September 25, 2015

Addiction Does Not Discriminate: Women and Porn

Written by Hysen Sisco, Intern

While some people may be surprised that women are in danger of becoming addicted to pornography, the porn industry isn’t. That’s because the porn industry has been profiting from it.

Many women today are consuming porn at a competitive rate. Porn addiction can sometimes be seen as a male problem, which is understandable as men are 543% more likely to look at porn than women. However, there are plenty of women who choose to view it. About one third of the people viewing pornography regularly are women and 17% of women say they are addicted.

Women are at particular risk because this issue is talked about so seldom. If a man admits to an addiction to porn, he is lauded for his bravery to work through it. If a woman admits it, she is shameful and shocking. This needs to change. Churches, communities, and resource networks need to have an open-door policy that eradicates this double standard and makes it safe for women to seek the help they need.

The risks to women addicts are usually the same as to men, but they have some unique consequences as well. “The more pornography women use, the more likely they are to be victims of non-consensual sex,” said Mary Anne Layden, professor of sociology and co-director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Cognitive Therapy. “The earlier the male starts using pornography, the more likely they are to be the perpetrators of non-consensual sex.”

Unsurprisingly, due to the violence and degradation of women in porn, seeing women being used as sex objects yet still getting physical enjoyment causes female viewers to feel more guilt than males who watch. This most often leads to low self-esteem and, later, depression.

In general, an addict will “stop developing spiritually, relationally and morally, at the age of the onset of the addiction,” said licensed psychologist and executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado, Dr. Douglas Weiss. Women begin viewing porn at younger and younger ages, many will never have been in a working relationship before starting on this path. This impedes their ability to maintain normal, healthy, adult relationships. One woman spent her nights on porn sites flirting with men and engaging in cyber-sexual activities. In the day, she was a quiet librarian who had difficulty interacting with people socially and romantically. This mirrors the increasing erectile dysfunction young men experience when faced with a real-life woman outside the sphere of porn.

Women are drawn more to chat-rooms than men, though they are still enthusiastic consumers of videos and other images. The personal connection afforded to them at these types of sites feeds their need for relationships, despite how contrived or fantasized it is. Erotic literature is also often geared toward women, describing in detail the essence of the participants’ relationship.

This dangerous mixture of sexual and emotional gratification by counterfeit means takes a toll on an addicted woman’s life by making her less capable of finding what she seeks with real relationships.

If you or someone you know is struggling with pornography, you can find resources (including ones specifically for women) at our Resource Center.

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