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Pornography and it's effects on people

Pornographic material has been around for nearly the entirety of human history in one way or another. To truly define “pornography” is difficult, but the most widely accepted definition is the visual depiction of sexual acts, usually used for sexual stimulation. This is the definition that most would agree pertains to the word pornography, although like many other things, it is not necessarily something that is always easy to define, but it is always easy to identify. For a large portion of human history, pornography has been part of our existence and although it was not always ideal for humans to consume, it did not seem to have an adverse effect on our relationships with each other and the overall sexual health of humans. The rise of the internet, and subsequently the rise of internet pornography, has completely jeopardized the sexual health of the average young person, specifically the average young man and his sexual development along with how he perceives women. Excessive pornography use has been shown to lead to early signs of erectile dysfunction, the inability to reach an orgasm with another human, and the hyper-stimulation of dopamine levels to the point where natural sources of sexual pleasure no longer interest the user. Along with this effect on young men, young women have been found to have an adverse effect to pornography consumption as well, albeit at a much lower rate as women seem to have a higher likelihood of disinterest in pornographic material. The affect pornography has on relationships, whether that be romantic, workplace, or strictly platonic, has also shown to be mostly negative. The rapid rise of internet pornography and its subsequent widespread use around the world today is a net negative for society, and this will only be exacerbated in the future since pornography is so easily obtainable for young children.

If there is any one group of people who suffer from the consequences of use of pornography, it would be young men. Young men are the first stakeholder in this topic, as the health detriments associated with pornography are most noted among the consumers, much of whom are young men. According to the Institute for Family Studies, men are four times as likely as women to report consuming pornographic material within the past month (Cox 1). Due to men, specifically younger men, consuming pornography at higher rates, they will inevitably be more affected by it. Erectile dysfunction is a disorder generally attributed to older men, although according to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, over the past 80 years the rate of younger men experience symptoms of erectile dysfunction has skyrocketed from less than 1% in 1940 to nearly 30% today. The prevalence between these two timelines does not seem to be coincidence, as a 2019 study conducted at Örebro University found that there is a correlation between pornography use and rates of erectile dysfunction. “The empirical investigation indicates that there is a correlation between pornography consumption and erectile dysfunction that suggests causation” (Begovic 1). This presents a large problem for young men, as many that consume pornography do not seem to understand the consequences that the consumption can come with, like the increased risk of developing erectile dysfunction at such a young age. Another consequence that comes with pornography use among young men is the orgasm difficulty that pornography users can experience when engaging in sexual activity with another person. Unbeknownst to many young men who frequent pornographic sites is the inability to reach orgasm when participating in sexual activity with another person. Orgasm difficulty or OD is a medical condition that means what its name implies, orgasm not being able to be reached, many times in natural sexual experiences. This can be caused by a variety of factors, although in young men a prevalent factor is thought to be the frequent use of pornography. This has not been proven, although clinicians claim that men who claim orgasm difficulty are able to orgasm during partnered sex after cutting down on their use of pornography. “Clinicians reporting case-study data on men with OD have indicated that eliminating or reducing the use of pornography has salutary effects.” (Wright 2021). The adverse health effects pornography seems to have on young men are something that does not seem to be talked about enough since these sexual hinderances are becoming much more common place in young men today. The information around sexual consequences of pornography consumption should be well known to every young man, as if they were there is no doubt the consumption of pornography by young men would decrease.

The pornography industry is another stakeholder, and arguably the most important stakeholder in this entire process. Just like any other market, pornographers work on the notion of supply and demand. Pornographers and higher ups in the pornography industry see a way to make money and do everything in their power to try to make as much of it as possible. Pornography is a business, therefore the morality of its proceedings should not be considered, as monetary gain is the only end goal. It is obvious that no morals are at play here seeing as the amount of empirical evidence proving the downsides of perennial pornography use are staggering. Rather, the people who make and produce pornography are after what will absolutely make them as much revenue as possible, which is for most pornography sites to keep the viewer on the site for as long as possible. Like most social media and streaming websites, porn websites work on algorithms trying its best to cater to what it would think the viewer would want to see. This causes a general rabbit hole like effect, showing video after video. The extreme scale of how fast a person can access these types of videos, many of them abysmally violent, has an adverse effect on our brain in the way that it produces dopamine. The vast amount of sexual material being thrown the consumer’s way when on a pornographic website causes an overload of dopamine levels in the brain, in turn making the brain more tolerable of what it is seeing on screen. “Dynorphin, in turn, decreases the dopaminergic function of the reward system, resulting in a decrease of the reward threshold and an increase in tolerance” (Love et al 2015). This overload of dopamine in the brain leads to an addiction like dependency on that specific type of sexual release, making the brain not know how to react when natural forms of sex are presented to it. This is especially exacerbated when considering that many people who consume pornography consume it for years. The pornography industry is most likely very aware of all this, given that their algorithms are built around this. “By data mining individuals’ browsing habits, the online pornography industry uses ‘algorithmic identities’ (Cheney-Lippold Citation2011) to mediate sexual categories, to fetishize racial, class, and cultural difference, and to suggest content and advertisements.” (Keilty 2018).

In addition to this, most of the pornography industry does nothing to try to vet the demographics that consume their product, a large portion of which are children. The third and arguably most important stakeholder in this conversation would be children and how easily they can access pornographic websites. One can only assume all the negative consequences that have been empirically proven to be caused by frequent use of pornography will be exacerbated in children, specifically children who have not yet reached full sexual development. For example, frequent exposure to pornographic material at younger ages has been proven to lead to sexual objectification of women by the boys who are regular consumers of it. “Given this, pornography is likely to contribute to sexually objectifying understandings of and behaviours towards girls and women. Experimental studies among adults confirm such effects” (Flood 392). Possibly one of the most troubling ramifications of pornographic exposure in children and young people is the increase in sexual aggression among young boys that are regular consumers of it. “A wide range of studies on the effects of pornography have been conducted among young people aged 18 to 25, as well as older populations. Across these, there is consistent and reliable evidence that exposure to pornography is related to male sexual aggression against women” (Flood 2003 p. 392). The world has now entered an age in which almost anything is accessible at the click of a button, and modern children, specifically children from the millennial and generation z generations, now grow up in a world where whatever they want to watch is not censored. This is the biggest problem with modern pornography. Children are a click away from some of the most vile and disgusting images ever put onto the internet, and it is extremely hard to shield them from it. Now, the accessibility and anonymity that comes with consuming internet pornography has made it all more desirable for young people to delve into, and many of them are not taught or simply do not give a second thought to what may be the consequences of their actions. The taboo nature surrounding discussing pornography is extremely counter-productive to a society that wants their children to grow up in the healthiest way possible. What has been scientifically proven to be the consequences of frequent pornographic use should be discussed more in schools, and large porn websites and companies should do a better job at trying to make sure whoever is coming onto their site is at least 18 years old.

Another stakeholder in the debate on pornography is the relationships affected by excessive pornographic use. Use of pornography has been shown to correlate with a negative workplace environment, problems in marriages, and even problems with how men perceive women. According to a study conducted by the journal of business ethics, those who consume pornography overall have a negative force on the workplace. “Because unethical employee behavior has been linked to numerous negative organization outcomes including fraud, collusion, and other self-serving behaviors, our results have implications for most societal organizations. (Mecham et al. 2019). The effect on marriages that pornography has been shown to have is staggering. A correlation between more use of pornographic material and higher divorce rates have been found, along with a dissatisfaction between both partners in sex and a higher likelihood of partners cheating on each other (Doran and Price 2014). A huge problem with these kinds of unfavorable affects in addition to the health disadvantages is the ignorance surrounding pornography consumption. Most people simply do not know about the negative ramifications of pornography use and if more people were educated on the topic, more could be done regarding how society views pornography and how people understand the health detriments surrounding it.

Regarding stasis theory, quality would most likely be the use regarding this issue because many people do not see pornography as a very large issue if an issue at all. Pornography is such a widely consumed medium nowadays that the notion that it should be cut out from someone’s life or at the least cut down on by a significant amount seems foreign to people nowadays.

The pornography industry is one of the worst byproducts of the modern age, giving people free reign to explore thousands of some of the most explicit images and videos that most people would not even be able to fathom for most of human history. The vast amount of this kind of material has been found to have extremely negative and counter-productive outcomes. The addition in the fact that children have free reign among this kind of material makes it significantly worse, and the vast majority of those at the top of the pornography industry do not seem to bat an eye when aware of this.


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