Pornography as a Major Industry in a Modern World

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As Audre Lorde once said in her book, Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power, “Pornography is a direct denial of the power of the erotic, for it represents the suppression of true feeling. Pornography emphasizes sensation without feeling.” Pornography is a multibillion dollar industry built on opression and abuse. Pornography is detrimental to a healthy and flourishing society. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines pornography as “the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction” and society as, “a community, nation, or broad grouping of people having common traditions, institutions, and collective activities and interests”. Not only does pornography taint how people view the world around them, it dismantles the foundation of society. It destroys families and negatively affects children. In addition to degrading standards of morality and free expression, it enslaves people to addiction. Scientists and psychologists have linked pornography to negative neroplasticity. Pornography, although seeming empowering and liberating, leaves distruction and addiction in its wake.

While the internet is a tool that can be used for countless goods, the infiltration of pornography is a hazard to developing minds. Pornography is the most accessible it has ever been. From iPhones to laptops, it is always a click away. Easy access to pornographic materials is a concern for a young child’s development and well-being. In 2005, a case study showed that 42% of children aged 10 to 17 suffered unwanted exposure to pornography in the last year. (Wolak, Janis, “Unwanted and Wanted Exposure to Online Pornography in a National Sample of Youth Internet Users.” February 2007, 247, 248-49). Technology has advanced exponentially since 2005 and therefore making pornography even more accessible and thus increasing the risk of unwanted porn exposure. The developing mind of a child is extremely malleable and can soak up large amounts of information in short periods of time. A child seeing multiple unfamiliar bodies performing acts that are incomprehensible can be frightening and confusing. After being told what sex is, they auto-associate sex with pornography. Children are not capable of distinguishing between pornography, which is a fantasy world, and sex, which is natural and healthy. Due to the fact that pornography is aggressive and dramatized in nature, early exposure to pornography normalizes the premise that sex is violent. Studies have shown that a child who has had encounters with pornography is ten times more likely to engage in high-risk sexual activity, such as multiple sexual partners, and a lack of protected sex. Raising sexually safe children is the goal of most parents. If pornography is the main way a child learns about sex, they are more likely to be victims of sexual assault. Pornography interrupts the developing minds of children and negatively affects their social well-being.

“Pro-porn” activists often argue that pornography coincides with the sex-positive movement. The sex-positive movement is the philosophy and social movement that promotes all sexual orientations and the self-expression of individuals. They seek to normalize and destroy the stigma around sex and sexual issues. Some sex-positive advocates argue that pornography is an art form that uses human sexuality as a form of self-expression. However, what they fail to consider are the facts. While encouraging sexuality and self-expression is good in theory, pornography is the opposite. The majority of the porn viewed in America is cast, scripted, produced, and rehearsed. The individuals in the film are not their own directors. All major porn actors are under the direct control of their managers and producers. They have no “self-expression” or say in the matter. Porn is not an art form. There is no character development, plot, or complex thematic resolutions. This is remarkably against what sex-positive advocates stand for. The “porn stars” have no sense of self-expression. Additionally, nearly all porn viewed in the United States is heteronormative, therefore not giving minorities a voice or platform for expression. The vast majority of pornography consumed by people in the United States lacks self-expression and diversity. Therefore, pornography is inherently not sex-positive.

It is clear that pornography is an unrealistic fantasy that does not portray sex is an accurate light. It is an unachievable fantasy that cannot be attained and therefore, must lead to despair. Assume for a moment that porn was completely realistic and achievable. Assume that everyday people could contort and fit the porn-industry standard. Abandon the possibility of conceiving a child. Presume that having sex for multiple hours was achievable and not tedious or tiring. Forget the needs and feelings of the person you are having sex with. Even while living this fantasy, something is missing. You are not having sex. You are a mere performer who lacks intimacy and love. These two qualities used to coincide with sex. Pornography does not require intimacy or love. It separates dignity, communication, and affection from sex. These are qualities that all healthy sexual relationships should include. Porn is a fairytale fantasy that misrepresents sex and therefore ends in despair.

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Similar to how photoshopped images give an unrealistic perception of beauty, pornography gives an unrealistic portrayal of sex. Consequently, it lowers self-esteem in men and women. Mainstream porn in the United States does not offer representation for people of color or people who have different body types. The human brain is wired to compare itself to its surroundings. Women will find themselves comparing their bodies to the actresses who are in adult films. Likewise, men also struggle with body image and compare themselves to the male porn actors. As renowned psychologist, Dr. Jonathan Doyle said, “This lowered level of self-esteem often leads a person into exploring pornography as a source of release. The high levels of dopamine secreted in the brain can provide short term positive feelings which remove feelings of low self-esteem, even if only briefly. However, soon enough the feelings return and are often stronger as the porn addict feels worse due to concern about the content they have accessed or fears of being discovered.” Watching pornography plants seeds of unrealistic expectations that the average individual cannot live up too. For example, the sounds the porn stars make or the way their bodies move can cause great insecurity and psychological anguish. Due to men and women comparing their sexual encounters to pornography, their self-esteem lowered.

Porn is also detrimental to marriage. Researcher, Patrick Fagan, Ph.D. found 56% of divorces had one partner with an interest in porn. In the United States alone, 40% of the population regularly watches porn. Aside from the lack of reality, love, and passion porn displays, it causes sexual frustration between married couples. Despite providing a temporary sexual high between married couples, it is damaging to any marriage. According to a study conducted at the American Sociological Association in August 2016, couples who watch pornography are twice as likely to get divorced. (Samuel Perry, 'Till Porn Do Us Part? Longitudinal Effects of Pornography Use on Divorce” American Sociological Association, 2017) As research conductor, Samuel Perry said, 'Younger Americans tend to view pornography more often than older Americans, and older Americans generally have more stable marriages since they tend to be more mature, financially established, and likely already have more time invested in the relationship.” Since marriage is a key component to a flourishing economy and society, porn is essentially tearing the world apart.

One may argue that pornogrpahy is exercising your American right to freedom of speech and expression. The first amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” It would seem logical that pornography is good because it is protected by the Constitution of the Unites States of America. However, other agredious acts have been protected under the constitution, such as slavery and segregation. Just because something is legal and protected, does not make it healthy or good. Aditionally, obsitities such as pornography are not protected in the Constitution. In 1942’s Chaplinksy v. New Hampshire, the Supreme Court declared “There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any Constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene…It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.” The First Amendment was created to protect the people's right to express their ideas and engage in civilized debate; pornogrpahy does neither of those things.

Pornography has had an strong corolation to the degradation of morality and increase in crimes. According to one 2016 Stanford study, “in spite of the lack of formal research, though, the FBI’s own statistics show that pornography is found at 80% of the scenes of violent sex crimes, or in the homes of the perpetrators.” It is a common scientific fact that the brain learns by repeating actions and concepts. It is only logical that someone who views violent pornography would model sexual encounters after voilent porn. Although one may argue that pornography provides a release of tension and thus decreases risk of voilence agaisnt women. However, this argument makes little logical sense. For example, porn encourages users to view women as objects, dehumanize their partners, and abandon communication between sexual partners. For people who tend to gravitate tward sexual voilence, pornography will increase the probabilty of becoming sexually voilent. One of the most viewed genres of porn is rape. Although these are actors who are not actually being raped, it is toxic. Researcher Diana E. H. Russell, who published her peer reviewed journal titled Pornography and Rape: A Causal Model wrote, “(1) pornogrpahy predisposes some men to want to rape women or intensifies the predisposition in other men already so predisposed; (2) undermines some men's internal inhibitions against acting out their rape desires; and (3) undermines some men's social inhibitions against the acting out.” (Political Psycholoy Volume 9) It makes logical sense that pornography that apeals to a rape fantasy leads to sexual voilence. Pornography has a strong corolation to sex crimes and increase of imorality.

One of the most used pro-porn arguments states that pornography is feminist and empowering to women. They argue that the porn sites that are ran by women for women are using their sexuality and bodily autonomy as an art form. While porn sites like this do exist, they are not accessible. Some of these sites such as “” and “Crashpad” charge hefty subscription fees and pay-per-view fees to ensure that their actors are being paid fairly. These feminist porn sites are not accessable to the majority of people who reguarally watch pornography. Other sites such as “pornhub” have thousands of free videos that continuously fetishize and oppress women and minorities with top genres such as “tranny”, “barely legal”, “asian”, “fat black girl”, and countless others. These objectifying, crude genre names are reason enough to question the ethicality of the site. As renound feminist Gail Dines says in her book Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, “Anyone willing to feed off women’s bodies and use them as raw materials to make a profit has no right to call themselves feminists,” (Dines, 38.) Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines feminism as, “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” However, when women are only being used for their sexuality and not their talents and personality, porn cannot be seen as feminist.

Another example of how porn is destructive is the negative effects it has on the human brain. Pornography addiction is a widespread epidemic. Cambrige University conducted an experiment in 2015 that MRI scanned the brains of men who watched pornography. The study found that after being exposed to pornography and feeling a “sexual-high,” more and more extreme pornography is needed to create the same effect. (Neural Correlates of Sexual Cue Reactivity in Individuals with and without Compulsive Sexual Behaviours, 2015.) Similar to a drug, after prolongued exposure to pornography, your brain needs more and more porn to achieve a high. This can result in compulsive activity to seek it out. Pornography addiction causes neuroplastic change. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s way of rewiring and repairing itself. This feature of the brain is responsible for parts learning. Similar to a drug, pornography produces a strong release of dopamine, which is the bodies “feel good” chemical. The dopamine strengthens neural connections causing the human body to have the urge to do the same activity in the future. This results in the brain cells being rewired to promote the human body to do certain actions. This causes a cycle. The more pornography watched, the more dopamine released, which causes a strong urge for watching more pornography. As Dr. Norman Doidge wrote in his book, How The Brain Changes Itself, “porn viewers develop new maps in their brains, based on the photos and videos they see. Because it is a use-it-or-lose-it brain, when we develop a map area, we long to keep it activated. Just as our muscles become impatient for exercise if we’ve been sitting all day, so too do our senses hunger to be stimulated.” Pornogrpahy has similar effects on the human brain as drugs. It has the ability to rewire how your brain functions. This has the ability to negatively change how lives are lived. Pornography is distructive to the health of the brain.

Pornography is a key player in the twenty-first century. As an estimated $97 billion a year global industry, pornography is one of the most popular forms of entertainment on any media platform. It is a multibillion dollar industry that thrives off of abuse and neglect. Not only does it glorify oppression, sexual violence and abuse, it also dehumanises people and feeds into the patriarchy. Although pornography masquerades as a liberating outlet of selfexpression, it does the opposite. It enslaves the performers and the people watching pornography. In addition to using the brain’s neuroplasticity to enable a cycle of addiction, pornography promotes unhealthy sexual behaviors. It tears apart the foundation of society by negatively impacting married couples. The nagative effects of pornography on children and adolecents is damaging to thier development and wellbeing. Pornography is debtimental to a healthy and flourishing society.

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