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Pornography: Social Carcinogen

October 21, 1985

Regarding the article (Editorial Pages, Oct. 9), "Pornography Is a Social Carcinogen," by Laura J. Lederer: She lays the problem of child pornography, molestation, rape and serial murder squarely in the laps of men and calls on us to give up our interest in Playboy magazine in much the way one would give up smoking to prevent cancer. In doing so, she makes the mistake many writers have, particularly female writers.

In order to consider her proposed solution, one must first agree with her initial assumptions: (1) The above mentioned crimes are all related and all relate in some way to pornography, and (2) the problem is one that is a male problem.

She and other female writers need to wake up and realize that the problem is not a male one; it is a problem in which we are all involved. Lederer would apparently like to absolve women of any responsibility for the spread of sex-related crimes in our culture. This is simply not true. Saying it is true forces the problem into a political arena, rather than the social arena where the entire problem needs to be addressed.

Lederer's description of the male murderers fit 80% of the males I see in my psychotherapy practice, none of whom are murderers. She conveniently ignores the fact that in virtually all of the child pornography rings that have made the papers in the last few years women were involved. She also ignores the recent rapid increase of males reporting sexual abuse committed by females.

She seems very concerned about the degradation and exploitation of women and children, but doesn't mention the degradation and exploitation of men. Yes, Ms. Lederer, sex-related crimes are equally humiliating for men. She describes her murderers as having absent or weak fathers and then totally ignores the obvious implication: the predominant influence in these men's early lives was the mother.

Political statements hidden behind the mantle of being socially concerned do little to help any of us. Attitudes like Lederer's will accomplish nothing except to make men feel correctly defensive. If we are to understand the nature of sex-related crimes and do something to correct this epidemic in our culture, we must all, men and women, accept responsibility. In doing so, we can join hands across sexual barriers and have a chance at true corrective programs. Using legitimate social problems with horrifying consequences as another chance to point the finger at men as the creators of all evil is reprehensible.


La Verne

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