Millions of Gigabytes: How Porn Affects Sexual Behavior

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Erotic Megaharbor

Over the past decades, not only has pornography changed, but attitudes towards it have also changed. On the one hand, porn has become more aggressive, on the other—research shows that viewing such videos has positive effect.

What happens to us when we watch porn?

Looking ahead, after reading a lot of research, I decided not to watch pornography. It was a conscious decision that I thought was important.

First of all, pornography produces aggressive sexual behavior. In 2005, a study was conducted: scientists analyzed 250 of the most popular videos. It turned out that 12% of the scenes contained examples of positive sexual behavior (kisses, hugs, nice words), while 88% of them showed examples of aggressive behavior: slapping, kicking, i.e. everything related to physical violence. In 44% of scenes, there was verbal violence, that is, name-calling, swearing, and so on.

The fact is that the group of people who talk about sex and research it is quite small. I don't know if you discuss your sexual preferences with your friends over dinner, but it's more of a taboo subject, and people aren't used to talking about it. It means that they take the idea of sex and sexuality from pornography. The first consequence of this is that porn creates an image of aggressive sex. Secondly, scientists have found that men show aggression towards women in most of these scenes. And the saddest thing is that in 95% of cases, women respond to aggression either with pleasure or in a neutral way. This is rather depressing, because, as I said, we often don't know what normal or natural sex is: we watch porn, and it may seem to us that this is the norm. This is how people begin to develop distorted ideas about themselves and what they and their partners like.

This is one of the most serious problems. As a result, the idea that women like such aggressive behavior may be shared not only by men, but also by women themselves. Thinking about how to behave, what female sexuality is, a woman can decide that sex involves joy and pleasure from aggressive behavior towards her. There is a concept of rape-supportive attitudes—attitudes that support violence. Unfortunately, this situation in pornography creates the idea that a woman can be raped, because “no” does not mean “no”.

Expectations from sex were also studied by scientists. It turned out that women are more concerned about how they look during sex: their breasts, belly, butt, and so on. Men are more concerned about the duration of sexual intercourse and how well they’ve coped. But professional porn is shot like a movie: they use editing and special tools. In general, it is unrealistic. People don't have sex the way it looks in pornography. Unfortunately, we still compare ourselves to the people we are looking at, because we have no other experience. We don't look at our friends, we don't know that they sometimes fail, that they sometimes look funny, that they smell, that they also get into strange situations. We look at perfect people, and we think we will never be as good. This creates a permanent neurosis.

In 1988, American scientists Zillman and Bryant decided to conduct an experiment. They divided a group of students in two parts. One group was shown porn an hour a day for six weeks (we must understand that it was a slightly different type of porn then). The other was shown neutral videos, for example about animals. At the beginning and at the end, they measured the level of “subjective well-being”—how happy a person feels. After six weeks, it turned out that this indicator significantly decreased for people who watched porn as compared to those who watched neutral videos. In other words, watching porn for an hour a day can affect how happy we feel. And compared to today's porn, 30 years ago it was more delicate, so imagine what the results could be now.

Neuroplasticity and dependence

A big problem with the availability of porn is, of course, children and teenagers who encounter it on the Internet, while not having sexual experience and a formed idea of their own sexuality. Such a collision can be traumatic. Older children (8-13 years old), will most likely specifically search such content on the Internet.

With teenagers, there is another point: they start having sex earlier, while demonstrating, as already mentioned, more risky sexual behavior simply because they have already seen a lot of things. In addition, in today's culture, in my opinion, there are quite difficult relationships with the body in general. So, when having sex, people do not always understand what they are doing, do not feel pain, and can often behave contrary to safety and common sense. Teenagers who do not have their own experience are 6 times more likely to show aggressive behavior in sex, because they do not know that it may be different. They think that this is how it should be, that adults do this, and behave the same way.

There are several important things in the topic of porn addiction. Neuroplasticity is the ability of our brain to change the connections between familiar things. If we enjoy sweets, we will eat more of them. But each time, the amount of sweetness that we previously had will be lacking, because due to the increasing irritation of the pleasure center, the brain will demand more and more of this or that joy. So, the sensitivity to pleasure is reduced. It is interesting: it is more difficult to build relationships with real partners for people who often watch porn. Since it is possible to change videos and objects of excitement all the time, we may want to change the real person in whom we may not like something today. Building a close relationship with a real person requires much more inclusion and effort.

If you find it difficult to experience prolonged arousal with a real partner, if you are watching more and more aggressive videos or just more and more of them, it may be worth taking this more consciously.

Anatomy lessons and relationships

The next set of studies concerns the influence of pornography on the perception of one's own body. As I said before, watching porn may be more dangerous for women. But it turned out that there is also a potential positive side—especially when it comes to women. Thanks to watching porn, men and, to a greater extent, women begin to understand their own anatomy and physiology better. They understand much better how everything works for them, where the clitoris is, where the vagina is, and how you can get pleasure, which is also important. In addition, 75% of respondents already understand that pornography has unrealistic bodies, the duration of the action and acrobatic pirouettes, and that people do not have sex like this.

Women now watch more porn, there is even feminist porn. The important point here is that sexual experience does not lead to sexual knowledge. There are numerous examples of this, such as people who have never had an orgasm or have always had sex only in the dark and under a blanket.

When we talk about how porn affects relationships, the first point is how people watch porn, together or not. Because if people in a relationship watch porn alone, it can lead to negative consequences. A partner who knows that the other is watching porn may experience sexual rejection. Or what is called objectification: when a person feels that he/she is not a partner, but an object which is being used. Whether porn is the result of problems in family life or the cause of them is a big question, but in any case, a person experiences rejection, a feeling that contact is lost, and the level of intimacy decreases. As a result, people start to feel angry towards someone who watches porn. And, most likely, both will feel unhappy.

This is how we deal with the question of why people watch porn. To have fun without a partner? Or as a revenge on the partner? The important point is what partners think about pornography. It can cause tension. Of course, you don't need to be a psychologist or porn researcher to claim that people who talk about all these topics are more likely to maintain happy relationships. But talking about this may be difficult.

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