Through globalization and technology, the world has become increasingly interconnected. Businesses have the opportunity to market products on a global stage. In an instant, a buyer can purchase a product from the opposite side of the world. With mobile devices, people can consume what they want, whenever they want. The rapid increase for demand of instantaneous services has developed beyond material products and household items. Instant consumerism has been capitalized by the sex industry.
Pornography is “the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). It has become an evasive problem in our society. People are consuming porn at an alarming rate, and the age of children being introduced to porn is becoming younger and younger. The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada reports the following staggering statistics:
1. Health Implications
Watching pornography launches a chemical reaction in the brain that changes the wiring in the brain. The chemical dopamine is released, the same chemical that is released in response to food or sex, and the same chemical that is released when using drugs and alcohol. Some research studies have offered “profound evidence that the compulsive and consistent use of pornography is potentially as powerful as drug use” (thedoctorweighsin.com).
The Recovery Village defines porn addiction as “a process addiction, or behavioral addiction. These addictions are compulsive behavior patterns in which a person repeatedly engages in an activity despite the negative impact that follows from it. The repetitive behaviors associated with process addictions typically escalate over time in a way that resembles a substance use disorder.” What mechanisms have we put in place to support people in our communities battling addiction?
There are physical, social and psychological impacts from viewing pornography. Exposure to pornography is associated with many undesirable outcomes including:
2. Exposure to Children
Cybertip.ca is Canada’s tip line to report the online sexual exploitation of children. In recent years, Cybertip.ca has seen an increase in reports from youth ranging from 12 to 17 years of age. A large percentage of reports made by teens are related to sexual images and videos being created and distributed via the internet and/or electronic devices (Cybertip.ca). In other words, the creation and distribution of child pornography. Teens are increasingly being pressured via social media platforms to send nude photos of themselves. Sometimes these photos are used as blackmail for control and exploitation. Other times it can lead to bullying and isolation.
The average age of exposure to pornography is 11 years old. The average. That means children younger than 11 years old are also viewing pornography. Psychguides.com indicates that:
Child exploitation is increasing in our own backyard. We need to take preventative measures to protect the minds and development of our youth. We need to initiate dialogue with our young people and develop supports to assist people who have been negatively impacted by premature exposure. We need to set boundaries and place legal responsibility on the porn industry for how their explicit content is accessed and viewed.
3. Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking
Pornography fuels the demand for paid sex. When the demand for sexual services increases, there is an increase in the number of people, primarily women and children, who are lured into situations of human trafficking to meet this demand.
People who are involved in the production of pornography, are sometimes trafficked persons. According to anti-trafficking nonprofit, Rescue:Freedom, in 9 countries, 49% of sexually exploited women said that pornography was made of them while they were being trafficked.
The production of pornography images or videos, can make an individual vulnerable to being exploited. As mentioned above, youth are often pressured into taking pornographic images and videos, which can result in exploitation. A trafficker can manipulate or threaten an individual, utilizing sexually explicit content of them.
Lastly, as the consumerism of pornography increases in our society, and the demand for paid sex increases, there has been a surge in cybersex trafficking – “the trafficking of children to perform webcam sex shows for profit” (Carback, 2018). Buyers observe the recorded acts of exploitation and actively participate in the crime by sending specific requests to the producers of the kind of actions they want the children to perform (Carback, 2018). Laws and legislation globally are lacking on this front, and there is much work to do to fight, prevent, prosecute and protect individuals impacted by this injustice.
Where do we go from here?
The porn industry is poorly regulated, if at all. How does someone verify the age of the person they’re being exposed to when they consume pornography? How does a viewer know if the people reflected in the video are consenting? The reality is, they don’t. What mechanism is in place to ensure the person viewing the video is of an appropriate age to be exposed to sexually explicit content? How is the porn industry being held accountable for the addiction and health consequences it is having on people’s lives? Immediate and drastic measures are needed to put boundaries on an industry that is rapidly growing and impacting the lives of children and youth of today.
You can make a difference and impact change in our society through:
The Recovery Village indicates that there are several indicators for porn addiction including:
(Image retrieved from therecoveryvillage.com)
If you or someone you are know are struggling with porn addiction, check out these resources:
Cybersex Trafficking: Toward a More Effective Prosecutorial Response, Carback, 2018.