While this may seem like an unlikely pairing, the two offer interesting sides of the spectrum on the debate of the hazards of pornography, brought to the headlines once again by the recent indiscretions of Anthony Weiner, husband to Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s trusted adviser.
“If anyone still had doubts about the addictive dangers of pornography, Anthony Weiner should have put them to rest with his repeated, compulsive, all-consuming and self-sabotaging sexting,” Boteach said. “And if anyone still doubted the devastation that porn addiction wreaks on those closest to the addict, they should behold the now-shattered marriage of Weiner to Huma Abedin — a break-up that she initiated, reportedly, in shock at the disgraced ex-Congressman's inclusion of their four-year-old son in one lewd photo that he sent to a near-stranger.”
Boteach goes on to say that from the respective positions of clergyman-counselor (himself) and Anderson as former Playboy model and actress, both have come to the same conclusion about pornography's “corrosive effects on a man's soul and on his ability to function as husband and, by extension, as father.” Boteach asserts this is a public hazard of unprecedented seriousness given how freely available, anonymously accessible and easily disseminated pornography is nowadays.
“I speak with both experience and authority about the damaging effects of easy access pornography,” Anderson said. “I am glad to join forces with Rabbi Shmuley in raising public awareness of the innocent lives this has destroyed, and the relationships it is undermining. Something must be done immediately. A healthy, loving sexual experience demands both intimacy and respect, both of which pornography addiction destroys, and I am committed to raising this fundamental awareness and protecting the vulnerable enslaved in the sex industry."
According to data provided by the American Psychological Association, the statistics already available are deeply disturbing. Porn consumption rates are 50 percent to 99 percent among men, and 30 percent to 86 percent among women, with the former group often reporting less satisfactory intimate lives with their wives or girlfriends as a result of the consumption. (By contrast, many female fans of pornography tend to prefer a less explicit variety, and report that it improves their sexual relationships.)
Nine percent of porn users said they had tried unsuccessfully to stop - an indication of addiction which is all the more startling when you consider that the dependency rate among people who try marijuana is the same — 9 percent — and not much higher among those who try cocaine (15 percent), according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
“Whereas drug dependency data are mostly stable, the incidence of porn addiction will only spiral as the children now being raised in an environment of wall-to-wall, digitized sexual images become adults inured to intimacy and in need of even greater graphic stimulation,” Boteach said. “They are the crack babies of porn.”
As Boteach documented in his book, “The Broken American Male,” Weiner’s behavior squares with what is often prevalent among many men, especially in the United States or other Western countries that enjoy liberal values and material prosperity. These are men who, by any objective measure, have succeeded — yet regard themselves as failures. These are men who feel marooned in lassitude because they enjoy physical security, who feel bereft and bored even if they are blessed to have the committed love of a wife or girlfriend. They have come to believe that cruising the Internet for explicit footage of other women, or sharing such images of themselves over the remote communication offered by smart phones, are risqué but risk-free distractions from the tedium.
“They are wrong,” Boteach said. “The march of technology is irreversible and we are not so naive as to believe that any kind of imposed regulation could ever reseal the Pandora's Box of pornography. What is required is an honest dialogue about what we are witnessing — the true nature and danger of porn — and an honor code to tamp it down, in the collective interests of our wellbeing as individuals, as families, and as communities.
“The iniquitousness of porn is an outgrowth of the sexual revolution that began a half-century ago and which, with gender rights and freedoms now having been established, has arguably run its course. Now is the time for a new epochal shift in our private and public lives, a ‘sensual’ revolution that would replace pornography with eroticism — the alloying of sex with love, of personality with physicality, of imagination with the body's mechanics, of orgasmic release with binding relationships.”
“We need to learn to make love again,” Anderson said. “Not pop a pill or download degrading, aggressive sex displays that leave us numb and sexually disoriented. We can no longer afford desensitization that makes us inadequate lovers in relationships that lack respect and dignity. Simply put, we must educate ourselves and our children to understand that porn and sexting strangers is for losers - a boring, wasteful and dead-end outlet for people too lazy to reap the ample rewards of healthy sexuality.”