HARMFUL EFFECTS OF PORNOGRAPHY
Understanding the Porn Industry
Pornography is made up of sexually explicit imagery and videos which depict nudity and sexual behaviours, with the primary purpose of provoking sexual arousal for entertainment and pleasure. It can be found in anything: romance novels, photographs, movies, magazines, video games, virtual reality, internet chat rooms, online camming and erotic mobile conversations.
The porn culture is often seen as being young, hip, exciting, non-judgmental, level headed and rebellious. There is a growing acceptance of this industry, and it’s even encouraged as a way to enhance relationships and enjoy your personal sexuality.
But a growing body of research is revealing a darker side; that rather than being liberating and healthy, it’s more often linked to degrading and violent actions and attitudes towards women, children and men.
How pornography is harmful:
Porn effects the brain:
Porn is addictive: it has an impact on our neurology. When porn is viewed, chemicals in the brain like Dopamine, Serotonin and Oxytocin are released which give us pleasurable feelings and bond us to people, things and experiences. Our brains are constantly creating new pathways as we experience life, the more we visit a pathway the stronger it becomes. Porn can hi-jack our brain by over stimulating the brain with Dopamine, which causes neuro receptors to decrease, and then the novelty of what was first watched starts to wear off. In order to experience the same level of pleasure the brain needs something more arousing, more frequent or novel than before, and so a person is compelled to seek out something more hard-core or more surprising. And so the spiral goes: continuously viewing porn often and more extreme forms of stimulation in order to sustain higher levels pleasure.
This ongoing activity has a real impact on our brain, which impacts our whole experience of life. Research has shown that people who consume large amounts of porn experience shrinkage and damage in parts of the brain such as the Prefrontal Cortex. The Prefrontal Cortex is an important part of the brain as it is used in the process of decision making, differentiate between conflicting thoughts, determine good and bad, same and different, and consider future consequences.
People who watch porn often will also find that they are no longer interested in relationships, activities or hobbies that they once used to enjoy. Frequent porn consumers are left feeling withdrawn, anxious, restless, isolated and compelled to watch more porn. But it is important to know that there is hope and the harmful effects that porn has on the brain can be reversed, however this is not an easy process. If you are struggling with porn or know of someone who is, you can contact us or read more info on our Get Help page to find out how you can break the cycle of porn and choose real love, a love that lasts.
Contrary to the notion that viewing porn together can improve the sex lives of couples, research suggests that it’s more likely to create unrealistic expectations, generate undue pressure and diminish intimacy in relationships. Intimacy is reduced because the neural pathway for porn is much stronger than the neural pathway for intimacy with a partner. Porn affects our ability to love more intimately and build stronger bonds with people.
With the “fast food” pleasure of porn easily available, and the variety large of sexual imagery, sex with a partner may simply not be appealing or pleasurable to a porn-viewer. As described above, the need to seek out increasingly hard-core porn can render normal sex insufficient for sexual satisfaction, to the point of decreasing or losing interest in having sex with a partner.
There may be intense pressure on partners to live up to the sexual fantasies necessary for the porn-user to experience arousal. Often partners will engage in viewing porn to try and “learn” how to please their partners and maintain intimacy. The partner may come under pressure to look a certain way or to perform certain acts that they are not comfortable with. If they are not forthcoming with this, it can lead to conflict, damaged trust, low self-worth and emotional trauma in one or both partners, and a loss of intimacy in the relationship. In the worst case scenario, porn users who are unable to find satisfaction with their partners may turn to paid sex to fulfil their wilder fantasies.
Porn fuels sexual exploitation. This happens in a few ways:
First, the porn industry is not, as some would like to imagine, made up entirely of willing people who give their full consent and are being well treated in the industry. Many women, men and children are forced or coerced into making porn.
Furthermore, most popular categories and searches are “Teen”: “youth”, “barely legal”, “jailbait”, “school girls”, “sweeties” and “lolitas”. Teen is a major trend in porn, where youth and childlikeness is seen as “sexy”. Minors by definition cannot consent to having porn made of them. Therefore child porn, by definition, is considered sexual exploitation.
Secondly, porn creates an intense appetite for something more. This can lead to some users wanting to seek or act out their fantasies, and often this leads them to paying for sex with prostitutes, who are “more willing” to fulfill those fantasies or paying for cyber sex camming. Prostitutes are vulnerable to being mistreated and abused, because they are the ones men are most likely to go to in order to act out more violent and degrading fantasies.
Porn is not a separate industry to sex trafficking. They are both part of the category of commercial sex. For as long as people view porn, women, men and children will be trafficked to satisfy the immense demand for sexual imagery and experiences.
Thirdly, it affects attitudes. “Rape” is another popular search term, indicating a desire for violent and abusive sexual entertainment, with one study finding that 88% of porn depicts violence. Women in the industry regularly report that they were treated in degrading ways. This carries over into the viewers attitudes, who may start seeing women and children as sex objects to be used for their own means than as humans deserving of love, value and respect.
Porn also plays a role in a new emerging form of online sexual abuse known as Sextortion. This is sexual grooming of a person who is manipulated to send and share nude photos/videos via social media and text messaging. Children, teens and young adults are the are most vulnerable to this. This is done through a process of building a relationship with the victim so they trust the predator enough to share sexually explicit images. The predator uses these images as a means of humiliation, harassment, control or blackmail to extort more sexual favors. This is also used as a means for revenge, and can result in the predator selling the images online.
If you are being sexually exploited or know of someone who has been or is being sexually exploited please contact us immediately.
Porn fuels the sex trafficking industry and is linked to all kinds of sexual exploitation and degrading attitudes. Watching porn, even occasionally, supports this industry by maintaining demand for it.
To protect your children from becoming exposed to and possibly addicted to porn: honesty, openness and compassion balanced with clear boundaries and accountability goes a long way.
To protect your children from becoming targets for those producing porn, the approach above, combined with training, such as Protective Behaviours, will equip children with the skills to protect themselves from predators
We encourage you to have a look at our “get help” page, which will give you some resources and information on how to embark on the journey to freedom.
If your partner is addicted it is vital that you both get support in the process of coming free from addiction and the effects that addiction has on a relationship. See our “get help” page for more detailed information on how to start this process.
There are many stories of those who consent at first, only to realise later what they’ve gotten themselves into. Even if you could know that the porn being viewed involved consenting adults, viewing porn still supports an industry that brings misery to countless thousands. Ruined lives and ruined relationships, all for the sake of a few moments of pleasure that are detached from any real world benefit: is it really worth it?
The short answer is no. It is not good for the viewer, it is not good for relationships and it is not good for gender equality and justice in the world.