Activist & 2019 Fighter of the Year
Meet Annie, Fight the New Drug’s 2019 Fighter of the Year. Annie has one of the coolest and most impactful backstories of getting involved with our organization that we’ve encountered to date. As a junior in college, Annie did some incredible things on her campus to start important conversations about the harms of porn and take away the stigma of struggling with it. Listen to Annie discuss her journey with podcast host, Garrett Jonsson, to see how she is making the movement famous in her community.
FROM THIS EPISODE
- Watch Annie’s Story
- Meet Annie, our 2019 Fighter of The Year
- Take the Fighter Pledge
- Article: Why they Goal of the Phrase “Porn Kills Love” Isn’t to Shame Anyone:
- Check out our conversation guide, Let’s Talk About Porn
Resources Annie Suggested:
Fight the New Drug Ad: Hey listeners, you’re invited to the club, Fighter Club. That is, if you’re looking for a way to become a more active part of this movement, consider joining Fighter Club for as little as $10 a month, you can create a real impact by supporting our efforts to educate and raise awareness on the harms of porn. Plus by joining, you can get insider info, 30% of all Fight the New Drug’s conversations, starting gear access to our secret store and an exclusive Fighter Club kit sent to you. When you sign up join Fighter Club today at FTND.org/FC that’s FTND.org/FC. See you in the club.
Garrett: My name is Garrett Jonsson, and you’re listening to Consider Before Consuming a podcast by Fight the New Drug. Fight the New Drug is a nonreligious and non legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects, using only science facts and personal accounts.
As we sit down with experts, influencers, activists, and people with personal accounts, we cover a wide variety of topics that may be triggering to some- you can refer to the episode notes for a specific trigger warning. Listener discretion is advised.
Today’s episode is with Annie Kadlecek. She’s 21 years old, she’s studying to become a social worker and hopes to perform research to see if there is a correlation between physical exercise and being able to process trauma. Annie is a person who has dwarfism, and during this conversation we talk about how she has used that to help change the conversation about the harmful effects of pornography. Last year, she earned the title of Fighter of the year, which is a big deal being that we have millions of Fighters around the globe. During this conversation we learn what Annie did to earn that title, and what tips she has for other Fighters who want to make a difference.
With all that being said. Let’s just jump into the conversation. We hope you enjoy this episode of Consider Before Consuming.
Garrett: You’re from Ohio, but you go to school in a different state or different city from where you live or what?
Annie: Um, yeah, so I only go to school 15 minutes from where I live, so it’s pretty, pretty close together. Yeah.
Garrett: Oh cool. Well, you mentioned when I was, um, telling you that we were going to send you a set up for the podcast, you said, “Well, I’m going to be here versus here.” What two locations where you’re talking about?
Annie: I worked at a summer camp in Michigan for the whole summer, so that’s where I was.
Garrett: Oh, cool. Yeah. So you just got home?
Annie: Yeah, I got home the 17th and then moved into college that night.
Garrett: Oh, wow. Cool.
Garrett: What are you studying?
Annie: So I’m a social work major with a focus in exercise science.
Garrett: That’s dope.
Annie: Yeah, it’s super cool. I really enjoy it.
Garrett: An exercise science focus. That’s different, isn’t it?
Annie: It is. My friends will say, it’s not a real thing, but I say it is. [laughter]
Garrett: Why do, why do you say this and why do they say it’s not?
Annie: Well? So my school doesn’t offer an exercise science minor. So normally that’s what I would have, which would make a little bit more sense. Um, but a focus just means I take exercise science classes whenever I’m free.
Annie: Um, which is why they say a focus is not a real thing, but, um, yeah, I’m really passionate about exercise and the way that it impacts your mental and emotional, physical, spiritual health. Um, and I want to work with teenagers in the foster care system, predominantly those that are aging out, um, and work on transition programs. But I also want to do research and see if there’s any connection between exercise and being able to process trauma. And if so, finding a way to connect the two.
Garrett: That’s powerful stuff. What made you passionate about that? I guess I should say those because it’s exercise and helping those with trauma.
Annie: Yeah. So my family has been involved in foster care since before I was born. Um, and that’s just always been like a very normal part of my life. Um, for the past three years we’ve been fostering my younger brother who will be adopting, um, and just kind of learning about like, what does trauma mean? How does it impact people? How does it cause it physically changes your brain? And I just feel like growing up, I didn’t know a whole lot about trauma.
Annie: Um, and I feel like it’s just like a very vague statement that people don’t actually understand what it does to you. Um, and then experiencing my own trauma and figuring how that still affected me and putting a label on it and naming it, um, was really interesting. And then when I got to college, um, I have dwarfism, which really impacts how much I can do physically.
So I was really scared of like going to the gym and knowing what to do because nobody knew how to tell me what to do. Um, so a lot of my friends would go with me and I just kind of started figuring out what worked for me and what made me stronger and what was I comfortable with, what was safe and worked. Um, and so I started taking people to the gym who didn’t either know how to work out. Didn’t feel comfortable working out by themselves and just became really interested in, um, helping, uh, people who didn’t have like a traditional body learning how to work out because it’s super important for everyone I believe.
Annie: Um, and I just became really passionate about it because I was like, these are communities that get really overlooked when it comes to fitness, even in my exercise science classes. Um, I’ve one professor who is super intentional about saying exercises instead of just athletes. Um, because that’s very often the language that’s in exercise science is able bodied athletes and that’s kind of a focus. Um, but it’s so much wider than that.
Garrett: Yeah. That’s cool. I like that.
Annie: Thank you.
Garrett: Annie Kadlecek, folks.
Annie: That’s me. [laughter]
Garrett: Did I pronounce your last name correct?
Annie: You did. I was impressed.
Garrett: That’s a cool last name. Where does it come from?
Annie: Czech Republic.
Garrett: Oh, cool.
Annie: Yeah. So actually I believe going off of, you know, random Facebook searches and some history, um, that there was a Z after the C and my name before we came over to America and then I got taken out. I think we should have kept it. It looks a lot cooler.
Annie: But here we are, no z.
Garrett: That’s awesome. Yeah. Well, um, you are amazing.
Annie: [laughter] Thank you.
Garrett: And, um, you have some cool and very ambitious goals and I love it. As we get to know you a little bit better with something that you’re proud of, that you’ve accomplished in your life?
Annie: What am I proud of? I think there’s like the things that have titles to them. Like I’m the president of the student body at my school, and I’m really proud of that. I’m really excited about the opportunity, but I think I’m more proud of the things that don’t have labels and don’t have like job titles. I think I’m really proud of the way that I have a reputation for being intentional and for caring about people, um, for being willing to, uh, advocate for them and for constantly pushing that love is an action, not a passive statement. So I think I’m more proud of that.
Garrett: And do you think that your personal challenges have made you that way? Because you are a person that does take action, you are a person that loves you are a person that’s an advocate that, uh, fights for marginalized groups. Um, do you feel like that your experience with dwarfism is in a sense, a gift in that way?
Annie: Absolutely. That is majorly impacted who I am today. Um, I mean, it’s hard for it not to because that’s a part of my everyday life, but ever since I was young, um, rejection and not knowing how people were going to take me, it was a very big part of my life. Um, I always had to decide from a very young age if I was going to be okay with how I was or what other people tell me that I shouldn’t be. Um, and I think just having to make that decision and being put in those positions where I had to advocate for myself and decide that I was okay, uh, made me really aware to people who are on the outside, who don’t feel included, who are not supported and seen in the ways that they should be. And so I think that’s definitely been something that has given me a perspective and an awareness that I would not have otherwise. And I’m really thankful for that.
Garrett: I like that you’ve turned that, I guess some could look at it as a challenge into a strength of yours. Right?
Annie: Yeah. And I don’t want to say that it’s not challenging because I don’t want it to be like, “Oh, it’s this amazing thing it’s so easy and cool. And giving me different perspectives.” Um, cause I definitely have days where I am better and I am frustrated with it, but I think overall I have seen that I’ve been able to make so much more of an impact and be used in so many different ways and have opportunities that I would never have without it.
Garrett: Right. How, when did you start to have that perspective? Because I think in life it’s important that we perceive some of the trials that we have or the challenges that we have. And we perceive them as a challenge, you know, and try to utilize them. Of course, we’re going to have the up and downs.
Garrett: Um, but when did that occur for you with your challenge? Um, with dwarfism, like when, at what point in your life did you accept it? Like, “Okay, this is who I am and I’m going to be strong and I’m going to make a difference and I’m going to be positive about it.”
Annie: Right. Well, I think for one thing I have incredible parents growing up. They allowed me to be frustrated and to struggle with it and to feel those things, but always reminded me of how much more powerful my, uh, the way that I handled it would be seen. And that’s when I had positivity and strength and I used this as something positive rather than viewing it as a negative or as a mistake that so much more good was able to be seen through it. That my dwarfism was a spotlight of sorts. Um, instead of highlighting the negative things, I was able to highlight the positive.
Garrett: That’s cool. You and your parents seem like solid people.
Annie: Yeah. My parents are super heroes. I can’t say that.
Garrett: Yeah, for sure. And you’re included in that group among the superheroes.
Annie: Thank you. Very kind of you.
Garrett: Um, I do want to ask, speaking about your parents and growing up, um, regarding the topic of pornography, how did you growing up? Did you guys have conversations about pornography or how did you learn about it growing up?
Annie: Yeah, so pornography was not a big topic in my house or with my parents. Um, but I do remember there was one conversation that we had about it and it wasn’t super in depth, but I do remember my parents just kind of explaining, um, the addiction to pornography that people could struggle with. And I’m really grateful for the statement that they gave me and just affirming that it was not something that negated who that person was or took away from their wife, but that it was really easy for people to struggle with it. And that’s all I really remember from that conversation, but it gave me such a more empathetic perspective than a lot of my peers had growing up.
Garrett: Was it a onetime conversation or were there multiple?
Annie: I honestly only remember that one conversation until I got older and honestly started getting more involved with Fight the New Drug. Um, I don’t remember other conversations.
Garrett: Gotcha. Speaking of how old you are, what is your age?
Annie: I am 21.
Garrett: 21. And when did you first hear about Fight the New Drug?
Annie: I first heard about Fight the New Drug. I think when I was about 17 or 18, I saw a Facebook ad or something. I’m not really sure how it popped up. I don’t know if a friend shared it. Um, but I saw and I was like, “Oh, that’s really interesting.” I think partly because pornography was such a taboo topic when I was growing up, like with my friends or, um, really in any setting, I was pretty sheltered. Um, and just didn’t know much about it or the effects of it and finding Fight the New Drug and just, I think it was just one post that talked about highlighted some of the effects of it. And I had never heard that before and I was immediately like, “Oh, this is super interesting. Like why aren’t more people talking about this.”
Garrett: Interesting. I have to give a shout out to our Marketing Director because I know she’ll be happy…
Annie: Oh, absolutely.
Garrett: …that her Facebook ad did good in the world. So shout out to you, Jasmine.
Garrett: [laughter] Um, the Fighter of the year heard about Fight the New Drug because of you Jasmine. So good job.
Annie: Yes, exactly. It’s very impactful.
Garrett: Good. Um, well hearing about Fight the New Drug around three years ago or so. Um, what took you from hearing and learning about Fight the New Drug to be in like, “I want to be a Fighter.”
Annie: So a lot of it ties back to my dwarfism a little bit. Um, growing up, having a appearance that made people stop and stare a lot of the time. Um, I have always been motivated by challenging what people think of me, which can be a good thing and a bad thing. It just depends. Um, basically if you say I can’t do something that I shouldn’t do something I’m all the more motivated to prove you wrong. And so when people would get this idea of who I was, the poor disabled girl or the person who couldn’t do anything or just, you know, the stranger in a story that could stared at me for something I couldn’t help, I immediately wanted to give them something else to look at. And so my thing always was, um, that if they’re going to look at me, I might as well give them something to look at.
Um, and so I really like to wearing things that cause people to kind of do a double take, because then I was able to wonder, “Did they do a double take because of the message I was wearing or because of me, like, we’ll never know, there’s at least an option.”
Garrett: That’s cool.
Annie: Um, and so when I found fight the new drug and I started to do more research and so the resources you guys provided and just reading into it, I was like, “This is something I want to be a part of in something I want to talk about.” Especially being surrounded in settings, that this is never brought up. Um, I was like, “So it was a really just words for me. And I was like, and it’s something I believe in.” So I just kind of grew from there.
Garrett: Cool. Um, well I asked about your parents and the conversations you heard, the conversation that you had with them regarding pornography. Um, I wanted to ask you about your friends growing up as well.
Garrett: But I forgot to what types of conversations were you and your friends having about pornography?
Annie: Right. I think growing up, um, that’s actually how I kind of became more aware of pornography. Uh, when I was about 15, one of my friends told me that they had struggled with it for a long time. And then when I was about 18, 17 or 18, and that one was the one that, uh, I became a lot more aware of just because I was older and kind of understood the impact of it more. Um, also told me they had been struggling with pornography. Um, so in those conversations, that’s kind of when I was like, “Oh, like, this is something that happens to people.” I think, especially, um, I grew up in the church and it really wasn’t talked about there. It was kind of like, “That’s something that happens outside of this.” Um, and so I didn’t really grow up thinking that that was something that happened close to me.
But, uh, the conversations that happened with a lot of my friends were much more naive. Um, I remember specifically one where there had been a guy in a class who had made a very sexual comment and later one of my friends was talking to their parents and they’re like, “Well, yeah, he probably watches pornography.” and I just sat there and I was like, “Oh, like that, that didn’t set right with me. I was like that just, you kinda just like dismissed him and didn’t acknowledge the weight of what you just said.” Um, but beyond that, uh, pornography, honestly, a lot of my guy friends would make jokes about, but beyond that, there were not really conversations that I remember having with my friends until I got older. And in college, honestly, as when those conversations started happening.
Garrett: And obviously the reason why, one reason why we’re having this conversation is because you were nominated as the Fighter of the year for 2019.
Garrett: I was.
Garrett: So that’s cool.
Annie: It is very cool. Shout out to Molly D Young for nominating me.
Garrett: There we go. Shout out to Molly. I don’t know who you are, Molly, but I’m glad that you put us in contact with Annie. Um, and for those that don’t know, um, and for you, Annie, maybe you already know this, but it’s not easy for us to, to select one Fighter.
Garrett: You know, it’s, it’s not easy because we have so many people around the world that are doing their part to push the movement forward to, um, fight for love. And so it’s never an easy process, but you were selected.
Annie: Which is crazy.
Garrett: Can you talk to that experience a little bit? Like what, what did you do within your community to, to be a Fighter to fight for love?
Annie: Yeah, so I think the main thing that stood out was, uh, my college, one of my good friends and I, um, had been talking because in one of my classes, um, my professor asked “What is an issue that you think is really prevalent in today’s society.” And so a bunch of my classmates went around and were listing different issues. And I was like, “You know what, I’m just going to say, it could make it really awkward, but we’ll see how it goes.” And I just said “You know, I think pornography is a really big issue today. And I don’t think people realize how, how much of an impact it has.” And it was just kind of quiet for a minute. And then I have to give so much credit to my professor for the way that he took this conversation, because he looked at everyone, he was like, “Okay, how many of you guys think that pornography is an issue?”
And a lot of us raised our hands and he was like, “Okay.” He’s like, “So what is, what’s the school doing about it? What are you guys doing about it?” And you just kind of phrase it as a challenge. Like how are we handling this issue is one that people don’t really talk about. And I just kind of sat there and I was like, “You know what, I don’t, I don’t know what we’re doing about it.” And that day I went to dinner with one of my good friends, Jeremy and Jeremy and someone who’s very passionate about talking about pornography. And we had had those conversations before. So I brought up that conversation for my class and we just kinda looked at each other. We were like, we should do something about this. And we just started brainstorming, what could we do on a campus where this conversation has not been very prevalent in a way that people will be willing to engage and not just be scared off by the idea of this conversation.
And so we decided not to do a meeting or something, I guess that’s a pretty intense first start to show up to a meeting and be willing to talk about that. But I said, “Why don’t we make posters that talk about just a few impacts of pornography things that people may not even be aware of.” And so, uh, I used to Fight the New Drug, a lot of resources on there, things that I’ve learned over the years and just created posters. Um, and we got approval from both of the Deans who were super encouraging about it and really supported us in that, which was really awesome. And we just put posters up all over campus and the dorm buildings, um, in classroom buildings and just kind of waited to see what would happen and a week or so later. Uh, one of the leaders on campus came up to us, asked if we’d be willing to speak at one of the events that would happen every week. And so Jeremy and I were given the opportunity to spend 15 minutes talking to a really large group of our peers about pornography and the issues that we saw with it and the need for empathetic community in order for healing to happen. Um, and so I think that is the reason I was chosen for Fighter of the year, which is super cool. Still blows my mind a little bit. Um, but yeah.
Garrett: And, um, with that experience, um, the awareness that you built within your community and on campus, what type of skepticism or pushback did you get?
Annie: Um, well, a lot of our posters were torn down, so, but frankly when Jeremy, I were talking about it before we even started, we were like, “You know what, this is not a topic people are comfortable with. And I think we need to anticipate that not everyone’s going to be a fan of what we’re doing, but that that’s okay.” Um, and I think often we went into it knowing that if people are skeptical or don’t want this to be happening, it comes from a very personal place a lot at the time. And just being able to be aware of that, I think was really important.
Garrett: I like that perspective.
Annie: Yeah. But I think overall, we were surprised at how supportive our community was for this. Um, and just how encouraging a lot of our peers were, um, in showing up for us coming to the events, talking about it, um, posting on their social media about it and just really encouraging us in it, um, was so cool to see and so encouraging. And, uh, that next semester Jeremy created a group, um, in his dorm to be able to talk about pornography and how to really, um, a really good turnout, which I think was so encouraging that that space was able to be created, um, and that accountability was able to happen. Um, but yeah, I think overall it was actually a really encouraging response.
Garrett: I think some people, some of our listeners will be in a position where they want to help, right? They want to take action. They want to make a difference whether it’s within themselves or within their group of friends or within their home or within their community or on their campus. Um, and based on your experience, Annie, do you have any, any advice for those people, um, anything that you learned that maybe you would do differently or, um, a different approach that you would take? Any tips in that way?
Annie: Yeah, I think first of all, it’s amazing to want to be able to help. And that’s first of all, so encouraging, but I think instead I’ve learned is that part of the reason I’ve been able to have these conversations is because people knew that I was vocal about it and that I cared about it. And I think that even in that, it’s really important to be careful about your approach in that, because you can be vocal and talking about pornography, but if you’re not expressing it in really gentle and empathetic ways, then people are just going to feel shamed and not wants to talk to you about it. So I think even outside of the conversation in pornography, constantly creating a space of empathy and intentionality with the people around you leads them to believe that you’re going to care about them before and after you know this about them. And I think that is the only way to make progress. So I think be bold when speaking about the harms of pornography and having these conversations, because it doesn’t really come up easily. Often you have to just kind of push for a little bit, but that when you’re bringing them up, you’re being super aware and treating those conversations as if you’re speaking to someone who’s struggling with it because a lot of the time you are and you don’t even know it.
Garrett: Yeah. And I think about going back to the fact that you learned about Fight the New Drug through that Facebook ad, right. I wonder how many ripples you and your team over there have created, um, by those flyers? Um, maybe our next Fighter of the year will explain that they first heard about Fight the New Drug because of your flyer.
Annie: That’d be super cool. It really would be. [laughter]
Garrett: That’d be awesome. Um, well I wanted to ask how you learned that you were fighter of the year?
Annie: Yeah. So I remember I was out shopping with my younger brother, so I had my, I wasn’t really paying attention to my phone, but all of a sudden I’m getting like all these messages and all these followings and I was like, “I’m really confused. I’m not sure what’s going on.” Um, and then I got a message from Fight the New Drug, just saying, “Hey, any, you should, you should really check out our live video.” I was like, “Okay. Like maybe it’s one they send to like everyone.”, like asking them to, you know, go, go watch it. Like, “I don’t know. That’s cool.” Um, so I got home and so I sit there and I’m watching it. I was like, “Wait a second.” I was like, “What is going on?” And so I get to the end where announces that I’m Fighter of the year. And I actually, I teared up a little bit, um, cause it’s just something that I care so much about. And I was so excited to have this opportunity. Um, and so I found out through an Instagram live and then I ran into my house and told my parents. And that was, uh, yeah, that was pretty much it.
Garrett: Cool. What advice do you have for other Fighters that want to make a difference?
Annie: I think it is important to acknowledge that people do handle conversations very differently. And so I think honestly, I would just go back to what I was saying before that, um, being a good listener, being an empathetic person, being intentional about that. Um, but also I think social media is a really important tool that we’re able to use. Um, it’s, it can be a more passive, uh, form that doesn’t require you to necessarily be super upfront outspoken. But I think, uh, Fight the New Drug has really great posts that are super easy to just share on your story that don’t have to be super in people’s faces, but, um, just kind of show that you’re willing to talk about these things and willing to have those conversations. Um, but to not feel like you have to be like anyone else. Um, like I think it’s really easy to look at people that Fight the New Drug is highlighted and thinking you have to be just like them and the ways that you are in your community. But the reality is is that your community is your community and they love you for who you are. So loving them and expressing with them and listen to them the way that you know, how to best is the best way to serve your community and make an impact in that way.
Garrett: I love that. Well, what other resources apart from whether, whether they’re Fight the New Drug related or other resources that you find valuable, what other resources do you think our listeners would find value in?
Annie: Yeah, I think Instagram has been a huge resource to me. Um, I think just Fight the New Drug on Instagram has been great other accounts that I have found to be really helpful in this, um, is a Moral Revolution and Red Light Rebellion. Um, those are two that cover these topics, um, from different perspectives. And I think that’s been really helpful and really interesting.
Garrett: Okay, great. We will try to attach those, um, social media handles to this episode so that our listeners can find those.
Garrett: Well, Annie, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. Um, we appreciate you showing up day in and day out. Uh, like I said, um, I feel fortunate to be part of the movement. Um, and I know that the movement wouldn’t exist without our Fighters, without people like you, who are doing their part. And so, um, we just want to thank you for once again, showing up day in and day out. We wanted to give you the opportunity to give us the last word during this conversation. Um, is there anything you’d like to leave our audience with?
Annie: There is I’ve got them been talking about empathy throughout this conversation and the importance of it, um, to have grace for the people that you talk to. But I think we get really uncomfortable with the idea of not knowing what to say and not just in this conversation, but in a lot of them, but I’m going to focus on this one specifically since that’s what we’re talking about, but I think we get really scared of what people could say. If they say they are struggling with pornography, or if they’re not doing well or things like that, just because it’s something we can’t fix right away. And pornography is such a deep, personal struggle that so much shame is connected to it. And I think when we’re listening to people who are talking about this deep shame, we get scared because we don’t know what to say in response.
And I think that keeps us from being willing to have these conversations, but we have this expectation for people to be able to heal without us ever entering into their pain. And that is such an unfair expectation because I think the only way to heal is to have healthy community that is, has unconditional love to the best of human ability. Um, but doesn’t view them with shame or with fear of what to say. Um, I think becoming comfortable with silence and the idea that your words are not what matters as much as your presence is what’s most important. So I think to sum up basically to not be afraid of having these conversations, because in the end, it won’t matter as much to them if you said the right thing or not, but if you kept showing up for them genuinely,
Garrett: Annie, you are great.
Annie: [laughter] Thank you. Thank you.
Garrett: I walk away from this conversation humbled and my heart’s full of gratitude for you, and for your words, and for your wisdom. I don’t know, looking back, I don’t think I would have had the words or the knowledge or the, the amount of empathy at 21 years old. Um, and so I think, um, we are fortunate that you’re sharing that with us. Um, and it was just a fun conversation.
Annie: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much.
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Garrett: Thanks for joining on this episode of Consider Before Consuming.
Consider Before Consuming is brought to you by Fight the New Drug.
Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and non-legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects using only science, facts, and personal accounts.
If you’d like to learn more about today’s guest and the conversation we had, you can check out the links attached to this episode.
Again, big thanks to you for listening to this conversation. As you go about your day, we invite you to increase your self-awareness, look both ways, check your blind spots, and consider before consuming.
MORE RESOURCES FROM FTND
A three-part documentary about porn’s impacts on consumers, relationships, and society.
Fifteen research-based articles detailing porns negatively impacts.
Tees to support the movement and change the conversation wherever you go.
Successfully navigate conversations about porn with your partner, child, or friend.
A database of the ever-growing body of research on the harmful effects of porn.
An interactive site with short videos highlighting porn’s proven negative effects.