I recently attended the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation (CESE) Global Summit, but it’s hard to know how to summarize it. The CESE, an annual event organized primarily by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), was held in early April in Herndon, Virginia, near Washington, D.C.
Rather than try to summarize the speakers’ messages from the sessions I was able to attend, I decided to post a list of websites that represent the work done by some of those speakers. I hope this will serve as a reference or resource for those seeking more information about how to combat pornography, prostitution, and other forms of sexual exploitation such as the general objectification of women’s (and sometimes men’s) bodies.
Note that the CESE is a broad-based coalition, cutting across political, religious, and ideological lines. Not all of the groups or speakers who participate are social conservatives or Christians—some for example, are liberal feminists. (Therefore, Family Research Council does not necessarily endorse everything on these websites.) All these groups, however, have found common ground in the cause of ending all forms of sexual exploitation.
Here are the first six websites (a subsequent post will present the final six resources):
1. National Center on Sexual Exploitation
The first website to highlight is that of NCOSE itself. NCOSE explains its purpose and focus this way:
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is the leading national organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health crisis of pornography. As the thread of pornography in the web of sexual exploitation is systemically overlooked by society, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation has prominently advanced this issue as a central pillar of its projects in order to promote more holistic solutions.
A separate website for the CESE Summit itself includes videos of some of the presentations (note: there are audio problems at some points in the video).
Dr. Gail Dines, an activist and scholar who founded Culture Reframed, was a pioneer in the effort to define pornography as a public health crisis—a declaration that has now been made in resolutions adopted by several state legislatures. Here’s part of the description of their work:
Culture Reframed is the first health promotion effort to recognize and address pornography as the public health crisis of the digital age. . . . Our research-driven programs teach parents and those in the helping and healthcare professions how to recognize and respond to the role pornography can play in sexual violence, unhealthy relationships, internet and sex addictions, negative self-image, sexual dysfunction, depression, sexually transmitted infections, injuries, and other health problems.
NCOSE presented Dines with its highest honor, the Founders Award, at the Summit.
This website is particularly effective in reaching the younger generation with a message about the harms of pornography. For example, they offer t-shirts with messages like “Porn Kills Love.”
Here’s how they describe their work:
Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and non-legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects using only science, facts, and personal accounts.
Clay Olsen, President and Co-Founder of Fight the New Drug, spoke at the CESE Summit.
Your Brain on Porn (YBOP) is an exhaustive clearinghouse of scientific research on the effects of pornography.
YBOP created a few lists of studies:
- This page lists 39 neuroscience-based studies (MRI, fMRI, EEG, neuropsychological, hormonal) providing strong support for the addiction model.
- This list contains 14 recent literature reviews & commentaries by some of the top neuroscientists in the world, supporting the porn addiction model. (This dated paper was not a literature review and misrepresented most the papers it did cite.)
- 24 studies linking porn use/sex addiction to sexual problems and lower arousal to sexual stimuli. The first 5 studies in the list demonstrate causation, as participants eliminated porn use and healed chronic sexual dysfunctions.
- Almost 60 studies link porn use to less sexual and relationship satisfaction.
- Over 20 studies reporting findings consistent with escalation of porn use (tolerance), habituation to porn, and even withdrawal symptoms.
- Over 45 studies link porn use to poorer mental-emotional health & poorer cognitive outcomes.
- Over 25 studies linking porn use to “un-egalitarian attitudes” toward women.
YBOP founder Gary Wilson spoke at the CESE Summit, and said there about five studies that are relied upon by pornography defenders to try to debunk the overwhelming evidence in the studies listed above. He thoroughly debunked the debunkers, taking on five myths about pornography. The myths are:
- “Pornography is not addictive.”
- “Sex addicts simply have high sexual desire.”
- “Using pornography is good for your relationship.”
- “Using pornography makes you more egalitarian.”
- “Pornography has many benefits and few drawbacks.”
Oh, and do you think that only religious conservatives have concerns about pornography? Gary Wilson is an atheist.
While the CESE Summit featured heart-wrenching stories about victims of sexual exploitation, it also featured inspiring stories of grassroots activism making a difference, especially when directed at corporations. Among the speakers at the Summit was Australian writer Melinda Tankard Reist, whose organization is described this way:
Collective Shout is a grassroots campaigns movement against the objectification of women and the sexualisation of girls.
Collective Shout is for anyone concerned about the increasing pornification of culture and the way its messages have become entrenched in mainstream society, presenting distorted and dishonest ideas about women and girls, sexuality and relationships.
One of the best stories was about a protest against Mossimo, a clothing store that ran an online competition it called “Peepshow,” inviting ordinary women to send in pictures of themselves in their underwear. A prize was offered for the person whose photo got the most votes. Instead of a picture in her underwear, one woman submitted a picture of herself holding a sign that said, “Mossimo Peepshow = Sexist Rubbish.” Collective Shout got enough people to vote for this entry that it actually won the competition!
Reist also has a personal website, and the book she edited, Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls, is available on Amazon.
6. U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking
According to their website:
The U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking intends to eliminate Human Trafficking in the United States.
We will end Human Trafficking in the United States through prevention, combating demand, the rescue of victims, and providing safe refuge for the restoration of survivors.
USIAHT is one of a number of organizations that bluntly describe sex trafficking as slavery:
Sex Trafficking is modern day slavery, happening everywhere in the United States. The victims can be U.S. citizens or of any nationality, age, socioeconomic status, or gender. Sex Trafficking is a highly profitable crime that exploits an adult through force, fraud, or coercion, or that engages a child in any form of commercial sexual exploitation.
Geoff Rogers of USIAHT was a speaker at the CESE Summit, and one of only a few who explained that men and boys can be victims of sexual exploitation, too.
I would note that USIAHT’s name and a glance at their home page may give the impression that it is a federal government agency, but this is not the case. USIAHT is “a nonprofit, faith-based organization anointed by God to fight against human trafficking in America with truth and integrity, showing the love of Jesus Christ to all involved.”