October, 2014

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Changing the Conversation about Today's Pornography: Emerging Public Health Research on Brain Development, Economics of the Industry, and Impacts on Kids

Oct 3, 2014

Mall of America, Bloomington, MN ( 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.)


computer imageWe invite you to attend this free day-long journey where we’ll learn about emerging research that reveals the harms of pornography, including neurobiology and addiction, inner workings of the online pornography industry, health impacts, and impacts on kids. The symposium will feature a panel of people who have experienced harms from pornography and will feature artwork from survivors of violence, including people who have been used and victimized in the pornography industry. Through small group discussions, we’ll practice how we can each change the conversation about pornography at work, at home, and in our communities. Promising solutions from around the world will be discussed, and emphasis will also be placed on actions conference participants can take to start changing the conversation on this issue from harmless to harmful.

Keynote Presentations:
Cordelia Anderson M.A.
Cordelia Anderson, MA, has conducted over 2,500 presentations nationally and internationally on a wide range of topics including sexual violence, pornography, countering demand, and much more. She is the founder of Sensibilities, a prevention training & consultation business based in Minneapolis, MN. At the symposium, she will present on the impacts of hyper-sexualized media and pornography on children, youth, and culture, and highlight years of research on the topic. She will also discuss the politics of definitions of pornography, the reasons for treating pornography as a public health issue, and current efforts to address child and youth exposure to pornography on the internet.

Donald Hilton, M.D.

Dr. Hilton is a neurosurgeon and Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center, serving as director of the spine fellowship at the medical school program, and director of neurosurgical training for the residency program at the Methodist Hospital. At the symposium, Dr. Hilton will present on the latest brain research about pornography and addiction. Through his presentation, attendees will learn about the neural mechanisms involved in addiction as it applies to pornography use. Dr. Hilton will use recent research findings to counter the popular notion that pornography addiction is not valid or widespread.

Jennifer A. Johnson, PHS
Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor and Chair of the Sociology Programs in the School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University where she teaches gender, social theory social networks, and social stratification. At the symposium, Dr. Johnson will present on her research regarding social network analyses of the online commercial pornography industry (OCPI). Dr. Johnson will describe the two “faces” of the OCPI, one of which is seen by the consumer and the other by the industry. Through her presentation, attendees will learn how the OCPI operates, which companies are profiting, and how the OCPI extracts extraordinarily high profits from consumers.

Why focus on the harms of pornography?:
In 2012, "teen porn" became the top pornography-related online Google search term. Kids are being exposed to increasingly violent and oppressive pornography at younger ages, at greater frequency, and with greater ease of access. We’re looking for people who are ready to apply a critical lens to pornography to better understand the connection between pornography and sexual harm, who are excited to engage in small group discussion and practice, and who are ready to take action upon leaving the symposium.

Popular discourse on pornography focuses on freedom of speech and sexual liberation, and those harmed by pornography and the industry are silenced. As society’s largest sex educator, the mainstream pornography industry often promotes sexuality that is violent, oppressive, and self-focused. The industry also subjects those in the pornography to violence and oppression. As today’s pornography landscape is markedly different from that of the 1960’s and 70’s, so too has awareness and knowledge about the problems associated with pornography increased.

Who should attend:
Those attending in-person are asked to commit to staying for the entire, day-long symposium. Those wishing to only listen to the morning’s keynote presentations are welcome to watch online via Livestream instead. This is a free event intended for a broad array of attendees, including policymakers, community members, people who work with children and youth, domestic violence and sexual assault advocates, educators, public health, college students and staff, researchers, psychologists/therapists, criminal justice staff, faith leaders, business owners, etc.

Are you interested in learning how to talk to your children or to your students about pornography? This symposium will not focus on how to do that. Instead, we recommend local expert Elizabeth Griffin, who recently presented on how to talk to kids. Elizabeth’s two-hour presentation can be viewed at this link:


  • 8:00 – 8:30: Registration and pre-evaluations
  • 8:30 – 8:35: Welcome
  • 8:35 – 9:30: Impacts on children, youth, culture, and health- Cordelia Anderson, M.A.
  • 9:30 – 10:30: Neurobiology and addiction- Donald Hilton, M.D.
  • 10:30 – 10:45: Break
  • 10:45 – 11:45: Online commercial pornography industry- Jennifer Johnson, PHS
  • 11:45 – 12:30: Q & A roundtable with Cordelia Anderson, Dr. Hilton, and Dr. Johnson
  • 12:30 – 1:30: Lunch (on your own)
  • 1:30 – 2:30: HOPE Panel stories, facilitated by Cordelia Anderson, M.A.
  • 2:30 – 3:15 Circle discussions in small groups
  • 3:15 – 3:30: Break
  • 3:30 – 4:00 Action planning discussion in your area/field of interest
  • 4:00 – 4:30:  Call-to-action and closing remarks- with special guests

Symposium Inivitation (PDF: 226KB/3 pages)

Contact Marissa Raguet (MDH) at for more information.


Registration is open

Register for this event

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Friday, Sep 26, 2014

Registration period:
(Wednesday, Jul 02, 2014 - Friday, Sep 26, 2014)

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