The following is a post about the use of pornography. Unfortunately the post is not a fully fledged paper. It is however a sketch on the subject meant to elucidate the complexity of the topic and both the benefits and potential harm that could come from the use of pornography by people who are not well grounded or educated on human sexuality. I hope you enjoy the read. Note that this is not an APA written paper.
People within the United States of America are not sufficiently educated on a verity of topics related to human sexuality. The average person has received very little direct formal education on the topic of human sexuality and has been exposed to more misinformation than factually correct knowledge. The United States cultural reality is one that is highly fascinated by human sexuality but holds an inherently puritanical ideology that is so ingrained into the fabric of life in the United States that it is not recognized. As a result of the current state of affairs, many if not most of the adults in the U.S. are ignorant and misinformed about human sexuality and they do little to improve this situation in themselves or their prodigy.
One of the most common areas of simultaneous interest and abhorrence for many people is the use of pornography. Indeed, that fact has caused the State of Arizona to introduce and vote HCR 2009, which would declare pornography a “public health crisis.” The test of HCR2009 reads: “Whereas, pornography is a crisis leading to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts; and Whereas, pornography perpetuates a sexually toxic environment that damages all areas of our society; and
Whereas, potential detrimental effects on pornography users include toxic sexual behaviors, emotional, mental and medical illnesses and difficulty forming or maintaining intimate relationships; and Whereas, recent research indicates that pornography is potentially biologically addictive and requires increasingly shocking material for the addiction to be satisfied. This has led to increasing themes of risky sexual behaviors, extreme degradation, violence and child pornography; and Whereas, pornography is directly harming our nation’s youth by contributing to the hyper-sexualization of teens and even children; and Whereas, due to the advances in technology and the universal availability of the internet, children are being exposed to pornography at an alarming rate, leading to low self-esteem, eating disorders and an increase in problematic sexual activity at ever-younger ages; and Whereas, exposure to pornography often serves as sex education for children and shapes their sexual templates, teaching them that women are commodities for the viewer’s use; and Whereas, pornography normalizes violence and the abuse of women and children by treating them as objects, increasing the demand for sex trafficking, prostitution and child pornography; and Whereas, the use of pornography has an adverse effect on the family as it is correlated with decreased desire in young men to marry, dissatisfaction in marriage and infidelity; and Whereas, the societal damage of pornography is beyond the capability of the individual to address alone; and Whereas, to counteract these detrimental effects, this state and the nation must systemically prevent exposure and addiction to pornography, educate individuals and families about its harms and develop pornography recovery programs. Therefore, Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Arizona, the Senate concurring:
That the Members of the Legislature denounce pornography as a public health crisis” (https://www.azleg.gov/legtext/54leg/1R/bills/HCR2009P.htm). The claims made in the HCR2009 are not uncommon claims. Indeed, many people from government, school teachers, preachers and parents made similar claims about the use of pornography. These claims are often made without so much as a single citation of the available research on the topic of pornography. When claims of this magnitude are leveled against any human activities, it is appropriate to investigate the claims and ascertain the validity of such claims.
Is the use of pornography dangerous, leading to a wide range of negative outcomes for all the people who use or might make use of sexually explicit media? The answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no dichotomy that is typically given. Therefore it is important to understand at least a little of the complexity that surrounds the use of pornography as it interacts with and impacts human sexuality.
It behooves us all to recognize that anything used in excess will create a negative impact on the user. How excessive is defined and or is dependent on the item being used. Eating until one vomits is excessive. Drinking until one blacks out or is unable to control themselves is excessive. Gambling away your bill money and the ability to buy food is excessive. Using pornography to the exclusion of your sexual partner, at work, most days during most hours of the day is excessive. Excess is very often harmful to the individual and the individuals around them. The following is not making specific reference to the excessive use of sexually explicit media but to the use of pornographic materials in moderation.
Some studies form the early 1990’s showed a correlation between the use of pornographic materials and a rise of sexually violent behaviors such as rape (Wongsurawat, 2006). However, when instrumental variables analysis was completed these correlations were reduced and in some areas such as divorce, disappeared altogether (Wongsurawat, 2006). Some studies have shown that male dominance behaviors such as hair pulling, slapping and the use of degrading women through the use of shaming language were increased when men used pornography and consumed alcohol (Wright, Sun, Steffen & Tokunaga, 2015). The use of sexually degrading (aka: Male dominance behaviors) acts during sexual encounters would seem to negatively impact intimacy between sexual partners, S&M inclined individuals notwithstanding. Many people, most notably males, are exposed to pornographic materials when they are in adolescence ( Peter & Valkenburg, 2016). There have been claims that adolescents who are exposed to pornographic materials will be negatively impacted and their future relationship intimacy will be reduced in addition to increasing male dominance behaviors. The claim that adolescent exposure to sexually explicit material will negatively impact relationship intimacy has not been supported by the research (Štulhofer, Buško & Schmidt, 2012). Even when such claims are given some support in the research, the methodological shortcomings have left the generalizability limited at best (Peter & Valkenburg, 2016). The results are not as clear cut as either pro or anti-pornography advocates would like them to be at this point in history, indicating that more research with rigorously applied methodology needs to be conducted. The effects of pornographic materials by adults has also been denounced by conservatives within most societies. Many people claim that pornography is inherently bad for women as it leads to the devaluation of all women. The claims that pornography devalues women is contradicted by the research, showing that in a tolerant and open society, both pornography and gender equality flourish in parallel (Wang, & Chou, 2017). People, especially men that use pornography are more likely to hold egalitarian views of women and are more likely to be comfortable with women in positions of power (Kohut, Bare & Watts, 2016; Ortiz, White, & Rasmussen, 2016).
However, not all pornography involve heterosexuality. Homosexual pornography is widespread and as easily accessible as is heterosexual pornography. “Gay porn” also has a wide viewership, including men and heterosexual women (Neville, 2015). What, if any of the claims made against pornographers apply to homosexual and bisexual individuals?
Homosexual Pornography has not been as widely studied as Heterosexual pornography but this is changing. However, it appear that the initial research has not supported the claim that pornography is harmful as it relates to men that have sex with men (Morrison, Melanie, Morrison, & Bradley, 2007). Yet, as with heterosexual pornographers, the dichotomy of good vs bad is not sufficient to categorize this particular area of pornography (Corneau, Beaulieu-Prévost, Bernatchez & Beauchemin, 2017). Within male homosexual pornography, men with an extraordinarily large penis are often shown to penetrate the anus of men with a common (normal) sized penis (Brennan, 2018). The presentation of men with an extraordinary large penis as the penetrating partner while the man with a commonly sized penis as the penetrated may lead to misrepresentations of normative sex between men. The over representation of men with extraordinary large penises may also create body image problems and skew what men believe is the common size of the human male penis. Especially since this is a common worry among many men (Levitan, Quinn-Nilas, Milhausen & Breuer,2018). However, Educational Pornography (a sub-category of pornographic material meant to educate) can also have benefits for Bisexual, Heterosexual and Homosexual individuals; providing information and enjoyment in one media (Watson & Smith, 2012). Similar to heterosexual pornography, homosexual pornography appears to have both the potential for benefits and harm.
While this post is not all inclusive and is rather short, it leaves one thing evident. The dichotomy of good and bad pornography simply will not play. The truth is that the use of pornography can be beneficial or it can be harmful depending on a verity of factors of the person who is utilizing a given genre of pornography. More research is needed but it must be done in the clear light of the scientific method and not the polarized pro and anti-porn arena that has thus far dominated the debate.
Joseph Brennan (2018) Size Matters: Penis Size and Sexual Position in Gay Porn Profiles, Journal of Homosexuality, 65:7, 912-933, DOI: 10.1080/00918369.2017.1364568
Simon Corneau, Dominic Beaulieu-Prévost, Kim Bernatchez & Mariève Beauchemin (2017) Gay male pornography: a study of users’ perspectives, Psychology & Sexuality, 8:3, 223-245, DOI: 10.1080/19419899.2017.1360931
Julia Levitan, Chris Quinn-Nilas, Robin Milhausen & Rebecca Breuer (2018) The Relationship Between Body Image and Sexual Functioning Among Gay and Bisexual Men, Journal of Homosexuality, DOI: 10.1080/00918369.2018.1519301
Todd G. Morrison PhD, Melanie A. Morrison PhD & Becky A. Bradley BA (2007) Correlates of Gay Men’s Self-Reported Exposure to Pornography, International Journal of Sexual Health, 19:2, 33-43, DOI: 10.1300/J514v19n02_03
Lucy Neville (2015) Male gays in the female gaze: women who watch m/m pornography, Porn Studies, 2:2-3, 192-207, DOI: 10.1080/23268743.2015.1052937
Rebecca R. Ortiz, Shawna White & Eric Rasmussen (2016) Do Individual Perceptions Matter in Pornography Effects? How Perceived General Acceptance and Influence of Pornography May Impact Agreement With Sex-Role Attitudes, Communication Research Reports, 33:2, 88-95, DOI: 10.1080/08824096.2015.1122583
Jochen Peter & Patti M. Valkenburg (2016) Adolescents and Pornography: A Review of 20 Years of Research, The Journal of Sex Research, 53:4-5, 509-531, DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2016.1143441
Shinn-Shyr Wang, Li-Chen Chou. (2017) The determinants of pornography actress production. Applied Economics Letters 24:20, pages 1486-1489.
Aleksandar Štulhofer, Vesna Buško & Gunter Schmidt (2012) Adolescent exposure to pornography and relationship intimacy in young adulthood, Psychology & Sexuality, 3:2, 95-107, DOI: 10.1080/19419899.2010.537367
Taylor Kohut, Jodie L. Baer & Brendan Watts (2016) Is Pornography Really about “Making Hate to Women”? Pornography Users Hold More Gender Egalitarian Attitudes Than Nonusers in a Representative American Sample, The Journal of Sex Research, 53:1, 1-11, DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2015.1023427
Mary Ann Watson PhD & Randyl D. Smith PhD (2012) Positive Porn: Educational, Medical, and Clinical Uses, American Journal of Sexuality Education, 7:2, 122-145, DOI: 10.1080/15546128.2012.680861
Winai Wongsurawat (2006) Pornography and Social Ills: Evidence from the Early 1990s, Journal of Applied Economics, 9:1, 185-213, DOI: 10.1080/15140326.2006.12040644
Paul J. Wright, Chyng Sun, Nicola J. Steffen & Robert S. Tokunaga (2015) Pornography, Alcohol, and Male Sexual Dominance, Communication Monographs, 82:2, 252-270, DOI: 10.1080/03637751.2014.981558