מיקום המרפאה: רחוב לוינסקי 108, בתוך התחנה המרכזית החדשה, בקומה 5 (מעל קווי דן 4,5)

Five questions that will make you rethink porn

  1. What is pornography?

The word porno in Greek means prostitute, and graphiа means to write. Pornography, or porn, is the presentation of the human body (image, book, film, show, etc.) or sexual behavior of a person that provokes sexual arousal when the way the human body is presented in a manner which lacks artistic value, as opposed to the artistic value of erotics. Eros is the Greek god of passionate and physical desire and from his name stems the word erotics.

There is evidence of pornographic sexual content since the time of ancient Greece, so it is not a phenomenon that has emerged in the modern age of print, cinema and personal computers. At the same time, the ways of distributing sexual content have become very sophisticated in the last fifty years so much so that today pornography can reach all of us in the palm of our hand, with a single touch of the screen.

Although pornography is prohibited by law for minors (children under the age of 18), today mobile accessibility may expose minors, sometimes even without their will, to porn at very early ages, sometimes as young as children in primary school. A study conducted in Tel Hai College (2012) shows that more than 80% of teenagers in Israel aged 14-18 watch porn. Is this a worrisome figure? To answer this question we need to understand the effects of pornography on the brain.

  1. What happens to the brain when it is exposed to a lot of pornography?

A long line of studies suggest that high-frequency viewing of pornographic content may rewire the brain. When watching porn as well as having sex our brain releases dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter responsible for the sense of pleasure. Regular consumption of porn causes a steady increase in the amount of dopamine in the brain and makes the brain slowly indifferent to its effects. The result of this process is that the brain needs more and more dopamine to feel a supreme feeling of arousal, which causes the viewer to consume more and more porn. It was also found that the effect is created not only by the amount of porn a person is viewing but also by the content. As the viewer is exposed to extreme content, the stimulus threshold increases. The brain’s ability to get used to large amounts of dopamine also affects a person’s behavior during sexual intercourse. Anyone who has been quite easily moved by hugs and kisses will have a hard time getting excited about them again after prolonged viewing of pornographic content the brain becomes accustomed to an intense stimulus and now it has to be provided. Extensive viewing changes the threshold of sexual arousal and can make those who regularly watch porn sexually frustrated. A study conducted at Cambridge University in 2014 found similarities between brain activity in porn addicts and brain activity in drug and alcohol addicts.

  1. Porn as a way to learn about sex, good or bad?

The fact that more than 80% of teenagers in Israel aged 14-18 watch porn is not encouraging. On the other hand not everyone who watches is addicted to porn, right? Porn addiction is a pretty extreme phenomenon, but it turns out that even consuming porn without being addicted to it can change our perceptions about members of the opposite sex and about our body. Why? First, because the men and women in porn do not represent the average body image in most cases these are actors who have undergone plastic surgery, so if young people learn through porn what the body of the opposite sex looks like, they get a very misleading idea. The desire to resemble porn stars will in most cases lead to great frustration, as well as the desire for their partner to look that way.

In addition, sex scenes that are sometimes filled with physical and verbal violence can affect the viewer’s attitude toward his or her partners. When it comes to a very young viewer who has never experienced sex, they may get a misleading conception about what is expected from them in sex. Girls can conclude that they are expected to be submissive and endure violence while boys may conclude that they are expected to be violent and demanding. These of course are very wrong conclusions.

  1. What do we support when we watch pornography?

The revenue of the porn industry is billions of dollars every year.

But the biggest beneficiaries are not the actors who are at the forefront of the industry (and who have often found them selves there out of distress, coercion or failure of judgment), but the producers and distributors who are mostly criminals often involved in various crimes including human trafficking, exploitation, rape, pedophilia and more.

Like any industry looking to make a profit, the porn industry is “forced” to provide increasing stimuli for its consumers and over the years, viewers whose minds have become accustomed to sexual stimuli need stronger stimuli (snuff films, rape, etc.) and this is a very vicious circle for both for porn consumers and for the women and men in the industry, who pay a very heavy price.

It is very difficult to stop the porn industry for one simple reason, it has more and more consumers every year. It is important to remember that watching porn, even for free, encourages the porn industry to continue, despite being a cruel and exploitative industry of minors, women and men. Therefore, when we watch porn we actually support the continuation of exploitation. Is this really what we want? And is it still possible to enjoy watching sexual content while having this knowledge?

  1. What can be done about the negative effects of pornography?

The question then is, should we strive to block any access to porn, as is done in conservative societies? Even if we strive to do so, this is not the solution, because those who want to consume porn will always find a way. On the other hand, we mustn’t allow porn to be the sexual educator of young people, because the messages coded in pornography do not encourage a healthy approach to sex.

Therefore, as in most cases, the solution here is information and education: at home, at school and in every educational setting. The more young people get to know the behind the scenes of the porn industry and know how watching porn affects them, the lower its popularity will be and its negative effects will decrease accordingly.

 

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