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PROJECT: THE DANGERS OF PORNOGRAPHY

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Decades of studies have shown that pornography can have negative impacts on both sexual and mental health as well as on society as a whole.


It is a fact that people spend a significant amount of their waking hours online, which can be more than 40%. We engage in activities like watching Netflix shows, scrolling through social media feeds, and sharing memes with friends. Every piece of content we consume has a message, and it affects us in some way. The media we consume online is not just passively consumed and quickly forgotten. Studies have shown that it can have both positive and negative effects on us, ranging from poorer mental health to negative body image.


Therefore, we must be aware of what we consume online and how it affects us. One such example is pornography, which is consumed by a significant number of people. According to estimates, more than 91.5% of men and 60.2% of women consume porn.

 

PORNOGRAPHY AND ITS IMPACT ON RELATIONSHIPS:

  • Research has shown that pornography can have a negative impact on relationships.

  • A study conducted on couples over time found that porn consumption was the second strongest indicator that a relationship would suffer.

  • Moreover, research consistently shows that porn consumers are twice as likely to report experiencing a divorce or breakup, even after considering factors such as marital happiness and sexual satisfaction.

  • There is no substitute for real connection, and it is not worth risking a relationship for the use of pornography.


PORNOGRAPHY CAN BECOME HABIT-FORMING:

  • It is common for people who consume porn to struggle with quitting this habit, which can be quite challenging.

  • Although not everyone is considered an addict from a clinical perspective, many experts believe that excessive porn consumption can lead to addiction in severe cases.

  • Regardless of the classification, quitting porn can be a complicated process that requires effort and determination.


PORNOGRAPHY CAN FUEL VIOLENCE AND ABUSE:

  • According to research, pornography promotes violence, and its sexually violent narratives can impact consumers' attitudes and behaviours.

  • Research has shown that individuals who regularly consume pornography tend to view others as mere objects and dehumanise them sexually.

  • They also express a greater intention to commit rape, are less likely to intervene during a sexual assault, tend to blame survivors of sexual assault, are more supportive of violence against women, and often share explicit texts without the consent of the other person.

  • Furthermore, they have a higher likelihood of committing actual acts of sexual violence.

  • According to a recent study, one in every eight porn titles suggested to first-time users on porn sites depicts acts of sexual violence.

  • Additionally, physical violence or aggression is present in a significant number of porn scenes, ranging from as few as one in three to as many as nine in ten.

  • Even more concerning, research shows that 95% of the time, the targets of violence or aggression in porn appear to respond either neutrally or with pleasure, which can send the message that sexual aggression is normal or even desirable.

  • Survivors of sexual abuse, particularly those who experienced it as children, may develop various mental and behavioural health conditions later in life.

  • These conditions can include hypersexual disorder, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and low self-esteem.

  • To cope with their trauma, some survivors may turn to drugs or alcohol, and others may use pornography as a form of escapism.

  • However, the more they rely on pornography as a coping mechanism, the higher the risk of developing an addiction to porn.


PORNOGRAPHY PERPETUATES RACISM AND TOXIC STEREOTYPES:

  • The mainstream pornography industry's representation of diverse individuals and relationships seems to prioritise profit over accurate depiction.

  • This often results in the exploitation of marginalised people or groups.

  • Pornography frequently fetishises sexual orientation or gender identity and uses degrading terms, leading to harmful and demeaning stereotypes.

  • Additionally, the industry sexualises everyone while often combining racism, sexism, and classism, which is unacceptable.


PORNOGRAPHY HARMS SEXUAL FUNCTIONING AND MAKES PEOPLE MORE SEXUALLY ILLITERATE:

  • Research has consistently shown that compulsive consumption of pornography can lead to sexual dysfunction in both men and women.

  • This may include difficulties with arousal and sexual performance, as well as reduced sexual satisfaction.

  • Despite claims of promoting sexual education and positivity, pornography can promote unhealthy sexual expectations.

  • It often portrays unrealistic and toxic representations of sexuality.

  • Shockingly, a recent study found that 1 in 4 young adults believe that pornography is the best resource to learn about sex.

  • Furthermore, another study showed that young people often try to imitate what they see in porn during their own sexual experiences, which can lead to unhealthy relationships and pressure to perform in unrealistic ways.


PORNOGRAPHY'S IMPACT ON THE BRAIN:

  • There is still some debate among researchers and specialists about whether pornography can be classified as an addiction.

  • However, what is known is that the abuse of pornography can have negative impacts on a person's health and can even become behaviourally addictive.

  • Humans have the potential to form addictions to substances or behaviours that stimulate the brain's dopamine centre, leading to intense feelings of pleasure.

  • Like drugs, alcohol, and video games, pornography also triggers a release of dopamine in the brain.

  • Over time, a person can develop a tolerance for pornography, just as they would for alcohol or drugs.

  • This means they will require more stimulation to achieve the same level of pleasure.

  • The constant need for more stimulation can sometimes lead people to seek out potentially dangerous sexual acts in real life.

  • Furthermore, dopamine is not the only brain chemical affected by pornography.

  • Other chemicals, such as norepinephrine, oxytocin, vasopressin, endorphins, and serotonin, can also be affected.

  • When triggered by porn, the combination of these chemicals can cause problems, including shrinkage, cravings, and chemical bonding.

  • The shrinking of the frontal lobe, responsible for rational decision-making, can happen when someone abuses drugs, alcohol, or pornography.

  • Cravings occur when dopamine is released repeatedly, causing a surge in its levels and a desire for more.

  • Chemical bonding develops when multiple chemicals are released in the brain, and the bond between them becomes stronger, leading to a more intense need for the substance producing this bond.


PORNOGRAPHY CAN EXACERBATE MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES:

  • Multiple scientific studies, which have undergone peer review, have established a correlation between the consumption of pornography and adverse mental health outcomes such as:

  • depression,

  • anxiety,

  • loneliness,

  • lower life satisfaction,

  • poor self-esteem,

  • and overall poor mental health.

  • These studies have shown that this correlation is particularly strong when pornography is used as a coping mechanism for negative emotions and when its consumption becomes excessive and uncontrollable.


PORNOGRAPHY COMPANIES PROFIT FROM NON-CONSENSUAL CONTENT:

  • It is extremely difficult to ensure that any piece of pornographic content is consensual, ethical, or legal within the porn industry.

  • The industry has a long history of profiting from non-consensual content and abuse, even when victims have requested the removal of such content.

  • Most primary porn sites have encountered problems with non-consensual content, abuse, or child sexual abuse material (commonly known as "child porn").


PORNOGRAPHY FUELS SEX TRAFFICKING:

  • Sex trafficking and pornography share several connections that are harmful to society.

  • Even in the production of mainstream pornography, sex trafficking can still occur.

  • Unfortunately, manipulation and coercion are common in this industry, which legally qualifies as sex trafficking.

  • Trafficking is defined by law as a situation in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion or in which the person induced to perform such act has not yet turned 18 years of age.

  • A consumer cannot ensure that the pornography they are watching is genuinely consensual and free of abuse or coercion.

  • The demand for extreme, abusive, or degrading pornography is being met by exploiting vulnerable people, and as long as this demand exists, the porn industry will continue to do so.



 

OTHER SIDE EFFECTS AND SYMPTOMS OF PORN ADDICTION:

  • Ignoring daily responsibilities to watch porn.

  • Spending an excessive amount of money on pornography sometimes leads to financial strain.

  • Needing to watch more porn or more extreme porn to reach their desired effects.

  • Decreased sexual satisfaction.

  • Experiencing feelings of shame or frustration either while watching or immediately after watching pornography.

  • People who are compulsive porn watchers may watch porn at work or in other risky situations, ignore their responsibilities to view porn and view more extreme porn for the same level of satisfaction they once experienced.

  • They may continue to watch porn even after experiencing feelings of frustration or shame over it and want to stop watching porn but find it difficult to do so.

  • Compulsive porn watchers may also spend money on porn, specifically if it affects their daily life or the necessities of their family.

  • They may use porn as a way of coping.

  • They make porn a central part of their day.

  • They may neglect personal care and hygiene.

  • Additionally, they may lose interest in other activities, become less interested in social interaction, experience decreased satisfaction during sex, and face relationship issues.


 

In conclusion, the myriad detrimental effects of pornography consumption underscore its status as a corrosive force in lives and society. Beyond the immediate gratification it offers, pornography distorts perceptions of intimacy, erodes emotional connections, and perpetuates harmful stereotypes. Its addictive nature ensnares individuals in a cycle of dependency, hijacking neural pathways and undermining mental well-being. Moreover, the exploitative nature of the industry, rife with nonconsensual content and ties to sex trafficking, underscores the ethical imperative to abstain. By rejecting pornography, individuals not only safeguard their own mental and emotional health but also contribute to the creation of a more compassionate and equitable world.

 

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Mike Bolhuis

Specialist Investigators into

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