Not too long ago, I was having a discussion with a few of my friends about the EU’s proposal for a ban on pornography. My personal opinion was that it was an infringement on the freedom of expression and speech of people. However, I decided to do some research to see what consequences that the immense availability of pornography had on society. Porn seemed normal to me, and normal to my peers, including some women. So I researched and, not to my surprise, there seems to be tons of information and studies out there that suggest all sorts of implications.
To begin, I found an article in the dailymail [here] that said a study had to be scrapped because it literally could not find a male who did not view pornography. Professor Simon Lajeunesse’s study was funded by the Interdisciplinary Research Center on Family Violence and Violence Against Women organizations. It aimed to determine how pornography impacted the sexuality of men and their perception of women. As a healthy young man myself who has indulged on occasion in the online porn world, I laughed out loud when I found the professor was unable to find a single young man who had never looked at pornography. His study had to radically change, and what it ultimately found was as follows:
90% of pornography is consumed on the internet, whereas 10% is consumed from video stores. On average, single men watch porn three times a week for 40 minutes. Those who are in committed relationships watch it on average 1.7 times a week for 20 minutes. Most boys sought out pornographic material by the age 10. They quickly discard what they don’t like or find offensive. As adults, they continue to look for content that meets their image of sexuality. All test subjects also claimed they support gender equality and felt victimized by rhetoric that demonized porn. They claimed they didn’t want partners to look like porn stars.
Professor Lajeunesse’s study seemed pretty much in tune with the perspectives of myself and my peers. However, to be critical, I wanted to find more information out there that could lend credence to the idea that pornography could in fact be harmful. And that is when I came across pornography addiction. While not medically diagnosed in the DSM as of yet, it meets the criteria of any addiction: excessive use that interferes with daily life.
So pornography addiction is feasible, but what effects does the use of pornography have on personal relationships with partners? According to psychologytoday [here], pornography has been linked to erectile dysfunction. A growing number of porn users have more recently been complaining about delayed ejaculation, inability to be aroused by real partners, and sluggish erections. As the video states, this is very much in line with the concept of “reward circuitry”. Literally, many men are now complaining of being unable to “get it up” either because of anxiety or physiological reasons.
Many studies [here] have been done to find a correlation with porn use and self-esteem in female partners. While many of the studies are small, and not conclusive, they seem to support the anecdotal evidence suggesting that women feel like they’re being compared to the porn stars their men view. In my own personal relationships, I have received mixed results. For example, I tend to shun off porn entirely when in a committed relationship (who needs porn when you have the real thing?). However, some women have admitted to viewing porn. Other women I’ve spoken to have said it really bothered them, felt akin to infidelity. I can understand this position entirely, as I’ve noticed more awareness on the concept of “emotional cheating”.
Ultimately, there is a lot of research being done in this field, and it’s really hard to pinpoint a true effect that “healthy” porn use many have on individuals and relationships. An interesting trend is that women are now becoming more interested in pornography [here], though many still prefer literature to graphic videos [here]. So in conclusion, it’s hard to say how bad or good porn is for us, or for relationships. Personally, I want to believe that porn use can be healthy, but I understand how it could feel very bad to significant others. There does seem to be a growing parity in it’s use between men and women, especially as accessibility has increased and more markets are being targeted. So, if you enjoy watching porn with your partner, and they enjoy it as well, that’s pretty much a win-win, right? What implications does this have for future relationships? I would like to hear your opinions on porn and porn use in relationships.