Porn: Harmless or Harmful?

Society has done a major backflip on its view of pornography. It wasn’t that long ago that porn was frowned upon and seen as something shameful. Teenage boys stuffed it under their mattresses, and married men drove to the adult store three miles over to avoid being seen. Now, in the age of the interwebz, porn is the status quo. Male, female, young, and old are tuning in without stigma.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. Or is there?

Recently, I worked on a not-for-profit initiative that examined the influence of online porn on preteens. Now there’s no denying that nine-year-old kids getting the birds and bees from hardcore porn stars is dangerous. But amongst the adults in the room, the porn issue became polarizing. Is today’s porn good or bad? Turns out, there was a lot of heart for porn. The general consensus being that porn, when viewed by mature adults, is harmless.

But that’s just not the case. The stats don’t lie. According to sources, 87% of online porn is either verbally or physically derogatory toward women… and that’s worrying, even if viewed by the big kids.

I brought up the facts and shared my findings with my colleagues. And still, nobody wanted to speak out against porn. Ironically, people were more afraid of being vilified for saying porn was more harmful than harmless. The truth is you’ll probably be labeled a prude, or narrow-minded and conservative. Just ask Rashida Jones.

Last year, she spoke out against sexually exploitative industry practices, and in doing so, she was trolled. And not just by the anonymous hiding behind their computer screens, but by the media and the public. Nobody wanted to hear that some aspects of porn were damaging and needed to be called into question.

Why is that? Why is it so not cool, to say porn is so not cool?

It seems we’ve become so open-minded and sexually progressive, it’s blinding us to an increasingly violent porn landscape and its consequent real-world impacts. It’s great that we live in a society where we all try to accept each other’s sexual practices, fantasies, and fetishes, but in our efforts to keep a liberal view, what exactly are we condoning?

Porn has changed, it’s not the softcore vintage films of yesteryear. There are some serious issues that need to be addressed. Nobody is saying all porn is bad– there is a lot of consensual, healthy, and respectful pornography on the internet. But in the same way that advocating for tighter gun control isn’t advocating for the abolition of guns, regulating porn is not a call for its elimination.

It’s important to respect others sexual behaviors… if they’re respectful. While we should always honor others process, we need to ensure that we don’t cross that fine line between trying to understand another point of view and supporting harmful practices.

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