March 25, 2019

The Reality of Female Pornography Addiction

Pornography consumption has increased dramatically in recent years. Internet use has expanded the use of pornography due to, in large part, the easy accessibility of explicit material online, decreasing price of pornography, and the ability to discreetly consume explicit material with technologies such as smartphones and tablets.[1] As a result of the increase in pornography viewed via the internet, many individuals have experienced an excessive use of pornography that has led to an addiction. While the risk factors and severity of these pornography addictions are debated among researchers, the reach of pornography affects men and women alike.

Social Biases Towards Women vs. Men

Though men and women are affected by pornography, there seems to be a double standard regarding the social biases of the use of pornography among women. For many, it is permissible for men “to be sexual but for women sexuality represents being immoral and sinful.” A result of this double standard is the seemingly less attention that women receive in research regarding pornography.[2] This stigma surrounding women’s use of pornography also often leads them to have increased feelings of guilt and isolation.[3] With these stigmas and double standards preventing conversation about pornography among women, we noticed that there is a desire to learn more about the connections between pornography, addictions, and forms of sexual exploitation.

   

Many women have reported initially viewing pornography to supplement lovemaking with their partners.[4] However, due to the addictive nature of pornography, women find themselves compelled to consume porn more frequently and viewing more intense forms with time.[5] This compulsive behavior to view pornographic materials sometimes leads to addiction, regardless of gender.

Pornography Impacts Women in Different Ways than Men

Women who view pornography are: prone to negative body image and pressure to perform pornographic acts, accept rape myths, experience sexual assault and domestic violence, and experience increased marital rape. Negative experiences coupled with the stigma against women and sexual desires further intensifies feelings of guilt and shame for pornography addictions, as experienced by the unnamed author of this blog post. This anonymous author and other women like her share similar stories of early exposure to pornographic images and a secret addiction, and their individual struggles as they journey on the road to recovery.

To recognize a compulsion or addiction to pornography in yourself or others, consider these statements regarding these warning signs and symptoms:

  • Being unable to stop using porn or stop engaging in the behaviors associated with porn, despite repeated attempts to do so. Approximately 9% of viewers reported that they had made unsuccessful attempts to stop.
  • Experiencing cravings to view porn. Much like substance users report feeling strong urges to use drugs, porn addicts can experience strong urges to view porn.
  • Becoming angry, hostile, or irritable when asked to stop using porn. Porn addicts may deny their porn viewing or be upset when loved ones request that they stop.
  • Keeping all or part of one’s porn use secret from loved ones. Porn addiction has been shown to lead to increased secrecy in relationships.
  • Feeling as though one is living a double or secret life because of porn use. A person with a porn addiction may feel guilty or ashamed and work hard to hide his or her porn viewing from others.
  • Continuing to view porn despite negative consequences, such as broken relationships or a job loss. Relationships, where one partner is addicted to porn, can lead to a reduction in intimacy, emotional distance, reduced sexual satisfaction, and overall poorer quality of the relationship. Being unable to abstain from porn during work hours can lead to disciplinary action or even job loss.
  • Losing track of large chunks of time due to being absorbed in porn use. Porn addicts may spend much of the day viewing pornography. This can lead to porn becoming a priority, with everything else set aside in favor of viewing porn.
  • Requiring increasing amounts or more explicit porn to gain the same satisfaction or thrill, similar to the development of tolerance.

What You Can Do

If you or a loved one are struggling with pornography addiction and would like help with your road to recovery, there are several resources available to you. Remember, you are not alone in your recovery and that “these resources help you understand these complex issues and aid in both prevention and recovery efforts.”

Citations:

[1] Price, J., Patterson, R., Regnerus, M., & Walley, J. (2016). How Much More XXX is Generation X Consuming? Evidence of Changing Attitudes and Behaviors Related to Pornography Since 1973. Journal of Sex Research, 53(1), 12–20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26169262

[2] Ashton, S., McDonald, K., & Kirkman, M. (2017). Women’s Experiences of Pornography: A Systematic Review of Research Using Qualitative Methods. Journal of Sex Research, 55(1), 334-347. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00224499.2017.1364337

[3] Corley, M. D., & Hook, J. N. (2012). Women, Female Sex and Love Addicts, and Use of the Internet. Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity, 19(1), 53-76. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10720162.2012.660430

[4] Corley, M. D., & Hook, J. N. (2012). Women, Female Sex and Love Addicts, and Use of the Internet. Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity, 19(1), 53-76. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10720162.2012.660430

[5] Love, T., Laier, C., Brand, M., Hatch, L., & Hajela, R. (2015). Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review and Update. Behav Sci (Basel). 2015 Sep; 5(3): 388–433. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4600144/

 

Ashleigh Unsted

Intern

Ashleigh was born in England and has lived in the United States for most of her life. She is graduating from Brigham Young University with a BS in Public Health in April 2019. Minoring in International Development, she is interested in the connections between clean water availability, the environment, and family relationships. Ashleigh recognised the link to poverty and global development with sexual exploitation, and she wishes to combat martial and family violence and the international sex trade market.

Further Reading

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