2017 ended with widespread media coverage focused on sexual harassment (or even worse). As the misdeeds of many prominent, primarily men, were revealed, there were (and still are) calls for increased legislation and workplace training to deal with this problem. While these various efforts definitely have merit, there is one factor that never appeared in […]

2017 ended with widespread media coverage focused on sexual harassment (or even worse). As the misdeeds of many prominent, primarily men, were revealed, there were (and still are) calls for increased legislation and workplace training to deal with this problem.
While these various efforts definitely have merit, there is one factor that never appeared in any of dozens of headlines about sexual harassment I skimmed through recently: what role does the viewing of pornography play in perpetuating such misbehavior?
A 2015 NBC news report (https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/things-are-looking-americas-porn-industry-n289431) estimated that pornography is a $97 billion industry worldwide, with $10 to $12 billion of that originating in the good, old USA. This article also noted that 'porn has arguably never been such a visible part of the pop culture landscape.' Likewise, a 2015 online article in The Economist ( https://www.economist.com/news/international/21666114-internet-blew-porn-industrys-business-model-apart-its-response-holds-lessons) addressed how the pornography industry is evolving, offering more and more 'free' content (with numerous ads, of course) to increase its market share. And so is the viewing of pornography becoming more and more widespread.
Therein, in my opinion, lies the root of the sexual harassment problem. On one hand, our culture accepts, even promotes, pornography in theaters, innumerable websites, and through advertisements, which border on being pornographic, in mainstream websites. What would have been considered pornographic content 20 or 30 years ago now barely even registers with most.
Pornography is designed to stimulate sexual feelings and urges, so are we really surprised when numerous men (and a lesser number of women) act on what living in a pornography-saturated culture encourages them to do? This is not an excuse for committing sexual harassment, as we all have our agency to choose.
If we really want to reduce the incidence of sexual harassment in America, then we need to strike the problem at its root. Pornography in all of its forms, from seemingly innocuous advertisements to hardcore movies and pornographic websites, only perpetuates this societal ill.
The first step, of course, is for each of us not to participate in viewing pornography. Then, if we hope to reduce the incidence of sexual harassment, we will encourage our elected officials to create laws that prevent purveyors of pornography from profiting in the selling of sleaze.