By: Nohémie Mawaka
A few days ago I turned on Netflix and accidentally watched a movie about the journey of four recovering sex addicts. In this film came a sexual scene that was very graphic. Afterwards, I had this imagery stuck in my mind everywhere I went. This made me wonder: if a glimpse of a movie scene is hunting me this much, what clinical affect must pornography have on those who constantly watch it? Therefore, I read several articles on the affect of pornography and tried to understand why it is now a twenty-two billion dollar industry.
I have found multiple responses to these questions. The most popular response has been the convenience of receiving temporary sexual satisfaction at your own timing. Another one was that many people, mostly men, feel a sense of control in knowing that they are able to perform sexually without the pressure or approval of women. As well, pornography creates a mental fantasy that makes one believe in a sexual world that “may” happen by over indulging without having anyone know about it. Pornography research has consumers’ perceive realism of the portrayals. Such perceptions are likely to be important mediators of whether consumers may influence their beliefs and attitudes or behaviors in the real world, (Hald and Malamuth, 2008). While depicting people actually engaging in sexual acts, often portrays an unrealistic picture of sexuality as it is practiced in real life. Some who are not as sexually active, find themselves stuck with the visual imagery of pornography and therefore continuously go back to watching it for the sake of having that initial sexual fantasy. In marriages, some husbands have testified feeling ashamed to ask their wives to have sex of the sake of having sex, because their wives may want to be made love too instead of feeling used for just ‘sex’. On the contrary, to my surprise some marriages have even testified that pornography and masturbation saved their relationships by putting less pressure on both individual to perform in bed. These positive views tends to be rejected by religious groups to whom online sexual activity is an act of betrayal and adultery, correlating with emotional infidelity (Poulsen et al. 2013).
Now, what might the consequence of this be? Many spouses prefer pornography over making love to their partner. Women more than men viewed the use of pornography as a doubt for rather their partner was committed to the relationship. A study done by Schneider in 2000 showed one-half of compulsive pornography users’ spouses reported that their partner who used online sexual entertainment compulsively had lost interest in relational sex. Furthermore, for some men whose women did not approve of them watching pornography, it made them redraw from the relationship. For men, for whom there is a higher pornography usage; they showed aggressive sexual behavior for the most part when watching violent pornography. This may also correlate with the fact that for pornography to be an attractive activity, it requires a certain threshold of sexual desire which is mostly held by men. This becomes dangerous among teenage boys who watch this as a form of education to learn about sex; alternating their view of women and marriage. Along with consistent exposure to pornography may influence an individual’s satisfaction with their partner’s affection, physical appearance, sexual curiosity, and sexual performance. Most research focus on the effect of pornography among men. Whilst some research show a smaller percentage of women admit watching pornography with their partners to helped express their sexual desire. Little evidence support the benefits of pornography usage, while many more studies appear to testify its negative short and long-term consequences. This is truly concerning since most of today’s society spends most of their time online where pornography is easily accessible.
F. O. Poulsen, D. M. Busby and A. M. Galovan. Pornography Use: Who uses it and How it is associated with Couple Outcomes. Journal of Sex research, 50(1), 72-83, 2013.
Gert Martin Hald and Neil M. Malamuth. Self-Perseived Effects of Pornography Consumption. Arch Sex Behav (2008) 37: 614-625.
Schneider, J. P. (2000). Effects of cybersex addiction on the family; Results of a survey. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 7, 31-58.