Pornography Posse : Members of Enough Is Enough! Join in Battle Against Hard-Core Smut
They call themselves “pornbusters.”
Sarah Sansevieri raids Newport Beach liquor stores and magazine stands armed with a Polaroid camera and a California Penal Code handbook. She asks shop owners to make adult magazines less visible so children won’t be exposed to them when buying a candy bar.
Marjie Garcia rallies behind residents against adult-oriented businesses from Garden Grove, her home city, to Lake Forest. Ginny Lukei of Santa Ana gives lectures to parents about the dangers of pornography addiction at high schools and colleges. Monique Nelson is regularly called on to speak on radio and television talk shows to argue that there is a link between illegal pornography and criminal acts.
Together, they are the core of the West Coast branch of Enough Is Enough!, a national, nonprofit organization based in Santa Ana that attempts to raise public awareness about the effects of pornography on society.
“We are not after Playboy and Penthouse. We are against child pornography and hard-core smut--the illegal stuff,” said Nelson, 52, the West Coast director. “We go and teach people about ‘porn-busting.’ ”
Defenders of sexually explicit material say claims by groups such as Enough is Enough! often reach too far and defy constitutional protections of free expression.
“Because the definition of pornography is different for everyone,” said Jeffrey J. Douglas, a Santa Monica criminal defense attorney and chair of the National Free Speech Coalition, “there’s a fine line between what is offensive to one person and what isn’t.”
Douglas, who is spokesman for the National Trade Assn. for the Adult Entertainment Industry, said there are social costs in eliminating pornography.
“We have this cultural conflict because sex is not discussed in public. It is a private matter,” he said. “But there is this drive for voyeurism and exhibitionism that is fueled by this constraint.”
Members of Enough is Enough! see it differently.
The organization, which has about 300 volunteers--mostly women--started as an awareness campaign three years ago after a group of women activists from across the country gathered in Washington for a conference on how to fight pornography.
As a result, Nelson and friends Sarah Blanken and Dee Jepsen formed Enough is Enough!. Blanken and Jepsen are based in Virginia. Nelson came back to her home in Santa Ana to organize the West Coast campaign.
“California is the porn capital of the world. It was natural to have a presence here,” Nelson said. The local group works with 20,000 people nationwide to help them start their own grass-roots movements.
Many of the volunteers are child victims of pornography or sexual abuse, who now speak out against the childhood trauma that often causes behavioral problems in adolescents and adults.
“I went from being a victim to a victor, and instead of having a ‘why me?’ mentality, I have taken action,” said Sansevieri, 40, who carries around a bag full of hard-core adult magazines she has collected from area stores to show parents what their kids have access to.
Exposed to pornography during her pre-adolescent years, Sansevieri said she grew up confused about her sexuality and the meaning of love. “I was always getting involved with men who were addicted to porn because I didn’t know any better,” she said.
Enough is Enough! is dedicated to breaking this chain, Nelson said.
But there’s a counter argument that sexually oriented businesses hold a valuable place in society.
“We are doing the world a service for people that would normally not have an outlet for release,” said Maria Mann, a manager of one of seven adult-material stores along Garden Grove Boulevard in Garden Grove. “The movies we sell and rent are what people do in their bedrooms. It’s a fantasy-type atmosphere. And if people don’t like it, they don’t have to come in here.”
Likewise, Richard Budd, a manager at Condom Revolution in Costa Mesa, said disturbed individuals do not frequent mainstream stores like his.
“Everyone who comes in here is enlightened about sex,” Budd said, adding that two-thirds of the store’s clientele are women. “This is a place where you can teach people about safe sex and give them an understanding that sex is not an alien force.”
Enough Is Enough! has “some good points,” he said, “but it’s up to parents to educate their children. They can’t put the failure of society on adult stores for not bringing their children up right.”
In cities throughout Orange County, Enough is Enough!, in conjunction with the National Law Center, has assisted policy-makers in tightening local ordinances to keep adult-oriented businesses in check.
Kathy Davis of Orange called the group for information last year to help her fight her local cable company, which was airing unsolicited sexually explicit films.
Enough is Enough! gave her statistics from a U.S. Department of Justice study, such as: 87% of convicted molesters of girls and 77% of convicted molesters of boys admit to the use of hard-core pornography, with 57% of them admitting they imitated pornography scenes in commission of their crimes.
“I went to the Federal Communication Commission, and they did nothing,” Davis said. “When Enough is Enough! gave me those statistics in print, I knew I was fighting not only for my children but for society.”
Earlier this year, Cablevision of Orange scrambled the adult-oriented programming. Similarly, the group was successful in a dispute with Cox Cable in south Orange County, resulting in the scrambling of a free televised sex show this summer.
Recently, the group has been helping some Fountain Valley residents in their efforts to regulate pornography.
Adult-entertainment businesses, such as nude and topless dance clubs, are protected under the First Amendment, guaranteeing freedom of expression. But cities are allowed to regulate where they are located.
“What about our First Amendment rights to be able to say, ‘We don’t want this kind of smut in our city,’ ” Fountain Valley Councilman George B. Scott said at a council meeting.
Scott said he plans to work with residents, the Orange County Division of the League of California Cities and county supervisors to unite opposition to sexually oriented businesses.
“What typically happens is that cities don’t think this is going to happen in their community. So these adult businesses do their homework and find cities that have loose ordinances,” Nelson said.
Psychologists often cited by the group say the best way to stop pornography is to understand the effects of its prolonged use.
Dr. Victor B. Cline, a Utah-based psychotherapist specializing in marital counseling and sexual addictions, points to pornography as a source of adult sexual pathologies.
“What I’m finding is that in some cases pornography leads to pornography addiction, which leads to a variety of deviant activities such as child molestation,” Cline said from his Salt Lake City office.
“In 20 years, I’ve treated approximately 400 males, and with very few exceptions, they all had addictions that started during their adolescence,” he said.
Cline said the addiction starts with mild material and then escalates. The person gets a “buzz” or a “high” from fantasizing with the material and then ultimately tries to live the fantasy.
Marylin Murray, an author who has written about sexual abuse and its consequences, said the same attention the nation has given to fighting illicit drugs should be given to illegal pornography. Pornography reaching homes through personal computers linked to the Internet is opening an entirely new front, said the psychologist, who has a practice in San Diego and Arizona.
Since the Supreme Court ruled in 1982 that visual depictions of children younger than 18 engaged in sexual conduct are illegal, child pornography has gone underground, but it has surfaced again with the Internet, Murray said. “I’m more alarmed as a professional of what this poses for children,” she said. “This makes children readily available to pedophiles.”