The Media and Pornography
Pornography is a way for individuals to become sexually satisfied. It is an outlet, for men and women alike, to relieve stress, relax, and brainlessly fantasize. At least that is the trend the media-and much of society-conveys.
In one particular Q and A of Cosmopolitan magazine, one girl wrote in with the following question:
“Even though my boyfriend and I have sex all the time, he looks at pornography every day. It makes me feel like he isn’t satisfied with our sex life. How much porn is too much?”
The editor responded:
“You’re assuming that your boyfriend looks at porn because you’re not giving him what he wants. But I can say for a fact that most guys (especially younger ones) are driven by their libidos. Porn feeds that biological urge. And sometimes it’s just a brainless way to escape and fantasize. But let’s say your concerns are valid: He needs his daily porn fix because he’s dissatisfied. Be honest with yourself: Have things gotten a little stale? Does he ask to push the boundaries, but you’re too skittish to give it a whirl? Granted, you shouldn’t be a slave to his every erotic whim, but great sex can be measured in quality, not just quantity. And if you’re lacking enthusiasm or experimentation, he might feel the only way to scratch that itch is through porn. Talk to him about how you can create more excitement as a couple. You can make pornography less intimidating by watching it together sometimes.”
This response seems to put the blame and responsibility of sexual satisfaction on the girl, a degrading and confusing context for any relationship. As far as society is concerned, guys-especially adolescent guys-will inevitably engage in pornographic materials. It’s just what they do. In fact, the largest consumer of Internet pornography is between the ages of 12-17. 90 percent of children ages 8-16 have been exposed to pornography, often by accident, typically while doing homework on the computer. 80 percent of 15-17 year olds are repeatedly exposed to hardcore pornography, then by their own choice. The tragedy of pornography being acceptable during the adolescent years is that it almost never ends in adolescence, but continues into adulthood as an obsessive addiction.
Another issue of Cosmo published an article titled “10 Signs Your Guy is Addicted to Porn” and it went on to list 10 items, most of them being sarcastic and humorous at why a girl’s boyfriend might be engaging in pornography. The number one reason listed? “That’s actually just a sign that your guy is a guy.”
According to media influence and societal expectations, pornography is normal. It’s nothing to worry about. It’s a way to explore and learn about sex, especially in adolescence. It’s a healthy outlet. It’s enjoyable, it’s satisfying, it’s no big deal. To some, it’s even laughable.
What the Media Don’t Tell You
Pornography is accepted as normal behavior, even expected as normal behavior, especially in men. It is glamorized and alluring, enticing to the natural senses, for one reason and one reason only, and it is not to make men happy or satisfied. It is to make money. Sex sells. So, in an effort to maximize sales, what the media intentionally fail to portray are the facts.
In Confronting Pornography, social workers Gray and Reid, state:
“The danger in objectifying people is that we begin to believe that people are there to please and gratify us.… When we view people as objects, we cease to see their humanness, identity, and uniqueness. We lose our ability to empathize with them, to notice and respect their needs and feelings. The media constantly portray images where a person’s facial features are hidden so that instead of seeing a whole person, we see legs, breasts, midriffs, and derrieres. Women are airbrushed, digitally altered, cropped, and perfected to an unattainable standard of beauty. We forget that there are real women behind this façade. Reducing a woman to an object strips her of her dignity, intelligence, personality, gifts, and wisdom, empathizing that her only value is to satisfy and to please, and that this is done through her body. Men and women alike are affected by these images” (Confronting pornography, p.28-29).
On January 23, 1989, the day before his execution on Death Row, the infamous serial killer, Ted Bundy requested an interview with psychologist, Dr. James Dobson. Bundy had a message for America, an explanation of how he went from being a normal guy to a murderer sitting in an electric chair. Bundy never experienced abuse or neglect in his life. He was never bullied and didn’t come from a broken home. The wonder of it all is that he actually came from a very functional home with two loving parents who practiced and taught wholesome, Christian values. And yet, Bundy ended up confessing to over 30 brutal murders of women who, previous to their deaths, had been raped and mutilated. How did he get from one extreme to another? In the beginning of the interview, he admits how it all began.
At age 13, he was walking home when he saw some ‘dirty magazines’ thrown in a dumpster. During adolescence, sexual urges are normal, but also new and overwhelming. At that crucial age of development, Bundy said he was instantly intrigued with the material. In the latter part of their interview, Dr. Dobson stated:
“Outside these walls, there are several hundred reporters that wanted to talk to you, and you asked me to come because you had something you wanted to say. You feel that hardcore pornography, and the door to it, softcore pornography, is doing untold damage to other people and causing other women to be abused and killed the way you did.”
“I’m no social scientist, and I don’t pretend to believe what John Q. Citizen thinks about this, but I’ve lived in prison for a long time now, and I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence. Without exception, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography-deeply consumed by the addiction. The FBI’s own study on serial homicide shows that the most common interest among serial killers is pornographers. It’s true.”
The entire interview with Bundy and Dobson can be viewed here.
Of course it is not accurate to assume that everyone exposed to pornography will become serial killers. But a culture saturated in porn will certainly not lead to anything positive, healthy, or safe. And looking at the media and how accessible porn is to every age group should be more than frightening to all of society.
If left untreated and ignored, if justified and excused-especially during the adolescent stage of development where expectations and fantasies can become permanently imprinted in young men’s (and women’s) minds-pornography will continue to destroy lives through addiction, abuse, and violence. But what’s the big deal? Boys are just being boys.
Gray, D. & Reid, R.C. (2005). Confronting pornography. Chamberlain, M.D. (Ed.). Ann Arbor, MI: Malloy Lithographing Inc.