The Real Effect of Porn on Women

The painful reality no one talks about.

When I saw porn for the first time at 11, I was convinced I was the only kid in the world who had stumbled upon it. My curiosity to find more was trumped only by my lack of access. A few months later, I heard a word on the playground and figured it was sexual because boys were laughing about it. Determined to get in on the joke, I borrowed my dad’s dictionary to try to understand it. The clinical dictionary definition left me disappointed, and when my dad asked what word I’d looked up, I lied with a blush on my face and claimed I forgot.

How far we’ve come from the days of the dictionary. Kids today are one google search away from violent, sexually explicit video content online.

I recently made a documentary about pornography, and something a porn director said in his interview caught my attention: “No one has ever died from an overdose of pornography.” These words reflect a belief many of us quietly ascribe to: that our personal porn habits aren’t that harmful.

When someone throws a hand grenade, it’s impossible to know where every single piece of shrapnel will fall. After hearing countless stories of how pornography has affected the lives of others, I’ve come to realize that the consequences of porn use are akin to flying bits of shrapnel: painful, unpredictable, and in some ways, fatal to our lives. Women and girls often pay the highest price when it comes to this clandestine form of entertainment.

Porn changes expectations.

I’ve had several young women tell me about the vile and violent things boyfriends and husbands, both Christian and non-Christian, have requested or demanded of them. Their preferences mirror what they’ve seen in porn. Junior high girls are asking the question, “can I still be popular if I refuse to have porn-star sex?” One mom, in tears, told us her 14 year-old daughter had been asked by several guys in her class for naked pictures of herself (which then get traded between boys during recess). As porn becomes more violent and degrading, so do the real-life requests of boys and men. These expectations carry into healthy relationships and into marriage, requiring us to unlearn what porn has taught us about intimacy.

Porn leaves a painful legacy.

When we use pornography, the last thing we’re thinking about is what the future holds for the people on screen. Ex-pornstar Brittni Ruiz told us, “A lot of people who make bad decisions don’t do it on camera. Pornography is made for the world to see forever…forever.” Brittni has left the industry behind and is now married to a pastor at her church, but the contracts she signed when she was younger give porn companies the legal right to profit from her images and videos indefinitely. Another ex-porn star mourns the fact when she has children someday, they’ll be able to search her name online and find her former life. Porn affects the dignity and humanity of others by transforming them from a fully dimensional person to someone we just consume for our own pleasure.

Porn can result in addiction.

There’s a false assumption that porn use and addiction is “a men’s issue,” leaving women to struggle in silence. While accountability and recovery groups for men abound, safe spaces for women to talk about their porn addictions are essentially non-existent. The fact is that the sexual templates of both boys and girls are increasingly based on porn. Girls are being turned on by sexual violence. Colette, a 23 year-old wife and mom of two kids who is overcoming a porn addiction, told me that her addiction began with romantic, soft core porn, but gradually morphed into a desire for violent, degrading acts. In her words:

I craved my next porn fix all day long. I hid from my family and loved ones in order to feed my increasingly disturbing appetite. I taught my body to respond only to very specific stimulation, and this carried over into my marriage. I taught myself that I deserved to be hurt, like the women in porn are hurt. I taught myself that I deserved only domination, pain, disrespect, and abuse…I taught myself that I had to let men do what they wanted to me. That was all I was worth. I could have no preference. It has taken years of counseling, communication, and redemptive healing to work through those issues. My porn addiction became a central tenet of who I was, my core identity. It was confusing, traumatizing, and devastating. What hurt most of all was the belief that I was the only one.

Equality, dignity, and identity are key markers of our humanity. They enable us to develop a healthy sense of self-worth, and in turn, to extend that value to those around us. This is what porn kills. It turns people into faceless entertainment and makes us forget that we have all been made in the image of God.

Top Comments

Isabel Appleton

1

Isabel Appleton commented…

You talked about the porn stars problems and women addicts, but You failed to explain about the aftermath for the sig others--the silent victims of porn: the countless eating disorders, their self-body hate, and the relentless comparison to unattainable body shapes as a result.

Michael Johnson

289

Michael Johnson commented…

Thank you for this truth! Concise and compelling. Sharing this post with the Future Marriage University (FMU) community at https://www.facebook.com/FMUniversity.

3 Comments

Isabel Appleton

1

Isabel Appleton commented…

You talked about the porn stars problems and women addicts, but You failed to explain about the aftermath for the sig others--the silent victims of porn: the countless eating disorders, their self-body hate, and the relentless comparison to unattainable body shapes as a result.

Michael Johnson

289

Michael Johnson commented…

Thank you for this truth! Concise and compelling. Sharing this post with the Future Marriage University (FMU) community at https://www.facebook.com/FMUniversity.

Josh Colletta

5

Josh Colletta commented…

Oh, here we go. More puritanical pseudo-psychology.

Look, porn can be linked to a whole host of problems IF -- and yes, that's a big IF -- IF you are not raised or living in a way conducive to navigating the sexual mores of our society. This is the same nonsense we've been hearing from the pulpit for decades, and you know what? It's no more true now than it ever has been.

Let's take a look at that naked picture swapping taking place between teenagers. You don't think teens were doing that with Polaroids before there were smartphones? That's nothing new, it's only more prevalent because the technology allows it to BE more prevalent. It has nothing to do with pornography, it's kids exploring the way they have since the dawn of time. No, it's not appropriate, and I'm not attempting to excuse it, but blaming that prevalence on pornography is asinine.

As for the decisions and lasting consequences, again, this is something that mandates better parenting, not blaming porn for the problem. Porn is usually a job that the people who are in it WANT to be in (women AND men). Why are we shaming them for that? If they regret the decision, they can leave and move on. It's just like any other media job: once it's out there, it's out there. We all know how that works thanks to the Internet today. Nothing is ever truly deleted. Teach wisdom instead of blaming porn. And if working in that industry was something someone has left behind, it shouldn't be much of an explanation to any future children they may have. You just tell them that it was their decision at the time, and they later chose not to do it anymore. Not rocket science.

Again with the "porn addiction" myth. There is no such thing. Viewing online pornography is mentioned in the DSM-5, but it's not considered a mental disorder by any standard. Research simply shows that "pornography addiction" is an excuse for compulsive behavior, which *could* be a mental health issue, but it does not constitute mental illness or addiction specifically to any one thing (and having a compulsive disorder myself, I know the difference quite well). Colette, as quoted in this piece, is describing compulsive behavior, not an addiction. And what she's saying she "taught herself" is probably fantasy that she desires to act out, but at some point her compulsive personality forced that fantasy to blend with reality because she simply did not have the tools she needed to keep her compulsion in control. That's not the fault of porn, that's the fault of an aversion to mental health issues and care that permeates our society and needs to be changed.

Now here's the kicker: I don't regularly watch porn, myself. Scoff all you want, but I don't. It just doesn't do anything for me. If I can't be a part of the act, what's the point? And given my compulsive personality, you would think that I would have latched onto it. Nope. Just doesn't push my buttons.

So why am I here defending it? I'm not, really. I'm here cutting the bullshit. In fact, it may be anecdotal evidence, but I know a happily married woman with children who watches porn -- with her husband, at that -- and they are both fully capable of separating fantasy from reality. It causes them no problems whatsoever. In fact, if she sees this, I'm sure she'll put her own two cents in for good measure. The idea that porn is what causes these problems is a blatant lie, and my friend isn't the only proof of that fact. Most of the world stands as proof, as well.

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