(n.) 1. a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs. 2. a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, especially one whose private life, opinions or statements belie his other public statements.
Before I dive into this juicy topic, I need to clear few things up. If for any reason you don’t agree with the opinions stated in this blog post, you are welcome to start a lovely discussion on either any of my social media platforms or in the comments section. In this post I will be refereeing to ‘porn’, ‘pornography’, ‘erotica, ‘porno’ as materials of sexual context portrayal that doesn’t contradict with the law (like for example children porn does) and where all the involved parties have willingly given consent to participate and later for the material to be published for financial benefit. And last but not least, if you are twelve-year-old trying to feed your hormones, sorry to disappoint, but this blog post does not involve any sort of imaginary of naked bodies.
Pornography in one way or another has existed since prehistoric times, back then it was Venus figurines and very rounded and blurred sexual position displayed in rock art.
“Female figures often appear in sexually inviting attitudes, which may be quite the same as those seen in the most brazen pornographic magazines.” – Richard Rudgley, ‘The Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age’ (p. 194)
Fast forward to the Victorian era where for the first time the concept of ‘pornography’ is understood as today. Since then it has evolved and now can be presented in numerous ways – books, magazines, postcards, sculptures, drawings, paintings, illustrations, animations, sound and video recordings, video games. For example, the massive adult film consumption has turned pornography into a multi-billion industry. Ironically, despite the controversy, the pornographic film production commenced almost immediately after the invention of the motion picture. The majority of people contribute to the growth of pornography in one way or another in either visiting the pornographic sites, buying printed media, reading pornographic prose or even with the music they listen to.
Bottom line, everyone watches, listens or reads porn in one way or another.
“Sex is reported to be the most frequently searched topic on the Internet, with pornographic search-engine requests totaling approximately 68 million per day (25% of total search-engine requests).” – study: Generation XXX: Pornography Acceptance and Use Among Emerging Adults
I feel that society is divided into three groups (again with the generalizing): (1) the hypocrites that secretly enjoy any sort of pornographic content, but at the same time are the loudest judgmental individuals shaming the industry, (2) people who see a lot more in the pornographic contents than just a way to stimulate sexual arousal (arguably not excluding that) and (3) those few that are either extremely religious or live in a cave, that do not contribute to the growth of pornographic industry, therefore, they have not experienced it and have no opinion towards it. ironically, Independent reported in May that people who watch porn more than once a week become more religious over time due to their guilt.
People in the first group are the kind of people who are walking and talking examples of the modern-day hypocrisy. These usually are the type of individuals to highlight all the mentally damaging aspects of pornography consumption. Like for example, the notorious serial killer in the 70s Ted Bundy blamed his violent crimes on the addiction to the hard-core pornography. Whether or not porn addiction is a ‘thing’ scholars are still debating over, I could find studies supporting both sides. If you were to ever engage in a discussion with an individual from this group you would most likely be presented with facts supporting the claim of human brain reacting in a harmful manner to pornography exposure. Comically, in 2009 ScienceDaily reported that a researcher at the University of Montreal couldn’t find any males in their twenties, who hadn’t consumed pornography.
Let’s acknowledge that porn addiction truly is an issue like a lot of researchers do suggest, the bigger problem in this scenario is the shame that’s placed onto these individuals by people of this part of society. Usually, there is some sort of childhood trauma that after evolves into porn addiction and then can progress into sexually abusive crimes. Usually, with such individuals, they only reach out for help as Robyn Weiss suggested to PsychCentral ‘only after their addictive behavior patterns have spun their lives into chaos and they desperately need concrete help’ most likely due to the feelings associated with shame whether that be personal or inflicted onto by society’s judgment. In order to overcome an issue, it is important to find the root of it. Pornography isn’t the root of the problem. Shame is a social concept that can only be overcome by engaging with people.
People in the second group are those, who consume some form of pornography. They are the people, who most likely at times find arousal when viewing pornography. But they can also be the type of people who can appreciate human body, can see past the (sometimes) degrading content and sometimes even bother looking into reasons why people have chosen the path of being a part of the pornographic industry. They are the kind of people who may or may not contribute to the industry, but will not judge and ‘slut shame’ involved individuals. They are the kind of people who can see pornography as an expression of art and creativity and have come to the terms that ‘sex sells’. They are the type of people that will write a blog post about pornography and will shamelessly admit that Bruce Venture is their favorite adult film star.
Okay, so this group really isn’t all butterflies and unicorns like I’ve described above. Research shows that most young adults viewing pornography are not doing so because it’s an art form, ‘becoming sexually aroused and fulfilling curiosity are salient motivations for Internet pornography use among emerging adults.’ (Generation XXX: Pornography Acceptance and Use Among Emerging Adults) The same research also highlighted that a motivating factor for women for viewing pornographic content is exploring their sexuality. This is also the part of society that has elevated porn industry to the point where it alone brings in more revenue than the combined industries – Netflix, Google, eBay, Yahoo, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple. Obviously, the society’s acceptance of such content and ongoing demand has consequences – both good and bad.
Firstly, we are now capitalizing on pornography. With anything that makes money for someone come heaps of issues. Anything from privacy, censorship, and copyright to lack of equal pay and ‘amateurs aka those who will do it for free’. For instance a study by Jon Milard showed, how female adult film stars are more likely to be paid greater sums per ‘job’, however, on average their career span is 6-18 months, while a male actor (as long as he can finish and remain hard) will be more likely to remain in the industry far longer and will have more opportunities due to having less competition therefore ultimately a successful male adult film actor is bound to make more money than a female.
In terms of social aspects, there are plenty of studies carried out that suggest a connection between pornography and violence, rape, child abuse etc. Other studies consider, how pornography can affect human interaction and relationships. Fo example, Peg Steep argues that fantasies induced by pornography are more likely lead to cheating, Ana Bridges’ has suggested that watching pornography as a couple is more likely to lead to a divorce than the non-porn consuming couples.
That being said there is also evidence out there that pornography can be used to treat voyeurism, this is based on the concept that countries with high pornography censorship the have high count of voyeurism cases. (Revolvy) To be fair, after doing some research into this, I can’t determine, how concrete the evidence is as most references are based on an article from 1990 and I can’t find access to this article to read it myself.
Those oppose of pornography love to bring up ‘objectification of women’, however, a study carried out by Alan McKee suggested otherwise:
“(…) becoming less repressed about sex, becoming more open-minded about sex, becoming more tolerant of other people’s sexualities, giving them pleasure, providing sexual education, maintaining sexual interest in long term relationships, being more attentive to a partner’s sexual pleasure, finding an identity or community, and making it possible to open discussions with their partners about sex. All of these effects were reported more commonly than the creation of objectifying attitudes.”
Last but not least you have few people who fall into the third group of people. Simply these people should have never been across pornographic content therefore have no input or consequences onto the industry. If an individual fails to meet any of the two criteria’s mentioned, then they instantly fall in either first or second category of groups of people mentioned above.
When I first wrote this blog post few years ago, I was so sure as to where I stood and what societies general stand was towards pornography. Now I am not too sure. Obviously there is high demand for such content that has been capitalised over and other industries like entertainment and advertising are capitalizing on this demand. As any controversial topic there are both positives and negatives and only further discussion will establish if the pros overweight the cons. I didn’t intend with this blog post to establish that, I simply intended to evaluate societies stands on the issue.
If you’ve stuck with me till the end, then thank you. Other than that as always don’t forget to share some kindness with the world!
Originally posted December 27th, 2014. Heavily edited December 31st, 2016.