Exposing youth to porn is dangerous, but the harms of pornography don’t end there

Feminist Current 25 July 2020
Family First Comment: Excellent commentary…
“But perhaps the most tragic mistake this ad commits is that it does not comprehend the reality of pornographic material circulating online today, just two clicks away. Dark web aside, the regular pornographic content accessible by non-premium Pornhub visitors is documented rape, torture, and sadism perpetrated on female bodies − many of them minors. They are real human beings, who often will struggle with trauma and PTSD for life as a result of their experience in the sex trade. This is what porn is about, and there is no trace of it in this superficial, harmful, naïve ad. No, children should not be watching porn. But that content doesn’t magically become harmless the moment an individual turns 18.”

We know porn consumption harms children. But is it fine, as a New Zealand PSA implies, if it is watched only by adults who understand the acts they see on film are “not real”?

In June, the government of New Zealand launched a public advertising campaign to warn about the consequences of pornography on minor consumers.

The ad shows a male and a female porn actor walking up to a house, naked, to inform the shocked mother who opens the door that her young son is consuming pornography from all the available electronic devices in the house. They tell her this is harmful for the boy as, “he does not know how relationships actually work,” and because, in porn, they don’t talk about consent. The female porn actress, “Sue,” tells the mother she and her partner “usually perform for adults, but your son’s just a kid.” The male actor, “Derrick,” stresses that he “would never act like that in real life.” The distressed mother is prompted to talk to her son “about the difference between what you see online and real-life relationships.”

Derrick and Sue are presented as attractive, friendly, responsible, even funny. They are “performers” who enjoy what they do. Pornography is presented as nothing more than a performance of two consenting adults for an adult public. (Noteworthy that the ad only involves the mother, not the father — or both parents — confirming family gender stereotypes that give fathers no responsibility, in terms of raising children.)

Ulrica Stigberg and Maria Ahlin interviewed Lars Olsson, professor of neuroscience at the Karolinska Institutet of Stockholm, for their 2016 bookVisual drug: On kids, youth, and online porn, (Visuell drog: Om barn, unga och nätporr). He explained that the brain of a young person is fragile and far from being consolidated and structured. The dopamine release system works like this: when something very emotionally impactful (positive or negative) hits us, the brain looks for a system to “restore balance.” The brain does this by lowering the level of reaction, inhibiting the emotional response to a given stimulus. In short, to protect us from strong emotions, our brain makes us less responsive, making us insensitive to a certain stimulus (which, in turn, can potentially lead to addiction). The result is that we end up feeling indifferent or bored with something that initially excited us. Easy access to and high consumption of pornography means that, often, whatever was initially arousing and led to an orgasm becomes “boring.” Soon enough, the brain will need to go a step further in order to receive the same level of dopamine release. This is why the research conducted on people who developed an addiction to pornography for Visual Drug finds a personal journey from hardcore pornography, escalating to porn featuring violent/humiliating sex, rape, rape of people with mental and/or physical handicaps, rape of children (including infants), and passive or active incest. It is easy to understand why it is crucial to protect young people from accessing pornography.

But there is more. A 2018 investigative report conducted by the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet based on criminal cases related to gang rapes found that 70 per cent of the rapists were between 15 and 20 years old, while the victims’ average age was 15. In some cases, both the perpetrators and the victims were younger than 15. In April, Metro spoke with Norfolk Police Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the national police lead for child protection, who reported “a new group of young men aged between 18 and 26” brought up on porn, and began to no longer be stimulated by “regular porn,” so moved on to child abuse imagery.
READ  MORE: https://www.feministcurrent.com/2020/07/25/growing-up-on-porn-harms-youth-but-the-harms-of-pornography-dont-end-there/
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