Humans have been creating erotic images for thousands of years, but pornography still sparks heated disagreements. It is condemned as a cause of erectile dysfunction, teen pregnancy, and rape. Repeated consumption of adult material is compared to drug abuse, and it is thought to fuel objectification of women. However, are such accusations backed by science, and are there really no positive sides for humanity?
1. Is porn a form of cheating?
Cheating does not have a universal definition. For some, even a single kiss can justify termination of a long-term bond. Humans also tend to develop all sorts of sexual fantasies, and there could also be purely emotional attachments that go beyond friendship. You could thus imagine sex with other people while remaining physically loyal to your partner.
A fan of smut could say they are only engaging in innocuous fiction. For them, it may not constitute any cheating at all. In addition, watching porn is nothing like actual flirting or sleeping with random Tinder users, which cannot be denied.
A partner may feel hurt or cheated, especially in case of immersive VR porn. After all, a headset ensures a sex experience that feels very real. This means more than passive observing, but whether it constitutes betrayal is subjective. In addition, there are couples who happily engage in VR threesomes.
Couples need to discuss porn freely and agree on certain rules. Watching adult videos is a case of cheating if partners believe so. However, porn addiction is a consequence, rather than the cause. It may indicate a need to satisfy sexual urges outside of the relationship.
2. Does porn make us violent?
Research showing a correlation between better access to porn and reduced crime rates has been replicated in different countries. David J. Ley Ph.D. states that even the most twisted sexual fantasies have no proven link to actual human behaviors. With easier access to adult content, teen pregnancy in the USA has been dropping, and the rate of forcible rapes has fallen by 85% since 1980. Porn does not cause erectile dysfunction, and such assumptions are only hidden attempts to make masturbation look unhealthy.
3. How strong is porn addiction?
It is true that porn causes certain chemicals to be released in your brain, which leads to the creation and reinforcement of neural pathways that carry signals between nerve cells. As a result, the brain forms a strong association between porn and pleasure, making the viewer want to watch more porn. However, due to neuroplasticity, the effect is reversible if porn is replaced by other activities.
In 2007, Queensland University of Technology published a study in the Australian Journal of Communication, analyzing data from a survey of over a thousand porn fans. Over half of them pointed out that “pornography had a positive or very positive effect on their attitudes towards sexuality.” In particular, they mentioned better tolerance towards other people’s sexualities, and help with regard to maintaining sexual interest in their partners.