Last updated on December 5th, 2023 at 10:07 pm
The debate on the impact of pornography on society and sociocultural values is a longstanding one.
The debate motion “Pornography is good for us, without it, we would be far more repressed societies” –was organised by Intelligent Square, in Royal Institution, London, on 23 April 2013. Pornography is good for us, without it we would be far more repressed societies. With keeping that in mind let us say ‘hooray’ to porn. Where would we be without it? Bored, depressed, frustrated. Porn lights up loves of depressed, the lonely and the sexually unadventurous.”
“It spices up dull marriages, it brings excitement to the relationship. It tells us where to look and where to touch. On the other hand, is porn land really such a nice place to be?”
Let us get to know pornography’s socio-cultural costs here. VivGroscop, writer and BBC Radio-4 broadcaster and presenter continued, ” Far from nailing a lie isn’t porn selling a lie that women are always eager and willing to engage in extreme practices that bodies are always tanned and buffed, breasts always pout, orgasm always explosive? And to retract the restless voyeur internet porn, in particular, is having to set up the anti. Cybersex is getting ever harsher, more degrading, and more extreme.
What kind of wars desensitised view of human intricacy does this offer up to our children?”
Debaters consist of pornographic film director Anna Arrowsmith and Pornographic researcher Dr Clarissa Smith of Sunderland University, for the motion, and Dr Robert Lefever, psychiatrist and addiction therapist in London and renowned feminist and Professor Germaine Greer for the motion debated fiercely the motion. The debaters against the motion were able to change voters’ mind by 24% which made them win the debate over their opponents.
In opening remarks, the first debater Anna Arrowsmith’s words: “Porn keeps couples together, it’s common for one member of a couple to have a high sex drive than the other usually the man, and pornography is one way for such people to satiate their desire without resorting to breaking up the relationship, having affairs, paying for sex or pestering their partners for sex. Unlike most mainstream TV and films pornography actually demonstrates the body. Pornography demonstrates sex acts making sexual acts less shameful in society.
The second debater Dr Robert Lefever presents: Presenting two caveats of freedom he says, “if my freedom infringes yours then it’s wrong. ‘The second is rather trickier, and it’s where a person may not be competent to decide ‘what is good or bad, and the opposite example of that is pornography with young children. The child is too young to make an adult decision and awareness of what is happening.
I recognise, with addiction-referring pornography as sex addiction—there is no liberty.”
He continues, “We are trapped in our addiction. It’s not a lifestyle choice, it’s compulsive behaviour. There is no understanding in the trap the addicts are in. As far as “love and sex” addiction is concerned, the incidences of sex and addition 6% of the population and using sex for addictive purpose rather than for pleasure. In sex addiction, the incidence is about three men to one woman, but the incidences of women are rising because of the Internet where access is anonymous, so more and more are becoming sex addicts. All forms of addiction are progressive and destructive. There is no little bit of addiction. The suicide rate of “love and sex” addicts is significant”.
Dr Clarissa Smith went on to say: “People make choices for porn they view. They take the efforts to seek out the materials they like to view. Pornography is meaningful to them”. Professor Germaine Greer notes: “As a feminist author I don’t know how to make pornography un-sadistic until we liberate human sexuality. Most of its expressions will be sadistic and commercial porn no different: it is predicated on penetration, whether the penetration is of women, men or animals or children, the person who is penetrated is degraded by the interaction. Until we change that Pornography doesn’t make us less repressed, Pornography is the way of making money out of the fact that we ARE repressed”.
What are we really to make out of all this fanfare, and media frenzy? Is pornography really nothing but a money-making establishment exploiting women’s greed to free themselves or simply fulfilling men’s exploitative fantasies about women?
Whose interest is being served or exploited? Is it a ploy to destroy people’s pristine animal urges in the name of ‘additional pleasure’?
What are we to make of ‘sex-positivity? How do we respond to the people of the BDSM community without infringing on their right to enjoy their way of enjoying sex? Is ‘free love’ taking precedence over-controlled human behaviours? Why do we fail to notice that our society is overwhelmingly replete with porn culture? Is our culture being adapted to pornography or pornography is being adapted to our culture?
Let us enquire about these queries in this journey with pornography.
History of pornography
Pornography is described by the Encyclopaedia of Britannica as, “representation of sexual behaviour in books, pictures, statues, motion pictures, and other media that is intended to cause sexual excitement”.
Derived from the Greek word ‘porne’ or ‘prostitute’ and ‘graphein’ or description, representation or verb: to write or record’. Therefore ‘porne҆ and ‘graphein’ combinedly mean ‘to write, record or represent about prostitute or prostitution. Before becoming a mainstream word in the contemporary context ” pornography’ was a bookish term, and meant to write something about prostitutes.”
As pornography is as old as humanity itself, the history of modern pornography began during the Age of Enlightenment (18th century). Printing technology had flourished pornography as it opened the door of opportunity to attract readership from all socioeconomic spectrums by providing printed and visual materials at comparatively low cost. ‘Fanny Hill’ or ‘Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure’ by English novelist John Cleland drew a vast readership in London. However, pornography managed to get momentum during the Victorian Age.
Berl Kutchinsky, -Professor of Criminology of Institute of Criminology and Criminal Science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark-expounds the history of pornography as “even though erotic is as old as humanity, modern commercialised pornography- a commodity depicting explicit nudity and sexual behaviour, produced and sold with the sole purpose of sexual arousal- has a history of 300 years which began its appearance in about 1650 with LaputtanaErrante’-The Wondering Whore’- in Italy’’. This book, says Kutchinsky, skipped the social, philosophical, satirical and artistic aspects to concentrate solely on one thing that mattered: the titillation of readers’’.3
Consequently, the invention of Thomas Alba Edison’s moving picture and photograph took pornography to a new height along with his very own picture ‘The Kiss’ in 1896 in South America.
With the heat of the ‘Porno Wave’ in 19th-century pornography had started taking its explicit shape in the Western World, Japan, Asia, and other developing countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
Now, through the invention of the Internet and access to WWW in the 90s, the possibility to access internet pornography became a new unprecedented phenomenon even in a country of lower-middle-class countries like Bangladesh. With the limitless possibilities, the Internet brought in the opportunity of being ‘irresponsible’ to the “freedom of speech”. Moreover, written in the 2nd or 3rd century The Kama Sutra laid the groundwork of pornography in Indian culture. Milton Diamond, PhD, in his ‘Pacific Centre for Sex and Society’ illustrates ‘pornography’ as “sexually explicit materials primarily developed or produced to arouse sexual interest or provide erotic pleasure”.
Gil Dines, a modern feminist, says, “in 1953-The Playboy, Penthouse in 1969 and in 973 Hustler– the threesome of pornography- paved the way of exploitative pornography along with ‘Deep Throat’ in 1972”.
Arguably, as of April 2017, the director of Free Speech Coalition Director William Lyon revealed to the Los Angeles Daily News that the porn industry’s gross profit is about $ 10 billion 12 billion cross Microsoft profit margin, where Americans alone spend 4 billion dollars on renting and buying adult videos every year.
Releasing around 13,000 films every year compared to Hollywood’s 600 films the porn industry earns 1.5 times more revenue as much as 15 billion dollars. Accumulating approximately 97 billion dollars it is capable of providing food to 4.8 billion people for one day which is plus two days in terms of the entire population of Bangladesh. With an average of $600-2000 for each scene—which is 6 to 2000 times larger than the approximate salary of a Garment workers’ 8 plus hours’ of a whole month—a female porn star can make as high as $ 250,000 dollar every year where an American with Master’s Degree earns $ 78,500 dollar, as of 2003.
Age proportion of Pornography users around the world. Going by the report published on CNBC News $3,075 is spent on porn every second, 372 internet users are searching it, 28,000 plus users are viewing it while a new pornographic video is getting ready for viewing every 39 minutes.
The following table shows how far humanity has gone with sex and sexual addiction.
|Name||Daily visitor||Daily unique page view||Daily income||Page view||Avg. visit duration|
Who Watches Porn?
The proper question is: Who does not watch it?
From celebrities, husbands, wives, students, teachers, professionals, pastors, monks, scholars, religious leaders, Judges, political leaders, passengers on the flight, passengers on the bus, police officers, federal cop, British parliamentarians, federal employees, office employees, border patrol agents, women at work, drivers, prisoners, MPs, and ministers.
Among 160 plus million of the population 62 million people use the internet in Bangladesh — ninety-five per cent of whom use via mobile phones—but a startling 30 per cent of data is used on pornographic sites, according to Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission. In order to school-going children, –77 per cent of them view porn– rescue from the grip of pornography the government of Bangladesh took a stance to block 560 pornographic sites recently.
‘Choti’, the pornographic storybook equivalent to ‘Hustler’ or ‘Playboy’ magazine, are widely available on the footpath of every major city in Bangladesh at a very low price.
The difference between ‘Hustler’ or Playboy’ and ‘Choti’ is that it is the erotic literature of the lower middle class while former higher middle-class readers.
Top porn-watching countries
Based on Google search result queries the top ten pornography-searched countries are:
- Pakistan, 2. Egypt, 3. Vietnam, 4. Iran, 5. Morocco, 6. India, 7. Saudi Arabia, 8. Turkey, 8. Philippines and Poland
PornHub, the biggest free porn streaming site, in its yearly review, reveals staggering reports on who, where, how much and what kind of porn is watched by people:
In their annual review on their website, PornHub, the largest free porn streaming site reveals shocking facts about people’s porn consumption.
Like any other consumer product pornography too is becoming of the daily essentials across the world. Of the 7.2 billion projected and continual growth of the world population, right now 3.17 billion people are real-life consumers of pornography. From 2017 up to their Insight 2018 over the course of a year, PornHub recorded 33.5 billion visits. 5 billion increased than the previous year making it 90 million visits daily. 962 searchers per second.
The happily married people are 61% less likely to view porn
The researcher found, “People with higher religiosity are less likely to use pornography for masturbation, but not for other purposes. A multivariate study reveals that “men who expressed stronger religious commitment to their religious faith showed an increased preference for pornography over real sex and reliance on pornography to maintain sexual excitement”. But ‘religiosity among female adolescent girls is associated with a slight delay of sexual intercourse. 4
🔺Human beings have viewed a million years’ worth of pornography up to 2015. 11 is the average of children to exposure to pornography.
🔺 In just one-year humanity has spent the lifetime of its existence on PornHub alone. Pornography takes away 4,5 billion hours from Americans alone. 94 % will be viewing pornography at an average of 14.
🔺When 35.3 is the world’s average age of viewing porn, College-aged male-female consist of the second-largest viewers.
🔺95 % of free websites and 100% of pay websites buy materials from outside instead of making them themselves.
28.5 billion annual visits to PornHub.
🔺 82 million average visits.
🔺 25 billion searches were performed.
🔺 50,000 searches per minute.
🔺 4,052543 videos uploaded which will take 595,482 hours to watch.
🔺30,000 users are viewing pornographic materials every second.
🔺3,075,64 dollars is spent on pornography every second.
🔺1 in 3 porn viewers is a woman.
🔺68 million pornography-related requests are searched every day.
🔺116,000 people are searching for child pornography every day.
🔺 26% of women view porn.
🔺42.7 % of internet users view porn.
🔺 It’s a 13-14 billion dollar industry worldwide.
The astonishing survey done by Covenant Eyes is yet even more shocking:
🔺25% of married women view porn at least once a month compared to 16% of non-married women.
🔺Men are 543% more likely to view porn than women.
🔺 Happily married people are 61% less likely to view porn.
🔺 Politically liberal people are 19% more likely to watch porn.
🔺 Adulterers are 218% prone to view porn.
🔺 70% of viewers say they came across pornography accidentally.
🔺 9 out of 10 and 6 out of boys and girls watch porn before they turn 18.
🔺 Compared to 85% of non-Christian men and 30% of women, 60% of self-identified men and 25% of women view porn at least once a month.
🔺 Pornography consumption in India raised by 75 %.
The UK is the second-biggest consumer of porn.
An online survey conducted by University of New Hampshire Scholars in 2008 reports that:
🔺 57% of girls and 83% of boys viewed group sex online.
🔺 69 % and 55% of boys and girls respectively watched same-sex online.
🔺 68% of Church attendees view pornographic materials on a regular basis.
🔺 21% of youth pastors and 14% of pastors admit to watching porn every day.
Annual viewership of the five most popular premium sites:
|Name||Annual visitors||Annual revenue from ads||Estimated worth|
|Brazzers||248,435,425||$ 248,437||$ 1,490,615|
|Reality Kings||58,555,855||$ 58,557||$ 351,336|
|I Know That Girl||23,560,385||$ 23,561||$ 141,363|
|PornHub Premium||77,642,435||$ 77,643||$ 465,855|
|Mofos||23,197,575||$ 23,198||$ 139,187|
From the above incidents, one does not need to be an expert to conclude and say what is actually going on around the world.
With the increase in the population of the world, the consumption of pornography is also going hand in hand. The number of female viewers also growing with a male. The trend of sexual preference for an unusual and deformed form of desire is taking shape in people’s psyches. We will examine the various aspects of pornography in our lives.
Why do people watch porn?
People always tend to invent a newer form of entertainment in order to make their leisure delightful with their lovers, beloved or loved ones for ages.
Smoking, sports, dancing, drinking alcohol, playing music and so on are the means of entertainment. At my early age, I witnessed people enjoying reciting legends from an ancient book overnight, in the moonlight. Regardless of the fact that I understood nothing, I too did listen to that in the far plunged area of Bengal. Modern technology is the reason for its death. But the death of the age-old traditional form of entertainment gave birth to a totally new ilk of generations whose dependency on technology bred another generation called ‘pornified generation’.
Thanks to the affordability of smartphones this generation dejects anything natural regarding sex and sexuality. Powered by pornography and contracted by ‘hypersexual deficiency syndrome’ this generation has gone as far as to have their genitals enlarged, breast puffed, synthesised bum, skin waxed, objectified pleasure, and redefined sexiness with beastliness.
Like any other format of addiction, like that of tobacco, it starts with a little puff. The more puffs you take the more the Dopamine level increases in our brain which make takers feel good. Having said that researchers found Internet Pornography as addictive as any form of drugs and consider it to be one of the contributing factors of making people ‘sexually addictive’.
Irrespective of addiction pornography indeed plays multiple roles in people’s lives nowadays.
The following are probable reasons behind viewing Internet Pornography:
🔺 It provides a high level of sexual thrills
🔺 It helps release a high surge of dopamine chemicals that an addict needs to be stimulated.
🔺 It is always ready with pornographic novelties
Research by Martin Hald and Neil Malamuth 5 found that “that consumers with higher pornography consumption believed pornography is more realistic and has more positive effects who masturbate”.
Pornography helps release a high surge of dopamine chemicals that an addict needs to be stimulated.
‘It has been suggested that Internet pornography constitutes a supernormal stimulus, an exaggerated imitation of something our brains evolved to pursue because of its evolutionary salience.
Internet video pornography is significantly more sexually arousing than other forms of pornography; novel sexual visuals have been shown to trigger greater arousal, faster ejaculation, the ability to self-select material with ease makes internet pornography more arousing than pre-selected collections. An Internet pornography user can maintain or heathen sexual arousal by instantly checking to a novel scene, new video or never encountered genre which results in ‘immediate gratification over delayed rewards of greater value’. Like sexual motivation and the rewarding properties of sexual interaction, novelty is compelling because it triggers the burst of Dopamine in regions of the brain strongly associated with reward and goal-directed behaviour. 5
🔺They do it out of obsession. Because in real life men might not like what their partners would like to do as a sexual practice. Their virtual fantasised partners never get tired when actual ones may not be ready for more.
🔺Real partners involve stress and uncertainty, but pornography gives men to control what they like to do with their fantasies.
🔺 Pornography helps men get rid of Madonna/Whore Complex.
🔺 It ‘is essentially an aphrodisiac, that is food for the sexual fantasy of persons-mostly males-who like to masturbate.3
🔺 According to WebMD, ‘porn-induced arousal has been linked to many parts of the brain. Men’s brains are hard-wired for easy arousal so that men are ready for sex whenever the opportunity knocks.
Research conducted on 2,500 school and university students by the National Union of Students in England, says 60% of respondents view porn to get information about sex. The proportion of female visitors to pornography in the top 20 countries.
A survey from the Kinsey Institute based on the query, ‘Do You Use Porn? Of 10,453 respondents 72% say they use porn to masturbate, 69% use it for arousal, 54% say it is used ‘ out of curiosity, while according to 43% ‘because I could fantasise about things I would not necessarily want in real life, 35% ‘to distract themselves.
As days pass by, pornography and its prevalence multiplying amid us. More and more it is becoming a cultural trend, and more and more it is obtaining our spiritual, political and social approval. Its ‘Okay’ for an under-aged person to have a Smartphone. It is also ‘Okay’ for parents not to remove ‘search history’ from their devices.
“Coche, a clinical psychologist who runs the Coche Centre in Philadelphia and teaches psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, explains how pornography has become a ‘cool’ factor to teenagers. To her surprise, an eleven years old girl was found to create her own pornographic website. When she was confronted by her parents, she said that pornography was considered ‘cool’ among her friends. ‘Perhaps it wasn’t a very good idea, the girl admitted’, but she said all her friends were doing it. Her parents were horrified.” 6
By the age of 17, an overwhelming majority of boys (93%) and girls (62%) have been exposed to pornography. Boys are more like to be exposed at an early age to see more images, to see more extreme images, and view pornography more often, while girls reported involuntary exposure. 7
Many individuals report that sexual content is a good alternative to sex with the partner when the partner is unwilling to engage in sexual activity. Among young adults pornography can a means of acceptance in groups.
Although, researchers hardly find a correlation between pornography and social violence offences related to ‘sexual violence and assault’, the growing ‘rape culture’ in Bangladesh in India does not translate the reality of the research. A total of 1.7 % of children is raped every day and 1,301 children have been raped in just four years-from 2012-2016. In most cases, victims are from the economically disadvantaged background while most rapists are from the middle-class who can rarely distinguish ‘fantasy’ from ‘reality.
That pornography is playing the rule of ‘sexual violence is becoming apparent every day in Bangladesh. As above, we are going to examine whether ‘pornography’ relates to any ‘social violence’ and ‘personal harm in the following findings.
1. Impact of pornography on society
In order to relate social phenomena like rape, sexual violence, violent crime, sexual crimes, juvenile crimes and domestic violence to pornography and its consumption, we ought to identify whether there is a relationship between its consumption and its adverse effect on the socio-cultural level.
Does pornography make us unhappy about our natural state of appearance and sexual desire? How does it harm us socially and culturally? How oblivious are we to those harms?
Cognitive script theory argues media script creates a readily accessible heuristic model for decision-making. The more a user uses a particular media script, the more embedded those codes of behaviour become in their worldview, and the more likely they are to use that script to act upon real-life experiences. The result shows that the more pornography a man watches the more likely he was to use it during sex, request particular pornographic sex acts of his partner, deliberately conjure images of pornography during sex to maintain arousal, and have concerns over his own sexual performance and body image.
Further, higher pornography use was negatively associated with enjoying sexually intimate behaviours with a partner. 8
Research and data suggest that habitual use of pornography- especially internet pornography- can have a range of damaging effects on human beings of all ages and both sexes, affecting their happiness, their productivity, their relationship with one another and their functioning in society.9 Internet pornography is historically unique not only because of its ubiquity but also because of its nature, especially in two respects: a) its potential addictiveness and b) its (increasing) realism. 9
Findings on Dutch adolescents by Neil N. Malamuth, professor of psychology at the University of California, says, “exposure to explicit online materials significantly affected adolescents’’ attitude towards sex, with this relationship being largely mediated by the extent to which adolescents’ perceived the sexual material as realistic. Greater pornography consumption relates to more perceived realism of pornography and a higher frequency of masturbation. Pornography creates unreal and unrealistic expectations in the minds of boys and men in regard to their sex lives, the frequency of sexual activity, the kinds of acts performed, responsibilities and the role of wives in fulfilling men’s expectations.10
As with tobacco, part of the difficulty in measuring the “harm” of internet pornography is that it does not affect all individuals in the same way. In some cases a casual. The sporadic user may be harmed by his pornography habit more than a chronic user. Internet pornography does evoke in some users those behaviours that clinical and psychological literature calls “addiction”, just as in cases of addiction to alcohol, nicotine, and other substances.
Findings suggest that Greek adolescents who are exposed to sexually explicit materials may develop “unrealistic attitudes about sex and misleading attitudes toward sex. Social realism as “the extent to which the content of sexually explicit internet material is perceived to be similar to the real-world sex” and utility as “the extent to which adolescents perceived SEIM (sexually explicit Internet materials) as a useful source of information about sex and applicable to the real world.”
“Their frequent exposure to SEIM adolescents’ perception of the social realism and utility of SEM increases. The more frequently adolescents used SEIM, the more often they thought about sex, the stronger their interest in sex became, and the more frequently they became distracted because of their thoughts about sex. Sexual arousal As a result of exposure to SEIM may cue sex-related cognition in memory, and may eventually lead to chronically accessible sex-related cognition that is sexual preoccupancy.11
The more frequently an adolescent is exposed to sexually explicit material, the greater their sexually permissive attitudes.
More exposure to SEM is related to less progressive gender roles attitudes for both males and females, such as male dominance and female submission is the gender roles that are reinforced through the sexually explicit material. Ideas about women that reduce them to their sexual appeal in terms of their outer appearance and their body, and make as sexual playthings that are eager to fulfil the male sexual desire. Adolescents’’ exposure to SEIM was both a cause a consequence of their belief that women are sex objects. Adolescents who have a positive attitude towards recreational sex use SEM. A positive view towards uncommitted sexual exploration is related to viewing SEM.11
A study on Taiwanese students demonstrates a relationship between adolescents’ exposure to SEM and positive attitude towards the premarital and extramarital sexual relationship, while Swedish adolescent who consumes SEM expressed a positive attitude about having casual sex with a friend. Adolescents who are more frequently exposed to SEM are more likely to accept the notion of casual sex.12
Frequent pornography user adolescents are significantly more likely to indicate abnormal conduct issues as well as borderline addictive internet use13, specifically; children who consume sexually explicit material on Internet are more like to exhibit clinical symptoms of depression and a lesser degree of bonding with caregivers.14
In addition, there is abundant evidence that children and adolescents use pornography to coerce each other into sexual behaviour, while adults also groom or coerce children by the same means.
One therapist reports, “I am also witnessing more female adolescents tolerating emotional, physical, and sexual abuse in dating relationships, feeling pressure to make out with females as a way to turn guys on, looking at or producing pornography so that their boyfriends will think they are ‘open-minded’ and ‘cool,’ and normalizing sexual abuse done to them because they see the same acts eroticized in pornography.” Indeed, one recent study finds that adolescent girls who report using pornography are more likely to report being victims of passive violence, where they experience sexual harassment or forced sex at the hands of male friends or acquaintances.9
“More boys, often preadolescents-are being treated for pornography addiction”, Coche says. “Before the Internet, I never encountered this.”15
2. Impact on behavioural changes
Since long, we have failed to notice that, “Pornography is integrated into the teenage pop culture; video game culture that advocates the pornographic usage.
One such 2004 video, The Guy Game, features women exposing their breasts when they answer questions wrong in a trivia contest; the game, available on Xbox and PlayStation 2, didn’t even get an “Adults¬ only” rating. (The game manufacturer is being sued because it is claimed that one woman included in the footage was only seventeen and didn’t give her consent to be filmed). For teenagers, pornography is just another online activity; there is little barrier to entry and almost no sense of taboo.
Instead, pornography has become a nature, right and acceptable pastime.
3. Infected modes of recreation
“Pornography is so often tied into video game culture and insinuates itself even into non-pornographic areas of the Web.”
“All the while, a hip-hop song boomed, “We like pussy. We like pussy …Fuck an asshole too.” While the boys took turns putting their penises into her mouth and vagina, one of them held a camera, often rushing in for close-up penetration shots. They used a pool cue to penetrate the girl anally, slapping her stomach in time to the music. Afterwards, when they used the cue on her vagina, the girl urinated on herself to the boy’s laughter. “Fuck yeah!” one of them yelled.6
What’s actually going on here? Who is even there to stop us from this degeneration?
Because of compulsive behaviour towards pornography and pornographic materials people, especially youngsters-male-female, developed a sense of making themselves looking like porn stars. The report says, “boys who become familiar with pornography develop the expectation of girls’ bodies and girls feel under pressure to conform to these body-ideals because young people today are being exposed to a dangerously unrealistic portrayal of sex”.16
Sexual Script theory17 claims that “sexuality is socially constructed by values, personal experiences, and mass media. Combing with ‘objectification theory’18 they present a heteronormative script, with men’s sexual dominance and women’s subservience”. People who live in a culture that objectifies the body may become more judgemental of peoples’ ability to emulate the idealised body type. Because provocative sexual media may be linked with men “objectifying” their partner, and women self-objectifying.18
Pornography often produced for and consumed by men portrays women’s sexual ecstasy and men’s dominance.19
The Western socio-cultural emphasis on women’s beauty can result in men objectifying women and women self-objectifying because of people’s favourite type of media content (TV shows, films, magazines) that showed men’s use of sexual content was associated with lower sexual satisfaction, partially because they were more likely to objectify their partner.
Users of pornography may be disappointed in sexual activity if their partner is unable to engage in the wide variety of scripted sexual acts, sexual activity without foreplay, and sustaining sexual activity for as lengthy a time as seen in pornographic videos. For men, greater pornography use was associated with less satisfaction with sexual variety, love and affection, and time spent on intercourse, and associated with lower sexual satisfaction with love and affection and time spent on intercourse, but higher satisfaction with time spent on foreplay and frequency.20
Pornography and provocative sexual media have several differing scripts; one sexual script they commonly share is objectification.21 If boys learn during their formative years that women are sexual objects, only to be sued for the sexual satisfaction it may result in unhealthy and unrealistic sex-role expectation.22
The greater quantities of pornography consumption are related with lower degrees of social integration, specifically related to religion, school, society and family, and a higher level of aggressiveness.23
The end of childhood and the beginning of adolescence is a vulnerable period.
Young people are confused, upset, feel like they have to behave or look like porn stars to have a relationship and at the worst end are in danger of engaging with harmful sexual behaviour. It reported in 2013 that, of the evidence that children’s consumption of pornography was affecting their development, with “boys describing body hair on girls their age disgusting, teenage girls reporting pressure to engage in risky and uncomfortable sexual practice and teenagers’ surprisingly tolerant attitude to violence in a relationship.24
The pleasure felt by masturbation and orgasm to pornography are rewarding, thereby increasing the likelihood that the behaviour will be repeated again in the future. This repeated exposure to the pornographic sexual script, particularly when coupled with masturbation; leads to the increased adoption of the script this script adoption may go through systematic or automatic processing.25
The script creates an unrealistic and concerning expectation for both males and females.
Men expressed insecurities about their ability to perform sexually; the women in the study expressed insecurities about body image. The Male is concerned about being able to perform as well sexually, and for the same duration, as the men in the pornography, they viewed. In the contrast, women felt women in pornographic materials represented the ideal body type.26 Girls report feeling physically inferior to the women they view in pornographic materials, while boys fear they may not be as virile or able to perform and the men in these media.27
Ingela Lundin and others suggest that “People’s sexuality develops through a social process of continuous interaction with significant and generalised others. Through the social processes, sexuality is conferred through the expressions and meanings that society imposes.
Thus sexuality is “scripted” on three distinct levels: cultural scenarios, interpersonal scripts, and intrapsychic scripts.
Cultural scenarios are historical, culturally shared guidelines for sexuality that “specify appropriate objects, aims, and desirable qualities of self-other relations. In addition to learning what is viewed as appropriate sexual conduct, the individual also learns what is considered as deviant patterns of behaviour.
The interpersonal script deals with the organisation of context-specific behaviour with shared social conventions and expectations that allow the involved actors to negotiate and participate in a complex dyadic process. Thus, the interpersonal script enables individuals to find mutuality in sexuality.
The intrapsychic script comprises factors that motivate the individual to become sexually aroused, and to commit to, and engage in, sexual activities.26
4. How pornography changes our attitude towards sexuality and beauty
Ingela Lundin and others also say, “Sexual conduct seldom is learned by observing parents or other persons having sex in real life, and adults do not teach the young how to have sex.
In this context, sexually explicit media (SEM) represent an exception, as they show the young individual possible sexual acts and arousal stimuli. Much of the existing SEM, particularly the media targeting men, deviates to some extent from the prevailing sexual script and show a hedonistic–people with hedonistic view argue that pursuit of pleasure and intrinsic goods are the primary or most important goals of human life– sexuality detached from the love script”.26
People with hedonistic views argue that the pursuit of pleasure and intrinsic goods are the primary or most important goals of human life.
A study carried out by NSPCC (The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children), UK, found that. “Children think pornography represents ideal sexuality and physical body. Because of boys’ predilection for ‘pornified body ideal’ a 13 years old girl expressed her frustrations, “it gives unrealistic view of sex and bodies makes us self conscious and question why our bodies are not developed like what we see online”, “a few of my friends have used pornography for guidance about sex and are getting the wrong image of relationship”.28
Young women’s desperation for thin yet surgically enhanced curvy, lumpy and bumpy body consciousness no doubt is acquired from the portrayal of lustful images in pornography. ‘Of 2000 girls quizzed by GP (general practitioners) aged 14, in the UK, 40% teenagers considered plastic surgery,29 while the director of NHS (National Health Service) of the country found 41% of girls aged 7 to 10 63% of girls aged 11 to 16 they felt pressure to look the way celebrities do.30
A survey on 461 Australian female GP on their knowledge and attitude on ‘Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery’ (FGCS) found that their ‘patients were mostly influenced by each of fashion, comfort in clothes, beauty perception, and pornography.
More than half of GPs have seen girls under 18 requesting for FGCS’. 31 “The popularity of FGCS is growing and genital modification has many social and medical implications. FGCS, also known as vulvoplasty, refers to a group of non-medically indicated cosmetic surgical procedures that change structure and appearance of the healthy external genitalia of women, or internally in case of virginal tightening. More specifically, it compasses labiaplasty (trimming of the labia minora and less commonly labia majora), hymenoplasty, vaginoplasty (vaginal construction), mons pubis liposuction, vaginal rejuvenation, G-spot augmentation and Orgasm-shot’.31
Is pornography responsible for social outcomes like rape, domestic violence, increasing divorce, sexual promiscuity, sexual cohabitation, child abuse, extramarital affairs, premarital affairs, incest-bound relationship, deviant forms of sexual relationships, declining child-parent relationships, sense of sexual ethics, decreasing level of religious socialisation?
To find answers to the questions as such qualitative, and quantitative, research, studies and findings have been put forward. Innumerable studies, research, and experiments have already been formulated by numerous researchers in the field.
Pornography is evaluated through a socio-cultural angle and its probable and possible effects are irreversible in many ways. “Both hard-core pornography and BDSM have a lot of “deviant, violent material” that is cruel and degrading to women, and treats women as objects’.32
Even though pornographic actors believe that pornography can be empowering to them, 33 radical feminists like Gail Dines in her book Pornland, states ‘habitual male consumers of mainstream pornographic materials appear to be at greater risk of becoming sexually callous and violent towards women than occasional users”,33 “and that men’s overwhelming economic and cultural power cannot be changed by women doing porn. It has just been promoted as a way to economic empowerment while it the commodification of sexuality which is plasticised and lacks any individuality”.34
“Just as fast-food franchises hacked our appetites by developing synthetic flavours, aromas, and texture that target our brain system- leaving us with an obesity endemic porn producers are leaning to hack our libidos with new technologies like HD videos and virtual reality which leave a deleterious effect on our community as a whole”.35 We cannot learn relationship skills from porn, it cannot avail us the pleasure and connection we look for. Fed up with pornography school-going boys ‘love coming on girls’ faces, and girls love having their faces come on, which makes girls feel they must let boys come on their faces and pretend liking it’. 36
Girls should be small, thin, and inferior, while the guys should be muscular and superior.37
Porn producers are leaning to hack our libidos with new technologies like HD videos and virtual reality which leave a deleterious effect on our community as a whole.
Adolescents can learn sexual behaviour from observing the behaviours depicted in the sexually explicit material. Sexually explicit material users are more likely to engage in sexual behaviours such as anal sex, sex with multiple partners, and using drugs and alcohol during sex.38
Anonymous and ubiquitous use of Internet hard-core pornography takes a toll on human lives. Deviant sex fantasy, incest, sex tolerance, erotic asphyxiation, fetishism, BDSM, increasing desire for ‘anal sex’ and bestiality are widely accepted in our societal setting. A 12 years boy rapes his younger sister fascinated by hard-core pornography. The court said nature of these cases will increasingly come before the court because of the access to the internet hard-core pornography.39 A man punished for publishing ‘revenge porn’ with his wife on multiple websites.40
The growing body of evidence implicating the consumption of extreme pornography in some of the most heinous case of sexual violence, rape and murder, and that its narratives are not simply those accessed by users, they also find their way into mainstream cultural images that women’s bodies are available and violable.41
5. The changing trend of sexual pleasure
Anal sex is prevalent and increasing among heterosexuals as some of the SEM (sexually explicit materials) commonly depict which is far from mainstream sexual education and unmentionable in some social contexts.
Yet ‘survey suggests that young men and women and older adults-are engaging in anal intercourse more than ever before. Sexually explicit media depictions are often mentioned as affecting how sex is viewed and practised by young people.42 A study on sex lives and pornography consumption of high school students in Sweden reported that 98%, among 718 respondents, male and 76% of female respondents reported having consumed pornography, 75% of the overall sample had engaged in sexual intercourse, and 71% had used a contraceptive at first intercourse. Having intercourse with a friend, group sex, oral sex, and anal sex were all associated with frequent exposure to sexually explicit materials.
In addition, 71% of adolescents believed that sexually explicit material influenced the sexual behaviours of peers and had their first sexual experience of intercourse at an earlier age than adolescents who were not frequently exposed.37
Consumers of pornography are more likely to display forms of aggressive behaviours such as theft, truancy, manipulating others, arson and forced sexual intercourse. Researchers examined factors such as “violence, sexual promiscuity, hostile masculinity delinquency and pornography use- defined as amount of sexual exposure to sexually explicit magazines-as correlates of sexual aggression against women, in a national sample of men enrolled postsecondary education.43
Traumatised by the ‘beautiful naked girl’ at 11 Elliot Rodger got obsessed with the beautiful girl.
He wrote in his autobiography ‘one friend who I met through a chat room suddenly emailed me pictures of beautiful naked girls telling me, “Check this out”. When I looked at the picture I was shocked beyond the words. I had never seen what beautiful girls look like naked, and the sight filled me with strong and overwhelming emotions. 44
I was traumatised, my childhood was fading away. Ominous fear swept over me. 45
Victims of pornography
Eliot Rodger 22-year-old Rodger eventually sought ‘retribution’ against women who rejected his obsession with beauty killing seven people and in Isla Vista, California on May 23, 2014.
Fuelled by internet pornography and deviant forms of sex with harming women a man named Graham Coutts from England killed his pregnant girlfriend’s sister Jane Longhurst, 31, to satisfy his ‘macabre sexual fantasy’ during erotic-asphyxiation on 14 March 2003.46
Despite the largest police search operation that cost 2 million pounds in British history, April Jones, another victim of violent sexual fantasies, was never found. “On the day of the killing, as he sent an angry text message to an ex-girlfriend and tried to arrange dates with a number of women who he hit on at random, he spent the time viewing his collections of child pornography”.47
Tia Sharp was killed by her grandmother’s partner, Stuart Hazel who was ‘sexually motivated’ and developed an incestual sexual interest in her. ‘His recovered memory card contains pictures of child pornography and bestiality. A sparkly, full-of-life girl of 12 was killed on August 3, 2012’.48
A Dutch engineer Vincent Tabak killed his neighbour Joanna Yeates. Prosecution findings say Tabak had ‘motivated sex’ with her, and strangled as he attacked her and Tabak’s interest in hard-core and bondage pornography was discovered from his computer. 49
At the time of Georgia Williams’ murderer, Jamie Reynolds had 16,800 images and 72 extreme pornographic videos on his computer.50
Nathan Matthews got sexually motivated while killing his stepsister Becky Watts on her abduction. Nathan developed his obsession with teenage pornography who viewed a film entitled “Virgin teen gets raped in own house. Police recovered 236 images and 21 films along with a 17 minutes film that showed a victim being beaten up on her bed”.51 Despite the social, cognitive and physical harms of pornography many researchers on social and psychosocial scenarios hold controversies. I have been collecting data and going through it for the last couple of months in order to find its relation to our perceptive harms. Regardless of pornography’s genre, its harms are inevitable.
Adolescents who use sexually explicit material were found “to engage in coerced vaginal penetration and forced sexual acts such as oral or digital penetration, to express sexually aggressive remarks and to engage in sex with animals than those who did not.38 Childhood exposure to sexually explicit material may contribute “to antagonistic and psychopathic attitudes, likely the depiction of distorted views of human sexuality and glorification of promiscuity.38
Because adolescents do not always have the opportunity to counterbalance ‘real-life experiences with sexual partners they are especially susceptible to the internalisation of distorted pornographic images of human sexuality and may act accordingly. 52
Is Beastliness a Sexiness?
Theory and experimental research literature suggest that violent pornography is more likely to have an association with the attitudes supporting violence against women than nonviolent pornography.
A significant overall relationship between the consumption of pornography and attitude supporting violence against women in non-experimental studies, and this relationship is significantly stronger for violent pornography than nonviolent pornography.53
In some cases, pornography use is indeed a very good “maker” of higher sexual aggression levels. Men who were previously determined to be at high risk for sexual aggression (based on risk factors Hostile Masculinity and sexual promiscuity), found additionally to be very frequent users of pornography who are much more likely to have engaged in sexual aggression than their counterparts who consume pornography less frequently.54
6. How pornography affects on religious activities
A research study of 190 participants by UK scholars on religious sentiment and pornography finds are worth noting.
“People who view pornography feel embarrassed or guilty about their behaviour and, therefore, do not participate in religious activities such as attending church or saying prayers. On the other hand, by not engaging in practices that would remind the individual of teaching against pornography, and thereby reinforcing personal beliefs about pornography, young people who engage in fewer religious practices may more like to view pornography. Regardless of the direction of effect, it was hypothesised that young men who view pornography would have a lower level of current religious practices.
Church attendance was associated with a 26% decrease in the odds of cyberporn use. Focusing exclusively on 18-27 years old the study finds that religious practices–past and the present as well as personal and family- -are linked to lower level of pornography use in emerging adulthood. By engaging in fewer religious practices as a child, religious individuals may be at greater risk of using pornography in subsequent years. It is also possible that individuals with lower levels of self-worth and a higher level of depression seek pornography as an outlet for these feelings or to avoid social interaction.55
However, “when one has indulged in morally questionable activities, one should naturally be motivated to engage in activities that will restore moral integrity”.56
Research findings state that, “More frequent pornography use, like participation in the form of culturally deviant behaviour, might create distance between intimates and even reduce religious interest.
Few studies have considered that religious life itself may actually be shaped by frequent, or at least regular, porn consumption.
The negative spiritual effects of pornography were felt most severely by males. Males who viewed pornography felt that viewing pornography worsened their relationship with God/Christ.
While acknowledging that religious practices might discourage pornography use, researchers also acknowledge the possibility of causality being reversed: it may be those young people who view pornography feel embarrassed or guilty about their behaviour and, therefore, do not attend religious activities. More frequent pornography consumption could also have reciprocal dampening effects on religious interest, possibly due to “cognitive dissonance” in the mind of religious persons who believe porn viewing to be wrong, yet still doing it anyway. Their use of pornography would more likely be accompanied by religious guilt and shame, “cognitive dissonance” and, even scrupulousness influencing them to withdraw and be less inclined to engage in spiritual activities with their partner and children.
7. How pornography affects parent-child relationship
“Pornography viewing might harm the parent-child relationship in a practical way by diverting parents’ attention away from the children either by focusing on the computer or conflicts arising from one partner’s cybersex addiction.”
“It might create distance between parent and child due to parents’ hope to protect the child from exposure to the parents’ pornography use. The lower level of relationship commitment and intimacy between romantic partners as well as a lower level of closeness and interaction between parents and children is responsible due to pornography use.”
“Parents’ Pornography use weakens the positive effects of religion’s influence on childbearing on the frequency with which fathers talk or read about religion with their children. Not only is frequent pornography consumption negatively related to respondents’ religious socialisation of their children, even after controlling for religious characteristics, but pornography consumptions seem to diminish the strong effects of theological conservatism and religious influence on childbearing on parents’ religious socialisation as well, and particularly that of fathers. 57
Pornography is responsible for loneliness it is defined as ‘a lack of attachment relationship, an emotion that signals unsatisfied needs from proximity, love, and security due to the unavailability of the attachment relationship. It is loneliness which is a form of ‘separation distress’ that results from failure to have one’s basic attachment needs to be fulfilled.58
Pornography use predicts loneliness.
Arguably, loneliness may, the other way around; also trigger pornography use- loneliness may predict vulnerability to sexual media as a coping response, albeit one that is inevitably unsuccessful, since pornography is unable to actually meet relationship needs. Thus, a circular or recursive relation between pornography use and loneliness, loneliness and pornography use may exist.59
The association between loneliness and viewing pornography is positive and significant, and those who view pornography are more likely to experience loneliness, and those who experience loneliness are more likely to view pornography. Pornography’s sexual script, consisting of eroticism, objectification, promiscuity, and misogyny is on its face antithetical to secure attachment, which is conceptually linked to loneliness; because it hinders relationship functioning as pornography distorts pair-bond sexuality. A person may experience palliative relief from distressing experiences through the preoccupying, distracting euphoria or fantasy accompanying pornography and sexual arousal.60
Based on the Sexual Behaviour sequence it is “expected that experience with Internet sexuality will affect individual’s imaginative and overt sexual behaviour in a fashion that is consistent with his or her arousal, affective, and cognitive response to sexuality. The individual who approaches Internet sexuality with strong arousal responses and positive affective and cognitive responses to sexuality will be more inclined to incorporate elements of Internet scenarios into their cover and overt sexual behaviour.61
8. Impacts of pornography on romance
The harmful effects of pornography on romance or romantic relationships are viewed in three pathways: a) Contrast Effects b) Upward valuation of relationship alternative c) The acceptance of Infidelity.62
Contrast Effect: when judging the attractiveness of romantic partners, we often refer to a common standard, one informed by other individuals as well as the media we watch. When males view images of attractive females, and the judge the attractiveness of their own mates, we observe a contrast effect –as they see their mates as less attractive than those exposed.63, 62
Sexism can exert an influence on the dynamics of a romantic relationship. Pornography consumption may lead men to place a greater value on the physical characteristics of their partners (which inevitably degrade over time) rather than their intellectual attitudes, which might lead to greater dissatisfaction with the relationship as time passes.64
Relationship alternative: rather than altering how consumers perceive the characteristics and behaviours of their own partners, pornography might give the sense of that others outside of the relationship would better provide sexual variety and satisfaction.65
Increasing acceptance of infidelity: it is possible given that pornography generally portrays uncommitted- and often explicitly infedelitious- sexual encounters, that exposure can foster a permissive sexual script, increasing acceptance of extra-dyadic behaviour. 62
On a measure of communication, relationship adjudgment, commitment, sexual satisfaction, and infidelity, couples where neither partner viewed pornography reported higher relationships relative to those where one or both partners viewed pornography alone. But in a relationship where both of the partners view porn reported likelihood of infidelity among mutual consumers is almost double of non-consumers; 18.2% vs. 9.7%). 66, 62
Exposure to a large amount of pornography increased acceptance and estimated a frequency of extramarital sex, and believed that promiscuity is natural and that marriage is less desirable, who also tend to have an increased number of sexual partners.62
Women in the study were found in emotional distress with partners’ behaviour, felt betrayed, abandoned, humiliated, hurt and hungry, strongly felt the Contrast Effect, comparing themselves unfavourably to women in pornography and unable to compete in terms of sexual performance with their male partners. Many ultimately reassessed the relationship itself, seeking separation or divorce as their relationship progressively deteriorated.67
The growing presence of pornography in men’s sexual socialisation raises questions about the potential impact of pornography on how might pornography use shape heterosexual men’s sexual behaviour, attitudes, and expectations during a sexual encounter with women?
“Research indicates that men who view high rate of pornography are more likely to rely on pornography to become and remain sexually excited and, when engaged in the dyadic sexual behaviour, are more likely to integrate pornography in sexual activities, “influence real-world expectations and associated with decreased self-reported enjoyment of sexual intimate behaviour”.68 Various studies have noted that husbands who habitually coerced their wives into sex often attempt to re-enact pornographic scenes.69
Young women are may be motivated to engage in certain sexual behaviours primarily as a means to please a sexual partner or to view themselves from the perspective of their male partners, rather than because of a personal desire for the behaviour, and adopting a male-centric perspective can rob young women of their ability to recognise their own feeling and sexual desires.70
Social scripting theory argues people follow an internalised script that provides meaning and direction for social interaction.
It tells us what should or should not be happening, how people should or should not believe in response to what is or what is not happening and what outcomes of a particular action should be.71
Why porn is better than real sex
Researchers found that male college students were in a state of sexual arousal induced by self-stimulation (masturbation), were more likely, as compared to the natural state, to report a wide range of stimuli and activities sexually appealing and even more willing to report a desire to engage in morally questionable and risky sexual behaviours, such as having anal sex, spanking partners, watching someone urinate, and becoming sexually excited by animals or prepubescent girls.72
Heavy users of pornography arguably have pornographic sexual scripts readily accessible in memory.
Because mainstream pornographic media provide manual-like, detailed graphic illustrations of sexual encounters,73 and thus provide a guide for a complete sequence of sexual behaviour. It is likely that heavy pornography users will apply scripts that they learnt from pornography in their real-life sexual behaviours. “Internet pornography is often associated with activities that undermine marital exclusivity and fidelity and increase the risk of contracting and transmitting sexual diseases.70
A research group analysed 304 scenes from best-selling pornographic videos and found 88.2% have physical aggression, insulting 48.7%, verbal aggression 48.7%(e.g. bitch, slut, whore), pinching 12.2%, open hand slapping 41.1%, gagging 53.9%, 41% of pornographic scenes depicted slapping a partner in the face during sex, and 28% pornographic scenes depicted choking, 75% of popular pornographic scenes have spanking, while 37% have hair-pulling. 19% of double penetrations in pornographic films, 56% have anal sex, ass-to mouth 41%, ejaculation on a woman’s face 67%.74
Sexual behaviours like aggression, targeting and degrading are significantly associated with higher pornography use and desire to engage in them,75 and lower enjoyment of sexually intimate behaviours such as kissing and. Men are more likely to have engaged in behaviours representing female degradation, including ass-to-mouth and calling their female partners’ names.
Some of the physical and mental harm is distributed among the most vulnerable. Women of all ages comprise 80% of those trafficked, children comprise 50%, and of those women and children, 70% are used for sexual exploitation. The federal government estimates that 14,500 to 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States each year. “The Department of Justice and the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children both recognise that pornography is an element that adds to the serious problem of sex trafficking. Many traffickers are found with filming equipment and cameras to create and sell pornography.”9
Despite the greater opportunities available to her, a female born today will find herself “introduced into a society that is arguably more sexually coarse, explicit, confusing, and risky than that of previous eras.” Because of “modern trends in pornography consumption and production, sexualized media, sex crime, sexually transmitted diseases, online sexual predators, internet dating services, and sexualized cyberbullying,” the woman of today lives in a “world more sexually distorting, daunting, and aggressive than ever before, and at earlier ages in her development than ever before.”9
Visual media continuously disseminate images of bodies adhering to inflexible and unrealistic appearance standards, and individuals cannot escape these images due to their omnipresence.76
Sex, portrayed in the porno-image, is an affair of attractive people with every technical accomplishment. Most people are not attractive, and with only second-class equipment. Once users are led by their porn addiction to see sex in the instrumentalised way that pornography encourages, they begin to lose confidence in their ability to enjoy sex in any other way than through fantasy. People who lose confidence in their ability to attract soon become unattractive. And then the fear of desire arises and from that fear the fear of love.
Those who become addicted to this risk-free form of sex run a risk of another and greater kind.
People who lose confidence in their ability to attract soon become unattractive. And then the fear of desire arises and from that fear the fear of love. Those who become addicted to this risk-free form of sex run a risk of another and greater kind.
They risk the loss of love, in a world where only love brings happiness.77
The most daunting fact is researchers found, “men who use pornography are less attractive to potential female partners”. In one recent study of college men and women, researchers found that, “For women, frequent pornography use in a potential mate resulted in significantly lower intentions to pursue him for a relationship.9
9. Pornography and male attitude towards female
Relentless use of pornography causes Centrefold Syndrome, it is a male pattern of relating women’s body to unrealistic fantasies, and expectations, imposing profound distortions on how men relate with women and to women’s bodies, and, in turn, how women relate to their physical selves and with men, to enjoy them from afar, which calls men to become an observer. It has become the dominant cultural icon in the past half-century thanks to ubiquitous access to internet pornography. Meta-analyses have revealed that viewing thin female media images increases body-related distress and depression among girls and women.78
Dr Gary R. Brooks, PhD, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University talks intensively about Centrefold Syndrome that pornography users develop over time. Gary says, “The five principal elements of the Centerfold Syndrome are (a) voyeurism, (b) objectification, (c) the need for validation, (d) trophyism, and (e) the fear of true intimacy. 79
(a) Voyeurism: Men’s compulsion to look at women’s naked, semi-naked body (e.g. topless, bottomless).79
(b) Objectification: Women become objects as men become objectifiers. As the culture has granted men the right and privilege of looking at women, women have been expected to accept the role of stimulators of men’s visual interest, with their bodies becoming objects that can be lined up, compared, and rated. The process is distinctly one-way, with women’s bodies highlighted and male observers remaining in the shadows or anonymous in a crowd. Objective physical aspects are critical: size, shape, and harmony of body parts are more important than a woman’s human qualities.79
(c) The need for validation: The traditional concept of manhood is an elusive state to achieve. Most men have only a vague sense of their masculinity and, therefore, continually worry about whether they measure up, and they are quick to become alarmed at the first sign of failure, weakness, or vulnerability. They are programmed to crave the validation of their masculinity, and they frequently view women’s bodies as a medium for that validation.
(d) Trophyism: Men also experience their masculinity in relation to other men. That is, they ask themselves, how do I stack up against the other guys?
Men compete in this way because they believe that the tokens of masculinity are in short supply, with the most valuable prizes obtained by only the worthiest men.
Women’s bodies become part of this scenario as they are objectified and treated as potential trophies—living testaments to a man’s prowess as financial success, skilful sexual performer, or fearless warrior. This male competition for access to women’s bodies begins in adolescence when boys compete to be the first to “score,” to achieve the most sexual conquests, to “make it” with the sexiest teenage girl.
(e) The fear of true intimacy: Ultimately, this fifth aspect of the Centerfold Syndrome is about how men are taught to suppress their needs for intimacy and sensuality and come to invest too much emotional and psychological power in some women’s bodies.
Fearing their potential overdependence on women, men develop a preoccupation with sexuality, which powerfully handicaps their capacity for emotionally intimate relationships with men and for nonsexual relationships with women.79
Dr Tracy Tylka80, professor of psychology at Ohio University, describes four men’s body-image-related factors
First: Temporary exposure to pornographic images of women may decrease men’s body satisfaction. Such exposure increased men’s desire for a larger and muscular body of women.
Second: It appears that viewing and/or purchasing pornographic magazines may have a negligible or slightly inverse association with men’s body dissatisfaction.
Third: Pornography may serve as a frame of reference for body ideals and sexual performances for men, which was evident in a qualitative study. Even though some men are unwilling to admit it.
Fourth: Evidence is mounting that men who view pornography have increased negative affect, reporting greater depressive symptoms, anxiety, and poorer quality of life.
In her research, Dr. Tracy Tylka found men to have reported decreased confidence when comparing their bodies with men in pornography which is a manifestation of internalisation of the mesomorphic (pertaining to or having a muscular or sturdy body)ideal. “Pornography may be an important source of appearance-related pressure that”, says Tracy Tylka, “in addition to general media and interpersonal pressures to be mesomorphic, is indirectly associated with men’s body dissatisfaction through internalization of the mesomorphic ideal”.
Tylka’s attempts to examine men’s body image of women a) muscularity dissatisfaction b) body fat dissatisfaction c) and body appreciation; she says men’s use of pornography is connected to another body image: body appreciation. Specifically, pornography use was inversely linked to body appreciation, both directly and indirectly through habitual body monitoring.
Men who view pornography are more likely to focus on how they look rather than what their bodies can do for them.
“This pattern of relationships indicates that men who view pornography are more likely to focus on how they look rather than what their body can do for them, and less likely to challenge cultural appearance ideals and engage in self-care behaviours for their body. Therefore, pornography use may be associated with men being more open to engaging in deleterious body change strategies (e.g., fasting, cutting out certain food groups, anabolic steroid use, excessive bodybuilding, cosmetic surgery) to achieve the mesomorphic ideal rather than adaptive self-care strategies (e.g., moderate cardiovascular exercise and strength training, choosing nutritious foods) that emphasize the health and functioning of their body.
Television programs, advertisements, and the music industry exploit and play with pornographic codes and scenarios.
The pornography industry also launches and promotes its products via youth channels and Web sites. In other words, relationships have been forged between pornography and youth culture, which is somewhat of new development. 26
Pornography and sexual perception of Bangladeshies
In Bangladesh, the popular media and the local and international pornography access through DVD players, the internet, mobile phones, magazines and news items – not available on this scale even a decade ago – have provided new images with which to imagine and perform relationships, sexual behaviour, intimacy, and sexualities.
Local and international pornography and an informal market economy facilitate a certain notion of masculinity, with implications for gender, power and sexual relationships and health. Men are both impressed and intimidated by the sexually powerful, healthy and fit men and sexually insatiable women portrayed in pornographic films and the media. Ideas of masculinity and what is a ‘real man’ is influenced by these sources. When asked what ideal male traits are, one young transport worker emphasised sexual attributes: 81
A real male is a man who has a large size penis and females are scared of and impressed by him and he can have sex with any woman… I have read this in several choti books. They are not expensive. It only costs 20–25 Taka each. But there are some with the pictures and those are a bit more expensive, 30–40 Taka. I have also seen it in blue films. 81
To satisfy a woman, it was commonly perceived that a man should ideally have a large, long or thick penis, with preference given to ‘eight to ten inches.81
Most of the men shared concerns about performance and mentioned that a sexual partner could not be satisfied unless they prolonged the sexual act for a maximum period of time, with most specifying 30 minutes as the ideal time. As one older male explained, ‘how degrading it would be if I cannot continue having sex for more than five minutes’. Another young male respondent shared,82
Defeating’ a woman was viewed as a sexually pleasurable experience, and men referred to local magazines and pornographic films where ‘forceful sex’ was viewed as ideal and desired by females.
To conclude this first instalment of three of “How good is Pornography for Us?” it is admittedly right to admit that pornography’s harms on the social and cultural levels are indeed enormous.
Yes, we have our right to do whatever we are entitled to in our private life, but have you ever wondered what harm it is causing to our very selves? e.g. moral, cultural, cognitive and physical. To explore the harm that pornography does to our brain, there will be another piece of the ‘How good is pornography for us and how does it affect us on the romantic level?’
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