About

We hear the same questions from pornography apologists on a regular basis. While they may feel they are defending their right to view porn, or the rights of those in porn to be in that profession, their reactionary arguments do nothing to protect society and the victims of porn use (both the users and the performers).

Here are some easy responses to frequently heard pro-porn questions and arguments.

Click on the questions below to view their answers.

Short video discussion about possible answers:

Talking Points

  • Negative Body Image and Pressure to Perform Pornographic Acts: As a result of viewing pornography, women reported lowered body image, criticism from their partners regarding their bodies, increased pressure to perform acts seen in pornographic films, and less actual sex. Men reported being more critical of their partner’s body and less interested in actual sex.[i]

 

  • Acceptance of Rape Myths: Women who were exposed to pornography as children were more likely to accept rape myths and to have sexual fantasies that involved rape.[ii]

 

  • Domestic Violence & Sexual Abuse: The use of pornography by batterers significantly increased a battered woman’s odds of being sexually abused. Pornography use alone increased the odds by a factor of almost 2, and the combination of pornography and alcohol increased the odds of sexual abuse by a factor of 3.[iii] Other research has found that pornography use by batters is associated with learning about sex through pornography, imitation of behaviors seen in pornography, comparison of women to pornography performers, introduction of other sexual partners, filming sexual acts without consent, and the broader culture of pornography (e.g. fetishes).[iv]

 

  • Increased Marital Rape: Males who use pornography and go to strip clubs were found to engage in more sexual abuse, stalking, and marital rape than abusers who do not use pornography and go to strip clubs.[v]

[i] Julie M. Albright, “Sex in America Online: An Exploration of Sex, Marital Status, and Sexual Identity in Internet Sex Seeking and Its Impacts,” Journal of Sex Research 45 (2008): 175–186.

[ii] Shawn Corne, John Briere, and Lillian M. Esses, “Women’s Attitudes and Fantasies about Rape as a Function of Early Exposure to Pornography,” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 7, no. 4 (1992): 454–461.

[iii] Janet Hinson Shope, “When Words Are Not Enough: The Search for the Effect of Pornography on Abused Women,” Violence Against Women 10, no. 1 (2004): 56–72.

[iv] Walter S. DeKeseredy and Amanda Hall-Sanchez, “Adult Pornography and Violence against Women in the Heartland: Results from a Rural Southeast Ohio Study,” Violence against Women (May 2016), 1–20.

[v] C. Simmons, P. Lehmann, and S. Collier-Tenison, “Linking Male Use of the Sex Industry to Controlling Behaviors in Violent Relationships: An Exploratory Analysis,” Violence Against Women 14, no. 4 (2008): 406–417.

Enforcement of obscenity laws does not raise any Constitutional problem – In Chaplinksy v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568, 571-572 (1942), the Supreme Court said: “There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any Constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene…It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.

Obscenity is not within the area of constitutionally protected speech or press – In Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476 (1957), Justice Brennan observed that “this Court has always assumed that obscenity is not protected by the freedoms of speech and press” (at 481). In Roth, the Supreme Court went on to hold that obscenity is “not within the area of constitutionally protected speech or press” (at 485).

First Amendment was intended to protect ideas and debate, not obscene material – In Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15, 34 (1973), the Supreme Court said: “[T]o equate the free and robust exchange of ideas and political debate with commercial exploitation of obscene material demeans the grand conception of the First Amendment and its high purposes in the historic struggle for freedom. It is a ‘misuse of the great guarantees of free speech and…press.’”
More recently, in Ashcroft v. ACLU, 535 U.S. 564!(2002), the Supreme Court rejected a constitutional challenge to application of obscenity laws to the Internet. See also, United States v. Extreme Associates, 431 F.3d 150 (3rd Cir. 2005), cert. den., 547 U.S. 1143 (2006).

Definition of Pornography:

The term “pornography” is a generic, not a legal term. As noted by the Supreme Court in the landmark 1973 obscenity case, Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15, 20, n.2, the term “pornography” derives from the Greek (harlot, and graphos, writing). The word now means “1: a description of prostitutes or prostitution 2. a depiction (as in a writing or painting) of licentiousness or lewdness: a portrayal of erotic behavior designed to cause sexual excitement.” (Webster’s Third New International Dictionary [Unabridged 1969])

Definition of Obscenity:

The term “obscenity” is a legal term, and in Miller v. California, the Supreme Court established a three-pronged test for determining whether a “work” (i.e., material or a performance) is obscene and therefore unprotected by the First Amendment. To be obscene, a judge and/or a jury must determine: First, that the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; AND second, that the work depicts or describes in a patently offensive way, as measured by contemporary community standards, “hardcore” sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable law; AND third, that a reasonable person would find that the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political and scientific value. (NOTE: Typical “hardcore pornography” [e.g., a website, DVD or magazine] consists of little if anything more than one depiction of hardcore sex after the other [i.e., it’s “wall-to-wall” sex].)

America is suffering an untreated pandemic of harm caused by pornography. Our site, www.PornHarmsResearch.com, is a dedicated clearinghouse full of peer-reviewed studies on the harmful effects of pornography. The website also has numerous news and opinion articles detailing the harms of porn divided by category. According to research by psychologists and social scientists, some of these harms include: Children and adults are developing life-long addictions; there is a burgeoning demand for trafficked women and children in the U.S.; there is increased demand for child pornography because adult-porn users are finding that they are no longer satisfied with adult images; on average American children are seeing hardcore pornography at age 11 and four out of five 16 year-olds now regularly access pornography online; 56% of divorces cite Internet pornography as a major factor in the breakup of the marriage; porn encourages viewers to view sexual partners in dehumanized ways: porn use increases acceptance and enjoyment of sexual violence and harmful beliefs about women, sex and rape; pornography is leading to an increase of men in their 20s and 30s who are suffering from erectile dysfunction; pornography use contributes to self-esteem issues and depression.

Here are video presentations from various experts explaining some of the aspects of harm resulting from pornography.

In addition, www.pornharmsresearch.com/personal and www.Facebook.com/pornharms have numerous personal accounts of the harm suffered from porn use and addiction.

Other sites detailing the harms of pornography:

 The proof that porn harms is overwhelming: all you have to do is take a look at it.

Countless individuals suffer from the harms of pornography, not only those who use it. The ideas and images promoted in pornography have become commonplace, and in today’s world most Internet users are exposed to pornographic videos and pictures, whether they want to see them or not. In addition, porn is addictive, and encourages unhealthy and degrading attitudes towards women, sex, and love in those who use it. Porn is so pervasive, and its damage so often ignored or belittled, that we cannot simply ignore or avoid it.

Or consider the responses from others to this argument:

  • “Porn is everywhere whether we want it there or not. Porn is in child toy commercials, open in stores, on billboards, for clothing ads, as of 2012, it is ALMOST LITERALLY everywhere.” Aniig K.
  • “It’s not just a matter of ‘not liking’ porn. It’s about protection, keeping people emotionally, physically, and mentally healthy and able to have relationships, saving families, keeping self-esteem intact, and so much more. More often than not, people don’t realize the harm until it’s too late.” Sarah T.
  • “‘[J]ust don’t look at it’ doesn’t work anymore. I would never be able to turn on my tv, or leave the house. I shouldn’t have to hide mine or my children’s eyes to keep us safe.” Jami G.
  • “It’s not as simple as not watching it. When people you know watch it, it changes [their] outlook. They often become disrespectful to the feelings of their partner and others around them.” Klarissa H.

Simply because porn is used in private does not make it harmless, or erase the vast damage done by porn use. Pornography is not victimless. It encourages abuse and violence and it objectifies and exploits those involved. In addition, mainstream pornography today increases the demand for trafficked women and children, as well as the demand for child pornography.

While you may watch certain content in the privacy of your home, the production and distribution of obscenity (hardcore pornography) is ILLEGAL under current federal laws.

Also, we have a right to speak out about the harms and to educate others about what can be done to stop the mainstream acceptance of pornography in private and in public. We are not telling you what you can and cannot do.

Obscenity is not protected speech. The Supreme Court, ever since United States vs. Miller, has ruled that obscene materials—such as hardcore pornography—do not receive First Amendment protection, and therefore can be prohibited. Even softcore pornography can be regulated and prohibited from public display. Nobody has the right to display harmful and illegal obscenity in public. Learn more about the laws here.

This reason is very misleading and demands further explanation.

Often, the adults in pornography are not consenting. Sex traffickers use their victims to produce porn in addition to prostituting and abusing them. If one is regularly viewing Internet pornography, they are no doubt also viewing pornographic images of trafficked women and children in the mix of porn they find.

Even among “consenting” performers, while participating in the pornography, performers suffer frequent violence and coercion and are often forced to continue against their will and wishes.

In addition, one must also take into account the background of these performers and ask whether or not they were capable of making a clear and healthy decision to get involved in pornography. According to feminist activist Maggie Hays, the question of whether women choose to get into pornography must be understood in a broader context beyond their immediate decision to do one project. Nearly all female performers in pornography experienced rape, childhood sexual abuse, and extreme violence before being recruited for porn. As one prominent psychologist and researcher, Melissa Farley, points out, “such injuries left them with difficulty establishing trusting relationships with others, inadequate skills in establishing personal and sexual boundaries, low self esteem, and a lower than average ability to recognize dangerous cues in relationships.” Financial deprivation is another common precursor to entry into the pornography industry brought on by homelessness, unemployment, abandonment, or running away from child abuse.

These women need love and healing, not further abuse by the porn industry. Porn harms the people in it, often even more than it harms the people using it.  Pornography perpetuates exploitation and suffering. Hear from former performers at www.ThePinkCross.org.

Here are videos of former porn performers speaking about their experience:

 

Pornography harms the people who use it, the people depicted in it, and many others connected. It has many damaging effects on our minds, our sexual behavior, and our relationships with other people. It increases domestic and sexual violence; it increases demand for sex trafficking of women and children; it increases the demand for child pornography; it destroys relationships; and so much more. Working to end the pandemic of porn is not “fascist” or moralistic—it’s an effort to reduce the vast damage done to everyone affected by pornography.

In addition, most mainstream pornography today is not protected speech and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled such multiple times.

On another note, pornography is forced on people today because it is everywhere. We have a right to share the research and truth that pornography harms. We also have a right to urge that pornography be regulated so that children and adults alike do not have to be exposed to it against their will.

The exact opposite is true: porn use is linked to increased violence against women. Porn encourages viewers to exploit women for sex, dehumanizes sex partners, and legitimizes violent and coercive sexual activity by depicting its victims as enjoying the violence. In addition, victims of domestic violence often point to porn use as a factor in the violence, with abusive partners forcing them to re-enact pornographic scenes even when dangerous or painful. To people inclined to sexual violence, porn fuels the desire to hurt others for sexual gratification.

Pornography consumers are more, not less, likely to take advantage of trafficking by hiring prostitutes. Porn creates a demand for more sex partners and more abusive sex, and its consumers are more likely to pay for sex, enriching human traffickers and increasing the abuse of prostitutes and sex slaves. Porn doesn’t replace the demand for prostitution and sex trafficking, it fuels that demand.

That’s just not true. We are not anti-sex. We are anti-abusing, exploiting and using others. We are anti-pornography. Sex isn’t the problem. In many people’s lives, pornography becomes an alternative to sex, becoming an addiction that fuels harmful sexual behavior and deadens emotions. Pornography discourages the intimacy, trust, and respect that a healthy relationship needs, putting self-gratification and novelty above the emotional and sexual needs of one’s partner. Porn isn’t pro-sex—it’s a misuse and devaluing of sex.

Further reading: Pornography’s Influence on Sexual Intimacy (Psychology Today)

“Porn sex is not about making love, as the feelings and emotions we normally associate with such an act—connection, empathy, tenderness, caring, affection—are replaced by those more often connected with hate—fear, disgust, anger, loathing, and contempt.”

– Gail Dines, Pornland

Actually, quite the opposite is true. Emerging brain science shows that pornography is even more addictive than cocaine or alcohol. Psychiatrist Norman Doidge, author of best-selling book The Brain That Changes Itself, explains:

“Pornography, by offering an endless harem of sexual objects, hyperactivates the appetitive system. Porn viewers develop new maps in their brains, based on the photos and videos they see. Because it is a use-it-or-lose-it brain, when we develop a map area, we long to keep it activated. Just as our muscles become impatient for exercise if we’ve been sitting all day, so too do our senses hunger to be stimulated.”

With pornography, in other words, our brain’s pleasure system that excites our desires is activated, but users are unable to ever find real satisfaction. This explains why certain people can spend endless hours searching for pornography on the Internet, and why it is increasingly difficult for many to find satisfaction in normal physical sexual relationships. It also explains why the content of pornography in recent years has changed so drastically. Women simply revealing their breasts no longer excite users. The content in pornography is increasingly dominated today by pseudo-child images (women dressed and posed to look younger), and by sadomasochistic themes of forced sex, ejaculations on women’s faces, angry anal sex all with the end-goal of humiliating, and objectifying one or more of the participants, usually female.

Learn more about the addictive nature of pornography here:

Here are some video presentations about pornography addiction:

Such a common argument from porn viewers, but it’s not true. Pornography actually deteriorates one’s ability to have empathy, while at the same time it sexualizes pain, domination and humiliation. While at first using porn may seem fun or beneficial, it inevitably leads to a drastic disconnect between partners. Porn is addictive, and leaves the viewer with a cache of images to pluck from memory. These images become your sexual partner…not the person you are with. Sexual interactions become about playing out a scene and not about enjoying your partner. What pornography really does is, place a very large wedge between couples. It’s skews expectations, desires, and boundaries. The sad truth is that most relationships suffer because of porn. Sexual intimacy is difficult to participate in when you have already masturbated a few times in one day. People think porn will teach you how to please your partner, but really it just teaches you to please yourself.

“Porn sex is not about making love, as the feelings and emotions we normally associate with such an act—connection, empathy, tenderness, caring, affection—are replaced by those more often connected with hate—fear, disgust, anger, loathing, and contempt.”

Gail Dines, Pornland

One of the things that distinguishes people from other animals is that we have free will. Animals often function on their instincts. They can’t help collecting food for the winter no matter how much you give them. But as people, we have free will to make choices. Men have the free will to chose whether they look at pornography or not. If we say men can’t help it, we presuppose that men are not human beings who can make choices about what they do in their daily lives.
Nearly all pornography is geared to degrade, objectify and abuse women. Men do not have a natural predisposition to get off on hurting women.
Comments from some of our supporters:

“Very close to the argument of “I can’t help it” The reality is you can. Because if you can’t no one can. You control your life no one else. There are millions of men who bridle their passions and view women for the people they are. You can join them.”

– Andrew J.

“‘Men can’t help it.’ Sad when men are slaves to the desires rather than the other way around.”

– Nicole J.

“Saying ‘men cant help it’ puts our men into the same category as dogs or other lower intelligence mammals. The fact they are visual doesn’t indicate that they ‘can’t help it’ anymore than a woman cheating with Casanova can help the emotional and auditory fantasy an realistic online affair would create. Responsibility is key for raising strong emotionally functional men.”

– Anna O.

“Every man needs a battle to fight. I’ve spoken internationally, and this is a question I ask men everywhere: if necessary, would you fight for the woman in your life? And if you don’t have one, would you fight for her if you did? When fighting another man… the bruises heal. It’s not a big deal. But what if you could fight a REAL battle that mattered for her: what might be the hardest battle of your life – your sex drive. What if (in the case of those who don’t have a woman in their life) three years from now you meet the perfect woman and you tell her, ‘I’ve been fighting the hardest battle of my life for you, for the thought of you, even though I didn’t yet know you!’ THAT is a fight worth bragging about. AND MEN, YOU NEED TO FIGHT FOR WOMEN WHO WON’T FIGHT FOR THEMSELVES! That includes the girls on your computer screen. God has one woman for you, and the girls on the screen are NOT her. They are NOT yours. Say that to yourself: She’s not mine! Fight for her, even though she’s obviously not fighting for herself if she’s on your computer screen in porn. BE A REAL MAN AND FIGHT A BATTLE WORTH BRAGGING ABOUT. The girl on that screen is someone’s mother or future mother. Someone’s daughter. Someone’s sister. Would you want your own daughter to be looked at like that? Do you want someone masturbating to images/videos of your mother? Then why is it okay when it’s someone else’s daughter or mother? BE A MAN. FIGHT!”

– Donny Pauling, former porn producer

Yes, as many argue, pornography has always been around. But due to the prevalence of pornography today, consumers are becoming desensitized to it. They are seeking out harsher, more violent, more degrading, and ever deviant material.

As the brain science explains, those who use porn are cultivating a taste for the most deviant, and damaging sexual materials. One is not born with a sexual preference for S&M activities. It is an acquired taste developed after repeated exposure to pornography and, or traumatic life experiences such as violence or sexual abuse, according to psychiatrist Norman Doidge, author of best-selling book The Brain That Changes Itself.

See above question about addiction to understand more about the brain science.

Porn actually teaches men to hit women and it teaches women that they should enjoy it. How do we know? Well, a recent study (Bridges, Wosnitzer, Scharrer, Sun & Liberman, 2010) found that when women in popular mainstream pornographic movies experience physical aggression by a male, 95% of the time they respond with either a response of pleasure or no response at all (Bridges, Wosnitzer, Scharrer, Sun, & Liberman, 2010). This sends the clear message to men than it is OK to hit women, in fact, they like it. It also sends the message to women (who increasingly are watching porn) that if they are hit during an intimate encounter, they are supposed to like it. Now is that being a better lover?

“Porn sex is not about making love, as the feelings and emotions we normally associate with such an act—connection, empathy, tenderness, caring, affection—are replaced by those more often connected with hate—fear, disgust, anger, loathing, and contempt.”

“Porn images are produced by an industry and are hence scripted, formulaic, and genre-bound representations. As much pornographers would like us to think that they are just capturing people having sex, in reality, the images are carefully crafted and choreographed… The consumer is more likely to come away with the messages that the producer intended, [not what real sex is].”

 Gail Dines, Pornland

Comments from some of our supporters:

“Talking with your lover is a better solution to becoming a better lover than porn. Porn doesn’t know what your partner wants/likes. If you can’t be open and talk to the other person about sex, you don’t belong together. And porn doesn’t teach about sex, sex education does. That is the responsibility of the parent, and the schools to continue that education. Porn doesn’t teach about safe sex, consequences of sex (pregnancy, STDs, damaged relationships, etc) and it doesn’t paint a picture of what sex is about. It teaches people that women are objects, sex is purely physical, and takes the self-worth away from both the watcher and the people they’re watching. It damages psyches, relationships, and sexual health. People need to understand sex is about a mental and physical connection between people in love, used to strengthen or build their relationship and feel even more connected. It’s about you and the person you’re with. Not abuse, not objectifying others, including men, but about love and respect.”

– Arielle E.

“Porn is dramatized and exaggerated as regards love making. The actresses especially are often acting or ‘faking it’ to sell the product and are sometimes even in pain. Because much in porn is rather objectifying and blatantly public it teaches nothing about intimacy or trust. As far as being a better lover, that requires experience with you partner’s body and needs and can’t be taught via porn. if anything it imparts viewers with unrealistic expectations for the other sex, for themselves, (size and stamina for males, receptiveness/willingness for females, etc) and for the act itself (no foreplay). Also its use as a sex ed tool is minimal, as the biology of sexual reproduction is totally ignored, and the importance of safe sex is often downplayed or minimized. One who uses porn as their sole education on matters regarding sexual intercourse, sexual love, and qualities of the opposite sex will be very surprised by differences if and when they actually engage in those acts.”

– Sam S.

“The best lovers give themselves unselfishly in a committed relationship. Porn has never been unselfish or committed. In fact, it involves others being objectified and used for the purpose of titillation.”

– Jennie B.

“Porn does not teach how to be a better lover; on the contrary, it makes it difficult for a man or woman to be a good lover as they get used to a different sensation and quite frankly, a lot of what they see there is fake and too much to ask a normal, healthy person to imitate causing frustration and let downs for both parties leading to marital/intimate discord.”

– Kristie J.

“Communication is more important and more informative than porn.”

– Mitchell J.

“This says that pornography and lovemaking are the same thing, which seems true to the casual mind. It assumes that love is about having whatever kind of sex you want with your girlfriend/wife, even if it means things too gross to talk about here.

1) So if a man loves his girlfriend/wife, he will look at pictures or videos of other girls? He will dump the person he professes to love every time he does this. What’s wrong with a simple discussion of sex, just to find out what each person believes?

2) Pornography visually stimulates guys. Instead of seeing a person with a soul, we see only a body. How do you fall in love with a body? It’s a thing, disposable. So by seeing naked people, you learn to see only the bodies—which means you only see your girlfriend or wife’s body! How do you expect to love her if all you see is the body and not the soul inside?”

– Michael C.

“It most certainly is not. Sex is a journey between a man and a woman who love each other very much. The intimacy that naturally comes between two people who truely love each other needs no artificial stimulation. What makes sex truely great is when each person gives of themselves to bring pleasure to the other. When porn gets invovled it destroys that relationship by turning it into a give and take. Instead of naturally exploring the one who views porn tries to duplicate the porn experience in real life without success. This leads to dissatisfaction and emotional separation. That disconnect means the viewer is no longer a better lover.”

– Andrew G.

“Porn didn’t teach me how to be a better lover.  It desensitized me and now I don’t feel attracted to the average looking woman on the street and when I have sex I find it difficult to reach orgasm it made me a worse lover it gives you the wrong idea about what sex is and made me worse in bed it effectively killed my sex life.  Long term porn use can harm your sex life.”

– Daniel

“Porn teaches young women that they must submit to anything their potential lover may feel the desire to do to them no matter how it feels to them. Is that being a “better” lover? Sex should be about mutual love and desire and pleasuring each other. I have a friend who’s father used to put on porn to watch and tell the kids it was “sex education.” She grew up being molested by her brothers, and believing that women are for the pleasure of men, and whatever men want or need is all that matters. Women have no value. Those same ideologies carry over into her every day interactions with others. She believes what she wants is always the least important, anything that goes wrong is her fault, and that she must always be subservient to those around her. I can’t see how that has made her “a better lover.” It’s hard to truly love when you feel bullied into everything you do.”

– Melissa

It is impossible to argue today that the consumption of pornography is a neutral experience. Too much sound research argues otherwise. Porn harms. Pornographers promise healthy pleasure, and relief from sexual tension, but what they often deliver is an addiction, tolerance, and an eventual decrease in pleasure. Among the harms now emerging as consequences of pornography are: changed brain function, addiction of both children and adults, exploitation, increased demand for trafficked women and children, a growing demand for child pornography, wider acceptance of sexual violence, rape, broken relationships, insecurity, depression, and even erectile dysfunction.

Pornography devalues women and men. Objectification and abuse is never an empowerment. Nor does it matter whether a female is producing, or directing the piece, because abuse is victimization and nothing less. Empowered women are not toys to be used, and abused. Aggression against the women mainstream pornography today is the rule, rather than the exception. Some of the most popular acts depicted in porn include vaginal, oral and anal penetration by three or more men at the same time; double anal; double vaginal; a female gagging from having a penis thrust into her throat; and ejaculation in a woman’s eyes and mouth, as well as slapping and spitting on women.

Who is empowered by watching such acts?

The fact that women are increasingly using pornography, does not mean that it is victimless or that it is not the reason for growing harms to society. See above questions about these harms.

By contributing to the further pornification of our society, the modern woman will not gain power. She would be serving only as an agent to further her own sexual degradation, handing herself on a silver platter to exactly the sort of men who want to use her, abuse her, and take away her power.

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