Minneapolis city officials heard testimony about peoples’ encounters with porn, those
who consume porn and those who produce it at a hearing of the Minneapolis Government Operations Committee on
December 13, 1983. This account appears in In Harm’s Way: The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings (p.172-175).
Testimony of Charlotte Kasl
I am a therapist in private practice. I work with adult women survivors of sexual abuse as well as children of these survivors and the families…
I want to connect pornography as sexual addiction, and I want to connect sexual addiction to childhood sexual abuse…
It has been my experience that pornography is an integral part of sexual addiction, and sexual addiction is an integral part of child abuse. And as these are addictions, they follow a course of escalation. They follow a course of compulsion. They are out of control. The addict using pornography is on a spiral, on a course that is getting worse that leads to escalation of the sexual acting out, whether it be peeping Tom, whether it be molesting children, exposing himself and so forth…
All children who live in the home–this is my opinion–all children who live in the home of a sexual addict at some level become victims of that addiction. And that person does not have to bring pornography home for that to happen. The energy that person carries, the fantasies, the thoughts, the way they talk and look at their female children, communicates something about this child to their bodies. Young girls talk about, “I couldn’t stand it when my father touched me. There was something wrong.” Some direct connections I have talked about with clients, and they said they were glad to have the stories here. They felt it was so important.
One example, for instance, was a young girl. By the age of four, she saw her parents sitting on the couch together reading pornographic magazines. When she tried to go join them, they were laughing and happy. She said it was the only time she saw her father’s eyes light up. He felt alive. When she would try to read, they said no, no, which was confusing because they seemed happy reading this. By five years old, this young woman, at that time a young girl, would bring boys from the neighborhood, draw off her clothes the way she had seen in the magazines, and let herself be abused sexually. This is by five years old. This woman has gone through a great deal of work. She was alcoholic, very ill. She is now a student. She is now working through these things in therapy and is recovering, but she had never herself made the connection to the pornography. All she felt about herself [was], she was crazy, she was sick. How at five years old could I have been doing this? Pornography in the home is insidious. Girls pick up the message, they act it out, they don’t know why they feel suicidal and crazy. I have seen this many, many times.
Another example I would like to share with you was a little boy I worked with whose father was preoccupied with pornography and had a house full of it. The little boy was known at school as the kisser. He would jump at girls, grab them, and kiss them. He was already developing an abuser mentality by the age of six. This happens to children, again, without them knowing it. He wanted to be like his father. This is what his father liked. He was doing what every child will do. It models for children that sexuality has power and that women are basically pieces of meat.
A third example was in a very abusive violent family where the father had read a great deal of pornography. It was kept in his room and the children knew it was there. He beat his children a lot, his daughters particularly. The girls used to sneak in when the parents were gone, read the pornography. They became addicted to it. It was their only escape, as it had been their father’s escape. The woman that reported it–today at thirty–is addicted to pornography, has yet to have intimate sexual relationships or free herself from the connection of silence and sexuality…
I believe a lot of battering of young girls has to do with sexual feelings, much of what comes every time in families where there was pornography. The father feels sexual towards his daughter, wants to repress that, and instead of taking responsibility for his addiction, which is out of control, beats his daughter. It is connected many times. I have had fathers open up to this when they come to family therapy and talk about it…
The last example is going into a local grocery store there to return grapefruit. There was in the back room a picture of a naked woman from the back with a little diagram saying rump, ribs, shoulder, like they do with cows. I was upset. The first time I saw it, I couldn’t talk. I came back later, walked in and saw it again. I was incredibly amazed that the store could have this. This is damaging. I said to the man, “I find this offensive, returning white grapefruit for pink ones and standing here with my daughter, that my daughter is a piece of meat, and her mother is a piece of meat.” He finally took it down.
The Science Behind Pornography Addiction
Children who have porn-viewing fathers complain that when he looks at them it feels “creepy”. The parental gaze has now become the “porn gaze”. The child of the porn user finds that everything is now about sex.
Victim’s “Precocious Knowledge of Sexuality” Blocks Child Rape Conviction
Mere exposure to porn can make children reluctant to seek protection from abuse.
Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture
Raunch culture is particularly cruel to teen girls, who feel pressure to perform before they can even understand their own desires. The girls Levy interviewed, mainly students at elite high schools, seemed perpetually distracted by the competition to “dress the skankiest” and rack up the greatest number of conquests, in order to gain status in their female peer group. (p.152) Sex and beauty were about power, not pleasure. In fact, some sexually active girls repressed feelings of arousal in order to avoid vulnerability.