Is Pornography Really That Bad?
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Let’s start by saying a lot of people watch, read, look at, or listen to porn. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that.
If you don’t approve of porn and don’t want to be exposed to it, there’s nothing wrong with that, either.
It’s all a matter of personal preference.
In this article, porn refers to movies, photos, and stories created by and for consenting adults for sexual arousal or pleasure.
How you engage with it, on the other hand, can be
Most peopleTrusted Source who use porn can do so without negative consequences.
You can enjoy it whether you’re single or in a committed relationship.
It can add another dimension to sexual enjoyment or open the lines of communication with your partner.
For others, using porn can get in the way of relationships. For example, if one of you is into porn and the other is totally against it, or if one of you is into a type of porn the other simply can’t tolerate.
Too much porn use can sometimes lead to unrealistic sexual expectations or body image issues.
One 2018 studyTrusted Source found that participants were more likely to report feeling “out of control” over more frequent porn use when also feeling dissatisfied in their romantic relationships or sex life.
It’s important to remember what you see in porn isn’t reality
Actors act and directors direct. They get together to make porn flicks for a targeted audience.
When you’re watching a porn film, you’re watching a work of fiction. It’s no more spontaneous and natural than an action movie or a romantic comedy.
Not that there’s anything wrong with fiction. It’s fun! As long as you don’t lose sight of this, you should be just fine.
But if you start comparing your own body, sexual performance, or ability to attract a sexual partner to the fictional standards of porn, you could be in for some issues with confidence and self-esteem.
It isn’t a stand-in for sex education, either
While you might learn a thing or two from watching porn or reading a sexy book, it shouldn’t be considered an alternative to sex education, which is an entirely different thing.
Remember, porn is pure fantasy.
It isn’t created to teach anything about human relationships, sexual development, or sexual health, so it probably won’t provide much in the way of enlightenment in those areas.
If you have questions about your sexual health, it’s best to speak with a doctor or other healthcare provider, such as a certified sex therapist.
Many people think porn should be added to sex ed curriculum
There’s a lot of porn out there. It’s easier than ever for children to be exposed to it before they’re ready.
Kids are forming ideas about sexuality from the porn that reaches them but without nuance or life experience to put it into context.
Without guidance, some types of porn can cause confusion about serious issues, like consent and objectification.
Some teachers in the United States already address porn literacy as part of a comprehensive sex education.
A 2017 poll of more than 2,000 adults in Britain found that 75 percent support including the impact of pornography in school sex education classes.
Removing the sense of taboo can allow for discussions about healthy consumption
Just how many people view porn is hard to say. Even today, some people may be unwilling to admit to using porn.
The very definition of porn can even vary from person to person.
What we do know is that using porn has become common, even within romantic relationships.
One 2018 studyTrusted Source of 1,036 people ages 18 to 35 found that 98 percent of men and 73 percent of women engaged with internet porn within the previous six months, with videos being the most common choice.
Because porn is so available these days and more people are checking it out, maybe it’s getting easier to talk about it.
It’s only when we can openly discuss it that can we tackle issues like how porn use can affect people’s lives.
It can also be a way to discover new things
Have you ever wondered if you’re the only one who doesn’t know what a certain sexual position or idea is all about?
That’s one reason people, especially younger folks, turn to porn to satisfy their curiosities.
College is certainly a time of learning and exploration. That includes sex.
One study of college students found that 92 percent of men and 50 percent of women said they had viewed some form of sexually explicit material.
Men tended to use more of all types of porn than women, the one exception being sexually explicit books.
Other research found that when it comes to internet porn, 75 to 90 percent of people searched:
• out of curiosity
• to improve sexual skills and knowledge
• to increase sexual enjoyment of and interest in sex
They also reported better sexual well-being.
Research into how regular consumption affects you is ongoing
Part of the problem with research on pornography is that many people are still reluctant to talk about it for fear of being judged.
Much of the research relies on self-reporting. Some effects of porn viewing are quite subjective.
When examining research findings, it’s important to understand how the study was conducted, who the participants were, and who funded the study.
It’s also worth noting that studies can have conflicting results.
For example, one 2011 study found that higher use of sexually explicit material was associated with:
• a higher number of sexual partners
• lower age at first intercourse
• less sexual and relationship satisfaction
Other researchTrusted Source indicates that pornography consumption may have delayed first sex for some, and that some people watch pornography instead of having sex.
Although research is ongoing, we’ve got a long way to go.
At the end of the day, only you can determine whether it’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for you
It all boils down to what you think is right for you, not what other people think.
If you enjoy porn and it doesn’t cause any issues in your life, then by all means, enjoy it to your heart’s content.
If you believe porn is wrong for you, there’s no reason in the world to expose yourself to it. That’s also a valid choice.
Porn isn’t for everyone. If you already have a poor body image or worry about sexual performance, you may consider examining your motivations to use it more carefully.
Here are some signs that you may be struggling with your porn use:
• You’re spending more time on it than you wish.
• It’s affecting your work or relationships.
• You feel that you don’t have control over your porn use and are distressed by it.
• Your sexual expectations have become unrealistic.
• You find it difficult to experience pleasurable solo or partnered sex.
• You feel shameful or guilty about watching or otherwise engaging with porn.
If you’re concerned about your habits, reach out for help
If you have a primary care doctor who specializes in sexual health, they may be a good place to start. You can also ask for a referral to a qualified therapist or certified sex therapist who can help you explore the impact of porn in your life.
The bottom line
Many people can enjoy porn regularly or just check it out once in a while without concern. Others don’t like it or find that it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
Porn, like so many things, is a very individual, very personal thing. You get to decide what’s best for you.