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Mahony Battle on Pornography

June 12, 1986

Archbishop Mahony speaks of pornography "that has material so gross it would shock anybody." He also claims "it destroys the basis of our family life."

As a mother who reared two children by myself, put myself through four years of college, and was a Norman Topping graduate scholar at USC, I feel I have far more experience than Archbishop Mahony in the area of training children how to evaluate "pornography," and its role in their lives.

My grandfather was an early sex educator, and chairman of the Department of Physical Education at USC for more than 40 years. I naturally took an extended look at sex education.

I purchased and displayed Playboy in its early publishing years. My daughter took only minimal interest in it, but my 14-year-old son wallpapered his room with the centerfolds.

My son no longer takes much interest in Playboy. He's 32, married, and busy in family, work, and social activities. When I asked him yesterday exactly why he's no longer interested in it, he said that the articles aren't as interesting as they used to be, and he's no longer impressed with nudity.

There are some interesting side results of this early "sex education." Neither of my children have sex fantasies about people they do not know--such as movie stars. They are attracted first to people of the opposite sex because of their characters and personality, and second by their physical appearance.

People tell me my children are mature and adjusted adults. I know sex is an integrated part of their lives. Probably one of the most interesting aspects of their lives is their capacity for strong, rewarding, non-sexual friendships with the opposite sex.

Considering 80% of the men in our prisons are the products of child abuse, and that we are facing a child-care crisis, and inundated with "latch-key" children, I pray the Catholic Church and other powerful organizations can address themselves to issues that are tearing apart the fabric of our society. Studies have shown that permanent, irreversible brain damage is done to both touched-deprived children and abused children, making them violent.



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