Pornography remains a contentious issue for humanity. Addiction to smut is likened to drug abuse, and adult movies are blamed for ruined marriages and violent sexual assaults. Critics claim that porn causes males to objectify women and creates child predators. However, how justified are all these accusations?
Myth 1. Teen pregnancy
First of all, does porn really encourage underage sex? There are a few peculiar correlations noticed by researchers. It is estimated that the more prevalent porn becomes, the longer teens wait to have sex, and as a result the lower the rate of teen pregnancy rate. In reality, the latter has fallen by over 40% since peaking in 1990. Moreover, with easier access to adult content, the rate of forcible rapes in the USA has plummeted, dropping by 85% since 1980.
These two correlations were later bolstered by lab research data. Studies carried out in 1986 and 1994 concluded that males exposed to violent and nonviolent porn saw no increases in aggression towards women. It was therefore concluded that video smut gives release to deviant desires while decreasing the likelihood of criminal acts for the sake of satisfying such urges. For example, such suggestions were expressed in a 2011 article “The Sunny Side of Smut” published in the Scientific American magazine.
More evidence came from a 2007 study by the Queensland University of Technology, which was published in the Australian Journal of Communication. Out of 1023 consumers of porn surveyed, just under 60% agreed that “pornography had a positive effect on their attitudes towards sexuality.” Among those advantages, the respondents mentioned that porn increased their tolerance towards other people’s sexualities, helped them maintain sexual interest in relationships, and to discuss sex with their partners.
Myth 2. Addiction
It is not uncommon to hear about serial rapists reported to have started with a relatively innocuous form of smut, and later turning to the most obscene and perverted genres of pornography. It is therefore suggested that, like drugs, porn viewers need increased doses of content to experience the same ‘high’. However, science has not proved such a connection.
Development of addiction is based on the same brain processes that allow us to learn new skills and absorb knowledge. Consumption of porn causes the release of certain chemicals in the brain and the creation of neural pathways that carry signals between nerve cells. The more times a person watches porn, the stronger their related pathways become, which creates a habit and later addiction. However, thanks to the phenomenon of neuroplasticity, the effect may be reversed when porn is replaced with other enjoyable activities.
Research showing a correlation between better access to porn and reduced crime rates has been replicated in different countries. According to David J. Ley Ph.D., even the most bizarre sexual fantasies have no proven connection to actual behaviors, and they are more likely to decrease the probability of dangerous acts. Similarly flawed are the assumptions that porn causes erectile dysfunction, and they are in essence hidden attempts call masturbation unhealthy.