Guest Blog written by Haley Halverson, Director of Communications for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation is the leading national organization opposing pornography by highlighting the links to sex trafficking, violence against women, child abuse, addiction and more. Find out more and be part of the movement: To Defend Dignity.
1) Cut porn because it harms your health
While porn might make you feel like you have sexual prowess, it is actually sapping you of your natural sexual desires and abilities. Porn induced sexual dysfunction and diminished libido with a real life partner (as opposed to pixels on a screen) are both rising phenomena among regular porn users.[i] And no, this is not limited to older men. Young and old, male and female, can all have variations of these undesired effects.
2) Cut porn because it harms your brain
Like other addictive substances, pornography floods the brain with dopamine. This rush of chemicals over time can re-wire the pathways in your brain to increase your appetite for, and eventually dependence on, porn.[ii] Now you might be thinking Sure, I watch porn sometimes, but it’s not like I’m addicted. Well unfortunately, even moderate porn use is linked to damage in areas of the brain involved in motivation and decision-making.[iii] Not exactly what you’d want to sign up for.
3) Cut porn because it harms your relationships
#PornKillsLove. Pornography feeds unrealistic, and highly selfish, expectations about sex and intimacy. Who needs a partner with their own needs and boundaries and feelings, when there are millions of videos you could watch that say yes to your every desire, whim, and fetish? Research has found that women whose husbands or boyfriends look at pornography frequently are less happy in their relationships than women whose male partners do not view it at all. Further, one study found that higher rates of pornography use were negatively associated with enjoying sex with their real partner, because it cannot live up to the fantasy on the screen.[iv] Porn not only breeds insecurity, selfishness, and a lack of trust, but it also actually decreases your ability to enjoy your partner.
4) Cut porn because it harms sex trafficking victims
Not everyone who is performing in porn videos is a willing participant. Many performers in porn would meet the definition of a sex trafficking victim. Fraud, deception, threat or use of force, coercion, and abuse of power or vulnerability frequently takes place during filming on porn sets. In addition to this, many sex traffickers intentionally make porn of their victims in order to diversify their profits and to advertise.[v] Do you really want to risk the fact that you could be watching the sexual abuse of a sex trafficking victim for pleasure? One of the best ways you can take action against sex trafficking right now is to refuse to feed the porn industry through views or purchases.
5) Cut porn because it harms society
None of our actions are in a vacuum. While most people think watching porn is a private act, there are actually many ways that it has broader social implications. Watching pornography, even the free videos, perpetuates the porn industry and the sex trafficking that occurs within it. In addition to this, pornography use is linked to increases in acceptance of sexual violence. Research shows that adult exposure to pornographic media is associated with believing a rape victim enjoys rape, increased acceptance of violence against women, and increased likelihood of sexually abusing children. While not every porn user is going to abuse someone, by watching pornography this culture of sexual harm is sustained and promoted.
6) Cut porn because it’s possible!
Leaving pornography behind does not have to be a failed resolution this year. Countless of individuals, male and female, have recovered from porn use and its negative effects. The first step is to admit that pornography is harmful¦and then the path to healing can begin. Click To Tweet Nobody is alone in this journey. There are several resources on the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s website which can help those who are struggling with pornography, those who have a partner or spouse who struggles with pornography, and even parents who want to protect their children from pornography. All of the tools necessary are available to make this the best year yet to go porn free.
[i] Valerie Voon, Thomas B. Mole, et all. PLOS ONE (Vol. 9, Iss. 7) 2014.
[ii] Hilton, D. L. (2013). Pornography Addiction: A Supranormal Stimulus Considered in the Context of Neuroplasticity. Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology 3:20767; Georgiadis, J. R. (2006). Regional Cerebral Blood Flow Changes Associated with Clitorally Induced Orgasm in Healthy Women. European Journal of Neuroscience 24, 11: 3305-3316.
[iii] Kahn, Simone, and Jargen Gallinat. Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity
Associated With Pornography Consumption. JAMA Psychiatry. (2014)
[iv] Chyng Sun, Ana Bridges, Jennifer Johnason, Matt Ezzell. Pornography and the Male Sexual Script: An Analysis of Consumption and Sexual Relations. Online: Dec 2014.