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Dear Cameron Diaz:

For many years you’ve been a positive and happy highlight on the silver screen. You’re smart, funny, and beautiful, an excellent combination. From your use of sperm as hair gel in There’s Something About Mary to this week’s debut of Sex Tape, you’ve given us twisted, off-beat, and edgy hilarity. You help all of us be a little less uptight.

But as a psychologist, I’m also aware there are lines that we’re better off not crossing, which brings me to my point.

In a 2011 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live you exclaimed, “I love porn!” At the time, it seemed all in good fun—and completely consistent with your irreverent, quirky self. However, since then, I’ve come to view public declarations of loving porn as less than harmless.

Lately I’ve been reading pornography research and have discovered some very disturbing facts. As we’ve known for decades, there’s porn, and then there’s PORN. We need better ways to define this vast array of sexual material.

Because you were once a Charlie’s Angel—dedicated to saving the world from all things evil—I want to share with you what behavioral scientists are finding about the darker side of porn. Viewing more porn is associated with:

• Engaging in sexually aggressive acts (including rape or sexual assault)
• Becoming depressed, anxious, and stressed
• Functioning more poorly in real social interactions (and ironically, becoming impotent)

Research also reveals that young boys who view lots of porn are more likely to be sex offenders. And here’s the most disturbing thing I’ve discovered. Over 80% of pornography includes violence towards women. Within this violent category, a common motif involves a man having anal sex with a woman and then having her perform oral sex, so she tastes her own feces. This illustrates why we need to make distinctions between porn that is fun, educational, or artistic, and porn that is just plain destructive.

Here’s one last thing I didn’t know. The porn industry is GARGANTUAN. It hardly needs your endorsement to survive (http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=132001). This week, the industry will make hundreds of millions of dollars on films with substantially less plot than Sex Tape, and my best guess is that you wouldn’t intentionally endorse most of these plots.

Although I don’t know you personally, I have trouble believing you “love” the sort of porn that denigrates women, contributes to impotence in young men, or increases sexual assaults. This leads me to a suggestion for how you might help people understand the differences between acceptable and destructive porn.

What if we planned a tour of the late night talk shows to discuss the stark differences between artistic, gently consenting porn and violent, degrading, and damaging porn? This is a discussion our culture desperately needs, and you could take the lead. With this simple, educational message you could save thousands of people from harmful sexual relationships, or no real sexual relationships at all!

Your legacy could include people not only saying, “Cameron Diaz was talented, beautiful, and smart,” but also “After the letter from that psychologist from Montana, she became an amazing role model for healthy and fun consensual sex.”

Thanks for listening and let me know how I can help!

Sincerely,

That psychologist from Montana

Editors note: This post was originally published on johnsommersflanagan.com

john-and-danJohn Sommers-Flanagan is a professor of counselor education at the University of Montana. He is author or coauthor of over 40 professional publications, including seven books and was previously co-host of a radio talk-show on Montana Public Radio titled, “What is it with Men?” His work with youth and parents has been captured for educational purposes on a number of different local and national video productions.. In his spare time, John loves to run (slowly), dance (poorly), laugh (loudly—usually at himself) and produce home-made family music videos.

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