We cannot speak about rape, child abuse, commercial sexual harassment, college sexual assault, sexting, or teen suicide following cyber bullying without understanding porn as a driving force behind the normalization and legislation of violence against women and children.
It is important to note that mainstream porn, the porn you see within 15 seconds of typing “porn” into Google, is cruel, abusive, violent, and free. No credit card is needed to enter this world of sexual abuse. Advances in technology, especially mobile devices, enable pornography to be viewed anywhere, anytime, by any child or adult who has internet access. Never before had we reared a generation of boys on hardcore porn, and we are in the midst of a social experiment that few have signed on for, but everyone will ultimately pay a price for
Today’s porn is not a joke. Type “porn” into Google and you will not see anything that looks like the old pinups; instead, you will be catapulted into a world of sexual cruelty and brutality where women are subject to body-punishing sex and vile names. You will see women being gagged with a penis till they almost pass out, spat on, and penetrated by multiple men in all orifices, ejaculated on, and treated as disposable objects.
In porn, sex is not about making love. The feelings and emotions we normally associate with such act – connection, empathy, tenderness, caring, affection – are missing. In their place are those emotions we normally associate with hate – fear, disgust, anger, loathing and contempt. In porn, the man “makes hate” to the woman, as each sex act is designed to deliver the maximum amount of degradation. Yet, the women are still portrayed as enjoying those scenes. Now commonplace and pervasive throughout the internet, these images are shaping the way whole generations of boys think about sex, relationships, and intimacy.
Today, the average age of first viewing porn is eleven years old. This is not an unfortunate byproduct of easily accessible porn, but a business strategy developed by the porn industry to attract younger and younger viewers. The younger the boy starts masturbating to porn, the more likely he is to develop habitual and/or addictive porn use. Porn is often misleadingly fun or fantasy but in reality, it is a predatory multi-billion dollar industry that has four our sons (and daughters) in its crosshairs.
The size and scale of the pornography business has important cultural implications. The entertainment industries do not just influence us; they constitute our dominant culture, and identities, our conceptions of the world, and our norms of acceptable behavior. Porn as a major industry engages in the normal business activities that other industries pursue. Porn businesses raise capital, hire managers and accountants, undergo mergers and acquisitions, organize trade shows, and enter into co-marketing arrangements with other companies. While these activities are in themselves unremarkably normal business operations, they signal that porn is becoming mainstream, normal, business – a legitimate business. The porn business is embedded in a complex value chain, linking not just film producers and distributors, but also bankers, software producers, internet providers, cable companies, and hotel chains. These other businesses become allies and collaborators, with a vested interest in the growth and continued viability of the porn business. Banks, for example, make money from the porn industry, as the revenue it generates is invested in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds etc. indeed, everyone in the supply chain from production to consumption is complicit in building and strengthening the porn industry.
Being exposed to pornography at young age, the young people that found themselves in this situation are most likely to have sex at a younger age, engage in risky sexual behavior, have negative attitudes toward using condoms, have oral sex, anal sex with multiple partners, which increases their risk for sexually transmitted infections, view women as sex objects, have attitude that support violence against empathy for rape, report decreased empathy for rape victims, choose not to intervene when witnessing college assault, have increasingly aggressive behavioral tendencies, report increased interest in coercing partners into unwanted sex acts, experience increased difficulty in developing intimate relationships with partners, report decreased sexual interest in their spouses, develop compulsive internet use.
Another huge risk of harm for children is when teens view adult images, become sexually and disinhibited, and then act out abusive sexual acts on younger children. The easy access to adult pornography in the digital world has dramatically increased this dynamic in youth with problematic sexual behaviors. The brain and mind of youth are works in progress and research has revealed that the prefrontal cortex of the brain is not completely mature until 24-25 years of age. This part of the brain is the home of impulse control, good judgment, cognitive behaviors, and emotional stability. What does the future hold for boys who are watching adult internet pornography with regularity, when it is already clear that research notes that adult exposure to these images has become the most common cause of erectile dysfunction in men in less than 40. It is easy to understand that if adults become sexually excited by online videos (often of violent sexual assault), then a youth is even more vulnerable. It has become a commonplace now that therapists who treat children and adolescents with problematic sexual behaviors carefully explore to adult internet pornography as a major contributor to these behaviors.
Children are harmed by adult internet pornography when they begin the slippery slope of viewing this obscene content, and then begin to look for who “someone who looks like me” content in the “barely legal” sites, finally ending in the more difficult to find peer-to-peer exchanges of online child abuse images. Once a youth has begun to download, trade and posses illegal images, their life can be forever changed into one of incarceration and sex offender registration.
Failure to see and address the role pornography can play in sexual violence, as well as myriad other health problems related to exposure such as PTSD, depression, compulsive use, and hyper sexualized behavior, is to turn a blind eye man environmental risk factor of epic proportions. Ignoring the role porn plays in socializing our children and youth is a dereliction of our collective duty to protect the safety and well being of the next generation. Therefore it’s a call to all in the right authority to device means by which porn can be curbed in our society. Also parents should install filters in their homes and in their children/ward’s mobile phones and other gadgets. To protect our young ones and our society at large from the harm of adult pornography is one of the most important steps we must take in every capacity we can.