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The pornography industry has undergone significant changes over the past few decades, experiencing exponential growth and an overwhelming increase in supporters, and it’s about to endure another massive transformation with the rise of virtual reality porn.

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The number of views of virtual reality (VR) pornography on Pornhub reached an all-time high at 900,000 on Christmas Day 2016, three times the number of views in comparison to a month ago. Daily views of VR porn are now approximately 250% higher than a year ago.

VR is allowing porn to truly come to life by implementing greater amounts of interactivity, allowing users to taste, touch, and smell their wildest dreams. Porn is already negatively affecting modern sex culture and our physical and emotional connections to one another, so how could VR worsen this issue?

What Is Virtual Reality Porn and What Are Its Dangers?

Imagine taking pornography one step further, so you’re not just an observer, but an active participant instead. Virtual reality essentially allows users to step into a realistic pornographic scene and fulfill their fantasies using advanced technology. When users put on that headset, they have the ability to travel into any pornographic dream they choose and actively play out the scene, making it extremely realistic for users.

Not only does it give them a 360 degree view of the scene, but certain technologies even allow you to touch, smell, and taste different elements of the VR. More advanced headsets like the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift come with controllers that allow users to touch and manipulate objects.

So, if more people start using VR porn that mimics human interaction, what will that do to our actual connection to others? Furthermore, how will that affect sex culture as a whole and how does this relate to sexual violence?

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A Newcastle University study explored the potential effects of using VR porn, particularly as it relates to revenge porn and issues of consent. The study asked participants to create a VR porn scene for “Jack” to enjoy and play out his wildest fantasies whenever he wanted to. Though many of their answers were seemingly “harmless” to the researchers, some expressed the idea that Jack would become too obsessed with VR porn, allowing it to take over his life and ruin his actual relationships with others.

Particularly worrisome to the researchers, some of the participants described sexually violent scenes or extremely degrading scenes of women conducting disturbing sexual acts. Issues of consent and “revenge porn” arose when participants either designed an exact VR replica of their partners or their exes and forced these technological versions of them to commit acts they likely wouldn’t have agreed to perform in real life.

Madeline Balaam, co-author of the research, said:

As a society we are always looking for new and novel experiences but the porn industry brings with it an added risk because of its sexist stance and exploitation of women.

We are already obsessed with body image and the digital industry is no different, creating the perfect virtual woman from Lara Croft to sex-robots. VR porn has the potential to escalate this.

Our research highlighted not only a drive for perfection, but also a crossover between reality and fantasy. Some of our findings highlighted the potential for creating 3D models of real life people, raising questions over what consent means in VR experiences. If a user created a VR version of their real life girlfriend, for example, would they do things to her that they knew she would refuse in the real world?

Research lead Matthew Wood said:

We found that for most people the potential of a VR porn experience opened the doors to an apparently ‘perfect’ sexual experience – a scenario which in the real world no-one could live up to. For others it meant pushing the boundaries, often with highly explicit and violent imagery, and we know from current research into pornography that exposure to this content has the potential to become addictive and more extreme over time.

Why is it that so many people fantasize about combining violence and sex, anyways? Why does modern sex culture include rough language like “dominated” and “plowed,” when the type of energy two people create when having sex isn’t something of destruction and violence but rather creation and love?

Though many would argue that people who engage in sexual violence do so because “they’re born that way,” I believe that these acts are actually a product of society. Porn is already extremely addictive and negatively impacts sex culture, and as a result, sexual violence has only increased. Sexual violence isn’t innate; it’s a product of our environment and only worsens as a result of consumerism and societal norms.

Will VR Porn Become a Real-Life Version of West World? 

The first story I read on VR porn immediately reminded me of the TV show Westworld. If you haven’t seen it, it’s basically a sci-fi that takes place inside of Westworld, a Western-themed amusement park filled with AI that resemble real human beings. However, instead of treating the AIs like actual people, most of the guests dehumanize them by killing, torturing, and raping them, or committing other violent acts. It’s easy to see how VR porn could eventually turn into something similar to Westworld.

The corporation in the TV show makes a fortune by capitalizing on people’s sexual urges, lack of intimacy, obsession with technology, and consumeristic and addictive tendencies, mirroring the rise of the porn industry, which developed shortly after religion became less popular and the women’s rights movement emerged. We began to rebel and to explore our sexual desires in ways we hadn’t before because it was no longer shunned by religion or treated as only a man’s right. Then, corporations decided to capitalize on this opportunity, so porn was born and we started to see more sex in films, music, and the media.

In Westworld, most of the people visiting the park are men, just like with porn sites. Society sees their constant visitations as “natural,” and their partners deem it necessary so that they can keep their sexual and violent urges at bay, similar to how people treat porn. However, we have deviated far from our “natural” sexual connection to one another. Sexual energy is also creation energy and creative energy, and though it can be very pleasurable, it can be used for far more than pleasure. Porn teaches us that sex is only physical, but in reality there are energetic implications to sex as well. Porn also suggests that sex is always promiscuous, when it’s actually a human instinct that is necessary for us to procreate.

Many people’s first sexual experiences happen directly through porn, which can create unrealistic (and often unhealthy) expectations for them. This can continue to affect people throughout their lives, even when they’re having sex in real life. Many people who watch porn regularly state that it completely alters their sexual experiences, as they have difficulty staying present in the moment while having sex. We watch this theme play out in Westworld, as even the people who think they won’t engage in sex with the AI end up falling for the darkness within the amusement park and becoming addicted to it.

At the end of Westworld, we discover that the AIs have consciousness. Those robots that the guests were treating as objects, similar to how women are treated in the porn industry, were actually thinking, conscious beings. We know that everything on Earth is made up of consciousness, and that everything affects the collective consciousness, so how does that relate to VR porn?

When I first looked into VR porn, it reminded me of a quote from the show: “These violent delights have violent ends.” I believe that porn has played a role in creating further violence and chaos within our local environments and worldwide, as we become more and more desensitized to violence because of the media. If society is too lazy and ignorant from watching porn and further perpetuating a sex culture that not only includes violence and disconnection, but encourages it, then we will be too blind to actually see the bigger picture.

Lastly, when we discovered that Westworld’s AIs were actually conscious beings, it turned the guests from being “players in a game” to actual rapists and murderers. People either all of a sudden felt immense guilt for these despicable acts they committed, or they were too desensitized to even feel remorse for their victims. This begs the question: Are the lines blurred when it comes to VR porn users as well? If you’re raping someone in a VR scene, does that make you a rapist? Of course, this is completely up for interpretation, but it’s certainly something to consider.

What Does Watching Porn Actually Do to Us?

If you’ve never considered what the issue is with watching porn, that’s completely understandable. We live in a society where sex is devalued, and at the same time it’s encouraged and normalized. It’s commonplace to have sex with multiple partners and to masturbate while watching porn. We live in a system that further perpetuates this type of sex culture, which ultimately further disconnects us from one another.

Porn can negatively affect the health of your physical body, too. A study out of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin has found an association between watching pornography and the volume of grey matter in a particular region of the brain. Scans taken while watching pornographic images revealed a decrease in brain function in the area of the brain often associated with motivation. The research also suggested there was a negative link between the functional connectivity between the right caudate and the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex while watching porn (source). Read more about that in our CE article here.

Perhaps the greater issue with the porn industry is how it affects modern sex culture and society as a whole. To further understand this, check out the following excerpt from an article written by Brett and Kate McKay called “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. I’ve sat through plenty of church sermons where porn is approached this way. However, such a approach hardly helps men rationally think through the issue. Rather it transforms porn into an even more desirable forbidden fruit, pushes porn consumption into a secretive underground fetish,  and prevents men from being honest in their need for help.

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.

We live in a dualistic world, so it makes sense for many people to have polarizing beliefs that are considered ‘opposite sides of the spectrum.’ We went from one end, suppressing our natural instincts and sexual nature, to the complete opposite, running wild and sleeping with many partners. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this; in fact, this makes perfect sense. Living in a dualistic world, it’s completely understandable that we’d create this dichotomy when it comes to our views on sex and porn.

Let’s hone in on the topic of sleeping with multiple people. If you’re having sex with someone, an act that physically connects you in the deepest way possible, it makes sense that their energy would be imposed on you. Furthermore, it is said that when you have sex with someone, their aura leaves an imprint on you that is difficult to energetically cleanse yourself from. So, if you’re sleeping with someone who has slept with 10 people in the past, and that individual hasn’t cleansed themselves from their former partners’ energies before, you may be susceptible to 11 people’s energies. Yet, porn and modern sex culture encourage us to have tons of “one-night-stands” and keep “kill counts.”

Despite this, I still believe it is healthy to have sex, and you can always cleanse your energetic body (learn how in this CE article here). I also think sex can be used as a tool to deepen our inherent love and connection to one another through practicing tantra. Tantra is the Sanskrit word for ‘woven together,’ and through the study and practice of it you can come to understand yourself better on a spiritual level. After all, by exploring yourself sexually, whether that’s on your own or with a partner, you’re ultimately just learning more about yourself, and thus more about Source.

We are so much more than our physical bodies, and believe it or not, sex can actually teach us that! So, I challenge you to explore your sexuality without the use of porn. Who knows, maybe in searching for a more connective sex life, you’ll end up finding yourself along the way.


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