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Myths about pornography, debunked.

By Wael Ibrahim – 15.5.2021

This article is made in response to the misinformation declared in the article, Myths about pornography

While it is true that social, religious, and cultural aspects have rendered pornography taboo, it has actually been widely studied in the field of psychology. Pornography has reached millions of viewers and long-term subscribers for decades now and has taken over a significant fraction of the internet’s information space. With every second, beyond 28,000 people are looking at porn, and every 39 minutes, new pornographic material is being taken in the United States, not to mention the financial aspect of it, which costs $3,000 spent every second [1].  This widely promoted industry has cost a myriad of complications in the health, personal and social welfare of the porn consumer and their loved ones. The following pornography statements have been erroneously labeled as false, and the following evidence supports these negative effects of pornography. 

Porn makes a bad society. The progression of the pornography industry has led to the growth of child sexual abuse markets, with an increasing number of viewers through the years [2]. Upon extensive study on the children involved, most of them have been subjected to long-term sexual abuse, with 83% of them photographed for sexual content at less than 13 years [2].

Incest is also a growing problem, as found in a study that nearly half of the children involved were victimized by their own relatives [2]. In addition to these, it must be considered that most sexual abuse cases are heavily underreported, as demonstrated in a study that one-third of the victims refused to discuss their abuse with any law enforcement personnel and even their counselors [2].

Another recent issue that has caught the attention of the lawmakers is the incidence known as revenge pornography, where perpetrators threaten to release indecent private photos and videos of a victim to the public, which may cause significant distress in the party of the victim [3].

And among the most significant issues of them all is rape. As a large fraction of pornography depicts non-consensual sex, inhumane expressions of lust, and physical harm, it has been rationalized how porn normalizes and legitimates sexual violence [4]. It has boiled down to the aspect of criminal justice to address resulting crimes and how to further prevent them, which involves regulating pornography itself [5].

Porn creates objectification. Based on the studies on objectification theory, pornography creates a regular impression of women as a subject of unnecessary body figure assessment, indecent proposals, and unwanted sexual advances [6]. In addition to these, this affects the intrapersonal point of view of an individual towards oneself, putting them at risk of eating disorders, body shame, and abrupt change in beauty standards [6]. 

Porn creates relationship problems. This affects the quality of relationship within heterosexual committed partners and has changed the view of each party towards each other, especially the man’s point of view of the woman [6] This affects the view of one partner to the other, and it can be expected that there would be other malicious feelings that would be admixed to their relationship, besides love and affection. Another study involving 1700 adult heterosexual couples found that pornography use has resulted in impaired commitment stability, ineffective communication, severe partner aggression, and overall relationship dissatisfaction [7], with more scientific studies involving a significant number of couples, the harm that pornography to couples in a committed relationship cannot be denied anymore. 

Porn creates erectile dysfunction. Pornography-induced erectile dysfunction has recently been studied due to the more extensive probing of erectile dysfunction that is beyond physiological etiology [8]. This has been tested in 20 to 40-year-old men using the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) and has proven risks of sexual dysfunction in men who have more frequent use of pornography, even the younger men who have less risk of erectile dysfunction [8]. One of the primary reasons explained is that pornography sets up a standard that is usually beyond the normal sexual experience, thus preventing men from attaining erection in normal sexual encounters outside pornographic media [9]. It has also been discussed in the field of Restorative Medicine in an attempt to treat it, proving the clinical burden that porn-induced erectile dysfunction gives to the male population [10].

Porn “porn-ifies” the brain and rewires it negatively, the brain needs to be rebooted. As the brain controls the primary functions of the body, including sexual desires and penile erection, it has a dedicated circuit that regulates the reward system, such as the one that is activated upon sex [9]. When frequent use of pornography is utilized to induce this reward system, it hypersensitizes the brain to pornographic media, and it severely downregulates dopamine, the pleasure hormone, which does not activate anymore upon normal humanly sexual encounters [9]. Overall, chronic overconsumption of pornographic content results in changes in the brain in various aspects, including neurotransmitters, hormones, and even structural domains. 

Its effects on the brain have been studied in the behaviors of frequent consumers of pornographic materials. In one study, junior high school students were found to have significant exposure to these lascivious contents, changing their behavior and overall outlook in other individuals [11]. 

Watching porn leads to sexual offending and sexual violence towards women. 

Sexual violence against women is not a new issue in the world of pornography, from orchestrated violence to behind-the-camera scenes. With the current technology, a wide variety of options have been available to commit harassment against women. A few of these technology-facilitated sexual assaults include non-consensual documentation of sexual acts that are aimed for distribution and even for-profit [12]. This is closely associated with revenge pornography, as discussed earlier. More alarmingly, violence resulting from pornography has led to victimized children, with most of them under long-term sexual abuse and is both partly motivated by sexual pleasure and potential profit [2]. This has gone out of hand to the point that scholarly attention has already been given to technology-facilitated sexual crimes and is intended to be studied further in the aspect of criminal law in the efforts of solving these forms of sexual violence [13]. 

Porn is addictive. There are nearly 500 studies on pornographic addiction and has been intensively investigated in a systematic review, where it has been discussed that the problematic use of pornography results in severe sexual behaviors and further puts the individuals affected at risk of sexual dysfunction, deviant behaviors, and long-term neuropsychiatric changes [14]. As discussed, chronic pornographic use significantly rewires the brain and involves dopamine regulation, which involves the reward system. Dopamine, as the pleasure hormone, has its pathway overstimulated by exposure to pornographic materials thus, flooding the bloodstream with dopamine every time the individual receives cues from a pornographic reference, thus giving them the unregulated pleasure that keeps them seeking porn content frequently [15]. This is significantly parallel to other forms of addiction such as smoking, illicit drugs, and even gaming, all primed to give a flood of dopamine whenever there is an addictive stimulus. 


Pornography has a widely studied in the scientific field from medical, psychological, up to legal aspects. The effects of pornography on the human mind and body cannot be denied as it has significantly affected people from an individual level up to a population level, having different effects in various cohorts from adolescents, adults women, and even children younger than 13 years old, as proven by numerous studies. In the hopes of controlling the devastating effect of pornography in the general population, more studies shall be conducted in the efforts of getting to the root of the problem, which is the entire industry itself. 


[1] Ropelato, J. (2006). Internet pornography statistics.

[2] Gewirtz-Meydan, A., Walsh, W., Wolak, J., & Finkelhor, D. (2018). The complex experience of child pornography survivors. Child Abuse & Neglect, 80, 238-248.

[3] Bothamley, S., & Tully, R. J. (2018). Understanding revenge pornography: public perceptions of revenge pornography and victim blaming. Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, 10(1), 1–10. doi:10.1108/jacpr-09-2016-0253

[4] Palmer, T. (2018). Rape pornography, cultural harm and criminalisation. N. Ir. Legal Q., 69, 37.

[5] Saunders, D., & Williamson, D. (2016). On pornography: literature, sexuality and obscenity law. Springer.

[6] Tylka, T. L., & Kroon Van Diest, A. M. (2014). You Looking at Her “Hot” Body May Not be “Cool” for Me. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 39(1), 67–84. doi:10.1177/0361684314521784

[7] Willoughby, B. J., Carroll, J. S., Busby, D. M., & Brown, C. C. (2015). Differences in Pornography Use Among Couples: Associations with Satisfaction, Stability, and Relationship Processes. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 45(1), 145–158. doi:10.1007/s10508-015-0562-9 

[8] Berger, J. H., Kehoe, J. E., Doan, A. P., Crain, D. S., Klam, W. P., Marshall, M. T., & Christman, M. S. (2019). Survey of sexual function and pornography. Military medicine, 184(11-12), 731-737.

[9] Park, B. Y., Wilson, G., Berger, J., Christman, M., Reina, B., Bishop, F., … & Doan, A. P. (2016). Is Internet pornography causing sexual dysfunctions? A review with clinical reports. Behavioral Sciences, 6(3), 17.

[10] Retzler, K. (2019). Erectile dysfunction: A review of comprehensive Treatment options for optimal outcome. Journal of Restorative Medicine, 8(1).

[11] Hardani, R., Hastuti, D., & Yuliati, L. N. (2018). Pornography behavior of junior high school student. Journal of Child Development Studies, 3(1), 15-27.

[12] Henry, N., & Powell, A. (2015). Beyond the ‘sext’: Technology-facilitated sexual violence and harassment against adult women. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 48(1), 104-118.

[13] Henry, N., & Powell, A. (2016). Sexual violence in the digital age: The scope and limits of criminal law. Social & legal studies, 25(4), 397-418.

[14] de Alarcón, R., de la Iglesia, J. I., Casado, N. M., & Montejo, A. L. (2019). Online porn addiction: What we know and what we don’t—A systematic review. Journal of clinical medicine, 8(1), 91.

[15] Love, T., Laier, C., Brand, M., Hatch, L., & Hajela, R. (2015). Neuroscience of Internet pornography addiction: A review and update. Behavioral sciences, 5(3), 388-433