Later than I had hoped for, such is life, but, as mentioned on my last post, I wanted us to dig a little further into how pornography affects its viewers. Truthfully, I had no expectations to be writing about pornography when I started blogging. I don’t even know if I have the appropriate font for this topic, but here we are.
So, let’s talk porn.
[Disclaimer: This is an informative posts & my research did not involve viewing the material. You probably weren’t even thinking that were you? Well….this got awkward.]
DID YOU KNOW?!
The average American consumer is exposed to over 14,000 sexual images and messages every year, most which objectify women and base their value on their body shape and size. This accounts for exposure through television alone.
It is then to no surprise that our perceptions of sex and love are shaped around what the media sells to us. Drop by drop. Bits by bits. Explicitly or subliminally. They sell SEX, because well…sex sells. And if you want the explicit content, you got it. They have a wide range of selections too, to appease the preference of all its audience. Globally, pornography is a $97 billion industry with 75% of its internet users being men. But have you ever considered how this industry affects its viewers aside from providing a short-lived pleasure?
Michael Leahy, author of Porn Nation and former sex addict, describes what he refers to as “Sex Syndrome” as a pathological state we enter when our capacity for sexual pleasure and intimacy decreases as our exposure to intense sexual stimuli (like Internet pornography) increases.
So, what’s happening neurologically when we are exposed to these forms of sexual stimuli?
The human brain is responsible for producing sexual stimuli by releasing chemicals. The variation of these chemicals can either increase our attraction for someone, foster a deep love and long-term attachment, or both.
Let’s look into the main culprits….
Dopamine: a neurotransmitter that creates intense energy, exhilaration, focused attention, and motivation to win rewards
Oxytocin: hormone that promotes a feeling of connection, bonding, and attachment
In a loving relationship it is typical to move from the dopamine-rich state of a new, first love to the deeper intimacy that leads to the calm, secure and quiet stages of oxytocin-induced attachment. However, for someone who becomes a frequent user of pornography they begin to overstimulate the brain with dopamine and will seek ways to maintain that “high”. The brain will adapt by increasing its tolerance levels and the result is desensitization, similar to the experience of a drug addict.
So while these brain chemicals are causing the pornography user to seek other pathways to meet its new tolerance levels, psychologically and emotionally the viewer is also undergoing a rather ugly transformation.
Leahy, explains it this way…..
The more disturbing the image, the more I found I had to separate my relational emotions and values from what I was looking at and view the women as objects instead of people…..I had to separate or dissociate my emotions from how I was using these people for my own gratification.
This transferred over to the way he treated real people in his relationships, especially women. His objectification and sexualization of the women in porn led to the same attitude towards his relationship with women in his life, including his wife. However, for a long time he felt he had set an acceptable limit for himself. Porn was this limit. No one-night stands, no strip clubs, no other women- just porn.
Feed yourself a steady diet of pornography, you’ll increasingly view women as degraded sex objects- you’ll sexualize and objectify all women. And in the process of doing that, you’ll have fewer and fewer thoughts and images representing a healthy view of women as caring, loving, feeling individuals worthy of your admiration and respect.
Wow. Read that again (if your attention span permits, this post is getting long).
According to statistics, 73% of women and 98% of men reported internet porn use in the last six months, for a total of 85% of respondents for the study. For porn use within the last week, the numbers were lower: 80% of men and 26% of women.
So while both men and women may be undergoing Sexual Syndrome with exposure to porn, statistics tell us that men are drastically more at risk. They are allowing pornographers to corrupt their views of women as caring, loving, feeling individuals worthy of admiration and respect and in turn, harming their romantic relationships.
In 2013, Cosmopolitan magazine surveyed 68 top sex therapists in the United Kingdom. Of them, 86% felt that porn hurt relationships and 90% had seen an increase in relationship troubles due to porn use. Most sex therapists also said that porn increases men’s expectations of sex with their partner, while porn has a negative effect on women’s sexual confidence. These effects can lead to performance anxiety and dissatisfaction in both men and women.
Recently released statistics from a leading Internet porn provider reveal that 4.5 billion hours of porn were watched worldwide in 2015, with over 21 billion visits to the site in question or its network of websites.
4.5 billion hours
4.5 billion hours spent watching people in sexual acts. Is anyone disturbed by this? I mean, really, just think about it. Something that was created to be a deep, intimate, spiritual experience, an expression of love, is being performed for the entertainment of others. So, people just sit there. In front of a screen. Watching others have sex. This is their entertainment. It’s twisted. But we are too liberal of a society for many to ever see it as so. Because sex is causal. Sex is fun. Sex feels good.
But where are we headed with our fight towards sexual “freedom”? The very things we consider to be such norms today were unthinkable a century ago. How much further will we go? According to Pornhub statistics, “teen,” “stepmom,” “mom,” and “step sister” have all topped the chart as some of the most searched terms on the site for years. Why? Just why?
On recent news, the United States Department of Justice shut down the darknet’s largest-known site of child exploitation videos accessed by hundreds of users from around the world with material that showed the sexual abuse of children as young as six months old. This is sick. You likely agree. But this isn’t the pornography of normal people, right? But it perpetuates it, and why should anyone want to take any part in the same industry that leads to these secret darknet societies?
It’s the normal people that become addicted. It’s the normal people that start looking for that next level of dopamine high. It’s the normal people that suddenly begin to live these secret lives and become entangled in what they too may have once considered to be sick. Pornography was created for those with a sexual appetite, which we all have. Now, will it rule us or will we rule it?
As C.S. Lewis describes in Screwtape Letters, God is the creator of all pleasures. All the Enemy can do is encourage us to take the pleasures which God created “at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden.”
This is what pornography presents to its viewers: a corrupted, cheap, repulsive version of what God intended to be pure, holy, and glorious within marriage. You choose your vice.
Porn Nation by Michael Leahy