Conference on pornography sparks conversation

Marty Erickson speaks at the Women’s Services and Resources annual conference on pornography. (Preston Crawley)

BYU Women’s Services and Resources held its annual conference on pornography on Friday morning. The goal of the conference was to spark conversation about getting rid of the shame surrounding pornography.

The messages shared gave attendees opportunities to learn about the negative effects of pornography while giving them tools to combat the issue.

Jessica Holfeltz, an associate clinical mental health counselor, began the conference with a lecture on the importance of differentiation in relationships and how to improve sexual health.

“In order to differentiate, you need to cultivate a solid sense of self and your value. Not the value to anyone or anything but the value you hold for yourself,” Holfeltz said.

Emphasizing the importance of differentiation regarding sexual health is a big part of the antidote to pornography, Holfeltz said.

She also said sexual health is influenced by multiple factors, including biological, spiritual and cultural issues. Being aware of these influences allows people to create more positive sexuality for themselves, and by eliminating the negative influences, such as pornography, in people’s lives they can allow their sexual health to flourish.

After Holfeltz presented, Marty Erickson, a therapist at BYU’s Counseling and Psychological Services, spoke about the common questions that are involved when there is a pornography problem in a relationship.

Erickson said women often ask “How could you?” when pornography becomes an issue in a relationship. This emphasizes the feeling of shame that comes with pornography usage, according to Erickson.

“There’s gender socialization where we are told to be men and women in a certain way,” Erickson said. “They tell us how we have to be in terms of masculinity and femininity, being a man and being a woman, being sexual and not being sexual.”

People don’t share the same perspectives on what is the best or right standard of behavior, according to Erickson, due to these norms and socialization.

Erickson also talked about how the advancement of technology has allowed pornography to become more available to the public.

The conference ended with a panel consisting of Holfeltz, Erickson and CAPS therapist Adam Fisher. They answered previously submitted questions from members of the community.

BYU senior Katrina Hill had heard about the conference through posters around campus. The part that stood out to her the most was Holfeltz’s lecture. She enjoyed the lecture’s emphasis on the importance of being one’s own person in any relationship.

“Pornography is a problem for a lot of people, so I wanted to be aware of how it affects us and how we can be prepared against it,” Hill said.

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