Baring it All on Pornography

James Kearney

ENC 1102

Professor Mohrenne

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Subject: Pornography is shown through this report to be a growing problem here in the U.S. Its impact on different individuals and relationships will be analyzed.

Purpose: To propose that this topic is huge for society as a whole. To show the readers of this report that pornography is impacting many different aspects of people’s lives and to make them aware of these changes.

Audience: Americans and people around the world who have access to pornography and have an interest in how pornography is affecting individuals and relationships.

They liked each other from the first time their eyes met. After he asked her one night, with a full moon in the sky, to be his girlfriend, her, “yes” reply would ignite a relationship that seemed only cupid himself could have started. After graduating high school together, not even the distance of different colleges would even try to put any sort of wedge between the two lovers. A promise ring from the boy to the girl would all but seal the relationship that seemed to head straight to marriage and a wonderful and joyful life together. The chemistry, the romance, the passion were all in and of themselves more than anyone in a relationship could ask for. Although, one night, one question, one simple question changed the relationship from flying high above the clouds to plummeting down to earth like a kamikaze. Every aspect of the relationship changed from the way she looked at him, the way she held his hand, to not even wanting to kiss him anymore. Their breakup followed close after and the couple doesn’t hang out or have even talked to each other since. “What was that question?” one might ask. Five words that came out of the blue to send this fifteen month relationship straight to hell were, “Do you look at pornography?” He had. In fact he viewed it constantly for years without any repercussions or realizing that it could have such a devastating impact on something as sweet as the relationship he once had. Why did he not know about such harmful consequences to his late night withdrawals? Here is a deeper look in to the pornography industry and exploiting how it’s popularity here in the U.S. and around the world, may also have major repercussions in the lives of people that use it.

Talking more about the popularity of pornography, here are some statistics that help point out the fact that this industry is booming and its material is very easily reached: MSNBC Survey in 2000 said that, “60 percent of all website visits are sexual in nature” (qtd. in Genung). Adams Media Research stated that, “Americans rent upwards of 800 million porn videos and DVD’s a year compared with 3.6 billion nonporn videos” (qtd. in Genung). LA Times wrote that, “50 percent of hotel in room movie rentals are porn movies” (qtd. in Genung). To sum up all the sales porn makes, Family Safe Media reported that: “At 12 billion a year, the revenues of the porn industry in the U.S. are bigger than the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball combined. Worldwide porn sales are reported to be 57 billion. To put this in perspective, Microsoft, who sells the operating system used on most of the computers in the world (in addition to other software), reported sales of 36.8 billion in 2004” (qtd. in Genung).

To further this point, the advancing of technology is leading to pornography becoming more available now than ever. The first major technological breakthrough for this industry was the home computer and the internet. With some 260 million pages of pornography available on the internet, pornographic sites are visited three times more often than Google, Yahoo! and MSN Search combined (Corrigan). This internet pornography is now becoming mobile with cell phones most recently coming with internet access as a new feature. To translate into the porn world, according to the Yankee Group, by 2009, sales of pornography for phones will hit $196 million (Richtel). Even more recent than cell phones are the new iPods or devices used for mass storage that now have video capabilities. Companies such as Vivid Entertainment Group, who is a major U.S. pornography video production company, plans to shoot films specifically for the iPod market (Allison).

Turning this around, pornography, even though so widely popular and accessible, is found to have major impacts on men, women, the relationships between men and women and a serious impact on children. A very basic definition of pornography is: films, magazines, writings, photographs, or other materials that are sexually explicit and intended to cause sexual arousal.

To explore the effects on men, consider the following excerpts by researchers on this very topic: Gary Brooks, a psychologist who studies pornography at Texas A&M University explains that, “Soft-core pornography has a very negative effect on men as well. The problem with soft-core pornography is that its voyeurism-it teaches men to view to view women as objects rather than to be in relationships with women as human beings”(Paul). Two communication professors at the University of Alabama named Jennings Bryant and Dolf Zillmann, conducted research with 80 men. Some were exposed to porn and some were exposed to nonsexual films. The men who watched porn showed signs that their attitudes toward women had coarsened fairly dramatically. In an unrelated exercise, the groups were asked to suggest a punishment for a rape case. The men who watched the explicit films recommended a significantly shorter jail term than the group that had not seen the films (Shea).

Similarly, women too are affected by the pornography industry, being the other potential 50 percent of the market (Paul). A survey of 1,905 women on the campus of the University of Guelph, 27 percent had looked at pornography at least once a month (Konieczna). A poll in 2004 from the Elle/ reported that 41 percent of women said they intentionally viewed or downloaded erotic films or photos and 13 percent watch or sexually interacted with someone on a live Webcam (Paul). Pamela Paul goes on to say that in recent years, women’s magazines have regularly featured a discussion of pornography from a new perspective: how women can introduce it into their own lives, are told porn is sexy and if they want to be a sexually attractive woman that they’ve got to catch on.

To put both the male and female aspects about porn in perspective together, the next area under discussion is on how the industry impinges on relationships and views about sex in that relationship. It is often times used in relationships to add that spark of erotica into the mix and to spice things up. A poll from Pornified/Harris shows that 22 percent of Americans believe pornography improves the sex life of those who look at it and that one-third of the respondents believe that looking at pornography won’t harm a couple’s relationship (Paul). Paul also says that if a woman finds out that a man is consuming pornography and feels uncomfortable, that the man will tell her that this is a discomfort with her own sexuality.

To refute this, Mark Schwartz of the Masters and Johnson Clinic says that no matter how you look at it, pornography is always a sign of disconnection; those who seek it out often do so because of boredom or dissatisfaction elsewhere in their lives (Paul). Men that look at pornography absorb ideals from it of how the women should look and skews expectations of how they should act. The women will then take these skewed outlooks and internalize them (Paul).  Also from these expectations, men from all ages are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their sex lives claiming that spouses or partners fail to exhibit the same enthusiasm for sex in general and for sexual experimentation as the women in the pornographic movies (Corrigan). Patricia Corrigan backs this statement up with a testimony of a 34-year-old man who has been divorced three times and says, “I’ve broken up with women who wouldn’t perform certain things I’ve seen in adult films.”

Continuing with marriage and the influence pornography has on it, there will be a startling statistic and a story similar to the one brought up in the very beginning of this report. Because of the tendency for secrecy around the use of internet porn, most women have no idea how often their boyfriends and husbands look at pornography (Hartnett). Jayson Graves, who received his Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Seattle Pacific University, owns a private practice where he works with men, couples and young adults that are struggling with sexual addictions. Graves says that most commonly that when one spouse finds out that the other is looking at pornography that there is an instant divorce or they will seek immediate help from counselors like himself. How often does pornography lead divorce, is a great question. This brings me to one of the most startling statistics in this paper. In a 2003 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, two-thirds of the 350 divorce lawyers who attended said that internet porn contributed to more than half of the divorce cases they handled. They also said that pornography had an almost non-existent role in divorce just seven or eight years ago (Graves).

Going along with that, here is a testimony of one woman that demonstrates how pornography affects the individual’s mindset and ultimately affects the relationship between the couple:

“A teacher from Dallas says that when she found out her husband was using pornography behind her back, she felt sick and angry. ‘Those women are so unreal,’ she says hopelessly. ‘They’re so different from the normal average person. I didn’t measure up at all.’ She wondered if it was because she was a bit overweight. ‘Maybe that’s what drove him to this,’ she worried. But then again, even if she were her perfect weight, she would never look like them. She figured she may as well just give up” (Paul).

Not only entering into the lives of adults, children are being exposed to pornography at younger and younger ages via use of the internet. Mark Lipton, a professor of the University of Guelph who conducted a survey of 3,000 students, says that the results indicate that children are first exposed to pornography at the age of eleven and contributes this low age to the internet drastically changing the market (Konieczna). Backing this statement up further, according to the Pornified/Harris poll, 71 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds agreed with the statement, “I have seen more pornography online than I have seen offline (in magazines, movie theaters, TV)”-twice the number of the Baby Boomers (Paul). The problem arises because at this early age, young teenagers generally are not sophisticated enough consumers to differentiate between fantasy and reality (Paul). Pamela Paul goes on to say that boys who look at porn excessively become men who connect arousal purely with the physical, losing the ability to become attracted by the particular features of a given partner. Instead, they recreate images of pornography in their brain while they’re with a real person (Paul). Just think of all the drastically negative effects on the future relationships of these kids and their future spouses.

Switching over to the legal aspects of this topic, it will be shown how some pornography can lead to some individuals getting in trouble with the law. Firstly, the process of filming and distributing pornography is considered protected speech under the Supreme Court’s First Amendment precedents (Colb). Furthermore, under Miller v. California, as long as a work, taken as a whole, has “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value,” the First Amendment protects its distribution (Colb). There is a type of pornography out there that is not covered by the First Amendment and to the opposite end of the spectrum, it is illegal in most countries and its possession or distribution here in the United States is a federal crime. It’s child pornography and has become a multi-billion dollar commercial enterprise and is among the fastest growing businesses on the internet (“Child Porn”). It is defined as the visual image of infants, toddler and children under the age of 18, in sexual poses or in explicit sexual activity. Arrests in the United States for the possession of child pornography, from 2000 to 2001, produced a breakdown showing that 83 percent had pornographic material that involved children between the ages of 6 and 12; 39 percent had material involving children between the ages 3 and 5; and 19 percent had images of infants or toddlers under the age of 3 (“Child Porn”).  To show just how many individuals are getting arrested, The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s congressionally mandated CyberTipline received 21,603 reports of child pornography in 2001 and in 2004 it received 106,176 reports- a 491 percent increase over this four-year period (“Child Porn”).

How much more often do pornography and crime go together? Here is a story to help answer this question:

“On February 2, 2003, when a seven-year-old Danielle van Dam disappeared from her family home in the middle of the night, every mother’s nightmare was played out on national television for almost a month while authorities searched for the girl. When Danielle’s body was found at the end of that month, the police and prosecutors discovered a frightening story about a neighbor of Danielle’s who had computer files filled with child pornography and even a sickening cartoon video of the rape of a young girl. According to a report by Robert Peters, president of Morality in Media, on the link between pornography and violent sex crimes, the prosecutor in the Danielle van Dam case said, ‘The video represented [the defendants] sexual fantasies and inspired the abduction, rape and murder of Danielle’” (Nance).

Digging even deeper into this question, Raymond Pierce, who is a retired NYPD detective who worked on the sex-crimes squad for many years and is now a criminal-profiling consultant, says that about 80 percent of rapists and serial killers are heavy pornography users (Nance). Pierce is not the only one noticing these things. Penny Nance reports that Police and law-enforcement officers across the country report brutal instances in which those addicted to pornography utilize its sadistic images on their female and child victims. Another instance to show this link is when one of the most notorious serial killers, Ted Bundy, participated in an interview with Dr. James Dobson shortly before he was executed. In the interview, Bundy explained, “I’ve lived in prison for a long time now and I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence like me and without exception, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography- without exception, without exception- deeply influenced and consumed by an addiction to pornography” (Nance).

To conclude all this information, the effects of pornography on people’s lives is mammoth. With advancements in technology, it is being accessed now more than ever and is more easily introduced into many individual’s worlds. Men mindsets are turning living, breathing women into objects for sexual desire. Women feel unattractive and feel they are unsatisfying to their partners in comparison to the pornographic images. Children are unable to discern between fantasy and reality, developing bad ideals for relationships at their early age when exposed to this material. Viewers of child pornography are getting arrested for possession and in some cases, murder and rape after being inspired by this explicit substance. Pornography’s hidden and scarcely known effects are integrating their way into people’s lives. And if all this information is correct, pornography and its impacts will be showing up in plenty of relationships-relationships outside of the psychology labs.


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