Pro-sex, anti-love

Michael Lockwood
Mercury Staff

How porn degrades women, distorts the mind

Abby” — we’ll call her — has what you might call the ideal husband: loving, intelligent and attractive. But no matter how hard they try in the bedroom, Abby cannot become sexually aroused. “It’s not like he’s only willing to try a handful of mundane things … and it’s not because he’s some ugly potato.” Rather, it’s because Abby’s husband is unwilling to curse at her, call her degrading names or beat her. 

You see, Abby became addicted to pornography when she was 12 years old. As she described in her email to Fight the New Drug, a non-religious non-legislative organization aiming to help individuals make informed decisions about porn, Abby’s addiction rewired her brain so that being mistreated was the only way she could experience sexual pleasure. Those fortunate enough to have never been exposed to pornography may wonder what could possibly be degrading enough to affect someone’s mind like that. But a look at what porn does and how this can happen will reveal how evil pornography really is.

A 2015 survey conducted by the Barna Group revealed that 67% of male teens and young adults ages 13-24 and 33% of female teens and young adults view porn regularly. Several studies from peer-reviewed journals such as Social Science Quarterly and the Journal of Sex Research have already shown that porn can cause individuals to feel more anxious, depressed and lonely. But it affects relationships, too.

According to a 1988 study in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology and a 2010 literature review from a University of Arkansas professor, those who watch porn report feeling less love for their romantic partners. As they grow accustomed to the airbrushed faces, super-sized breasts and unconditional enthusiasm of porn actors, viewers lose satisfaction with their real-life partners’ looks and sexual performance. This can leave the partner feeling confused, inadequate and betrayed. 

A 2018 review in behavioral sciences, another peer-reviewed publication, found that as porn viewers get bored with the “mild” stuff like watching strangers have sex, they delve into more hardcore material. Content which the viewer may have formerly considered morally objectionable becomes stimulating. Violence seems to be the norm in pornography, as 88% of porn film scenes contain physical aggression, according to a 2010 study published in Violence Against Women. It’s common in porn videos to witness a male actor slapping, shaking, or choking the female before forcing her into a position where he can ejaculate on her face. 

There comes a point in mainstream porn where the line between consent and rape is too blurred to be identifiable. Former porn actress Regan Starr recounts a scene: “I got the s**t kicked out of me … most of the girls start crying because they’re hurting so bad … I couldn’t breathe. I was being hit and choked. I was really upset, and they didn’t stop. They kept filming. You can hear me say, ‘Turn the f***ing camera off,’ and they kept going.” 

It’s material like this that makes men think it’s okay to rape women. Several studies have revealed that those who use porn are more likely to believe the myth that women actually enjoy getting raped. Not only that, but a 2011 study of college men in the U.S. found that participants who viewed porn were more likely to say they would rape someone if they knew they wouldn’t get caught.

            According to Karen Countryman-Roswurm, an associate professor at Wichita State University, pimps in the sex trafficking industry know that many of their customers will be porn addicts who want to act out their fantasies on real people, so they train the sex slaves for what will be expected of them by showing them violent porn videos. Some pimps use the slaves to make and distribute porn themselves, but viewers can’t tell the difference because mainstream pornography is already heavily loaded with themes of rape, violence and domination. One sex trafficking victim was forced to appear in a video which ended up on the Sinclair Institute’s list of “sex positive productions.” On its website, the institute claims to provide reliable information and tips for sexual health. “Every time someone watches that film,” she said, “they are watching me being raped.”

            How can something which is often indistinguishable from rape not be considered evil? How can a habit which has been shown to ruin relationships and distort the mind not be considered wrong?

 It’s unfortunate that many young men today would rather sit in the bathroom masturbating to a video of sexual bondage than commit themselves to a faithful relationship with a real woman. Of course, it’s immensely difficult to develop a healthy romantic relationship. It requires great effort, empathy and self-control. But it’s that kind of relationship which will produce real love. A relationship free from video-screen adultery, untainted by unrealistic expectations and violent fantasies.

Maybe you’re hooked on porn. If so, it’s not too late to make the decision to stop. There are resources that can help you quit, such as Covenant Eyes, an accountability website which offers screen-monitoring software for those trying to quit viewing porn. With determination and courage, you can change for the better and prevent the negative consequences of viewing porn. Leave behind the world of fake love and start living in reality, with real people and real joy.

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