Sexual assault and the dangers of pornography

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Pornography websites get more visitors than Amazon, Netflix, and Twitter combined. One could ask why this statistic is necessary to point out. Well, consider these statistics: nearly one in five women have been assaulted, one in four women have been beaten by an intimate partner, and erectile dysfunction rates have gotten up in the last decade among younger men in the US. How can we connect sexual assault and erectile dysfunction statistics to increased usage of pornography? It’s simple. The viewing of pornography, especially violent pornography, desensitizes people to realistic sexual experiences and physically conditions people to find violent, oftentimes non-consensual sex to be erotic.

Pornography’s content is increasingly violent with violence being mostly directed towards women. The most popular pornography videos show women being slapped, gagged, and penetrated with multiple objects. Less mainstream videos show women being orally violated until they vomit and women being penetrated by multiple men orally, anally and vaginally. According to social psychological research, people who watch the violent content of pornography physically condition themselves through masturbation to find it arousing. Therefore, it is no surprise that sexual violence occurs at such high numbers when violent pornography is consumed increasingly in the US.

Another reason that sexual violence occurs at an alarming rate in the US is because people, especially teenagers, get their sexual education from pornography. Therefore, the teenagers who watch pornography get their understanding about intimacy from videos depicting non-consensual sex. The lack of consent in porn videos is rampant in the videos’ frequency of the women seeming detached from the scene and the lack of explicit consent. This inaccurate portrayal of consent teaches young adults that as long as there is not an explicit refusal, any sexual acts are consensual among both parties.

Pornography is linked not only to sexual violence, but also to sexual dissatisfaction due to erectile dysfunction. Social psychological research has shown that the more men watch violent pornographic scenes and masturbate to them, the less sexual excitement they find from their partners who would often not be willing to engage in the violent acts shown in porn. As a result, some men desire to have more violence in their sex lives due to pornography and some decide to get that violence through non-consensual sex.

Some may argue that the dangers in pornography lie in violent pornography, not soft-core pornography. Why not simply tackle videos that contain violence rather than also attack pornography that simply features non-violent sexual acts? The reason that violent pornography has grown in alarming rates throughout the past decade or so was due to the presence of soft-core pornography. As viewers became more physically desensitized to the content shown in soft-core pornography, the interest for more violent content surged. The same can be said for violent pornography content that is popular nowadays. If gagging and slapping is the new norm, what will the mainstream porn content be like in a few years? If the pattern will be the same, then increasingly violent acts will continue to be portrayed in mainstream pornography.

What can we do about this problem? The first step is to educate teens and young adults about the shortcomings of pornography and the ways in which the industry can endanger their well-being and potentially damage their sex lives. An open and honest conversation will help students realize the inherent damage that pornography can cause. However, the conversation should also include education about physical intimacy that does not involve scare tactics. Sex education that is fact-based will prepare teenagers for sex and will discourage them to look at pornography for education.

Another step for society to take is to illegalize pornography and thus, eliminate porn that one can pay for in adult film stores. Even though porn would still be readily available on the internet and it would be difficult to censor internet porn, illegalizing porn is still an important step to take in order to move forward towards a society that is free of sexual violence by decreasing the availability of sexually violent content. Even though some may argue that it would be difficult to make the distribution and the production of pornography illegal, there are types of pornography that are illegal, such as pornography portraying incest and child pornography. If those types of pornography are illegal, why would it not be possible to make all pornography illegal? After all, it is a public health issue that significantly contributes to violence against women and sexual problems. It is important that we take steps to combat the porn industry to prevent sexual dissatisfaction and decrease prevailing violence against women in our country.