By: Kristen Jan Heimuli
It’s a $57 billion a year industry worldwide; $12 billion right here in the U.S. Its revenue is larger than all combined revenues of professional basketball, football, and baseball franchises. It transcends the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC networks. With over 372 million web pages, it takes up 12 percent of the Internet’s total websites. Seventy-two percent of males and 28 percent of females visit these websites regularly. No doubt about it, pornography is an expensive business. It costs billions of dollars to produce and to view. And it costs a countless number of relationships, families, and lives.
Pornography isn’t a brand new phenomenon, but the media has certainly increased expansion and accessibility of this perverse drug. It can now be found right on your smart phone-and your child’s smart phone. In a world where children are so media savvy, and media is so saturated with pornography, parents need to take precaution. Children, particularly boys who are at risk of anti-social behavior, are more likely to engage in pornography via the media. It is essential for parents to understand what they are up against-and also what their children are facing every single day.
The effects of pornography are not something we can afford to ignore. Many individuals claim that engaging in pornography is healthy, liberating, appropriate, normal. Perhaps it’s just “boys being boys.”
Science strongly suggests otherwise.
Pornography physically damages and rewires neuro-pathways in the human brain, just like illicit drugs. A few of the startling psychological consequences of pornography include: desensitization, habituation, and eventually boredom. As users move from “soft-core” pornography to more perverse forms, desensitization for people increases as victims become objects to be used at the user’s disposal.
For instance, numerous married men who view pornography report becoming bored with their wives in regards to sexual intercourse and other forms of sexual intimacy. Many pornography users suffer from erectile dysfunction and are unable to have sex with a “real” woman because of the numbing effects that pornography has on the brain. Like any drug, the first high will never return, and many will spend a lifetime trying to feed their gratification through more disturbing forms of pornography, which is often linked to sex crimes and domestic violence.
As if that’s not frightening enough, a study conducted back in 1995 showed that pornography even has the capability to not only influence individuals’ sexual behaviors, but to promote sexually violent behaviors. Individuals who are exposed to pornography are more likely to perceive rape and other sex crimes as acceptable. Notice this shocking apathy occurs in individuals who are exposed to pornography, and not just those actually engaging in it.
The question is, in the society that we live, who hasn’t been exposed to it? Imagine the consequences on one’s brain who is repeatedly choosing to view pornographic material over and over.
The effects pornography has on the brain and on relationships have been studied for awhile now. So what has been done about it? And what are we going to do about it?
In the United States, not much has been done by the government regarding pornography. However, the use of child pornography in any form (i.e. distribution, viewing, selling children, etc.) is illegal. While this is a way to protect children from harm once the act has taken place-it does not prevent children from harm. Thus, this measure really addresses symptoms of a much bigger problem: a lack of education about sex and pornography. This type of education should particularly be implemented among youth.
While school assemblies and advocacy groups are beginning to educate individuals and fight pornography head on, the most effective way to reduce consumption of pornography is for adults to teach sex and media education in the home. In fact, the likelihood of pornography exposure turning into pornography consumption significantly drops when positive standards regarding women, relationships, and sex are demonstrated in family life.
What do you say we take that seriously?
Let’s stop being okay with pornography! Let’s offer support and encouragement to those overcoming pornography addictions. We need to educate those who may one day find themselves in pornography’s grasp. We need to teach our children, and ourselves, what pornography really does. Prevention is better than intervention.
Knowledge truly is power. Remember, the first step to combat pornography begins in our homes. Don’t take this drug lightly-it is a force to be reckoned with. Prevent it. Reduce it. Explain it. Understand it. Discuss it over the dinner table. Spread the word.