The Real Effect of Porn on Women
January 30, 2017
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.
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