The harms of pornography are well documented and yet it continues to be viewed at alarming rates. Here, Naked Truth Project team explains why it is so appealing to many people, who will often sacrifice their wellbeing, relationships and families in the process of consuming the x-rated material.
The creation and consumption of erotic material is age-old, but since the dawn of the smartphone, porn has been more accessible, affordable and anonymous than ever before. There are a LOT of people watching porn at any given time. One porn website says that its sites receive more than 4.5 billion hits every month – over 2,000 per second – and that’s just one option out of many available. If porn isn’t something you’re interested in, you might be tempted to wonder why it’s being consumed at such alarming rates, especially if you’re clued up on its harms. What could be so appealing that people spend so much time and money on it, often sacrificing their wellbeing, relationships and families in the process?
Unfortunately, sometimes the answer is that people just haven’t thought about it – a mindset that the big porn companies do their best to encourage. Here at Naked Truth Project, it’s our job to think about it. A lot!
So, what is it about porn that keeps people returning, time and again? Here are some common reasons that people watch porn, and our responses to them;
Unsurprisingly, lots of people watch porn for sexual satisfaction.
The appeal of the ‘quick fix’- a whole lot of reward for very little effort. And while that can easily masquerade as a positive thing, it’s this very characteristic that makes porn so harmful. Porn is a supernormal stimulis - “a stimulus that by virtue of being larger or more intense than normally encountered natural stimuli has a greater behavioral effect than the natural stimuli.” Put simply- porn takes our brain’s natural desire for sexual connection and gives it an unnaturally intense version of it.
Studies have shown that porn use, despite all the industry does to convince us of its benefits, can actually lead to LESS sexual satisfaction. It desensitizes us to natural stimuli and conditions us to seek out the “super-normal” hit that only porn can give, and the consequences of this are wide-ranging. To give an example, research suggests that the more porn an individual consumes, the more likely their relationship is to suffer. Porn users often feel less committed to their relationships, are less sexually satisfied and commit more infidelity. Sounds like a recipe for dissatisfaction, right?
Sometimes, people turn to pornography because they want to learn about sex.
I’d like you to imagine you’re about to take your driving test for the first time. There’s just one problem: you’ve never driven a car before, never had a lesson with an instructor. But, you’re feeling confident. You’ve done loads of research – watched every James Bond car chase, played hours of Mario Kart… you can see where we’re going with this. There’s a big difference between something that’s designed to entertain, and something that’s designed to educate, and porn sits firmly in the entertainment category. So if we want to use it as a “manual”, we’re trying to ask questions that it’s just not equipped to answer. Research has indicated that young people using porn are more likely to believe things about sex that aren’t true, making it the exact opposite of sex education!
Fight the New Drug also make a great point: do we want to take sex tips from an industry that profits off fake orgasms – and increasingly, faked “consent” videos? But the question of where and how to learn about sex is a pertinent one, something that society – and particularly the church – needs to grapple with more widely: if we are telling people that porn is not a good way of learning about sex, then what resources can we direct them to? Are we willing to have open, honest discussions that address the real issues people are facing in our porn-influenced culture?
“It doesn’t hurt anyone- it’s harmless fun.”
Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case. Increasingly, we are thinking about the supply chains of our food, phones, cars, or clothes, ensuring that everyone involved in the process has been treated well and paid a fair wage. If we apply the same level of examination to the porn industry, it doesn’t take long to discover heartbreaking injustice.
There are undeniable links between porn and human trafficking. Some of the most popular porn sites in the world don’t verify the ages of everyone in the content being uploaded, let alone verifying consent. In fact, Mindgeek, Pornhub’s parent company, are currently facing a lawsuit for profiting off child pornography. And while there may be some performers in the industry who genuinely enjoy their jobs, we’ve heard far too many stories of willing performers arriving on set expecting to do one thing, but being coerced, blackmailed or tricked into doing something else.
Pornography undoubtably fuels violence against women, with 88 per cent of porn containing violent acts. Sam Benjamin, a former porn director, said of his job; “While my overt task at hand was to make sure that the girls got naked, my true responsibility as the director was to make sure the girls got punished. Scenes that stuck out, and hence made more money, were those in which the female ‘targets’ were verbally degraded and sometimes physically humiliated.”
This is just one example of the injustice that is rife within porn production, but that’s already enough to know that this isn’t an industry that we want to blindly support.
As the porn industry works hard to keep consumers in the dark about what really happens on the other side of the screen, and in the minds, hearts and bodies of those watching, people need to hear the truth about the costs of porn more than ever before. So, will we be bold enough to overcome the taboo of talking about porn in our churches and communities, in order to shine a light on injustice? We hope this article has inspired you and informed you for the courageous, culture-changing conversations our world needs.
Learn more at nakedtruthproject.com/get-educated