Pornography (porn, porno) is defined as any material that is intended to produce sexual arousal. You read it or you view it and it turns you on.
The main point in discussing pornography (as a social phenomenon) that is may be protected by the First Amendment (US Constitution). The idea is to strike a balance between free speech and harm to society.
Producing child porn is harmful to society; a child is used in its production. The child can be harmed is such a manner as to experience life-long scarring. (State of Utah versus Supreme Court ruling on virtually-created child porn). On-the-other-hand, pornography that does NOT harm an innocent person (one who is willing to participate in such a production and is NOT underage) IS protected by the First Amendment. In 1973, the Supreme Court came up with what is know known as the “Miller Test.”
The Miller test was developed in the 1973 case Miller v. California It has three parts:
- Whether “the average person, applying contemporary community standards“, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest,
- Whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct or excretory functions specifically defined by applicable state law,
- Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
The work is considered obscene only if all three conditions are satisfied.
HOW WIDESPREAD ARE PORNOGRAPHY’S EFFECTS?
In a recent “60 Minutes” program on CBS they made the following comment about pornography: “The dramatic, wide-spread acceptance of pornography is now considered the biggest cultural change in American society over the past 25 years!” There are 3 serious problems with pornography on the internet: it is made it: anonymous, accessible, and affordable. In the past you had to go out of your way to get a hold of porn, because society deemed it taboo, now it’s just a mouse click away from the privacy of your own home.
In 2003, over a decade ago, there were over 800 million rentals of adult videos or DVD’s in the United States. In recent developments, one of the major producers of pornography (Playboy) announced it would soon be made available on iPods, and cell phones with video functions. Columbia House, the nations’ largest direct distributor of DVD’s, home video’s and music CD’s, with 8.5 million subscribers, has struck a deal with the same major porn producer to sell it through their website and their direct mail operation. Yet today, any person with an Internet connection can find porn very easily.
“Porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined”
Pornography used to be tightly controlled in our society. Most people (courts, schools, law enforcement, businesses) agreed it was harmful material and most shunned it. In fact, prior to the 1980’s, laws against it were vigorously enforced. President Reagan’s Attorney General, Edwin Meese took a vigorous stance against pornography. He detailed his finding against porn in what has been come to be known as the MEESE COMMISSION REPORT.
Then, during the Clinton administration, a decision was made to instruct the Justice Department to not focus the efforts of law enforcement on enforcing pornography and obscenity laws, and instead focus enforcement resources on other legal issues. These events, coupled with the emergency of the affordable VCR and (and later DVD players) and the explosive growth of the internet (started in 1993), have virtually destroyed all previous social and legal constraints against pornographic material and made it readily available within the privacy of one’s own home. In fact, some would claim that Internet porn traffic (and the related $$$ it provided) built the Internet as we know it today). It is now estimated that there are more than 6 million porn web sites on the internet! Porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined.
If you “Google” the word “sex” there will be more than 180 million hits generated at porn websites. (Sex is the number one topic searched on the internet). Monthly, 20 million individuals access the top-5 pay-per-view porn web sites. And another 100 million access the top-5 free porn. web sites. Every second of every day 28,258 internet users log onto porn web sites. 70% of males between the ages of 18 and 34, view internet pornography at least once per month. One problem with these ease of accessibility is that it is often difficult to know who is logging onto these porn sites. TEENAGERS viewing porn. We conducted an informal survey in Mesa, Arizona at a local junior high school and found that 70% of 9th-graders had downloaded porn to their iPods. The problems lies in the fact that children this age may not have the emotional maturity to completely understand the effects of porn.
The most common form of sexual behavior associated with pornography is self-stimulation. Growing numbers of sex-therapists now feel that the habit of masturbating to pornography images is the most common precursor to compulsive sexual addictions. Some believe that porn addiction is the most difficult to overcome. This is because unlike alcohol or drug addiction, people are less likely to “detox” and get the images out of their system (head).
To quote Dr. Cline on this topic:
“In my experiences as a sexual therapist, any individual who regularly masturbates to pornography is at risk of becoming, in time, a sexual addict, as well as conditioning himself into having a sexual deviancy … “
More research needs to be done on this, but I think it’s safe to say that porn addiction is a valid social concern. One of theose concerns is the way sexuallity is portrayed. If teens watching porn belive that is how to engage in sexual activity, someone is likely to be sexually unsatisfied and even sexually frustrated (you can probably guess who). Porn is produced with profits in mind; not with its instructional value.
NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF PORNOGRAPHY
Pornograpghy can definitely be porblematic to many a person. It can objectify and even dehumanize its participants. It can cause sexual addiction, to name but a few of its problems. Obviously pronography has tremendous drawbacks. Below we discuss some of these issues.
 Porn creates and maintains JOBS. So its debilitating effects are proliferated.
Like it or not, porn makes profits. After all, sex is on the bottom of the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. thus, sexual behavior is a base need for humans. Porn exploits that need. As as a result, porn generates HUGE profits. However, the images are not always portraying the “actors” in a positive light. Objectification; risky sexual behavior and other drawbacks of porn may be transmitted as a result.
 Porn dehumanizes normal sexual relations: objectifies women.
Porn has the tendency to turn women and children into sexual objects and then to dehumanize them. Thus, they often become the targets or victims of pornography-induced sexual crimes like: rape and sexual molestation. In pornography, men certainly don’t value women for their minds or other excellent qualities!
After viewing porn for some time, it can change a person’s sexual values and norms. For example, in pornography, women are presented as lusty, insatiable sexual players, willing to accommodate every possible male sexual request with no questions asked. this is hardly how healthy relationships work in the real world.
Pornography presents male stereotypes that cool men have sex with as many women as possible.
So, with continuing escalating exposure to porn (which includes more and more explicit material that is increasingly grosser and grosser: the “ratcheting effect”), these images will come to be seen as acceptable, normal, right, desirable, and appropriate to emulate. The principle of desensitization is well-established in social science literature. This means that material that is initially perceived as obscene, disgusting to the senses, taboo or immoral, gives way to increased tolerance and acceptance of it. This means that over time, exposure to sexually explicit material actually changes the viewer’s perceptions, values, and norms. In the place of traditional values, pornography becomes the source of new values and standards for behavior for the viewer. There develops a feeling that what they view, in sexually explicit material, is normal and that everyone does it, and thus this gives them “permission” to do it too, even though the sexual activity depicted is possibly dangerous, illegal, or contrary to their previous moral beliefs and personal sexual standards.
 Porn has a Ratcheting Effect:
“With each overindulgence, the level of physical and emotional expectation gradually rises so that an increasingly greater thrill is required to satisfy the urge. Eventually, the thrill begins to diminish but the hunger for stimulation is ever present, now stronger than ever. . . . One begins by seeking pleasure to fill his boredom and ends by being bored with his pleasures.”
Viewing sexually explicit material can be harmful to the viewer because it leads to escalation in usage. “With each overindulgence, the level of physical and emotional expectation gradually rises so that an increasingly greater thrill is required to satisfy the urge. Eventually, the thrill begins to diminish but the hunger for stimulation is ever present, now stronger than ever. . . . One begins by seeking pleasure to fill his boredom and ends by being bored with his pleasures.” Quoted from: William S. Banowsky, It’s a Playboy World (Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1969), page 78.
Like all addictions, over time, there is nearly always an increased need, developed in the individual, for more and more of the stimulant, in order to get high. Sometimes known as “chasing a high.” This is true whether the addiction is drug-based, or pornography-based. With drugs, its heavier doses of dope, with pornography its more explicit, kinkier, raunchier, sexual images. So, it is not just more of it, like increasing a drug dose, it’s the need for grosser kinds of it. Pornography users, in time, lose interest in the initial softcore images they start with and escalate to interest in harder core images. First it’s missionary; then it’s doggie; then it’s objects; then it’s a three-some; then annimals; etc etc until the only way to get satisfied is to murder someone for the sexial thrill. You think I’m kidding? That is what a SNUFF FILM is, the ultimate effect of ratcheting.
 Porn can be instructive (in a negative manner).
Porn can lead to bad habits learned through its viewing. During their throes of passion, porn viewers often overlook the fact that the actors in the porn are paid to engage in these actions. A vivid example is an interview I saw with the mega porn star Terra Patrick. One of her comments was to the effect that although she does all kinds of kinky sexual activities on-screen, she is basically a “missionary girl” at home. She made the comment to point out that she is a porn actress, acting… not creating home movies. Other female pron stars interviewed mentioned that they had a hard time dating because when their dates figured they were “easy” and were dating them either for kinky sex, or for the status as a porn star. These women stated that they had a difficult time finding a date who liked them for something other than the sex.
 Pornography can be addicting.
Viewing sexual explicit material is addicting. Generated by powerful sexual imagery, like narcotic drugs, pornography is a progressive addiction. Therapists now believe that pornography is as addictive as drugs and alcohol (and harder to kick the habit). Research shows that youths can become addicted in as little as 2-weeks! Studies show that perhaps as many as 40% of Americans suffer from a compulsive sexual behavior or addiction. And it isn’t just a psychological type of addiction either. It is also physiological. Powerful hormones- Epinephrine, Endorphins, and Neurotransmitters -are released into the bloodstream when one is sexually aroused by visual stimuli. These hormones immediately go to the centers of the brain responsible for memory and visualization. There they lock in a memory of whatever is viewed that is stimulating. Pornography images then, in this context, cannot be erased. You can call up the image any time, just by activating the memory of the image.
In a recent journal article (Policy Review), the author (Holman Jenkins) reported that brain chemicals can produce states of motivation so powerful that they can temporarily even overwhelm other strong urges like hunger and fatigue. Sexual addiction is one of the very most difficult addictions to break. Once drugs are detoxed from the body, the physiological system is free from them, but images seared into the memory centers of the brain, cannot be erased.
 Internet pornography can serve as a child-molesting LURE.
Nine out of ten children ages 8-16 have been exposed to pornography on the Internet; and 1 in 5 children have been sexually propositioned on-line. Seventy percent of all child molestations occur after pedophiles meet victims on the internet!
At any given moment, there are 50, 000 sexual predators “trolling for victims” on the Internet!
Research indicates that by their senior year of high school, 100% of males have viewed pornography. The average age of first exposure is age 11.
 Pornography glamorizes sexual promiscuity.
Pornograpghy promotes sexual irresponsibility. It never considers the effects or consequences of casual sex on people’s lives, such as sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, damaged relationships and broken marriages.
You may be interested to know that according to the Centers For Disease Control, the number one risk factor in contracting a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI or formerly labeled VD or Venereal Disease) is promiscuity- or having multiple sex-partners. The very thing that pornography promotes.
Dot com transfers to . XXX. Soon porn website will have the suffix .XXX. Some say this is a good thing since it will allow users and parents to immediately identify what the website is about: porn. Detractors of the .XXX suffix have long argued that if porn websites are given their own domain identifiers, then this is only “legitimizing” them as socially acceptable.
 Pornography can ruin your relationship.
Pornograpghy can ruin a relationship. Hence, that’s why purveyors of porn tend to hide it. The logic goes something like this- a guy views porn and then hides it from his partner. His partner accidentally discovers the porn stash and feels dejected; why would he need porn if he is with her? Questions immediately go through her head like, If he has ME, why does he need porn? She often feels as though she is inadequate and her self-esteem take a hit.
POSITIVE EFFECTS OF PORNOGRAPHY
Although porn defintely has potential drawbacks, as a sociologist, I would be remiss if I ended our discussion after illustrating only its negative traits. Like most social phenomena, pornography does have some potential benefits. Individuals and groups “against” pornography tend to do just that; they only portray pornography in a negative light. In fact, during lecture, when the class discussion turns to any “positive” aspects of pornography, the debate normally turns very emotional. Some people even think I am promoting pornograpghy if I don’t say only negative things about it. While working on my Ph.D. at Arizona State University, I was fortunate enough to work with Professor Fred L. Whitam. Dr Whitam was an exceptional sex researcher. He held a doctoral student seminar on VARIANT SEXUALITY of which I was a participant. His seminar curriculum dispelled many sexual myths. In fact, he had recently changed the name of the course from DEVIANT SEXUALITY because he thought the title “deviant” was a reflection of a moral judgement. After that, he refused to use any book with the title deviant in it. His seminar was perhaps one of the best I have ever taken. It was in Dr Witham’s seminar that I learned there were some positive aspects of pornography.
 Pornography creates and maintains JOBS. (it is a cash cow)
Adult entertainment now nets a profit of over 14 billion dollars per year in America. That’s a bigger profit than the revenues of all of the professional sports leagues combined! The NFL, the NBA, the NHL, and Major League Baseball! So what is the favorite sport in America?
World-wide, pornography nets an annual profit of 97 billion dollars!
Many reputable companies are now heavily involved in the porn business. Direct TV, Hotel chains like: Marriott, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Best Western and others now report making 70% of their in-room profits from porn rentals. They indicate that half of their guests request them and the average viewing time is just 7 minutes!
 Pornograpghy is used in sexual counseling.
Often sexual explicit images are used in sexual counseling. Often couples begin to take each other for granted (sexually) and sex begins to lose its appeal. In short there is no challenge. No effort is necessary to engage in sexual activities.
Sexual counseling may have the partners attend a sex-therapy camp in which they are surrounded by sexually explicit materials and cannot touch one another until a specified time. Once sex is “off limits,” it often comes to mean something to the partners who can no longer take it for granted.
 Pornograpghy can be instructive.
Some pornography producers have decided to only promote safe sexual practices (such as condom use). Vivid video (Vivid-ed.com) still attempts to market safe sex porn videos with the intention of promoting safe sex. Other video producers didn’t follow suit. Thus, the status quo of kinky sex video proliferated (showing unsafe sexual acts). At least Vivid made an attempt.
 Female-produced pornography goes by a different name; it is called “EROTICA.”
Most porn is male-produced to satisfy male fantasies. Many females have not been pleased with the male-produced themes and “results.” Thus, some female-produced erotica has a more relationship-oriented theme and is romance-based. With most erotica, sexual activity is portrayed as part of a normal part of a relationship between committed and caring sexual partners.
The video Dreamworlds 2 addressed this issue in an educational manner. In fact, when some where calling for LESS male-produced music videos (remember when MTV actually played videos?), the thesis of Dreamworlds 2 was to have MORE female music video producers. These detractors didn’t call for any sort of censorship, but rather called for more female representation. I
As you can from this discussion, pornography isn’t a take-it-or-leave-it phenomenon. That sort of thinking is simplistic and naive. Pornography is a multifaceted issue. Like any social phenomenon, there are pros and cons associated with it. I hope this post spurs people to think beyond the obvious. Porn isn’t for everyone. Yet summarily dismissing it misses the point. that is akin to putting your head in the sand and refusing to acknowledge its effects on society. Obviously there are strong opinions about porn and its effects. yet ignoring it doesn’t make society any safer; only educating people about porn can reduce the risks associated with it.