Come on, just once. Everyone’s watching it. This is the best way to find out about what girls like. It relieves stress and makes you feel great. If you don’t watch this, you are such a prude. While these phrases can be referring to anything, they are often heard when people talk about pornography. In a culture that has turned sexuality into a war cry and has made it mainstream to follow your desires wherever they may lead, pornography has risen quickly through pop culture and social media. While the world is telling us that we need to look out for number one and that we should only do things that make us feel good, we need to consider the impact that this mentality is having not just on ourselves but the community around us.
The website Fight the New Drug has become a forerunner in the fight against porn. Through their research, they have discovered that pornography is more popular today than any other time in history and that “In 2017 alone, they got 28.5 BILLION visits. That’s almost 1,000 visits a second, or 78.1 million a day—way more than the population of the entire United Kingdom.” No longer are people buying Play Boy magazines or renting videos from adult film stores; today you can access porn with a simple Google search. Never before in history has pornography been so widely available and viewed. “A study done in 2008 found that 93% of boys and 62% of girls had been exposed to pornography in their early adolescent years.”
However, not all exposure to porn is purposeful. There is a method called “cybersquatting” where porn sites can found using a URL very similar to that of an everyday site. This results in people stumbling upon these explicit sites by accident. “In 2007, internet security company McAfee did a study on “cybersquatting” and found there is a 1-in-14 chance of a child typing in a misspelled URL and stumbling upon a porn site by accident.” To bring this out of the theoretical and into reality, one of my close friends stumbled upon porn this way when she was 11 years old by mistyping her email address. In fact,
“Studies have shown that the average age of a child’s first exposure to porn is around 11 years old. However, we see that that age is rapidly falling with more kids learning how to use phones, tablets, and computers at earlier ages.” Porn has not merely changed the way that we look at sex, but it has altered the very way we perceive healthy sexual relations and how we relate to people of the opposite gender. This is no longer a bad habit or guilty pleasure that people are indulging in by themselves; it has worked; it has way into our personal lives and the global community.
Some people may view pornography as being a healthy way to control one’s sexual urges and desires. After all, it’s better that someone watch explicit videos than seek someone out in real life isn’t it? However, this viewpoint couldn’t be further from the truth. In 2016, a team of researchers combined all the research they could find on the subject of how watching violent and non-violent porn affects the brain. After examining the twenty-two studies, they firmly concluded that the analysis left “little doubt that, on the average, individuals who consume pornography more frequently are more likely to hold attitudes conducive [favourable] to sexual aggression and engage in actual acts of sexual aggression.” Not only does porn rewire the consumer’s brain to crave increasingly violent sexual scenarios, but it also creates a culture where dehumanizing and abusing women is the norm. The soft-core pornography of today was the hard-core porn of yesterday. In short, you can’t be anti-exploitation and pro-pornography.
Studies show that there is a direct link between consuming porn and then walking outside and buying another person’s body. Not only that, but porn consumers may eventually cross the threshold from watching a scene to wanting to act out a fantasy. This creates a “supply and demand” chain, where watching pornography increases sex trafficking as viewers want to act what they’ve watched. Porn doesn’t only fuel the demand for buying sex, but often the performers in the scenes that look like they’re enjoying themselves are sex trafficking victims. A study conducted by Thorn in 2015 found that “nearly half of sex trafficking victims report that pornography was made of them while they were in bondage.” Even the girls who entered into the porn industry willingly have been deceived. In the Netflix documentary, Hot Girls Wanted one of the girls admitted that “I was in California and I had a blowjob scene. […] I go there, and he’s like, “Oh yeah, it’s a forced blowjob,” And I’m like, “What?” Just one guy, one little camera on a tripod. […] I was scared. I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know if I could tell him no. Or the fact that we already recorded 15 minutes of it, if I could just f—ing leave. Then what? That’s when I understood that’s how rape victims feel. Like, they feel bad about themselves.”
The porn industry has not been merely selling harmless fantasies, but they have been infesting our hearts, mind, and world with toxic lies masquerading as consensual encounters. The Lord wants so much more for our lives than for us to be drawn into toxic habits and to forfeit human connection for technological pleasure. Pornography will never be able to take the place of a real person, but if we’re not careful what started as an escape mechanism could turn into a destructive obsession. We were created for meaningful connection and healthy relationships, let us seek after those instead of the self-gratifying lifestyle the world is telling us to pursue.