porn, the phantom menace, part two

September 25, 2009

In the past, I’ve tackled a number of topics about sex and sexuality from abstinence-only sex education, to the use of adult entertainment as a handy villain for aspiring conservative politicians. However, one point that I’ve yet to address is a very common and misleading term in the arsenal of morality crusaders. Porn addiction. It’s a real problem being misused by opponents of the adult film industry to cast their products in the same light as drugs and legal vices that usually exist in a judicial gray zone, legal only under very restrictive conditions or only in certain places due to pressure from highly opinionated interest groups. And it’s a very real problem. But how bad is it? Is it true that pornography is more addictive than crack cocaine and can drive people crazy?

bondageShort answer? There’s no factual basis behind these ideas and those espousing them usually base their statements on personal opinions or cherry-picked anecdotal examples, not on an actual body of peer-reviewed work. To be fair, we have to note that few studies dealing with human sexuality get funded unless they have some direct relationship with HIV or AIDS. Figuring out how adult films can trigger some sort of addiction or if the addiction is a sign of the person’s existing predisposition to go overboard with anything pleasurable, just isn’t a high priority for agencies that give out research grants. And that alone might give us a hint that the problem isn’t nearly as bad as we’re told.

Unfortunately for us, almost anything we enjoy could become addictive. From alcohol, to tanning, to shopping, whatever stimulates our pleasure centers can be done in excess and eventually become an addiction in the clinical sense of the word. When someone is truly addicted, it means that the compulsion to smoke or watch porn is so strong, there is no choice but to do it, even if he needs to work, sleep or return an urgent phone call. Classifying addiction isn’t an easy task which is why it’s done by experts who monitor patients over a long period of time. This is why we have to take to take the claims of surging addiction rates presented by squads of moral crusaders with a heavy pinch of salt. Rather than refer to professionals with PhDs in psychology, they tend to self-diagnose suspected addicts and parade them as casualties of the embodiment of carnal evil that is adult entertainment.

Let’s keep in mind that morality groups view the act of watching porn itself as a terribly, horribly wrong. So for them, anyone who watches porn on a regular basis, even casually and only when it doesn’t interfere with the demands of the outside world, is a strong candidate for addiction. Coupled with the accusations that porn is the main culprit of rape, homosexuality, divorce, sexism, pedophilia, teen pregnancy, STDs as well as snow storms, hurricanes and type Ia supernovae frequently recited at events that present all human sexuality as filthy and immoral while denigrating contraception, the morality crusaders’ unreasonable and ill-informed standards are designed to create a sense of crushing guilt which encourages false confessions of porn and sexual addiction. For groups that don’t understand moderation and are vehemently hostile to any expression of sexuality with which they don’t personally agree, it’s impossible to accurately diagnose porn addiction and all their claims have to be held as highly suspect and drastically overstated.

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  • Jypson

    But what of the addiction to Jelly Belly jelly beans?! All the proof I need is that poll (source not provided) :) that proved that 50% of all Western Europeans are addicted to jelly beans? We need to stop the evil corporation producing these addiction inducing treats! Over 50% of all Western Europeans (source not provided) have type 2 diabetes, and these jelly beans are destroying their lives! Jelly Belly sugar pills are in our own president’s oval office, and even in space! We need to bind together and enforce our moral authority against the evil sugar high inducing jelly PILLS, and shut down Jelly Belly Inc!

  • Pierce R. Butler

    It’s fascinating to watch how two movements otherwise usually at each others’ throats manage in significant part to agree on this one issue. Fundamentalists & (some) feminists put aside an amazing range of other issues when this topic rolls around; the fundies in particular are getting good at coopting feminist slogans on this, miraculously avoiding other issues of women’s oppression and exploitation all the while.

  • http://www.quitpornaddiction.com Jason

    Interesting post, and you raise some very valid points. ‘Porn addiction’ can be a misleading term, and conservative groups try to use this to their advantage with shock horror statistics and moralising claims.

    Just like any activity that delivers pleasure and stimulation, watching porn can get out of control. When porn is compulsively used to avoid responsibilities or numb us from unresolved issues in our lives, the fallout can be scary. It can wreak havoc with our relationships, careers and self-esteem.

    But to coin an old phrase, consuming porn is only a problem when it’s a problem. Millions of people enjoy porn without any negative impact in their lives. And watching porn certainly doesn’t convert us into rapists and predators.

  • Greg Fish

    “…the fundies in particular are getting good at coopting feminist slogans on this, miraculously avoiding other issues of women’s oppression and exploitation…”

    Oh absolutely. Fundamentalists today love to join the cry that women in the adult film industry are being abused by willingly agreeing to do whatever the director asks them on video for about $1,000 per session, but neglect to mention that anyone with two X chromosomes is treated as a subservient second class citizen in their culture.

    Of course porn can be denigrating to women with misogynistic videos and ads, and I totally agree with feminists that this kind of entertainment is distasteful and should be avoided as not to encourage the producers to make more of it.

  • cbtslave

    Sweet

    More hot Apnea pics.

    Thanks!