The Porn Industry Offers us a Glimpse into the Future; and the Future Looks Very Bleak Indeed

Tom Farr
Tom Farr
Jun 29, 2018 · 4 min read

The times they are a changin’. Technology has advanced exponentially in the last 200 years: smartphones are commonplace; international travel can be booked at the press of a button; mortgages can be applied for in minutes. And, pornography is more accessible than ever. Not only that, but it is everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Not just in the “real world”, either. Pornography has now extended beyond the “corporeal” into the “virtual”. The intersection between this rapid evolution of technology and the pornography industry can’t, and shouldn’t, be ignored. There is a symbiotic relationship at play that is not only affecting our relationships, but is now defining them.

For over three decades, Dr. Gail Dines has been battling the porn industry. As a response, three years ago she assembled a team of experts in child psychology, pediatrics and sexual health to launch Culture Reframed, an organisation aimed at challenging the cultural influence of the pornography industry, and one that seeks to do away with the myth that pornography = sex.

But there is a chasm developing between not only what older generations think porn entails, but how readily available it is to Millennials, Gen-Z and troublingly, even kids under ten years old. While I have written previously about how pornography will become increasingly violent and abusive, there is perhaps an understandable naiveté on the part of Gen-X and older about who can access it and when. This bubble needs bursting.

Dr. Dines is aiming to bridge the divide between parents and children with the new Culture Reframed ‘Parents of Tweens’ programme. While parents may have a somewhat misty-eyed view of pornography being the “magazine under the bed”, the reality is much more harrowing. This will be explored in detail below, but suffice to say, there’s a reason the Culture Reframed Parents’ Programme is being backed by so many experts.


It is fair to ask, “What do iPhones, watching porn, and cultivating relationships have to do with each other?” On the face of it they may seem only tangentially related. But the connection is damning. By 2019, it is predicted that 2.5 billion people around the globe will be using smartphones. If we look at the social context of this, the links start to become clear. Millennials, Gen-Z and younger are starting to interact more through phones than through real-life conversations. With this in mind, and the prevalence of pornography use, we can draw a troubling conclusion. As we become more reliant upon technology to cultivate our non-sexual relationships, why would the ever-expanding porn industry be any different, especially for those who grow up immersed in technology?

When we use pornography, the images stay with us, it affects our sexual expectations, and alters the very way our brain functions. In short, the more we watch, the more novelty is needed to maintain arousal. This drives us to pursue increasingly hard-core and violent pornography — simply to stimulate us.

Pornography is creating a health crisis amongst viewers. This is not just a pontification on the morality of pornography, but an acknowledgement of the very real scientific evidence underpinning the objections to the industry. Imagine what effect this is having on a young child. Kids who have immediate access may grow up watching it. Their capacity for relationships is being moulded by the media they consume, and their media is degrading and violent pornography.

While the scientific evidence for pornography use is damning, there also needs to be a cultural analysis. How is pornography use affecting our relationships and self-image, as men and women, boys and girls? As we pursue more niche and hard-core pornography, we are in effect whittling through what we find sexually stimulating, and consequently what we want from our physically intimate relationships.

We are slowly shutting off relationships with other people in favour of pursuing the “most” niche or “most” stimulating video we can find, that appeals directly and only to us, the viewer. The concept of a mutually satisfying sexual relationship has been traded off for an immediately accessible, singular orgasm. When we visit a porn site, we see the women involved not as women we would wish to have relationships with, but as simply a vessel there to be used, often violently, until we reach climax. Then the page is closed, and the woman who has, in effect, provided a service to the man is discarded until he feels the need to utilise her body again. This attitude isn’t left behind with the closed page either. It affects how we see women — are they humans equal to us, or simply an industrialised sex object solely there for our pleasure? The research suggests it is sadly not the former. This is the attitude young boys develop through consistent exposure.

Women also report suffering diminished self-esteem and self-image in correlation to their partner’s use of pornography. This is increasingly translating into attitudinal and behaviorial changes, such as seeking out labiaplasty and anal bleaching. How will this affect the young girls that grow up on the receiving end of these attitudes? How will they see themselves as a result?

“We don’t need to say ‘boys will be boys.’ This is too low of a bar. We need to say that ‘we believe in your humanity and we’re going to fight for it.” — Gail Dines

Gail Dines is speaking at Conway Hall in London on July 18th for the “Raising Healthy Children in a Porn Culture: Challenges and Solutions” conference. For tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/raising-healthy-children-in-a-porn-culture-challenges-and-solutions-tickets-46839061895. For more information about Culture Reframed, visit https://www.culturereframed.org/