Valley Voices

Vote for love – not porn – Fresno

There is word that Hustler Hollywood wants to set up a sexy store in Fresno’s former Silver Dollar Hofbrau. Not everyone is thrilled with the idea.
There is word that Hustler Hollywood wants to set up a sexy store in Fresno’s former Silver Dollar Hofbrau. Not everyone is thrilled with the idea.

With elections on everyone’s mind, this is a season when every vote matters.

While we focus on polls and politics, another local election looms. Recent news just revealed Hustler’s hopes to put up shop in our city. If it arrives, we will cast votes with our cash on our community’s stance on pornography.

As this porn-industry giant petitions for our votes, I wonder how many will grant their stamp of approval, disguised as dollars. Supposedly, the majority of the merchandise will not be porn-related.

In one article, Larry Flynt framed this as a “retail operation,” with a fraction of “adult” content. To me, this is exponentially more deceptive. Even if customers exit the Hustler Hollywood store with G-rated clothing, they unknowingly cast their vote for a successful porn industry.

I can’t do that.

Gassing up at a station that peddles porn may not register as wrong. But I have avoided this for years, regardless of price. I have also often avoided buying from a local big-name bookstore because its explicit books are visible to adolescents.

I know I vote with every transaction; supporting a porn-selling business means supporting the porn industry. I refuse to give them my stamp of approval.

As a sexual-addiction therapist, I continuously see the devastation caused by porn addiction. I sit with stunned spouses. I empathize with addicts caught in self-destructive cycles. I help resuscitate relationships ruined by pornographic obsessions and aid in the burial of relationships wounded beyond repair.

As a presenter on the harmful effects of porn, I see a younger generation that is predominantly unprotected from it. I see our youth unknowingly auctioning off present and future intimacy as they immerse themselves in the internet.

Porn changes their malleable brains, affecting everything from their studying to later-life sexual performance. Many are drowning in addiction. I do my best to protect my children from this destructive drug.

As a sexual addict in recovery, I’ve felt deep disconnection. I don’t blame the porn industry for my past addiction. I chose to soothe my pain in that way and I eventually chose help. But, sadly, I have seen demeaning acts charading as sex.

As a citizen who cares about the disenfranchised and defenseless, I believe the pleasures of porn are not worth those wounded by it. The porn industry might deny its ties to sex-trafficking, a trade that citizens heroically fight locally. Drug abuse, physical and psychological harm, and disease are commonplace; sexuality and humanity are commodities.

These characteristics grate against my most essential beliefs in love, freedom and human worth. I adamantly oppose those who profit from such atrocities. I once contributed to this industry through my addiction – an uncomfortable reality I must wrestle with.

Yes, I have a problem with the porn industry.

Maybe you do, too. Maybe you will avoid compensating porn’s cause, telling businesses why you’ve withdrawn your support. Maybe you will prepare picket signs, talk to city leaders, or use your influence in other ways. Standing together as a community, we can change Hustler’s plans for our city.

Whatever form of peaceful opposition we’re planning, let’s consider another aspect of the opportunity before us. As we work to raise our community’s standard, we can raise our personal standards as well.

If we are caught by porn addiction, we can seek recovery. If our children are unprotected against porn, we can begin much-needed conversations and make necessary changes.

We can take an active stance in the big battles behind our own doors. As we push porn out of all aspects of our lives, we can vote against the industry publicly without privately subsidizing its campaign.

Make no mistake, this is not a grievance against the goodness of sex. I love sex. I believe in people pursuing passionate, fun, and connected sex lives. But I believe this can be only be achieved within a spirit of love. I have an anti-porn perspective because porn is anti-love.

If you believe in love, I invite you to express that through an active stance against the porn industry. Our stance spans our streets, our homes, and our hearts.

Will you vote for love? Your vote matters.

Forest Benedict is a licensed marriage and family therapist who specializes in sexual addiction treatment. He can be reached at or (559) 323-8484.