As the use of porn is on the rise due in part to the virus and fear, it’s good to once again look at the science behind this “boys will be boys” behavior. The coronavirus pandemic is affecting not just the amount and type of porn being produced, but also how much porn people are consuming and what they’re searching for on major sites.
First, porn consumption rates are up in general. For example, as reported by Pornhub, traffic has steadily increased in March as the pandemic has spread and lockdowns have been instituted in major cities and countries around the world. In fact, on March 17 alone (the most recent date for which data is available) traffic to the site was up 11.6 percent.
Porn searches are up, in part, because a lot of people are at home with more time on their hands than usual. However, they may also be up because some people are using sex as a coping mechanism for dealing with their fear of disease and death.
The following article once again drives home what we have all personally lived through and experienced.
Imagine for a second that this was the first moment in time when you thought that you might need some help? No meetings to go to. No “Jays’ office to walk in. No face to face fellowship. No face to face group and no real time hugs. That man is out there, falling deep inside his own head, shutting out the light of the spirit. He’s in a free fall with no safety net beneath him. I will continue to pray for the sick and suffering.
Misery is optional.
Stay connected to this wonderful community you already have. WE ARE BLESSED.
About Pornography: A Public Health Crisis
The pornography of today has created an unprecedented epidemic of sexual harm. Children and young people are being exposed to violent and degrading content, which by default has served as their sex education. Once a social or health issue involves problems that affect individuals or groups beyond their capacity to correct – responsibility shifts from individual accountability to holding the forces and influences that cause it accountable. While educating individual parents to guide and protect their children is always part of any prevention plan, the problem is well beyond what individual parents and children can do to protect themselves.
Science and research is catching up with the concerns of many and is now showing a wide range of harm caused by pornography. Law enforcement and our jails are overwhelmed with the results of sex trafficking and child sexual abuse. Children are at greatest risk as research shows such exposure affects their developing brains and shapes their sexual templates. The younger and more often children are exposed to such content the more problematic it becomes. Adolescents are more susceptible to forming addictions than adults because the dopamine neurons in their nucleus accumbens (i.e. the brain’s pleasure center) are much more active and have an exaggerated plasticity in response to addictive stimulus. Thus, it can be said that a propensity for addiction is more strongly “hardwired” into the adolescent brain. Internet pornography consumption by adolescents is associated with risky sexual behavior that can have profoundly adverse effects such as anal sex, multiple sexual partners, and substance use during sex. Such outcomes are not surprising in light of research into how the human brain develops which shows that adolescents are not as readily able to access their front lobes—the portion of the brain that controls impulses and allows for rapid, smart decision making.
Like other public health issues, not all exposed have the same response. However, for many, repeated exposure and use is correlated to problematic sexual behaviors that can lead to porn-induced erectile dysfunction, divorce or failed relationships, and sometimes sexually aggressive and violent behaviors. Research is also showing correlations to violence against women, increased STI rates, and increased sexual dysfunction among young men.
Public health approaches have proved effective with other major problems from smoking, to lead poisoning, to HIV/AIDS. A public health approach is needed now to address pornography. There is a wealth of research coming from many fields that support these claims and the overwhelming anecdotal evidence is mounting; yet few realize the reality we face or have the courage to address it. Leadership and an investment are needed in a multi-disciplined, multi-pronged approach to be effective against a well-funded industry in order to prevent and combat the harms.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation, together with other leading experts in many disciplines are working to expose the public health crisis of pornography. We are working to get the help of government, corporate and opinion leaders to begin to solve these complex problems.
PORNOGRAPHY IS PERVASIVE:
- It’s Everywhere: Young children are now exposed to hardcore (mainstream) pornography at an alarming rate, with 27% of older millennials (age 25-30) reporting that they first viewed pornography before puberty. Sixty-four percent of people 13–24 actively seek out pornography weekly or more often.
- Both Male and Female Users: While hardcore pornography users are typically male, female use is increasing. Teenage girls and young women are significantly more likely to actively seek out porn than women over age 25.
- Unmanageable at the Individual Level: The pervasive depictions of softcore and hardcore pornography in popular culture, and their easy accessibility via streaming and mobile devises, produce problems and significant risks outside the ability of individuals and families to manage on their own.
- Like the Tobacco Industry, the Pornography Industry is Creating a Public Health Crisis. Despite tobacco’s former widespread use and acceptance in American culture, once its harms became apparent, society took action and adopt dramatic new policies to limit the harmful effects of smoking. Similarly we believe that people need to be protected from pornography exposure, and be made aware of the risks associated with pornography use. Additionally, pornography should not be socially endorsed, normalized, or presented as cool.
IMPACT ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE:
- Pornography Teaches that Women Enjoy Sexual Violence: Analysis of the 50 most popular pornographic videos (those bought and rented most often) found that 88% of scenes contained physical violence, and 49% contained verbal aggression. Eighty-seven percent of aggressive acts were perpetrated against women, and 95% of their responses were either neutral or expressions of pleasure.
- Pornography Is Linked to Increased Sexual Violence: A 2015 meta-analysis of 22 studies from seven countries found that internationally the consumption of pornography was significantly associated with increases in verbal and physical aggression, among males and females alike.
- Pornography Is Linked to Increased Female Sexual Victimization: A study of 14- to 19-year-olds found that females who watched pornographic videos were at significantly greater likelihood of being victims of sexual harassment or sexual assault.
- IMPACT ON THE BRAIN:
- The Research Is In: Since 2009, there have been 30 major studies that have revealed porn has negative and detrimental impacts on the brain.
- Pornography Use Shrinks Brain: A 2014 study found that increased pornography use is linked to decreased brain matter in the areas of motivation and decision-making, impaired impulse control, and desensitization to sexual reward.
- Pornography is Like Cocaine: Pornography hijacks the brain’s reward systems the same way that cocaine does.
- The Addiction Gets Worse: A 2015 study from Cambridge found that pornography use can drive novelty-seeking, so users need more and more extreme content over time in order achieve the same level of arousal.
- IMPACT ON SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES:
- Pornography and STI’s: Pornography use among adult males in America is associated with increased engagement in sexual behaviors that increase the risk of STIs. In multiple studies, internet pornography consumption was positively associated with having sex with multiple partners, engaging in paid sex, and having had extramarital sex.
- Increased STI’s Among Adolescent Minority Females: Exposure to X-rated movies among Black females 14 to 18 years old was associated with being more likely to have negative attitudes toward using condoms, to have multiple sex partners, to have sex more frequently, to have not used contraception during the last intercourse, to have not used contraception in the past 6 months, to have a strong desire to conceive, and to test positive for chlamydia. [xiii]
IMPACT ON FEMALES:
- Negative Body Image and Pressure to Perform Pornographic Acts: As a result of viewing pornography women reported lowered body image, criticism from their partners regarding their bodies, increased pressure to perform acts seen in pornographic films, and less actual sex, while men reported being more critical of their partners’ body and less interested in actual sex. [xiv]
- Increased Marital Rape: Males who use pornography and go to strip clubs were found to engage in more sexual abuse, stalking, and marital rape than abusers who do not use pornography and go to strip clubs.
IMPACT ON MALES:
- Leads to Pornography-Induced Erectile Dysfunction (PIED): A 2015 study on pornography users found that 20.3% said “one motive for their porn use was to maintain arousal with their partner.” It also found that pornography use was linked to higher sexual desire, but lower overall sexual satisfaction, and lower erectile function.
- Young Men and PIED: Young men are experiencing increasing rates of PIED. In the early 2000s, the PIED rate among European men was approximately 13%. In 2011 young Europeans (18-40) had ED rates of 14-28%. The dramatic increase in ED rates among young men coincides with the sharp increase in the availability and pervasiveness of Internet pornography.
- Negative Body Image: A 2015 study found that men’s frequency of pornography use is positively linked to body image insecurity regarding muscularity and body fat, and to increased anxiety in romantic relationships.
IMPACT ON RELATIONSHIPS:
- Dissatisfaction with Partners: Research has demonstrated that the more pornography a man watches, the more likely he is to deliberately conjure images of pornography during sex to maintain arousal, and to experienced decreased enjoyment intimate behaviors with a partner.
- Extramarital Affairs: A study found that persons ever having an extramarital affair were more than 3 times more apt to have used Internet pornography than ones who had lacked affairs. Other research affirms that pornography consumption is associated with more positive attitudes towards extramarital affairs.
You can download the Pornography & Public Health: Research Summary here.
As HuffPost’s Melissa Jeltsen has reported, lockdowns and other restrictions create prime conditions for domestic violence because victims are stuck at home with their abusers and are cut off from family, friends, co-workers and support services.
“Perpetrators of domestic violence commonly try to isolate victims and cut off their relationships with co-workers or friends or family,” Allison Randall, the National Network to End Domestic Violence’s vice president for policy and emerging issues, said last month. “Not being able to go to work and connect with your colleagues, it can certainly increase your vulnerability.”
In New York state, the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., domestic violence calls to the police have gone up by as much as 15% to 20% in recent weeks, Melissa De Rosa, top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), said Friday at the state’s daily news briefing on the pandemic. She added that the state would work to provide safe shelter for abuse survivors.
One area where this has quickly become evident is in the world of porn. The coronavirus pandemic is affecting not just the amount and type of porn being produced, but also how much porn people are consuming and what they’re searching for on major sites.
As I describe in The Psychology of Human Sexuality, the key idea behind Terror Management Theory is that “when we are reminded of our own mortality, we subconsciously alter our attitudes and behaviors to help us cope with the ‘terrifying’ prospect of our eventual death.”