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Porn. It’s the elephant in the room. In today’s state of overt sexuality, it is nearly impossible to avoid the barrage of erotic propaganda portrayed in all forms of media. Whether it’s the soft-core exposure of celebrities in film and television, or the hard-core pornography which dominates the myriad of internet tube sites today, it is easy to say that we’ve all been subjected, whether willingly or unwillingly, to pornography in some form or another.

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It seems as though porn has become more ‘mainstream’ in the last ten years, progressing away from the small corner in movie rental shops and making its way into almost every form of media today. Varying opinions peg gratuitous sexuality and pornography either as a ‘liberation of sexual expression’ or a ‘condemnation of a sacred monogamous practice.’ The moral and ethical debate around porn is multifaceted, but one thing is for sure, the ubiquity of sexuality and pornography has definitely gone too far.

Porn: A History

Illustrations of a sexual nature date back thousands of years; depictions such as the Venus figurines and rock art have existed since prehistoric times. However, the concept of pornography as we understand it today did not exist until the Victorian era. For example, a French Impressionist painting by Édouard Manet titled Olympia, which featured a nude French courtesan – literally, a “prostitute picture” – was considered quite controversial at the time. Nineteenth-century legislation eventually outlawed the publication, retail, and trafficking of certain writings and images regarded as pornographic and would order the destruction of shop and warehouse stock meant for sale. [1]

Dolce-Gabbana-Spring-2010-Campaign-male-models-18689986-800-534 nicole-scherzinger-pussycat-dolls-underwear porn_headerThis took a turn in the late 19th-early 20th century, as pornographic film production commenced almost immediately after the invention of the motion picture in 1895. The 1896 film, Le Coucher de la Mariée, showed Louise Willy performing a striptease. Pirou’s film inspired a genre of risqué French films showing women disrobing, and other filmmakers soon realized profits could be made from such films.

In 1970 a Federal study estimated the total retail value of pornography was around $10 million. Shockingly, by 2001, a study put the total (including video, pay-per-view, internet, and magazines) between $2.6 billion and $3.9 billion. That profit number should be a red flag for anyone trying to understand the morality behind pornography, as any corporate influenced industry usually leaves ethics and human wellness at the door when promoting their profit margins. [2][3][4]

Is Porn Ruining Sex?

Brett and Kate Mckay from theartofmanliess.com wrote in an article titled The Problem With Porn: “Pornography is such a polarizing issue, that it’s easy for people to take extreme sides when approaching it. Oftentimes, religious people, while very sincere in their beliefs, brand porn as vile filth that turns good men into sexual perverts and unclean lepers… The other extreme sees porn as just a healthy expression of sexuality. Pornography is heartily encouraged in order to help people discover what pleases them sexually, no matter how graphic or violent the material is. The people in this camp will argue that as long as consenting adults are involved and no one gets hurt, then anything goes. However, this approach fails to recognize the detrimental effects porn can have on an individual, on women, and on society.”[5]

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Pornography watching, without a doubt, can become a compulsive practice.  It’s more like food to a compulsive over-eater. Once you make those pleasure connections in your brain they can be very hard to break. And it’s not an exaggeration to say that porn can ruin your life. The false standards and ideals established through porn affect men and women more so than you might think. Some might disagree with this notion, but pornography objectifies both women and men. For the longest time, the subject of objectification was based solely on women, and this held true for many years.  However, one cannot deny that in our current culture men are objectified just as much in the media. In pornography especially (heterosexual and homosexual), men and women are looked at as sexually gratifying ‘things,’ leaving out the need to connect spiritually, emotionally, or intellectually. porn

Another problem with watching porn is the support of the dirty industry behind it. People are getting paid to have sex, i.e., porn is glamorized prostitution. The density surrounding this concept is real. To attain a proper perspective on the matter, a question to ask yourself would be how would you feel if your brother, sister, mother, or father participated in these kinds of acts? If the answer is ‘uncomfortable,’ then perhaps there needs to be the same standard applied to the people who engage in porn.

One of the largest issues with pornography is the false standards and expectations that exist as its entourage. The men usually have shredded bodies and large penises, the women are usually tiny with massive breast implants. When children see these types of images at a young age, insecurities arise due to erroneous definitions of what ‘men’ and ‘women’ are stated to be.

Where’s The Love, Y’all?

There is no love associated with sex in porn. Instead, sex is portrayed as an aggressive, animalistic type of practice whose only purpose is the gratified ending. There is a massive mis-education done through pornography which creates unrealistic ideas of what ‘good’ sex is. In some cases this can create a big problem in the bedroom, with some people even having to revert to sexual fantasies while having sex in order to reach orgasm. Furthermore, watching porn on a regular basis can diminish the need for sexual pleasure within a relationship.

After repeated exposure to the stimuli, your pleasure plateaus. At this point, people often reach for more – more food, more sex, more porn, etc. in order to recover the initial pleasure they once took in the experience. But this only begins a vicious cycle in which you must seek ever greater and more intense stimulation to return to your initial pleasure level. Eventually you overwhelm and numb your pleasure receptors. Author Naomi Wolfe touched upon this in her New York Magazine article “The Porn Myth”:

“Pornography works in the most basic of ways on the brain: It is Pavlovian. An orgasm is one of the biggest reinforcers imaginable. If you associate orgasm with your wife, a kiss, a scent, a body, that is what, over time, will turn you on; if you open your focus to an endless stream of ever-more-transgressive images of cybersex slaves, that is what it will take to turn you on. The ubiquity of sexual images does not free eros, but dilutes it. Other cultures know this. I am not advocating a return to the days of hiding female sexuality, but I am noting that the power and charge of sex are maintained when there is some sacredness to it, when it is not on tap all the time.”

sexWith all that being said, it must be made clear that I am not denouncing masturbation. Exploring self-pleasure is an essential aspect of being human. After all, those pleasure centers are innate for a reason.

What I’m saying is that there has been a massive misrepresentation of sexual intimacy through the media and porn industry for many years, and these falsifications have destroyed the sacredness of the act. Sex has lost the self-giving, mutually reciprocating intimacy that it was designed for. As we move forward as a society, the media-based values and principles surrounding sexuality need to be readdressed and perhaps fully erased to make room for a new foundation for sex, one without definition and limitation, and one that realigns our bodies with the true nature of intimacy and pleasure.

 

 

 

References:

1.)    H. Montgomery Hyde. A History Of Pornography. (1969). London, Heinemann. Pg 16.

2.)    Bottomore, Stephen. Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema. (1996). British Film Institute.

3.)    President’s Commission on Obscenity and Pornography. Report of The Commission on Obscenity and Pornography (1970), Washington, D.C.: U. S. Government Printing Office.

4.)    Ackman, Dan. How Big Is Porn?.  Forbes.com. (May 25 2001).

5.)    http://www.artofmanliness.com/2009/05/11/the-problem-with-porn/ 6.)    http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/trends/n_9437/


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