The pornography of today has created an unprecedented epidemic of sexual harm. Science and research is catching up with the concerns of many and is now showing a wide range of harm caused by pornography.
Law enforcement and our jails are overwhelmed with the results of sex trafficking and child sexual abuse.Children and young people are being exposed to violent and degrading content, which by default has served as their sex education. Children are at greatest risk as research shows such exposure affects their developing brains and shapes their sexual templates. The younger and more often children are exposed to such content the more problematic it becomes. Adolescents are more susceptible to forming addictions than adults because the dopamine neurons in their nucleus accumbens (i.e. the brain’s pleasure center) are much more active and have an exaggerated plasticity in response to addictive stimulus. Thus, it can be said that a propensity for addiction is more strongly “hardwired” into the adolescent brain. Internet pornography consumption by adolescents is associated with risky sexual behavior that can have profoundly adverse effects such as anal sex, multiple sexual partners, and substance use during sex. Such outcomes are not surprising in light of research into how the human brain develops which shows that adolescents are not as readily able to access their front lobes—the portion of the brain that controls impulses and allows for rapid, smart decision making.
Like other public health issues, not all exposed have the same response. However, for many, repeated exposure and use is correlated to problematic sexual behaviors that can lead to porn-induced erectile dysfunction, divorce or failed relationships, and sometimes sexually aggressive and violent behaviors. Research is also showing correlations to violence against women, increased STI rates, and increased sexual dysfunction among young men.
PORNOGRAPHY IS PERVASIVE:
- It’s Every Where: Young children are now exposed to hardcore (mainstream) pornography at an alarming rate, with 27% of older millennials (age 25-30) reporting that they first viewed pornography before puberty.[i] Sixty-four percent of people 13–24 actively seek out pornography weekly or more often.[ii]
- Both Male and Female Users: While hardcore pornography users are typically male, female use is increasing. Teenage girls and young women are significantly more likely to actively seek out porn than women over age 25.[iii]
- Unmanageable at the Individual Level: The pervasive depictions of softcore and hardcore pornography in popular culture, and their easy accessibility via streaming and mobile devises, produce problems and significant risks outside the ability of individuals and families to manage on their own.
- Like the Tobacco Industry, the Pornography Industry is Creating a Public Health Crisis. Despite tobacco’s former widespread use and acceptance in American culture, once its harms became apparent, society took action and adopt dramatic new policies to limit the harmful effects of smoking. Similarly we believe that people need to be protected from pornography exposure, and be made aware of the risks associated with pornography use. Additionally, pornography should not be socially endorsed, normalized, or presented as cool.
IMPACT ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE:
- Pornography Teaches that Women Enjoy Sexual Violence: Analysis of the 50 most popular pornographic videos (those bought and rented most often) found that 88% of scenes contained physical violence, and 49% contained verbal aggression.[iv] Eighty-seven percent of aggressive acts were perpetrated against women, and 95% of their responses were either neutral or expressions of pleasure.[v]
- Pornography Is Linked to Increased Sexual Violence: A 2015 meta-analysis of 22 studies from seven countries found that internationally the consumption of pornography was significantly associated with increases in verbal and physical aggression, among males and females alike.[vi]
- Pornography Is Linked to Increased Female Sexual Victimization: A study of 14- to 19-year-olds found that females who watched pornographic videos were at significantly greater likelihood of being victims of sexual harassment or sexual assault.[vii]
IMPACT ON THE BRAIN:
- The Research Is In: Since 2011, there have been 24 major studies that have revealed porn has negative and detrimental impacts on the brain.
- Pornography Use Shrinks Brain: A 2014 study found that increased pornography use is linked to decreased brain matter in the areas of motivation and decision-making, impaired impulse control, and desensitization to sexual reward.
- Pornography is Like Cocaine: Pornography hijacks the brain’s reward systems the same way that cocaine does.
- The Addiction Gets Worse: A 2015 study from Cambridge found that pornography use can drive novelty-seeking, so users need more and more extreme content over time in order achieve the same level of arousal.
IMPACT ON SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES:
- Pornography and STI’s: Pornography use among adult males in America is associated with increased engagement in sexual behaviors that increase the risk of STIs. In multiple studies, internet pornography consumption was positively associated with having sex with multiple partners, engaging in paid sex, and having had extramarital sex.
- Increased STI’s Among Adolescent Minority Females: Exposure to X-rated movies among Black females 14 to 18 years old was associated with being more likely to have negative attitudes toward using condoms, to have multiple sex partners, to have sex more frequently, to have not used contraception during the last intercourse, to have not used contraception in the past 6 months, to have a strong desire to conceive, and to test positive for chlamydia.
IMPACT ON FEMALES:
- Negative Body Image and Pressure to Perform Pornographic Acts: As a result of viewing pornography women reported lowered body image, criticism from their partners regarding their bodies, increased pressure to perform acts seen in pornographic films, and less actual sex, while men reported being more critical of their partners’ body and less interested in actual sex.
- Increased Marital Rape: Males who use pornography and go to strip clubs were found to engage in more sexual abuse, stalking, and marital rape than abusers who do not use pornography and go to strip clubs.
IMPACT ON MALES:
- Leads to Pornography-Induced Erectile Dysfunction (PIED): A 2015 study on pornography users found that 20.3% said “one motive for their porn use was to maintain arousal with their partner.” It also found that pornography use was linked to higher sexual desire, but lower overall sexual satisfaction, and lower erectile function.
- Young Men and PIED: Young men are experiencing increasing rates of PIED. In the early 2000s, the PIED rate among European men was approximately 13%. In 2011 young Europeans (18-40) had ED rates of 14-28%. The dramatic increase in ED rates among young men coincides with the sharp increase in the availability and pervasiveness of Internet pornography.
- Negative Body Image: A 2015 study found that men’s frequency of pornography use is positively linked to body image insecurity regarding muscularity and body fat, and to increased anxiety in romantic relationships.
IMPACT ON RELATIONSHIPS:
- Dissatisfaction with Partners: Research has demonstrated that the more pornography a man watches, the more likely he is to deliberately conjure images of pornography during sex to maintain arousal, and to experienced decreased enjoyment intimate behaviors with a partner.
- Extramarital Affairs: A study found that persons ever having an extramarital affair were more than 3 times more apt to have used Internet pornography than ones who had lacked affairs. Other research affirms that pornography consumption is associated with more positive attitudes towards extramarital affairs.
[i] Barna Group, “News Conference on Barna’s New Study: ‘The Porn Phenomenon,’” (January 15, 2016), https://www.barna.org/blog/culture-media/barna-group/porn-press-conference#.VrS9OrSJndl (accessed June 27, 2016).
[ii] Barna Group, The Porn Phenomenon: The Impact of Pornography in the Digital Age,” (Ventura, CA: Josh McDowell Ministry, 2016).
[iv] Ana J. Bridges, Robert Wosnitzer, Erica Scharrer, Chyng Sun, and Rachael Liberman, “Aggression and Sexual Behavior in Best-Selling Pornography Videos: A Content Analysis Update,” Violence against Women 16, no. 10 (2010): 1065–1085.
[vi] Paul J. Wright, Robert S. Tokunaga, and Ashley Kraus, “A Meta-Analysis of Pornography Consumption and Actual Acts of Sexual Aggression in General Population Studies,” Journal of Communication 66, no. 1 (February 2016): 183–205.
[vii] Silvia Bonino, Silvia Ciairano, Emanuela Rabagliette, and Elena Cattelino, “Use of Pornography and Self-Reported Engagement in Sexual Violence among Adolescents,” European Journal of Developmental Psychology 3, no. 3 (2006):265-288.
Celebrating 30 years of advocacy and education efforts, The Maryland Coalition Against Pornography is a volunteer based organization. Focused on the Nation’s Capital Region, MCAP works to protect children, families and communities from the devastating effects of pornography by:
- Educating the public
- Encouraging enforcement of federal and local obscenity and child pornography laws.
- Taking appropriate action against businesses that deal in pornographic materials.
- Supporting businesses that do not distribute pornographic materials.
- Supporting federal and state legislation to control obscenity and child pornography.
- Providing help for those struggling with addiction to pornography.
- Protecting minors against exposure to pornography