Daily Egyptian

Opinion: If you want to combat rape culture, stop normalizing porn addiction

By Jeremy Brown, Arts & Entertainment Editor

The following discusses sensitive topics of porn addiction, incest porn, and porn’s correlation to rape culture. Reader discretion is advised.

By normalizing porn addiction, I think we, as a society, unintentionally enable misrepresentations of sex. Some of these representations are potentially damaging psychologically.

More studies need to investigate whether porn addiction is a contributing factor to the psychology of rape culture, and to normalize porn addiction is to act as if there is no need to investigate this.

To clarify this point on our “society,” PornHub’s “Year in Review 2018” statistics have the United States as number one point of traffic, approximately three times the amount of traffic over the United Kingdom in second place.

In his article “Why Do Men Sexually Assault Women,” Noam Shpancer, a professor of psychology at Otterbein University, said most offenders don’t act because of twisted fantasies, rather because they adhere to the culture surrounding them.

“Men who attack women are usually following either a well-learned social script or the immediate pressure of group norms,” Shpancer said. “When the script is violated, those who have internalized it will tend to blame the violator, not the script.”

Thus, if the sexual “script” says the end point of flirting is intercourse, then many won’t break it regardless of how they actually feel in the moment, Shpancer said.

“To change this dynamic, sexual scripts will have to change,” Shpancer said.

I argue as part of changing those cultural scripts, we need to question the impact porn has on our collective culture. That impact not only comes from the way sex is misrepresented in porn, but also the accessibility, frequency and genres of porn.

This is not to say everyone who watches porn or masturbates is a rapist, or even has thoughts of sexually assaulting someone. Many studies, including “Ejaculation Frequency and Subsequent Risk of Prostate Cancer” led by Dr. Michael Leitzmann, show masturbation can be an important part of prostate health

There is evidence that porn addiction, like drug addiction, creates neural pathways that affect the psychology of viewers, according to the study “Pornography addiction: A neuroscience perspective” by Donald Hilton Jr. and Clark Watts. 

But because sex has connections to morality, it’s handled less objectively in scientific debate, according to the study.

“We believe, however, with the preceding foundation it is time to begin serious discussions of sexual addiction and its components such as pornography,” the study said.

Accessibility: As children get internet access through smartphones earlier in life, they can access porn earlier as well.

According to PornHub’s “Year in Review 2018,” visits to PornHub totaled 33.5 billion in 2018, an increase of 5 billion visits over 2017 and a daily average of 92 million visitors. By this data, it’s clear that porn is becoming more commonplace and the audience is growing.

The major issue of someone discovering porn as their first impressions of sex is it distorts a healthy view of what sex is. It’s meant for people to come together and enjoy. Porn treats sex as self-centered activity, giving only the viewer whatever they want.

When someone’s view of sex is shaped by porn’s attitude of getting whatever you want, it makes sense they would devalue another person’s choice of consent because they haven’t experienced a need to value that choice.

Tying back to the sexual “scripts” of society, if young men are learning their viewpoints on sex only through porn at younger ages, then when they come together their mentality will not suddenly change on how they approach sex.

I would cite another source to confirm this, but there is a severe lack of scientific studies into this possible correlation. And once again, that is exactly my point — because we continue to ignore this, we aren’t doing what we can societally to combat rape culture.

The accessibility of porn for our generation is frighteningly simple. Because we’ve collectively failed to question the psychological effects, we’re normalizing porn addiction and thus possibly irresponsible views of sex, at younger ages.

Frequency and porn genres: When someone becomes addicted to porn they’re typically watching or masturbating to it at least once every day.

Where this could become an issue once again is the representation of sex in porn, specifically This becomes a bigger red flag when people also watch more graphic misrepresentations of sex each night.

Out of PornHub’s 32 most viewed videos of all time in the US, 19 are of incest or step-incest porn. It seems, perhaps, the biggest trend in porn currently is incest per the site. Additionally, the fourth most searched term on PornHub in 2018 was “step mom,” which held the same spot in 2017, according to the Year in Review. This is part of the mainstream of porn.

The argument that these genres are acceptable because they’re fake is pathetic – the reason someone watches it over other porn is because they are into the taboo of the context, not because it’s fake.

In an interview with Esquire, Paul Wright, an associate professor at The Media School at Indiana University, said as types of pornography that were less common in the past become more common and accessible, consumers get bored by them.

“[They] need the extremity and deviance upped a notch to once again become aroused and excited,” Wright said.

Personally, my problem with incest porn is it sexualizes the women in a man’s life he isn’t allowed to normally sexualize: his family. When someone is frequently masturbating to or watching videos of this porn, clearly there appears inherent desire from the viewer to sexualize what they can’t have.

There are next to zero scientific studies questioning the possible connection between the genres of porn watched and the social scripts men follow that feed into rape culture and sexual assault. Like my previous points, this is the issue — how do we know none of this is harmful if we never question whether it is by treating it as completely normal?

The hypocrisy of treating porn addiction as a completely unrelated issue without first studying it needs to change if, as a society, we want to combat the culture that enables sexual assault.

Arts & Entertainment editor Jeremy Brown can be reached at [email protected].

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1 Comment

One Response to “Opinion: If you want to combat rape culture, stop normalizing porn addiction”

  1. Goodwins on May 2nd, 2019 8:13 am

    Porn viewing truly does have negative consequences as shown by the many scientifically sound studies conducted on it (search at scholar.google.com to see various studies). The problem is that it is such a difficult habit to stop. One solution that seems to be helping a lot of people stop viewing porn is the book Power Over Pornography. It is a very different approach that relies upon Cognitive Behavior methods that seem to work well. It also is easier to follow than alternatives. I highly recommend it.

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