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Porn bill passes committee

Xavier Smith • Updated Mar 3, 2017 at 9:00 AM

A resolution sponsored by Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, aimed at pornography passed the Senate Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday and is headed to the full Senate. 

If legislators approve the resolution, the state would acknowledge pornography as a public health hazard that leads to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts and societal harms.  

Beavers’ brought Tiffany Leeper, founder of Girls Against Porn and Human Trafficking, and Ricky Darr with Men Against Pornography to testify during Wednesday’s meeting. 

Leeper said she started the organization after her relationship with her boyfriend ended due to his porn addiction. 

“He evolved into someone who really pulled away from life and relationships. He just retreated from life for years. It took me over seven years to recover from that. I was ultimately devastated,” said Leeper, who said her boyfriend’s addiction started with soft material, such as Playboy. 

The bill also states pornography normalizes violence and abuse of women and children; treats women and children as objects and often depicts rape and abuse as harmless; equates violence toward women and children with sex and pain with please, which leads to increase demands in sexual trafficking, prostitution and child pornography. 

“Porn creates a demand for sex trafficking, also. There wouldn’t be sex trafficking if it wasn’t a demand for that type of thing, and [porn] really desensitizes. There’s so much vile content on the internet that can be viewed freely,” Leeper said. 

Beavers’ resolution also proclaims pornography is contributing to the “hyper-sexualization” of teens. Also, according to the bill, Beavers claims pornography among teens can lead to low self-esteem and eating disorders; increase in problematic sexual activity at younger ages; and an increased desire to engage in “risky” sexual behavior. 

Darr said he saw the “hyper-sexualization” first hand while working as a youth pastor in Brentwood, which led him to join Men Against Pornography in an attempt to help battle the issue. 

“It’s really stealing our generation from that perspective,” he said. 

“Due to the advances in technology and the universal availability of the internet, young children are exposed to what used to be referred to as hardcore pornography at an alarming rate, with 27 percent of older millennials reporting that they first viewed pornography before puberty,” Beavers said in the resolution. 

“Rather, efforts to prevent pornography exposure and addiction, to educate individuals and families concerning its harms and to develop recovery programs must be addressed systemically.” 

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