by Kristen A. Jenson, MA
Sexual exploitation and pornography hurt real people every day. And it’s not just bad or wrong or even sinful—porn has become a major public health crisis. And it’s going to take all of us, including people of faith, scientists, secular activists and feminists to bring our culture to a healthier, happier and safer place.
You might have family or friends who believe porn is no big deal. To help them understand the truth, share the 10 Porn Stats Every Skeptic Should Know available at the bottom of this post!
Why Is Porn a Public Health Crisis?
Pornography plays a role in a variety of social ills. Check out this list from the Culture Reframed website:
- Sexual violence
- Unhealthy relationships
- Internet addiction
- Negative self-image
- Sexual dysfunction
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Injuries, and other health problems
Not to mention the role pornography plays in:
- Divorce and family destabilization (56% of matrimonial attorneys say porn was significant factor in their divorce cases)
- Declining marriage rate
- Job loss (just met a cyber security expert who had to fire 13 employees, 6 women and 7 men, for viewing and trading porn at work)
- Productivity loss in the U.S estimated at $16.9 billion dollars
- Increases in child on child sexual abuse
- Increase in child abuse and child pornography (which is really child abuse images)
- Sex trafficking
All related to pornography! Can you believe some people still think it’s simply harmless entertainment?
Thankfully, people from a wide variety of belief systems and disciplines are speaking out.
People of Faith
- The U.S. Congress of Catholic Bishops issued a 22 page formal statement this week condemning pornography and describing how harmful it is to individuals and families. This is a major milestone in the Catholic fight against pornography!
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently produced a video for children: “What Should I Do When I See Pornography” and hosts a website for OvercomingPornography. The LDS church also has an addiction recovery program just for porn and sex addiction.
- The Southern Baptist Convention regularly publishes a resolution against pornography.
- Christian leaders are hosting a Set Free Summit in 2016 to provide church and educational leaders with information and strategies against pornography use.
Dr. Gail Dines is an internationally known scholar, author, speaker and activist. And she’s definitely a feminist! She predicts:
“As porn becomes the main form of sex ed in the western world, we are going to see more and more men internalize the values, norms, stories and narratives of porn. And the violence in porn, by virtue of its consistency and repetition, will be played out on an increasing number of women and girls.”
Dr. Dines is also a mother…of a son. When I’ve heard her speak, she talks about how having a son changed her life. She feels that women like her who are fighting pornography are really pro-men. They believe that men can be so much better than the sexually exploitative consumers groomed and exploited so effectively by the porn industry. I agree!
Yes, the scientific evidence is growing that pornography can become a real and dangerous addiction and one that has a physical effect (shrinkage) on the brain. Science teacher and TedX presenter Gary Wilson has a website and book by the same title, YourBrainOnPorn.com, which explains the brain science behind porn use.
- High porn use correlates with brain shrinkage. A groundbreaking study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry by S Kuhn and J. Gallinat in 2014 show a correlation between high porn use and decreased grey matter and activity in the regions of the brain linked to rewards and motivation.
- Porn affects the brain like other drugs. Another study by Dr. Valerie Voon out of Cambridge University shows that pornography addiction leads to the same brain activity as alcoholism or drug abuse.
Now if we could just get Hollywood to agree that porn is sexual exploitation and not cool!
What can you do? Share information on social media and talk to your friends and family. And leave us a comment if you know of other faith leaders, feminists or scientists who are speaking out against porn.