***Porn*** (pt 2)

[This post contains explicit descriptions and is not suitable for all audiences]

Porn and Objectification

Porn turns people into objects to use and then discard. A Princeton University study has actually shown that “viewing pictures of scantily clad women activated the ‘tool-use part’ of men’s brains, causing them to view women as tools to be used.”[i]

That is sad. And that is what sexualization is. Sexualization occurs when a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics. A person is sexually objectified when they are made into a thing for others’ sexual use and not seen as the unique and precious person that they really are.[ii] Sadly culture is “infused with sexualized representations of girls and women, suggesting that such sexualization is good and normal.”[iii]

“The message from advertisers and the mass media to girls (as eventual women) is they should always be sexually available, always have sex on their minds, be willing to be dominated and even sexually aggressed against, and they will be gazed on as sexual objects.”[iv]

A lot of media teaches us that women are sexual objects to be enjoyed and then cast-off as useless at a whim.

Porn makes women into property. Some men look at women like farmers look at cows. They measure them up and think of their worth in connection with their dimensions. “Porn culture demands of women precisely what real women don’t need or want: skinny bodies, huge fake breasts, no babies, and men unwilling to commit to anything more than a quick shag.”[v]

Porn communicates that people are primarily visual objects to be used and then discarded.

Porn and Marriage and the Family

A study in 2001 found that “The American nuclear family is in decline. Since 1960, the percentage of households comprised of a married couple with children has fallen from 45% to 24%.” Why does this matter and how is this connected to pornography?

It matters because the health of the family is vital for the health of society. And it matters because porn use affects the health of families. There is a strong connection between healthy families and the health of children.[vi] “Marriage brings good to society in multiple ways—in promoting social stability, economic well-being, educational and economic benefits for children, the transmission of moral and cultural values to the next generation, and a stable social unit for interactions within society.”[vii] One author has even said, “The wealth of nations depends in no small part on the health of the family.”[viii]

Pornography, however, very often leads to the breakdown of marriages, which leads to the breakdown of families, which in turn leads to the breakdown of society.[ix] This is not where the effects of porn stop though.

Porn and Violence 

Porn, as we have seen, objectifies people and detaches sex from relationships, so it is sad but not surprising that porn can lead to violent acts of aggression.[x] “Dr. Mary Anne Layden, director of education for the University of Pennsylvania Health System, points out, ‘I have been treating sexual violence victims and perpetrators for 13 years. I have not treated a single case of sexual violence that did not involve pornography.’”[xi]

There seems to be a connection between porn and acts of disturbing sexual violence. For example, one study found that “Forty-six percent of child molesters have said that pornography directly led to their molestations.”[xii]

Porn and Human Rights

Porn objectifies humans. Porn makes people mere things by which we can satisfy our desires. 

Porn use has the effect of subtly teaching us that a humans worth is in their appearance. This plays well for marketing and celebrity culture but in everyday life, it’s not as helpful or honest. Because we intrinsically know that people that don’t fit the definition of “sexy” have worth. We know that life is more than sex. Porn is also unhelpful because it can subtly promote bullying because if you’re not hott, the culture seems to say: “You are wrong and worthless.”

There’s also the much more explicit and horrifying human rights issue of human trafficking. This is terrible but for our society, I’m not sure it should be so shocking. It seems to me that endorsing and accepting porn wholesale puts us on the trajectory of trafficking in humans. “Research continually demonstrates a clear link between sex trafficking and the production of pornography.”[xiii]

Gail Dines, professor of sociology at Wheelock College in Boston, has said that “after 40 years of peer-reviewed research, scholars can say with confidence that porn is an industrial product that shapes how we think about gender, sexuality, relationship, intimacy, sexual violence and gender equality—for the worse.”[xiv] Looking briefly at porn from a natural perspective, it seems clear that porn does not promote human flourishing and it does not help society thrive. So, “research shows, porn is not merely a moral nuisance and subject for culture-war debates. It’s a threat to our public health.”[xv]

My emphatic answer (to the question in pt. 1): “No! Porn does not promote human flourishing.” Porn leads to various plagues, not prosperity.

________________

[i] Jeff Myers, Understanding the Culture, 232. He cites Mina Cikara, Jennifer L. Eberhardt, and Susan T. Fiske, “From Agents to Objects: Sexual Attitudes and Neural Responses to Sexualized Targets,” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 23, no. 3 (March 2011): 540-51.

[ii]“Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls” (https://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report-full.pdf).

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid., 12.

[v] Schuchardt, “Hugh Hefner’s Hollow Victory.” Here’s another example: “Hefner treated women like playthings, and women who lived in his mansion have spoken out about the way they were controlled by him and how unpleasant the obligatory sex they had with him was” (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/29/opinion/what-sincerity-looks-like.html). “Hefner’s ‘sexual revolution’ was nothing more than run-of-the-mill misogyny. Indeed, a harem is far from revolutionary, and treating women like imprisoned children is the opposite of liberatory… If anything, he is a pioneer of rape culture” (http://www.feministcurrent.com/2017/09/28/hugh-hefner-didnt-normalize-sex-normalized-patriarchy/).

[vi] Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible, 224. Grudem cites various studies to support his conclusion that “marriage is the basic building block of any stable society, and it is essential to the continuation of a healthy, stable society” (Ibid., 225).

[vii] Grudem, Politics According to the Bible, 221. Grudem cites various articles to buttress what he says here (see Ibid.).

[viii] W. Bradford Wilcox et al., The Sustainable Demographic Divided: What Do Marriage and Fertility Have to Do with the Economy? (Charlottesville, VA: Social Trends Institute, 2011), 3.

[ix] Patrick F. Fagan, “The Effects of Pornography on Individuals, Marriage, Family, and Community”(http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF12D43.pdf).

[x] See “Sexual Aggression” heading in “Sexual Media Content and Effects” in Oxford Research Encyclopedias (http://communication.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228613.001.0001/acrefore-9780190228613-e-2).

[xi] As quoted in Grudem, Politics, 241.

[xii] Myers, Understanding the Culture, 234. He cites William L. Marshall, “Revisiting the Use of Pornography by Sexual Offenders: Implications for Theory and Practice,” Journal of Sexual Aggression 6, nos. 1-2 (2000): 67-77.

[xiii] David Platt, “A War on Women: The Gospel and Sex Slavery,” in Counter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography.

[xiv] Dines, “Is porn immoral? That doesn’t matter: It’s a public heath crisis.”

[xv] Dines, “Is porn immoral?”

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 9 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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