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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Secret world: Presentation looks into fascination with pornography

By Daniel Sessions

Michael Leahy first experienced the excitement of pornography as an 11-year-old schoolboy. He said he was mesmerized by a pack of playing cards bearing black-and-white photographs of women naked from the waist up.

Years later, and several steps down what he termed “the spiral of pornography addiction,” his tolerance had grown to the point that the only thing capable of supplying the original fix was “porn with skin on it.” His affair had shattered the idyllic life in American suburbia that he had worked years to establish.

A few years later, he found himself in a place he never expected to be, walking the mean streets of the big city alone. He had been contemplating what he called “the very real option” of wrapping his mouth around the barrel of a gun.

During a multimedia presentation titled, “Porn Nation: The Naked Truth” held in the Saltair Room Wednesday night, Leahy gave U students a compelling picture of what he dubbed “the fallout associated with America’s hyper-sexualized culture.”

Leahy began his show by light-heartedly teasing the crowd with footage of college students estimating the percentage of their campus peers who view pornography. One student placed the figure at 100 percent “among students with testicles.” He chronicled his own decades-long struggle with pornography addiction, tracking the increasing dominance and availability of sexual imagery in American life, and ended the CRU-sponsored event with a prayer in the name of Jesus Christ.

“I had to build a secret world,” Leahy said, away from family and friends, like any addict.

As a young man he went to church, played football in college and even became student body president, though always maintaining his double life.

“At church I was president of my Sunday-school class, but there were times when the night before I had been up for hours masturbating to pornography,” Leahy said. He dated as often as he could, viewing women generally as objects for sexual conquest.

IBM hired him to sell computers on a six-figure salary. He married a Southern beauty, and together they had two boys, living among the tennis courts and swimming pools of American suburbia.

“As far as my wife was concerned, she was the only one I would fill my heart with,” Leahy said.

By the mid-1990s, pornography “really shifted gears” with the arrival of the Internet, Leahy said, offering unlimited imagery that could be viewed conveniently and anonymously.

Even then, Leahy said, he really didn’t believe something as trivial as pornography could interfere with his goals in life.

But pornography does take its toll, Leahy said. It trains a person’s sexuality toward artificial and instant gratification, thereby diminishing the capacity to experience sexual intimacy within a real relationship.

Pornography defines men as the conquerors of women and defines women as the objects of male conquest, thereby serving as a catalyst to sexual assault, according to Leahy.

Eventually even the Internet wasn’t enough, and pornography walked off the screen and into Leahy’s life, he says. A female co-worker who could have come straight from a Penthouse magazine proved too difficult to resist, and Leahy began having an affair. Based on clues gleaned from his calendar, Leahy’s wife suspected the affair and confronted him.

He admitted to the affair with a woman who he said had affairs with five other married men. He later revealed to his wife the depth of his addiction.

“That about took the wheels off the car,” Leahy says, and divorce wasn’t long in coming. His life began to crumble, and he despaired of ever getting out of the cage he had built for himself. What rescued him?

Trust in Christ, one day at a time, he said.

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