Our own David Swindle asked the question: Is porn destroying marriages? The question and his answer of ‘no’ has created a firestorm of debate and multiple blogs on the topic of porn on this site. Luckily some recent research has been done to provide hard facts instead of battling opinions.
While part of the debate has been about government’s role in limiting or allowing pornography, much of the discussion has centered on if porn is harmful or even beneficial. Here are some comments we’ve heard in this debate of people arguing that porn does no harm and may even help:
A commenter that goes by POV, believes people think porn is bad simply because they are prudes.
“Many people speak of porn “degrading” women is because they still see a woman who really enjoys and gets into sex as shameful. In their minds, “good women” don’t do such “nasty” things. They don’t indulge in wanton pleasure. This perspective is still strong in the prudish society we live in.” – POV
Another guy thinks porn is just something that can be used to help sex – like Viagra.
“I don’t see anyone banding (sic) viaga as an artifical stimultion in making a relationship work.” – Mike Elmore
NewsReal blogger F. Swemson, went so far as to argue that the high quality and quantity of porn keeps men from raping women, committing pedophilia, or oppressing women in inhuman ways.
“In fact porn is a good thing for exactly that reason. In [one] article, Dr. Helen mentions that incidences of rape have been declining steadily, and are currently down by 80% since 1973…I believe that’s because high quality porn has become more and more available through the internet.” – Swemson
There are a lot of strong opinions, but let’s get some facts on if porn has negative consequences on our society.
World Magazine reports:
A growing body of research suggests that the habitual use of pornography—especially internet pornography—can damage people of all ages and both sexes, negatively impacting their relationships, productivity, and happiness, as well as their ability to function in society.
Last December, the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, N.J., held a “consultation” on the topic hosted by Robert P. George, a senior fellow at Witherspoon and the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University. The meeting assembled leading experts in the fields of psychiatry, psychology, neurophysiology, philosophy, sociology, law, and political theory to present a rigorously argued overview of the problem of pornography in our society and to make recommendations. The organizers of the consultation, who call it “the first multifaceted, multidisciplinary, scholarly exploration of pornography since the advent of the internet,” released a report this month titled “The Social Costs of Pornography: A Statement of Findings and Recommendations.”
What did these experts discover?
“Since the beginning of the internet age, pornography has been consumed in greater quantities than ever before in human history, and its content has grown more graphic. Recent research suggests that pornography consumption—especially consumption of a more hard-core or violent sort—has negative effects on individuals and society. Widespread pornography consumption appears to pose a serious challenge to public health and to personal and familial well-being.” -Mary Eberstadt, research fellow at the Hoover Institution
This quote and research is a direct reversal of what people like Swemson, David Swindle, and Dr. Helen have written. The research shows that the increase of porn in our society has damaged us as a culture, as families, and as individuals in multiple ways.
Another specialist on the research from the University of Pennsylvania noted that the research proves the quality and quantity of pornography today is leading to addictions that cause consumers to lose their families, marriages, and jobs.
“Pornography, by offering an endless harem of sexual objects, hyperactivates the appetitive system. Porn viewers develop new maps in their brains, based on the photos and videos they see. Because it is a use-it-or-lose-it brain, when we develop a map area, we long to keep it activated. Just as our muscles become impatient for exercise if we’ve been sitting all day, so too do our senses hunger to be stimulated.” – Norman Doidge, M.D. at Columbia University’s Center for Psychoanalytic Training who made a presentation at the consultation
So the research shows that pornography creates an addiction to see or experience more sexual stimulus. Porn actually leads to wanting more sexual fulfillment instead of releasing sexual urges like many have argued. Sexual images are not a release valve, but an instigator to take action.
The report has more than 50 academics who have signed off on it. They leave no question that pornography is damaging our society, and things are only getting worse. The debate is open on what should government do about pornography and its effects. However, I believe that the research has closed the debate on if porn is harmful.