By 18, the overwhelming majority (89%) of young men are consuming porn. The majority (72%) consume porn from several times a week to daily. One third of all young people under the age of 12 have seen pornography. (source: Gail Dines , Culture Reframed. ) (Another survey quotes 50% have viewed by the age of 11)
Consumption of porn becomes expected by young men’s peer group and encouraged so that you too are “one of the lads” . More teenagers are viewing porn in networks such as SnapChat and WhatsApp than on dedicated pornography sites. ( BBFC 2020)
But Porn is not harmless and valueless. It is rarely a neutral erotic depiction of sex. 88% of scenes in top viewed porn contain some form of violence against women.
Huge damage is inflicted when this becomes the format from which young men receive their sex education. More than half of boys see porn as a realistic depiction of sex. NSPCC 2016.
Other reports confirm this “There is a significant positive association between pornography use and attitudes supporting violence against women. ” says Professor Gert Martin Hald Aggressive Behaviour 2010
One porn performer said “I’ve never received a beating like that before in my life. I have permanent scars up and down my thighs It was all things I hadn’t consented to, but I didn’t quite know the brutality of what was about to happen to me until I was in it.2 ( from CEASE UK website)
Here are some more quotes, all from different women:
“I have tried to block out the filming due to the severe abuse I received . The male performer had a hatred of women. “
“I discovered that drugs were part of the lifestyle. I was in horrible situations and experienced extreme depression.”
“I was being hit and choked, I couldn’t breathe” (Source: Fight the New Drug”
Because the organisations producing porn make so much money, (it’s a $97 billion industry they are always able to produce “happy” performers whenever there is an enquiry, but the reality is different: “Like most porn performers I perpetuated the lie. I used to say “I only do what I like , with a big fake smile. What a total lie. I did what I had to to get “work”.
Despite the financial pressures 30% of female “performers” quite after the first film, and the average length of working in porn is less than 6 months.
“The younger you are exposed to porn the more likely you are to exhibit attitudes of wanting to exert power over women” American Psychological Association August 2017
12% of rape victims report that their abuser was imitating something viewed on pornography. Porn users report decreased empathy for rape victims. (source: Violence and Victims Feb 2000
Pornography is bad for individuals , and its also bad for businesses. 28% of people are viewing porn at work according to Nielsen Company research . Not only is this wasting worktime, but it also means that there are men in that workplace who are objectifying women and
After viewing porn 46% of men said their porn preferences escalated so they were more interested in more extreme pornography that had previously disinterested or disgusted them (Source Wery and Billieux 2015) These men are more willing to coerce partners into unwanted sex acts .
Many porn users are searching for scenes or inequality and compliance and this idea is reinforced by the fact that the most searched for porn category is “teen” (Pornhub analytics)
Acccording to the Internet Watch Foundation, Recorded child sexual exploitation (known as child porn) is one of the fastest growing online businesses.
Educating about porn needs to start with some simple fundamentals:
First porn is not real life . It is not real.
Second and related to that Respectful relationships bring Sensitivity, , kindness, honesty and generosity into sex.. These characteristics need to always be there. They are not there in porn.
Third Sex is about mutual pleasure while porn is not.
A final thought : After viewing porn long term men are also more likely to suffer erectile dysfunction ( Prof Gunter de Win University of Antwerp ).
Because the porn industry has such a profound effect upon the cultural upbringing of men and boys it is vital for those wanting to end violence against women and girls that it is addressed, both in terms of legislation , challenging access to violent porn and the creation of revenge porn and in addressing the attitudes of the consumers. I’ll be writing more about challenging pornography in future blogs.
For more information in the UK try CEASE UK (ceaseuk.org)
and the US based Culturereframed.org.