Porn: The Gateway Drug to Sexual Violence

Pornography: The Gateway Drug to Sexual Violence

I have been disturbed by recent research that links repeated viewing of pornography to sexual violence and assault. While I am concerned about these studies, I am not surprised by them.

I know this can be a sensitive subject, but I want to face it head-on. I think it is important that we stop thinking pornography is harmless fun for people to view in private, but rather understand the negative consequences that research proves pornography has on our thinking, our relationships and on society.

How Pornography Affects Our Brains:

Pornography researchers have found that users acclimate to the porn they watch” they get used to it, and it stops being exciting or arousing. Why? Because their brain's pleasure response has gotten numb.

Here's a brief science lesson about our brain. Viewing porn floods the brain with dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls the brain's reward and pleasure center. A path is created in the brain by the dopamine telling the brain, when you go down this path it feels good. The problem is when a person consistently looks at porn and their brain is constantly being flooded with a high level of dopamine their brain stops reacting in the same way and suddenly to get the same excitement now they must look at more porn and more hardcore porn.

Additionally, to feel excited many users have to combine sexual arousal with the feeling of aggressive release. That's why so much of hardcore porn is full of images of women being physically harmed. It's also the reason that many porn addicts quickly find themselves looking at things that used to disgust them or that they used to see as morally wrong.

1. Research proves that: Pornography is addictive and desensitizing and in order to continue receiving the same high, people turn to more hardcore/violent pornography.

2. Watching pornography which displays violence against women leads people to believe that sexual violence is more common than it is. In fact, in a study by Dr. Dolf Zillmann and Dr. Jennings Bryant, it was found that people exposed to significant amounts of porn thought violent sex was twice as common as what those not exposed to porn thought.

3. When people believe a behavior is normal, they are more likely to try it.

And it's not only hardcore porn that depicts violence. A 2000 study found the presence of violence in 42% of online pornography.

And in 2007 the 50 top-selling adult DVDs were analyzed. It was documented that there was an act of aggression every minute and a half. About 90% of scenes contained at least one act of aggression. In 95% of the scenes, the person receiving the aggression reacted neutrally or positively to it. These numbers give us a glimpse of the sexual education porn consumers receive.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation reports that adult exposure to pornographic media is associated with:

  • Believing women in general enjoy rape
  • More acceptance of violence against women
  • Creating more sexually violent fantasies to get aroused
  • Engaging in more sexual harassment behaviors
  • More likelihood of forcing a woman sexually
  • Using physical coercion to have sex
  • Using drugs and alcohol to sexually coerce women

While not every porn user is going to abuse someone or become a rapist, it is proven that viewing pornography on a regular basis influences people's ideas and attitudes toward what is acceptable sexual behavior.

I encourage you to listen to this call I had with Taylor. He is struggling with a 10-year addiction to pornography and admits if he keeps going the way he's going he will end up in prison.

Pornography as Sex Ed for Teens

Considering that a young man's first exposure to pornography is at the age of 12, and that 68% of teenage boys and 18% of girls view pornography once a week, what is this generation learning about sex? Because let's face it most of their education is coming from porn.

A study called the Impact of Internet Pornography on Adolescents linked the consumption of internet pornography to changes in a teen's attitude about women. Women became viewed as sexual playthings eager to fulfill male sexual desires. Additionally, the study found that adolescents who are exposed to violent sexually explicit material were six times more likely to be sexually aggressive than those who were not exposed.

And they are often viewing violent material, by the age of 18, 39% of boys and 23% of girls have seen acts of sex involving bondage online.

Pornography is reshaping minds to think that violence and sexual aggression should be seen as normal and an accepted form of self-expression,- John Foubert and Ana Bridges.

So what are teens themselves saying? When interviewing teenage girls, it was found that girls and young women described boys pressuring them to provide acts inspired by the porn they consume. Girls tell of being expected to put up with things they don't enjoy, sometimes violent things. Yet the boys they are describing think it is normal behavior because it is what they are learning from porn. They are not being taught respect, friendship, love, and intimacy, but rather aggression, degradation and cruelty.

Sex is a Beautiful thing, Designed by God

Listen “ sex is a beautiful thing. It was designed by God to bring pleasure. If you doubt that for a minute, read the book Song of Songs in the Bible which is all about the pleasure of sex between a husband and wife. However, the warped view of sex that is promoted in pornography is distorting what sex was designed to be a joyful, intimate act of love between a husband and wife.

For more information:

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation - "Porn Harms"
Impact of Internet Pornography on Adolescents
Fight the New Drug - "Sex Before Kissing"

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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