Pornography is America’s misguided ghoul


The conjugal act—the act of sexual intercourse—bring humanity into existence and sets in motion the next generations of society. Healthy societies maintain their stability by channeling the sexual energies of young adults into marriage, an institution that legitimizes sexual intercourse, protects the children that are the fruit of intercourse, and channels the giving and receiving of sexual pleasure in a way that builds up rather than tears down society.

After the introduction of internet, the Porn industry had a very ill effect on the sex life, marriage and relationships among people, especially youth. Today, it is believed the online porn sector is worth $15 billion, and it reaches more people, younger people, every year. In 2016 the analytical repot of just one site, PornHub, revealed that its videos were watched 92 billion times last year, by 64 million daily visitors. It works out at 12.5 videos for every person on the planet, and if you tried watch all of them consecutively – don’t – you’d be busy for 524,641 years.

Society at large is not immune to the effect of pornography. Men who habitually look at pornography have a higher tolerance for abnormal sexual behaviors, sexual aggression, promiscuity, and even rape. In addition, men begin to view women and even children as “sex objects,” commodities or instruments for their pleasure, not as persons with their own inherent dignity. The addictive aspect of pornography has a biological substrate, with dopamine hormone release acting as one of the mechanisms for forming the transmission pathway to pleasure centers of the brain. It is traditionally characterized by an uncontrolled urge, often resulting in loss of control. Children and teen are capable of developing compulsive sexual behaviors, which can lead to sexual addiction. Failure to resist the urge to view pornographic images, despite the negative effects the behavior has on social or recreational functioning, is a sign of impairment.In 2014, a Cambridge University study found that pornography triggers brain activity in sex addicts in the same way drugs trigger drug addicts.Also, the increased sexual permissiveness engendered by pornography increases the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease or of being an unwitting parent in an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. The aggression and violence towards women found in much of today’s popular porn can teach boys and young men that it is socially acceptable to behave aggressively towards and demean women. It also portrays people and sexual relationships that do not accurately reflect how real people look and act in intimate relationships.

Pornography also affects people’s emotional lives. Married men who are involved in pornography feel less satisfied with their marital sexual relations and less emotionally attached to their wives.Husbands report loving their spouses less after long periods of looking at (and desiring) women depicted in pornography.Women married to men with a pornography addiction report feelings of betrayal, mistrust, and anger.The distress level in wives may be so high as to require clinical treatment for trauma, not mere discomfort. These men assign increased importance to sexual relations without emotional involvement, and consequently, wives experience decreased intimacy from their husbands.Heavy exposure to pornography leads men to judge their mates as sexually less attractive, resulting in less satisfaction with their affection, physical appearance, and sexual behavior.The need for more intense sexual stimulation brought on by pornography can lead to boredom in normal relationships and a greater likelihood of seeking sexual pleasure outside of marriage. Pornography use leads to marital dissatisfaction, infidelity, separation, and divorce. In the best study to date (a very rudimentary opportunity study of reports by divorce lawyers on the most salient factors present in the divorce cases they handled), 68 percent of divorce cases involved one party meeting a new paramour over the Internet, 56 percent involved “one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites,” 47 percent involved “spending excessive time on the computer,” and 33 percent involved spending excessive time in chat rooms (a commonly sexualized forum).

Pornography leads to distorted perceptions of social reality: an exaggerated perception of the level of sexual activity in the general population, an inflated estimate of the incidence of premarital and extramarital sexual activity, as well as increased assessment of male and female promiscuity, an overestimation of almost all sexual activities performed by sexually active adults and an overestimation of the general prevalence of perversions such as group sex, bestiality, and sadomasochistic activity, sexual contact with animals, engaging in anal intercourse, and trivializing nonviolent forms of the sexual abuse of children.In the site’s ranking of the most popular search terms, ‘lesbian’ once again conquered all, while ‘step mom’ gained the second spot from ‘MILF’ and ‘teen’ for the first time.

Since male use pornography much more frequently than females, exposure to sexual and even semi-sexual material from the Internet, magazines, and television is associated with stronger notions that women are sex objects or sexual commodities. Men thus exposed are more likely to describe women in overtly sexual terms, rather than by other personal attributes.Pornographic films also degrade women through “rape myth acceptance” scenes, which depict women being raped and ultimately enjoying the experience. These scenes foster the belief that women really “want” to be raped. Women who watch pornography regularly unwillingly engage in a form of self-degradation: they develop a negative body image about themselves because they do not measure up to the depictions in the pornographic materials. They compare their own bodies to those of the women in porn.

“An entire generation is growing up believingthat what you see in hardcore pornography is the way that you have sex,” — Cindy Gallop, said in her 2009 TED talk on the matter. “Because the porn industry is driven by men, funded by men, managed by men, directed by men and targeted at men, porn tends to present one world view: that is the way it is.”

Pornography viewing and sexual offense is inextricably linked. One study of convicted Internet sexual offenders reported that they spent more than eleven hours per week viewing pornographic images of children on the Internet. Another study compared two groups of offenders: those convicted of Internet collection and distribution of child pornography images, and those who commit real life child sex abuse. The results showed that a majority of those who were convicted of only Internet-based offenses also had committed real life sexual abuse of children. Moreover the study also found that real life offenders had committed an average of over thirteen different child sex abuse offenses, irrespective of whether they had formally been convicted of any real life incident.Another study examined the beliefs of three groups: real life, “contact-only” child sex offenders, Internet-only child sex offenders, and mixed offenders (contact and Internet). While all groups were more likely to minimize the gravity of their offense, the Internet-only group was more likely than the contact-only group to think that children could make their own decisions on sexual involvement and to believe that some children wanted, even eagerly,wanted sexual activity with an adult.

In 2016, NHS experts noted an increase in erectile dysfunction in otherwise healthy young men, and thought excessive porn use was the most likely factor to play. “These young men do not have organic disease [so] one of the first assessment question I’d always ask now is about pornography and masturbatory habit, because that can be the cause of their issues about maintaining an erection with a partner,” psychosexual therapist Angela Gregory told the BBC.

Contemporary society is alarmingly sexualized, and the traditional sexual taboos of a well-functioning society have broken down. Society benefits when it fosters a healthy sexuality.Human beings are healthiest and happiest when they are monogamous (only one sexual partner in a lifetime), and that happiness is directly related to monogamy’s long-term stability and exclusivity. The cultural censure of disordered sexuality that enables stable family life has faded with the proliferation of Internet pornography.

The key to militating against these damaging patterns and to protecting against the effects of pornography is to foster relationships of affection and attachment in family. The first and most important relationship is between the father and the mother. The second is engaged parents who love their children. In today’s technological society, this means limiting, monitoring, and directing their children’s Internet use. This, in turn, provides an invaluable shield against Internet pornography, and allows room for a healthy sexuality to unfold in a natural and socially supported way. In our over-sexualized culture, with a longer pre-marriage period, children need the capacity for abstinence if their sexuality is to be channeled into stable marriage, procreation, and healthy family life for their children. Strong families remain the best defense against the negative effects of pornography.

Finally, the fundamental role of government (including the courts) is to protect innocent citizens, most especially children and adolescents, and to protect the sound functioning of the basic institutions of family, school, marketplace, and government. They are all interdependent. Pornography, clearly, undermines both marriage and the family, and has a host of ill effects. It is time for government to reassess its laissez-faire attitude towards the proliferation of pornography, especially on the Internet.Our present and future families need protection from this insidious enemy of love, affection, and of family and social stability.

Saad Mohammad is a research scholar in Sociology.

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