One conversation I dread but have far too often concernes the damaging and damning impact of pornography. I grieve the loss of joy and passion as lives are consumed by the pain, guilt, and frustration that accompanies porn use. In my mind, there is no question that pornography is extremely dangerous. In fact, several state legislatures have declared pornography a public health risk.
Some say that pornography is just good adult fun. "If you don't like it," they say, "Don't watch it." Supporters claim pornography is fantasy entertainment. I have heard it compared to science fiction. "Everyone knows it isn't real. But it is fun to imagine."
This may be the experience of some; however, evidence shows that pornography is far from harmless fun. Sure, it creates a fantasy world. But it is a world from which many cannot escape. Pornography, whether visual or literary, fuels desires and sets expectations that, for many, ends in disaster.
In this post, I want to discuss five negative consequences of porn usage.
1. Porn Shapes Your Relationships
Looking at or reading porn teaches us that others are nothing more than objects for our sexual pleasure. Porn is an illusion, but we can be quickly fooled into thinking that everyone is our toy or pleasure object. We start believing we don't need to put effort into a relationship. Everyone we meet is an actor or actress in the porn theater of our minds. This is not only unfair, but it is also the recipe for a lonely life.
I have heard tales about partners who watch porn together to "add spice" to their relationship. Both enjoy it and find it beneficial. Personally, I don't know any of these people, but, like unicorns, maybe they exist.
In my experience, 100% of the time, pornography is an unwelcome intruder in a marriage or dating relationship. Of course, the porn user is positive about it, but the other partner is not. In a study released in Psychology Today, Kevin B. Skinner shows that women who discover their partners are using porn experience fear and insecurity. They feel judged and uncomfortable in social settings. The introduction of pornography into a relationship, even if it seems fun at the beginning, is a sure fire way to hurt the ones you care about and wreck the relationship altogether.
2. Porn Shapes Your Bodies and Minds
Not only does pornography affect relationships, it quite literally changes the way our brains and bodies function. Research is starting to show a that a larger than average percentage of men under 40 are experiencing erectile dysfunction. One of the chief causes of this is excessive use of pornography.
That is scary!
The inability to be with a real person is much to high price to pay for videos, pictures, or stories of other people doing what we no longer can.
In an article on huffingtonpost.com, Robert Weiss has observed, "[I]t appears that online pornography is causing, in some men, including a lot of men in their sexual prime, an emotional and psychosexual disconnection that is manifesting physically with real-world partners as ED, DE, anorgasmia, and the like. This, of course, is awful not only for the men, but the romantic partners who love them.” You are not the only one who suffers.
3. Porn Shapes Your Schedules
Not only does pornography shape our relationships, minds, and bodies, it can also take control of our schedules. Consider the results from a recent survey, ". . . of 29,000 people at North American universities shows 51% of men and 16% of women spend up to five hours per week online for sexual purposes, and another 11% of men spend anywhere from five to 20 hours per week.” Not only is this far too much exposure to unhealthy images and ideas, but it is also a massive investment of time.
Comedian Chris Rock, opened up about his porn addiction and the role it played in the collapse of his marriage. One of the real problems he faced was that the way porn consumed all of his time. He says, "I was addicted to porn and, you know, I was 15 minutes late everywhere." (http://ew.com/tv/2018/02/14/chris-rock-porn-addiction-cheating-tamborine/)
I don’ know about you, but I don’t have enough time to do the things I need to do or the things I want to do. My “to-do list” outgrows my “done” list every day. Time spent watching porn robs the quality of the rest of your life.
4. Porn Shapes Your Self Esteem
On some level, we all know pornography us not right. I don't know a single person who, once they have turned off the computer or clicked off a video, says, "I am really happy I did that. We see people at their most vulnerable, and we try to convince ourselves that we are better than that.
Bret McKay, who writes at the Art of Manliness website, puts it pretty well: “It's pretty gross when you take a step back: you're paying people to have sex so you can watch them do it. No man would ever want his sister to be a porn star, so why is it okay for someone's else's sister to do it?”
Deep down, we know this is right. So when we stoop below our moral threshold, we are dragging ourselves down as well.
Not only does the subject of porn degrade our self-esteem, but also its use. For most young men I have talked to about this, every time they watch porn they are breaking a promise to themselves. The promise that, “the last time would be the last time…” We only lie to people we don’t respect. Breaking this promise to ourselves has a negative impact on our self-worth.
5. Porn Shapes Your World
According to a report by the US State Department, between 600,000 and 800,000 persons, a year are trafficked across international borders. About a quarter of these for sexual exploitation. The people at “Fight the New Drug” have just started a campaign called #StopTheDemand which calls attention to the global impact of pornography. Their stuff is really helpful.
I know that most of those reading this would never participate in human trafficking or slavery, but when behavior creates demand, this fuels an industry and encourages seedy activity. Several studies have shown that a large amount of the porn consumed has been created by unwilling participants. There is a good chance that you have watched the actual rape of someone who has been sold into slavery.
You don't want to be a rapist, human-trafficker, or child molester. In fact, the thought of these activities probably turns your stomach. Most people who use porn, don't realize their private consumption fuels an industry that steals and kills people. We rise up in the face of racism and we would stop any man or woman we saw abusing a kid. It is frightening to realize how you may encourage those very activities through your porn use.
This post is an excerpt from my upcoming book Bondage and Freedom.