Pornography is once again taking over the newest technologies, and this time it’s virtual reality. Virtual reality (VR) is a rapidly growing technology phenomenon that creates a simulated environment in which the viewer is placed inside of an experience. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article outlining how VR’s first real boom is pornography. Pornography companies like Naughty America are utilizing VR to produce even more content. In fact, Naughty America produced over a hundred pornographic VR videos in a period of 18 months, which made it one of the highest producers of VR content.
The pornography industry has often been on the heel of the latest innovations.
VR porn has been steadily increasing in popularity; Naughty America’s customers downloaded more than 20 million VR videos in December of 2016. Viewers of VR porn are more likely to pay for porn than traditional consumers of online porn, and Naughty America’s revenue increased more than 40% during 2016.
Naughty America is not the only company in the industry taking advantage of VR technology; Pornhub is working with a VR company to produce videos, and smaller porn companies have also started producing videos. The article also identifies a potential barrier to the growth of VR porn because the major digital-distribution services have policies against selling pornography on their online stores.
Regardless of the alleged links between porn and technological innovation, the harmful effects of pornography, especially VR porn, are being blatantly ignored and brushed aside. In a presentation given at the 2016 Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Summit, Lisa L. Thompson spoke about the dangers of virtual reality porn. She asserted that in virtual reality “embodiment is considered a nonessential to the human experience” because “humans are seen as information processing entities.” The very nature of virtual reality transforms the user from a voyeur to the role of a protagonist in their own virtual story.
Consequently, VR pornography could potentially have even more negative effects than other types of pornography. Almost 90% of pornographic videos contain scenes of violence[i], which, in addition to normalizing sexual violence, converts the user into a virtual sexual predator.
Pornography is also linked to dissatisfaction with partners;[ii] however, VR pornography provides such an interactive experience that the need for real partners becomes almost unnecessary. Corey Prince, the Vice President of Pornhub stated, “Virtual reality is the next phase in the constantly metamorphosing world of adult entertainment, and will provide users with a mesmeric experience unlike anything they’ve seen before. Now, our users are not only able to view our content, but be protagonists in the experience and interact with their favorite porn stars.”
Prince praises the ability to experience interactions in virtual reality, yet they are merely shells of real interactions, lacking both emotion and depth. Virtual reality will always remain virtual. It will never be reality.
To learn more about the harmful effects of pornography, click here.
[i] 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.
[ii] Chyng Sun, Ana Bridges, Jennifer Johnason, and Matt Ezzell, “Pornography and the Male Sexual Script: An Analysis of Consumption and Sexual Relations,” Archives of Sexual Behavior 45, no.4 (2014: 983–994.)