As International Women’s Day is celebrated in our communities and throughout social media today organizers are asking that we consider what we can do to move society towards greater gender parity. A recent report from the World Economics Forum predicts that, “the gender gap will not close entirely until 2186”. We think that is too long. Showing your support for International Women’s Day is one way to raise awareness and become a vehicle for change. #EqualityMatters #BeBoldForChange

At Parents Aware we can’t think of a better way to champion the cause of women worldwide than to be like our young friend in the following true story.

12-year-old speaks out against pornography

It’s 11 am Sunday morning, when most boys his age would be home sleeping or playing their favourite video game. Instead Samuel (name changed) is at church, sharply dressed in a suit and tie. It is what he does every Sunday.

Only this Sunday, Samuel appears even more remarkable. Today, at the invitation of his Sunday School teacher, he is leading a small group of his peers, aged 12 to 18, in a serious discussion about the harms of pornography.  He speaks for fifteen minutes, sharing relevant stats and responding expertly to their comments and questions.

Samuel’s Sunday School teacher would normally have described him as timid and shy— but not today. Instead he is amazed at the ease and confidence this young man conveys when tackling a subject which most adults have difficulty bringing up in polite company.

When Samuel was questioned why he was willing to be so bold, he responded soberly, “because my sister was married to a man addicted to pornography and it destroyed her marriage.”

Samuel isn’t only talking about the betrayal someone feels when their partner is cheating on them with virtual lovers (which can be very real and potent in itself). Twelve months ago his sister fled with her daughter to a women’s shelter. The shelter was the only place she would have complete refuge from her husband’s violent physical assaults and find the strength she would need to leave him outright.

A cultural revolution to stem the tide of porn related violence

Sadly, the story Samuel tells of his sister is not unique in Canada or worldwide.  According to an article found in the Rice Standard, “heavy pornography consumption by a male doubles the likelihood that he will sexually assault his partner.”

Considering that widespread acceptance of porn continues to rise among younger generations, this is a statistic we can no longer afford to ignore. For decades the porn industry has been allowed to operate relatively unchecked online —sending a constant stream of violent and degrading sexually explicit material to anyone, of any age, at any time. If we are to advance the cause of women, we are in dire need of a cultural revolution against the porn industry.

Exactly one year ago today Motion M-47 was introduced into Canadian Parliament in an effort to do just that. In the coming weeks the Standing Committee on Health will hear testimony from witnesses to study the impact pornography has in shaping societal attitudes and its effect on children, women and men. Although it is unsure at this point what resolutions will come from the federal study, the passing of the motion has begun a chain reaction of positive events.

Moving forward

Inspired by the unanimous acceptance of Motion M-47, James Teitsma, of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly, put forward his own Private Member’s Resolution (PMR) yesterday, calling on the Legislature to “condemn the ease of access children and youth have to violent and degrading content in sexually explicit material online.” Teitsma explains:

“In Canada, we protect children’s exposure to sexually explicit material on traditional forms of media (print, video). However nothing has been done to protect children from sexually explicit imagery online. The exposure and addiction of children is turning pornography into a public health issue.”

He continues to highlight that online pornography is a substantial contributor to violent acts against women.

  • Almost 90 per cent of mainstream sexually explicit material content features violence against women.
  • Sexually explicit content featuring violence against women accounts for over 30 per cent of all Internet traffic.

In this PMR, Teitsma also calls on the federal government to enact legislation requiring meaningful age verification on adult websites. He points out that many of the individuals consuming violent pornographic content are underaged.

The motion has been approved and will be brought up in the Legislature on March 14. Teitsma says he is encouraged by the fact that Motion M-47 passed with unanimous support from all parties back in December 2016. He is hopeful that the passing of his resolution will send a clear message to the federal government that immediate action is required.

Act NOW!

Your voice is needed! We need to join together and send a clear message to government leaders and policy makers. Write to members of the Provincial and Territory Legislatures  and ask them to take action.

  • Ask them to follow James Teitsma’s lead to call pornography what it is —A Public Health Issue.
  • Ask them to call upon the Legislative Assembly to condemn the ease of access children and youth have to violent and degrading sexually explicit content online.
  • Ask them to recognize that online pornography is a contributing factor to violence against women among many other risk factors.

How to contact your Provincial Legislative members

  • To find your Provincial or Territorial Representative click here
  • From here link to your Province’s official website
  • Each Provincial site is unique. Scroll through to find your local MPP or MLA

Your voice will make a difference. Spread the word by Liking and Sharing this post! #EqualityMatters #BeBoldForChange 

Sample Letter

Dear Mr Anderson

My husband and I live in _________, with our children. For many years I have been concerned about the effect that online pornography not only has in shaping sexual and gender attitudes of my own children, but also that of their peers.  The recent actions of our federal government to adopt Motion M-47, a mandate to study health implications associated with the ease of access to online pornography and other violent and demeaning sexually explicit materials” is encouraging —but I believe we can do more.

This week I have also learned that Mr. James Teitsma of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly put forward a private members resolution to “condemn the ease of access children and youth have to violent and degrading content in sexually explicit material online”.  I would ask to you do the same here in Ontario. This will help to send a clear message to the Federal and Provincial governments that we need to do more to protect children from early exposure to pornography and to end sexual violence against women.

I understand that pornography is dangerously addictive and leads to several mental and physical health challenges especially in young children. As a multi billion dollar global industry, pornography plays a large role in the trafficking of women and children.  Pornography leads to increased violence against women. And finally viewing pornography is not the way for children and adolescents to develop healthy attitudes towards sexual behaviour.  

Please consider my recommendations carefully. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

M

 

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

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