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If You Think Porn Didn’t Influence #MeToo You’re Dead Wrong

Porn (amateur or not) is linked to sexual aggression and violence. Here’s what you should know.

Modification of Photos by Blake Connally and Ian Dooley on Unsplash

One evening I watched Ron Jeremy scavenge the leftover food a few of us at the table didn’t eat. It was a surreal experience sitting across from one of the largest names in the porn industry and, on a personal level, someone whose videos I’d seen.

“He does this,” my friend Craig told me.
“Does what?”
“Never orders anything. He just scavenges everyone else’s leftovers once they’re done eating.”

I continued to observe the man nicknamed “The Hedgehog” pluck fries from his niece’s plate. Then he pulled out an old Motorola flip phone from the pajama pants he wore to the restaurant.

Craig motioned to Ron with a subtle nod of his head, “Watch this.”

Ron produced a monocle — or a mini telescope, I wasn’t sure — from his jacket to read his text messages.

“He won’t buy a new phone. God knows he has the money. I keep telling him it’ll be easier to see messages on a smartphone, but…”

“But I gotta keep up those good Jewish habits!” Ron chimed in.


Earlier in the evening, Craig and Ron debated the subject of pornography in front of a large audience in Austin, Texas. I met Craig several years earlier after I took steps to crush the control pornography had over my life. Early in the dot com boom Craig founded an organization named XXXchurch with goal of helping Christians combat their pornography consumption or addiction. As a former youth pastor, many young males in his church shared about their widespread porn usage wreaking hell in their personal lives. At first, the Christian community damn near crucified (and vilified) him, but once the widespread usage hit pastors and led to scandal, they played a different tune. No good deed goes unpunished in Christendom, right?

In real life, Craig and Ron are friends. Craig’s kids call him “Uncle Ron” but have no idea what he does. As their friendship formed because of working in the porn industry on separate sides, both took their debate on the road to universities and churches.

Promotional image of Craig (left) and Ron from the Great Porn Debate

In all fairness, I felt Ron won the debate that night. He was charming, articulate, and made several candid points. It wasn’t the porn industry’s fault people got hooked or did deviant things. “In fact,” Ron grinned as he held up a gold embossed piece of paper, “here’s a certificate of appreciation from the FBI to our industry. We’ve worked with law enforcement to report minors who’ve ended up in porn and exploited the managers who’ve used minors.”

Craig could have gone harder on him, but stuck more to a charismatic presence on the stage focusing on the unrealistic expectations porn promises. Maybe he didn’t have all the stats that night, I never asked. Hell, some of the research was brand new at the time.

But it’s not anymore, and what it’s doing to men and women across the globe has a direct impact on why #metoo happened and why we keep seeing repeat stories of the increase in sexual assault and rape culture.

It’s no longer the dirty little secret, but the monster rampaging in our society.

“But Porn is Harmless!”

After the Harvey Weinstein scandal and recent events exposing widespread sexual assault, the public outcry has become overwhelming. I read through numerous articles (and even wrote my own) on the topic, but one thing I found disturbing was the amount of men and women who continued to advocate from porn (whether on Medium or in other media outlets). “Jerk it to responsible porn” one author said as a way to combat sexual assault and support women. “Amateur, non-binary, or one that doesn’t promote violence.” It was like listening to someone tell me there’s such a thing as fair, trade organic porn. It’s been responsibly filmed and no women were degraded in the filming of these sex scenes. Yeah, right.

The notion alone is absurd, because how it’s filmed, amateur or not, consenting or not, romantic or not, has nothing to do with what porn usage does neurologically and emotionally.

What You Need To Know

ANY porn consumption expands a users taste into dangerous new territory.

In 2011, leading psychologist Philip Zimbardo released a TEDTalk and subsequent book titled “The Demise of Guys.” One finding in his talk focused on men preferring porn to women and no longer “knowing the difference between making love and doing porn.” He pointed to video games and porn being a new addiction he dubbed “arousal addiction.” Whereas drugs and alcohol you want more of the same, with porn your taste constantly evolves.

Additional research supports what Zimbardo found and explains the process like a twisted version of Pavlov’s Dog. People think they’re being entertained, but their brains are busy building connections between the arousal they feel and what’s happening on screen. As the brain becomes more accustomed to the porn they’ve seen, they have to move on to new and extreme forms of porn to get aroused. Thus the porn a user consumes changes over time.

Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash

For instance, who in their right mind starts out watching child porn? You can read story after story of men who’ve gone to jail for child porn who claim they started out with the “normal” stuff. I’m not saying if you watch porn, you’ll end up with an FBI agent at your door because you got into kiddie porn, but the research is scary. In a 2012 survey of 1,500 young adult men, 56% said their tastes in porn had become “increasingly extreme or deviant.”

That alone should worry you.

Porn users are more likely to express attitudes of violence towards women

In college and the military, a common phrase I would hear was “She wanted it even if she didn’t know it yet.” In my hey-day I chuckled at the statement and probably said it myself. Of course, we were all watching porn, sharing it, and assumed the behavior was normal. After all, porn emphasized that mentality.

In an article by Non-profit Organization Fight the New Drug they state:

…a team of researchers looked at 50 of the most popular porn films — the ones purchased and rented most often. Of the 304 scenes the movies contained, 88% contained physical violence and 49% contained verbal aggression. On average, only one scene in 10 didn’t contain any aggression, and the typical scene averaged 12 physical or verbal attacks. One particularly disturbing scene managed to fit in 128.

But back to those who say to only consume organic, fair trade porn right?

Unfortunately for them, research confirms that those who consume porn (even if it’s nonviolent) are more likely to support statements that promote abuse and sexual aggression toward women. Degrading porn (which I stated earlier people will move into with repeated consumption) increases a user’s dominating and harassing behavior toward others and leaves the user feeling less compassion for rape victims.

If you’re still not convinced, in an article from the Journal of Communication on Pornography Consumption and Actual Acts of Sexual Aggression researchers said the following after examining twenty two studies:

“ There is little doubt that, on the average, individuals who consume pornography more frequently are more likely to hold attitudes conducive to sexual aggression and engage in actual acts of sexual aggression.”
“But she wanted/deserved it”—The cry of rape culture | Photo by Peter Forster on Unsplash

”Okay, but I have some objections to the research”

  1. “I can consume it responsibly and not get hooked.”

You can’t. Dutch researchers found porn is the most addictive online activity. The only thing even close is online gambling, and that’s still number two. Also, do an experiment for me. Go a month without porn (if you can) and then come back and tell me how hard it’s been to not look at porn. As a friend once told me, “Anything you can’t give up owns you.

2. “Porn isn’t really THAT big a deal.”

Porn revenue exceeds that of the NFL, MLB, and NBA combined. It also exceeds the revenue of television networks CBS, NBC, and ABC combined. Child porn generates three billion dollars annually and the number one searched type of porn on the internet is “teen.” Seems like a big deal.

3. “This is the porn industry’s fault!”

Not really. This is supply and demand. People understand the risks associated with cigarettes and still use them. Porn is legal (for the most part) and regulated to some degree. However, most people don’t understand how supply and demand for porn has such a dark side. As stated, its side effects can lead to sexual aggression, the exploitation of women and children (more common than men), and fuels the sex trafficking industry. The fault lies on those of us who continue to ignore the research while letting our minds and emotions become warped to the point of indifference and aggression.

Why Should I Care About This?

If you’re a parent, you should care (the average age a child is exposed to porn is eleven). If you’re a spouse, you should care what it could do to your partner. If you don’t want to date a guy or girl that might put you in the #metoo category because they love porn, you should care. If you watch porn, you should know and care what the consequences are.

Basically, if you want to build a less violent world and respect your fellow humans, the answer is simple: start taking steps to stop watching porn

Your relationships, love life, and sex life deserve better.

**Author’s Note: The research on the topic of pornograhy consumption is extensive and vast. Many organization have done their fair share of reporting peer reviewed research. Should you like to review the research you can visit Fight the New Drug facts page or Truth About Porn.