Victory In Canada!  This is the subject line of an email I received just a few days before the holiday break. The email continued to explain that a Private Member’s Bill, Motion M-47 (the Online Sexual Violence Motion), had just been unanimously adopted in the House of Commons. I couldn’t believe my eyes!

For anyone who considers pornography a public health concern, this is BIG news. I wondered how I had missed hearing about it locally and scrambled to search online newspapers for the story.

The papers were silent. Confused, I called the MP’S office from which the motion originated to plead for further information about the victory the press seemed reluctant to cover. Here’s what I learned:

[Be sure to read to the end of this article and find out how your voice will ensure that Motion M-47 has the best possible chance of creating greater public awareness about the dangers of pornography.]

What is Motion M-47?

I discovered that Alberta MP, Arnold Viersen first introduced Motion M-47 as a Private Member’s Bill eight months ago. He used the backdrop of International Women’s Day, March 8, 2016, to highlight the need to address the impact that violent and degrading sexually explicit material has in shaping societal attitudes towards women.

Motion M-47 states:  That the Standing Committee on Health be instructed to examine the public health effects of the ease of access and viewing of online violent and degrading sexually explicit material on children, women and men … and that the said Committee report its findings to the House no later than July 2017.  

Because the House of Commons adopted this motion on December 9, 2016, the Standing Committee on Health is now mandated to conduct this study and report on the results. Motion M-47 is intended to address online violence as both a public health issue and an issue affecting women’s equality.

Why is Motion M-47 so significant?

The last time a major federal study was conducted in Canada on the impact of sexually explicit material was 1985 —that is over 30 years ago! When one considers how much has changed in both content and distribution of violent and degrading material since the launch of the internet, it is troubling that it has taken this long for policy-makers to turn their attention to the health impacts of modern pornography.

Historically, pornography has always promoted violence and demeaning attitudes towards women. Today however, easy access to porn via high-speed internet means that anyone, regardless of age, has the ability to view unlimited amounts of pornography at any time.

Of utmost concern is the amount of exposure to sexually explicit materials children and adolescents have online. Dr. John Faubert, professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs at Oklahoma State University notes that exposure to pornography in kids under 13 rose from 14 percent in 2008 to a whopping 49 percent in 2011.

He cautions that the high percentage of violent scenes in pornographic movies (up to 90%) sends a clear message to users that “you’re supposed to be violent when you are intimate with somebody.” In other words, the skewed messages young people get from pornography about sex should identify it as the largest sexual abuser of children. Instead, pornography has quickly become the most sought after for form of sex-education among adolescents.  

What should we expect from Motion M-47?

One of the key elements that prompted Viersen to put forward Motion M-47 is the compilation of “40 years of academic research [which,] reveal that exposure to violent sexually explicit material is harmful to physical and mental health of individuals, especially adolescents.”

Yet, despite the research, few individuals and organizations today are willing to publicly acknowledge the evidence that pornography harms —public school systems included.  On the contrary, pornography continues to gain widespread social acceptance. Adult sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined.

Acceptance of porn is especially prevalent among teens and young adults. According to a Barna Group Studyonly a third of teens and young adults say that viewing porn is wrong.” Most teens today consider the regular use of porn to be normal, harmless and even a healthy expression of sexuality.

Motion M-47 could start to change these trends. When the Standing Committee on Health puts forward its recommendations based on their findings, it is possible that resolutions could be made which would significantly improve public awareness about the dangers of pornography.

Motion M-47 paves the way for citizens to unite against pornography

Special interest groups and lobbyists will put forward strong opposing arguments that would safeguard predators and protect the porn industry.

Supporters of pornography have a well established track record of manipulating the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to their advantage. The right to free speech, individual expression, and protection of artistic merit will be their rallying cry. This may in part what Viersen is referring to when he says “A study would allow for a broad spectrum of stakeholders to be involved in developing future policy on this important issue.” (emphasis added)

We must consider this to be our chance to shape future societal attitudes towards pornography.  If there ever was a call to action that could have far reaching effects on how our country handles issues relating to violence in pornography, this is it!

What can we do to ensure victory? Act NOW!

After speaking with Viersen’s office in Ottawa, I learned that the Standing Committee on Health should spend one to two weeks gathering research. Once that is done Motion M-47 will be opened to receive witness testimonies. Anyone can apply to be a witness. This is where the voices in support of resolutions really need to be heard.

Let’s work together through social media and letter writing to build a momentum that could change the course of history.  To show support for Motion M-47, pick at least one of the action items listed below.

Action Items:

Arnold Vierson kindly asks he be cc’d on emails regarding any follow up actions to Motion M-47. arnold.viersen@parl.gc.ca

If you are unsure who your MP is, you can enter your postal code on the website of the Parliament of Canada. http://www.parl.gc.ca/common/index.asp

Remember: Postage is NOT required to mail letters to a Member of Parliament. Letters can be addressed using the following examples:

Joe Smith, MP
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

Standing Committee on Health
Sixth Floor, 131 Queen Street
House of Commons
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6

 

Marilyn

Marilyn

Marilyn Evans lives east of Toronto with her husband and five sons. Concerned with the ease of access to online pornography, she began searching for ways to address this subject with her own children. The lack of support and information available to parents at that time compelled her to begin speaking out publicly on the subject. It's her hope that parentsaware.info will provide families with a resource they can turn to for answers on how to speak openly and honestly with their children. You can follow @parentsaware on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Marilyn

2 Comments

  • Interesting that the media has been so quiet about Motion M-47. I’m so glad that you were made aware of it and have passed the info. on. Would you mind if I share this post with the Violence Prevention community here in Durham?

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