The Effect of Porn on Our Relationships

Everyone watches it. It’s normal. It’s not hurting anyone.

Let’s be real.

When it comes to our relationships there may be nothing more destructive than the porn industry. Between unrealistic expectations, normalizing the objectification of women, and insinuating that men are nothing more than sexual predators, porn is rapidly killing the humanity that is necessary for our connection. Not to mention the horrific violence that is so often promoted in this industry.

It’s not hurting anyone.

Let’s break this down, shall we?

The most obvious people that this hurts are the women in the industry. What many people don’t realize is that a lot of women (and especially young girls) who are in the porn “business” were the object of some sort of coercion or manipulation technique in order to get them there. Even for the women who that may not be true for, many of them end up situations that they don’t want to be a part of. It’s very common for men or agencies to withhold certain details of a “job” until the women are on the scene and paid, causing them to feel pressured into whatever they’re told to do whether it was disclosed or not. Furthermore, these women are subjected to countless health issues (both mental and physical) due to how violent some of the storylines can be and how frequently they must participate in dangerous and unprotected sexual activities.

Now, what about us? What about regular citizens? Consuming porn… that’s a normal and healthy thing, right?

Wrong.

The presence of porn promotes feelings of inferiority and insecurity for women, and sometimes men. This isn’t something that is talked about often, but it is a common reality. The “necessity” of a person to watch porn blatantly tells their significant other that they are not enough to satisfy the desires that they have. Our human nature is so prone to comparison, and this industry fuels that.

Porn also tends to promote the concept that men can use power and money to diminish abuse. If we accept this as a “normal” thing, we begin to see this play out in our lives. And haven’t we? The numerous recent news reports about powerful men exerting their dominance through their power, money, and fame in the form of sexual abuse or rape prove that this “normal” behavior of daily consumption of these images is anything but “normal.” 

Why is it that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted while in college? Why is it that 1 in 4 girls will face some form of sexual abuse by the time they turn 18? Why is it that every 98 seconds someone is sexually assaulted in America (adding up to 570+ every single day)? Why is it that we see so much sexual violence in our culture today? Could it have something to do with the 28.5 billion visits to Porn Hub (alone) in 2017?

Don’t get me wrong, porn is not the sole source of these issues, and it is not the only problem. But, the consumption of the graphic images and storylines depicted in porn can only lead to more demand. Sometimes it fuels demand for more graphic, more violent stories in porn. Sometimes it leads to more “everyday” men going to strip clubs, purchasing women through illegal prostitution sites, or visiting brothels. So not only is consuming porn detrimental to our relationships, we see that continual consumption brings more and more destruction.

Now, if you aren’t quite convinced of porn’s dangerous repercussions on our lives and our relationships, let’s turn to science.

When people view sexual images, the brain releases dopamine. Overtime, regular viewing of these images causes a need for more (more quantity, more graphic, etc.). Something that seemed so “harmless” can grow into a habit, and potentially an addiction. This need for more graphic imagery can even potentially cause symptoms like impotency and decreased sex drive with a person’s significant other.

William M. Struthers, a psychology professor at Wheaton College explains, “the psychological, behavioral, and emotional habits that form our sexual character will be based on the decisions we make.” Inherently, the images seen in porn create a “preferred pathway” for the brain, making this the primary mental pathway of the brain. The decision to watch graphic and often violent sexual storylines leads the brain to be more likely to display these kinds of behaviors in normal life. This is explained by the brain’s neuroplasticity, which is the tendency of our brain to make new connections when we repetitively think, feel, or do something in a certain way. When we continue to think, feel, or do specific things, our brain strengthens these connections so that they become almost second nature. Our old, less used pathways weaken overtime.

Furthermore, studies have shown that prolonged exposure to porn causes a similar loss of control, compulsiveness, increased tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms to that of drug addiction. Based on research done at Cambridge University, Dr Valerie Voon explained to The Independent in an interview, “when an alcoholic sees an ad for a drink, their brain will light up in a certain way and they will be stimulated in a certain way. We are seeing this same kind of activity in users of pornography.”

So, you may be asking “okay, so if all of this is true, why is porn such a massive industry?” And, truthfully, I have no real answer for you. The producers in the porn industry care nothing for the massive destruction they are causing to individuals, relationships, and cultural issues. These producers are driven by one thing: profit. The industry feeds off of the addictive quality of the content, showing no remorse for the damage it causes.

Our relationships, our personal wellbeing, and our safety are all things we cherish. The way that porn diminishes abuse, promotes an imbalance of power, provides unrealistic expectations, and stimulates similar behaviors to addiction are only some of the ways it can bring devastation on some of our greatest values.

 

Abby Shrewsbury


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You can also find resources to learn more here.

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