

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