Marcia Segelstein - Guest Columnist -
We are awash in sex. We, and our children, can't escape it. The teen clothier Hollister prominently displays Maxim, a "soft core" pornographic magazine on a shelf next to publications devoted to skiing and skateboarding. Urban Outfitters, another retailer targeting teens, has naked models in its catalog. Victoria's Secret TV commercials, which run during supposedly family-friendly fare like American Idol, show high-heeled models strutting down runways in suggestive barely-there underwear. The Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, available annually at your local drugstore chain, has become an American icon. Sexual references and innuendoes abound in television shows and movies. "Women's" magazine cover headlines regularly promise to reveal secrets to better sex. Hotel chains make huge profits from their in-room X-rated movie offerings. Hugh Hefner -- who almost single-handedly brought pornography out of the shadows and into the light of day (making himself a fortune along the way) -- is just another celebrity.
We have "mainstreamed pornography," as author Michael Leahy puts it. Our hypersexualized, pornographic culture has all but obliterated a vision of what healthy sexuality is. So it shouldn't come as any surprise that the intentional viewing of pornography has become commonplace on college campuses and in the workplace. Michael Leahy documents these trends in his books, Porn University and Porn @ Work. Leahy is also a self-described recovering sex addict whose immersion in pornography nearly destroyed his life.